Meet the Team

The midwives at Casa Natal follow the Midwifery Model of Care, providing whole woman, evidence based care. We believe in the power of a woman’s body to grow, nourish and give birth to their baby. We also believe that this should be a special time of support and care for each woman and her family. Each midwife is licensed by the California Medical board.

“We believe in the power of a woman’s body to grow, nourish and give birth to their baby.”

Our Team

Melissa Dean

Center Director, Staff Midwife


As the Owner and operator of Casa Natal, I’m thrilled to welcome you to my space and support you through this magical time of your life. I have been supporting birthing families in our area for over 17 years. I began as a birth doula, and then realized that in order to create the best possible birth experience for my clients, I needed to be a midwife.
I am a graduate of National Midwifery Institute and have worked in both a low volume and high volume birth center setting.
I have lived and worked in the south bay my entire life. I had my own children here and have worked with birthing families since 2001. All this time I have worked to create natural options for families in my community. In doing so I began as a doula, then went to school and became a midwife to have more control over my clients’ experiences, and offer a more holistic approach than what is currently available in our area. I offer midwifery care for both Home Birth and birth at the Birth Center.

I am happily married to the best husband ever, and have four amazing , (almost grown), children, a wonderful step-son and daughter in law and a sweet grandson!

Sarah Swanson

Staff Midwife


I have had the privilege of serving pregnant and birthing people for almost two decades, providing both birth and postpartum doula support. I have been assisting midwives since 2019, recently graduated Summa Cume Laude from Midwives College of Utah with a Bachelor of Science degree in Midwifery, and am so grateful to be here serving the families of Casa Natal.

I strive to be culturally sensitive & practice language inclusivity. I acknowledge the childbearing year to be a unique, profound, and natural process with a range of cultural meanings, values, and traditions. I value education, evidence, the importance of shared decision-making, and learning all the time.

I have three grown children and one son-in-law and love spending as much time with them as possible whether in person or via FaceTime. Getting to mother my daughters is my life’s greatest joy. I’m also a big fan of knitting, ocean swimming, weight lifting, stand-up paddleboarding, and suspenseful book reading.

Emily Hites

Staff Midwife


I have been attending births since 2015. First in my home state of Colorado, then in rural Maine, the Philippines and here in California.

In 2019, I graduated from a 4 year program at Birthwise Midwifery School, became certified by the North American Registry of Midwives and licensed by the Medical Board of California.

My philosophy of care is based on an ecological view of health and the belief that the relationships we have with our community and environment are deeply impactful to how we birth babies, raise families, and thrive. I am so grateful to be part of the Casa Natal team and to continue to support and learn from the women I attend. My passion for relationship-based midwifery care stems from the belief that the birth experience is the foundation and framework of how women transition into motherhood and that empowered birth has a ripple effect on both individual and community levels.

When I am not working, I am either in homebody mode with my beehives, cats and moderately sized herbal garden or hiking in the mountains. Coffee is almost always involved.

Stephanie Kerwin

Staff Midwife


I became interested in birth work following the birth of my oldest child over 20 years ago and began training as a doula and attending births.  My doula work led me to choose a home birth with a midwife in the community for my second child’s birth.  It was such an incredible experience and so empowering and I knew that I one day wanted to be a midwife myself.  
In 2018, I began my midwifery education at Midwives College of Utah and began apprenticing with local midwives to learn clinical skills.  I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in midwifery in 2023.
I want all my clients to know and understand their choices in childbirth and to feel supported and empowered in the choices they make, just as I was during my pregnancy, labor and postpartum period.
When I’m not at a birth, you can find me spending time with my family and friends, reading, buying more houseplants, attending Pilates classes, or riding my bike around Santa Cruz where I live with my family.

Natalya Lukin

Assistant Midwife


I grew up in and around San Francisco and have been attending births in the Bay Area since 1991. My midwifery education included extensive didactic and apprenticeship training with homebirth midwives in the San Francisco Bay Area, at Maternidad La Luz, (a freestanding birth center and midwifery school in El Paso, Texas), as well as, with traditional midwives in Mexico.
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I earned my CPM credential from the North American Registry of Midwives in 1999 and my midwife license (LM) from the Medical Board of California in 2008. In between I became a mother myself, giving birth to my son at home in a waterbirth tub with a midwife’s help.

My philosophy is that birth is powerful, challenging, beautiful, transformative, and fundamentally a normal, healthy function of the human body. I believe that all woman and birthing persons have the right to give birth in safety, dignity, and power and am honored to be part of the team at Casa Natal as an affirming health care provider. When not catching babies, I can be found walking in nature with my son, researching family trees, and tending my roses and vegetable garden.

Kerri Kastle

Part-time Midwife Assistant

Doula & Educated in Placenta Encapsulation

For more informaiton on my Birth Doula services and Placenta Encapsulation, visit my website or send me an email.

Emily Brown

Lactation Support & Educator


I have spent my life working within women and children’s health. I originally trained and worked as a homebirth midwife and doula in Boulder, Colorado.
More recently, working  in OB/GYN and Pediatrics and have earned a degree from UC San Diego in Lactation Education.  Someday, when I’m done raising my silly teenagers I hope to finish my Masters in Public Health. I am honored and thrilled to be a part of Casa Natal.

Dr. Melissa Ko

Doctor of Chiropratic

Dr. Melissa Ko received her Doctorate from Life Chiropractic College West. Her clinical research on chiropractic and fertility has been published in the Journal of Pediatric, Maternal and Family Health. She has participated in 3 humanitarian mission trips, providing chiropractic care to impoverished communities in the Dominican Republic and Cambodia. An East Bay native, Dr. Ko and her family (husband, Brad and baby girl, Lyrielle “Lyra”) live in Morgan Hill.  She enjoys connecting with the local natural moms community and exploring fun, outdoor activities in the Bay Area. A major passion of Dr. Ko is discovering and enjoying good eats and health & wellness destinations around the Bay Area. 

Amanda & Dawn Belden-Hope

Certified Clinical Thermographer


Dawn is the CEO/Owner of Thermography Centers, Radiant Health Thermography, Inc. She has studied with Jean Houston and Thich Nhat Hanh, among others, and has co-lead teen retreats in Mindfulness and Awareness, affiliated with UCLA. She enjoys hiking, yoga, meditating, traveling, her husband, Barclay, her family, and living a happy, healthy life.  Dawn is passionate about alternative medicine and utilized it almost exclusively, to great result, with her daughter and son’s neurological and stomach issues.  She feels that because of the pervasive toxicity in the environment resulting in the nearly epidemic numbers of cancer, we must have ways to ameliorate and track the potential harmful effects in our bodies. She also feels passionate about educating her clients about prevention and proactive protocols for health and wellbeing.

Kathleen Janzen



Kathleen has filled various roles in the nutrition world. From working in a physical therapy clinic to providing medical nutrition therapy in a hospital setting. Her true passion was discovered after going through the transition into motherhood. Navigating the changes of her body and life during three pregnancies, she learned many valuable skills which she brings to her sessions. Recently she has graduated from the Women’s Integrative & Functional Medicine Certificate Program. This further deepened her passion for helping women navigate any challenges that arise on their journey into motherhood. She believes that eating real whole foods is vital for optimal health but also knows how important sleep, movement/exercise, and stress management are for vitality.

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