Pregnancy and Postpartum Uncensored

Let's be honest ladies, there are many things that happen during pregnancy and postpartum that no one ever told you about. In the moment they are far from funny but looking back all you can do is laugh!

Pregnancy Uncensored

No Control Over Gas: Starting in early pregnancy our digestive system does all kinds of strange things we are not used to. Gas being one of them. And it only gets worse as pregnancy progresses! This can happen in the most inopportune times...

Hiccups and Belching: Ladies with manners goes out the window. There is no stopping it. It doesn't matter what you eat or drink, it is happening! Thank your lovely digestive system once again.

Unpredictable Emotions: You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll probably yell. Emotions are up and down throughout pregnancy. They can change on a dime any time of day. Commercials alone can get the tears flowing. Hunger can cause an angry outburst. The next minute you may find yourself dying of laughter. 

Wetting Your Pants: It could be a sneeze, a cough or a good belly laugh that causes it. It could be a trickle or a gush. The pressure on your bladder is no joke mamas! You may want to keep a pair of clean undies in your purse.

Nipple Changes and Pain: It is amazing how your body changes during pregnancy. Women's nipples and areoles become quite dark and large. The reason for this is for breastfeeding. It makes it easier for the baby to see them. But it can be quite alarming! Side note: if you are pregnant in winter, watch out! Cold temps can cause a stabbing pain in your already sensitive nipples!

Postpartum Uncensored

Bleeding and Mesh Underwear: Most of us are not prepared for the month long bleeding that comes after birth. Fun times. No period for 9 months and then BAM! 3-6 weeks of bleeding. To accommodate this you will be given mesh underwear with a pad that is more like a diaper. Victoria's Unkept Secret.

Hair Falling Out: A few months after your bundle of joy has arrived, your glorious pregnancy hair may fall out at an alarming rate. Don't worry- Although it may seem like you'll lose it all, you won't. Your body is just readjusting. During pregnancy you don't lose much hair at all so it is just making up for lost time!

First Postpartum Poop: This is definitely not discussed ahead of time and there should be a forewarning! After giving birth, which might feel like a huge bowel movement, the last thing you want to do is actually have a bowel movement! The pressure can feel kind of scary, but I promise your insides will not fall out even though it feels like they might!

Labial Swelling: Whether you push for 15 min or 2 hours, there will be swelling- probably lots of it. You may not recognize yourself down there. Stick with ice packs and 3-4 sitz baths per day. The swelling goes down! 

Hemorrhoids: This little cluster of grapes on your backside can happen in pregnancy, labor, birth AND postpartum. It is part of why the first postpartum poop is so uncomfortable. Have no fear, they do get better. Those lovely sitz baths will help immensely!

Pregnancy and postpartum is a very special time in a woman's life. It is beautiful and messy all at the same time. All laughs aside, if you are struggling during your postpartum time or something just doesn't seem right, please reach out. There are many resources in the Twin Cities such as, Postpartum Support Minnesota http://www.ppsupportmn.org, WildTree Psychotherapy http://wildtreewellness.com and Iris Reproductive Psychiatric Clinic http://www.irisreproductivepsychiatry.com

 

 

Welcome Jessica Gustafson with Reverie Acupuncture!

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Name: Jessica Gustafson

Hometown:  St Paul, MN

Family: I live with my husband Eric, our daughter Aila and our two cats, Ginger and Renni

With Health Foundations since:  December of 2017

My role at Health Foundations: I currently do community acupuncture on-site and offer outcall services for private appointments www.reverieacupuncture.com

Educational Background and training: In 2011 I attended Northwestern Health Science University’s (NWHSU) Massage Program, graduating with my AAS in Massage in 2012. After this program I immediately began NWHSU’s Master’s program in Oriental Medicine completing my degree in 2015 and I attained my NCCAOM Diplomate status later the same year. While I attended this program, I also pursued a certification in CranioSacral techniques from the Heartwood Institute. My internships included the DeRusha Clinic, the Edith Davis Acupuncture Clinic and Dispensary, the Bloomington Natural Care Clinic, the Salvation Army, the Masonic Children's hospital, the University of Minnesota Medical Center and the Regions hospital orthopedic wing. As a student employee I also worked for over 3 years at the Pillsbury house integrated clinic as their clinic coordinator.

Favorite thing when not at Health Foundations: I like a nice, sunny day off where I can drink tea, hang out with my family and get things done around the house at a leisurely pace, catching up on my reading and petting the cats.

