Preparing Your Child For a New Baby

Health Foundations Family with Child

Welcoming a new baby to your home is an exciting and sometimes overwhelming event for a family. Your family is growing and will be forever changed to a new “normal” the moment your baby arrives. Sometimes welcoming your second, third or even fourth child may be even more intimidating than your first as you have the added task of preparing older siblings for the big change. Here are 5 tips to lovingly helping your child adjust to the idea of a new baby before he arrives.

  1. Consider your child’s age and understanding level when deciding when to share the news: While older children will be able to conceptualize waiting 9 months for baby’s arrival, a toddler has a hard time understanding tomorrow versus one week from now. If your child is on the younger side, try telling him what season the baby will arrive in rather than how many months from now. For instance, “Next summer, when we can go to the pool again, the baby will arrive!”
  2. Find age appropriate books to share with your tot about welcoming a new sibling: There are a wide variety of children’s books (and programs) that are available and cover the topic of becoming a big brother or sister. Reading books about having a new baby can help your older child get excited about his or her new role as a sibling and aid in answering any questions they have about what it will be like. Reading books about being a sibling and new babies can also help your child learn ways that they can participate once the baby arrives which will help them realize that they play an important role in the family and as an older sibling. Depending on their age, your child may also want to know where the baby will come from and how he/she will get here. You should be able to find a variety of age appropriate books on this topic as well. 
  3. Involve your little one in the preparations: Whether it’s helping you to choose decorations for the nursery, brainstorming favorite names or picking out some special toys for the new baby, letting your child participate in the preparation will help them to feel involved in this very important family event. If your child is old enough to understand, they may even enjoy coming to one of your check-ups and hearing the baby’s heartbeat on the fetal Doppler or feeling your tummy when the baby kicks.
  4. Encourage your child to share their feelings: You may think that your little one is too young to understand that the family dynamic will be changing with the arrival of a new baby but they are probably a lot more aware than you realize. Even toddlers can sense when something is different and their parents are anxiously preparing for something big to happen. Allow your child to have any and all feelings he or she might have about the impending changes and validate their feelings as best you can. For younger children who are not yet verbal, this may mean spending some extra uninterrupted time with them if they are acting out or simply allowing them to “be the baby” when they need to be.
  5. Make preparations for your child for when you go into labor well in advance: If you do not plan to have your child present for the birth of your baby, it is important that you make plans in advance for who will care for him while you and your partner are away. For many moms, this may even be the first time you’ve been away from your kiddo for an extended period of time which can be anxiety provoking for both of you. Talk to your child about the plans for when it’s time for you to have the baby and consider even doing a dry run. If they will be spending the night with a friend or relative, have them do a practice night where you can go and help them get acquainted with what the visit will be like. Similarly, if you plan to have a friend or relative stay in your home, make sure your child is well acquainted with them and that they understand how the night or nights with them will go. Your child may express feeling scared or upset about you being away either in advance or at the time that you are leaving. Lovingly acknowledge their feelings and remind them that you will be back in no time and that they will be able to visit you as soon as their new brother or sister arrives.

Welcoming a new baby to your family can be a scary prospect for everyone, especially when you’re going from one to two. However, with some thoughtful preparation for you and your child or children, everyone will have a better idea of what to expect and feel like they are an important part of the change. For questions about prenatal care, natural birth, postpartum care and all other women’s services, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.

‘Can I (FILL IN THE BLANK) While Pregnant?’

Safe Beauty During Pregnancy

Safe Beauty During Pregnancy

When you’re pregnant, it’s important to remember that everything that you put into or on your body has the potential to cross the placenta and be shared with your baby. Everyday beauty habits and treatments, while perfectly safe while not pregnant, may not be safe for the developing fetus. Here’s the low down on ten common cosmetic and skincare practices and whether or not they are safe during pregnancy.

1. Dying Your Hair

Verdict: Probably Safe

Whether or not it is safe to dye your hair is one of the most commonly asked beauty questions during pregnancy. While there has not been extensive research done on the effects of hair dye during pregnancy, the American Pregnancy Association has stated that it is probably safe due to the minimal amount of dye that is actually absorbed by the skin. If you want to be extra cautious, avoid any hair dye during the first trimester and opt for color treatments like highlighting or lowlighting that do not expose the scalp to chemicals. Also, make sure the room you are in is well ventilated and that you promptly rinse any excess dye from your hair after the treatment. 

2. Using Sunscreen

Verdict: Safe with Precautions

Certain sunscreens during pregnancy are not safe as they contain chemicals that can get into the bloodstream and be transferred to baby. Specifically, you should avoid sunscreens that contain oxybenzone, homosalate, octocrylene, para-aminobenzoic acid and 4-methylbenzylidene camphor. Opt for sunscreens that are not absorbed by the skin like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Also, wear a hat and avoid sun exposure between the hours of 10 and 2 when the rays are the strongest. Pregnant women are actually more susceptible to sunburns during pregnancy due to hormonal changes and are also more prone to heat exhaustion. For these reasons, it is imperative that you protect yourself from the sun during pregnancy for you and your baby!

