What Grandmothers Need to Know

When a woman finds out she is expecting, usually grandma finds out soon after and the excitement is through the roof! Especially if this is a first grandchild. Usually the support and excitement is well received and shared. After the sweet bundle of joy arrives, grandma wants to be there and help. For new mamas this can feel overwhelming and it can be difficult to navigate where to set boundaries without hurting feelings.

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Grandmas: this blog is for you. This blog is for your special and sacred role as a grandparent. It is about you supporting your daughter or daughter-in-law during this amazing time. As the years have passed, things have changed and it is important to know what has changed!

Holding Babies and Babywearing: I remember my mom saying “If you keep holding that baby so much, you are going to spoil him!”. Babies have been closely held in their mothers womb for 9 months and it is natural and expected for them to want to be held pretty much 24/7. That is why so many people swaddle; it gives the baby the sense that they are being held. Many moms will “babywear”. This give them the option to do other things while also holding their babies.

Baby Sleeping: Cry it out no more! It has been shown that newborns that are left to cry can have long lasting effects laster in childhood. Sleep training is not suggested until 6 months of age. Parents can expect that a new baby will not have any sleep schedule at all until at least 6 weeks of age. This ties in with babies loving to be close and held.

Bonding: The newborn phase is special and sacred and a beautiful time to bond. Some ways to bond with your new grandchild is spending time with them. In the first two weeks, expect for the parents to be very protective and busy getting to know their new one. This is a time for you to help with meals, cleaning, and watching the siblings if applicable and if you are able. As the weeks pass, you may be invited to watch the baby so their parents can get some time alone, even if it is just an hour.

It is statically proven that having grandchildren close and opening time with them with improve health and even longevity!

Welcome Baby Care and Health Foundations Birth Center will be hosting a Grandmother’s Tea on February 23rd at 1:30. Tickets are $25 per person. This class is designed to prepare Grandmothers for their role as a grandparent. The topics include sleep, baby-wearing and the latest techniques for developing a strong bond with baby.

Get your ticket here

Welcome Carrie Young, CNM, APRN

Join us in welcoming Carrie Young to our midwife team. We are beyond thrilled to have Carrie a part of the Health Foundations Family again! Carrie was a Nurse and Birth Assistant in past years. Carrie has a passion for birth and lactation and is a wonderful asset to our team.

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Carrie is a graduate of Frontier Nursing University.  She has worked in Women's Health care since 2004 when she found her love for birth working in a free standing birth center in California. As a Nurse Midwife, Carrie is passionate about empowering women to make decisions about their health care.  She has a special interest in breastfeeding, natural birth and Functional Medicine.  She believes in supporting and treating the whole person; physically, emotionally and spiritually.  

In her personal life, Carrie is a mother of three including a son and twin daughters. Spending time near the ocean and traveling abroad keeps her busy in her off time.  She is an advocate for women rights, gentle parenting and breastfeeding.  


Meet Our Lactation Consultant Sara!

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Name: Sara Goff

Hometown: I grew up in Brainerd, MN, have lived in many places over the last 15 years as a military family and now we call Bayport, MN home.

Family: My husband and I have 6 children together, 2 adult children and a grandson! 

Please explain your role at Health Foundations: I am the IBCLC Lactation Consultant of the team here at Health Foundations.

What is your educational background and training? I became certified as an IBCLC in 2011 after almost 10 years as a La Leche League leader and military breastfeeding peer counselor. I have served as a birth and postpartum doula, childbirth educator as well as creating and teaching a milk program for birth workers. 

Tell us a little about your own birth: My own birth was quite the event involving an ambulance ride from Brainerd to St. Paul when my mom was 32 weeks pregnant. NICU's were very different in 1978! What always struck me when my mom has told me my birth story was how she had a wonderful young doctor who signed off on my discharge from the hospital after prescribing skin on skin care and lactation support from La Leche League. When I gave birth to my first baby at 31 weeks her story, my story, came rushing back to me and fueled me through the long NICU stay and inspired my career in lactation support. 

What is one of your favorite things to do when you are not at Health Foundations? I love to travel, team for women's retreats and create art of all kinds.

If you could get on a plane tomorrow and travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? The beach...any warm beach with rolling waves.

If you could have one super power, what would it be? Teleportation! I have beloved friends all over the world and it’s hard to be so far removed from so many. 

What inspired you to get into your field? When I was in labor with my first baby at 31 weeks knowing there was no stopping birth they started assembling a NICU team to be present. The nurse practitioner in charge introduced herself between contractions and asked if I had any questions... without even thinking the question that spilled out of me was "Can I nurse?" In that moment being able to breastfeed my baby became the most important thing to me. Without hesitation her reply was "yes, of course!". My daughter was born minutes later. During her month in the NICU, a lactation consultant helped me over and over again. After a particularly difficult day, she met me in the hallway and listened to the trials of the day and said "you should consider becoming a peer counselor". That comment became the seed that grew my passion for lactation. 

