Acorn Birth Center was conceived, gestated, and born out of a community's love for natural birth and a birthing person's right to choose their own birth story! It was serendipity that Karen and Cristi met and found in their partnership a common vision to empower birthing families and offer them a safe place to find respectful, affordable, evidenced-based care. Aided by a tribe of families, birth workers, and community members who believe in the power of natural birth, Acorn Birth Center came into being in just 4 short months, and we celebrated our first baby born at the center on Christmas Eve of 2016.
We welcome your family into our family!
Meet the Midwives
Cristi Lewis, Director and Licensed Midwife
Cristi is a Licensed Midwife, Certified Homeopath, and energy worker who has been professionally practicing holistic therapies for more than 15 years. She received her homeopathy certification in 2003 from the Homeopathy School International in Boulder, Colorado, and holds a B.S. in Biology from Northern Arizona University. She attended two years at the Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery in San Diego and went on to graduate in 2014 from Maternidad La Luz, a bilingual birth center and midwifery school in El Paso, TX.
After birthing her two children at home surrounded by her midwives, family, and community, Cristi realized that the process of becoming a mother was one of the most sacred and transformational experiences a person can experience in this lifetime. As a midwife, she strives to support this transformation for her families in a healthy and empowered way. Cristi's love of the natural world and a recognition of the Divine in all beings has shaped her philosophy in caring for people on all levels. She specializes in women's and children's holistic health care, and can provide services in both English and Spanish. It is extremely important to Cristi that her midwifery practice strives to end the socioeconomic and cultural barriers to quality, affordable, respectful reproductive health care for all birthing families.
Kaydee Welchons, Licensed Midwife
Kaydee Welchons has been attending mamas having babies since 2003, and received her title of Midwife in 2014. She has attended over 350 deliveries and is now a part-time midwife with Acorn Community Birth and Wellness Center. She brings the knowledge of a Billings Method Instructor, and has been training to assess and support moms through tongue and lip tie restrictions. Kaydee is a big advocate for education both for parents and for students furthering the field of midwifery.
Everyone loves babies, but Kaydee's desire for midwifery was really sparked when she, as a young adult, was sitting with a mother laboring beautifully. The mother, being an experienced birther, held her hand and between contractions instructed her on how to labor in peace, how to let go and surrender, which is now a lesson Kaydee is able to pass on to so many other mothers. Kaydee's favorite thing about birth is watching families welcome new life together.
Josie Petrich, Licensed Midwife
My name is Josie Patricio Petrich and I am very excited to be part of this amazing team at Acorn Community Birth and Wellness Center. Growing up I have always been in awe of women, birth and babies. I have been attending births since 2008 after the birth of my first daughter, and working as a Student Midwife since 2012. I graduated from San Diego Mesa College in 2011 with a Associates Degree in Liberal Arts with an Emphasis in Spanish Language. I completed my studies at Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery in 2015. My training up until now has taken place in a homebirth midwifery private practice and I am eager to serve here at Acorn. Supporting women and families in such an intimate, wild, transitional time is an honor and blessing.
Michelle Nanas, Licensed Midwife
Michelle is a wife and mother of two girls, both in college. As a Christian, her faith in God is strong and she has a heart to serve others. Her journey into the birth world began back in 2010 when she became a birth assistant for a home birth practice in Los Angeles. The home births she witnessed were very different from the medicalized hospital births she had with her own children. Michelle was able to experience firsthand how creating a safe and loving environment, with people chosen by the family, allows birth to proceed normally. With time, her trust in the birth process grew and her eyes were opened to the rare, transformational power that natural childbirth holds.
As a midwife, she seeks to educate and empower families while dispelling fear and misconceptions regarding pregnancy and birth. She feels, "Women are strong and can trust in their own inner fortitude because birth is normal and natural - not to be feared. These truths are self-evident but have, regrettably, been forgotten in the current birth culture. Midwives are in the unique position to help restore childbirth back to the way it was meant to be." She also believes strongly in the benefits of placenta encapsulation and enjoys offering this service to her clients. Michelle graduated from the Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery in the Fall of 2017. In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors, practicing yoga, and having family and friends gather in her home for Sunday night dinner - the more the merrier!
Maral Shabak, Office Manager and Intern Midwife
Maral believes that a family can exist in any form. Her studies at the University of California, Irvine in the fields of anthropology and women's studies taught her that we must advocate for the liberties we seek.
When it became clear to her that western medicine often harms non white heteronormative families she knew that she had to pursue a career in medicine where she can help birthing persons feel safe and secure. She decided to become a Midwife.
Maral graduated from Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery in 2017 and is currently finishing her required birth numbers while also helping families through her doula work.
Angie Miller, Intern Midwife
Angie grew up wanting to work as a labor and delivery or pediatric nurse. She attended the University of California, Irvine where she studied Public Health Science. Along her undergraduate studies journey, she took the opportunity to do a doula internship and that's when her eyes were opened to the wonderful world of midwifery and all it had to offer. That is when she took a change of career paths and didn't look back! She applied to Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery, moved to San Diego, and is now a student midwife and a part of the Acorn birth team.
