Biographies

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Vera Samarina

Vera Samarina, MD, doctor gynecologist-physiologist, pediatrician, is president of the association of teachers in natural family planning. She is a teacher of methods of conception. She teaches couples natural harmony of matrimonial relationships. Vera organizes medical conferences for the Christian medics of Saint-Petersburg.

Emilio Santos Leal

Emilio Santos Leal is a gynecologist who has dedicated his life to change birth in Spain. He was formerly a physicist and a psychiatrist. As he started the training as a gynecologist, he used to accompany homebirths, at the beginning in the hand of his mentor, the experienced midwife Consuelo Ruiz. Nowadays he works in a hospital in Madrid with the aim to give women the possibility of having healthy births full of power, and with the motivation to start a unit for waterbirth in the close future.

Emilio Santos Leal’s goal for international midwifery is organizing events in Spain with the aim to inform women and professionals about the best available ways to have birth. Emilio is a member of Asociación Nacer en Casa, an association of professionals who provide attendance to women in homebirth, waterbirth, and birth centers, as well as childbirth preparation.

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Tatyana Sargunas

Tatyana Sargunas, midwife and waterbirth trainer, has been preparing couples for soft, natural childbirth for more than 20 years. She conducts training seminars in spiritual midwifery for professionals, and has developed her own methods for teaching couples how to birth without medical intervention. Tatyana has four children who were born at home, in the water without intervention. At this time, Tatyana continues to teach gentle birth and spiritual midwifery. Her center, AQUA, organizes an annual expedition to the Black Sea.

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Peggy Sawyer

Peggy Sawyer lived in Ashland, Oregon, where she practiced homebirth midwifery care that included homeopathy from 1982 to 2003. She was the mother of five including her youngest, twin boys. She was the grandmother of two children whom she had the privilege of catching at home.

On December 4, 2003, Peggy died of an aneurysm at age 50. She is survived by her dedicated husband, Willie, who hopes to carry on her work.

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Verena Schmid

Verena Schmid has been a midwife for over 25 years. She has founded a center for natural and homebirth with continuity of care from conception until the first year of the baby; a midwifery magazine; and a school with the goal of teaching Italian midwives the true sense of the midwifery model of care and promoting a new birth culture.

In 2000 Verena won the prestigious Astrid Limburg award for midwifery achievement and excellence. She teaches in hospitals all over Italy, in several European countries and in her school. She is the author of two books and an activist in political promotion of natural birth and midwifery. At the time she is working at a project for a birth center in Florence.

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Hans Peter Schmitz

Hans Peter Schmitz has practiced Shiatsu and alternative medicines since 1990. His homeopathic calling is based on a family tradition, as his grandfather was a homeopath. The diseases of his children made him turn away from conventional medical doctrines and brought him to homeopathy in 1988. After attending A.B. Adam’s lectures (Kebanyoran College of Traditional Akupuncture in Jakarta) he added Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

In 2001 Schmitz and his wife started “Orthoshi AG” for Homeopathic Training and has since been lecturing and holding seminars on the subject matter.

Peter was born in 1956. He is married, with 10 children and four grandchildren.

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Holly Scholles

Holly Scholles, MA, CPM, LDM, is the president of Birthingway College of Midwifery in Portland, Oregon. She has been a direct entry midwife since 1978. She has two children, both born at home, and has breastfed for a total of nine years. When not catching babies or teaching at Birthingway, she may be found tending her herb garden on her two-acre farmette where she lives with her family, two self-important cats and 22 spoiled-rotten chickens.

Melisa Schuster

Melisa Schuster is a psychotherapist in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She specializes in prenatal and postpartum depression, child guidance and parenting, and codependency and addictions.

Jodi Selander

Jodi Selander founded the website PlacentaBenefits.info and provides placenta encapsulation services to new mothers in southern Nevada. She is on the placentophagy research team at UNLV (University of Nevada, Las Vegas). She developed the Placenta Encapsulation Specialist Training Course for providers, and has written The Postpartum Survival Guide, a book to help couples navigate the first three months after their baby is born. She lives in Las Vegas with her three young daughters.

Julia Seng

Julia Seng is a certified nurse-midwife and Research Associate Professor at the University of Michigan Institute for Research on Women and Gender. She studies the effects of posttraumatic stress on childbearing.

