Education and Collaboration

Global Community

Digital Network

Standards for Good Practice

About the GoodBirth Network

What is the GoodBirth Network?
The GoodBirth Network is a collaboration of professionals working to recognize, honor, and promote good birth practices and birth home models of care.

If you are a birth home looking to connect to a global community, please join our network. We welcome you. We have so much to learn from each other!

If you are a midwife or other healthcare provider, please join us to explore best practices, solutions, and birth home models of care.

If you are an investor or strategist for the well-being of mothers and newborns, please join us to learn facts, stories, and issues associated with birth homes on a global scale.

Our Mission
The mission of the GoodBirth Network is to share and promote good birth practices and birth home models in low-resource communities.
Why Birth Homes?
Birth is a time of celebration. For mothers and babies in resource poor communities, it is also a time of critical risks.  Birth illuminates both the the dignity and vulnerability of human life. Birth homes are health facilities within communities that are prepared to celebrate and protect mothers, babies, and families for this special time.

Globally, the themes of celebration and protection are lived out in a diversity of good birth practices and birth home models of care.

What is a Birth Home?
Birth homes are known by a variety of terms.  English language examples include birth center, birth centre, birthing house, community birthing home, midwife-led unit, maternity home, maternity out-patient center, normal birth unit, and out-of-hospital maternity unit.

We follow and present global discussions surrounding the definition of mid-level or intermediate facilities existing between a home and hospital as places for birth.  We also present a ‘bottom-up’ view, showing examples which will ultimately help define birth home, and perhaps help to establish global standards.

For now, we offer this list of characteristics of a birth home:

• Care for low risk pregnancies and support of normal births
• Continuous risk assessment
• Minimal medical interventions
• ‘With woman’ philosophy of care (women centered, respectful, interactive, holistic, wellness oriented care)
• Emphasis on patient education and decision making
• Safe, comfortable, and homelike environment, separate from other healthcare activities
• Rooted in local community
• Integrated with local healthcare systems
• Commitments to health safety, personal safety, cultural safety, and community safety

What is a Good Birth?
One of the goals of the GoodBirth Network is to consider this question as a global community.  We commonly think of a good birth as a safe birth.  But safety includes more than just medical needs.  A good birth includes personal physical safety, psychological and social safety, and cultural and religious safety. A place of birth must also be safe for its community (sustainability, how it respects the environment, how is treats its staff, etc.).

How do birth homes provide these layers of safety to support a fully good birth?  This is a question worth pursuing together.  Spotlighting good birth practices already in place around the globe are a part of that pursuit.

Meet The Team

GoodBirth Network Global Board Members

Stan Shaffer MD MTS

Kansas City and San Francisco, USA

Stan is a neonatologist and co-founder of the GoodBirth Network.  He is a Governor and Vice-President of the Commission for Accreditation of Birth Centers and an advisor for Global Health at the University of Missouri – Kansas City, School of Medicine.  He was co-founder of the Global Birthing Home Foundation and Maison de Naissance, a birth home in Haiti.

Jennifer Stevens DrPHc, CNM, MSN

Reading and Boston, USA

Jennifer is a midwife and co-founder of the GoodBirth Network.  She was formerly the director of the Reading Birth Center and as Vice-President of the American Association of Birth Centers.  She is currently perusing a doctorate of Public Health at Boston University.

Denise Fryzelka PhDc CNM

Madison, WI

Denise is an American midwife and founding director of Maison de Naissance, a birth home in Haiti.  She has also worked in Switzerland, Hungary, and Guatemala.  Denise is currently completing a PhD at Marquette University in Milwaukee, USA.

Cris Alonso CPM MPH

Mexico City, Mexico


Cris is a midwife and the founder of Luna Maya Birth Centers in Chiapas and Mexico City, Mexico. She has served as consultant for several projects in sexual and reproductive health in Mexico and Central America. Cris was one of the founders and served as President of the Mexican Midwifery Association from 2014 to 2017. Currently she is leading a project to standardize and expand birth centers in Mexico and Latin America

Ainsley Rufer

Allentown and New York City, USA


Ainsley is a marketing entrepreneur who leads the digital presence of the GoodBirth Network including the website, discussion forums, social media, and graphic design.

