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About Birthways

Pregnancy, Birth & Postpartum Doula Services in Chicago

 

“Birthways was great to work with; professional, knowledgeable, helpful, and collaborative. Our Doula provided wonderful peace of mind and much needed sleep!”

Our Story

Birthways was founded in 1997 by Karen Laing, who was previously the director of Illinois’ first fledging doula agency, Dana Mothercare (DM). DM was owned and founded by Nancy Newton and Bill Brauer, groundbreaking professionals whose approach integrated mindfulness in home-based care.  When DM’s founders moved on to other projects and closed the organization, Karen gathered the doulas and founded a new doula company. Some of the original DM’s doulas are still a part of Birthways today!

Birthways has helped to shape the field of postpartum care in Chicago and across the nation. Since entering the field, Karen Laing has served as one of the early board members of the National Association of Postpartum Care Services and worked to establish the first national certification standards for the postpartum doula.

While Birthways serves a wide variety of families, one of our areas of specialty has become perinatal and postpartum mood disorders.  Karen Laing contributed a chapter to the book “Housecalls: Home based Interventions on the impact of doula care on postpartum depression and perinatal mood disorders (PPMDs)”. She also co-presented to the American Psychological Association on the subject and has presented at the March of Dimes Conference on this groundbreaking model of care.

Why Birthways

Exceptional

Carefully screened, trained, and supported, Birthways doulas have a range of experience to meet your unique needs. We’re not just figuring this out. We are nationally recognized experts involved in establishing the first certification guidelines in the field 20 years ago!

Responsive

We have 24/7 on-call administrators to deal with issues that arise outside of business hours.

Experts

We will pair you with a doula that will be the right professional for your needs. Our training keeps providers up to date on newborn care, women’s health, sibling needs, lactation, and emotional wellbeing. Our labor support providers have expertise with both low risk and high risk pregnancies, and we work with women who have special concerns with their wellbeing. Because we get to know you, we’ll be sure to find the right doula for your needs, budget and parenting style.

Doulas on our team have impressive backgrounds. They include midwives, perinatal educators, women’s health specialists, RNs with Maternal/Child/NICU experience, newborn and early childhood professionals, Social Workers and other mental health professionals, sleep specialists, Lactation Consultants & Lactation Educators—we have the right expert for you.

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Trained for special needs

We have labor support and postpartum doulas with special training in..high-risk pregnancies, multiples, advanced lactation support, postpartum depression and perinatal mood disorders, adoption and surrogacy, and other unique circumstances.

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Professional

Birthways is unmatched in being responsive, and maintaining consistent, exceptional care. You’re looking for a doula that will meet needs with compassion, knowledge and skillful nurturing for you and your family, but you also want reliability, consistency, and responsiveness.

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Communication

Calling around and not getting responses? We have over two decades of experience and unmatched professionalism to anticipate your needs, and exceed your expectations. We have solid backup plans, and great communication skills to help you plan for what you know you will need, and to work through the unexpected if it happens.

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Flexibility and Reliability

You want to be sure your doula is available, but have no idea when this baby will really arrive. You aren’t sure about family support or how to plan for care. Birthways will work with you to ensure that you get what you need, when you need it.

Meet Our Founder

Karen Laing is a mother, lactation consultant, midwife and educator and the founder and president of Birthways.  She was trained at Duke Integrative Medicine as an Integrative Health Coach, and is a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction instructor.  As a clinician and educator, her attention to the emotional wellbeing of families permeates her work.

She has published and lectured on the subject of postpartum doulas and their role in prevention and treatment of perinatal mood disorders.   As a Board Member of the National Association of Postpartum Care Services, she worked to establish the first national standards for postpartum doula certification.  She has developed unique models of care for breastfeeding support and perinatal mood disorder care that is founded on a collaborative approach between clinicians and home-based doulas.

Learn More about Karen

Karen has trained and mentored hundreds of doulas and providers and worked with thousands of families in her career.  Through the unique perspective of providing and teaching a home-based model of care, she has had the opportunity to support families with insight into the joys, fears, and challenges of early parenting.  By sharing evidence-based information and explaining the underlying biology of parental and infant behavior with a compassionate and empowering style, Karen helps families learn to trust themselves and their infants. Her training and her personal commitment to mindful caregiving allows both her clients and students to be supported with compassion, non-judgment, and curiosity.

