Sara Badger

Sara Badger, CPM

Sara has been around birth for most of her life.  Sara started her training under her mom, Anni McLaughlin. Anni began as a Lay midwife in the early 80's and later trained as a CNM.  Sara began attending births with Anni in her teens.  In 1999 Sara partnered with Anni and they worked together in Fresno, CA until 2004 when Sara took over the practice to allow Anni to follow a dream to work in Guatemala. Sara worked with other midwives over the years as well.  Sara and her family moved to Michigan at the end of 2007. Sara started Simply Born in 2010 and has been a gentle force of change in West Michigan’s birthing community since.
She has been married for 17 years to Chris Howard, they have four children together. Sara opened Cedar Tree Birth and Wellness Center, the first out-of-hospital birthing suite in West Michigan in 2014, and again opened Simply Born Birth House in Oct. of 2016. She is a huge proponent of education and is a Preceptor for Midwives College of Utah. 

She is knowledgeable about the natural process of birth and the inherent strength of women.  It is quite amazing to watch her hold the birth space so reverently for women, babies, and families.

I have been working hard to change the Birth Community in West Michigan, to ensure that women are empowered with choice. -Sara Badger

Kendra Ippel, CPM


Kendra moved to Grand Rapids with her family in 2016 from Orlando, Florida where she had been working as a midwife since 2010. She is passionate about empowering women through prenatal care and ensuring that all women have access to the care that they deserve. She is excited and hopeful about serving this community in Grand Rapids.

Kendra has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Science in Midwifery. She is a Certified Professional Midwife and an instructor at Commonsense Childbirth School of Midwifery and in the graduate program at Midwives College of Utah. 




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!

Raquel Knack, Lactation Counselor and Childbirth Educator

As a lactation counselor and childbirth educator, Raquel has gently helped countless women and families find their best birth options and walk their way through breastfeeding challenges. With compassion and the deep ability to listen, along with years of knowledge and experience, she can reassure the most frustrated, tear-filled mama and help guide her to what works best for her. She specializes in pregnancy health and vitality, childbirth, postpartum care of mother and baby, lactation, attachment parenting, and natural health options.