Who We Are

The last thing you need when you’re in labor is added worry about your care team. What if your doula is sick or out of town? What if she’s just finishing up another birth and hasn’t slept in days? What if two of her clients are in labor at exactly the same time?

At Third Coast Birth + Baby, we’ve put those fears to rest—for good. Instead of pairing parents with individual doulas (and assigning “back-ups” that they might never meet in person), we’ve created a unique team model. You’ll be paired with a trio of doulas, who are comfortable and experienced working together, who are well-versed in sharing information and brainstorming solutions, and who can step in seamlessly whatever time of day or night you need support.

Photo by Luis Cruz Photography

Margarita Valbuena

Co-founder, Director of Community Programs

Margarita (she/her) brings to Third Coast Birth & Baby her extensive book smarts about childhood development, attachment and rearing—as well as the hands-on, hard-won insights that come from mothering two kids of her own and working as a child development specialist for over 16 years. She loves bringing parents together, answering their questions and—most of all—helping them to trust their own parenting instincts. Behind the scenes, Margarita manages all the systems and paperwork that help our studio run so seamlessly and give our parents such peace of mind that the details are dealt with.

Margarita, her two revolutionary kids, plus her two Catcade cats are enjoying their new life near her family in Michigan after 16 years in Chicago.

Cait Sobotka

Co-founder, Director of Postpartum Programs

Cait Sobotka (she/her) has supported hundreds of families through pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period since she began working as a doula in 2013. As proactive as she is easy-going, Cait is a master of anticipating the needs of expectant and new moms

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

Shawna Mertens

Co-founder, Director of Prenatal Programs

Shawna (she/her) 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’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 (she/her) 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 Annie and Lauren.

Lauren Franzen

Lauren Franzen

Birth & Postpartum Doula, Lactation Consultant

Lauren (she/her) 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 Annie.

Stacey Hoekwater

Stacey Hoekwater

Childbirth Educator

Stacey (she/her) is a childbirth educator, birth doula, and yoga instructor. She has enjoyed supporting individuals and families through their prenatal, birth, and postpartum journeys by offering evidence-based resources, hands-on support, and deep respect for personal birth choices. Stacey enjoys traveling, biking, and making art with reckless abandon. She lives with her husband and two kids in the city of Chicago. 

Annie Walljasper

Annie Walljasper

Birth Doula

Annie feels fortunate to have had her own supportive birth experiences, working with wonderful doulas, which has led her to becoming a doula herself. She finds such privilege in being able to serve other families welcoming new babies. Annie is a board certified music therapist, which she feels has also led her to doula work, giving her unique experiences to support expectant parents with music therapy assisted child birth. Annie 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. 

Ama Warnock

Ama Warnock

Birth Doula

Ama (they/them) is a full spectrum doula, childbirth educator and reproductive health counselor. Ama is dedicated to providing non-judgmental, anti-oppressive, and unconditional care to people along all parts of the reproductive journey. They have trained with DONA, Birth Advocacy Doula Trainings, and The Southern Midwife. They are mentored by the Kuluntu Reproductive Justice Center in providing anti-racist doula services. Ama is also trained in communicating and advocating for human rights in childbirth and preventing obstetric violence by Know Your Rights. They are highly trained in care for queer and trans individuals, people with disabilities, survivors of violence, and people with marginalized identities.
Ama is a doula because they believe to their core that every person’s experience of their reproductive journey matters. They are committed to supporting people in having reproductive experiences that honor bodily autonomy and promote healing. Ama has also become skilled at supporting partners of birthing people.
They have a Masters of Public Health from Columbia University and have been a reproductive health counselor for two years. These experiences help them create informed and evidence-based education tailored to each clients’ needs.
Ama lives in Kenwood with their fiancee Julie and their dog Skrimmer. In their free time, they love doing crafts and reading.
Alexa DeTogne

Alexa DeTogne

Postpartum Doula

Alexa is a DONA trained birth and postpartum doula. With an understanding that every birth is unique, she works dynamically with all of her families, paying special attention to the particulars of each of their stories. She offers full spectrum, trauma-informed care, and has specialization working with LGBTQIA+ and military families. Her practice incorporates yogic movement and vipassana meditation.

