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.
Lucy French, LM, CPM
Lucy is a New Mexico Licensed Midwife (LM) and a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM). She 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.
Rebecca Palak, LM, CPM
Clinical Director and Staff Midwife
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.
se habla español
Soraya Shah, LM, CPM
Soraya is a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) and New Mexico Licensed Midwife (LM), as well as a lactation consultant and La Leche League leader. As a young child, she was surrounded by many pregnant, birthing, and nursing aunties. 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’s 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.
She practices Classical Midwifery, a philosophy incorporating evidence-based practice with traditional holistic wisdom. She strongly values continued postpartum care – supporting the recovery of mama and helping to establish a strong breastfeeding relationship.
She lives on a little homestead and is a mother to one feisty toddler – birthed at home with family and midwives in attendance after a long, intense labor.
Se habla español.
Jessie Hughes, LM
Jessie is a New Mexico Licensed Midwife who began her midwifery education in 2003 with her first apprenticeship in Colorado. In 2005-2006 she was duel enrolled in the Mercy in Action Midwifery program and the National College of Midwifery to complete the didactic and skills training portion of her education.
Beginning in 2008 and for the next 7 years she would work periodically in Northern Uganda, Africa as a midwife, offering prenatal and postpartum care and facilitating the deliveries of hundreds of babies. She also taught natural family planning, infant care, and women’s reproduction and health care, as well as trained Traditional Birth Attendants. In 2016 she offered midwifery care and counseling in Europe to the refugees during the refugee crises. The next few years Jessie worked as an assistant midwife/apprentice doing all aspects of midwifery care and completing the New Mexico Midwifery Apprenticeship Program.
“I deeply care for the mother’s, babies, and families that I am privileged to support during the powerful and profound transitions of pregnancy, birth, and life and I aim to bring well honed skills, compassion, wisdom and love to each encounter.”
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.
Victoria Dean, LM, CPM
Victoria Dean was born and raised in Santa Fe, NM. Born at home herself, she was raised with an awareness of midwives and giving birth outside of the hospital.
She attended Monte del Sol Charter School which featured a mentorship program; where students find a professional in the community willing to volunteer their time and experiences throughout the school year.
Through that mentorship program she was able to study under a local home birth midwife. That year of mentorship was life changing and solidified a calling and purpose to become a midwife.
She attended the University of New Mexico for one year before deciding on which midwifery program to pursue. In 2013 she was accepted into Birthingway College of Midwifery. In 2017 she graduated and received her Certified Professional Midwife credential.
Victoria is deeply committed to midwifery care as a means of social justice and addressing the systems of oppression that people giving birth face. With 10 years of attending births and nearly 150 births attended as a midwife, Victoria is honored to bring her expertise and calm presence to the Santa Fe Birth Center.