Top 10 Ways to Prepare for a Natural Childbirth

Photo Credit: Kadi Tiede

Photo Credit: Kadi Tiede

Entering into your pregnancy journey is fun and exhilarating for most mamas and their partners. Once you get past the initial excitement, you may find yourself overwhelmed with all of the decisions that come with pregnancy, labor, birth and after. One of these decisions for you, may be deciding to have a natural childbirth. Whether you choose to be in the hospital, a birth center or at home, there are many ways to help prepare for a natural birth. Here are the top 10 ways to prepare for a natural birth:

Childbirth Education Classes: It is very important to educate yourself and your partner. A great way to do this is taking a Childbirth Education Class. If you are planning to deliver in a hospital, it is a good idea to find a class outside of the hospital to help you prepare better. At Health Foundations Birth Center we have childbirth education for families delivering with us that is tailored to delivering at the birth center. 

Hire a Doula:  Having a doula by your side during labor is not only comforting but also it proven to help reduce interventions including cesareans. Typically doulas also provide education during prenatal meetings. Interview 2-3 to make sure you find one that is a good fit. You can find a doula through friends that have used one or via the Internet.

Choosing a Provider and Facility: Once you find out you are pregnant, take your time over a few weeks to put research into finding a provider that fits your desires and needs.  If you are choosing a hospital, take a tour of a couple of different ones. You have the option of choosing hospital midwives (usually) or an OB.  Out of hospital options are wonderful for women who would like a natural birth. If you find that your and your provider aren’t meshing well, keep in mind that you can always transfer to a different provider. Current research shows your chance of having a c-section can be directly linked to the provider and / or hospital you choose. 

Nutrition and Exercise Keeping up with nutrition and exercise are one of the keys to staying healthy in pregnancy, which helps during labor.  Although we sometimes think it is a time to indulge, it is quite the opposite! Be sure to fill your diet with good proteins, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Try and limit sugar as much as possible. If you had an exercise routine before pregnancy, usually you can continue with that. Walking, swimming and yoga are wonderful options for staying active in pregnancy. Always check with your provider before you start an exercise routine in pregnancy.

Self-Care: As your body changes, remember to allow time for self-care. Take time to rest, go on more dates with your partner, get a massage, spend time with friends, read a book in a quiet space, take warm baths in the evening. All of these things help to alleviate stress, which is good for you and your baby.

Supplements: Along with a healthy diet, there are some great supplements that help prepare your body for a health, low-risk labor and birth. Try and choose a food-based prenatal vitamin such as Rainbow Light Prenatal Vitamins. Click here for more information on choosing supplements. Always check with your provider before choosing a new supplement to add to your diet.

Reading: Find reading material that is not only educational but also positive. One of our favorites is Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin. Not only is it very informative but also has wonderful birth stories to read. For your partner, a great read is The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin.

Baby Positioning: Trying to get your baby into an optimal position is more important that you would think! There are many ways to do this during the last weeks in pregnancy especially. Posture is an easy way to help get your baby in to stay in an optimal position. You want your baby to be in an anterior position rather than posterior. This will help your labor and birth to be much less uncomfortable. Seeing a chiropractor in pregnancy has been proven to help significantly with this. Be sure to look for a chiropractor that specializes in pregnancy. Another good resource is www.spinningbabies.com.

Birth Plan: Take time to prepare a birth plan with your partner. A doula can help with this as well. Keep your birth plan simple and to the point. Be sure to communicate your labor and birth desires to your provider. Give a copy of your birth plan to your provider and bring a copy with you in your birth bag.

Find Your Tribe: Now is the time to surround yourself with supportive friends and family. Sometimes they may find it challenging to accept your labor and birth decisions. Remember to set healthy boundaries. People love telling scary stories about birth. While it is important for them to process these feelings personally, it is not the time to do it when you are pregnant. Gently remind them to save those stories for later. Find a good support system whether it be your family, friends, or an outside group.

At Health Foundations Birth Center your choices matter to us. We are here as a community of women to support you during pregnancy, birth and beyond. Call us today for a consultation or tour, 651-895-2520 or visit us at www.health-foundations.com

Meet Our New Billing Specialist

Name:  Katy DeLong

Hometown:  Eagan, MN

Family: I live with my husband Zack, my daughter Lucy, kitties Zeus and Alice and goldfish Cow Fish

With HF since:  June 2017

My role at HF: I am the Billing Specialist

Educational Background and training: I have worked in healthcare for many years in different roles including billing.  I studied Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin - Stout.

Favorite thing when not at HF: I love spending time with my family, reading and being outdoors.

Travel anywhere: I would like to go to South America and spend some time traveling and exploring some of the countries there.

If you could have a Super Power: Teleportation - I would love to be able to skip over my day to day commutes.  It would save so much time!

What I love about HF: Health Foundations works to empower women and families in such a meaningful way.

Birth Philosophy:   We all have different expectations and experiences -- recognize what is important to you, work to make that happen and then surrender to the process that will unfold as it will.  Celebrate the beautiful process that unfolded even if didn't go as planned.

Advice for mamas: My experience taught me to surrender not only in birth but also in general -- let go of what was normal and get ready to make a whole new normal.  Then next week, do that all over again.  What a journey we embark upon as parents, let's support each other in whatever ways we can!

Top 10 Things Every Dad Should Know

Congrats! Your baby has arrived! This is a very exciting time for both moms and dads. As life shifts into parenthood, there are many adjustments to be made! We have talked with dads and compiled a list of the Top 10 Things Every Dad Should Know.

Sleep: Some of the best advice is to sleep when your baby sleeps. You will find after a few days that two-hour naps all night is simply not enough. Take turns. Four or five hours of sleep will become an amazing amount of time and you will feel like Superman. This goes for your partner too. Remember to give her breaks and time to sleep in between nursing. You will lie around and cuddle with the baby and for the first couple of weeks will have energy for nothing else. This is normal!

