Birth is

Check out this virtual tour of the Midwifery Birth Center and read more about all the COVID-19 precautions we're taking in the Q + A section below.

Hello Parents!

That first positive test. That hint of queasy. The fluttery feeling of your baby stretching and kicking inside your belly. Seeing your first ultrasound pic, to the decisions (so many decisions) to "wait, is that a contraction?"

There are many milestones along the journey to meeting your baby. At the Midwifery Birth Center, our team is with you every step of the way.

From exceptional prenatal care to natural childbirth to bringing home baby and beyond, our certified nurse-midwives walk the path to parenthood alongside you with guidance, support, respect and compassion. Keep scrolling and get to know us—and the just-right birth option between hospital birth and home birth. We can’t wait to take great care of you and your baby.

It’s called a birth center, because we’re centered around you.

Your baby. Your strength. The undeniable power of defining this incredible experience for yourself.

People have been giving birth with very little intervention for millennia. Here, we honor this tradition with an approach that respects normal pregnancy and birth for the natural processes that they are.

The Midwifery Birth Center is not a hospital or a home, but a comfortable, modern facility dedicated to birth. Your labor will be accompanied by the continuous care of a warm and loving team led by a certified nurse-midwife. And you’ll have a natural, unmedicated birth in a safe place that feels like home.

This is the foundation of who we are and what we do. This is about celebrating you as a parent. This is about liberating birth options and trusting the person who knows you best: you.

“The Midwifery Birth Center truly is the best of both worlds - personalized, compassionate, low intervention midwifery model of care AND partnership with OBs and a hospital if needed. The midwives are incredibly experienced and I always felt safe and cared for throughout pregnancy and labor.” — Sarah, Birthing Parent
Marisa R. Bryman
Gina Cardona
Kori D. Pienovi
M. Catherine Schaefer
Carissa St. Onge Carneiro
Michele Zimmerman-Pike
Meet the Team

We’re a team of certified nurse-midwives. What exactly does that mean? We trust your body knows this journey, and we would love to be with you through it.

Because we have a traditional nursing background as nurse practitioners, we combine a holistic approach with rigorous medical training and the ability to treat disease and prescribe medication. We also work hand-in-hand with hospital-based midwives and obstetricians if you should need—or prefer—a hospital birth at any given point. No matter what comes up, we have the training, expertise and experience to help you have a safe, natural, positive birth experience.

Marisa R. Bryman, CNM, MSN, Spanish Speaking

What does Marisa love about being a certified nurse-midwife? In a word: everything. More specifically, she enjoys getting to know pregnant people and their families, witnessing the strength they possess, and helping Spanish-speaking people feel empowered to make informed decisions about their healthcare.

Marisa's very first job as a nurse-midwife was at a birth center and she enjoys being able to spend extra time with expecting parents in this setting throughout pregnancy—learning how to best support them through labor and the transition to parenthood. In addition to caring for people during pregnancy and childbirth, she also enjoys helping them find the right birth control for their lifestyle and situation.

Marisa received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley and her master’s degree in nurse-midwifery from Yale University School of Nursing. She has been an active member of the American College of Nurse-Midwives, serving as president of the Idaho chapter before moving to Oregon. When she’s not working, Marisa enjoys riding and working on bicycles, hiking, knitting and sewing. She and her partner have two daughters.

Gina Cardona, CNM, MSN, Spanish Speaking

While her love of midwifery began as a volunteer nurse working in a birth center just out of college, Gina's ability to really connect with laboring people, empathize and validate their experience grew after the birth of her son. As a midwife, she's worked at free-standing birth centers throughout the country supporting mostly Spanish-speaking mothers and families, and learned from home-birth midwives in Mexico and Central America. She is passionate about providing family-centered, quality health care to women during motherhood and appreciates the opportunity to care for women and families through multiple pregnancies and births.

A Midwesterner by birth, Gina received her bachelor's degree in nursing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her master's program took her to the University of Colorado-Denver and she's continued her westward migration ever since (with a stop in Texas). She enjoys traveling, spending time with friends and family, and finding oceans, lakes and rivers to go swimming.

Kori D. Pienovi, CNM, MS

Kori is a devoted advocate of natural birth. With more than 10 years of birth center experience, she feels called to help women and families greet their babies in a peaceful and powerful manner through natural, unhindered childbirth.

Kori supports physiologic birth while ensuring safety, both physically and emotionally, for women and babies. In addition to walking women and families through pregnancy, birth and postpartum, Kori is committed to caring for the LGBTQ community in conception, wellness and health, birth and the transition to parenthood.