Travel anywhere: This might be cheating because it's multiple places, but my “I just won the lottery” vacation would be to take six months and: Fly to Austria and hang out with a friend, then go up through Denmark, Sweden and Norway stopping at various Viking monuments and my family's home town. Then to Iceland for some spas, down though Scotland, Ireland and Britain to visit distilleries and other friends. Over to Toronto, down to Baltimore, to Ohio, to Tennessee, then Texas, Oklahoma, through the mountains and up to Washington and finally coming back through the mountains to home with about a month to decompress.

Super power: I would like the ability to stop time so I could put my feet up or get things done, as needed.

Inspiration to be an acupuncturist: I always knew that I wanted to work with people, helping them to meet health goals but I didn’t know what that would look like until I got to college. I decided to go to massage school as a way to learn a skill and found that I loved it but it wasn’t quite right. The more I learned about the acupuncture program the more sure I became that that was the direction I wanted to go. It wasn’t until my last year of acupuncture school that my focus began to shift from musculoskeletal conditions and mental health support to women’s health and pediatrics, but it’s been a passion of mine ever since.

What I love about Health Foundations: When I gave birth at Health Foundations, the thing that struck me time and time again was how warm and supportive the staff were. People were excited to see you for your appointments and genuinely interested in your progress. It was on a whole different plane than any other medical experience I’ve had. I’m looking forward to being part of the team and helping new mamas and their families feel the same support and care I had.

Birth philosophy: All babies are different, all mamas are different and all births are different. We can make the “best” possible decisions and plans and still be surprised. Like the rest of life, it’s about going with the flow - let the birth be what it’s going to be.

Advice for mamas: You are strong, you are amazing but it's ok to feel like you can’t do it and lean on your support system to catch your breath. This goes for during the birth and after. Always remember that you’re not alone.

How to learn more: You can visit my website at www.reverieacupuncture.com or follow me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/reverieacupuncture/ or Instagram https://www.instagram.com/reverie_acupuncture/.

If you’d like to get a head start, download the intake forms here www.reverieactupunture.com/community and bring them to the next community acupuncture night. Community Acupuncture is held at Health Foundations Birth Center every Wednesday and Friday evening from 5:00-8:00pm.

 

 

Is This Normal?!: Common Questions and Concerns During Pregnancy

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Along with excitement, pregnancy can bring many questions and concerns. Your body is changing rapidly. Each week seems to bring a new change; some delightful and some not! Most of the changes and symptoms are very normal. You may experience all of them or none at all. That is normal too! Below you will find common pregnancy discomforts, why they happen and a tip on how to help alleviate.

Round Ligament Pain: As your baby grows, your belly grows and with that, many women experience round ligament pain. It feels like sharp twinges/muscle pull usually on the right or left side of the lower uterus. The pain is usually relieved within a minute or two. Change positions to help and also massage the area with your hand. Chiropractic care can help if this is something that happens frequently. Also try sleeping with a pillow between your legs, this provides more uterine support.

Leg Cramps: Legs cramps are quite common in pregnancy and can occur in response to carrying extra weight, changes in circulation, or mineral deficiencies. These sudden, painful cramps in your legs may wake you in the middle of the night. Helpful treatments include:  walking daily, stretching your calf muscles regularly, wearing low healed shoes, and eating foods that are high in calcium and magnesium. A liquid calcium magnesium supplement can be great, discuss this with your healthcare provider.

Trouble Sleeping: Sleep disruptions start early on in pregnancy, usually beginning with having to urinate more frequently during the night. Getting comfortable can be troublesome as well. Along with this, changing hormones can cause your body to have trouble falling and/or staying asleep. Purchase a body pillow, this can help support your body physically. Some other things to try are: take an epsom salt bath before bed, add some lavender essential oil, exercise 30 minutes daily, avoid coffee and eat small meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar level.

Constipation: Hormone changes slow down your bowels and can cause constipation. This is normal in pregnancy but there are things you can do to help. Drink 8-10 glasses of water per day, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables each day. A good calcium magnesium supplement can help with this too! 

Darkening of Complexion: ‘Chloasma’ or “mask of pregnancy” refers to darkened patches on your face. These dark patches tend to fade away few months after delivery. To try and help reduce the darkening, use sunscreen daily and wear a hat if you are in the direct sunlight.

