Birth & Family Instructors

Lori Ismail
Birthing Naturally

Lori exudes warmth and compassion, and her humor, openness, and depth of experience make her classes a joy and an education. She encourages couples to feel empowered to allow themselves a safe and satisfying birth experience according to how they personally see their birth unfolding. read more

Lori provides non-judgmental and objective educational, emotional, and physical support to new families and encourages couples to prudently set their own goals and priorities together as a team.In addition to her classes at Harmony, Lori is a labor support Doula and Lactation Counselor, who also teaches classes at Blossom Birth Services in Palo Alto. She has been working as a birth professional in the bay area since 1998 and was a certified childbirth instructor affiliated with the Bradley Method® of Natural Childbirth for 13 years (1998-2011).Lori has also continued her education by attending Advanced Doula Training workshops and Advanced Breastfeeding seminars with Treesa Mclean. Lori is a professional member of Bay Area Birth Information (BABI), Bay Area Birth Association (BABA), Blossom Birth, and the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS).Lori is a mother of four beautiful children and currently resides in the South Bay. For more information about Lori and her services, please see her website.

Janet Dombro, IBCLC
Breastfeeding Essentials

Janet is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant with over twenty years of experience helping mothers and babies breastfeed. She is also the mother of five children, including twins who were all successfully breastfed. read more

In addition to teaching the Breastfeeding class at Harmony, she also teaches a twin prep class at Blossom Birth Services in Palo Alto, and does individual lactation consults with mothers and babies in their homes or in her office.Janet’s approach and passion is to help moms and babies find their own natural rhythm with each other.For more information, or to schedule a consult, Janet can be reached at 408-205-1234.

Lisa Sabadin Nakamura, PCD
Baby Care

Lisa has been a licensed childcare professional and postpartum Doula for over 10 years. She was trained and certified by DONA, and has an energetic and warm style of more

Her specialty and passion is in teaching new parents and supporting them through their journey, as she finds it incredibly rewarding to help new families learn about their baby and begin to grow in their confidence and connection as a family.Lisa has particular expertise in working with families with twins, and is also the proud mother of 3 adult children.

Lorraine Mc Carthy, CMT, CIMI
Baby Wellness & Massage

Lorraine graduated in 1995 as a Certified Massage Therapist and Aromatherapist, specializing in deep tissue, pregnancy and hot stone massage. She also completed advanced training to provide massage therapy for cancer more

She completed level 3 in Reiki in 2001 and is passionate about sharing the many benefits of holistic healing techniques by incorporating Reiki Energy Healing, Aromatherapy and Magnetic Therapy. In 2002, on becoming a mother, she realized the many benefits of baby massage and subsequently became an internationally recognized Certified Infant Massage Instructor.

Erika Vetter
Baby Sign Language

Erika fell in love with signing more than 25 years ago, when she befriended a deaf girl in her Brownie Scout troop. This friendship continued for many years and led her to volunteer in the hard-of-hearing preschool during recess when she was still in elementary more

Erika received her Bachelor of Science in Speech Pathology and Audiology with Teacher Certification at Elmira College. She earned her Master’s Degree as a Teacher for the Deaf for grades K-12 from Canisius College in upstate New York.Erika has taught both Deaf and hearing children for the past 10 years in schools such as the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf and the California School for the Deaf in Fremont and currently works as an educational interpreter and ASL teacher.Erika’s thesis research on teaching ASL to pre-verbal hearing children, along with her recent coursework in bilingual education, has reinforced her belief that signing with children can produce amazing results.Her infant daughter started signing at only seven months old and her five year-old daughter still uses hundreds of signs in her everyday language. Erika delights in seeing her children empowered with a tremendous ability to communicate effectively at a very early age and is eager to share her experience and enthusiasm with you.
For more information, please see

Mendy Thijssen
Birthing from Within

I became interested in working with pregnant and new families while I was practicing massage therapy, I especially liked doing prenatal and postpartum massage, helping out the mom’s who always seemed to be working so hard, they also always seemed to know how to relax to the fullest!
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I’d always considered becoming a midwife, but wanted to start my own family first. A client of mine was a doula teacher, and it only seemed natural for me to become a doula, to continue toward that dream. I’ve been practicing as a birth and postpartum doula now since 2002, when I also trained as a Whole Birth Prenatal and Postpartum Yoga instructor, and Birthing From Within Mentor.

I’ve worked in many main stream hospital settings (Kaiser Santa Clara, and Palo Alto Medical Foundation) as well as with private centers through out the Bay Area. I’ve also been teaching Prenatal/Postpartum Yoga and mentoring teen mother’s since 2002. I have a daughter born in 2005, and a son born in 2008, and although I’m busy as a mother, I stay active in my life’s work. I’ve since trained to become a certified Placenta Encapsulation Specialist (2009) and most recently certified to teach Teen Yoga and outreach yoga with Incarcerated youth. I look forward to celebrating your journey with you!

Stephanie Freeman
Birthing from Within
Birthing Again
Now What?

