Meet today's Birthing From Within
What started as a tiny acorn, when Pam England wrote Birthing From Within and dreamed of changing the conversation around birth in our culture, continues to grow into a beautiful oak tree with deep roots and ever-expanding branches. Her original vision has touched thousands of birth professionals and reaches six continents.
Birthing From Within's programs and workshops are created through a collaborative effort that is based on the deep connection we have with each other, a dedication to the Birthing From Within philosophy, and a commitment to transformation and growth. Our organization is guided and supported by our Board of Directors.
It is with gratitude and appreciation for those who have laid the foundation for what Birthing From Within is today, especially Pam England, Virginia Bobro, and Britta Bushnell, that we enthusiastically forge ahead.
Birthing From Within is a movement, a community, a family. Join us!
Meet Birthing from Within Leadership
In 2017, Pam asked Nikki, Erika, and Carrie to join in the management of Birthing From Within. Together, they brainstorm and dream, challenge each other to look deeper, and continue to enable Birthing From Within to improve and grow. In the Spring of 2019, Margaret Howeison joined our team as our Office Manager extraordinaire. We recognize that Birthing From Within is historically and currently a predominately white organization - we are working every day to dismantle systems of inequity and open pathways to a more diverse leadership structure.
Pam England (she/her), visionary, artist, and birth professional, created a profound movement in Birthing From Within. What began as a conversation-changing book has turned into a robust organization that provides workshops, classes, personalized sessions, and doula services worldwide.
Pam lives, writes, and paints in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is the author of Birthing From Within, The Labyrinth of Birth, and Ancient Map for Modern Birth. She is currently working on her next book, Birth Story Medicine. She also hosts workshops and speaks at conferences on topics such as preventing and healing birth trauma, cesarean birth, storytelling, visualizations, hypnosis and other aspects of mentoring parents during the many life transitions they experience in the childbearing year. >> read more of Pam's story
Nikki Shaheed (she/her), attended her first Birthing From Within workshop in Vancouver, BC, in 2012 after taking a Birthing From Within class during her second pregnancy. Little did she know that she was about to have her mind blown and her heart opened. Birthing From Within awakened something in Nikki that she never knew was there… a hunger, a passion, a yearning for a deeper, more meaningful relationship with herself, her loved ones, and the world.
The more Nikki learned about mindfulness, the solution-focused mindset, storytelling, ritual and ceremony, and the importance of balancing intellectual knowing with self-awareness, the hungrier she became. She devoured every course Birthing From Within offered, and she became a certified Birthing From Within Mentor in 2016.
Nikki also became a DONA-certified Birth Doula during her Birthing From Within studies, and has supported many families as they worked through the challenges and triumphs of birthing in hospitals, birth centers, and homes. She became a leader of the San Antonio Cesarean Support Group, and has helped the organization cultivate a mindful approach to helping parents process difficult birth experiences.
From 2016-2020 Nikki was a trainer through Birthing Story Medicine and worked alongside Pam England, teaching students worldwide skills for supporting parents and birth workers as they integrate their birth experiences.
In 2018, Nikki became one of the co-owners of Birthing From Within, alongside her dear friends Erika Primozich and Carrie Kenner. She has facilitated Birthing From Within trainings all over the US, and trained students from around the world remotely. She loves watching her students develop self-awareness and bring the gifts of their personal growth work to the parents in their communities.
In 2020, Nikki released her first book, Heart Centered Pregnancy Journal. This book is an interactive guide to help expecting parents foster resilience, connection, and self-compassion as they prepare for birth as a heroic journey.
Nikki lives in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband and three young children. There she leads many community events for birth workers and parents alike. She also enjoys hand-drumming and snowboarding.
★ Nikki is a Certified Facilitator who is available for one-on-one mentoring. You can reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Erika Primozich (she/her), is honored to be one of Birthing From Within’s co-owners, alongside Carrie Kenner and Nikki Shaheed. She has been mentoring expectant parents in Birthing From Within classes in Boulder, Colorado, since 2002. An active member of the community, she has also been serving as an Advisor to new Mentors for over a decade.