Angie has always loved new babies and pregnant women. She has been amazed at what the human body had the power to achieve. Angie chose midwifery because she desires to empower women to embrace and trust their capabilities to birth naturally. Once Angie is licensed she plans to center her practice around care that is culturally competent and inclusive and supports women of all backgrounds and socioeconomic status. Her long-term goal is to help bridge the health disparity gap for women of color via education, support, and community building.
Rachel Wheeler, Intern Midwife
Rachel was first introduced to midwifery in high school when she was invited to attend a home birth. It was a joyful and comfortable atmosphere to welcome a new baby boy to the family. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics: Family and Consumer Sciences, Rachel worked with horses and taught outdoor education before becoming a preschool teacher. As she worked with young families and shared in their joys and concerns, Rachel sought to support and encourage parents. She chose to pursue midwifery to partner with families right from day one with individualized care specifically tailored for their needs and desires. She believes in the importance of giving moms and dads informed options and empowering their self-confidence to build and care for their own families.
Rachel graduated from the Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery in the Fall of 2018. Her interest in the future is to provide midwifery services and train midwives overseas. When she's not brewing kombucha or baking sourdough bread, Rachel enjoys running, especially barefoot on the beach, gardening, and visiting the tigers at the Safari Park with her nephew.
Shaunntanel Lund, Intern Midwife
I started my midwifery journey in May of 1995 when my little brother was born at home. In 2011 I started my formal midwifery journey by taking some general education classes at Palomar Community College. I applied to Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery and was accepted for the class of 2016. After some discussion with the wonderful ladies at Nizhoni I decided to wait till the next year to start classes. In October of 2014 I started at Nizhoni and for the next year I concentrated on my classwork. Then I met Cristi and started to observe her at prenatals births and postpartums for a year. I have now entered my primary phase in my midwifery journey. I am very excited to be assisting at Acorn Community Birth and Wellness Center. I graduated from Nizhoni in October of 2017.
Allison Tartari, Intern Midwife
I believe passionately in the importance of family and community, and that how we come into this world has a great influence on our emotional and physical well-being. My inspiration in life are my four children. My professional goals have always been to educate, support, and provide whatever is needed by my clients.
My love of music, integrative and holistic approaches to health, as well as the experience of a long term hospitalization of my first child inspired me to establish Healing Notes. This was the first (501C3) certified music therapy program for hospitalized children in San Diego. After observing how many young children are hospitalized every year, I decided to go back to school and learn how I could help educate new parents on the importance of good prenatal care.
I became a D.O.N.A trained Doula while studying midwifery and I recently completed my last year of Midwifery school at Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery .
My journey has led me from focusing on assisting with the healing process to now educating about the possibility of preventing illness, and the importance of having strong community support before, during and after pregnancy.
Ann Bellafaire, Apprentice Midwife
I am blessed to be a wife to my greatest love for 18 years and a mother to 6 beautiful children I have the privilege to homeschool. My original plan was to become a labor and delivery nurse, but instead started my family first. After having 4 babies followed by 4 miscarriages, I felt led to become a trained postpartum doula to help ensure moms were getting the support they needed after a birth or loss. Becoming a doula eventually introduced me to the midwifery model of care.
I was blessed to have 2 more babies and finally got my much hoped for home birth with my last child. A few years later, I got to support one of my dearest friends through her home birth where I met Cristi Lewis. There was a sweet connection and God started tugging on my heart to explore this career path. After much research and prayer, the doors started to open up for me to become a student midwife at Acorn while doing a self-paced online program through National College of Midwifery.
I love caring for moms and families through their pregnancy, birth, and postpartum season of life. We get to educate them in so many areas so they can be and do their very best at growing, birthing, and raising babies. It is always an honor to be part of something as intimate as welcoming a new life into the world!
Jesse Ortiz, Apprentice Midwife
I always knew that I wanted to work with women and babies, I just wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do in terms of career. When I was 20 I saw the term “doula” written in a birth story post. I looked into what a doula was and felt very excited about it. After reading more I decided to become a doula when I was 21.
Over that next year I read and read and watched birth videos as much as I could. That’s when I discovered midwifery. I was enthralled. I KNEW then that that’s what I wanted to be. A midwife.
When I was 23 I was accepted to Birthwise Midwifery School in a tiny town called Bridgton, Maine. I finished with bookwork in March of 2018 and started with Acorn the following November.
Kenya Castellanos, Apprentice Midwife
Kenya is an enthusiastic new Student Midwife with a heart to serve mothers and their families. Her introduction to newborn care started in High School, as a volunteer for her local Pediatric Community Clinic. Since then, she has worked in several other clinical settings including as a hospital intern for a few years. After obtaining a B.S. in Biology from California State San Marcos, she was on the road to continue pre-medical sciences until one Mission Trip to Davao City, Philippines changed her life’s direction.
Upon witnessing her very first delivery on the mission field, she became immediately captivated by the pregnancy, labor, and natural birthing process. She was equally as inspired by the hard-working midwives and the mothers, who utilized their own God-given strength to give birth. She became passionate and excited about combining her Christian faith with the holistic field of Midwifery. Kenya is now enrolled at Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery and is completing her clinical work at Acorn Birth Center. As a Spanish-Speaker and a Woman of Faith, she hopes to attract families from diverse backgrounds to the center as she believes all mothers deserve an equal opportunity at their desired birthing experience.