Our Incredible Team

The birthEd team is made up of friendly educators who are midwives, childbirth and lactation educators, experienced in working with women and their families. Our support staff are approachable and easy to talk to.

birthEd has contracts with the Hutt Valley and Capital and Coast District Health Boards to provide a range of free childbirth, breastfeeding, baby care, early parenting and baby safety courses for pregnant women and their support people in the greater Wellington area.

birthEd provides high quality childbirth and early parenting education and support to women and their partners or support people, so they can make safe, well informed choices about the birth of their baby and their parenting.

In 2004 a local midwife and an educator became aware, through their own experiences, of the need for top quality, accessible and friendly childbirth classes in the Hutt Valley and Wellington regions. They became passionate about designing a set of courses that would meet the needs of parents of different ages and cultural backgrounds.

Today birthEd has a team of midwives, childbirth and lactation educators who are constantly updating their knowledge and skills to bring participants the latest information. Participants are invited to give feedback after each course and this information is used to review and make any enhancements.  Each birthEd course facilitator has been trained not only as a midwife and/or childbirth educator, but in the birthEd philosophy and attitude of acceptance, and in creating an atmosphere of relaxation and fun.

birthEd is proud to have such a professional, innovative and passionate team of educators who want to inform and empower parents to give them the best start to their parenting journey. This is in keeping with our philosophy and mission statement.

Sarah Ashill

Sarah Ashill

Managing Director

Sarah founded birthEd in 2004 with the aim of providing excellence in antenatal education to families in the Hutt Valley. Sarah is a birthEd Childbirth Educator, businesswoman, breastfeeding advocate, and mother of four children. She has extensive experience working with people of all ages in caring and educating roles. She strongly believes women experiencing pregnancy can make good, informed choices for themselves and their families. Sarah is currently completing her Masters Degree and is particularly interested in the development of the infant microbiota and the associations with childhood obesity.

Nicky Jackson

Nicky Jackson

Manager

Nicky has been with birthEd since 2005. She became a registered midwife in 1994, and has worked as an independent midwife, a childbirth educator, and a core staff member in several hospital environments--she currently works as a core midwife at Hutt Valley Health. Nicky is passionate in her commitment to educate pregnant women and their families to improve their experience with and outcomes of the birthing and parenting population. Nicky is married with four children and she has a Masters Degree in Midwifery where she looked at the impact of antenatal breastfeeding education on young women's breastfeeding rates.

Abby Hewitt

Abby Hewitt

Educator

Abby received a Bachelor of Midwifery from Massey University in 2007, and is currently working towards the Playcentre Diploma in Early Childhood and Adult Education. Abby is a mother of two beautiful boys and she works part time within the hospital with a focus on primary care in the community and has experience working as a community midwife as well as within the hospital system. Abby’s passion is working with women and their whānau as they transition into parenthood. She has been working with birthEd since 2007 and believes that antenatal education is very important in the journey of pregnancy, birth and those early weeks with your new baby. Abby is also very active in Playcentre which gives her ample opportunity to spend valuable time with her children and be involved with other children and their families.

Vida Rye

Vida Rye

Administrator

Vida is a Calmbirth® Educator and has been facilitating courses in Wellington since 2008. Before joining BirthEd as Administrator in Feb. 2016, Vida managed her home-grown business hiring and selling birth pools within NZ whilst working in various roles in the birthing community with groups such as “Birth Wise” and “Domino Midwives” in Wellington. She is a consumer member of NZ College of Midwives and volunteers her time to promote the important role of midwifery in NZ. She has also worked as a birth and postnatal doula, and is certified in infant massage. Vida lives in the Hutt Valley with her husband and two daughters who were both born joyfully in water, at home surrounded by wonderful midwives and supportive family and friends.

Leith Porter-Samuels

Leith Porter-Samuels

Educator

Ko Leith Porter-Samuels tōku ingoa I whānau au ki Whanganui-a-Tara Nga uri o Ngati Haua, Ngati Raukawa o Waitaha au No reira, Tena Koutou, Tena Koutou, Tena Koutou Katoa. Leith is Māori, and she married and raised her whānau in the Hutt Valley. Her passion to make the ‘hard stuff’ simpler and empower young Māori mothers is born from her personal experience as a struggling, young, uneducated mother. In her early career years she worked with youth and whānau in the community, which eventually lead her to study and graduate as a mature midwife. She is a childbirth educator for birthEd and enjoys interacting with expectant wāhine, partners and whānau. She has been very involved in developing Kaupapa Māori Antenatal and Kaiāwhina Education (MAKE). She also represents the Hutt Valley District Health Board SUDI Prevention Unit to promote the key messages on Safe Sleeping and Baby Safety in our community.

Maria Hakaraia

Maria Hakaraia

Breastfeeding Support, Educator

Ko Tainui te Waka, ko Tararua nga maunga, Ko Ngati Raukawa te Iwi, ko Maria Hakaraia toku ingoa, No Wainuiomata ahau , tena kotou, tena kotou, tena kotou katoa. Maria is a mother and grandmother and was born and bred in Wainuiomata. She works at CCDHB as a Lactation Consultant (Maori and Pacific focus) and is also a qualified Chef. She lived and worked in Australia for thirty years, but returned to NZ to live in 2008. She is passionate about how we feed ourselves, especially the first food.