3. Whitening Your Teeth

Verdict: Unsafe

Because whitening treatments have not been extensively researched during pregnancy and contain potentially harmful ingredients like peroxide that can cross the placental barrier, they are considered not safe during pregnancy. Consider using a whitening toothpaste instead or waiting until after your baby is born for a professional or over-the-counter whitening treatment. It is important, however, to keep up with your dental hygiene and exams as unfortunately pregnancy can do a number on your teeth and make you more susceptible to cavities and gum disease.

4. Treating Acne

Verdict: Certain Treatments Safe

Pregnancy hormones can often wreak havoc on your skin and leave you with acne reminiscent of your freshman year in high school. To make matters worse, many of the most common and most effective acne treatments that can be prescribed by your doctor are absolutely not safe during pregnancy. Many  of these prescription options have the potential to cause serious birth defects. Acne medications that should be avoided during pregnancy include topical retinoids, oral tetracyclines, isotretinoin, and hormone therapies. There are some prescription and over-the-counter topical acne medications that are most likely safe due to low absorption rates. Always discuss these options with your doctor or midwife before using any acne products during pregnancy. To err on the side of caution, opt for drug-free approaches to healthy skincare. This may include practices such as washing your face twice daily and after exercise, changing your pillow case frequently, using an oil free cleanser and moisturizer and avoiding touching your face with your hands or cell phone. Pregnancy related acne will almost always clear on its own over time once your hormones stabilize. 

5. Using Hair Products

Verdict: Probably Safe

Using products like hair spray and mousse are probably perfectly safe during pregnancy. There has been some evidence in animal studies that phthalates (found in hair spray) have the potential to cause complications with male sexual development but no risk has been found to human babies thus far. Although, hair spray, gel and mousse are all most likely perfectly safe during pregnancy, if you wish to err on the side of caution, opt for products like mousse or gel that are applied topically versus products that are sprayed on the hair and pose the risk of phthalate inhalation. 

6. Getting Botox

Verdict: Unsafe

Because there have been no extensive studies examining the effects of Botox on unborn babies, it is recommended that you abstain from the treatment during pregnancy. Studies in animals show evidence of fetal abnormalities associated with Botox exposure during pregnancy. While the results cannot be generalized to human babies, the research presents a compelling reason to avoid the treatment while pregnant. Fortunately, you may find that your wrinkles are actually are less visible during pregnancy due to the extra fluid retention and that healthy pregnancy glow often experienced due to extra oil production. 

7. Using Wrinkle Cream

Verdict: Generally Unsafe

Because many anti-wrinkle creams contain retinol which has been linked to birth defects and miscarriages, it is safest to steer clear of them during pregnancy. Retinol is a form of Vitamin A that has been found to cause serious birth defects such as cleft palate and other developmental abnormalities in high doses. Instead, opt for safer ways of caring for your skin like a mild facial moisturizer, drinking plenty of water and getting sufficient rest.

8. Using Self-Tanner

Verdict: Better to Wait

While tanning from a bottle or spray booth is likely safer than tanning beds or excessive exposure to the sun, there is still some concern about dihydroxyacetone which is the primary active ingredient in these products. Dihydroxyacetone or DHA is able to penetrate the skin and therefore can get into your bloodstream and ultimately to baby. Because research has not been performed examining the effects of DHA on the fetus, your safest bet is to avoid self-tanning until after your baby is born. Additionally, you may find that your skin is more sensitive during pregnancy and more prone to irritation. If you do decide to use a self-tanning product, be sure to do a patch test first before covering your entire body with the solution. 

9. Getting Your Nails Done

Verdict: Safe

In general, it is perfectly safe to get your nails done during pregnancy. Nail polish, and even acrylic nails, cannot be absorbed through the nails and therefore pose no risk of getting into your blood stream and crossing the placenta to baby. The primary concern in the nail salon while pregnant is the solvent fumes which can make you feel queasy or light-headed. To avoid over-inhalation of dangerous fumes, be sure to sit in a well-ventilated area or save your manis and pedis for the comfort of your own home where you can better control the ventilation and airflow. 

Getting Your Hair Professionally Straightened

Verdict: Unsafe 

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety, Japanese and Brazillian professional hair straightening treatments are not safe during pregnancy. This is due to the fact that these procedures involve harmful chemicals like formaldehyde that have the potential to cause fertility problems, fetal abnormalities and miscarriage. If you want straighter hair during pregnancy your best bet is to use a flat iron which will not expose you and your baby to potentially harmful chemicals. 

While pregnancy may feel like it has an endless number of rules about what you can and cannot do, try to remind yourself that their all to protect the health and well-being of your future baby. There are not any beauty treatments that cannot wait nine months in exchange for the peace of mind that you are doing everything you can to protect your developing child. For questions about safe beauty and skincare during pregnancy, or for a free consultation with a midwife and a tour of our Birth Center, contact Health Foundations. We are here to answer all of your pregnancy related questions and more!