Hormones: Just when you thought your partner was done with hormone changes because pregnancy is over, you will realize that there is a big hormonal shift that takes place postpartum. Her body is going through major changes. Be gentle with her. She may cry more. She may have a shorter fuse due to hormones and exhaustion. Make sure she is well fed during the day and give her a little extra love and patience.

Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding is hard work! Especially the first two weeks. Expect your wife to need to talk about it. You may feel a little left out because this is something only your wife can do. You can support her by listening, making sure she has snacks and water, and getting her a good book to read during those long nursing sessions. If she has trouble with breastfeeding, offer support by setting up an appointment with a lactation consultant.

Poop: There is never too much you can say about poop.  You will talk about the color, the consistency, and how much poop there was during a diaper change. You will be proud of your baby pooping. You will Facebook about it. You will tweet about it. You will be covered in it.

Visitors: People are going to want to visit your new bundle of joy. During the first week, try to keep visitors to a minimum. If people do visit, make it your job to keep the visits about 15 minutes long. They may offer to help with meals, cleaning, dog-walking, babysitting older children, etc. Do not hesitate to say YES! And if they don’t offer, ask. These are some of the best gifts you will receive.

Your Baby: You’re baby won’t break. You will want to be gentle of course but babies are strong and made to be handled. It is completely normal for you to feel uncomfortable.  Go easy on yourself.  Sometimes it can take dads a little longer to bond with their new baby.

Friends: Once your partner has gotten settled in and you both have gotten rest and feel human again, remember to take some time for yourself. Go out with the guys for a couple of hours. Especially the ones that have been through this before! If your wife feels apprehensive about being alone organize a friend or family member to keep her company or just be there if she needs something.

Leaving the house as a family: This can be a little daunting and you will be surprised how long it takes to get out the door and you may feel like you are bring the whole house with you! Give yourself some extra time on those first few outings.

Your Partner: There are many ways to help and make the ride smoother. Compliment and encourage her. She has just given birth and she wants to hear that you are proud of her. Give her breaks, even to do something as simple as taking a shower. Reassure her that she is doing a fantastic job. Bring her meals in bed, all of them. During postpartum rest is vital for her. During recovery and healing, her main job is making milk, breastfeeding and resting.

Housework & Chores: Keeping the house clean and laundry done will be a huge relief to your partner and even further allow her to rest. She will surely thank you for it!

Health Foundations Birth Center offers a comforting, supportive environment for both moms and dads during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Schedule a Tour and Information Session today!

Fun Facts about Midwife Rachel Stapleton

Name:  Rachel Stapleton

Hometown:  Minnetonka, MN

Family: I live with my husband, Erik in Uptown. 

With HF since:  July 2014

My role at HF: Midwife

Favorite thing when not at Health Foundations: I am a huge extrovert, so I love to do activities with friends and family. My favorite is probably going on walks around the lakes in Minneapolis. 

Travel anywhere: I love to travel so this is a hard question, but probably either somewhere on the Mediterranean or somewhere in Northern Africa like Morocco. 

Super Power: Teleportation-would love to be able to go anywhere in the world at any given time. (Also would be a good perk to get to births quickly :))

Inspiration to be a Midwife: I always envisioned myself working in pediatrics because I love working with kids and their families. However, for the summer of 2009, I had the opportunity to go work in a small jungle hospital in Indonesia. While there, the midwife offered the chance to be on call for births with her. Some may say I caught the labor bug from attending births, which definitely happened. The part though I really fell in love with was working with women in the neighboring villages for their pregnancy and women's health care. I realized how amazing women truly are and if we can empower women, they in turn can provide better care to themselves and their families. I came back to Minnesota and did additional practicums in obstetric care and this only further solidified my passion for midwifery. 

What I love about Health Foundations: Hands down the relationships-both with the families that we work with and the colleagues that have become the best of friends and are more like family. I love the community aspect of the birth center. It is events like grand old day, the family picnic, and the holiday party that have become more like family reunions. I also of course love to attend births, which I often refer to as birthday parties. :) Most days, I truly do not feel like I am going to work. It is the women that I work with that make it feel not like a job at all, but rather a chance to see women rock at life on a regular basis. I am so fortunate to be able to call Health Foundations my midwifery home. 

Birth Philosophy: I believe that birth is a natural process-not something to be feared. Birth is amazing. Women are amazing. Their bodies are amazing. No two births are the same. I often joke that the longer I work in the OB world, the less I can predict. Birth involves a tremendous amount of hard work, but watching women go through labor and birth and persevere time after time, is so empowering to me and it is always my hope that is also empowering to them. It is something that stays with women their whole lives. 

Advice for Mamas: Know that you are truly amazing and that you can do amazing things even when you think you cannot. I get the privilege of seeing this unfold all of the time. 

The Birth of Baby Kalan

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Photo credit: Laura Robinson (www.laurarobinsonphoto.com)

Blog written by: Laura Robinson

Warning:  Some birth images may contain content that is graphic and not suitable for work.

It is such a miracle to see the strength and beauty of the female body.  For mama Katie, it had been over 19 years since her first baby was born.  Joined by hubby Todd and their two older children, Katie chose to have a water birth for baby #3 at the Health Foundations Birth Center in St. Paul. 

It was a perfect Saturday in May, 72 and sunny and a great day for a birthday! After a walk around the Grand Avenue neighborhood to move things along, Katie returned to her relaxing birthing suite.  As things progressed, she chose to labor in the birthing tub for much of the time, but also tried several other birthing methods to bring her sweet baby boy into the world.

After several hours of labor, Katie was back in the birthing tub.  A few more pushes brought the arrival of Baby Kalan at 2:44 PM, weighing in at 7lbs 9.5oz, and measuring 20.5" long.