Stephanie’s journey into the birthing world started in June of 2002, when she took a pregnancy test… saw 2 pink lines… and promptly FREAKED OUT!read more

Now a Mother to two adorable (and challenging and wonderful and angst-causing) little girls, she’s been a counselor with La Leche League for over 7 years, and is an advanced certified Doula and Childbirth Preparation Mentor through Birthing From Within.Like many mothers, she’s endured many sleepless nights, concerns about feeding, and the general “What IN the World do we DO now?” parenting moments. She also knows all too well the challenges of finding your own way and navigating friends, family, and social groups who may express well-meaning and strong opinions about how pregnancy and parenting SHOULD be done — all while hoping to do the best for her own family.Professionally she’s been deepening her understanding of how best to listen to parents with an open heart and “empty cup” so she may truly hear them and support them in their individual desires and goals.She finds that to be a practice useful to her life on a daily, and sometimes moment to moment, basis! Harmony is so glad to have her bring this openness, along with her wonderful, lively, and warm energy, to her classes and all of her work with expectant and new moms and families.

Dolat Bolandi

Dolat Bolandi received Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Santa Clara University. She is a member of California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT).

With many years of experience working in a variety of settings including high tech companies, local schools, religious organizations, college counseling, and local hospitals providing counseling and training; we are excited to have her join the Harmony Family.
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Her areas of special interest and experience include:

Forming and maintaining relationships
Pregnancy and Post Partum adjustment
Couples therapy
Depression and Anxiety
Cross cultural struggles
Spirituality and mindfulness
In her own words:

“My style is warm, and compassionate. My approach is based on the understanding that humans are conditioned to develop and thrive in relationships. I am a firm believer that our internal word, how we view and react to life, is deeply impacted based on our early relationships and life experiences. I find the human strength and resilience an incredibly humbling part of the healing journey.”

Noreen Cullen
Baby Care
Comfort Measures

While preparing for the birth of my first child in 1993, I enjoyed my Lamaze class so much, then realized that I wanted to become more involved with teaching pregnant moms, and this became my more

I graduated from UCLA Childbirth Educator certification program in 1995 and became Lamaze certified the following year (LCCE). In 2011, I became certified as a Lactation Educator (CLEC) through UCSD program.I taught and coordinated Childbirth Preparation classes at Mission College until program ended in 2012. I currently teach monthly Breastfeeding class at Kaiser Mountain View; and facilitate Childbirth Preparation, Natural Labor, Breastfeeding and Newborn Care classes for Kaiser Santa Clara Women’s Health Education Department. When I am not working with pregnant moms, I enjoy spending time with my husband, family, friends and two rescue bunnies. Also like hiking, going to the gym, and yoga classes.

Carrey Ward

After the birth of her daughter, Carrey realized her true calling, changed careers, and became a birth doula. Carrey feels that every woman should have the information and support to choose the birth that is right for her. She brings humor and fun to her classes and hopes that every family leaves class feeling calm, confident, and excited.

Danielle Rowe
Establishing Healthy Baby Sleep Habits

Danielle is a certified child sleep consultant with The Family Sleep Institute and the owner of Dream Little One Family Sleep Consulting. She is a sleep educator and parent coach to help families solve many different types of sleep more

Danielle works with families to develop a customized sleep plan that best fits your child’s sleep challenge as well as your parenting style. She began her journey as a sleep consultant when she ran into some sleep issues with 2 out of her 3 children. It was an amazing feeling for her when they began sleeping through the night with the help of a sleep consultant. And now Danielle wants nothing more than to help exhausted moms and dads out there to get that same relief.Danielle has a Bachelors of Science in Human Development from UC Davis and her teaching credential from San Jose State University. Prior to becoming a mommy of 3, Danielle was an elementary school teacher in San Jose where she taught 3rd grade for 3 years and then Kindergarten. Working with the little ones was where she belonged. Danielle now has 3 little ones of her own and the one thing that she has always worried about most was their sleep. She is definitely the “sleep police” in her house. So what better way to combine the two things that Danielle loves– babies and teaching. She has a passion for teaching parents about sleep and would love to help families get the sleep they need. Dream Little One Family Sleep Consulting is a business to help exhausted parents and is your key to a better night’s sleep

Megan Bunch
Doula Training

Megan has had the pleasure of supporting hundreds of new and expectant parents in the Bay Area since 2000. As a birth doula, childbirth educator and prenatal yoga instructor, she enjoys helping families navigate the maze of options available to them during the childbearing year. In addition to working with new families, she trains new and aspiring doulas through CAPPA. She lives in Santa Cruz with her husband and two kids.

Laurie Matzkin

Rabbi Laurie Matzkin has years of experience facilitating reflective group experiences, creative and accessible rituals, and meaningful educational encounters. She is certified as a RYT-200 yoga instructor through Breathe for Change, which focuses on yoga and wellness teacher training for educators, and has almost completed Harmony’s Pre/Post-Natal Teacher Training. read more

After creating Jewish-themed yoga classes for synagogues, organizations, and women’s events for almost a decade, Rabbi Laurie founded Makom Yoga in 2016.  As she cares for her 2 small boys (ages 1 and 3), she finds time and energy to teach a weekly Pre-Shabbat Yoga class at the JCC, sub at Harmony, and create dynamic educational programs for all ages.