Dispelling the Top Myths About Water Birth

Health Foundations Birth Center Water Birth

With water births becoming an increasingly popular natural birthing option, there are of course many misconceptions about the practice out there. From concerns about infection, to worries about the baby drowning or inhaling water, there are plenty of scary myths about water births that aren’t necessarily true. Here are the top 7 myths we hear about water births and why you shouldn’t worry!

Top 7 Myths of Water Birth

  1. You have to be naked to have a water birth: If modesty is a concern for you and you don’t want to feel overly exposed during birth, fear not, there are no rules stating that one must be naked during a water birth. You are free to wear whatever top you feel comfortable in, be it a t-shirt, sports bra or tankini top. What’s most important is that you are comfortable and are able to more freely throughout your labor and delivery. 
  2. Your baby will be more likely to get an infection if born into water: The risk for infection is one of the most commonly cited fears about water birth. The reality is that the rate of infant infection reported in water births is less than .01 percent. Although many women do pass a stool while pushing their baby out some experts believe that the water perhaps might even provide a partial barrier to infection by diluting any bacteria making it less likely to cause harm to the baby. 
  3. Your baby will overheat if you have a water birth: The maximum temperature recommended for a water birth is 98 degrees Fahrenheit. Your baby is not at risk of overheating at this temperature and will be born into a comfortable and womb-like environment in the water. You can also choose to have the temperature cooler if that is more comfortable for you. The water temperature and your temperature will be checked routinely throughout labor and delivery to ensure that you are not overheating and your midwife will also help ensure that you stay adequately hydrated throughout the process.
  4. Having a water birth will cause more vaginal tearing: On the contrary, water births actually have lower rates of perineal trauma and vaginal tearing than non-water births due to the added elasticity because of the water. Water immersion has also been shown to help relax the pelvic floor which ultimately aids in the descent and pushing out of baby.
  5. You can’t get out of the tub if you decide to have a water birth: Water immersion can be utilized during your birth experience for any part, the entirety, or on and off throughout your birth experience. There’s no rule that says that once you are in the water you need to stay in. Should your body tell you that you need to get out and move around or you’ve decided you’d be more comfortable birthing outside of the tub, you absolutely have that flexibility to make changes as you see fit. 
  6. Your baby might drown if born into the water: Another common concern shared about delivering in water is whether or not there is risk of baby drowning. However, when your baby is born he is actually still receiving his oxygen supply from the placenta. Once he emerges from the vaginal canal he will be immediately lifted out of the water which will then signal his body to shift over to breathing through his lungs and increase blood flow to that area.  
  7. You have to be young to have a water birth: There is no age cut off for when a woman is no longer able to have a water birth. Instead, your midwife or doctor will assess your health and the health of your baby and help you make an informed decision based on those factors. Factors that may prevent you from having a water birth include maternal infection, a breech baby, excessive bleeding or other complications that may make a water birth unsafe for you or your baby. 

If you are interested in possibly having a water birth but have concerns about the process, contact Health Foundations to speak with a midwife who will be happy to alleviate your worries, address your concerns, and answer all of your questions . We are happy to offer free consultations and tours of our Birth Center, including viewing our homelike birthing suites with new built-in birthing tubs. We would love to be part of your birthing experience and help you decide if water birth is for you!

Blueberry Pancake Smoothie Full of Pregnancy Essentials

Blueberry Pancake Smoothie

Breakfast or dessert-take your pick! This delectable smoothie is not only tasty but full of pregnancy essentials like protein and calcium. Not a fan of blueberries? Swap the blueberries out for strawberries or raspberries for an equally delicious treat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of reduced-fat milk
  • 2/3 cup of reduced-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 ¼ cups of frozen blueberries
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Place ingredients in blender.
  2. Cover and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  3. Serve and enjoy!

Recipe transcribed from: Parents.com

Introducing Your Breastfed Baby to the Bottle

Baby Feeding on Bottle

Whether you will be returning to work after your maternity leave or would like to get your partner more involved in feeding your new babe, introducing a bottle to your breastfed baby can be a helpful, and sometimes tricky, endeavor. Many women like to have the option to have pumped milk available that a family member or caregiver can give the baby should they need a break, some extra sleep or happen to be away for more than a couple hours. Here are 5 helpful tips to introducing your breastfed baby to the bottle so that it’s a smooth and gentle transition for you both.