On the fun and quirky side, Alexa is an avid chef and has worked as one professionally – she’s a nutritional wizard and a pro with meal prep. She also has a background in interior design, and so home organization and chores are a breeze. She’s a total nerd for making spaces clean and cozy, and families find her presence easy-going and sincere.

Alexa has a strong desire to support women at their most vulnerable, to provide them with safe space free of judgment, and to act as resource and companion, so that they have opportunity to better understand and advocate for themselves. 
Amanda Osowski

Amanda Osowski

Postpartum Doula

Amanda (she/her) is a natural nurturer. She is compassionate, patient, persistent and kind, and she’s a fierce advocate for helping her clients get what they need. She’s dedicated to helping new moms navigate this vulnerable time in their lives, processing the changes happening in their bodies, their marriage and with their postpartum identity. Amanda is honored to support families as they navigate the options and adaptations of feeding and caring for their baby, and is also available as an extra set of arms for baby snuggles while parents rest. Through customized and compassionate support, Amanda helps answer the questions new parents don’t even know they need to ask, while providing peace of mind, encouragement, reassurance and validation. 

Becca Hammond

Becca Hammond

Postpartum Doula

Becca (she/her) is fortunate to have come from a large family and growing up she always found herself eager to take on the care of her many young family members. As a new, young mother she quickly found that there was a lack of guidance, support and accurate information for new parents during this profound life transition. Many years later, a dear friend told her about the role of a postpartum doula and she knew this role was a perfect fit. Becca’s decade of experience as a beloved nanny gives her an understanding of the unique needs of every individual family she serves. She hopes to add more to her list of skills and expertise in time. Becca is LGBTQ+ affirming and passionate about reproductive and birth justice. She resides in Northwest Chicago with her husband and daughter. In her spare time, Becca enjoys spending quality time with her family and friends and practicing many different forms of self-care.

Kara Alexander

Kara Alexander

Postpartum Doula

Kara is a Newborn Care Specialist, CAPPA trained postpartum doula and lactation educator, certificated childbirth educator and baby wearing educator. She has twenty years of experience caring for children. She has worked in a daycare and twelve years as a nanny mainly working with infants and toddlers. Throughout her career she has focused on supporting families in the first year of life. She enjoys creating a loving environment, giving non-judgmental support, guidance, and leaving families feeling confident on their journey through parenthood. Kara is dedicated to meeting the needs of each unique family and each baby.

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.

Jennie Meyer

Jennie Meyer

Postpartum Doula

As a former elementary school educator and current LLL breastfeeding support leader, and current IBCLC, 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.

Giov Penze

Giov Penze

Postpartum Doula

Giov (she/her) is a postpartum doula who believes that one of the most important things you can do for a family is offer support and a listening ear. Bringing home a newborn is a transformative experience and Giov wants to empower families to make informed decisions that fit their family dynamic.
Families describe Giov as empathetic, thoughtful, organized, calm, and patient. She loves to cook and bake, especially meals that give energy to the family in a time of so many changes. She goes above and beyond to assist her families, and is proactive with their needs. She consistently cultivates a peaceful environment for the family, and assists them wherever they need.
When she’s not working Giov is chasing around her son, enjoying workouts at Feast Fitness, and long walks around Andersonville with her husband and son.
JulieAnne Bergeson

JulieAnne Bergeson

Postpartum Doula

Serving families during their journey through early postpartum is one of JulieAnne’s deepest joys and honors. She is a Certified Postpartum and Infant Care Doula, Bereavement Doula, and Nursing Assistant.

She believes every family deserves a doula and feels blessed with the opportunity to support them in this capacity. She found my calling to support new families through her own desire to have a sense of community as a new mom. As a doula, she strives to contribute to the strength of other women and to help them unlock an innate wisdom that she know lives within them. She is passionate about supporting others and believes that unbiased, nonjudgmental care connects people to the most authentic versions of themselves.
Ruth Hoekwater

Ruth Hoekwater

Postpartum Doula

Ruth is a mother of 3 and grandmother to 4 and has been married to my husband John for over 40 years. In that time she has lived abroad and built homes for Habitat for Humanity, fostered children who traveled internationally for life-saving surgeries and opened and managed a community coffee shop that was first of its kind in her neighborhood for almost 13 years. She is a nurturer and nannied 2 of her grandchildren from birth to school age. 