Erika read Pam England's pivotal book, Birthing From Within, while pregnant with her first son, Sam, 20 years ago. It offered her profound insights in seeing pregnancy and birth as rites of passage rather than merely medical events. It freed her from the expectations of needing to have a specific birth outcome and instead allowed her to follow her intuition and inner wisdom. This mindful approach was life-changing and directed Erika's path to bring Birthing From Within's philosophy to others.
While raising her three children, Erika has attended many childbirth educator trainings and workshops led by Pam England. These trainings, as well as the hundreds of families she has worked with over the years, provided Erika with the framework, inspiration, and dedication to continue growing her role as a leader within the organization. In addition to Birthing From Within, Erika has also completed trainings with Lewis Mehl-Madrona, author of Narrative Medicine, Brene Brown, and Pema Chodron. She has received additional education in Transformational Speaking; Racial Justice, and Immigrant Allyship and Advocacy. She is also a dedicated practitioner of Kundalini yoga, which brings her much needed peace and sanity in a mixed up crazy world.
Erika brings to the Birthing From Within community her commitment, determination, and willingness to collaborate. She has an innate appreciation for ritual, ceremony, storytelling, personal inquiry, and growth. Erika has a wholehearted vision for Birthing From Within to be an inclusive community that is actively working to bring its magic and gifts to ALL birthing people. With her deep dedication to the business, people, and mission of Birthing From Within, she is thrilled to be collaborating to bring the Birthing From Within dream to fruition.
Read more about Erika in our Meet the Mentor post >
Carrie Kenner (she/her), is one of the new co-owners of Birthing From Within, the new Director of Birthing From Within’s Doula From Within program, and a Birthing From Within Facilitator. Carrie became interested in birth justice in high school after reading the feminist poetry of Adrienne Rich. Thus began her journey into pregnancy, motherhood, midwifery, childbirth education, and doula work. She had two children in the early 1980s, became a childbirth educator in 1982, and then studied pre-med with the intention of becoming a homebirth physician.
As with many things in life, things didn’t go as planned, and Carrie found herself in corporate America for the next 20 years. Her love for pregnancy and birth never waned, and, in 2000, while pregnant with her third child, she read Birthing From Within. It rocked her world! She took classes based on the book, and then soon after her baby was born, took her first introductory Birthing From Within workshop. In 2001, Carrie opened Big Belly Services and began offering Birthing From Within classes for parents.
Carrie became a certified Birthing From Within Mentor in 2006, and an Advisor in 2012. She has also been a DONA-certified birth doula since 2002, working full time as a doula from 2001-2014, when she retired from being on-call. She is also a DONA-approved birth doula trainer, and has trained over 2,000 birth doulas since 2004. Carrie was born with a passion for racial and social justice, which she brings to her work and all aspects of her life. She also creates ritual and ceremony, and leads retreats that helps folks explore their connection to the sacred Feminine and the natural world.
Carrie lives in Seattle, Washington, and is the owner/manager of Big Belly Services, a very successful birth doula training, continuing education, and business coaching company. Her biggest nemesis used to be Marketing, but she has since put on her warrior armor and leaned in to what a magical dance it can be. She now coaches birth professionals in how to put themselves out in the world with confidence and passion, and it brings her great joy to see their businesses blooming. She also LOVES collaborating with her fabulous Birthing From Within co-owners, Erika Primozich and Nikki Shaheed, and wonders why she ever did business solo! Carrie has three sons, eight grandchildren, seven chickens, sixteen stacks of unread books, and an urban farm at her home in Seattle. She likes to grow and create things, dance, sew, cook, read, and be around trees.
Margaret (she/her) began working with Birthing From Within as the Office Manager in March, 2019. During her career, she has worked in healthcare administration for many years, doing internal consulting for a large healthcare organization in the Northwest, community outreach on health promotion projects working with the American Heart Association and the Truth Initiative, collaborating on writing and editing technical documents, and working with data and analytics to assure the success of multiple clinical and administrative research projects.