5 Tips to Introduce Your Breastfed Baby to the Bottle

  1. Timing is everything: Your midwife or lactation consultant will likely tell you that introducing any sort of bottle or artificial soother must be well-timed. Too early, and you run the risk of disrupting your newly established breastfeeding routine and too late, your babe may reject the bottle all together. The ideal time to introduce a bottle is between 4-6 weeks. That way, you will have already found your groove with breastfeeding and your baby will likely not experience any nipple confusion. 
  2. Choose a slow flow nipple: When picking out a bottle and nipple for your baby, choose one that most closely mimics the breast and allows for a slow flow of milk. Sucking from a bottle requires a different latch and tongue movement than suckling from the breast. A slow flow nipple will most closely replicate the experience of breastfeeding and allow baby to take his time eating. 
  3. Have your partner give the bottle: Getting a bottle from mom who usually breastfeeds can be confusing and frustrating for a little one. If possible, have your partner be the bottle aficionado. Even better yet, take the time that your partner is learning to bottle feed your baby and do something for yourself. Take a shower, take a nap, go for a walk or run an errand. Your baby is more likely to have a successful bottle feeding experience if they can’t smell mom and her milk nearby. 
  4. Take baby steps: Rather than having your partner or family member offer the bottle when your baby is hungry, try introducing it after they have breastfed. This way, they will not be frustrated as easily with the process and can explore the feel of the bottle without the pressure of needing to satiate their appetite. You don’t need to put a lot of breastmilk in the bottle, even starting with a half an ounce should suffice. If the milk is not freshly pumped, place the bottle in warm water to heat it prior to feeding. Baby may be more likely to accept a warm bottle versus milk that is directly from the refrigerator. 
  5. Encourage paced feeding: One of the challenges with bottle feeding is that we decide how much baby should drink rather than baby deciding. To most closely simulate the experience of breastfeeding, never force the nipple into baby’s mouth and simply allow him to decide how much he wishes to drink. Give baby breaks for burping and rest and switch sides from which you feed him as he would when breastfeeding. It’s also important to make sure your partner or the caregiver is able to recognize baby’s hungers cues so that he or she can feed baby when he’s hungry versus on a set schedule. 

Introducing bottle feeding does not have to be a stressful process if approached slowly, gently and with plenty of time for practice. If you have questions about the process of introducing a bottle to your breastfed baby or are pregnant and considering a natural birth in a homelike setting, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center. We are here to support you throughout your journey of motherhood.

Red and Green Veggie Frittata

Veggie Frittata

Feeling bored with your usual breakfast? Whether you’re pregnant, hoping to be pregnant or postpartum, this Red and Green Frittata is loaded with essential nutrients like protein, fiber, calcium, Vitamin C and potassium. The best part is this recipe should leave you with leftovers for lunch!

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups of bite-size broccoli florets
  • 8 large eggs
  • ¼ cup of milk
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into ¼ inch thick slices
  • 1 cup of grated white cheddar or fontina cheese, divided
  • 4 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add broccoli and cook until tender for approximately 2 minutes. Drain well.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk eggs, milk, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Stir in broccoli, red pepper, ¾ cup of cheddar cheese and 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese.
  3. Heat oil in a 12-inch, ovenproof, nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Pour egg mixture into pan and reduce heat. Cook for 3 minutes to set the bottom on the frittata. 
  4. Sprinkle top with remaining ¼ cup of cheddar and 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese.
  5. Transfer pan to oven and bake until the frittata is set and appears slightly puffed up. Approximately 15 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then loosen edge with a spatula. Slide onto large plate and cut into wedges.
  7. Serve warm and enjoy!

Recipe transcribed from: the BUMP

A Road Map for Moms: Beating Stress and Overcoming Fatigue

Dr. Amy Johnson-Grass

Don’t skip breakfast!

Starting your day with breakfast is a quick and easy way to jump-start your metabolism. Eat something within 30 minutes of getting up.  Make sure to get in 12-15 grams of protein with your breakfast. This could be:

  • A protein shake with fruit and greens
  • Eggs, veggies and whole grain toast
  • Greek yogurt and fruit

-> Check out our blog for great recipe ideas!

Be Mindful of Meals and Snacks!

Moving forward from breakfast, make sure you have protein with each meal and snack. It is important to stick to 3 meals and 2-3 snacks per day. Here are some great, healthy protein options:

Source

Amount

Grams of Protein

Fish, cold, deep water

1 ounce

7g

Turkey – organic

1 ounce

7g

Tofu

½ cup

10g

Whole Beans

½ cup

7g

Quinoa

½ cup

11g

Brown Rice

½ cup

3g

Yogurt

1 cup

8-14g

Egg, whole

1

7g

Nuts

¼ cup

8g

Stay hydrated!

Drink 80 ounces of water daily. Adding lemon or lime to your water is a great way to make it a little more interesting! Hold yourself accountable and purchase a reusable water bottle and keep track of how many you have to drink each day to reach your goal.

Basic Supplements to keep on hand!

Multivitamin: Try and find a food-based multi. These are easy to digest and absorb.

B complex: B vitamins have an important role. They help convert our food into fuel for our body, providing more energy throughout the day.

Adrenal Support: Continued stress causes fatigue of our adrenal system. There are many ways to help keep the adrenal system strong and well supported. Some examples include: Vitamin C, Magnesium and B vitamins. There are also a few herbs that are helpful but my favorite is Rhodiola Rosea, which can be taken as a capsule or tincture.

Fish Oil: Fish oil supports healthy cholesterol levels and also is a great mood booster!

Vitamin D3: When choosing a Vitamin D3 supplement, it should have at least 5,000 IU. Not only does healthy levels of Vitamin D3 help maintain a health immune system, it is also another great vitamin to help with mood.

Get Your Labs Checked!

These basic labs are so important to keep on top of as a woman. They are frequently missed so be sure to ask your doctor the following:

  • Iron (hemoglobin, ferritin)
  • Vitamin D3
  • B12
  • Thyroid

Schedule Some “ME” Time!