Congratulations to the N family!  Enjoy all those newborn baby snuggles!

 

 

 

A Mothers Gift: Donor Breast Milk

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There are two beautiful sides to donor breast milk, the mother that donates the milk and the babies that receive it.  There are many reasons that mothers choose to donate their milk and there are many reasons that babies need this liquid gold. Donated breast milk can be vital to babies are that in the NICU, underweight due to low milk supply, babies with low blood sugar before the mother’s milk supply is established and more.

The mamas that are able to provide this gift are able to for different reasons but they all have the same selfless quality and that is extending their milk to another. For some mothers, they have an over supply and rather than trying to lessen it, they pump after feedings and are able to produce freezer-fulls to donate.  Some will continue to pump and donate after their child is finished breastfeeding. Then there are the stories of loss, mothers that pump their milk during their grieving process. Some find this as a connection to their child that passed. In all of these unique scenarios, the end result is a priceless gift.

Health Foundations Birth Center is a full lactation center, which means we accept donor milk at our location for the Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio. We also have breast milk available for purchase.

If you would like to give the gift of breast milk, here are the steps to take:

  • Call the Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio at 614-566-0630. They will do an over-the-phone screening first. After the screening they will ship you a kit that includes the basic lab supplies, your donor ID and some containers for your milk. You can use your own containers as well.
  • Once you receive your kit, call Health Foundations and make a quick lab appointment. When your labs have been drawn, we will ship them to Ohio for you. The reason for this is to confirm that it would be safe for you donate milk. They check for certain diseases such as HIV, HTLV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and Syphilis.
  • After the full screening process, you can bring in your containers of milk to Health Foundations. The containers must be labeled with your Donor ID. We will ship them for you to the Ohio Milk Bank.

The following are some resources for families looking for donor milk:

  • You can purchase donor milk from Health Foundations Birth Center. We ask that you call ahead to ensure that we have the milk in stock. You do not need a prescription or doctor's order. The cost is $13.53 for three ounces. The milk is frozen. Our staff ensures that you understand how to thaw and handle the donor milk.
  • You can also purchase donor milk directly from the Mothers Milk Bank of Ohio 614-566-0630. If you are purchasing direct you will need a prescription from your pediatrician.
  • There are local organizations that help coordinate mom-to-mom milk sharing which can be useful for long-term donor milk supplementation.

At Health Foundations Birth Center, our lactation consultants and postpartum nurses are here to assist you with any and all questions or lactation concerns you have related to breastfeeding your new baby. 

We also have a group, Mama's Milk Hour, led by Jan Kaste, IBCLC. This group meets every Thursday at 2:30. It is free and open to the public. You have a chance to weigh your baby, nurse and weigh your baby again to get an idea of how much your baby is eating at each feeding. Jan is there for basic questions and advice.

The Birth of Our Second Son, Skyler

Written by Danica Donnelly

In birth there are always things that you do to prepare for it as well as a good amount of letting go to the process of how things will go because it is so unpredictable. It's also so amazing how different births can be even for the same person. My first and second birth were so different and unexpected in so many ways and yet both were perfectly beautiful and couldn't have gone any better in my opinion.

For my first son's birth I had hoped for a beautiful water birth at a birth center and my fear was that I would have to go to a hospital but that it wouldn't be an emergency (obviously if it was an emergency I would want to go!) but I feared that I wouldn't get the unmedicated natural birth that I wanted at a hospital. I feared that an induction would lead to a lot of other steps and not allow labor to progress naturally and it would end in a c-section. It's funny how sometimes God makes us face our fears and then walks with us through the challenge and shows us that it's still ok and all is well on the other side. Well, I ended up being about 42.5 weeks pregnant and labor still didn't start on its own so I had to go to a hospital (for a non-emergency just like I feared) to have my water broken. And yet I still got to have the beautiful unmedicated water birth that I was hoping for. I had to face my fear, was walked through it and everything came out lovely on the other side. 

For my second son's birth I had two birth clients who I was on call for to photograph their births and they were both due the week before me. So my fear was that I would be called to a labor, be there all night photographing and then go into labor myself without having sleep or energy to make it through my own labor. So what do you think happened... ;) 

I got called to a birth and was there all night. The funny thing was that in that birthing room there were 4 of us women who were pregnant (the nurse, the doula, the laboring mother, and me). I thought to myself, if all these pregnant hormones don't put me into labor then I really have no hope of getting an earlier labor this time. I got home and settled into bed around 3am and about an hour later my own contractions started...just what I had feared. But of course I feel like God walked me through labor, gave me everything and everyone that I needed as support and I still got to have another unmedicated natural water birth like I wanted. 

This time contractions started about 4:30am so I laid in bed for the next 2 hours just casually looking at the clock whenever one would start and breathed through them pretty easily, trying to rest as much as possible in between. They were about 7 minutes apart for 2 hours.

When my husband got up for work I let him know that I thought I was in labor but wasn't sure if this was the real thing because I was only 38.5 weeks and I fully expected to go at least to 41 since last time I went so late. I texted my doula to let her know that this might be labor but I wasn't sure since I had never experienced a labor starting on its own before, but contractions were consistent and hadn't faded or spaced out in the past 2 hours. She suggested I rest as much as possible and relax in the tub so I did. Contractions stayed consistent. I started to time them with an app instead of just glancing and guessing with the clock. After looking at the pattern of contractions on the app they were about 3-5 minutes apart lasting at least a minute. I texted that to the doula, still not knowing if things were intense enough to head to the birth center, yet not wanting to cut it close either since my first labor had been quick and I knew this one could be even quicker. She said let's head to the birth center with what seemed like urgency over text message. 

We gathered the remaining necessities, the 3 year old, some snacks, a few extra outfits in case it was a long labor and headed out the door around 7:45am. The birth center was 15 minutes away and I had 3 contractions in the car which weren't fun but things were still at a point of me being able to breathe through them and manage them without feeling totally out of control. 

