Your Birth Team at A Gentle Beginning
Your Birth Team
Catherine attends all the births at A Gentle Beginning either assisted by one of our two nurses, Carissa or Rachel or together with Regina. In addition one of our two student apprentices will be there to offer any additional support needed. Unlike a hospital birth, once your team begins with you in labor we remain with you throughout. We make sure that you have the opportunity to meet and are comfortable with anyone who will attend your birth; building a trusting relationship with your birth team is of primary importance to us at A Gentle Beginning. In addition, we all teach our birth classes, Centered Birthing, and our students shadow us one day per week seeing patients.
Our Midwife Assistants
Carissa St Onge Carneiro RN began her addiction to birth in high school, choosing the benefits and value of homebirth vs. hospital birth as her senior project. She began her path into midwifery as a doula, and then studied nursing at the University of Portland School of Nursing. From nursing school she was driven to volunteer and joined the midwives and nurses at Holy Family Birth Center in Weslaco, Texas under the direction of Sister Angela Murdaugh, CNM. “It was here that I truly learned not only about how to attend and support women and their families in birth and beyond, but I learned lifelong skills in community living and what it is to truly share of myself.”
We listen to family troubles, we order lab work, we wipe tired brows. Mostly, we are privileged to witness the beauty of people in their most honest, real states.
After returning to Oregon in 2001 she married Augusto, the love of her life and was given a position at a local hospital working right up until giving birth to her first child, Camila with Catherine standing by. After the birth of her second child she returned to nursing, assisting laboring women in different hospitals in the Portland area, finding joy in attending women in their many different birth choices. One more little boy came into her life and in 2007, Catherine asked Carissa to join A Gentle Beginning. “This was truly my dream - to witness a woman and couple's birth in the comfort of her own home, and to be assisting professional and experienced practitioners is truly where my heart needs to be.”
When Carissa is not craving attending another birth, she is supporting her husband's coffee business, Nossa Familia Coffee, arranging the complex schedule that three children produce, and practicing yoga.
Rachel Kofron RN is a mother of two and lives with her husband and daughters. She was born at home under the care of a French midwife and raised in Hawaii on the island of Maui. She grew up with a strong appreciation of the midwife's role in her community, one who was seen as mother, teacher, healer, and friend to her family.
Rachel received her BA from Lewis & Clark College in Sociology and Cultural Anthropology with an undergraduate thesis on "The Medicalization of Childbirth in America". In 2004, she received her BS in nursing from the Oregon Health & Science University, where she has since worked; gaining experience as a labor and delivery nurse.
“My work as a doula and registered nurse has taught me that the birth environment plays a significant role in shaping birth experiences for mother, child, and family which is why I am excited to be part of the community and home birth practice of A Gentle Beginning. My greatest education came from my own childbirth experiences. In pregnancy and birth I learned about surrendering and the importance of being with women as they journey towards the place within themselves where birthing happens.”
Our Student Apprentices
The training to become a midwife always includes an apprenticeship. It is one of the oldest apprenticeship models of education. We are passionate about the continuation of midwifery and the training of future midwives to continue the ability to support women who wish to birth naturally. Our students are in their last years at the National College of Natural Medicine and apprentice with us for approximately two years, attending one day of client visits with us per week and alternating call for the births. They bring a willingness to serve, an eagerness to learn and the gratitude to witness the miracle of birth.
Where would we be without Alicia Mers? She holds together the business side of A Gentle Beginning. With her friendly spirit and efficient organizing skills she makes all our lives easier. She will handle all of your billing, insurance and scheduling dilemmas with grace. Alicia is married and the mother of twin girls born February 2010. When not working she enjoys chasing her two girls, cooking and working in her garden.
Dorine Nafziger is our receptionist and assists Alicia in keeping us all running smoothly and on time. She is married with two boys, both born at home with the midwives at A Gentle Beginning in attendance.