Roberta Frank, CNM

I’m a native of Southern California in the coastal communities. I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Nursing in 1968 from SDSU, and went on to get my ...

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Roberta Frank, CNM

I’m a native of Southern California in the coastal communities. I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Nursing in 1968 from SDSU, and went on to get my certificate in Midwifery in 1978 from UCSD. I was married over 4 decades to my late husband Bill Frank and have 3 grown children. I became a midwife because the hospital birth of my first child didn’t meet my expectations in regards to the quality of care given to me. I believed then, as I do now, that birth is a joyous miracle and that the care given to mothers and babies should reflect that belief. I have home birth and birth center experience spanning over 3 decades. One of the greatest moments in my career was being able to attend the birth of my first grandson at Best Start and witness from my daughter’s perspective, the satisfaction of care she received. While medical interventions are sometimes necessary, most of the time birth is a healthy non-medical event. My intent is for all women and their loved ones to have a place to celebrate the miracle of normal birth in the manner they choose, without unnecessary medical interventions. My hope for all persons who find their way to Best Start, is that they receive support, a nurturing environment, and exceptional quality of care. My vision is that birth centers such as Best Start, will eventually become the norm, providing individualized care that honors both the mother and her loved ones based on their personal needs.

Shari Stone-Ulrich, MSN, CNM, Clinical Director

I was born and raised in Missouri and met my husband, Michael while attending nursing school at Mizzou. I have always been interested in wellness and ...

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Shari Stone-Ulrich, MSN, CNM, Clinical Director

I was born and raised in Missouri and met my husband, Michael while attending nursing school at Mizzou. I have always been interested in wellness and prevention of disease, and have known I wanted to help women during labor and birth. The United States Air Force allowed me to start working in OB as a new graduate, so I commissioned back in 1986. We had 2 beautiful daughters, Caitlin born in 1988 and Kelsey in 1989, in northern California, in the days before epidurals! So I know natural childbirth is very doable. I was awarded a scholarship through the USAF to attend Georgetown University and received my Master’s in Midwifery in 1993. Our son, Nathan was born in 1998 in Illinois. I practiced Certified Nurse-Midwifery until my retirement from the USAF in 2007, having caught more than 1,000 babies in hospital. I always practiced physiologic, natural birth as much as possible, according to families’ wishes. I used to tell pilots that I had the best job in the military; of course they would disagree, but what a blessing to get paid for doing what I love! My family has lived all over the United States, but I always had the dream of working in a Freestanding Birth Center. I was thrilled to be offered a position at Best Start Birth Center in beautiful San Diego, and am very happy to be here! I look forward to meeting and getting to know all our birthing families!
A Note From Our Clinical Director, Midwife Shari Stone-Ulrich At Best Start, the midwives consider ourselves partners in your care and it is our intent to always provide every client the best care possible. Please contact me with any questions or concerns or just to say hi! I want to connect with you and make sure you understand all aspects of your care. You can reach me by calling the office or email at: sstone-ulrich@beststartbirthcenter.com. Please note that due to privacy issues, I would like to speak to you over the phone or in person but please email me to set this up.

Erina Angelucci, MSN, CNM

I was born and raised in La Jolla and always knew it was where I would want to settle. A few years before going to midwifery school, I was researching...

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Erina Angelucci, MSN, CNM

I was born and raised in La Jolla and always knew it was where I would want to settle. A few years before going to midwifery school, I was researching my ancestors and found I have midwives on both sides. As I started looking into midwifery I found a calling and decided to go to Emory to pursue a career in midwifery. While there, I had experience with natural and water births. I am thrilled to be at Best Start Birth Center and to meet all of you! Birth is a life changing and memorable time and I am honored every time I am invited to be a part of it. In addition to being a midwife, I enjoy knitting and spending time discovering San Diego.

Ann Groonwald, MSN CNM

I am honored to be part of the Best Start community and look forward to meeting each of you! My philosophy is to empower clients and families through...

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Ann Groonwald, MSN CNM

I am honored to be part of the Best Start community and look forward to meeting each of you! My philosophy is to empower clients and families through education, support, and shared decision-making. I strive to provide gentle, compassionate, holistic care to all clients. My journey to midwifery began in my teens when I was inspired by a group of midwives I had the pleasure of working with. In 2001, I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Minnesota State University, Mankato. I spent 14 years as a labor and delivery nurse before completing my Masters of Science in Midwifery from Frontier Nursing University. Also during that time, my family grew to include my husband, 3 children and 2 dogs. In my spare time I enjoy time with my family, traveling, hiking, crocheting, and quilting.