Karen lectures and teaches regularly at Birthways and to the community, including:

  • Rush Prudential Health Plans – Preconception and Pregnancy Wellness
  • American Medical Association- Parenting Series for the Workplace Wellness Program
  • March of Dimes- Presented on the Topic of Postpartum Doulas
  • American Psychological Association- Poster Session Postpartum Doulas and Perinatal Mood Disorders
  • Babyserv- Served as a Childbirth Expert
  • Rainbow Families/Family Equality-
  • Led “Not Yet Parents” workshops and groups
  • Prolonged Conception and Infertility, Body Image and LBT Identity in Pregnancy
  • Midwest Maternal Institute- Professor

When she’s not supporting families and their doulas at Birthways or supporting individuals through her work as a coach and meditation instructor, Karen is writing, gardening, cooking for family and friends, and cultivating her daily meditation practice.   She lives in Wisconsin and is nourished by the trails, lakes and wooded places both in her community and throughout the Midwest in particular.  She has Welsh Springer Spaniels that are usually underfoot and hasn’t outgrown her girlhood love for horses.   Parenting her daughter, born in 2003, will always be the most important journey she’s been brave enough to take.

Meet Our Instructors

Mary Sommers, CPM, MPS

Mary Sommers, CPM, MPS

Certified Professional Midwife who has participated in more than 1700 deliveries over the past 30 years. Director for 3 community health centers, nurse-midwifery services and maternal child programs. Proud mother of 5—all born at home!

Megan Trinter, CD, CPM

Megan Trinter, CD, CPM

Graduate of Penn State with B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies with a concentration in Children, Youth & Family Services

Labor support and postpartum Birthways doula since 2003

Holds Midwest Maternal Child Institute Midwifery Degree

Teaches group & private lessons and refresher courses

Has four fabulous children; three born at home and one in a hospital setting

Brit Brackins, CD (DONA), CLC, CIMI

Brit Brackins, CD (DONA), CLC, CIMI

Certified Labor Support Doula, Lactation Counselor and Infant Massage Instructor. Skilled perinatal educator and doula. Additional training through Ounce of Prevention.

Claire Zawa, CD (DONA), MBCP Claire Zawa CD(DONA), MBCP

Claire Zawa, CD (DONA), MBCP Claire Zawa CD(DONA), MBCP

Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting (MBCP) educator. Certified Labor Support Doula through DONA, experienced Postpartum Doula. Birthways Care Manager.

Mary Jozwiak, IBCLC

Mary Jozwiak, IBCLC

Board Certified Lactation Consultant who is a 20+ year veteran of Birthways and has consulted with 1000+ moms.

Meet Our Doulas

Leah Lemelin

Leah Lemelin

Labor Support & Postpartum Doula

Attended over 40 births. Leah has a personal yoga and meditation practice which has been particularly impactful in her childbearing and parenting experiences. Mother of two.

Di Pineda

Di Pineda

Labor Support & Postpartum Doula

Certified yoga teacher (Core Power). Co-Teacher at Willow Tree Child Care and a nanny for over 10 years.

Claire Zawa

Claire Zawa

Labor Support and Postpartum Doula

A wonderful labor support & postpartum doula but finds herself mainly in the office working as the Birthways Postpartum Care Coordinator. Claire is also a certified Mindfulness-Based Birthing Teacher and teaches the 9 week series here at Birthways!

Ryan Gilgenbach

Ryan Gilgenbach

Labor Support and Postpartum Doula

Worked as a Volunteer Patient Coordinator, a Nursing Assistant in Training, and Surgical Pathology Technician. Trained as a doula in 2017 with DONA. Attended over 40 births. There isn’t anything she wouldn’t do for her clients!

Megan Trinter

Megan Trinter

Labor Support Doula

A doula, certified professional midwife and childbirth educator. Attended births at home and at nearly every major hospital in the area. Over 225 births. Megan brings a sense of humor but also a deep respect for birth and laboring mothers. A mother of four.

Brit Brackins

Brit Brackins

Labor Support & Postpartum Doula

Attended over 200 births. Has been to almost every hospital and birthing center in the Chicagoland area! Childbirth educator, lactation counselor, and in her spare time, chases around her three year old.  

Tara Romsaithong

Tara Romsaithong

Labor Support and Postpartum Doula

Supported over 100 families through the childbearing years. Brings extensive skill, knowledge, and passion to the unique experiences of birth and early parenting. She trained as a doula with DONA in 2009 and has five kids of her own.