What do you love about Health Foundations and what is your favorite part of your job? I love the team and community here at Health Foundations. My favorite part of my job is seeing the magical connection between parents and their babies. 

What is your philosophy on birth? Birth and Milk are innate, instinctual and DIFFERENT for every person. I believe in the power of community and story to nurture, heal, inspire and challenge us to be our highest self in pregnancy, birth, milk, parenting, and life. 

What advice or wisdom can you share with pregnancy or new mama readers? Trust your baby, your body (and your milk!) + surround yourself with a community of people that feel supportive and empowering!

The New Year, The New You

Oh yes, News Years resolutions! It is that time of year! It can be tempting to have a long list of things you would like to change or do better. My advice is to keep the list short and realistic.

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You can exercise, eat healthy, take supplements but what about the hard stuff? What about sitting with YOU and allowing yourself to grow? Here are some points to think about moving forward into 2019:

Health Goal Setting

Take charge of your health this year. Now is the time to do it, as there are so many tools to help! There are apps, pre-made meal plans and more. Do a little research about what would be realistic for you. Don’t plan on eating baked chicken and broccoli for weeks on end, that isn’t sustainable. The recipes out there are AMAZING. There are endless blogs with recipes that are centered around clean eating. If weight loss is a part of your plan, keep the goal small.

Although it is tempting to jump into a gym membership full steam ahead, find a place that fits your needs. There are large gyms, yoga studios, barre classes, cross fit and so much more. Take your time. Many of these places will let you do a free week before joining.

14 Days

It takes 14 days to truly make a change and the first 14 days are the hardest. One day at a time. Keep that in front of you at all times as a reminder, on your fridge, bathroom mirror or anywhere that you can see it frequently.

Accountability Partner

It can be a best friend, a sibling, a significant other, a co-worker or anyone that you feel will hold you accountable. Make sure you can trust this person and that they share similar goals and values. Let them know what your goals are and why they are important to you. Set up a plan with that person and communicate to them how their support would be helpful to you. Maybe it is a daily phone call or text message to check in or perhaps it is you texting them after you have done your daily goals.

Emotional Growth

The true goal is expanding yourself emotionally. Cleaning up your physical body by eating healthy and exercising is only part of the process. Spend time with you. Be alone. Turn off your phone and computer. Even if it is for 15 minutes each day. Try meditation. A nice time to practice this is right when you wake up, even before getting out of bed. If meditating isn’t your thing just spend time in the quiet trying to release the days stresses and worries.

Let your motto be, I AM ENOUGH. You indeed are ENOUGH.

How to Stay on Track With Diet + Exercise During The Holidays

Cookies! Cakes! Fancy holiday drinks! Oh my!

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The holidays are full of family, friends and making new memories. But if you are like me, you may be worrying about staying on track! You can stay on track and indulge at the same time. I am a believer of balance and moderation. Here are some of my favorite tips!

Drink Water: Drink water throughout the day. Try and get in 64 ounces per day. The will help keep you full and also flush out your system each day.

Exercise Everyday: Even if it is just 20 minutes per day, it is helpful! If doesn’t have to be anything crazy. A brisk walk will do! Maybe sneak some yoga in to relieve holiday stress.

Eat your regular diet: Commit to sticking to your regular diet and only indulge at times of celebration or when the foods are REALLY worth it. But...that doesn't mean indulging in EVERYTHING.

Eat BEFORE you go to a party: Eat a salad or greens and drink water before heading out.

Change Your Mindset: Don't think you can do or eat whatever you want all of December and just tackle it harder in January. You are setting yourself up for disappointment and likely won't feel good in the process.

How to Help Your Baby Develop Good Sleep Habits

At best, most newborns don’t sleep more than two to three hours at a time, day or night. A newborn’s nutritional needs and developmental maturity won’t be ready for a full five to seven hour stretch for a while. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t start helping your baby develop good sleep habits. By creating a healthy, safe sleep environment and planting the seeds of good sleep habits, you’ll plant roots for a lifetime of high-quality sleep.

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A Safe Sleep Environment

Even if you set up the nursery long before your baby arrived, it’s a good idea to give everything a last check to make sure all safety measures are in place. A baby-safe sleep environment include:

  • A crib, bassinet, or playpen that meets all current safety guidelines including no head or footboard with decorative cutouts and slats that are no more than 1 ⅜ inches apart.

  • A location that’s away from windows or cords that could be reached by your baby.

  • No toys, blankets, and crib bumpers as they pose a suffocation hazard. Extra layers, as well as sleep sacks or sleep blankets, should provide the warmth your baby needs.