Debora Lundgren-Walls, MSN, CNM

I am originally from the Boston Area, but have loved living in San Diego since 2018. Before that I spent the last several years living and working in...

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Debora Lundgren-Walls, MSN, CNM

I am originally from the Boston Area, but have loved living in San Diego since 2018. Before that I spent the last several years living and working in different areas of the country including Florida, Virginia and Northern California. I am the daughter of a Newborn ICU nurse and the granddaughter of a Nursery/Postpartum nurse; so I’ve always said babies are in my blood and I knew I wanted to work in maternity care. My journey began in 2004 when I received my Bachelors of Nursing from Hawaii Pacific University. I worked as a Postpartum RN for 6 years and a Labor and Delivery RN for 10 years. Throughout this time my passion for birth and women’s health grew exponentially. However with the state of maternity care in this country, I quickly learned that I could be a better resource and provide women with more evidence-based, compassionate and holistic care by becoming a midwife. I graduated in March 2020 with my Masters of Science in Midwifery from Frontier Nursing University and am a Certified Nurse Midwife. I recently started the process of becoming a Certified Lactation Consultant. I believe women are strong and birth is not only amazing but the most natural thing a woman can do. I am honored and overjoyed any time I am invited to be part of the journey of birth. I also believe all women deserve to have control over their bodies, choices about where and how they receive care, where and how they birth, and providers who listen. I am thrilled to be joining the Best Start family and look forward to meeting you all!

Anne Walters, MSN, CNM

I am originally from New Jersey And always thought I would end up specializing in ICU or ER nursing. I was in the first EMT class offered in NJ in 197...

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Anne Walters, MSN, CNM

I am originally from New Jersey And always thought I would end up specializing in ICU or ER nursing. I was in the first EMT class offered in NJ in 1972 and I loved the excitement of never knowing what was coming up and having to think quickly and acting decisively during emergency situations. That all changed after I had my first baby in an out of hospital birthing center in 1980. Talk about an empowering paradigm shift! I wanted to help other women have that sort of experience, switched to women’s health and never looked back! After 12 years as an OB-Gyn nurse, I was accepted to University of Southern California and graduated from the midwifery program in 1993. My first job as a midwife was in the Central Valley, where I attended about 2000 births in 7 years and practiced full scope midwifery. In 2001 I bought the private practice of a midwife in Denver. My partner and I later became employees of Swedish Medical Center and founded Midwifery Group at Swedish in 2006. I helped start All About Women’s Care in 2009 where I was part owner and had a little more input on how the practice would run. The practice was a mix of CNMs, NPs and MDs. We attended births at Swedish Medical Center and built up quite a following. I left that group in 2017 so I could expand my practice to include home births, which I had been attending as the second midwife to a colleague of mine. My partner and I founded the first midwifery practice in the state that offered both home and hospital births. It was a great experience. In 2019, my husband and I came to San Diego to retire and to help my son and grandchildren. Retirement did not suit me and I was delighted to accept a position at Best Start Birth Center so I could continue to practice midwifery. I am looking forward to meeting new clients and helping them achieve the best possible outcomes during their childbearing years.

Rosanne Gephart, CNM, NP, IBCLC

I have over 4 decades of experience working with mothers and babies in hospitals, birth centers, and homes. I directed one of the first centers in the...

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Rosanne Gephart, CNM, NP, IBCLC

I have over 4 decades of experience working with mothers and babies in hospitals, birth centers, and homes. I directed one of the first centers in the USA to be designated “Baby Friendly” by the World Health Organization. I serve in leadership and teaching positions in numerous state and national organizations that serve to promote the excellent care of midwives, birth centers and lactation professionals. I currently work as a midwife, lactation consultant and business consultant for numerous centers and have founded and direct, Better Beginnings a non-profit, dedicated to helping families get off to a good start www.betterbeginningsforbabies.org

Marli Ivers, LM, CPM, SpBAP

Becoming a midwife has been a 10 year dream for me. As a young teenager I started to learn about maternity care in the United States and in contrast, ...

