About Us

happy mother holding her babyOur History

A nonprofit in the heart of scenic Santa Rosa, Better Beginnings for Babies is dedicated to improving the care of mothers and babies.

Better Beginnings for Babies was formed after a group of Sonoma County activists recognized a need to bridge the gap between these ideal wellness standards for families, and the resources available to them during this critical time of development.

Since its inception in 2008, Better Beginnings for Babies has assisted many families by providing emergency doula services to laboring mothers, raising awareness of birth options, and engaging in numerous dialogs to reframe discourse about maternal and pediatric health.

Our Vision

Better Beginnings for Babies believes birth to be a pivotal event for families, and the transformation of men and women into parents is crucial.

We seek to create a culture supportive of those experiences, from a healthy pregnancy to a thriving breastfeeding relationship.
To actualize this culture, we must establish a world where:

  • Pregnancies are wanted and accepted;
  • Prenatal care is administered with social, ethnic, and emotional respect;
  • Faith and trust that, for most women, pregnancy and birth are normal;
  • Gentle birth occurs in a supportive environment focused on the woman and baby;
  • Midwifery is accessible for the masses, with proper backup and support;
  • Doula services are availabe for every woman who wants them;
  • Support is provided for breast-feeding;
  • Breastfeeding is encouraged and supported;
  • Supportive home care is widely available for new mothers and fathers;
  • Mothers mentor each other for positive early parenting results.

Better Beginnings

Our Mission

We believe that the birth of a child is a pivotal event for women and for families.  If we, as a society, can help in the transition from woman and man, to: parent, mother and father, we can help prevent some of the social, medical and emotional problems of the future.  It all starts with the pregnancy, prenatal care and birth.  What is needed  is:

  • wanted and/or accepted pregnancies
  • prenatal care with respect (social,ethnic,emotional)
  • faith and trust that, for most women, pregnancy and birth are normal
  • gentle birth in a supportive environment focused on the woman and baby
  • midwifery for the masses, with proper back-up and support
  • a doula for every woman
  • support for breast-feeding
  • human milk for human babies
  • supportive home care for new mothers and fathers
  • mentors for positive early parenting (mothers teach mothering)

Rosanne Gephart


Rosanne is a certified nurse-midwife, (CNM), nurse practitioner (NP), and board certified lactation consultant, (IBCLC). She has 38 years experience working with mothers and babies in hospitals, birth centers, and homes. Rosanne is the founder of the Santa Rosa Birth Center, (formerly the Womens Health and Birth Center), in Santa Rosa, CA. Rosanne directed one of the first centers in the USA to be designated “Baby Friendly” by the World Health Organization. Rosanne has served 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. She currently works as a midwife, lactation consultant and business consultant for numerous centers.

Chris Helgren


Chris Helgren is the current Treasurer for Better Beginnings. He has been on the Board since the non-profit was formed in 2007.

Chris’ family is familiar with the concept behind Better Beginnings. Three of his four children, two surrogates and one of his grandsons were all delivered with the help of Rosanne. He appreciates the amazing power of the birthing experience and the importance of building a strong foundation at the beginning of a baby’s life. He and his family are an emergency foster home, primarily taking in infants needing special care.

Chris’ day job is working in the Fire & Emergency Services Department as the Emergency Manager for the County of Sonoma.

Mary Beth Dunlap


Mary Beth joined the board in 2017.  Currently retired, she helps support the programs and events sponsored by Better Beginnings through clerical and technical assistance.

Amy Popplewell

Board Member

Amy Popplewell is a doula in Sonoma County who is studying to become a midwife. Her background and current career is in marketing and public relations.

Amy is the Director of our Marketing Committee, which is a resource for our doulas, consulting them on how to strategically position themselves in the local birth community.