We got to the birth center about 8:15am and my doula and birth photographer met us outside. It was such a feeling of joy to see them and know that everyone I wanted to be at my birth was able to make it and that this was actually happening! 

I got inside, had about 10 more contractions, which were manageable and pretty easy to breathe and move through, but slightly more intense. I didn't know you could have a "favorite" contraction but my favorite one was when my 3 year old son climbed up on the bed and held my hand during the contraction and looked into my eyes and smiled at me. I can't remember if he said anything to me but just looking at his sweet face and knowing that he was loving and supporting me and that he wasn't scared, but rather excited for baby brother, it made that contractions so easy to get through it almost dissapeared when I looked upon that sweet face.

Then suddenly the next contraction felt insanely different, like a rocket ship was barreling through my body, trying to make its exit. I felt a bit like I needed to throw up and I thought to myself, "could this be transition already?!" I've been to enough births to know the signs of transition: when things make a big shift, when you suddenly don't have a break in between contractions, when you throw up, and when you think "I can't do this". That's when you've turned a corner and you are close to the finish line; pushing is just ahead. 

I thought to myself, "this is too soon! I am not ready for this! It's happening too fast! I need time to transition!" They hadn't even checked my dilation yet! But there was no time to check, no time to process, my body was already pushing and I couldn't stop it. For the first time in a labor my body tried to resist what was happening and tried to fight everything that was happening instead of working with the labor and relaxing into it. Everything in me wanted to run away but I had no choice.

Suddenly my water bag ruptured with a force of a thousand sons and I knew it felt too intense to have this baby while standing in the air - I wanted to be in the water to help ease the intensity and to create a smoother transition for baby and for me. Thankfully the tub was barely full enough for me to get in so I climbed in, then with one more intense push that felt like my world was ripping in two, I felt a head be born, then a few moments later the shoulders, and the midwife guided my son into my arms! That glorious moment where he was free and I was done (with that part) and my baby was in my arms! 

 

My first labor was 7 hours total, 1.5 hrs of pushing. This one was 4.5hrs total, maybe 10 minutes of pushing, and baby was born 40 minutes after arriving. Since I never got checked during my labor I'll never know but I think it was a situation where I went from 5 or 6cm to 10cm in just a few moments. It's true when they say that short labors are all the intensity of a long labor packed into the shorter amount of time. I feel like my mind had to process the insanity of what just happened for many hours. 

Having these beautiful photos (and video!) of my birth have really helped me to process it. They also make me so incredibly happy and thankful to have such an artistic and well composed story of one of the most incredible experiences of my life! 

I felt so loved and supported by my birth team and will forever be grateful that I didn't have to do it alone. It was far from the birth and the timing than I expected, but it was just what we needed. 

Birth Story by Danica Donnelly

Photographer: Kadi Tiede

Protein Packed Turkey Taco Skillet

Protein is very helpful in pregnancy. We encourage moms to eat protein with every meal and snack. This recipe is not only yummy and family friendly but also full of protein from the turkey, black beans and quinoa. 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound ground turkey 
  • 1/2 of a yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 ounce can diced green chiles
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 14.5 ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup jarred salsa
  • 1/2 cup rinsed quinoa
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Cilantro for garnish 

Instructions:

  1. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat.
  2. When the skillet is hot add in the diced onion and cook for about 2 minutes until it starts to soften.
  3. Add in the ground turkey and minced garlic and cook until the meat is almost cooked through, breaking it up into crumbles with a spoon as it cooks.
  4. Stir in all the spices and the diced green chiles, cooking for another minute.
  5. Add in the black beans, corn, fire roasted tomatoes, salsa and quinoa, stirring until everything is combined.
  6. When the mixture starts to bubble add in the water, cover the skillet with a lid and lower the heat to medium-low.
  7. Simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until the quinoa is cooked, it should still have a slight bite to it, but not be hard and crunchy.
  8. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top and cover with the lid cooking until the cheese is melted.
  9. Serve as is, in tortillas for tacos, or on top of your favorite greens.

The recipe is suitable to freeze for later use.

 

Staying Comfortable in Pregnancy: The Natural Way

Morning Sickness

“Morning Sickness” is the term commonly used for nausea and/or vomiting that can occur at any time of day and may even last all day. It is a common symptom of early pregnancy, and can begin as early as the first missed period. Nausea and/or vomiting typically starts during the fifth or sixth week of pregnancy and persists until the 14th to 16th week. Some women only experience nausea, but no vomiting, and some women don’t experience these symptoms at all. For some women, nausea and vomiting continues throughout the entire pregnancy. Hyperemesis gravidarum is the name given to more severe cases. Dehydration and malnutrition are serious concerns, and persistent severe vomiting requires medical attention. If you are vomiting, be sure to drink lots of water or hydrating fluids to avoid dehydration. Avoid highly sugared and caffeinated beverages, as these can actually worsen dehydration. Safe remedies to consider for nausea and vomiting in pregnancy include:

  • Acupressure or motion sickness bands (Sea Bands) may be beneficial.
  • For nausea first thing in the morning, try keeping crackers at the bedside and eating one or two before your feet hit the floor.
  • Get up slowly, as dizziness is common in pregnancy and can cause nausea.
  • Dry foods chewed slowly. Try rolled oats, crackers, or whole grain ginger biscuits upon waking.
  • Low blood sugars are associated with nausea and vomiting. Eat small snacks frequently throughout the day, and aim for foods high in protein and fiber. Dried fruit, fresh fruit, nuts, crackers, cereal mix, and cheese are often helpful.
  • Maintain high protein intake throughout day. Additionally, a high-protein snack at night can help prevent low blood sugar in the morning.
  • Avoid strong smells that may make you nauseous.
  • Drink hot water with a squeeze of fresh lemon to promote alkaline balance in your body.
  • Herbal teas and nutritional supplements can be helpful:
    • Ginger root tea: Simmer 2 tsp. of grated ginger root in a saucepan of water for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and strain. Add honey and lemon to taste. Drink hot or cold as desired.
    • Fennel seeds: eating these can help balance the digestive tract.
    • Yeast supplements and yeast products are thought to worsen morning sickness.
    • Vitamin B6 is known to help.