This is easier said than done but it will make a huge difference! It doesn’t even have to be more than 30 minutes. Some days take longer breaks if you can, other days you may only get 5 minutes of deep breathing. Here are some examples of things you can do to relieve stress:

  • Exercise. Yoga is a wonderful way to calm your body down and rejuvenate.
  • Reading. Grab a book or magazine find a quiet place and let the world round you melt away for a little while.
  • Laugh. Get a few girls together and have an hour or two of fun and laughter. It does wonders.
  • Take a bath. Buy some Epsom salt and your favorite essential oil and take a 15-minute bath before bed.

Sleep!

Try and get to bed by 10pm every night. Having a full 8 hours of rest is ideal

 

Don't miss Dr. Amy Johnson-Grass next Sunday, September 11 at 11:00am on the Mom Show with my Talk 107.1. The topic is A Road Map for Moms: Beating Stress and Overcoming Fatigue. 

Top 10 Benefits of Water Birth

Water Birth Couple

The use of water immersion during labor and birth has become an increasingly popular option in the natural birth community due to the many benefits to both mom and baby. For baby, being born into water closely replicates the womb environment creating a gentle birth setting. And for mom, laboring and birthing in water has many benefits ranging from its soothing nature and pain relief to easily being able to reposition your body to follow its natural inclinations throughout labor.

At Health Foundations Birth Center, we frequently have women who desire a water birth. Our midwives are highly experienced in supporting women who wish to labor and/or give birth in water and both of our birthing suites are equipped with large built-in tubs that are available to you throughout your experience. Here are the top 10 benefits of having a water birth:

  1. Warm water during labor and delivery has been found to greatly reduce discomfort and increase relaxation for mom. The soothing nature of water helps mom to not only feel weightless but to experience the calming effects of hydrotherapy.
  2. Because mom is better able to relax during labor, less stress hormones are released and the body is able to produce more endorphins which have pain reducing effects. 
  3. The buoyancy experienced in a water birth allows mom to move about freely and follow her body’s natural urges. This consequently can help the pelvis open and the baby descend into the birth canal more easily. 
  4. Water immersion has been shown to lower blood pressure caused by anxiety. Because less stress hormones are released due to the calming nature of the water, many women report they are not only able to relax more physically but mentally as well. 
  5. Another benefit of the buoyancy effect of water is that it has been shown to improve blood circulation leading to more efficient uterine contractions and ultimately a shorter labor duration. 
  6. Improved blood circulation also creates better oxygenation of the uterine muscles and more oxygen for baby during labor. Improved oxygenation of the uterine muscles is also associated with decreased pain for mom. 
  7. Water creates more elasticity to the perineum typically resulting in a lower incidence of perineal trauma and the need for stitches or an episiotomy. Water has also been shown to aid in relaxing the pelvic floor which is beneficial when it is time to push.
  8. Women who birth in water report feeling more in control of their bodies, the progression of labor and the birth of their baby. Because they are able to conserve energy due to increased relaxation, they often feel more clear-minded and strong when it comes time to push the baby out. 
  9. Water births have been shown to reduce the likelihood of needing unplanned interventions, anesthesia, pain medications, and C-sections.
  10. In addition to the many amazing benefits a water birth provides for mom, perhaps one of the greatest benefits is the stress-free, calming and gentle welcome it provides for baby. Birthing in a warm water tub offers an environment that is similar to the womb where baby has snugly lived for nine months.

We are thrilled to be able to offer the option of water birth at Health Foundations and invite you to contact us for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center to learn more. The remarkable physiological and psychological benefits hydrotherapy provides to mom and baby make water birth a truly special birthing option for you and your family.

Amy Johnson-Grass Elected the Board President of the American Association Of Birth Centers

The membership of the American Association of Birth Centers (AABC) has elected Amy Johnson-Grass, ND, LM, LN, CPM, President-Elect of the AABC.  Johnson-Grass is the first Certified Professional Midwife to serve as President of the Association..

Managing Visitors After Baby

Newborn Visitors

Nothing attracts well-meaning visitors like a brand new, adorable baby. Once the little one arrives, friends and family will be eager to meet your little one. Being prepared ahead of time for how you and your partner want to handle visitors once baby arrives will save you a great deal of stress and spare you some potentially uncomfortable conversations.  Here are 5 tips for managing doting friends and family once you bring your baby home.  