Jenni Crowley

Jenni Crowley

Educator

Jenni has been part of the birthEd team since 2007 when she was in her final year of training to be a midwife. Jenni has now been a practicing community midwife for 4 years and an educator with birthEd for 5 years. She took last year off to explore the world and has now returned to her passion of midwifery. Jenni loves to inspire confidence in women’s ability to birth naturally and breastfeed their babies. She is passionate about empowering women and their partners to make informed choices around birth and parenting. She especially loves to create a learning environment that is positive, friendly and fun. In her spare time Jenni loves to drink coffee on her friends’ couches and play with their kids!

Jo Sorasio

Jo Sorasio

Breastfeeding Support, Educator

Jo is a registered midwife who works in the Hutt Valley Community as a lead maternity carer. This is her first year with birthEd as an educator. Her role as a midwife is to provide support and up-to-date information enabling the women and their whānau to make informed decisions. This flows through to her role as a childbirth educator. Jo has a strong belief in the ability of the woman’s body to birth, and has a real passion for empowering women to make informed decisions. Jo strives to create a learning environment which encourages couples to feel comfortable and engaged. As well as being a midwife and a childbirth educator, Jo is also a mum of three. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family and traveling to discover new parts of our amazing Aotearoa.

Pauline Quinn

Pauline Quinn

Educator

Pauline has been a qualified childbirth educator for 18 years, for the last 2 years she has also worked for birthEd at both the Hutt hospital and He Huarahi Tamariki. She has been a doula and involved in many other aspects of the birthing scene over the years. She knew she wanted to be a childbirth educator after her last birth, 15 years ago, and has gained immense enjoyment and fulfillment from this career path. She is enthusiastic about teaching and feels privileged to be involved in the lives of people as they venture into parenthood. She also works as a data analyst for a science research centre and is married with 2 sons aged 27 and 18 and two daughters aged 10 and 6 and has a busy but fulfilling life – no time for hobbies!.

Diana Grenfell

Diana Grenfell

Educator

Lucy Griffiths

Lucy Griffiths

Educator

Lucy currently works as a birthEd antenatal educator and a core and community midwife at Hutt Hospital. She has also been an LMC and a hospital midwife in Christchurch. Practicing midwifery has reinforced Lucy's belief in women’s innate ability to give birth. She respects that every woman comes to the woman-midwife partnership with different beliefs, ideals and needs. Lucy feels privileged to support women through this amazing and challenging journey in women’s homes or in hospital through her work at Hutt Hospital. She is a strong believer in the importance and empowerment of informed choice, and works to bring understanding and choice to the women and whānau she works with. Lucy enjoys educating and empowering women and their support people to achieve their desired experience.

Elaine Newman

Elaine Newman

Educator

Elaine is a UK trained midwife who was drawn to midwifery by a fascination with pregnancy and childbirth. She immigrated to New Zealand with her family in 2010 and is employed as a core midwife at Hutt hospital working between the delivery suite and antenatal/postnatal ward. Elaine is an advocate for women-centred care and informed decision making. Elaine joined birthEd in 2015 and she is very excited to have the opportunity to educate women and families and to give them the tools to have a positive pregnancy experience and enjoy welcoming their new baby into their family. Everyone comes to classes with different knowledge, experiences, hopes and fears and Elaine aims to create a safe, relaxed and fun learning environment. Away from work Elaine enjoys spending time with her husband and two grown up sons and is working towards her Masters Degree.

Fana-Jennie Toomaga-Tonuu

Fana-Jennie Toomaga-Tonuu

Educator

Rikki Porter-Samuels

Rikki Porter-Samuels

Educator

Kim Forster

Kim Forster

Educator

Liora Noy

Liora Noy

Breastfeeding Support

Heather Cotter

Heather Cotter

Breastfeeding Support

Heather is a National Training Coordinator for the La Leche League Peer Counsellor Programme. She travels around the country training Health Professionals and Community Workers to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. Heather completed her La Leche League leader training in 2004 and has been an active Leader in the Lower Hutt group for the past 7 years. She recently served a three year term on the LLL National Board. Heather has strong links throughout the breastfeeding community in the Hutt Valley. Before having children Heather lectured at the College of Education training Early Childhood Teachers. She lives in Eastbourne with her husband and two children.

Cheryl Ganly-Lewis

Cheryl Ganly-Lewis

Breastfeeding Support Consultant

Cheryl is a Midwife / Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) working in private practice in the Hutt/Wellington region. She has been helping mother’s breastfeed for over 25 years as a nurse, midwife, Plunket nurse and Lactation Consultant in Australia and New Zealand. Cheryl is passionate about providing current and relevant information on breastfeeding to expectant and new parents to help them enjoy the benefits of breastfeeding. Cheryl’s areas of special interest are adoptive breastfeeding, low milk supply and babies having difficulty because of tongue tie. When she’s not working Cheryl enjoys sewing and pottering in her organic garden.