Sara Badger, CPM
I started Simply Born in Grand Rapids in 2010 and have been a gentle force of change and growth in the West Michigan's birthing community ever since. It has been my vision to help foster improvements to the birth community with the goal of empowering more women with birthing choices. Birth has always been a part of my life, at a young age I began attending births with my mother. We eventually worked alongside one another in California, until my family and I moved to Michigan in 2007. My husband, Chris and I have been married for 17 years and together we have four outstanding children. Each of their home births were as unique as their developing personalities.
I worked for 7 years as an apprentice, as a daughter of a midwife I knew what the down sides to midwifery life was and I was cautious about having a family while also being a midwife. Once the midwifery need was shown to me, there was nothing stopping it from taking hold as a result, my whole life changed. Chris and I worked hard to make life work with the demands of on call life and family life. I'm lucky to have a husband who believes in my vision as much as I do.
I am a preceptor for Midwives College of Utah, and am a huge proponent of birth education. At Simply Born, our team's goal is to empower, educate and help our clients to make wise, intuitive choices surrounding their birth. We are here to help plan and customize birth to fit each individuals needs. At Simply Born, we create a trusting and supportive environment for our our clients to explore birth and parenthood in a harmonious way.
For centuries, giving birth in a home was the norm. Providing the choice of out-of-hospital birth and giving women the authority surrounding their bodies is something I feel passionate about. Looking forward to cultivating a plan for the journey into birth and parenthood along side of you.
Audrey Waddell, Volunteer Midwife
Through her love of reading, Audrey became interested and then was inspired to pursue midwifery from a young age. She is from Ontario, Canada where she has lived with her family until making the decision study midwifery in the United States.
Audrey studied direct-entry midwifery at Birthwise Midwifery School in Maine, where she developed her midwifery skills and her interest in herbal studies. She has been attending births since 2014, apprenticing with several different midwifery practices in Maine, as well as a feminist sexual and reproductive health clinic. She completed her schooling while apprenticing with a homebirth midwifery clinic serving the eastern seaboard of Massachusetts and Cape Cod. Audrey believes strongly in empowering clients to own their experiences and supporting them in whatever ways they need while navigating their life journeys.
Becoming a midwife was one of the best decisions she has made and it has had a profound and positive impact on who she is as a person.
When not midwifing, Audrey can be found browsing eclectic herb shops, furthering her education in herbal studies, crocheting, or nose-deep in a good novel.
Leigh-Ann Smits, Office Manager
Leigh-Ann grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where her passion for midwifery care ignited. Ever since Leigh-Ann was 4 years old, she wanted to be a midwife. Her mother was under the care of a midwife for her pregnancy, and although she doesn’t remember specifics, she believes that the way the midwife included her with her mother’s pregnancy is what sparked her interest. She carried that interest as she grew and eventually went to Grand Valley State University to pursue her dreams.
After graduating GVSU with a bachelor’s degree in Health Professions, Leigh-Ann started a position as an Ophthalmic Technician with a well-known Ophthalmologist in the area. In December of 2014, Leigh-Ann lovingly welcomed her first child with Sara and the Simply Born team.
In October 2016, Leigh-Ann joined the team at Simply Born. She joined the team as the Office Manager where she will be answering phone calls, emails, assisting with paperwork and other tasks. Leigh-Ann is delighted to be in the environment she always envisioned for herself. We are so excited to have her on our team!
A little bit of loud and a whole bunch of laughter. As an Enneagram 7, I love to laugh and encourage others. Getting an opportunity to pour into other women’s lives, encourage their strengths and celebrate their victories is where I want to be.
Currently topping my favorites list: my spouse, being a mama to two incredible humans, Podcast(s), dancing, Kerrygold butter, and collaboration.
When I am not attending to tasks for the Birth Center, I am a photographer and have my own photography business that focuses on branding for small businesses.
We are always looking to improve all aspects of the maternal care that SimplyBorn provides. Some of the areas we have been working to improve is a stronger postpartum care experience, breastfeeding support to our clients and as well as providing rest to our SimplyBorn birth team. This first postpartum visit is typically within 24-48 hours after birth. We want to serve our clients with the most attentive care, this has led us to hiring Heidi Robison. Heidi is currently a Registered Nurse with Spectrum Butterworth in the Mother Baby unit. Her heart has always been with moms and babies, going as far back as early childhood. “I feel truly blessed to be able to come alongside other mothers to listen, observe, validate, and educate.”