A natural people-person, Ruth loves meeting new clients and learning their stories in order to support them as best as she can. In her spare time she is avid reader and loves spending time out in nature as much as possible, especially with her grandchildren.

Heather Bethune

Heather Bethune

Postpartum Doula

Heather has always loved caring for infants and babies, growing up the oldest of nine children, and being continually fascinated by the intelligence of little humans. She brings a lot of intuitive wisdom and calm confidence into every home she has been privileged to be a caregiver in. 
Her own experience as a mother solidified and broadened her passion for reproductive justice in recent years, bringing her into doula work as an expression of her vision for a world where mothers and babies are always thriving. 
She lives with her partner and children in Wicker Park and enjoys long walks, riding her bike everywhere, and time at the city parks with her family and friends.

Pippin Mueller

Pippin Mueller

Birth Doula

Pippin (she/her) is a childbirth educator, birth doula, and aspiring bodyworker, who has worked with expectant families for close to a decade. She is a lifelong Chicagoan, and as the eldest of eight children, Pippin grew up hearing stories of her mother’s many different kinds of births. This led her into doula work and gave her a passion for trauma-informed care. She is equally passionate about reproductive justice, which for her includes advocating for families in a way that allows them to make the best choices for their circumstances. She brings a calm, grounded energy to births and aims to hold space in a nurturing way. Additionally, as a queer, single mother, Pippin recognizes that families come in many different forms, each uniquely beautiful.

Pippin lives with her daughter and two cats in Rogers Park. She loves to garden, knit, ferment, and haul her kiddo around on their cargo bike.
Sydney Rosenfeld

Sydney Rosenfeld

Birth Doula

Sydney is a birth and postpartum doula. Ultimately, the company of a few wonderful doulas during her own birth propelled her into working in the birth world. Her experience as a doula has led her to supporting a variety of both couples and individual birthing people. Her birth doula support typically includes exploring options from pregnancy through the immediate postpartum period, guiding by encouraging birthing people and couples to find their voice as parents, and honoring the human and awe inspiring experience of giving birth. Her work with each new birthing person is geared towards helping them to explore without judement any options they are interested in and a hands on, physical support during labor, while holding the intention to empower and uplift partners. Sydney also applies her knowledge of community stewardship, belief in accessible care for all, and information sharing with each family she has worked with. Sydney Is on a team with Pippin.

When Sydney is not at a birth, she is likely farming or gardening, studying for nursing grad school, or being silly with her son.

Community Partners

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. 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 has additional training in pelvic floor/core function and perinatal mood disorders. She currently offers one-on-one consultation focused on physical birth prep and recovery, logistical and lifestyle preparation and adjustment, and mental and emotional wellness. She also offers private and group pre and postnatal yoga. She is additionally available for small group or workshop format educational presentations.

Abby is the group moderator for Mom to Mom: Creating Our Own Village on Facebook where you can parent in community with moms from all over the Midwest and beyond. Mom to Mom began as a collaboration between MotherLover and Third Coast as way of bringing our beloved playgroups in Logan Square to the masses in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Bābē Maven

Elite Sitter Service and Learning Pods

Bābē Maven is an Elite Sitter Service based in Chicago, Illinois. We provide our network of Client-Families with direct access to our elite Sitter-Mavens who are CPR and first-aid certified. Every Sitter-Maven undergoes an extensive background check and are required to provide reputable childcare references. Our Sitter-Mavens genuinely connect with the children they care for — offering our families the very best personal childcare in your city.

Brittany Gaddy is founding CEO of Bābē Maven with over 15 years of experience in the childcare industry. Through her extensive work with families all over the Chicagoland area the importance of quality childcare became the mission along with the impact it carries in offering the best childcare. It is through the years of experience and networking with other child care professionals that has built this solid network of sitters who we call Sitter-Mavens.
Unfortunately, Brittany could not duplicate herself but believes that every family should have access to excellent childcare. And so we have Sitter-Mavens who are an extension of those elite quality standards and play an intricate part within our elite sitter service in providing the very best childcare for every Client-Family.