Fatigue

Tiredness is a very common symptom during the first and last trimester of pregnancy. In early pregnancy, the hormonal fluctuations and increased blood flow can be exhausting as your body adjusts to these changes. In later pregnancy, carrying the extra weight demands much more energy. Many women, however, say the first three months of parenthood are the most tiring of all! These are recommended strategies to cope with fatigue in pregnancy:

  • Get plenty of sleep, ideally 8-10 hours, with as many hours as possible before midnight. This is when your body best recovers from exhaustion.
  • After the first trimester, take an aromatic bath before bed, using 2 drops each of lavender, neroli, and mandarin essential oils. As a precaution, AVOID using essential oils in the first trimester.
  • Use extra pillows to support your tummy, low back, and legs, especially in the last trimester.
  • Drink 2-3 liters of water daily to encourage digestion. Constipation is a common cause of bloating and fatigue.
  • Exercise increases blood flow and boosts energy levels, and can also relieve constipation.
  • Include complex carbohydrates in your diet to supply adequate energy.
  • Avoid coffee, as it can leave you feeling tired after the initial energy boost wears off.
  • Eat small meals regularly through the day to maintain a balance of glycogen and insulin levels. These are the hormones that regulate your blood sugar levels. Carry healthy snacks with you, and eat small meals every 2-3 hours.
  • Peppermint tea is refreshing and boosts energy levels naturally.
  • Meditation and yoga are energy-boosting practices that reduce stress and improve mood.

Backaches

Pregnancy hormones soften the ligaments that connect your skeletal bones, and this makes it easier to strain all major muscles. Your abdominal muscles also separate during later pregnancy, forcing your back muscles to take on extra work. As your baby grows, increased weight alters your posture and places pressure on your spine, which can inhibit blood flow and nerve signals to your organs and tissues. These changes make low back pain a very common complaint in pregnancy. Here are some suggestions to alleviate back pain and discomfort in pregnancy:

  • Deep tissue massage and chiropractic or osteopathy work well together to alleviate chronic back pain and improve posture.
  • Assess your posture in front of a mirror:  Stand tall, facing forward with your feet hip-width apart and parallel. Drop your shoulders and pull them back. Lengthen your spine by elongating your neck and tucking your tailbone under. Avoid the sway-back posture of pregnancy by keeping your growing tummy closer in over your hips.
  • Sit up straight without slouching, and, whenever possible, sit with your legs elevated.
  • Stretch your back in cat-cow postures.
  • Sleep on a firm, supportive mattress and use pillows to improve comfort.
  • Sleep on your side with one knee bent and your upper leg supported on a pillow.
  • Wear flat, comfortable shoes.
  • Use proper body mechanics when lifting objects – bend at the knees and lift with leg muscles.
  • Encourage toddlers to stand on a chair before you pick them up.
  • Avoid dehydration – drink 2-3 liters of water daily to keep your muscles working optimally.
  • Low backache can signal constipation – eat small meals throughout the day, drink plenty of water, and get lots of physical activity to promote regular bowel movements.
  • Swimming is a low-impact activity that is highly recommended to relieve backache in pregnancy.
  • Freshly squeezed pineapple juice helps eliminate lactic acid that accumulates in overworked or cramped muscles. Blend with fresh ginger for a tasty refreshment!
  • Pregnancy girdles can help support your abdomen and improve posture during pregnancy.
  • Apply heat, cold, or pressure to sore areas to provide relief.

Leg Cramps

Leg cramps are quite common in pregnancy and can occur in response to carrying extra weight, changes in circulation, or mineral deficiencies. These suggestions may offer some relief:

  • Discuss supplementation with liquid calcium/magnesium with your care provider.
  • Walk daily to promote circulation, muscle strengthening, and relief of cramping.
  • Stretch your calf and thigh muscles by standing with legs straight and then flexing your toes up toward your head without bending your knees.
  • Massage cramped muscles while flexing your ankles and toes up toward your head. Full-body massage improves circulation throughout the body as well as to cramp-prone leg muscles.
  • Elevate your feet while sitting/resting at home and at work. Be sure to rest frequently if you stand on your feet for long hours during the day.
  • Wear low-heeled shoes.
  • Soak feet in hot water – add Epsom salts if desired. Also try applying low heat to affected area with hot water bottle, heated rice bag, or heating pad.
  • Increase water intake to 2-3 liters daily.
  • Eat foods high in calcium and magnesium – spinach, broccoli, tofu, dairy products, sardines, tahini, cooked egg yolks, watercress, dried figs, cashew nuts, parsley, and chard are all good sources.
  • Try sleeping with your feet elevated above your heart. You may wish to add padding or pillows at the food of your bed, or incline the bed itself.

