About Us

About Us

BirthNet is a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate the public about maternity care in order to improve it.  Childbirth is a normal, healthy, and profound event in a woman’s life that affects families, communities, and our whole society.  Maternity care should be supportive and respectful, and address each woman’s individual fears and concerns.

BirthNet’s goal is to encourage all women and families to learn about their rights and about the choices and options available during the childbearing year.  Women need to know what they are choosing, including risks, benefits, and options.  They need to have complete and accurate evidence-based information.

BirthNet works to improve maternity care for women of all ages, ethnic backgrounds, races, religions, sexual orientations, abilities, and socio-economic circumstances. We see birth options–such as where, with whom, and how to give birth–as reproductive rights.

BirthNet has endorsed the evidence-based Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative, developed by the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services.  BirthNet also supports the Midwives Model of Care.


Primary Issues

While the research evidence shows that maternity care that is supportive, respectful, and addresses each woman’s individual fears and concerns provides optimal outcomes, the care that most women and babies receive is neither evidence-based nor individualized, and few women or their families are aware of this.

Research shows that nearly all women entering hospitals for birth are subjected to some level of medical or technological intervention, many of which can cause more harm than good. We also spend far more on maternity care in the US than in other developed countries with better outcomes that rely more heavily on midwives and treat birth as a normal physiological process. (See Evidence Based Maternity-Care: What It Is and What It Can Achieve)

Outcomes in the United States are far worse than in other developed countries. We have high infant and maternal mortality rates, high maternal morbidity rates, low rates of breastfeeding, and high rates of both postpartum depression and posttraumatic stress among new mothers. Our rates of cesarean section, induction of labor, preterm birth, and low-birthweight babies are all at very high levels.

BirthNet works to educate the public about these issues in order to encourage and support improvment of maternity care for all women, babies, families, and the society at large.


Cofounders & Coordinating Council Members

Carolyn Keefe – (518) 482-2504 or carolyn@birthnewyork.org

Carolyn Keefe, MLS is a co-founder of BirthNet and consumer advocate with a Master’s degree in Library Science.  She researches and produces many of BirthNet’s materials, helps to coordinate BirthNet’s activities and events, and has spoken in a number of venues on maternity care issues.

For eight years, Carolyn was a member of the Board of Citizens for Midwifery[link], a national consumer advocacy organization, and has worked with the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services, including appearing on a panel at their First Mother-Friendly Childbirth Forum and with their Grassroots Advocacy Committee.  Carolyn lives in Albany, NY with her husband Greg Popp and their two teenaged daughters.

Tisha Graham – (518) 584-6619 or tisha@birthnewyork.org

As is true for many of us who support birthing women, Tisha Graham came to this work through the births of her own children.  The mother of five children, Tisha continued to deepen her connection to birth support and to midwifery with each subsequent birth.

First certified as a Childbirth Educator more than 25 years ago, Tisha continue to teach childbirth classes which is something she am very passionate about.  Called to provide labor support by various families over the years, and when her own children were older, Tisha was able to commit to full scope labor support work and became a  Certified Doula.  The next step to take was midwifery certification, and Tisha chose the Certified Professional Midwife credential as it most closely reflects the kind of midwifery she is most philosophically alligned with.  And finally, after 16 consecutive years of either being pregnant and/or nursing, Tisha chose to formalize her vast experience around breastfeeding by becoming a Certified Lacation Counselor.

Tisha is involved in the politics and policies surrounding access to midwives in all settings as the coordinator for New York Friends of Midwives. Tisha co-founded and am active in BirthNet.  It is an honor and a privilege to be with families during this powerful and exciting time.

Betsy Mercogliano – (518) 449-5759 or betsy@birthnewyork.org

Betsy Mercogliano has been supporting birthing mothers and offering Midwifery and Doula care for more than three decades. As a Licensed and Certified Professional Midwife, Betsy has a special focus on Home Birth.  Betsty is also the mother of two grown daughters, a grandmother, a wife, a teacher, a childbirth educator, a birth activist and founder of the Family Life Center.  In addition to cofounding BirthNet, Betsy trains doulas and is happy to have seen the number of doulas in the Capital District grow exponentially since she began our trainings over 10 years ago.

Betsy received her Registered Nurse license in New York in 1980.  After apprenticing for 15 years with two local birth professionals, Betsy earned her Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) credential from the North American Registry of Midwives in 1998.  In September, 2010, Betsy earned her Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Midwifery from the National College of Midwifery, completing a survey of Capital District Women on their attitudes toward Midwifery Care, Doula Support and Free-standing Birth Centers. Betsy received a license as a Midwife in NY State (LM/CNM) in 2011. Betsy has also been supporting families who want support using water during birth for over 15 years.  Betsy has been blessed to be present at hundreds of births of new families.

Maureen Murphy

Maureen Murphy is a BirthNet cofounder and former member of the BirthNet Coordinating Council.

Maureen is the mother of two, Aden and Maya, both born at home into the hands of midwives. She has been attending births at home and in the hospital, and teaching childbirth education since 2001. Maureen is a Certified Professional Midwife and a Vermont Licensed Midwife.

Since 1999, Maureen has also been an active member of New York Friends of Midwives. With a BA in Political Science and Women’s Studies, Maureen continues to lecture at conferences and universities about reproductive rights and childbirth from a feminist perspective. Maureen is also a Sexual Health Educator and facilitates “Girls Group” in local schools since 2004. Currently she pursuing a Masters of Science in Midwifery. When there’s spare time, she loves to cook, garden, hike and travel with her family.