Happy to collaborate with nonprofit organizations, Ainsley specializes in functional website solutions on a reduced-cost budget. To see her portfolio site or contact her about a new project, click here.

Cynthia Ingar PhD

Peru and Grenoble, France

Cynthia is a medical anthropologist, women’s health educator, and doula.  She has worked to support holistic cultural approaches to women’s health and dignity internationally.  Cynthia is founder of Hampi Warmi, a Peruvian based non-profit aimed to bring woman medicine and wisdom back to women and girls worldwide. The main project, KillaWarmi Project, is a set of intercultural and community-based programs in Peru that empower Andean women and girls in areas of reproductive health. Cynthia also teaches international women’s workshops and retreats in South and North America.

Natalie Angell-Besseling

Vancouver, Canada

Natalie is the Founder & Executive Director of Shanti Uganda and lives in Vancouver, BC with her husband and two daughters. She is passionate about sustainable community development and global maternal health and has supported and worked with international development organizations for over 12 years.

Natalie co-founded Heart Centre Yoga, has produced a guided meditation CD and spent several years working as a doula supporting birthing women in Uganda and Canada. She was a contributing writer in the book, Women Like Us: Illuminating the World and her work has been featured in numerous publications including the ebook B.C. Without Borders: 50 British Columbians Leading the Fight Against Global Poverty. She has spoken around North America on issues surrounding maternal & infant health, sustainable international development and motherhood.

Ginger Breedlove CNM, PhD, FACNM

Lenexa, Kansas, USA

Ginger is a midwife of 38 years, now serving as Principal Consultant of Grow Midwives, a privately-owned consulting firm launched in Nov 2017. Grow Midwives mission is to build relationships and educate physicians, hospitals, and midwives about best practice in collaborative team-based models of care. Consultative services promote a variety of care models easily adopted by both hospitals and independent healthcare providers in order to create, build, enhance, and advance existing structures in all settings. She is the immediate Past-President of the American College of Nurse-Midwives. Her work has spanned birth center founder, hospital practice, and professor of midwifery. Ginger serves on the March of Dimes Foundation National Nurse Advisory Council; ICM Council, and has written numerous publications, book chapters, and co-authored the award-winning book, The community based doula: Supporting families before, during and after birth.  She is also the Founder and President of March for Moms Association, a non-profit multidisciplinary/multi-organizational collaborative spearheading public awareness and advocacy for improving health of moms and babies in the US.

Aviva Romm, MD

Massachusetts and New York City, USA

Aviva Romm, MD has bridged the best of traditional medicine with good science for over three decades. A midwife, herbalist, and Yale-trained MD, Board Certified in Family Medicine with Obstetrics (Tufts), Dr. Romm’s focus is on the impact of environmental stressors and nutrition on fertility, pregnancy, and chronic illness in women and children, hormone problems in women, and the prevention of chronic disease in children’s health, with an emphasis on reducing unnecessary antibiotic use.

She is an avid environmental health advocate, one of the nation’s leaders in botanical medicine and is the author of 7 books on natural medicine, including the textbook Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health (Elsevier). She is the author of the integrative medicine curriculum for the Yale Internal Medicine and Pediatric Residencies, and is on numerous scientific advisory and editorial boards. She lives and practices medicine in western Massachusetts and New York City and is a nationally sought speaker, author, and consultant. Her successful website and podcast reach well over a million women each year with accessible, free, self-care content and health education. Dr Romm’s non-profit organization, DharmaMoms, is dedicated to improving maternal health and obstetric and neonatal outcomes by increasing access to skilled and respectful woman-centered midwifery care in high risk countries and communities.

Leslie Toledo

Angela Brocker