  • A mattress with a snug fit that’s low enough that your baby cannot crawl or fall out of the crib. You’ll have to keep an eye on it and lower the mattress as he grows.

While baby monitors aren't a necessity, they do offer peace of mind and give you some extra freedom while your baby sleeps. Be sure the cord is kept well away from the crib.

The Start of Healthy Sleep Habits

Unfortunately, babies don’t normally have a regular sleep cycle until they are about six months old. However, healthy sleep habits can begin even before your baby is able to sleep through the night. Try to:

  • Keep nighttime feedings and diaper changes quiet and dark. Nighttime feedings should be all business so that your baby is wakened as little as possible.

  • Develop a bedtime routine. Bedtime routines can start as soon as your baby comes home from the hospital. As your baby’s nervous system develops, a regular routine will help trigger the release of sleep hormones. Some classic bedtime activities include reading a book, taking a warm bath, or rocking in a rocking chair.

  • Play and stimulate your baby’s senses during the day. As your baby stays awake longer during the day, he’ll start to sleep for longer stretches at night. It also helps to start establishing those developing circadian rhythms, the natural cycles the body uses to time the sleep-wake cycle.

  • Lay your baby down when he’s drowsy, not asleep. Your baby will learn how to self-soothe as he gets used to falling asleep on his own. This can also cut down on nighttime waking as he’ll learn to put himself back to sleep as he gets older.

  • Don’t jump to soothe. Some babies fuss a little before bed to let out some pent-up tension. Let your baby fuss for a few minutes before going in to soothe him. If he continues to fuss, make sure to keep the room dark and quiet so as not to overstimulate your baby when you soothe him.

Stacey L. Nash is a Seattle area writer for Tuck.com whose insomnia led her to research all aspects of sleep. With a degree in communications from the University of Puget Sound, she helps put sleep into the forefront of the health and wellness conversation. When not researching and writing about sleep, she spends time with her husband and four children on their heavily-wooded, twelve-acre piece of heaven.

Chromotherapy for Labor

You may have heard about Chromotherapy to elevate mood; but have you heard about it for labor? As a freestanding birth center, we are always looking for different comfort measures for laboring mamas. Recently, we installed LED light systems in each of our birth rooms.

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Chromotherapy is the science of using colors to adjust body vibrations to frequencies that result in health and harmony. Each color possesses frequencies of a specific vibration, and each vibration is related to different physical symptoms. Here are the different purposes of the different colors.

RED: Red light has been shown to increase energy. This would be a great color to use when the laboring mother is feeling tired to help boost her energy levels.

ORANGE: Orange hues can increase energy levels and improve a person’s mood. In labor, moms can of course get tired and possibly frustrated. Bring on the orange LED lights!

YELLOW: Yellow color light therapy can be used to help a person feel grounded while maintaining a positive outlook. It may also help mothers in labor to feel more optimistic and lighthearted.

GREEN: We depend on the color green to feel calm. Staying calm in labor is important and helps immensely relieve discomfort.

BLUE: Blue promotes relaxation and calm. Blue exhibits tranquilizing qualities often used to relieve headaches, stress, and nervous tension. Blue is thought to have a positive effect on all kinds of pain.

VIOLET: Violet is used to calm the nervous system, soothe organs and relax muscles. Violet has meditative qualities.

The Acne Struggle is Real...But It Doesn't Have to Be

The acne struggle is real! And how do I know? Because I have dealt with it firsthand. Acne (and discoloration…but we will talk about that in another blog post) has been my skin issue since my first pregnancy, 11 years ago. And I have tried EVERYTHING (and I have the product graveyard to prove it!). I’m constantly trying and testing new products and treatments such as lotions, spot treatments, facials and peels, to name a few. I even tried a vampire facial (I can’t believe I am sharing this photo!!!) But nothing REALLY worked.

iPhoto taken June 19, 2018

iPhoto taken June 19, 2018

My chin and jawline had reoccurring breakouts and my skin was red and irritated. Trying to cover-up the breakouts with make-up only brought more attention to my problem areas and ultimately made my breakouts worse.

I couldn’t stand it anymore and went to my dermatologist’s office. The thing is, I knew what she would suggest before I even set foot in the door…I guess I was just secretly hopeful she would have THE ANSWER. But no, she recommended what I expected, a course of oral and topical antibiotics and tretinoin (retinol) cream. I didn’t take the oral antibiotics (As a Naturopathic Doctor, I know taking antibiotics for acne really only makes the problem worse in the end.). I also had tried tretinoin before and I didn’t like how much my skin literally peeled after every time I used it. I did break down and tried the topical antibiotic for a while because I felt absolutely desperate. Fellow acne suffers you know what I mean! It helped with some of the major problem zits, but the redness was still there, and the breakouts kept coming. So, I decided to do a little more investigating and see what else was out there that could help. I had been dealing with this for years, so what did I have to lose?

