Our Warm Welcome Team
Warm Welcome Birth Services is an independent midwifery and doula practice serving Western Massachusetts. Our calling is to help growing families thrive in pregnancy and support them as they welcome their new babies with clarity, respect and love. We have dedicated our lives to birth-work and to nurturing growing families, knowing that the ripples of a healthy, positive birth experience carry through a lifetime for parents and babies.
❊ Michelle L’Esperance, CPM
Michelle is the owner and primary midwife at Warm Welcome Birth Services. Attending hundreds of births since 1996, she has collected and developed a multitude of insights and ideas to help families have more vibrant, healthy pregnancies and wonderful birthdays.
Whether teaching a roomful of expectant parents, supporting clients through their dream water-birth in the local hospital, or receiving a home-birthed baby into her hands at sunrise, Michelle radiates the joy that can usually be found just behind the curtain of birth’s intense work.
Whether teaching a roomful of expectant parents, supporting a client through their dream waterbirth in the local hospital, or receiving a homebirthed baby into her hands at sunrise, Michelle radiates the joy that can usually be found just behind the curtain of birth’s intense work.
Michelle began assisting at homebirths in 1996. Inspired by a talk by the legendary midwife Ina May Gaskin, her studies at Smith concentrated around medical anthropology and women’s health. She visited The Farm in Tennessee, and is deeply grateful for the kind, personal encouragement Ina May gave her there, early on her path to midwifery. In 1997 Michelle’s first child was born at home in Conway, MA; a beautiful solstice birth. Soon after, she completed a doula training and a year of traditional apprenticeship, before continuing on to a MEAC-accredited midwifery program in Florida.
Warm Welcome Birth Services was launched in 2001, initially providing birth and postpartum doula care. That same year Michelle was asked to teach a birth doula training, and has trained hundreds of doulas since. Her second pregnancy ended in a first-trimester miscarriage that year. Her rainbow baby (*first surviving child after a loss) was born gently at home in 2002. After 2004 midwifery school graduation Michelle attended 100 births at an inner-city clinic in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Witnessing that despite poor nutrition, poverty, and very rudimentary facilities, 99% of those births were normal vaginal births – affirmed Michelle’s belief in the natural integrity of the birth process.
Michelle became a Certified Professional Midwife in 2005, and an Approved Preceptor with the North American Registry of Midwives in 2014. Her current practice includes expert birth doula care for hospital or birth center; midwifery care for pregnancy and homebirth; and nurturing postpartum care.
Michelle has attended over 360 births in homes, freestanding birth centers, domestic and foreign hospitals since 1996. Her areas of special interest include facilitating optimal fetal positioning during pregnancy and birth, helping those with prior cesarean births have joyful VBACs, and birth as a transformative experience. She regularly accepts invitations to speak on these topics to area hospitals’ labor and delivery staff, as well as to local college classes. Michelle is the author and teacher of numerous curricula, including the popular Creative Movement: Practical Prep for a Positive Birth.
Michelle is Chilean-American, and is fluent in Spanish. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, heirloom gardening, beekeeping, knitting, and dancing with wild abandon.
“Just as a woman’s heart knows how and when to pump, her lungs to inhale, and her hand to pull back from fire, so she knows when and how to give birth.” Virginia Di Orio
❊ Apprentice/Primary Midwife Under Supervision
As an Approved Preceptor with the North American Registry of Midwives, Michelle educates the next generation, ensuring that your grandchildren can also be born into the loving hands of homebirth midwives. This traditional form of education involves several years of shadowing and hands-on learning as the apprentice advances towards mastery of all requisite midwifery skills. An apprentice assists at nearly all prenatal visits, births, and most postpartum visits. Apprentices have completed doula training with Warm Welcome.
As an Approved Preceptor with the North American Registry of Midwives, Michelle educates the next generation, ensuring that your grandchildren can also be born into the loving hands of homebirth midwives. This traditional form of education involves several years of shadowing and hands-on learning as the apprentice advances towards mastery of all requisite midwifery skills. An apprentice assists at nearly all prenatal visits, births, and most postpartum visits.Allison Cwalinski, Apprentice & Primary Midwife under supervision
Alli’s journey began with taking Warm Welcome’s Birth Doula training in 2009. After attending her first births as a doula, she was inspired to begin her studies in midwifery. She completed a two-year pre-apprenticeship educational program with WomanCraft Midwifery. Alli gained many practical skills during a short stay at a birth center in Texas, and began catching babies alongside Senegalese midwives, a nurse-midwife, and a Certified Professional Midwife during her month-long stay in Senegal, West Africa, with the African Birth Collective. In 2012, she became an intern with Warm Welcome, and in spring 2014 advanced to full-time apprenticeship. Now in her third year of apprenticeship, she serves as Primary Midwife under supervision for some clients. In her spare time, Alli enjoys cooking hearty meals for family and friends using fresh local ingredients, dancing, and seeing live music. In warmer months, you will find her exploring the beautiful trails, scenic views, and camping spots Western Mass has to offer.