Bleeding Gums: Bleeding gums are a common complaint in pregnancy. Most of it has to do with hormonal changes. These hormonal changes also make you more susceptible to bacteria in plaque so it is important to keep up with regular dental visits during pregnancy.

Nausea/Vomiting: Nausea and vomiting is common and normal in pregnancy. Again, it is due to hormones. For many women it starts around week 6 and tapers off at week 12. Other women may experience this symptom long after that or during their entire pregnancy. Drinking plenty of water and eating small frequent meals that include protein is a great way to stave off nausea. This is a symptom you should always share with your midwife or doctor in case your symptoms are severe.

Always consult with your provider before starting new supplements during pregnancy. 

Health Foundations Birth Center is a free-standing birth center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Our midwives provide integrative care for our families. We would love to have you come in and learn more about our services! Schedule a consult or tour today!

Reproductive Life Plans: Thoughtfully Considering Your Childbearing Years

Written by Katrina Wu, CNM, MSN

What is a reproductive life plan?

Creating a reproductive life plan is about providing a framework for considering how you want to build your family. With half of pregnancies unplanned in the United States, being thoughtful about how you approach this life season helps you to approach your childbearing years with purpose.

At its core, a reproductive life plan is asking these questions:

  • Do you want to have children?
  • If so, how many children would you like to have?
  • At what timeframe in your life would you like to have them?
  • What values guide your approach to family planning?

These questions help women proactively take charge of their fertility and also provide insight into the most appropriate choice for contraception and family planning options.

Contraception

There’s no, one perfect contraception method for everyone.  Are you good at faithfully taking pills every day or would you prefer a method that doesn’t require you to think about it? Do you have any menstrual issues that might improve with taking hormonal contraception, like irregular or heavy periods? How soon do you want to get pregnant? How important is it to you that you have a highly effective method? Discussing your current situation and desires with your healthcare provider can help you find the best fit for you and your current situation. The chart below demonstrates the various contraceptive options available based on their efficacy.

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Ways to build families

There are many ways to form your family. Some families are all biologically related, while others form through family blending following a new marriage, still other families are created through adoption. Same-sex families or families who walk a more difficult journey to pregnancy may conceive by donor sperm, donor eggs, or with the help of a surrogate. A reproductive life plan is meant to be fluid and flexible. Having an adjustable plan can help you navigate the unexpected that life brings.

Example of forming a plan

Let’s see how Anna thinks through her own reproductive life plan. She’s a 24 year old who is about to start graduate school and is engaged to be married. They currently use condoms for contraception because birth control pills caused her to have mood swings and feel a little depressed. To begin answering the reproductive life plan questions, they do want to eventually have children – perhaps 2 or 3. They would like to wait to have children for at least 3-4 more years, so that Anna can graduate and be established in her career first. They hope to be done having children by around age 35. Their timeline for having children aligns well with the number of children they want to have. She values contraceptive options that keep her mood steady, and is interested in non-hormonal options. After receiving counseling on all her options, she ultimately decided on a copper intrauterine device (IUD). Because they are not planning to have children for awhile, she liked that she wouldn’t need to remember something daily and that it would be effective for up to ten years. She appreciated that it did not contain any hormones, and that the effectiveness is so high.

By forming a reproductive life plan, you can proactively navigate your childbearing years and achieve your goals for your family.

Health Foundations Birth Center provides well woman care for all ages. We provide contraception counseling and can also provide the type of contraception you decide on. Make an appointment today!

Top 10 Taboo Topics for Moms

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Let's face it mamas. There are some topics that get brought up in our every day lives as mothers that strike a cord. We have put together a list of 10 common "taboo topics" that frequently come up for new moms including advice on how to avoid hurt feelings. This journey is full of joy and bumps in the road. Let's come together as a community of women and support each other in our choices.

Breastfeeding vs. Bottlefeeding: This can be a very touchy subject for some.  Some mamas breastfeed for years, others do it for months or weeks, some don't try nursing at all for personal reasons and there are those who simply cannot breastfeed — and that's all okay. Breastfeeding has great health benefits for babies, but pediatricians still say formula-feeding is a fine alternative. If feeding preferences comes up in conversation, be open to everyone's point of view and personal experience.