  1. Come up with a plan with your partner: These days/weeks following the birth of your baby are all about you, your baby, and your new family. You will not only be adjusting to caring for a newborn but also dealing with your own recovery and rapidly fluctuating postpartum hormones. It is important to be mindful of rest and nourishment. This is also a special time of bonding for you and your baby. Set those boundaries ahead of time and stick to them. There will be plenty of time for everyone to meet baby when the time is right!
  2. Accept help: When baby arrives, it is perfectly fine to ask for/accept help. Most people will offer- say yes! People often like to bring a meal, but don’t be afraid to ask for help with things like walking the dog, looking after your other children, or even holding the baby while you shower. Knowing that some of your daily chores are being taken care of allows you to focus on important things like resting and bonding with your new babe.
  3. Have your partner protect your space: Agree ahead of time that your partner will be the person to greet visitors and also gently nudge them once they have been there for a little while. A good amount of visiting time is about 15 minutes. Your partner can tactfully send people along their way when you need your rest, gently step in if your parents or in-laws are overstepping their bounds, and/or make suggestions as to how people can make themselves useful during their visit.
  4. Shamelessly ban sick visitors: There are few things as susceptible to germs and illness as a vulnerable newborn. There is no excuse for visitors showing up with a cough, the sniffles, a sore throat or even recovering from “food poisoning.” Let those mama bear instincts take hold and politely suggest that anyone who is not feeling 100 percent save their visit for a later date. It’s also okay to require that visitors wash their hands and use hand sanitizer before holding your baby. 
  5. Allow for plenty of alone time: A steady stream of visitors can be exhausting. You will likely already be feeling the effects of sleep deprivation, working to establish your breastfeeding relationship and will be navigating life with your newest family member. Try to space your visitors out and limit the time they spend in order to allow plenty of time for you and your little family to bond. True friends and family will understand how sacred this special time is for you and your new family.

You should never feel the need to apologize for prioritizing and taking care of yourself and your new baby in the days and weeks following your delivery. Your baby. Your family. Your way.

For questions regarding prenatal or postpartum care, natural delivery or other women’s services, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife or for a tour of our Birth Center.

Let’s Talk about Sex! (..During Pregnancy)

Pregnant Couple Intimate

It is not uncommon to feel apprehensive about having sex during pregnancy. Common worries we hear from both mom and partner include: if it will hurt or be uncomfortable, that it will hurt your baby, that your baby is watching or that it will cause uterine contractions that could lead to a miscarriage or preterm labor. With all the care and caution you take to care for your body and your unborn baby, it is, of course, natural to have these feelings and reservations. The good news, though, is that for the majority of women with healthy, normal pregnancies, sex is perfectly safe. Here’s everything you need to know about sex during pregnancy.

It’s Usually Safe:

Despite the fears that you or your partner might have, for the majority of women with a healthy, normal pregnancy, sex is perfectly safe. Fortunately, baby is well protected in the uterus by amniotic fluid and the mucus plug which securely separates the two. While many women are concerned about orgasms causing uterine contractions that could lead to a miscarriage or preterm labor, this is highly unlikely in a healthy pregnancy. Most miscarriages are caused by a fetal abnormality that does not allow the fetus to develop properly and preterm labor is usually not a concern unless you have certain, predetermined conditions. Although you may experience mild uterine contractions after an orgasm, they should not harm your baby at all. 

Your Baby is Not Watching:

Despite dad’s worries that baby might be ‘watching’ or that he might ‘poke him in the head’, again, baby is safe and secure in the uterus, separated not only by the amniotic fluid but a secure mucus plug which will not be released until you are in labor. Your baby will have no awareness of your intimate acts beyond possibly enjoying the rocking motion from his cozy, safe cocoon. 

It Might Be Different:

Many things about sex, starting with your drive, might be different during pregnancy. You might find that you are more interested or not at all interested, or it may wax and wane with the progression of your pregnancy and the fluctuation of your hormones. With the nausea and exhaustion associated with the first trimester, you might find that sex is the last thing on your mind while the reprieve from discomfort often experienced in the second trimester might have you desiring it more. Hormone fluctuations during pregnancy can be experienced by each woman differently so don’t be alarmed if you notice a change in your desire, one way or another. You may also find that you are able to climax more easily due to the increased blood flow to your genital region. 

In addition to your sex drive, you may find that certain positions are less comfortable with your growing belly while others are easier. Typically, opting for positions that do not put pressure on the belly or have the woman lying flat on her back for long periods of time are the safest bet. It’s also best to avoid anal sex while pregnant due to the potential for bacteria transfer and infection. Should you be sexually active with multiple partners during your pregnancy or have a partner with an active infection, it is imperative that you use protection to prevent contracting an STD. STDs can be dangerous for not only you, but your unborn baby as well. 

There Are Some Circumstances that May Make it Unsafe:

While sex during pregnancy is safe for most, there are some circumstances in which your doctor or midwife may advise against it. These may include if you:

  • Have an incompetent cervix
  • Have a history of repeat miscarriages 
  • Have a history of preterm labor
  • Have placenta previa
  • Are pregnant with multiples
  • Are high risk for a variety of other reasons
  • Have a history of pregnancy complications
  • Have bleeding or have been placed on pelvic rest.

If you have concerns about your pregnancy or feel that sex during pregnancy may be unsafe for you, speak to your doctor or midwife who can advise you on the best options for you and your partner.

You Don’t Have to Do It:

Pregnant Couple Intimate

Between sore breasts, your growing belly, nausea, frequent urination and general fatigue, it’s not uncommon to feel disinterested in sex. And that is okay! Your body is undergoing so many physical and hormonal changes and it’s perfectly okay to forego sexual activity when you’re not feeling up to it. 