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Imam Mikal Shabazz

Imam Mikal Shabazz is director of the Oregon Islamic Chaplain Organization and served as resident Imam of The Muslim Community Center of Portland for over 23 years. In 2006 he traveled to Sierra Leone with a midwifery training and health education mission to help mobilize local support for a school for Yele village children. He currently works to raise funds for children in that village.

Elizabeth Shadigian

Elizabeth Shadigian, MD, is an obstetrician-gynecologist, consultant, educator and researcher specializing in the health, safety and well-being of women. Elizabeth received her medical degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and her bachelor of science in chemistry from Purdue University. She has been board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology since 1996 and is a fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Elizabeth has been on the faculty of the University of Michigan Medical School since 1994 and for 12 years provided clinical care to women at the U of M Health System. She is writing her first book and is founder and Matriarch of the Battered Women and Children’s Memorial Garden.

Robyn Sheldon

Robyn Sheldon is a midwife and natural birth consultant. She holds a deep respect for the significance of birth as a means of transformation, and for its impact on the newborn psyche. Robyn’s book The Mama Bamba Way, The Power and Pleasure of Natural Childbirth, was published by Findhorn Press in 2010.

Tlalie Vered Shir

Tlalie Vered Shir is a trained doula. She accompanies homebirths, mainly in water. She developed heartsong, a program that uses song/sound vibration with theta healing imagery, especially for woman, pregnancy and birth.

Ekaterina Shlyakhova

Ekaterina Shlyakhova is the director of the international school Birthlight in Russia and the former Soviet Union. She is a specialist in perinatal yoga, aqua-yoga, early swimming and baby-yoga. Ekaterina believes that in yoga one must begin from simple ideas. Ekaterina says, “If all people accept the philosophy of non-violence, respect, self-development and empathy, the world will be much better!”

Penny Simkin

Penny Simkin, PT, is a physical therapist who has specialized in childbirth education since 1968. She estimates she has prepared over 9,000 women, couples, and siblings for childbirth. She has assisted hundreds of women or couples through childbirth as a doula. She is the author of many books on birth for both parents and professionals.

Through independent study and her work as a birth counselor, she has developed a counseling approach for pregnant survivors of sexual abuse. This work is described in the book, When Survivors Give Birth: Understanding and Healing the Effects of Early Sexual Abuse on the Childbearing Woman, which she co-authored with Phyllis Klaus. Today her practice consists of childbirth education, birth counseling, and labor support, combined with a busy schedule of conferences and workshops.

She co-founded Doulas of North America and The Pacific Association for Labor Support.

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Cheryl L. Smith

Cheryl K. Smith was the managing editor for Midwifery Today from 2005 to 2009. She wrote for and edited Midwifery Today magazine and and edited several books published by Motherbaby Press, including Placenta: The Gift of Life / Information on the role of the placenta in different cultures, and how to prepare and use it as medicine (2007), Survivor Moms: Women’s Stories of Birthing, Mothering and Healing after Sexual Abuse (2008), and The Power of Women (2009). She has also raised miniature dairy goats since 1998 and is the author of Goat Health Care (karmadillo Press, 2009) and Raising Goats for Dummies (Wiley, 2010).

Maryl Smith

Maryl Smith, CPM, LDM, has an active homebirth practice and has been catching babies since 1984. Over the years she has cared for women from over 18 different nations, worked in two free-standing birth centers, taught as adjunct staff at Birthingway College of Midwifery and served in multiple roles in the promotion of midwifery in the state of Oregon. Her passion is supporting trauma survivors during the perinatal experience. Maryl frequently travels the world with her pastor/musician husband working to preserve indigenous spiritual expression in music. Her other activities include adventures with her granddaughters, herb gardening, writing and being active in her local Native American community.

Noemy Sotela

Noemy Sotela is nursing supervisor in the public hospital of Upala, a small town in the northern Costa Rica. In adddition to her duties in the hospital, Noemy is dedicated to supporting traditional midwives working in remote rural communities of the region.

Dõna Irene Sotelo

Dõna Irene Sotelo is a traditional midwife (partera tradicional) who lives and works in the community of Juitepec, just outside the city of Cuernavaca, in the state of Morelos, Mexico. She is also a traditional healer (curandera), an herbalist, a bonesetter and a specialist in traditional forms of massage. She runs a full-time healing and midwifery practice from her home, which contains a birth center. She sees 10 to 15 clients a day and attends four to six births a month. She has attended thousands of births and is widely recognized as one of the most respected and honored traditional midwives in Morelos.