Kori received her bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Notre Dame and her bachelor’s in nursing and master’s in nurse-midwifery from Columbia University. Her experience includes well-woman care, gynecology, family planning, prenatal and postpartum care and attending births in the hospital, birth center and home settings.

Kori and her wife have a toddler daughter and infant son. Together, they enjoy spending time outdoors, visiting friends and hosting dinners. Kori also loves to travel and explore new places and cultures.

M. Catherine Schaefer, CNM, ND, MSN

Catherine fell in love with midwifery after attending a home birth in 1979 as a naturopathic medical student and then birthing her first child at home the year later. In the 35 years since, she birthed three more babies of her own at home—and has attended more than 1,500 home, birth center and hospital births—helping women and couples begin or continue their lives as parents. Through her experience, Catherine has developed a deep trust in the birth process and the ability to greet whatever unfolds with respect and awe, using her training as both a nurse-midwife and naturopathic physician.

Catherine received her bachelor’s degree in science and anthropology from Portland State University. She received her doctorate in naturopathic medicine with a specialty in natural childbirth from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland and her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing and nurse-midwifery from OHSU.

Catherine and her husband live on a farm where her husband is responsible for a small private school. When she is not catching babies, Catherine enjoys being with her grown children and grandchildren, digging in her  garden, making herbal preparations and sewing.

Carissa St. Onge Carneiro, CNM, MSN, Spanish, Portuguese Speaking

Carissa felt a deep calling to midwifery from age 17. After graduating from the University of Portland's School of Nursing in 2000, she dove into midwifery, volunteering as a maternity nurse at Holy Family Birth Center on the Texas/Mexico border. This confirmed her aspiration to become a midwife and helped her understand what an exemplary out-of-hospital midwifery practice (and community) looks and feels like. She spent the next 15 years having and raising three children (all born at home with Catherine Schaefer and Nora Tallman in attendance!) and assisting in births in a variety of birth settings. 

Carissa attended Frontier Nursing University for her Master of Science degree in nursing. Using her training in the ancient science of midwifery and modern, evidence-based care, she joined Catherine Schaefer in practice as a home birth certified nurse-midwife before they both joined the Midwifery Birth Center. Carissa enjoys teaching women about the fascinating thing that is their menstrual cycle and promoting a healthy and calm postpartum episode for both partners. She helps women with family planning, placing IUDs and discussing optimal use of natural family planning techniques. 

When she's not working, you may find Carissa jogging in the forest, hanging upside down or doing yoga, sipping some fabulous Nossa Familia Coffee or reading a parenting book on teenagers. 

Michele Zimmerman-Pike, CNM, MSN

Michele remembers her own birth experiences—one in an in-hospital alternative birth center and four at home attended by midwives—as some of the most vulnerable and paradoxically powerful moments of her life. The tenderness with which her husband helped her through the intensity of childbirth, guided by their birth team, is the space she hopes to hold for families during their own experiences at the Midwifery Birth Center.

Michele has spent her career as a midwife facilitating individualized support for women and families to achieve their optimal birth experience in a variety of settings—home, birth center and hospital. She promotes wellness during pregnancy and beyond through practical nutrition, exercise and mindfulness.

Michele grew up in Jersey City, a train ride away from Manhattan and all the cultural experiences it offered. She attended Emory University in Atlanta for her bachelor’s degree in nursing, and Frontier University in Kentucky for her master’s in nurse midwifery. Her birth center experience also includes three years as a site visitor for the Commission for Accreditation of Birth Centers.

With five children, Michele spends a fair amount of time at athletic and musical performances outside of work. She also enjoys permaculture gardening and cooking.

What to Expect


· Congratulations! This is the start of something great—and the perfect time to start thinking about your birth options.

· Thinking about an out-of-hospital birth, but want the safety and security of an experienced medical team? Call to schedule a tour to check out our birthing suites and meet your team.

· Let’s say you love the Midwifery Birth Center. (And we think you will.) Now let’s see if it’s your best option based on your health, history and pregnancy during an appointment with one of our certified nurse-midwives.

· If you’re good to go, you’ll start prenatal care with us. This means appointments with our certified nurse-midwives both individually and with other people who are due around the same time, giving you personalized care and ample time to get comfortable with birth outside of the hospital.

· We’re next door to our Gateway OB/GYN/midwifery practice, so you have access to ultrasound, genetic testing and a complete range of support services if you want or need them.

Labor + Birth

· When the big day comes, you’ll arrive at the Midwifery Birth Center in active labor. (P.S. We’ll cover what that means beforehand.)

· Because our whole team knows you, you can expect the same level of support you’ve come to cherish, regardless of which smiling face you see on your baby’s birth day.