Swelling of Ankles & Feet

Water retention in body tissues causes puffiness in the feet, ankles, hands, face, and vulva. Mild swelling in the extremities is a common discomfort of late pregnancy. Sometimes, however, significant or generalized swelling can be a sign of preeclampsia, especially if it occurs with other symptoms including high blood pressure, reduced urine volume, and high levels of uric acid in the blood. To prevent or alleviate swelling, try the following recommendations:

  • Drink 2-3 liters of water daily – increased water intake actually reduces water retention by the body tissues.
  • Include brisk walking in your daily routine to promote circulation and lymphatic drainage.
  • Avoid standing for long periods and rest your legs regularly, with your feet elevated higher than your waist.
  • Eat fresh, wholesome foods and avoid pre-packaged meals that are high in sodium, which promotes fluid retention.
  • Fresh watermelon juice is a good kidney tonic and diuretic to flush excess fluid from the body. A combination of cucumber, carrot, and celery juices helps reduce fluid retention.
  • Many body therapies reduce swelling and promote circulation and elimination of excess body fluid – reflexology, massage, pressure-point therapies, shiatsu, and acupunctures can all help.
  • Supplementation with vitamin B6 has proven to help reduce swelling due to fluid retention.
  • Swelling is often worse at the end of the day and reduces overnight. Raising the end of your bed can help fluid circulation and drainage.
  • Avoid commercial diuretics, as they often make the problem worse.
  • If your hands or face become puffy, call your care provider, as this could be a sign of a more serious complication.

Join guest host Dr. Amber Moravec, DC on the Mom Show this Sunday, April 23rd at 10am as she further discusses ways to naturally alleviate the most common discomforts and complaints in pregnancy!

Big River Farms CSA at Health Foundations!

Written by Lebo Moore

Written by Lebo Moore

Have you ever seen First Taste, the video of babies tasting different foods for the first time? It’s precious. The babies try everything from yogurt to anchovies and their reactions, displaying the vast emotional range of food, reflect an honest beauty.

I stumbled upon that video at the Terra Madre conference, where I learned the importance of introducing food and eating at an early age. Not only does this establish a diverse palette which is  linked to healthy eating behavior as an adult, but the acculturation of welcoming a child at a dinner table, even if they are still in infancy, teaches children how to eat and care about food. It places food at the center of human development.

I care a lot about food. I work with farmers so I’m a little biased, but also, I love to eat. After years of working on farms, I’ve witnessed how farming shapes our environment. Irrigation is the biggest use of water on the planet. The way we farm, and use that water, really matters. I am not a farmer, its way too much work, but I do know that as a lover of food there are many ways I can support the kind of farming that builds resilient and healthy communities. One way is by becoming a member of Big River Farms Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA.

Big River Farms is a program of The MN Food Association, and is located in Marine on St. Croix. We run a training program for beginning farmers providing education in production, post-harvest handling, business planning and marketing. Our mission is to build a sustainable food system based on social, economic and environmental justice through education, training and partnership. Farmers enrolled in the program represent over ten cultures around the world, most have immigrated to this country in the last thirty years and they all take pride in working the land to provide food for their families. We focus on providing resources for immigrants and farmers of color as they face significant barriers in land access and starting a farm business.

Through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) members receive weekly deliveries of Certified Organic produce grown by farmers enrolled in the program in addition to a Fruit Share. This summer we are honored to partner with Health Foundations as a new drop site for our CSA. Each week from June-October, we will deliver produce to Health Foundations Birth Center along with recipes, farm stories, farmer biographies and invitations to on-farm, family friendly events.

We believe that our commitment to farmers and to building small-scale local food systems pairs well with the commitment Health Foundations has in providing wellness and educational services for expectant and new moms. We take great care of our land and farmers to ensure that healthy food is accessible to even the newest of eaters. Everyone at Big River loves to eat and we want to share our food with you so that your family can explore the beauty of eating together. We’d love to welcome you as a member of Big River Farms for the 2017 growing season.

Sign-up for your 2017 CSA: http://www.mnfoodassociation.org/2016-share-information

Use these coupon codes at check-out for a special Health Foundations Discount!

fullhealth to receive $30 off a Full-Acre Share

halfhealth to receive $15 off a Half-Acre Share

Dr. Amy's Guide to Food Introduction

photo credit: Big River Farms CSA

photo credit: Big River Farms CSA

One of Dr. Amy’s passions is food introduction. It is a fundamental building block for a baby’s development, their immune system and has long-term health benefits. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding (no formula or solid foods). Breast milk contains antibodies that support immune function as well as optimal nutrient ratios that change as the child grows. Until approximately 6 months of age, a baby’s digestive tract is not able to adequately digest most foods. Early introduction of foods may result in food allergies or sensitivities. Around six to nine months, breastfed and formula-fed infants will begin to develop their gastrointestinal track in a way that makes them ready to start some solid foods.

Food introduction is one of the most important times in your child’s health; it becomes the building blocks and foundation of health for the rest of your child’s life. The gastrointestinal tract is an extension of the immune system. Introducing foods in a way that will not cause allergic reactions will help build a stronger and more solid foundation than if your child is always fighting off immune reactions. So many early health problems in children are related to food introduction. It is pertinent that you observe your child for signs of a reaction, such as red marks around their mouth, red cheeks, eczema, diaper rash, constipation or diarrhea, etc. (see below more complete list). If these early warning signs are not headed, more serious reactions may result as the immune system becomes more and more compromised.

Signs Baby is Ready for Solid Foods

•      Is at least 6 months old

•      Able to sit unsupported

•      Can push away food

•      Can turn head from side to side

•      Shows interest in what you are eating

Since breast milk is all your baby needs in terms of nutrients, there needn't be any rush to start your baby on solids. Let your baby lead. If she is always grabbing for your food, then allow her to explore it. But if she isn’t interested, don’t force her to try it. Most babies will become interested in food between six to nine months. If your child hasn’t started trying solids by nine months, start offering it to him and see how he responds.

This transition in life can be a source of stress for many parents. Take your time and be patient with your child. Know that she is getting all the nutrients she needs from your breast milk or formula.

Up until the first year, the benefit to babies of trying solids is being exposed to new textures and learning hand mouth coordination; prior to a year most babies gastrointestinal tracts are not mature enough to be absorbing many nutrients from solids, so if your child isn’t eating a lot of solids, it is not compromising his nutrient intake as long as he is still drinking breast milk or formula.

Introducing Foods

New foods should be introduced one at a time. Wait a few days after introducing each new food to see if your baby reacts to the food. If your baby has any of the following symptoms below, remove the food from baby’s diet for 2-3 months, then try again.