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Marli Ivers, LM, CPM, SpBAP

Becoming a midwife has been a 10 year dream for me. As a young teenager I started to learn about maternity care in the United States and in contrast, also witnessed my first home birth. I felt so strongly that birth givers should have options, autonomy, and respect that I decided to become a midwife! After graduating from high school, I lived in the Philippines for five months at a birthing home and attended over 70 births there as a doula, birth assistant, and primary student midwife. I then pursued my bachelor of science in community health education because I felt that it was the best fit with the kind of midwife I wanted to be. In 2014 I moved across the country to San Diego in order to attend the Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery and to complete a three and a half year internship with a local San Diego midwife. I am also a Spinning Babies Aware Practitioner from working with body balancing and Spinning Babies for the past three and half years. I have seen these tools make an incredible difference and I am thrilled to offer them to our Best Start clients. I believe that birth is powerful and sacred. I believe that birth givers should be supported, listened to, and celebrated no matter where their birthing journey takes them. I am excited to provide my support, insight, and guidance to every Best Start family!

Emily Deckenback, LM, CPM

I started out as a scientist. As a child, I took after my grandfather, a chemical engineer, and it was assumed I would go to college and excel in chem...

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Emily Deckenback, LM, CPM

I started out as a scientist. As a child, I took after my grandfather, a chemical engineer, and it was assumed I would go to college and excel in chemistry, biology, and physics. What was unexpected was the deeply nurturing and spiritual side of me that developed as surely as my love of scientific rigor. While I initially planned to become an OB/GYN, I soon discovered that the medical model of delivering babies felt more like an assembly line than a miracle. I turned to midwifery and never looked back. In the spring of 2010, I applied to midwifery school at the Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery. I graduated with Honors in November 2013. I trained as a birth and postpartum doula and began attending births in 2011, traveling all over the country and even volunteering for three weeks in Haiti in order to gain a depth of clinical experience that would allow me to practice with the highest possible standards. I owned a homebirth practice in San Mateo County for three years before relocating to San Diego in 2019 for my husband’s work. I live in Mira Mesa with my husband and two children. I love spending time with my family and friends, especially if I can be out in the sunshine with my fingers in the dirt, but I love to return to the comfort of my couch and a juicy novel at the end of the day.

Amy Berg, CPM, LM, MA

It was after the Earthside arrival of my own three children that I truly learned the value of having a knowledgeable support system during pregnancy, ...

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Amy Berg, CPM, LM, MA

It was after the Earthside arrival of my own three children that I truly learned the value of having a knowledgeable support system during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. My journey through motherhood guided me to becoming a 2015 graduate from Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery. I have worked in three birth centers and assisted over 200 babies from womb to world as a Licensed Midwife. My background includes being a Newborn Care Specialist, Postpartum Doula, EMT, Hospice CNA, Medical Assistant and Director of Client Services for a home health agency. I have dedicated my career to supporting safe healthcare practices. From preconception to our last breath, I have witnessed the invaluable benefits of providing evidence-based, compassionate care that honors each individual's needs.

Elmira Farnoosh, Midwife Assistant

My name is Elmira Farnoosh. I've been in the midwifery field since 2000. I earned my degree at the Qazvin University of Medical Sciences and then star...

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Elmira Farnoosh, Midwife Assistant

My name is Elmira Farnoosh. I've been in the midwifery field since 2000. I earned my degree at the Qazvin University of Medical Sciences and then started practicing as a Midwife at the Bahonar Hospital and the North Tehran Health Center. I'm a Board Certified, Licensed Midwife in Iran. My passion is helping families to have safe and gentle births. I truly believe a woman's body knows the natural way of birth. Love your birth because birth is all about mothers strengths. I’m honored to be part of the best start family.

Our midwives are Board Certified Nurse Midwives and Licensed Certified Professional Midwives. Each one will get to know you well during your prenatal visits and will be on call and ready for you for your labor and birth.

Best Start Birth Center midwives are proud to work with a team of birth assistants who are licensed midwives, certified professional midwives, midwife assistants, and registered nurses. A birth assistant will attend your labor and birth and assure everything goes smoothly postpartum until you go home.

Best Start Birth Center is proud to offer a team of medical assistants, childbirth educators, referrals to social workers, and other support services.