· Settle into your birthing suite. Plug in your birth soundtrack, tweak the lighting and get ready to meet your baby. We’ll draw your labor tub for you. This is the birth of a parent as well as a baby, even if you’ve been down this road before. We’re here for you.

· Throughout labor, your midwife and birth assistant will continuously support you, helping your body do what it knows how to.

· Want to eat? Drink? Do the mamba or just walk around? Follow your body’s cues. We’ll guide you in choosing labor and birth coping techniques that are the most helpful (think: laboring positions, labor tub, birthing ball, sling, etc.).

· After welcoming your little one, you’ll enjoy immediate skin-to-skin bonding time with baby while we make you and your family comfortable. Enjoy this peaceful, precious time with your baby.


· Take a hot shower, wrap up in a cozy robe and rest. We’ll take the very best care of you and your little one while you’re here the six to 12 hours following birth, guiding you in breastfeeding, self-care, baby care and recovery.

· When you’re ready to go home with your new addition, know that we’re a phone call away—including on-call access to lactation support 24/7.

· Our birth assistant will come by to check on you and your baby (yes, a house call!) a day or two after you’re home to make sure you’re recovering, check the baby’s weight, provide lactation support and, of course, marvel at the wonder in your arms.

· Within three to five days, you’ll have your first appointment with your pediatric provider. We’ll help make sure you’ve chosen this doctor or nurse practitioner during your pregnancy to make the transition smooth.

· You’ll have your first postpartum appointment at the Midwifery Birth Center one to two weeks after the baby is born. We can’t wait to see you again!


Birth photographers we love:

Oak and Badger Photography + Films Jenny Lee has photographed one birth at the Midwifery Birth Center already and her lovely documentary style captured every special moment and reaction from the whole family. Check out some of her work in our gallery and visit her website for more information.

The First Moments by Coco Photography. We've attended births with Colette Hoekstra in the hospital and her work is amazing. Check out the beautiful gallery on her website and call her to set up a consultation. Colette is offering a $100 discount to clients who mention Women's Healthcare Associates.

Natalie Broders Birth Photographer. We love Natalie's honest and straightforward style. Check out her work and schedule a free consultation on her website.


The facility cost associated with birthing at the Midwifery Birth Center, as well as your prenatal and postpartum care, are covered in-network by the insurance companies listed below, according the terms of your plan. Even if your insurance company isn't on this list, your prenatal and postpartum care may still be covered in-network – visit the WHA website to see a complete list of these companies. (And don't worry if this sounds confusing–our financial counselors are here to help.)

  • Aetna
  • CareOregon
  • Cigna
  • Columbia Pacific CCO
  • Coventry Health Care
  • First Choice
  • Great West
  • HealthNet
  • Humana ChoiceCare
  • Moda
  • Pacificare
  • PacificSource
  • Providence Health Plans (including OHP)
  • Regence Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Oregon
  • United Healthcare
  • Yamhill County CCO
What if?
How come?

You’ve got questions. Maybe a lot of them. And that’s more than okay. It’s natural! Here are some of the ones we hear most.

What precautions are you taking during COVID-19?
Okay, so how is the Midwifery Birth Center different from a hospital? Or other birth centers, for that matter?
The Midwifery Birth Center sounds great, but is right for me?
Can I have an epidural at the Midwifery Birth Center?
Can I deliver at the Midwifery Birth Center if I’ve had C-section?
Can I have a water birth?
What if something happens during labor and I need to go to the hospital?
What other ways can you help me cope with the pain of labor and childbirth?
What if I need a snack—or more than a snack?
Can I bring my doula?
Can I bring my family? (And what if my family includes my rescue dog, Larry?)
When should I start my care at the Midwifery Birth Center?
I am pregnant and started prenatal care with another practitioner. Can I deliver at the Midwifery Birth Center?
What’s the deal with insurance?
Is the Midwifery Birth Center accredited?
Can I come to the Midwifery Birth Center for my annual exams?
How do I contact you if I want to learn more?
We’re here for you. Right here.

The Midwifery Birth Center is located just off I-84 and I-205, minutes from our obstetric and hospital partners. We invite you to take a look around our VIRTUAL TOUR >

When you're ready to take the next step, we offer both in-person and virtual no-charge initial consultations ('meet-and-greets'). All in-person appointments follow current COVID-19 precautions for support people and children.

Ready to get started? We can't wait to meet you!



Midwifery Birth Center - Gateway

10566 SE Washington Street
Portland, OR 97216
Ph: (503) 855-1220
Fax: (503) 855-1229