Kara Spencer

Kara Spencer, LMT, CD, CBE, is a craniosacral therapist, licensed massage therapist and birth and postpartum doula with a private practice in Eugene, Oregon. Further resources about craniosacral therapy for mothers and babies are available at Kara’s website at www.maiahealingarts.com. Kara is also a childbirth educator, doula trainer and healing arts educator. She is the founder of the Maia Institute of Co-Creative Healing at www.maiainstitute.org, which offers Co-Creative Birthing classes online and more. She also teaches Birth Arts International Doula workshops, www.birtharts.com.

Mickey Sperlich

Mickey Sperlich is a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) with nearly 20 years experience helping women on the journey of pregnancy and birth. She currently coordinates a study on the effects of posttraumatic stress on childbearing at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender. Read Mickey’s Blog

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Eneyda Spradlin-Ramos

Eneyda Spradlin-Ramos, BA in Human Resources, Licensed Massage Therapist, was born in Managua, Nicaragua. She became interested in birth when she was nine, after observing a midwife resolve a prolonged second stage by simply having the mother blow into a bottle three times. Eneyda has been involved in childbirth, breastfeeding and homeschooling since 1982 and has attended homebirths since 1990.

Nati Steverlynck

Nati Steverlynck is a Certified Professional Midwife by the North American Registry of Midwives. She has done intensive clinical practice at the hospital, birth center and home setting and she is co-founder of Acompañando Mamás al Nacimiento (AMAN). Together with Ansu Coto, a doula and massage therapist, they offer a childbirth class in hypnobirthing. Nati is also a member of With Woman (www.womenwithwomen.org), an organization that supports woman-centered maternity care in underserved populations around the world. She has a career in Arts and Ceramics and birth shows frequently in her art work.

Elaine Stillerman

Elaine Stillerman, LMT, has been a New York State licensed massage therapist since 1978. She began her pioneering work in prenatal massage, labor support and postpartum recovery massage in 1980. She is the developer and instructor of the professional certification workshop "MotherMassage: Massage during Pregnancy" which she began teaching in 1990 and which is currently taught at massage schools, spas and resorts across the country.

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Sudy Storm

Sudy Storm, co-founder and Director of the International School of Traditional Midwifery, has been a practicing midwife in southern Oregon since 1997. She has made two trips to Senegal to provide midwifery services.

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Christiana Strickler

Christiana Strickler is James Strickler’s oldest daughter. She is an experienced midwife in spite of her youth. She has a busy homebirth practice in Central Pennsylvania.

James Strickler

James Strickler, fondly known as PapaMidwife and husband of Fern, participated in the birthings of their ten home-born children. He served as a school administrator for 20 years and has now returned to his roots farming. James served as president of Pennsylvania-based SaveHomeBirth, promoting freedom of choice in matters of birth. When the Pennsylvania Board of Medicine recently tried to shut down a local midwife, he filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Amish.

Ampusan Symonette

Ampusan Symonette is a midwife in the Bahamas.

Suzanne Thomson

Suzanne Thomson has been a licensed midwife since 1996, serving the VBAC, twins and breech community, as well as the community of families at large, in the state of Washington. She loves training and mentoring the next generation of midwives, teaching and training abroad as well as at home, and volunteering her time in underserved countries in the area of maternity care. She is mother to two grown adults, both homebirthed. She served as president of Washington Alliance for Responsible Midwifery (WARM) for two years and is passionate about protecting and preserving the sacredness of birth on Earth.

Jan Tritten

Jan Tritten is the founder and editor-in-chief of Midwifery Today magazine and a midwife who was in active practice from 1977–1989. She became a midwife in 1977 after the powerful homebirth of one of her daughters. Her mission is to make loving midwifery care the norm for birthing women and their babies throughout the world. Meet Jan at our conferences around the world! [ PHOTO BY ANDREA NOLL ]

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Kim Trout

Kim Kovach Trout, PhD, CNM, has been caring for mothers and babies since 1980. She is currently on the faculty of Villanova University where she teaches maternal-newborn nursing. Kim is particularly interested in pursuing research regarding the normal physiology of birth.