If your child has a life- threatening reaction to a food such as difficulty breathing, call 911.

Your baby will show you he has had enough to eat. Stop feeding him when he spits food out, closes his mouth, or turns his head away.  Let him control how much he eats.

Symptoms that may indicate a reaction to a food include:

•      Rash around the mouth or anus

•      Hyperactivity or lethargy

•      “Allergic shiners” (dark circles under eyes)

•      Skin reactions/rashes

•      Infections/cold/flu

•      Diarrhea or mucus in stool

•      Constipation

•      Runny/stuffy nose or sneezing

•      Redness of face/cheeks

•      Ear infection

•      Other unusual symptom for your child

Use the following schedule as a general guide for introducing foods to healthy, full-term babies. You can hang it on the fridge and put a date next to each new food introduction so that it is easier to remember what your child is eating and for reference if your child develops a reaction. If your child has chronic illness, special needs, or has signs of allergies or sensitivities such as asthma, chronic respiratory infections, or chronic ear infections, a modified schedule may be necessary.

Even though it is a common practice in our culture to give babies powered rice cereal, this is not an evidenced based practice and is not recommended by nutritionists. Start with vegetables and fruits. When it is time to introduce grains, use whole grains whenever possible, instead of processed grains.

Finally, enjoy this new time in your baby’s life as he explores new textures and tastes. Be playful with your child and let meal times be a fun game or a time to be social and sing songs about foods. Use it as a time to learn colors or numbers, instead of always focusing on getting your child to eat. If they don’t like something, introduce it again in a few months. Try to make it easier on yourself by modeling good nutrition to your child and giving them some of your meal, instead of always having to make something completely different for them. Enjoying our meals improves digestion and overall quality of life, so do what you need to for yourself to de-stress mealtime and enjoy.

Join us on March 26th at 10:00am on the MyTalk, 107.1 Mom Show to learn more and visit https://www.health-foundations.com/mom-show/ after the show to download a specific food introduction schedule.

 

Birth Slings at Health Foundations Birth Center

As a part of our innovative maternity care at Health Foundations Birth Center, we have recently installed a birth sling in our birth suites.  There are many amazing benefits to using a birth sling in labor. At Health Foundations we encourage mothers to be upright and moving during labor; the birth sling allows for her to remain upright while adding some extra support. It can also be a helpful tool for squatting, providing resistance. These upright positions can be greatly effective during pushing as well.

The birth sling promotes wider hip capacity and optimal fetal positioning which creates more effective labor patterns. For example, the "supported squat" or "dangle position" where the woman's weight is supported completely under her arms thought to be very effective for helping change baby's position when the baby is posterior or asynclitic by removing pressure from the pelvis. It also helps with slow descent. 

Here are some position options for labor:

To learn more about our innovative services at Health Foundations Birth Center visit our website or call us at 651-895-2520 for a free consulation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.

Thank you Anna Botz (Health Foundations Birth Assistant) for being our model! And a special Thank you to Rochelle Matos (Health Foundations Birth Educator) for taking these awesome photos!

Innovative Care at Health Foundations - Using Low Intervention Approaches in Childbirth

Care at Health Foundations Birth Center is evidence-based, holistic, and founded on the premise that women’s bodies know how to give birth and should be enabled to do so without needless intervention. We have many different options for comfort measures during labor and birth. Each of our birth assistants and midwives are knowledge in the use of these tools that can greatly impact the sensations of labor. It is important to know that these things are available at all times at our birth center.

Eating / Drinking During Labor 

It is essential in labor to keep your body nourished and hydrated. During early labor it is a good idea to have a protein rich meal to enable your body with sustained energy. Throughout active labor it is good to have bites of easily digested foods. This helps maintain your strength and energy. We strongly encourage women to drink during the entirety of labor. Taking a sip every 15-30 minutes is ideal. Our birth center has a kitchen area that is available for use by our families that deliver here. It is equipped with dishes, an ice/water machine and a microwave. Each suite has a small refrigerator for your personal use. We also have coffee available for dads to help keep him up!

Continuous Labor Support

In addition to the care provided by our midwives and nurses, continuous one-to-one emotional support provided by support personnel, such as a doula, is associated with improved outcomes for women in labor. Benefits found in randomized trials include shortened labor, decreased need for analgesia, fewer operative deliveries, and a greater satisfaction with the experience of labor. Health Foundations has a doula intern program that offers families the option of having a doula at their birth at a reduced cost.

Water Birth / Laboring in the Water 

Each of the birth suites at Health Foundations has a large tub for use during labor and birth. Warm water during labor and birth greatly reduces discomfort and also promotes relaxation. It is know as the “Midwife’s Epidural”. Along with pain relief, water also provides a gentle space for the baby to be delivered in, replicating the warmth of the mother’s womb, creating an easier transition when born. It can also help the perineal tissues stretch, resulting in lower incidence of tearing.

Birthing Slings

A “birthing sling,” is a soft ribbon of cloth that dangles from an ‘O’ ring in the ceiling of a delivery room. Capable of holding more than 500 pounds, the sling supports the expecting mother in an upright position during labor. There are many different positions that you can get into in the sling. These positions can help make contractions more effective and also help the baby into a good position.

TENS Unit

Health Foundations has a TENS Unit available for use during labor. The use of this can cut the discomfort of contractions in half. It can also be a wonderful option for women experiencing back labor. Four electrodes go on to your back and they are connected to a small handheld device. The frequency is as high or low as you would like. During a contraction, there is a “Boost” button that increases the sensation. The electrical pulses prevent pain signals from reaching your brain and also stimulate your body to release pain-relieving endorphins. You can use the TENS Unit at any time in labor, just not in the water.