Communicate your needs to your partner and allow them to do the same. Find alternatives to sex such as kissing, cuddling or massage. There are many ways to connect that don’t involve sex if you are not physically or emotionally up for it during pregnancy. 

When to Call Your Doctor or Midwife:

Although some cramping and spotting after sex during pregnancy can be normal, excessive bleeding or painful cramping may be cause for concern. Call your doctor or midwife or go to the ER if you are experiencing heavy vaginal bleeding, severe cramping or you are leaking amniotic fluid. Medical attention may be required. 

For questions about sex during pregnancy, natural birth, prenatal or postnatal care or other women’s services, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.

Garlic Chicken Fried Brown Rice

Fried Brown Rice and Chicken

Pregnant and craving some Asian fusion for dinner? Cooking this dish at home is a great way to ensure that all the ingredients are nutritious and delicious for you and your baby-to-be! A great source of fiber, protein, potassium and vitamins A and C, this dish is sure to be a crowd-pleaser for the whole family.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, divided
  • 8 ounces of boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
  • ½ red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ cup of green onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 cups of cooked, brown rice
  • 2 tablespoons of light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
  • 1 cup of frozen peas, thawed

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium heat. 
  2. Add chicken, bell pepper, green onion and garlic.
  3. Cook and stir until the chicken is cooked through, approximately 5 minutes.
  4. Remove chicken and set aside. Keep warm.
  5. Heat the remaining oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat and add rice. Cook and stir to heat thoroughly. 
  6. Stir in soy sauce, rice vinegar, peas and continue cooking for 1 minute.
  7. Add chicken back to the skillet and stir to blend with rice. Heat thoroughly. 
  8. Serve and enjoy! 

Recipe transcribed from: allrecipes.com

What You Need to Know About Breastfeeding During Pregnancy

Breastfeeding While Pregnant

If you are pregnant with your second (or third or fourth) or are considering becoming pregnant, you may be wondering about the safety of continuing to breastfeed your baby or toddler throughout your pregnancy. There’s a lot of misinformation about the risks associated with breastfeeding during pregnancy and we want you to have the necessary information to make an informed decision for you, your child and your baby-to-be. Here are the most commonly asked questions about breastfeeding during pregnancy. 

Is it safe for my baby-to-be?

In most normal, healthy pregnancies there is no risk to your unborn baby if you choose to continue breastfeeding your toddler (or baby). A common misconception is that breastfeeding during pregnancy will lead to preterm labor or miscarriage. In actuality, the uterine contractions caused by the release of the hormone oxytocin from breastfeeding are quite mild and no different than the contractions you might experience following sexual intercourse. If you have not been placed on pelvic rest and have a normal, healthy pregnancy, there is no reason why you cannot continue to safely breastfeed as there should be no harm to your developing fetus.

Under what circumstances is it not safe to continue breastfeeding during pregnancy?

It may be advisable to wean your current nursling if you have a high-risk pregnancy for any of the following reasons:

  • You are carrying multiples
  • You have a history of, or are at risk for, preterm labor
  • You have bleeding or pain in your uterus
  • You have been placed on pelvic rest
  • You have been identified as high-risk for any other reason that may make breastfeeding dangerous for you or your developing baby

These reasons alone do not mean you must stop breastfeeding at once but it is important that you discuss it with your healthcare provider who may advise that weaning is the safest option for you and your baby.

Are there any risks to my current nursling if I continue to breastfeed during pregnancy?

Fortunately, the amount of pregnancy hormones released into your milk is minimal and pose no risk to your current breastfeeding child. You toddler may find that you milk supply begins to decrease by the fourth or fifth month of your pregnancy or that the taste of the milk begins to change. Because of this, some toddlers and babies who are nursing while mom is pregnant will naturally self-wean. It is important to ensure that your current nursling is receiving adequate nutrition once you experience a drop in your milk supply. Particularly if your baby is under six months and has not begun eating solids or if they are over six months and breastmilk is still their primary source of nutrition, you will want to make sure they are receiving sufficient daily caloric intake.

What will breastfeeding while pregnant be like for me?

While many women go on to successfully breastfeed their baby or toddler through subsequent pregnancies and beyond, there can be some discomfort due to your rising pregnancy hormones. Up to 75 percent of women report having sore nipples during pregnancy which can consequently make breastfeeding painful at times. Some women also report feeling some nausea when their milk lets down but keeping light snacks on hand while nursing can help prevent this discomfort. In addition to making sure your nursling is getting adequate nutrition, it is vital to make sure you are also getting plenty of nutritive calories per day. During the second trimester of pregnancy, the average woman needs to consume an additional 350 calories per day. By the third trimester, it is recommended that you consume an additional 450 calories per day. When you are breastfeeding during pregnancy, in addition to those extra calories, you need to add an additional 500 calories per day for a nursing baby over six months and an additional 650 calories for a nursling under six months of age. A nutritious diet is important during any pregnancy but even more imperative while also breastfeeding your baby or toddler. Aside from a healthy diet, you’ll want to make sure you drink plenty of water and get as much rest as possible. Try laying on your side to nurse your toddler for naps and you may even be able to catch a few zzz’s yourself.