Currently, Margaret is the administrative face of BFW, handling a multitude of administrative tasks including "working" the email inbox to respond to email and phone inquiries, making sure information goes out to prepare people for their BFW classes, and generally supporting the Directors in their daily tasks.
Margaret lives in Kansas City, and works part time and remotely via computer and phone. She is in daily communication with BFW's Directors, assisting to assure the organization is running smoothly. She sees Birthing From Within as a learning and growth opportunity, and enjoys meeting and supporting this wonderful community of birth professionals. In her time away from work Margaret enjoys gardening, reading contemporary fiction, photography, movies, pilates/yoga classes, live music, and pursuing her passion for dancing.
Meet our Facilitators
Birthing From Within is blessed to have this group of highly trained mentors and facilitators. The facilitators lead workshops for birth professionals in their own communities, provide one-on-one mentorship to those in Birthing From Within trainings, and support the manifestation of Birthing From Within workshops and programs around the world.
Christine D'Esposito ★
Christine is a certified birth and postpartum doula and Birthing From Within childbirth mentor and facilitator. She has witnessed the many ways in which the pregnancy, birth, and postpartum journey holds the capacity to be a transformative experience for everyone involved. Her hope as a doula and childbirth mentor is to validate and celebrate each parent’s experience as she helps facilitate their own self-discovery. Christine has had the opportunity to serve hundreds of families in the Portland, Oregon area since 2003. She believes in people's natural ability to cope and move through hard things and enjoys helping people through the unknown.
★Christine is a Certified Facilitator who is available for one-on-one mentoring. You can reach out to her at email@example.com.
Christy Cozby ★
For Christy, Birthing From Within is about remembering that becoming a parent is an ancient rite of passage and honoring new parents with guidance, support, and celebration. She was drawn to birthwork out of a desire to help parents learn about themselves as they move through this experience. In addition to mentoring Birthing From Within classes, she is a birth doula, artist, social worker, and former Spanish professor. She recently moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her husband and two children.
Koyuki Smith ★
Before entering the childbirth field, Koyuki spent eight years teaching in public secondary schools in NYC. She made the transition to perinatal work in 2008 and joined Birthing From Within in 2014. She loves how being a Birthing From Within practitioner allows her to guide parents to find their own unique paths through the challenges presented by the childbearing years, and she's thrilled that the facilitator role will allow her to bring the same practice to professionals as well. In addition to working with birthing people and birth professionals, she enjoys ice skating, kung fu, and early British novels. She lives in Harlem with her husband, two sons, a strange little maltipoo, and a lot of books and records.
Deidre discovered a gaping hole about four years into her doula practice. After attending her first Birthing From Within training in 2009, it became apparent that she personally needed a perspective shift. Birthing From Within validated the deep knowing that regardless of any outer trappings, each of us hold deep value, just as we are, and the Birthing From Within philosophy offered solutions to connect with this power even when things don't go as planned. This is such a rich gift to her doula work, childbirth preparation classes, and personal life. She is humbled by the opportunity to welcome and facilitate new mentors on this journey.
Farrah is a Certified Birthing From Within Mentor, Birth Story Listener and Birthing From Within Facilitator. She has been a perinatal nurse for 22 years and teaches childbirth education, provides lactation support, works with families with birth trauma and with parents struggling with addiction and in recovery. Farrah provides education and professional development for birth professionals and helps provide leadership for Postpartum Support International NH chapter as the board chair. She is also the board chair to the newly formed Birthing From Within International Board of Directors. Farrah’s love of and belief in the Birthing From Within model of childbirth preparation infiltrates her entire life. She is thrilled to be walking this heart-led journey with everyone in Birthing From Within Community and to be sharing this work with the world.
Pam is proud to be a certified Birthing From Within mentor, facilitator, and doula. Her work began with her own family. She and her best friend of more than 40 years share a family of children and grandchildren that own their hearts. She began working with other families as a La Leche League leader in 1990, sharing about breastfeeding at births, through classes, and in one-on-one counseling. Discovering Birthing From Within and the generous wisdom of Pam England clarified her calling. She’s been a certified doula since 2006 and a Birthing From Within mentor since 2008. It brings Pam great joy to come alongside families during these transformative events in their lives.