Gail Tully

Gail Tully is a homebirth midwife (CPM) and a birth doula trainer in Minneapolis, Minnesota USA. She presents her Spinning Babies Workshops nationally, which include Belly Mapping and Resolving Shoulder Dystocia. She is a doula trainer (DONA approved) and the founder of The Childbirth Collective doula group.

Rebecca Turecky

Rebecca Turecky, CNM, ND, is a homebirth midwife, raised in the US, but now a Costa Rican dual citizen with licensure as an Enfermera Obstetrica. With her background in Women’s Studies and alternative healing, she worked in Europe and Africa promoting women’s health, before she found her natural paradise in Costa Rica. Since 1991 she has been involved in efforts to humanize childbirth in the country through her work with mothers and babies, traditional midwives, government agencies and international organizations. She co-founded Asociacion Mamasol.

Marie Tyndall

Marie Tyndall is a midwife who has worked in diverse settings—from hospitals in Canada and England to rural communities in Iraq and Nicaragua. Originally from Canada, she now resides in Costa Rica where she works with her midwife partner Rebecca Turecky offering holistic homebirth and waterbirth services for intimate and gentle birth. Marie has worked for many years to support traditional midwives throughout Central America. You can find out more about childbirth in Costa Rica though her website www.mamasol.com.

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Laura Uplinger

Laura Uplinger is an international proponent and educator in the field of conscious conception, pregnancy and birth. Fluent in four languages, she bridges several cultures traveling between Europe and the Americas as a featured speaker for doulas, midwives and obstetricians. In Rio de Janeiro, she has counseled pregnant women in favelas, mansions and maternity wards. Scriptwriter of an award-winning video, "A Gift for the Unborn Children," she works in close collaboration with the Association for Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology and Health, www.birthpsychology.com.

Kerstin Uvnäs-Moberg

Kerstin Uvnäs-Moberg has been a professor in physiology at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences since 1996. She is the author of The Oxytocin Factor, Tapping the Hormone of Calm, Love and Healing (Da Capo Press, Perseus Press, 2004) and has published over 400 articles.

Thea van Tuyl

Thea van Tuyl is a prenatal teacher in the Netherlands (her course is called "Samen Bevallen"). For nearly 20 years she was also childbirth educator trainer. Since 2000 she has been a member of European Network of Childbirth Associations (ENCA www.enca-nederland.nl), a European network that works for improvement of the care of mother and baby. She is secretary of the Dutch department of ENCA. She took part in the start of the Education for Doulas in Utrecht and became a doula trainer. During her visits to the Midwifery Today conferences in Europe she learned the use of the rebozo from Naolí Vinaver and Angelina Martinez Miranda from Mexico. Together with Mirjam de Keijzer she started to organize workshops about rebozo massage in 2007. Thea and Mirjam wrote the workbook The Rebozo Technique Unfolded with involvement from Naolí Vinaver who inspired their writing of the book. Thea is married, has two daughters and lives in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands. www.theavantuyl.nl (Dutch)

Fran Ventre

Fran Ventre, CNM, MPH, began her career in Maryland as a childbirth educator in 1973, then became a licensed homebirth lay midwife in 1975. She was founder of HOME (Home Oriented Maternity Experience) and editor of its newsletter from 1973–1979. She subsequently graduated from the Georgetown University Nurse-Midwifery Program in 1978 and received a Masters of Public Health from Boston University in 1990.

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Naolí Vinaver

Naolí Vinaver is a Mexican midwife who combines traditional birth practices with a profound interest in and respect for the physiology of natural birth. She has been attending both waterbirths and births in traditional styles and positions since 1990. Naolí has enjoyed three pregnancies and homebirths of her own in the company of her family. She is in the process of writing and illustrating a couple of children’s books about life, pregnancy and birth, while continuing her homebirth practice in both rural and urban Veracruz State, Mexico. [ PHOTO BY JENNIFER ROSENBERG ]

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Ann von Staffeldt

Ann von Staffeldt is the mother of four children with her husband, Alex. She has been working with a special device called Vega Test, combined with a homeopathic method called Homotoxikology for the past 13 years. She continues her education every year to stay current with what is happening in the science of energy medicine.