Katy Collins

Katy Collins

Labor Support and Postpartum Doula

Loves talking about birth with every mama and this works out well because she is also the Birthways Labor Support Coordinator! Attended over 100 births. Certified through ToLabor. Has a cool web series called The Doual is IN (www.thedoulaisin.com).

Nicole Miles

Nicole Miles

Labor Support and Postpartum Doula

Trained and certified in 2012 with Warm Welcome Birth Services. Supported dozens of labor support clients throughout Chicago with Chicago Volunteer Doulas and with Birthways. Extensive experience as a childcare provider, sitter. Recently completed her Newborn Care Specialist certification. Completing her Masters in Biomedical Sciences from Roosevelt University.

Stephanie Hattan

Stephanie Hattan

Labor Support & Postpartum Doula

Certified labor support and postpartum doula. Certified Hypno-Doula through HynoBabies. Completing additional trainings through Stillbirthday and Childbirth International. Loves learning and is passionate about sharing evidence-based information and resources with the families she supports.

Ashley Fulton

Ashley Fulton

Labor Support and Postpartum Doula

Trained with DONA as a Labor Support doula in May 2018. Supported clients privately and through Chicago Volunteer Doulas before joining our team. Mother of three. “Through my own births and the births I’ve attended, I believe birth can be a positive, beautiful, and empowering experience.” 

Anly Laudicina

Anly Laudicina

Postpartum Doula

A postpartum doula for over a decade and before that worked in a preschool. A resource for all our families especially those with premature or special needs infants, as well as those welcoming twins or full-term singleton babies into the home.

Carmen Rodriguez

Carmen Rodriguez

Postpartum Doula

Background in adolescent and women’s health. MA from Northeastern Illinois University as a Guidance Counselor. Completed Community Health Worker Course. Considerable experience with older children as well as newborns. Mother and grandmother.

Carrie Fosbinder

Carrie Fosbinder

Postpartum Doula and Certified Sleep Consultant

Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant. Over a decade of experience as a postpartum doula.

Diana Sullivan

Diana Sullivan

Postpartum Doula

Trained with ProDoula. Diana is knowledgeable and experienced with fussy and colicky babies, support for the baby blues and perinatal mood disorders. Worked with twin families. 

Jeanine O'Toole

Jeanine O'Toole

Postpartum Doula

Postpartum doula since 2014. Cared for premature and medically-fragile infants, fussy babies, and supported older siblings. Strong foundation and deepening knowledge around women’s health and wellbeing, newborn safety and development, and lactation support. Supported families through the Baby Blues and Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders.

Jessica Miller

Jessica Miller

Postpartum Doula

Certification as a prenatal and postpartum doula through Ubuntu Birth Workers Collective. Bachelor’s Degree from Northwestern University with a Major in Psychology and Minor in Science in Human Culture-Medicine in Society. Level II Reiki practitioner.

JulieAnn Bergeson

JulieAnn Bergeson

Postpartum Doula

Years of experience as a Newborn Care Specialist, nanny, and mother. Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education, specializing in Family and Child Studies. Completed certification as a Teacher in Early Education.

Libby Murphy

Libby Murphy

Postpartum Doula

Tends to the range of needs that may arise for each family. Sensitive to the emotional and practical needs of new parents and familiar with perinatal mood disorders. Mother of two.

Susan Ruhl

Susan Ruhl

Postpartum Doula

With Birthways since 2013 when she retired from her role as the Director of Total Child in Evanston and from a career as an Early Childhood educator. Trained in the TummyTime! Mother of two grown daughters and a grandmother of three.

Tammany Droll

Tammany Droll

Postpartum Doula

Trained as a doula in 2010. Degree in Early Childhood Education and Child Psychology. Completed Nursing Assistant training. Background includes working with pregnant and parenting teens, nursing home support with mentally impaired children, Certified Nursing Assistant, and hospice home health care provider.

Tulia Rubero

Tulia Rubero

Postpartum Doula

Seeks to provide comprehensive, holistic care and support for women and children, as a doula. Licensed Chiropractor through National University with interest in the perinatal modules, including Webster technique. Pursuing a Masters in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine.

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For over 20 years, Birthways has provided expert support for Chicago-area families during the childbearing year with compassionate, knowledgeable, and affirming care. Founded by renowned postpartum expert Karen Laing, our doulas are carefully screened, trained, supported and experienced to meet your unique needs. With expertise ranging from education to lactation to sleep, Birthways is committed to providing compassionate, affirming support for expectant and new families.

3717 N. Ravenswood Ave. Suite 140 Chicago, IL 60613 888.506.0607