We know it takes a village to prepare for and welcome your new baby. Of course, finding that village, from childbirth instructors to doulas to the best babysitting service, can seem overwhelming—there is so much information out there these days. But don’t worry! Your fellow readers have stepped up to help. Our annual Best: Moms & Babies survey features the best of the best in all these topics (and more), chosen by you. Consider it our baby gift to you.
Best Childbirth Instructor & Best Doula
Maria Pokluda, CLD – Great Expectations Birth
With about 13 years of experience serving families, Maria Pokluda’s main goal is to help moms determine the best childbirth plan for their needs. Great Expectations Birth (the doula agency she founded) offers services ranging from lactation support to childbirth classes and full doula care. The mother of four teaches natural birth classes and a breastfeeding course (even private lessons). Courses focus on communication between expecting moms and their partners, and interactive lessons home in on mindfulness and physical exercises. This year, Pokluda will expand her offerings and offer more class locations in North Texas. And for moms who can’t make it in person, her full birth and breastfeeding classes are online too.
Although Pokluda assists families with a variety of care needs, because of her own experience with infertility, she has a special passion for helping families coping with infertility themselves, in addition to supporting families who deliver at hospitals and are planning VBACs.
Childbirth instructors: Julia West Birth Boot Camp, and Tracy Corrigan DuBois, CD, CLC, CBE, CSE – The Mother’s Knot
Doula: Tonya Buffington, CD – Right Hand Doula
Best Hospital To Have a Baby
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton
Comfort is key when choosing the right hospital to deliver your new bundle of joy. So families trust Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton for its attentive physicians, state-of-the-art NICU and delivery rooms. The hospital renovated its neonatal unit in 2018 to allow space for moms to stay with their babies. Plus, labor and delivery rooms are equipped with flat-screen TVs, a rocking chair and recliner, as well as a personal bathroom; other amenities include breastfeeding support. Don’t take our word for it though––schedule a labor and delivery tour online to see the upgrades in person.
3000 N. Interstate 35, Denton; texashealth.org/denton-baby
Runner-up: Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Grapevine
Best Birthing Center
Inanna Birth & Women’s Care
The registered nurses and midwives at Inanna Birth & Women’s Care have seen over 5,000 births in the last two decades. In a quaint and comfy setting, the birthing center features two spacious birthing suites, an exam room and kitchen. Childbirth classes taught by Inanna’s midwives are held on Tuesday evenings; the center hosts postnatal fitness classes and CPR lessons as well. Call to schedule a tour.
1823 N. Locust St., Denton; inannabirth.com
Runner-up: Grapevine Birthing Center
Jean Sala, CNM, APRN, MSN – Inanna Birth & Women’s Care
The owner of Inanna Birth & Women’s Care (voted Best Birthing Center in Denton County), Jean Sala has attended close to 3,000 births. What the certified nurse-midwife loves most about her job is watching women tap into their strength during labor—and realize they have the power to tackle life’s other challenges too. In addition to midwifery care, Sala offers childbirth and CPR classes and is a certified neonatal resuscitation instructor, which gives moms that extra peace of mind that their growing family is in safe hands.
1823 N. Locust St., Denton; inannabirth.com
Editor’s Note: The original Denton County winner, Donnellyn Dominguez, is retiring this fall after almost 15 years of providing midwifery care to local moms. Congratulations on an influential career!
Best Childcare Center
Our readers trust Primrose Schools, which was founded over 30 years ago, for their babies’ educational growth. The private preschools provide care and classes for littles as young as 6 weeks old, nurturing infants’ development through movement, music, sign language and more. Titled Balanced Learning, the curriculum places equal value on a variety of learning areas so kids leave fully equipped to enter preschool or big-kid school. All teachers have experience in child development and are first aid- and CPR-trained.
Multiple locations; primroseschools.com
Runner-up: The Children’s Courtyard
Best Babysitting Service
Mom’s Best Friend
When our readers and their partners need to take the night off, they call Mom’s Best Friend—a household staffing agency (with decades of experience serving families) that is quite literally a mom’s best friend. Much more than a babysitting service, MBF matches families throughout Dallas-Fort Worth with full- and part-time nannies, housekeepers, personal assistants––even chefs. Their sitters are all certified in CPR and first aid, in addition to completing a 10-step screening process. They can care for littles as young as newborns. Find your next babysitter (or chef) by calling or searching online.
Runner-up: Kiddin’ Around
Best Parent & Baby Classes
Win Kids is a perennial favorite among our readers and their kids. During 45-minute parent and baby classes, littles as young as 6 months learn the basic of gymnastics. Depending on the child’s age and skill level, activities range from gym basics such as rolls and trampoline to handstands and cartwheels (for 2- to 3-year-olds). Win Kids is also offering a new Ninja Tots class for toddlers, which still focuses on basic gymnastic skills while incorporating obstacle course activities. Call for a free introductory class.
3000 Waketon Road, Flower Mound; winkids.net
Best Infant Swim Classes
Aqua-Tots Swim Schools
For teaching their kiddos to safely navigate the water, our readers trust Aqua-Tots Swim Schools. Thanks to indoor heated pools, Aqua-Tots offers lessons (for littles as young as 4 months) all year long. Parent-and-baby group lessons have a maximum of four students per class, but the schools also offer private and semi-private lessons. And if you happen to miss a class (because let’s face it—life gets busy), Aqua-Tots has make-up lessons too.
777 S. MacArthur Blvd., Suite 409, Coppell
6060 Long Prairie Road, Suite 100, Flower Mound; aqua-tots.com
Runner-up: Emler Swim School
Best Sleep Consultant
Live Love Sleep
Families in North Texas turn to Live Love Sleep to help their littles start catching their ZZZs. Founder Kaley Medina starts working with families as soon as baby comes home to set them up for success before sleep training can begin (around age 3 months). LLS creates a customized sleep plan depending on your family’s needs, taking into account your parenting style and your child’s personality. Local parents typically select the in-home consultation, during which LLS sleep experts pay a visit to review the new sleep plan and help you implement techniques to get your baby to sleep. Recently, LLS also began offering services for adults––because we’re all at our best when we’re rested.
Runner-up: Newborn Nightingales
Best Sleep Disorder Experts
Sleep Center at Cook Children’s
When their littles are tossing and turning at night, our readers trust Cook Children’s Sleep Center to diagnose their troubles and help them get some much-needed rest. The center has pediatric sleep medicine physicians and a sleep psychologist on-site and boasts kid-friendly rooms so your child feels right at home during overnight testing. This year, the center is welcoming a new nurse practitioner who specializes in sleep disorders. Though the Fort Worth center has the overnight sleep lab, sleep specialists also see patients in Denton, Southlake, Alliance and Mansfield. Cook Children’s will welcome pediatric sleep patients at their Prosper location later this year too.
1500 Cooper St., Fort Worth; cookchildrens.org
Runner-up: Children’s Health Sleep Disorders Center
Photo courtesy of Maria Pokluda.