A little Googling and perusing Instagram and I ended up with more search results for Rodan + Fields Unblemish Regimen than I could possibly imagine. The before-and-after pictures were amazing. Horrible cases of acne were magically cured in just a few months along with the pigmentation and uneven skin that comes after the acne has healed. I had to give it a try and I’m glad I did (A 60-day supply is $162 when you become a Rodan + Fields Preferred Customer. That equates to $2.70/day.).

Photo courtesy of Rodan + Fields

Photo courtesy of Rodan + Fields

I had read it was important to follow the instructions, easing my skin into the regimen. You start using the products every other morning for one week, then every morning for the second week, then every morning and every other night for the third week, and both morning and night by week four. By week two, I started to see a calmness in my skin that hadn’t been there before. It was like one day I woke up and my complexion was smooth and virtually bump-free. It felt like a miracle. I kept looking in the mirror at myself because for the first time in 11 years I was starting to feel good about my skin. AND, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the redness and pigmentation were diminishing, too.

Photo of a Rodan + Fields Preferred Customer

Photo of a Rodan + Fields Preferred Customer

How does it work? Unblemish uses sulfur and benzoyl peroxide to clear your skin. But, it does it in a way that actually heals it without making it dry or red - genius! That was one of the biggest problems with all the other acne products I had tried, they made my skin super dry, peely and exacerbated the redness. What I have ultimately learned from the Doctors at Rodan + Fields is the right ingredients, in the right formulations, applied in the right order are key to get the results you are seeking. That is what the Unblemish Regimen provided. (Graphic courtesy of Rodan + Fields).

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Now that I found something that actually works for my acne-prone skin, I’m sticking with it. For the first time in over a decade, since my first pregnancy, I am happy with my skin and will actually venture out makeup-free! Don’t take my word for it! Try it for yourself and let me know what YOU think! Don’t forget to take before and after pictures so you can track your progress…that’s the fun part. Here is the most recent picture I found on my phone as an update what my skin looks like now.

iPhoto taken November 3, 2018 :  Unblemish Regimen ,  Active Hydration Bright Eyes Complex ,  Radiant Defense  (Sand color)

iPhoto taken November 3, 2018 : Unblemish Regimen, Active Hydration Bright Eyes Complex, Radiant Defense (Sand color)

I am such a believer in Rodan + Fields that I have started my own business with the company. So, if you have skin questions, questions about products, are interested in ordering or becoming part of my team, I am your gal. You can learn more on my website or contact me, Dr. Amy, at Health Foundations Birth Center at 651-895-2520.

P.S. If you have tweens or teens with acne issues…Unblemish is what you need to try! Give me a call so I can help get you on the right track!

P.P.S Do you feel “stuck” with how your skin looks? Schedule a time with me and we can discuss what you would like to change about your skin and see what skin care products, supplements and lifestyle changes you can make to help you achieve your goals.











Spooky Sweet Potato Fries

This recipe is great for the whole family; baby included! This recipe is a yummy addition to any meal or just a quick snack. Sweet potatoes are a good starter food for your little one. You can introduce them at 6-8 months.

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Serves Four

Ingredients:

2 Large Sweet Potatoes

3 TBS Olive Oil

1/2 tsp Pumpkin Spice

1/2 TBS Salt

1 TBS Sugar (you can use coconut sugar for a healthier option)

Instructions:

Preheat over to 400F.

Wash the sweet potatoes thoroughly and cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds. Use mini Halloween cook cutters to cut your spooky shapes. Alternatively, you can use a knife to cut jack-o-latern faces.

Place sweet potatoes on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle spice mixture on them.

Bake until tender; about 18-22 minutes.

Pregnancy, Birth and Postpartum Resources in the Twin Cities

The Twin Cities are rich with options for mamas during pregnancy and afterwards. We have put together our favorites! Tried and true. These are businesses us and our families have worked with and time and time again they prove to be stellar.


Pregnancy Resources

Naturally Aligned Family Chiropractic: Help prep your body for labor and birth! Naturally Aligned specializes in pregnancy and newborns which includes the Webster technique. There are two locations, St. Paul and White Bear Lake. The providers will also attend labors!

SUNU Wellness Center: If you live west, SUNU Wellness Center is a wonderful place for chiropractic care, cranial sacral and overall wellness. The providers at SUNU also will attend labors. They are located in Minneapolis and Minnetonka.

Blooma: Connect with your baby before they arrive. At Blooma, you can expect just that. Their instructors are specially trained in prenatal yoga. After your baby makes their arrival they have classes for you and baby too! Blooma has their main studio in Minneapolis and a smaller one in St. Paul.