A TENS unit is a handheld machine, connected by wires to electrodes that stick to the skin on your back. TENS works by sending electrical nerve stimulation through these electrodes; it doesn't take away the sensation of contractions, but essentially interrupts the pain signals your brain is receiving, possibly reducing your awareness of them or producing endorphins that allow you to cope better

Nitrous Oxide 

Health Foundations offers Nitrous Oxide during labor, which is a safe pain relief option that many women find helpful. It can be used during any stage of labor. You can use it anywhere in the birth room, including the tub. Nitrous does not “take the pain away” but actually alters your perception of the pain and can help reduce anxiety. The effects are felt immediately and also dissipate within a few minutes of fresh oxygen. It does not inhibit labor progression in any way.

Birth Stools

A birth stool helps you into a physiological upright posture during labor and birth. They can help provide balance and support to laboring women. Different positions and various movements can help with progress and comfort during labor. The benefit of gravity is helpful in labor and the stool allows for that while giving your feet and legs a rest! We have two different types of birth stools available at our center.

 Sterile Water Injections

If a laboring woman is experiencing back labor, sterile water injections can ease the pain instantly. They are quick, easy, safe and effective. Sterile water is injected just under the skin surface at four points over the lower back. The injections cause an intense stinging sensation that lasts for 30 - 90 seconds. If it works to relieve back pain in labor, the relief will be felt within 2 minutes. The pain relief generally lasts 2-3 hours.

Essential Oils

There is a large list of the many benefits essential oils can have in labor. We have an essential oil kit available for use in each of our birth rooms. Oils can be used to reduce nausea, help with stalled labors, calm and focus the mother, increase energy, relieve pain and more.

We are thrilled to be able to offer all of these options at Health Foundations Birth Center 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 that these comfort measures provide to mom and baby make birth a truly unique option for you and your family.

Meet Our Lactation Specialist, Jan Kaste, APRN, IBCLC

Name:  Jan Kaste

Hometown:  Galesville, Wisconsin

Family: My son Justin, daughter Erin, 4 grandsons (Oliver, Andrew, Johannes and a baby boy due in 6 weeks) and one granddaughter (Lilje). 

With Health Foundations Since:  November 2015

My role at Health Foundations:  My biggest role is that of the Postpartum Nurse. I see families in their home between 24 and 48 hours after they deliver their baby at Health Foundations at which time I provide education and support to the new family regarding breastfeeding, baby care and making sure mom and baby are doing well.  Newborn screening is done at this visit as well.  I am also an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and I see patients in the clinic for lactation consults when moms are experiencing difficulties breastfeeding and require additional one on one support.  I teach PumpTalk 101 once a month for moms who are going back to work and want to continue to breastfeed successfully.  I also teach the Early Home Care Class on Mondays and provide breastfeeding support and education during Mama's Milk Hour every Thursday. I see clients in the clinic for prenatal and postpartum visits when the Midwives are called away from clinic to do a delivery and I routinely see each client at their 20 week visit. That visit gives me the opportunity to meet clients before they deliver and find out if they have experienced nursing difficulties in the past or have concerns about breastfeeding.  This allows me to make a plan with the mom to proactively deal with potential breastfeeding issues before they occur. I wear lots of hats and I love them all.

Educational Background and Training:  I became a registered nurse in 1975, which means I have been a nurse longer than most of my patients have been alive!  Yes, that's a long time! I have spent the entirety of my career in OB, NICU, Infertility and other areas in Women's Health. I became a Certified Women's Health Nurse Practitioner in 1999 which gave me an expanded role in providing care to women.  My IBCLC certification provides another avenue to make a difference in my patient's lives. 

Favorite Thing When Not at Health Foundations: I love spending time with my grandchildren!  I am also an avid horseback rider. I love to trail ride but I also compete in working western disciplines (reining, working cow horse and ranch riding).

Travel Anywhere:  I would go to New Zealand for it's spectacular scenery.

Super Power: Time travel!

Inspiration to be a Nurse:  I wanted to be a nurse ever since I was a little girl. It was the only thing I ever wanted to be (well, except for being a cowgirl and riding horses all day). I love the art and science of medicine but also the deeply personal aspect of providing care to a person or family at a a critical time in their life. What a privilege to be in that position of trust. 

What I Love About Health Foundations:  I love Health Foundations for the way it provides the opportunity for women to find and experience their inner strength and resolve when becoming a new mom. It is life changing for the woman and her partner and impacts her for the remainder of her life. I love being part of an amazing team where everyone contributes to bring these miracles to fruition. 

Birth Philosophy:  Women are wonderfully made and equipped to bring babies into this world with a minimum of outside interference. By nurturing and affirming that strength, women can experience the birth they choose.  A birth that is empowering physically, emotionally and spiritually. 

Advice: I would advise women to envision themselves as powerful, capable women and mothers.   Surround yourself with people who will love and affirm you and help you be the best you can be.  And be that for others in their journey. 

Overnight Oats to Boost Your Milk Supply

Ingredients:

1/3 Cup Steel Cut Oats

1 TBSP Flax Seed

1 TBSP Brewer’s Yeast

1 TBSP Maple Syrup or Honey

1/2 TSP Cinnamon

1 Cup Milk of Your Choice

1/4 Cup Dried Fruit of Your Choice

 

Instructions:

Mix the oats, flaxseed, brewer’s yeast, maple syrup or honey and cinnamon thoroughly. Add the milk, stirring to ensure an even mixture (you don’t want the brewer’s yeast to clump). Add in the fruit. Place in a sealed container like a Mason jar overnight in the refrigerator. By morning, the oats are ready to enjoy!

It can be helpful to make up a few jars at a time so that you can eat this throughout the week. The oats, flax seed and brewer’s yeast are great breast milk boosters. Even if you’re not trying to boost your milk supply, this is a great breakfast option for anyone! (just maybe leave out the brewer’s yeast)