Deciding whether or not to continue breastfeeding during pregnancy is a personal decision that you should make based on your own comfort level and your toddler’s current nursing habits and physical and emotional needs. It also doesn’t have to be an all or nothing decision and you can decide to cut back the number of nursing sessions per day or to limit the amount of time your toddler spends at the breast during each feeding. This may be a good option if you want to continue nursing but are experiencing any discomfort such as sore nipples or nausea.

For questions about breastfeeding during pregnancy, prenatal care, natural birth, and other women’s services, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife or for a tour of our Birth Center. We are here to help you make decisions that work for you and your baby.

Why We Love The Business of Being Born (And You Should, Too!)

Business of Being Born Banner

Did you know that the US currently has one of the highest infant mortality rates among industrialized nations? Though you may find this to be shocking given the wealth of our nation and available technology, this issue is among several concerns about birth in the US that Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein set out to explore in their documentary, The Business of Being Born. This cutting edge documentary was created with the intent to provide women with a thorough examination of the current state of the birth industry in the United States. Through raw footage of empowering homebirths, candid interviews with mothers, doctors, midwives and other health professionals, and an analysis of common hospital birth practices, Lake and Epstein have created a provocative and informative film that is a must-see for all women. 

Why They Created It:

Ricki Lake initially sought to create a film examining common birth practices in the US after her own first birthing experience left her feeling unsatisfied and like something was missing. Interested in the factors leading to the decline of the use of midwives and the increase in the use of medical interventions, including C-sections, Lake hoped to expose some of the reasons women feel unequipped to have a natural birth. Epstein, a strong proponent of natural homebirth directs the documentary while pregnant herself and as you see in the end provides viewers with a firsthand account of why it is necessary to be flexible sometimes with your birth plan in spite of your own wishes.  

Why We Like It:

This film is all about empowering women to realize the tremendous and natural capabilities of their own bodies without intervention. Through extensive and awe-inspiring footage of natural births, The Business of Being Born successfully shows that women need not fear childbirth and that they have the strength within themselves that they will need to birth their baby. The post-birth euphoria that the new moms experience in the film is palpable through the screen and allows viewers to see some of what they might be missing should they feel pressured to undergo a cascade of medical interventions at the hands of their doctors. Lake and Epstein also take a look at the potential motivations for hospitals to encourage the use of interventions and in some cases even favor the use of Cesarean sections to avoid the possibility of a lawsuit. This film is beautifully feminist yet will appeal to any individual who is expecting a baby and wants their partner to have the dignity of the choice to have a childbirth that is best for her and her new baby. 

What You’ll Learn:

The Business of Being Born is a treasure trove of interesting facts about the history of childbirth in the United States, the decline of midwifery and the rise of and reasons for the medicalization of birth. A few topics explored in the film include:

  • The cascade effect of childbirth interventions 
  • The reasons many obstetricians are ill-suited to attend to natural births 
  • The economic implications to hospitals when allowing women to follow their body’s natural birth plan without intervention
  • The risks associated with repeat Cesarean sections
  • The primal bonding mechanism of the natural birth process
  • The relationship between the growth of technology and the changes to the childbirth industry in the US
  • The power, pride, and strength a woman experiences through natural birth.

The Take Home Message:

All women deserve the right to make informed decisions about their childbirth experience. Whether you choose to birth at home, in a birth center or at the hospital, you are entitled to the right to be educated, empowered and supported in the process. Lake and Epstein have created a powerful film that boldly personifies this mission through real life accounts, professional commentary, and raw footage. The Business of Being Born is a must-see for all women expecting a baby. This December, Health Foundations is thrilled to welcome the esteemed creators of this cutting edge documentary to our EVERY WOMAN CAN event at Aria. Lake and Epstein will give the keynote address during this night of celebration, community, and empowerment. For more information about EVERY WOMAN CAN, visit our website at http://www.everywomancan.co/.

Red Lentils with Sweet Potato and Apricots

Red Lentils

Want to increase your milk supply, combat fatigue and get a large dose of your daily vitamins all in one serving? Try this delicious, Moroccan-inspired stew complete with vitamins A and C, potassium, and complex carbohydrates. Apricots are also known for increasing your body’s prolactin production which is the hormone responsible for signaling your body to make more milk. Another great benefit of this dish? Purée the leftovers and make baby food!

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 cup of red lentils
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into half-inch cubes
  • ½ cup of chopped dried apricots
  • 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ cup of fresh cilantro

Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Fry onion for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently or until browned. 
  2. Add cumin and cinnamon and sauté for one minute or until spices are fragrant.
  3. Add water, lentils, sweet potato and dried apricots. Bring to a boil, cover pot and simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes or until sweet potato is tender and lentils have broken down completely. 
  4. Add ginger and salt and simmer for two minutes.
  5. Serve over rice and garnish with cilantro

** To create baby food from the leftovers, set aside one cup of mixture prior to adding ginger and salt and puree in a food processor.

Recipe transcribed from: Today's Parent