Birth Resources

Childbirth Collective: The Twin Cities is lucky to have the largest doula community in the nation. Rather than blindly finding a doula using Google; check out the Childbirth Collective. They have a large listing of doulas making it easy to find the right fit for you. They also have parent topic nights each week that are free and open to the public. You can find these classes in Minneapolis and St. Paul. This is a great place to find a postpartum doula as well.

Birth Photography: Like doulas there are a lot of wonderful birth photographers in the area. Some of our favorites to work with are Meredith Westin (she even has a special package for Health Foundations Birth Center!), Raven Ivory, Kadi Tiede, Swaddle Shots and Jen Liv.

Postpartum Resources

Grow Pediatrics: Grow Pediatrics has three locations, Inver Grove Heights, Richfield and St. Paul (at Health Foundations Birth Center!). This group is just wonderful. We love working with their providers and so do many of our families.

Wildtree Wellness: After your baby arrives the dynamics in your family will adjust. Sometimes someone to talk to about this can be very helpful. Wildtree Wellness has lovely providers to support you through postpartum whether it is relationship changes after baby or postpartum depression.

Postpartum Support Minnesota (PPSM): PPSM is a group of mental health & perinatal practitioners, service organizations, and mother volunteers who provide services to those struggling with a pregnancy, loss, or postpartum mood disorder through the Helpline, professional training, our resource list and website.

HCMC Mother Baby Program: The Mother-Baby Program at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis is a wonderful program to help new moms deal with mental health. This program keeps mom and baby together.

The Struggles of Being a Mom

It has been said that motherhood is the hardest and most rewarding thing you will ever do. An anonymous quote says, “Motherhood: The only place you can experience heaven and hell at the same time.” There are days you want to pull your hair out and counting the minutes to bedtime; then once your child is peacefully sleeping you look at them and feel an overwhelming sense of love and actually miss them! Those days when you think you could not possibly do another day; you do indeed!

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There are some common things that are more frustrating than others. Have no fear! You are not alone!

Mornings are the WORST! Mornings especially are stressful once kids are school age or if you are a working mom. Getting everyone out the door on-time and making sure everyone has all that they need can be the definition of insanity. Kids are running around screaming, you are yelling, no one is listening then you may start crying too. Sound familiar? Take a deep breath mama. Or at least try. One way to try and help ease the pain of morning stress is prepping the night before or getting up before the kids do so you can can some things done in peace.

Tantrums can be mind blowing! Mini tantrums can start early, even before the age of one. For some children they continue to get worse and around the age of three or four it can peak. For families with more than one child this can be extra overwhelming. Especially if it happens in public. I know there have been plenty of moms who have left a full cart in the middle of a store, barely holding onto a toddler or two, sweating, red faced and on the verge of tears. All the while you feel that the entire store is staring at you and whispering. Some of them probably are but trust me, there are more that are thinking, “that poor mama”. Again, you are not alone.

Lack of sleep can leave you feeling un-human! Once you become a mother your sleep will never be the same. Unfortunately sleep deprivation enhances every emotion and makes life feel even more intense. In those moments when you haven’t slept a wink and your child won’t cooperate by sleeping, it can feel so frustrating. To top it off your partner can probably sleep right through it. For many mamas naps are not an option because of other children or work. You are not alone. Reach out. It is ok to feel sad and angry.

You may feel like you have lost YOU! Showering feels like a mountain to climb some days. Doing your hair and putting on make-up? Forget about it. Getting up early and exercising? Too tired. Eating healthy and shedding extra baby weight? No energy. Going to see your favorite musician with friends? The kids freak when you leave. Sound about right? Pick one thing at a time and do it anyway. You will feel better after you do. And guess what? Everyone in your family will survive!

For some mothers this is just the tipping point. Talk about it. Find other mamas that are supportive. Laugh about it; sometimes that is all you can do. Have a good cry; it’ll do the body good. Allow yourself to enjoy self care. Whether it is 20-30 minutes after the kids are in bed or a night out with friends. If you have a partner, share with them what you are feeling. They may be feeling the same way. Find a good routine for your family. Kids thrive with routine; even though it can be tough to stick to!

Myths Dispelled About Pregnancy, Labor and Birth

When it comes to pregnancy, labor and birth there is a lot of information out there; some true and some not so true. Between books, Google, family, friends and even many providers there are a lot of myths. For healthy, low-risk women midwifery care is very appropriate as well as out of hospital birth. Statistics show that it is the safest option for low-risk women due to low interventions.