Marsden Wagner

Marsden Wagner, MD, was a perinatologist and perinatal epidemiologist from California. He was Regional Officer for Maternal and Child Health in the European Regional office of the World Health Organization for 15 years. He raised four children as a single father. Marsden was an outspoken supporter of midwifery, speaking at Midwifery Today conferences and contributing numerous articles to Midwifery Today magazine (see below). Marsden passed away in April 2014 at the age of 84. His books, Born in the USA, Creating Your Birth Plan, and Pursuing the Birth Machine, are invaluable for anyone involved in birth.

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Nancy Wainer

Nancy Wainer, CPM, is an internationally known childbirth writer and speaker who coined the term VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean—pronounced "vee-back"), now used all over the world. Her landmark book, SILENT KNIFE: Cesarean Prevention and Vaginal Birth after Cesarean (1983), won critical acclaim. It was chosen as the best book in the field of Health and Medicine by the American Library Association in 1983 and was called "The bible of cesarean prevention" by The Wall Street Journal. Her book OPEN SEASON: A Survival Guide for Natural Childbirth and VBAC in the 90s (1991) was touted by Informed Birth and Parenting as "the only book that tells the truth about childbirth in the United States (It fairly sizzles in your hands…)." She is currently working on her third book, titled BIRTHQUAKE: A Childbirth Book for Strong Women and Women Who Want to Be Strong.

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Karen Webster

Karen Webster, CPM, LM, has had a passion for birth since after the homebirth of her 4th baby in 1979, when she began attending births and apprenticing with her midwife. Karen has been an avid birth activist, and served on the MANA Board for six years, and is now a member of the FAM Board. She has always had apprentices and fervently believes in the saying "Each one teach one" and the importance of preserving the apprenticeship route to becoming a midwife. She has served as a preceptor for the National College of Midwifery and Birthwise Midwifery School. She has been a CPM since 1995, and has also served as a Qualified Evaluator (QE) for NARM since 1995. She has worked on legislation in Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Her goal is to see midwives as the primary caregivers for all healthy pregnant women in this country—in her lifetime! Karen is married, the mother of eight children and Nana to five grandchildren.

LaRee Westover

LaRee Westover has been living alternative and energy medicine in her personal life and is a lecturer on women’s reproductive health and many other subjects. LaRee is the author of four books on various holistic topics and has created over 100 exclusive essential oil blends and many herbal formulas that are being used by hundreds of people to assist with their health issues.

Sara Wickham

Sara Wickham, PhD, is a midwife, researcher, teacher and author who studied midwifery in the UK and practiced in home, birth centre and hospital settings in the UK and USA before extending her career into midwifery education, research and consultancy. Sara has also lived and worked in New Zealand and she travels extensively to speak about midwifery and birth-related issues. The author of more than 200 articles, eight books and several information booklets and leaflets for women, Sara is passionate about midwifery knowledge and enjoys engaging with all manner of ways of knowing, from statistics to intuition. She wrote her PhD thesis on midwives’ knowledge in relation to “post-term” pregnancy. Sara is currently based in Wiltshire, UK, where she has recently returned to freelance speaking, writing and consultancy work.

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Leslie Wolff

Leslie Wolff is a midwife in a hospital in Haifa, Israel. She sees herself as a change agent, and, together with other midwives, has been promoting natural childbirth within the walls of the hospital. She is also a childbirth educator and an active participant in a women’s movement in Israel, promoting freedom of choice at birth. Leslie’s dream is to work in Israel’s first birth center (yet to be established). She is now studying Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Guided Imagery, in hopes of further helping women during their childbirthing year.

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Heidi Yanello

Heidi Yanello is the mother of nine and has been involved in midwifery since her first child 19 years ago. Though taking “babymoons” over the years, she has attended over 750 births. As a CPM, she has also assisted in training student midwives.

Elizabeth Yoder

Elizabeth Yoder is an experienced Amish midwife practicing in Pennsylvania. She believes it is important to figure out what the mother’s rhythm is during labor.

Mary Zwart

Mary Zwart is an independent midwife from The Netherlands. She graduated from the Amsterdam Midwifery School in 1969. She received her nursing training at the Leiden Academic Hospital. After traveling, she practiced privately from 1973 to 1996. Then she became involved in changes in Eastern Europe and Russia. Since 2000 she has participated in a movement to humanize the birth process in Brazil. She is the founder of the European Perinatal School, as well as a member of the European Network of Consumers and Childbirth Educators and the Coalition for Improving Materity Services. Mary enjoys teaching midwifery internationally and recently began practicing again. She has one daughter, and she collects all kinds of midwifery objects.

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