Our Team

Our doulas work collaboratively to ensure top notch care and support for you prenatally and during your labor and delivery. Third Coast’s living room in Logan Square provides a comfortable safe space for you and your family to build community and find the resources necessary to navigate the early years of parenting.

 

Nuestras doulas trabajan en colaboración para proveer el mejor servicio posible durante su embarazo y parto. Nuestro espacio comunitario en Logan Square sacia la necesidad de tener un lugar cómodo y alegre para familias poder cultivar amistades duraderas y también donde encontrar una gran variedad de recursos útiles para la etapa más intensa de la vida.

Photo by Louie Cees Photography

Margarita Valbuena

Owner, Director of Community Programs

Margarita is a bilingual and bicultural child development specialist. She has been supporting families of young children for over 15 years both in the classroom and in home visit settings. After a career in early childhood education and having her own two children, Margarita became a birth doula in 2014.

Margarita’s practical and theoretical knowledge about all things baby-related, coupled with compassion and a healthy dose of humor, make her a valuable resource to new families navigating the ins and outs of early parenhood. You can find her in our community center in Logan Square on Tuesdays and Thursdays facilitating support groups & playgroups.

 

Cait Sobotka

Owner, Director of Postpartum Programs

Cait Sobotka, former owner of Chicago Birth & Baby, has supported hundreds of families through pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum time since she began working as a birth doula in 2013.

As a mother and former nanny, Cait understands the needs of new parents and strives to make the transition to parenthood smooth and positive experience. Equally motivated as she is easy going, Cait is highly attuned to your family’s needs and can help you make a plan. Cait manages our postpartum support services. 

Shawna Mertens

Owner, Director of Prenatal Programs

Shawna has been supporting families in the transition into parenthood since 2014. She works directly with families and providers to further our mission. She manages our prenatal programs, teaches group and private childbirth education classes and provides exceptional, compassionate labor support to our clients as a birth doula. Shawna works on a birth team with Lauren and Renee.

Shawna’s emphasis on education and physiology empowers clients to feel confident and calm. Clients often describe Shawna’s presence as soothing, reassuring, and peaceful. Outside of birth work Shawna enjoys reading, cooking, and spending time outdoors with her family.

Renee Levine

Renee Levine

Birth Doula, Certified Yoga Instructor

Renee is an experienced, nurturing yoga instructor and birth doula. She understands the uniqueness of this special, challenging time of transition and is honored to be part of your support team. Additionally, Renee uniquely incorporates her knowledge and experience as a yoga instructor into her work as a doula. She became a doula herself due to having strong, confident and knowledgeable doulas during the births of her own 2 children. Renee works on a birth team with Shawna and Lauren.

Lauren Franzen

Lauren Franzen

Birth & Postpartum Doula, Lactation Counselor

Lauren found a way to merge her education in social work and her love for birth work. After being inspired by Ina May Gaskin, and with the encouragement of a student midwife friend, she began her certification process. Lauren has worked as a doula & social worker for teen moms, as a volunteer doula, and also as a private, independent doula. She feels honored to be able to witness the immense uniqueness of each mama’s journey to meeting her baby. Lauren works on a team with Renee and Shawna.

Annie Walljasper

Annie Walljasper

Birth Doula

Annie found her way to becoming a birth doula through her work as a music therapist. She was inspired by her own doula and birth stories and finds such privilege in being able to serve other families welcoming new babies. Annie enjoys working not only with an expectant parent but their significant other, other children, and entire families. She enjoys the uniqueness of each birth she attends and is honored to share this intimate moment with parents, always providing the utmost respect and compassionate care no matter what their birth journey looks like. Annie works on a team with Katelyn and Jessica.

Katelyn Cohen

Katelyn Cohen

Birth Doula

Katelyn is a birth doula, sexual health educator, and musician. She was drawn to doula work by the wonder of the pregnancy process and a strong commitment to birth justice. Her doula support takes an evidence-based approach combined with compassion, optimism, and a healthy dash of humor. Katelyn holds a Masters degree in Sexuality Studies, a certificate in Sexual Health Education, and CPR/BLS certification. Katelyn works on a team with Annie and Jessica.

Jessica Keirns

Jessica Keirns

Childbirth Educator, Birth and Postpartum Doula

Jessica is a mother of three who believes that parenthood is a way to both connect with the world and positively impact it. She also understands that there is no one correct decision or decision making process that fits every person or every scenario, therefore she regards the birth and growth of a child as the growth of an entire family and strives to honor the needs and desires of every member of that family through her work as a birth and postpartum doula and as a childbirth educator. Jessica brings with her to Third Coast 8 years of experience as a doula. She currently holds a leadership role within ICAN of Chicago, has been a volunteer and administrator at Chicago Volunteer Doulas, and is Chair of the Chicago Area Breastfeeding Coalition. Originally from Tuscon, AZ, she loves the diversity of Chicago and enjoys spending time along the lakeshore, camping, reading and loves the variety of Chicago food! Jessica works on a team with Katelyn and Annie.