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There are 6 myths that I am going to dispel about pregnancy, labor and birth. These are the most commonly asked questions when a potential mom is inquiring about midwifery care, specifically in an out of hospital birth center. Please note that a hospital that calls their Labor and Delivery Unit a birth center is not in fact a birth center. A true birth center is out of hospital. You will find that in a hospital setting with an Obstetrician many of these topics are looked at quite differently. Midwives and birth centers go by evidence based care.

1st Baby: Many times I hear mamas say '“this is my first baby, I should give birth in a hospital.” The biggest risk factor for having a c-section is the facility you walk into. The same healthy, pregnant woman could have a very different birth experience at three different hospitals with her condition being the same.

Maternal Age: In the world of obstetrics, a woman is considered advanced maternal age after 35 years old. Her pregnancy is referred to as geriatric. As a woman ages, certain risks go up but very slightly. This is no reason to classify a woman over the age of 35 as high-risk. It is natural and normal to get pregnant and give birth to a healthy baby at any age.

GBS Status: At around 36 weeks of pregnancy a test is done with a swab that determines if the mom is GBS+ or GBS-. GBS stands for Group B Strep. This bacteria lives on our body naturally and many times is found in the vagina. If it is, that would classify a mom as GBS+. If you are GBS+ you can still give birth at an out of hospital birth center; it just means extra precautions are taken during labor and postpartum.

Gestational Diabetes: At 28 weeks in pregnancy a test is done to check how the mom is processing sugars. Sometimes women develop gestational diabetes which typically resolves after birth. If the blood sugar comes back from the lab to high, there needs to be changes in diet. Most times through a special diet, blood sugars can be regulated. If this is the case, the mother can give birth at an out of hospital birth center.

Pregnancy Loss: Sadly, many women suffer from pregnancy loss at some point. Most times it is early in pregnancy but sometimes it is not. Whatever your journey is with loss, we are here to support you in your next pregnancy. you can give birth at an out of hospital birth center. Some women take comfort in more monitoring which can be accommodated.

Assisted Reproduction: There are many different ways to help with infertility today. Achieving pregnancy through IVF, IVF-ET, etc. does not mean the pregnancy is high-risk. It is still perfectly acceptable to be seen by a midwife and have an out of hospital birth. Another type of assisted reproduction is insemination or IUI.

This is a brief overview about typical myths. These opinions represent Health Foundations Birth Center practice and may vary from other freestanding birth centers. I will be speaking more on this topic Sunday, September 16th at 10:00am on the MomShow, MyTalk 107.1. Tune in!

If you are interested in having your baby at a birth center, please give us a call and set up a time to come in for a free consultation.

10 Signs Labor Is Near

In Labor

If you’re expecting your first baby, it’s not uncommon to wonder how and if you will know when labor is coming. We’ve all seen the images of women in movies whose water breaks right in the middle of a very important and public moment, followed by a mad dash to the hospital to beat the baby’s arrival. In reality though, the start of labor is a much more progressive and likely less dramatic event. Here are a few signs to watch for that may indicate your body is gearing up for labor. 

