Third Coast Birth - Planning for childbirth

Services in a nutshell

We’re an inclusive, non-judgmental, and evidence-based birth and baby support team, ready to help you cut through the noise (and side-eye) of so many opinions and offer true support during one of life’s greatest transitions. While everyone else is asking to hold the baby, it’s our job to also hold you.

More about us

Third Coast Birth + Baby wants to support your birth, in whatever way that means for you. We offer:

Birth Doulas

Maybe you want to have fewer hospital interventions during labor and delivery. Or maybe you want someone to translate medical jargon into understandable terms. Maybe you want your partner present, but know you’ll need more hands-on support and attention than one person can provide. Or maybe you want the calm energy and empowering wisdom of someone who’s watched dozens of babies make their debut into the world—and is committed to being by your side during the entirety of your baby’s birth. A birth doula can provide all of those things, and so much more.

Our Unique Team Model

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.

That means we’re able to guarantee your doula will arrive rested and ready to support you, and she’ll be fully present for the journey ahead. Because this is a big moment ahead of you, and we’re here to make it easier.

Childbirth Classes

Group or private classes in-person classes that cover everything from comfort measures to newborn basics, the science of childbirth to crash courses for partners. You can see a schedule of upcoming classes here.

Our team

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.

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.

Pippin Mueller, Birth Doula

Pippin (she/they) is a childbirth educator, birth and postpartum doula, and student midwife who has worked with expectant folks for close to a decade. Pippin is a lifelong Chicagoan, the eldest of eight children, and was privileged to grow up listening to stories of their mother’s different birth stories. This led her into birthwork and has been the passion that’s fueled their desire to provide affirming, trauma-informed care as a both a doula, and soon as a midwife.
Pippin is equally passionate about reproductive justice, which for them includes advocating for families in a way that allows folks to make the best choices for their unique circumstances. Pippin brings a calm, grounded energy to births and aims above all to hold space in a nurturing way. Additionally, as queer, single parent, they recognize that families come in a variety of forms, each beautiful and worthy of celebration and support.

Pippin lives with her daughter and their two orange cats in Rogers Park. When not occupied with birth, you can find them gardening, fermenting, sea glass searching at the beach, knitting, and hauling her kiddo around on their cargo bike.

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.

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.

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.


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