Founder, Executive Director
Meria Loeks birth community involvement spans fifty years beginning in Amsterdam, the Netherlands while listening to Dutch women’s unmedicated birth stories. At that time forty percent of women in The Netherlands delivered their babies at home.
Upon returning to the US she learned most American women chose either a medicated hospital birth (97%), or a home birth (1-3%). Finding a midwife in her seventh month of pregnancy and subsequently giving birth to all three sons at home was a life defining experience.
She became a midwife, Mothering magazine editor, counselor for teen moms, Maternal Child Health program manager, childbirth educator, doula mentor, and psychotherapist. She developed a course on the history of childbirth for University of New Mexico.
Her current mission -- to expand women’s birth choices -- is creating a sustainable and beautiful birth center.
Malerie is Santa Fe Birth Center’s student midwife. Two transformative events confirmed Malerie’s midwifery calling: her unexpected pregnancy in 2007, while completing a BA in psychology and family studies, which led to five years of doula and midwife birth assistant work; and in 2019 she was the primary attendant of her niece’s birth during a record breaking Seattle snowstorm. Currently Malerie is completing a BS degree at Midwives College of Utah.
Malerie trusts in birth as a physiological process and supports every person’s inner power. She finds all births bring new understanding of the strength, resiliency, and joy of this transformative experience. She has attended over 100 births and is eager to continue offering support and care.
When not at a birth, Malerie tends to her homestead on a Santa Fe mesa top, escapes to a hot bath with a good book, or employs her family’s common love language- cooking good food.
Carrie Blake, LM, CPM, MPH
Midwife, Incoming Clinical Director
One of Carrie’s greatest strengths is empowering mothers to trust their ability to give birth. Having attended well over 600 births, her passion for out of hospital birth is founded in her experience that birth works. Her gentle and wise care promotes a safe birth journey by allowing birth to unfold naturally with as little intervention as possible. Carrie’s midwifery practice includes providing evidence based care and offering truly informed consent. Client prenatal appointments focus on enabling a healthy birth for mother and baby and postpartum visits carry the family successfully into the future.
Carrie’s midwifery study began in 2002. She became a Certified Professional Midwife in 2007. She is a New Mexico Licensed Midwife.
Carrie has practiced midwifery in Colorado, Idaho, Senegal and Niger, West Africa, and leads the Train Midwives Save Lives project. She is very excited to have returned to her native New Mexico and looking forward to serving families well through the birth center.
Risa has been involved with the birthing community since childhood. Daughter to a midwife, Risa attended births throughout her childhood and teen years, developing a deep connection and respect for the sacred experience of childbirth.
After completing a dual degree in Contemplative Psychology and Art Therapy at Naropa University in Boulder, CO, she continued her studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA. She returned to her native Santa Fe and joined the field of integrative medicine, incorporating nutritional studies into behavioral and developmental disability therapy.
She has worked in supporting women and families through managing an integrative medicine family practice since 2009. Risa is thrilled to join the Santa Fe Birth Center and to continue to be involved in supporting the Santa Fe birthing community.
Risa lives in Santa Fe with her husband and their two amazing children.
Rebecca Palak, LM, CPM
Outgoing Clinical Director
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meet our SFBC birth assistants, Lucy, Soraya and Eliza!
Rebecca is a New Mexico Licensed Midwife (LM) and Certified Professional Midwife (CPM). She trained at, and then became a staff midwife and clinical director, at Maternidad la Luz (MLL) where she attended over 400 births. In her teaching position at MLL she enjoyed being a preceptor for more than 60 midwifery students. She supports the sacred miracle of birth by empowering gentle birth experiences and attending women and families in the natural unfolding of the birth process. She provides individualized, intuitive care and promotes holistic maternal health and reproductive rights. Rebecca is bilingual in Spanish and English. When not working at the Center she loves mothering her son, hearing live music, mountain biking and reading.
Lucy French, LM, CPM
Lucy trained at Birthingway College of Midwifery (B.S.) and majored in anthropology at Washington University (B.A.). She received further training from two homebirth practices in Portland and Canby Oregon.
Lucy finds all aspects of birth care -- the emotional, intellectual, spiritual and political -- fulfilling. She provides holistic, midwifery care, ensuring that her clients are informed of best practices that respect individual needs. Drawing on years of experience working with a wide range of families Lucy brings her grounded, loving and intuitive presence to birth. She is thrilled to be involved with growing families in northern New Mexico at the community-based Santa Fe Birth Center.
Soraya Shah, LM, CPM
In addition to practicing Classical Midwifery, Soraya is lactation consultant and La Leche League leader. She received her clinical experience and education at Bellevue College and Bastyr in Washington, and Maternidad La Luz in El Paso, TX, the latter of which she loved working with Spanish-speaking clients. She has appreciated working with those who saw their pregnancy, birth and baby through a spiritual lens, full of prayer. She believes that we are partners with G-d in creation and as such, that it is our responsibility to be as skilled and knowledgeable as possible in whatever we have influence or control over. She follows in the legacy of the Hebrew midwives – Shifrah and Puah, believing in the responsibility to go against the dominant culture if necessary to bring forth life.
Se habla español.
Eliza Serna, BSN, RN
Eliza Serna has served the birth community for 13 years as a midwife’s assistant, doula, and childbirth educator in home, birth center, and hospital settings in both Oregon and New Mexico. She is a registered nurse (BSN, RN) working on a master’s degree in nurse-midwifery at the University of New Mexico. She also holds degrees (BA and MA) in English, her first love.
She views birth as a rite of passage that is rooted in relationship and seeks to meet clients exactly where they’re at, helping them tune into their own knowing while providing meaningful support, guidance, information, and advocacy as the situation dictates. Preserving a woman’s autonomy and providing her with choice throughout the childbearing year are fundamental human rights that Eliza works to ensure for all birthing women.