BirthWays Instructors

Select a name below to learn more about our educators.

Tabitha Ames
Rebecca Berke
Stacia Biltekoff
Mariana Bissonnette
Dahlia Frydman
Anna Griffin
Beth Hammond
Dantia Hudson
Yael Martinez
Rachel Monas
Erin Pence
Yve Saville
Chris Schlesinger
Ellen Schwerin

Tabitha Ames

Originally obtaining Bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Psychology, Tabitha worked as a Research Associate in a molecular biology lab. During Tabitha’s pregnancy with her first daughter, she realized she found her true calling in her desire to support and educate new families as the entered their journeys into parenthood. As a CAPPA Certified Childbirth Educator, she began teaching childbirth classes in 2009. She is also a CAPPA Certified Labor and Postpartum Doula, Certified Lactation Educator, and in 2012 joined CAPPA’s Faculty as a Childbirth Educator Trainer. Tabitha served on the BirthWays Board from 2011-2016.

Tabitha lives in the East Bay with her husband and two beautiful daughters, born in 2008 and 2011, and son born in 2014.



My 40 years in the performance arts has taught me many things about the mind/body connection.  In particular, what starts at the top (our thoughts and words) affects how the body feels and acts.  I am committed to training dancers in the art of dance as well as give them an understanding of their bodies and how it can be used with respect, dignity and for expressing beauty in their art form.  I use breathing with dancers, guided imagery and focusing for their own inner wisdom to be able to achieve their goals and perform to the best of their ability.   This is always true for students as well as professionals in using their mind to conquer the saboteurs which keep them from doing the best job they can do.

As a leader of Stanford’s Healthier Living Workshops for people with chronic disease or illness, I learned that the power of the mind transcends all cultures and all people.   It is not about language or background but what we have within us and what we can tap into when we are ready to let go of unwanted thoughts and feelings.   This is for everyone and is universal in our biological make up.   My hypnotherapy practice has been a gift to me that allows me to share this practice with a wide variety of people with so many issues that life presents to all of us.   I have seen the results and know of the value of getting “out of the way” of our negative thoughts that can keep us stuck.  Through my work I can help by- pass a client’s resistances and let their inner wisdom come to the forefront.

As a mother of 4 and a grandmother of 6, I know of the beauty, wonder and delight in bringing babies into the world in the way that is easy, natural and perfect for all.  I am dedicated to the HypnoBirthing® philosophy and complete and essential childbirth education.


Stacia Biltekoffnull

Stacia Biltekoff has been serving families in the East Bay since 1991 with a background in early childhood development, social work and massage therapy. In 1998 she became nationally certified in massage with a specialty in injury treatment and prenatal massage. In 2001, shortly after giving birth, a few friends invited her to provide labor support for them and a doula was born. She hopes that with unconditional support, informed consent and non-judgmental guidance, the mother has an empowered birthing experience no matter the outcome. She also aims to support partners so that labor can give the couple an opportunity to strengthen their bond on their journey toward parenthood. Stacia has been on the Board of Birthways since 2006 and has served as President (2011-2016), Referral Line Coordinator, and Publications Co-Coordinator. She is committed to providing unconditional support to pregnant, laboring, and postpartum women and their families through her work as a Birth and postpartum doula, childbirth educator, support group facilitator and most importantly, mama.


Mariana Bissonnette Mariana Bissonnette Class Photo

Mariana Bissonnette is a parent and early childhood educator who has been teaching young children from 18 months-6 years for seven years. Since becoming a parent and being an early childhood education professional, in addition to being a classroom teacher, she now works directly with parents in the home and through parenting classes that focus on helping parents understand the development of their child and how supporting that development makes parenting easier and helps their child better reach their potential. Mariana holds two AMI Montessori Education diplomas in both 0-3 (to be completed Fall 2016) and 3-6 years. She has taught at the 18 months- 3 year old level for three years and at the 3-6 level for an additional three years. She also holds an MA in Economics.


Dahlia Frydmandahlia

Dahila is a mother, birth and baby specialist, IBCLC Lactation Consultant, naturalist, and educator. From her perspective, birth is a time of great trust and respect of nature’s wisdom; we allow the process to unfold. It is one of the most sacred and awe inspiring experiences of life. Attending to new families is a privilege and a joy she continually gives thanks for. Dahlia is also a sleep consultant. Clients always ask her, “when can we start SLEEP training?” Once your newborn is a little older –you may be thinking about gentle sleep training. Dahlia will share evidence based age appropriate expectations and guide you though gentle step by step implementation along the way.


Anna Griffin

Anna Griffin is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) with more than 20 years experience teaching CPR and First Aid to schools, businesses and healthcare professionals. Instructor certified by the American Heart Association, she has taught at Alta Bates Medical Center for many years, and is currently Training Center Faculty at Washington Hospital in Fremont. She is committed to teaching classes that are fun, engaging and low stress.


Beth Hammondbeth hammond

Beth Hammond is a Postpartum Doula and Sleep Consultant.  She has been helping families for 20 years and has helped hundreds of families prepare, adjust and transition to parenthood. Beth received her B.A. in Psychology, with an emphasis on studying infant brain development, from Cal State Hayward and trained as a doula with Doulas of North America and Newborn Connections.  Beth began the sleep consulting portion of her practice 10 years ago when she recognized sleep was a critical issue for new parents.  A mom to 2 boys, Beth knows the challenges new parents face and what support is needed. Beth began teaching in 1998 and has attained her California Adult Teaching Credential. She currently teaches Newborn Care and Sleep Like a Baby classes. Her private practice includes being a Postpartum Doula and Sleep Consultant as well educating new parents on how to care for themselves and their babies after birth and how to navigate promoting healthy sleep in their babies.