  1. Your baby drops: The technical term for baby dropping lower into the pelvis in preparation for birth is lightening. Lightening may occur several weeks before your baby arrives or may not happen until you are in active labor. For some women, they can see a noticeable difference in the location of their bump when they look in the mirror while for others it may be more subtle. When lightening occurs, you will likely feel some added pressure on your bladder and pubic area and you may notice you are using the bathroom as frequently as you did in the first trimester. The good news is, your diaphragm will get some relief and you may be able to breathe a bit easier as the drop will free up some space around your chest.
  2. Nesting: Something about the impending arrival of baby tends to send moms into an organizational frenzy. You may think it’s just your Type A personality but there is actually a very powerful instinct that takes over in those final weeks before baby arrives. If you’re on your knees cleaning the baseboards and organizing baby’s socks by color according to the rainbow, don’t worry, this is completely normal. Just be careful not to overdo it as your body needs rest before the big day.
  3. Exhaustion: When you’re not experiencing a surge of energy for alphabetizing your spice rack, you may be feeling extra exhausted in those final weeks before labor begins. The final stage of pregnancy can be uncomfortable making it difficult to sleep, tougher to move around and leaving you feeling like you’ve run a marathon when you’ve only climbed a flight of stairs. 
  4. Increasing Cramping and Back Pain: You may notice in the final weeks of pregnancy that you are having more cramping and lower backaches than usual. As baby is preparing to make his debut, your body is getting into gear and a lot is happening in that general region to help position baby for birth. Muscles are stretching and joints are loosening due to the release of the hormone relaxin which allows your pelvis to expand for childbirth. Don’t be alarmed by these aches and pains and instead take it as a sign to get off your feet and rest for a bit. If the cramping or pain is severe or is accompanied by bleeding, call your provider to be seen. 
  5. Your weight plateaus: Up until this point, you’ve been consistently gaining as your baby grows to his or her birth weight. In the weeks before labor begins, you might find that you stop gaining weight and may even lose a pound of two. This is nothing to be alarmed by and is actually quite normal in the home stretch.
  6. Dilation and Effacement: Dilation refers to the opening of your cervix while effacement is the measurement of how thinned out it is. As baby puts pressure on your pelvic region and your uterus contacts in preparation for delivery, your cervix will become dilated and effaced. Dilation and effacement can be measured by your provider if you choose to have internal exams leading up to your delivery. The tricky part is that you can be a few centimeters dilated and a percentage effaced for weeks before your delivery. The good news is that it does indicate that labor is coming in the near future and your body is working hard to prepare. Conversely, don’t be discourage if you are not dilated or effaced at your visit as this process can happen at a different point for every woman. 
  7. Feeling loose: Unfortunately, your pelvic muscles and ligaments aren’t the only area of your body affected by the hormone relaxin. Consequently, you may experience other side effects of the release of this hormone into your body such as diarrhea and clumsiness. The good news is that these not so desireable side effects of the increased relaxin levels in your system are a good indication that your body is getting ready for baby!
  8. More frequent Braxton Hicks contractions: Braxton Hicks contractions or prodromal labor, are practice contractions that are usually felt from mid-pregnancy on. In the final weeks of pregnancy, you may notice that you are having more frequent Braxton Hicks contractions that feel more intense than usual. If the contractions are happening closer together, increasing in intensity, lasting a minute or more or seem to fall into a rhythmic pattern, it is likely labor has begun. Call your provider to find out what the next steps are and when you should come in. 
  9. Mucus plug loss: As your cervix begins to soften in preparation for birth, you may experience some mucus discharge. The mucus will be thick and white and may be streaked with blood and dispel gradually or in one clump. This is considered the loss of your mucus plug. The mucus plug is considered the seal to the uterus and its dislodging indicates labor is near.
  10. Your water breaks: The rupture of the amniotic sac is actually much rarer than Hollywood would lead you to believe. Approximately only 15 percent of women experience their water breaking before they are in active labor. Your water breaking may feel like a slow trickle or one gush of fluid but is not usually as dramatic as we see in the movies. If your amniotic sac ruptures, call your provider.

The last month of pregnancy can often feel like an eternity with your big bump, aching back, tired feet and lack of sleep. Try as best you can to use these weeks to rest up for the big task ahead of childbirth. Your baby and body are hard at work preparing for the big day that will be here before you know it. 

Remember also that all women experience the above symptoms at different times and to different degrees, so try not to compare yourself to other pregnant mamas or feel concerned if you don’t match up. Your baby will come when she’s good and ready and it will be one of the greatest moments of your life!

For questions about labor, natural birth and other women’s services, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.

Excerpt: Ten telltale signs labor is on it’s way!

Navigating Picky Eaters and Food Sensitivities

Whether you have a picky eater or a child with food sensitivities, sometimes as a parent you may find yourself having to get creative with snacks and meal planning!

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It can be so easy to fall into the trap of feeding your child a separate meal from everyone else most days; or relying on a not-so-healthy option just to get some food in your child's belly.

One of the reasons that I teach about food introduction is to help avoid pickiness and also to try and alleviate food sensitivities. The most common food sensitivities are nuts, gluten and dairy. If you feel that your child has behavioral difficulties, doesn't sleep well, gets skin rashes or has dark circles under their eyes, I encourage you to get them tested for food sensitivities. Seeing a Naturopath is the way to go as the tests they use is far more extensive.

If you have found yourself in this boat here are some things you can do to get on a different path with your little one.

Start with simple and mild foods and then graduate up to more adventurous options. Choose one veggie at a time and have your child try it every day for a week; even if it is just a bite. If by the end of the week then it is safe to say that one may be a no-go! 

Sweet potatoes and carrots are a nice beginner. My favorite way to serve these is cutting them up into sticks (like fries), coat in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and roast them in the oven until they are soft and a little crispy on the outside. They can be dipped in anything! You could even try a little raw honey. There are so many ways to sneak veggies into meals. A great cook book for this is Deceptively Delicious. You will find ways to hide vegetables in just about anything! There are wonderful dinner options. Plan your meals out. If you can, make it visible for everyone to see so they can know what to expect each evening. One night a week try and make something new with diverse flavors such as a curry dish. The other nights of the week can be easy and basic, a protein, a veggie and a grain. Some ideas are tacos, pasta, grill packets, omelets. 

There is always the tried and true smoothie idea. Bananas cover up just about anything! Stuff your blender with fruits and spinach; for a dairy free option use coconut or almond milk as your liquid. For good fats, I just found a wonderful coconut milk yogurt called CoYo. It is amazing how many great products are out there to help with food sensitivities. Here are my favorite go-to snacks:

Larabars: While these do have nuts, they are a great snack to keep in your bag with you. There are so many flavors! My favorite is Cinnamon Roll!

