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

Co-founder, Director of Community Programs / Directora de Programas Comunitarias

Margarita (she/her, they/them) 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 15 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.

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 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

Cofounder, 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 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.

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.

Hannah Fath - Doula Han

Hannah Fath - Doula Han

Birth Doula

Hannah (she/her, they/them) believes that parents deserve non-biased, evidence-based, empowering resources to be the best version of themselves during their transformative and individual transition to parenthood. She believes that there isn’t a “right” way to provide care for families and as a doula, she provides unbiased support to every one of her clients. She is well versed in trauma-informed care, creating ritual for those who have experienced infant or pregnancy loss including abortion, sexual health education, best practices for pelvic floor health, and the Spinning Babies technique. She is also working towards her massage therapy certification in hopes to provide healing touch to the birth community. Hannah lives in the Edgewater neighborhood with her partner and two rescue pups, Buddha and Ruby. When not doula-ing, she can be found napping, doing yoga, trying to avoid adopting every dog she sees online, watching documentaries, tending her small apartment garden, or dreaming about her next trip to New Orleans.

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. 

Stephanie Bour

Stephanie Bour

Birth Doula

Stephanie is passionate about the transformative transition into parenthood. “As a birth doula, childbirth educator, and trauma-informed prenatal yoga instructor, I strive to establish a safe, nurturing and compassionate space to support each family I work with”. Stephanie trained professionally with CAPPA in 2018. Whether she is supporting a birthing person in labor or teaches a prenatal yoga practice, Stephanie combines her soothing and grounding presence with a deep knowledge of human anatomy and physiology. Stephanie is native of France, married to an Argentinian, and is raising her 2 children born in Chicago in a multicultural home. She is fluent in French, Spanish, and English of course… if you don’t mind a hint of a French accent.

 

 

Amy Catania

Amy Catania

Birth Doula, Childbirth Educator

Amy (she/her, they/them) is the fifth of seven sisters, born and raised here in Chicago in the Douglas neighborhood. She has also lived in Northern Wisconsin and Portland, Oregon. Amy has been a labor doula and Birthing From Within childbirth educator for 12 years. She offers solution-focused listening, clear information, empathy, and respect for pregnant people and their partners. Amy will help each expectant parent and family she works with create and protect your own safe-as-possible space. She can be an integral part of the support you need to see your inner strengths and to freely find and choose your own path and solutions for the challenges of pregnancy, labor, birth or parenting. She is on a team with Katelyn and Natalie.

She also has over 25 years of experience in advocacy for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, non-profit leadership, and social justice organizing. She is currently working on a nursing degree at Malcolm X College. Amy has three children and lives along with her family and a sister’s family in a two flat in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood.

Natalie Evans

Natalie Evans

Birth Doula

Natalie Evans is a childbirth educator, doula, movement coach and wild edible foods instructor. She has enjoyed the rewarding work of teaching expectant families and being a doula for over 18 years. She is passionate about helping people find agency, resiliency and community through her various classes and supporting expectant families during their birth. She is on a team with Amy and Katelyn.
 
Natalie also loves to help people reconnect to nature through a variety of classes like her “One Plant at a Time” class where families learn about a plant through art, stories and play. She teaches outdoor family movement classes, pelvic floor health classes, a Wild Edible Picnic & Plant Walk that focus ethical foraging and hosts retreats where people can move their bodies in nature while enjoying wild food.
 
Natalie also enjoys the being the mother of two incredible teenagers, one born at Evanston Northwestern hospital and one a home water birth.

 
 
Dana Watson

Dana Watson

Birth Doula, 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.

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 Amy and Natalie.

Amanda Osowski

Amanda Osowski

Postpartum Doula

Amanda 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. 

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.

Zuri Thompson

Zuri Thompson

Postpartum Doula

Zuri is passionate about providing postpartum support for families. She has spent over 10 years working to create and support programs that connect people in need to helpful services and approaches her doula work with the same intention. She was inspired to pursue postpartum doula’ing after her own experiences when she gave birth to her oldest daughter in 2017 and her youngest in 2018.
She believes birth to be a transformative experience for everyone involved and encourages her families to embrace the changes so they can be present for the joyful moments. Her goal in doing this work is to empower parents to build community which is essential to the transformative period of life that is early parenthood.
Becca Hammond

Becca Hammond

Postpartum Doula

Becca 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.

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.

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.

Community Partners

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.

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.