As a doula, Shelby resident Karen Gartner offers emotional support to women to help calm them during their natural childbirth. Wanting to continue connecting and building relationships with her former clients, Gartner started a support group last April for mothers called Carolina Moms Unite.

“It has been really wonderful building community and getting close with the women in the group,” said Gartner, whose business is called The Wonders of Birth.

Gartner noticed that most of the women in the group were coming from the Gaston County area.  She decided to alternate between the two areas for meetings. Saturday, Feb. 24, is the first time the group plans to meet in Gastonia.

Gartner has been a doula for 11 years. During the meetings she helps facilitate the discussions and offer advice if other moms are not sure of the answer.

She said she loves her job.

“The best part of working with women during their pregnancies is watching the look on their face when they go through this life changing and empowering moment,” she said. “It is truly an amazing experience watching a birth.”

She spoke with The Gazette about the benefits of having a support groups like Carolina Moms Unite for mothers.

What are the benefits of being a part of a support group?

Gartner: “Being a mother is the hardest job we as women are going to have in our life and is the most rewarding. Having a support system there that has gone through what you have is important because you can lean on them for answers.”

How do you all offer support to one another?

Gartner: “Every child has a different personality. What works with one child might not work for another. We all come together and offer suggestions of what may work. We all come from different walks of life from single moms to working moms.

“I like to tell people that the advice given during the meetings is like a buffet. Take whatever you want and leave the rest behind. Everyone is not going to have the same ways of mothering and that’s fine.”

What are some feedback you’ve gotten from the group?

Gartner: “A lot of moms mention loving that they can have adult conversations. Some moms spend most of their time with their children and don’t spend a lot of time with other adults. They really value being able to talk to other people.

"We also discuss a lot of different things and the women in the group love being able to express themselves. We all have different opinions and don’t make each other feel bad."

Why should moms be a part of this?

Gartner: “Other moms can be very mean sometimes when it comes to having different point of views on how to parent. We aren’t like that here. We want of offer each other encouragement and positive feedback.

“We want to invite you into our circle and show you and your baby love.”

The group meets once a month. To find out the next dates for the meeting, visit

Reporter Demetria Mosley can be reached at 704-869-1817 or on twitter.