Rachel Crompton

Rachel Crompton

Postpartum Doula

Rache’s love for children and dedication to supporting others, led her to pursue a career as a postpartum doula. After working in an early learning center with infants from 6 weeks to 15 months old, she received my Master’s in Child Development with a specialization in Infancy. While in school she worked with young moms providing them with developmental information through home visits and community resources in addition to co-facilitating a newborn group alongside a lactation support group. It quickly became her passion to support parents in the ways the need most to allow their families to thrive. During this time, I also received my certification as an Infant Massage Educator, to help facilitate parent-baby bonding.
When not supporting families, I love traveling to new places with my husband, hiking, being by the water and reading.

Sarah Palmer

Sarah Palmer

Birth Doula

Sarah was drawn to work as a doula by her love of family and the birthing process. Her compassion, calm presence, and flexible personality add to her skills as a doula. Originally trained as an artist, Sarah’s creativity and observation skills help her attune to her clients’ needs and work well alongside their care providers. Her education degree provides her with excellent communication skills and a passion for helping others achieve their goals. She lives in Lakeview and loves yoga, ceramics, and taking advantage of great live music in Chicago. Sarah is on a team with Kate Ritter.

Kate Ritter

Kate Ritter

Birth Doula and Childbirth Educator

Early childhood development and related public policies guarantee that Kate can provided your family with up-to-date, evidence-based information. With Kate’s nurturing and attentive support, you will always know that you and your family are cared for. She lives in Edgewater with her husband and two daughters and enjoys cooking, running, hiking, and camping. Kate is on a team with Sarah Palmer.

Lindsay Ambrose

Lindsay Ambrose

Postpartum Doula

Lindsay’s naturally calm and nurturing demeanor brings peace to the families she works with. She is a mother of 3 children and knew working with moms and children is what her soul was calling her to do.

She feels so grateful for the opportunity to join families during the challenging yet beautiful time of bringing home a new baby. She is excited to work with your family and give you the non judgmental, nurturing support, resources, and tools to create the motherhood experience you desire.

Dana Watson

Dana Watson

Placenta Encapsulation Specialist

Dana’s birth and early parenting experiences drove her interest in doula work. Compassionate and empathetic, you can count on Dana to be not only a source of support and information but also a friend and cheerleader. She lives in the western suburbs and loves to spend time with her partner and two daughters at the local Wildlife Rescue.

Jennie Meyer

Jennie Meyer

Postpartum Doula

As a former elementary school educator and current LLL breastfeeding support leader, Jennie is highly experienced in working with new mothers and their families to meet the needs of their little ones. She lives on the NW side of Chicago with her husband and two children. Jennie enjoys watching her children learn and grow, and spending time with friends over a cup of tea (or alone with a good book!)

Tara Keller

Tara Keller

Postpartum Doula

Tara grew up as the middle child in a large family and remembers her own twin brothers being born. Taking care of babies and their families has always been a natural fit for her and her passion for working with new families was ignited after becoming a mother herself. Tara brings a sense of calm to the uncertainties of life with a new baby. She lives the western suburbs and enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters.

Community Partners

Sarah Mayhan

Posture & Movement Coach

A lifelong skipper of gym classes, Sarah struggled to cope with chronic pain and tension until learning a new approach from skilled teachers of the Alexander Technique. After three years, and 1600 hours of training later, she began to teach her own students how to adapt and grow with the changes and challenges in their lives. Herself the mother of an energetic little boy, Sarah teaches alignment tools and self-care strategies for alleviating tension, renewing energy, and choosing new responses to stress.

Abby Waychoff

Occupational Therapist

Abby is an occupational therapist and yoga instructor who is passionate about educating and helping women through their transition into motherhood. She holds a bachelors degree in biology from the University of Northern Iowa and a masters degree in occupational therapy from Midwestern University. After her own experience with a difficult labor and delivery and challenging postpartum period she discovered a passion for helping and supporting other women. Abby currently offers one-on-one consultation and treatment either in clients homes or at Integrative Wellness Group, a primary care practice on Chicago’s far west side. Additionally she is available for small group or workshop format educational presentations.

Mayra Elisa Buitrón

Childbirth Educator / Maestra de Educación Prenatal

Mayra Elisa nació en Ecuador y actualmente radica al noroeste de Chicago con sus dos viditas. Es bilingüe y tiene experiencia como periodista, maestra de español y doula de parto, posparto y duelo gestacional. Integra su amor por la maternidad, los niños y las letras para desempeñarse como Doula, Educadora Perinatal, Especialista del Cuidado al Bebé, Instructora de Yoga Infantil y escritora freelance. Ella desea brindar apoyo a las familias para que creen experiencias e historias positivas.

Mayra Elisa was born in Ecuador and currently resides in the northwest side of Chicago with her two children. She is bilingual and has experience as a journalist, Spanish teacher and as a birth, postpartum and bereavement doula. She incorporates her love of motherhood, children and the written word to practice as a Doula, Childbirth Educator, Baby Care Specialist, Children’s Yoga Instructor, and freelance writer. She hopes to support families in creating positive experiences and stories.

Sidney Borgetti

Infant Massage Specialist

Sidney’s background is in early childhood education – a graduate of Erikson Institute’s masters of Child Development program in 2013 with specializations in infancy and administration. She has taught in Early Head Start classrooms and then moved into an admin role as an Infant Toddler Specialist. She received her Infant Massage Educator training in 2017.