“I met Sara 3 1/2 yrs ago when I decided I wanted my third birth to be at home. I much preferred the close and personal relationship that was established having a midwife and home birth. I was thankful for the extended support I received from Sara. 5 days after delivery Sara was by my side as I had to go into the hospital to have a D&C for retained placenta. I was so appreciative of the time she sacrificed. Her presence gave me peace of mind.We have kept in touch over the years and talked about how, if the need and opportunity arose, I would love to come along and help out with the postpartum home visits.I will be celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary in August to my high school sweetheart. We have 3 children, Raegan is 16, Addysen is 12 and Hudson is 3. I have a twin sister some of you might have already met. Her name is Holly and she the one drawing and doing lab work at SimplyBorn”
Charis Cooper, Student Midwife
Charis is originally from the New England area, then moved to Grand Rapids in 2006 to attend Cornerstone University, where she recieved her bachelors degree in psychology.
After suffering a miscarriage and struggling with infertility from 2013-2015, Charis was able to become pregnant and gave birth to her first daughter, Lois, with Sara as her midwife in 2016 and then again with her second child, Eliza, in 2017.
Since before that first birth, Charis has had the dream of becoming a midwife slowly growing in her heart and has continued to feel confident that this is work she has been made to do. She made the decision to join the Simply Born team in September 2016, she has attended several births with Sara since then. Holding that sacred space with mamas and babies is a gift she feels honored to receive and hopes to always treasure.
Raquel Knack, CLC Lactation Counselor and Childbirth Educator
As the creator of Grand Rapids Natural Birth and Pregnancy and Nourish Lactation Services, you can find me binging on birth videos, talking with midwives, and finding out about the latest things being offered to birthing families in our community. Being with mamas and babies is my happy place! I find so much joy in being with women who are just beginning this vital stage in life. I also love helping new parents learn what birth options may work best for them, and linking them to the resources they need.
When I'm not helping new mothers and babies come together through breastfeeding, or teaching couples about the power of birth, I enjoy fitness classes, camping, traveling, and getting lost in the wildness and beaches of the U.P. and northern Michigan.
Whether it's helping a mother and baby one-on-one, beginning a new childbirth series, or hosting a prenatal yoga class, I truly enjoy encouraging women and couples through this beautiful time of life. I specialize in making the many choices and options of birth and breastfeeding simple and clear.
Andrea Andersen, Lead Birth Assistant
Andrea is originally from Ludington, MI she now lives on the west side of Grand Rapids with her husband, 2 children and dog. Andrea earned a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from Arizona State University with post graduate work at Central Michigan University. Her prior work experience includes nurse tech in the burn unit at Spectrum Health and long term care as a CNA.
When my first baby was born in 2015, I discovered my profound respect for laboring women. The birth of my son was my own emergence into the world as a mother. From then on, I knew I could help other women have the birth experience be full of joy with people they choose to share in this most intimate moment. I want women to feel safe, loved and empowered during this transition into motherhood, just as I did in my own home birth experience.
In my endeavors, both personal and professional, I tend to be an all-or-nothing kind of woman. I am able to offer my whole self in the time when women are at their most powerful and most vulnerable. I strive to help women come in to their own power in my role as a Lead Birth Assistant as they birth their babies and journey into the path of motherhood.
Kelli Rozeboom, Birth Assistant
Hello! I am a born and raised “Grand Rapidian” and of all the places I’ve traveled, I always come home to this wonderful city! I will be married 5 years this summer and have two of my own babes at home. Keaton who is my 2 1/2 year old sweet girl and Boden who is chunky 3 month old boy!
I am a registered nurse in a Emergency Department in town and love the fast paced, critical thinking, intense moments of the ER. But my other love is working with women and babies in those sweet, vulnerable, and sometimes intense moments of pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. I hope to continue my education to expand that interest and passion.
I am thrilled to work with Sara and Kendra and the rest of the SimplyBorn team as a Birth Assistant and look forward to meeting more of the women and families in this wonderful community!