Bitsy's: These tasty snacks are organic, allergen friendly and they sneak in veggies! They have crackers and cookies available.

Seaweed Snacks: This may not be for everyone but you would be surprised how many kids love them! They come in their own little package and are very healthy! I have found that Trader Joe's sells them for only $.99 a package!

Popcorn: There good brands out there but this is an easy snack to make at home. I suggest cooking your own on the stove; it is easy and takes about 5 minutes. Sprinkle some salt and a little butter. To make it sweet add some maple syrup.

Natural Fruit Strips: Target's Simply Balanced brand is organic and cost effective. If you like to cook, here is a fun recipe to try!

Fruit & Veggie Pouches: You can't go wrong with these! They are full of fruits and vegetables. They are quick and easy. Again, if you want to make your own, you can buy reusable squeeze pouches!

Remember, you are doing a great job! Feeding little ones can be tricky and sometimes us moms put so much pressure on ourselves. Many of these options are easy and quick.

 

 

 

Dr. Amy's Favorite Things for Pregnancy, Birth and Postpartum

Over the years after working with so many mamas and of course my own children I have come across many products and ideas; some have worked wonders and some not. I would love to share my thoughts about my favorite things that I used and recommend!

PREGNANCY

Pregnancy Support Band: As your baby bump grows you will start to feel pressure on your pelvis. One great way to help ease the discomfort is a support band. This provides support under your belly. My favorite brand is www.babybellyband.com

Chiropractic Care: I highly recommend chiropractic care throughout pregnancy. It helps so much with alignment which can easily be thrown off in pregnancy. Good positioning of your baby is helpful for labor and birth. Regular chiropractic care is proven to help shorten labor and pushing. Dr. Amber Moravec with Naturally Aligned works right out of Health Foundations Birth Center. Of course I love her! She specializes in pregnancy and newborns.

BIRTH

Birth Plan Flexibility: I am a big fan of birth plans. I do like to think more of it a birth preferences. The thing about labor and birth is that it is different for everyone. There are guidelines of what a "text book birth" looks like which is great but everyone IS different. Things come up; things change. Try and keep an open mind and remain flexible for change.

POSTPARTUM

Double Electric Pump: Whether you are a working mama or not, having a pump is essential. Even if you are not working you will want to pump and introduce a bottle for times you are away. If you are going back to work you will want a good pump that is easy to transport. Check out our class PumpTalk 101; it is very helpful for coming up with a plan on introducing pumping. There are many good brands out there but I prefer Medela or Spectra

Hands-Free Pumping Bra: Along with a good pump, get a hands-free pumping bra! That way you can do other things like work on a computer or read a book. Try the Easy Expression Bustier.

Medela Hydrogel Pads: Even with a great latch your nipples will be tender the first few days. The Medela Tender Care Hydrogel Pads are heavenly. They are re-usable and help soothe your nipples. If you have cracked or bleeding nipples please reach out to lactation consultant right away. 

Bottle-warmer: Bottle warmers are a huge time saver. You never want to use a microwave to heat breastmilk or formula; it kills the nutrients and heats it unevenly. You can heat by placing in warm water but that takes a long time. The bottle warm is quick and heats the milk evenly. 

Nursing Tank: Nursing bras are great but nursing tanks are all you need in the first couple of weeks. They are easy and low-maintenance. Bravado has a great one; it is loose and comfortable during postpartum. You will find yourself living in it.

Woombie: I am a big fan of swaddling. When your baby was in-utero they were cozy and warm and didn't have a lot of space to move around. Think of swaddling as mimicking that space outside of the womb. It can be very calming for them and help promote good, restful sleep. I like the woombie because it is very easy to use and the shape of it is comfy for your babe. Swaddling should end by 2.5 months because of the possibility of rolling over.

Pacifier vs Fingers: Pacifiers in my opinion are awesome. Babies love to suck for comfort, it is very soothing. If you are breastfeeding you may find yourself constantly comfort nursing and it can be overwhelming. Pacifiers can help soothe your baby when cranky or tired. It can also help extend sleep. Sometimes parents are afraid of using one and will use their pinky finger to soothe. The problem is, your finger is attached to you! I remember hearing a mom say, "why don't they make fake fingers for babies?!" One popular brand is Avent Soothees.

Stroller with Click-In Carseat: Even if you love wearing your baby, a stroller is essential! Find one that works with your infant carseat. That way if your baby is sleeping you do not have to disturb them. Until your baby is sitting up strollers can be awkward and not very supportive to your baby's head and neck.