Dantia Hudsondantiahudson

Dantia Hudson is a Birth and Postpartum Doula, Breastfeeding Educator, and Yoga Instructor. She is currently studying to become a lactation consultant and prenatal yoga instructor. She attended UC Berkeley for her undergraduate degree where she majored in Sociology and received a Masters in Public Health in Maternal and Child Health from Boston University. When she is not teaching classes, she works as a public health researcher focusing on improving health outcomes for all communities and teaches an undergraduate public health course at Mills College. She is a member of the Black Women’s Birthing Justice and a BirthWays Board Member. Dantia enjoys arts and crafts projects in her spare time and loves spending time outside in the California sun; she resides in Oakland.


Yael Martinez380156_10150341883131927_543186926_8788270_487191800_n

Yael Martinez is a Doula, Childbirth Educator, and Yoga instructor. Yael holds a Masters in Social Welfare and worked for over 12 years serving children and families from diverse communities in the Bay Area. She is bicultural and a native Spanish speaker.

Yael is a trained Doula and Childbirth Educator. She completed her doula training through DONA (Doulas of North America) and through Sacred Birth Place in Oakland, CA.  Yael trained as a Childbirth Educator through CAPPA (Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association).

Yael is also a Vinyasa Yoga instructor specializing in pre and postnatal yoga.  She has been practicing yoga for several years and teaching for 3 years. Yael has practiced many styles including Vinyasa, Hatha, Anusara, and Ashtanga yoga.


Rachel Monasrachel

Rachel is a Certified Postpartum and Birth Doula, serving clients in the East Bay since 2013. In her postpartum practice, Rachel supports parents of new babies and guides them as they navigate the intensely rewarding (and supremely exhausting!) newborn stage. As a birth doula, she helps families to consider their options, trust their instincts, and, most importantly, supports and encourages them every step of the way. She teaches Newborn Care at BirthWays, where she also serves as Vice President of the Board.


Erin Pence12308009_10205032374104040_977198668292577788_o

Erin is a registered nurse, doula, and lactation educator (UCSD Extension), and is currently finishing up her childbirth educator certification through ICEA. She grew up in Virginia, where she earned her nursing degree at the University of Virginia in 2012. Her journey into the world of birth began when she spent a year working as a nurse on the border of Texas and Mexico at a small out of hospital birthing center. This was incredibly formative experience of complete immersion in the world of natural pregnancy and birth, breastfeeding, childbirth education, and postpartum support. She is continually in awe of the beauty and strength of pregnant, birthing, and parenting women, the ability of their partners to provide incredible support, and the miracle of every birth and new baby. She is excited to provide education and support to parents as they prepare for birth and breastfeeding. Erin and her husband Nick moved to the East Bay in 2014 and love spending their time off exploring all of the incredible mountains, rivers, trails and big trees that California has to offer. She’s currently pregnant with her first baby.


Yve Saville

DSC_0416Yve is an ICEA (International Childbirth Education Association) Certified Childbirth Educator and a Certified Doula though Natural Resources in San Francisco.   She has been a doula since 2010 and has 2 young children of her own.  She has her Masters Degree in Elementary Education and taught in elementary schools for many years across the Bay Area.  In addition to learning about pregnancy, labor, birth, and the postpartum period, the goal of her childbirth education classes is to provide you with the full range of options that exist surrounding birth, so that you can feel empowered to make the most well-informed decisions for your family.  She will share ways to prepare for birth outside of class, teach and practice comfort measures for labor, and guide women in finding confidence in their body’s ability to birth a baby.  She also encourages building community with other families in the class.  Yve lives in Oakland with her husband, her daughter, and her son.


Chris Schlesinger

Chris is a safety instructor for the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross.  A long-time comedic actor, Chris brings a fun, lighthearted tone to his classes, and encourages his students to ask the infant and child safety questions most important to them.  His classes include plenty of hands-on instruction to ensure that you understand the material you’re learning.  His goal for all his students is to become confident that they will know how to use their safety skills in an emergency.


Ellen Schwerinellen schwerin

Ellen Hilary Schwerin was born in Chicago, Illinois.  At 18, she moved to California to attend Stanford University, where she majored in Human Biology.  She then attended UC-Berkeley for a Master of Public Health in Maternal and Child Health.

After a good career as a Clinical Trial Manager in Biotech, Ellen followed her heart and enrolled in the UC-San Diego Lactation Consultant Program.  She completed her internship at Kaiser-Walnut Creek and sat for the board exam in 2012 to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).  She started her private practice, Happy Milk Lactation Support, in order to provide breastfeeding education and support where moms and babies need it most, in their own homes.

Ellen now lives in Berkeley with her husband, Aman Daro, their seven-year-old son, Zachary, and two cats, Lucy and Max.  When she has the time, Ellen enjoys reading fiction and is learning to meditate.  Ellen is proud to have completed a 3-day, 150 mile bike ride last October to support young women affected by breast cancer and has started training again for this October’s ride.


In Loving Memory of Jo SchopflinJo Schopflin1

April 23, 1949 – October 31, 2014

BirthWays misses our beloved Jo Schopflin, most skilled educator, kindest, warmest person, with an infectious smile. Jo was a DONA certified Birth Doula and certified Childbirth Educator through Lamaze International. Much love to her 5 grown children; their mother was an exceptional person and an example of true compassion and joy.


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