Maeve is a licensed midwife, certified Birthing From Within mentor, and facilitator with an active home birth practice in the SF Bay Area, and a passion for mentoring parents and professionals. She first connected with Birthing From Within in 2007 as she prepared to give birth herself. Since then she has found a home within the Birthing From Within community, philosophy and practice. Maeve loves being part of The Call embodied by Birthing From Within, inviting birthing families and birth professionals to listen deeply and harness their courage, their wisdom, their resourceful nature, as they walk in the footsteps of beloved ancestors and forge the new paths of modern birth. Serving as a guide and ally in this process is profound, and continually takes her to places of questioning, learning, and discovery.
Prior to birth work, Maeve practiced as a massage therapist and Visionary CranioSacral Therapist (Milne School), eventually specializing in prenatal/postpartum bodywork, infant massage and couples massage. She was an instructor of massage therapy for professionals at the McKinnon Institute of Massage for seven years. En route to midwifery, Maeve began attending births as a doula in 2009. She attended her first Birthing From Within professional workshop in 2010, and completed certification in 2018.
Charlene Hamilton been with Birthing From Within since 2002, after spending several years as a DONA-trained doula. Over twenty years ago, she came to birth work through the encouragement of a nurse at a friend’s birth. When she found Birthing From Within, it was like the universe tapped her on the shoulder and said “Here, this.” She was struck by the belief that preparing heart and mind is vital to childbirth preparation, that pain isn’t the enemy in birth, and that focusing on a specific outcome inhibits birthing in awareness.
Living in the northern Seattle area, Charlene is active in the arena of birth education. She has been an event organizer and board member-at-large for the Pacific Association of Labor Support (PALS), as well an advocate of social justice causes like universal basic income. A mother of a special needs child on the autism spectrum, she has developed a wide base of support skills based on compassion, patience, and holistic support. As an inclusive birth professional, Charlene has provided support for parents in the LGBTQA+ community as well as those with unique and non-traditional families.
It’s these principles and experiences that she has built her practice on, and brings to every single class she teaches, big or small.
Janine was first introduced to Birthing From Within when she was pregnant with her first child in 2008 and was seeking a preparation class that was different from the normal hospital classes. But it wasn’t really until becoming pregnant with her twins in 2011, when she found there were not any birth education classes available that catered to parents preparing to birth twins, and thus her desire to pursue becoming a Birth Educator was born. She was a school teacher at the time and yet knew that she was wanting to seek a different path for teaching, and in 2013 she was ready to pursue it. She attended her first Birthing From Within training and was completely blown away by the depth of learning and growing she was about to embark on, a complete paradigm shift. She soon realized that the Birthing From Within model for preparation encompassed so fully the various aspects of physical, emotional and spiritual preparation that it would speak to everyone, whether they were pregnant with twins or a singleton, or planning to use medication during labor or hoping to go without, birthing at home, hospital or birth center. She was so inspired that she began mentoring classes right away, and has been doing so ever since. She also became a certified toLabor Birth Doula in 2014 and has been attending births since then. She truly loves and enjoys supporting families throughout the childbearing year!
With a strong belief that the processes of Birthing From Within begin first within ourselves, the journey of growth continues as Kathie begins her first steps on the path toward certification as a Birthing From Within Facilitator. In her down time, you will find Kathie spying new birds at the bird feeder, writing for the pure joy of it, and basking in the love of her giant family.
Jamie is a certified Birthing From Within childbirth educator, a birth doula, perinatal bodyworker, Birth Story Listener, and facilitator. She lives and works in the San Diego area. Having experienced and witnessed the power of the Birthing From Within philosophy and processes to transform one’s experience of birth, she’s thrilled and honored to serve mentors as they work with parents, and to guide their own inner journeys. She’s most inspired by how Birthing From Within embraces paradox, grey areas, and the unknown….how birth and life can demand fierce determination and deep surrender at the same time.