❊ Assistant Midwives
Warm Welcome Birth Services engages a second midwife to attend your homebirth along with Michelle. You will meet this midwife at least once prenatally and will have a visit after your birth with that midwife as well. Following are profiles of the midwives we most frequently call on for this. We sometimes call on other midwives not listed here. The second midwife is selected based on geography, calendar availability and harmony with the birthing family. All midwives, apprentices and interns with Warm Welcome are LGBTQP-identified or friendly. We delight in serving a wide variety of families, including those with a spiritual or religious orientation, step, blended, adoptive, surrogate, and traditional.
A midwife, teacher, and mother, Shivani's journey to midwifery began as a young girl, keeping the gates of birth and death in her own family.
She began her formal midwifery training at the age of 17, including academic and clinical training through a MEAC-accredited midwifery school, formal apprenticeship and self-study over the course of 10 years.
She is humbled and inspired daily by her own practice in the beautiful Berkshire mountains, where she offers gentle, loving midwifery care in homes and doula care in hospitals.
Shivani also loves to hike the ridges of mountains, swim the centers of lakes and seek out adventures with her family. She is the devoted mother of an extraordinary teenage son and two beautiful daughters, all born at home with the loving care of midwives.
Gillian became interested in midwifery in her teens, attended her first birth as a Doula when she was 17, and has been studying and practicing midwifery and women’s health in some form or another since.
She sees her role as a midwife being that of an well-educated guide. She enjoys sharing information and loves to be asked and to answer questions that allow her clients to make truly informed decisions. She believes that a strength of midwifery is that clients are seen as individuals; midwives have a wellspring of skills and experience that clients can draw upon to get the care that is best suited for them.
Gillian lives with her husband and 3 children in Westhampton and enjoys working with her hands, from tidy crafts like knitting and sewing to more messy tasks like gardening and beekeeping. She is a reader, a thinker, and a lover of deep discussion.
Ryan attended midwifery school and then worked as a midwife at Maternidad La Luz, a freestanding birth center in El Paso, Texas.
He has attended over 100 births in birth center, hospital and home settings. His professional experience and his lived experience as a transgender person has taught him resilience in the sometimes tumultuous and always transformative in-between spaces of life.
Ryan considers attending birth to be the greatest privilege. You can read more about Ryan in the Trans Birth directory.
Jessie Groneman is a midwife, a birth and postpartum doula and an herbalist with over 20 years of experience teaching and providing plant medicine to her community and clients.
Jessie completed her training as a midwife through a combination of formal apprenticeship and the MEAC accredited program in Taos, New Mexico.
She is passionate about the transformative potential of birth and postpartum and supports her clients and their families in achieving the highest level of well-being possible through this transition.
Jessie is the adoring mother of two wonderful children, both born in love at home.
Alex Holding is a CPM. She loves supporting people in all phases of their family-building process, from preconception and fertility counseling to insemination, prenatal, birth and postpartum support to wellness care.
She brings a holistic approach to her midwifery practice, meeting each family’s individual needs and offering clinically competent, respectful and responsive care.
Alex lives in Southern Vermont and provides midwifery care in Vermont, Western New Hampshire and Northern Massachusetts. In addition to holding the CPM credential, which is recognized in most states, she is licensed in Vermont and certified in New Hampshire.
Homebirth midwifery clients have the option of an intern’s support during their birthing day at no additional charge. The intern works unobtrusively in the background; cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, tending to your pets, and helping with the midwives’ paperwork. This person is on the path to midwifery, trained as a doula with Michelle, and serves as an intern for a year or more before advancing to the hands-on work of apprenticeship. If you are interested in having an intern at your birth, you will meet them at a prenatal before your birth.
“A midwife should have a lady’s hands, a hawk’s eyes and a lion’s heart.” Aristotle
Choose from five options to meet me and explore how your pregnancy and birth can be great on your own terms. Partners always welcome.
❊ Let’s Get Started
My free consults are perfect for those who are pregnant or trying to conceive. We can focus on homebirth midwifery care or doula care, or explore both. Let’s brainstorm together so I can help you imagine just how wonderful your baby’s birth can be with an experienced doula or midwife by your side.
Office consultations >> Florence (Northampton). Select weekdays; weekends sometimes available during the summer.
Phone consultations >> Monday through Friday, some evening and weekend availability.
You are welcome to call during normal weekday business hours at (413) 858-5048 or fill out my contact form using the button above and we’ll be in touch. If you just want written info at this point, I can email you detailed information about the range of services I provide.
“I imagine a world in which
all humans are born with an
intact capacity to love,
and I am willing to devote my life
to making it happen.”