Cloth vs. Disposable Diapers: In the past few years, cloth diapers have made a huge comeback. There are so many options! For some families this is the way to go but for others it can feel like a higher maintenance option. Disposable diapers can be much more convenient for busy families. Or you can do both! Either way, try and avoid voicing strong opinions on how someone else should cover their baby's bum.

Circumcision: The word alone can start an argument these days! There are many respected organizations to help inform you on making this decision. The American Academy of Pediatrics, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Family Physicians, maintains that there is not enough data to medically recommend or oppose circumcision. This is a very personal decision for families to make on their own.

Baby's Name: Parents put months into choosing a baby name. This new little person has this name forever! It is a huge decision. Some families chose to share the name ahead of time, some don't. It can be good to wait if you can because it is unlikely for someone to comment negatively once they see your sweet one! If a friend shares her list of baby name ideas and asks for your advice, let her know your favorites, but keep any negative comments to yourself.

Birth Experience: Moms often feel a little defensive about their birth choices because everyone seems to have an opinion about it. Whether it is at a birth center, hospital or at home, every mama has the right to choose. Some mothers are more comfortable the natural route while others want an epidural. There is no reason to feel guilty about your choices. Birth is a beautiful experience either way. Lend an ear to your friend and be sensitive to her wishes.

Working Mom or Stay at Home Mom: Either route you take is has it's own challenges. Working after baby for some comes as a relief and families find good balance doing this. Other moms are passionate about staying at home with their child. There is no right way or wrong way. On either side of the fence, at the end of the day, moms need support during this journey of motherhood.

Sleep: Sleep deprivation is a very real scenario in the first few weeks of having a newborn. Some get lucky and have a baby that loves to sleep and wakes only to be fed in the night. Other parents struggle with long sleepless hours in the night. This can be very hard. People love to give advice in this area. This again is a personal journey. There are many methods to helping your baby sleep, take time to find the right option for your family.

Conception and Fertility: It isn't polite to ask about a baby's conception. Some people are not at all afraid to ask questions that are personal and this can be offensive. "‘Was it planned? Was it a surprise? How long did it take to get pregnant?'" Or if there are twins, "Were they natural?" or "Did you have fertility treatment?" Just be happy for the parents and congratulate them. If they would like to share their journey of conception they will.

Parenting Style: No two mothers have the same exact parenting style. You will find there are many different labeled styles and methods. Some families may stick to one or find a balance with a couple. The important piece is finding what fits your family best. All moms seek advice and wisdom from others but try and avoid commenting on another mom's methods, like saying she coddles too much.

Baby's Size and Development: All babies grow and reach certain milestones at their own pace. Comments on a baby's size and questions about whether she's sitting up, crawling, walking, or talking can be wearing on a mom, especially if her baby is way ahead of or behind the curve. It is one thing if it is a conversation between friends but in passing, try to avoid doing this.

The most important thing to remember is this: We are all in this together mamas. Let's support each other the best that we can.

10 Surprising Facts About Your Newborn

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Newborn babies may be small and need a lot of caring for but they are such a wonder! It is amazing what they can do. Here are some surprising and interesting facts about your newborn.

Vernix: Many babies are born with vernix on their bodies. If your baby comes past his due date, there will probably very little. Every baby has a thick coat of vernix in utero. Its main benefit is its anti-microbial properties which protects your baby’s delicate skin from the acidic levels of your amniotic fluid. Rather than wiping or washing it away, rub it into your baby's skin. The World Health Organization recommends leaving it for at least 24 hours.

Skin to Skin: It is no secret how important skin to skin contact is with your baby; not just right after birth either! Skin to skin is beneficial for weeks. Laying with your baby this way, supports breastfeeding, regulates her body temperature, and greatly reduces stress. Studies have shown that it reduces the risk of postpartum depression in mother's as well.

Baby Poop: Get used to talking about your baby's poop! Your baby's first poop is called meconium. It is dark, tarry and consists of amniotic fluid, secretions of the intestinal glands, bile pigments, fatty acids, and intrauterine debris. It can be hard to wipe off! It is helpful to put some olive oil on your baby's bum, this will help get the meconium off easily. If breastfeeding, your baby's poop will transition to a mustard yellow and will look seedy. This is normal! Your baby's poop won't change to brown until solid foods are introduced.

Taste buds: By the early age of 13 weeks gestation, your baby's taste buds are fully formed. Your baby can taste everything you eat through the amniotic fluid. Research shows that baby's have a predisposition to like sweet flavors more; your breast milk has a sweet flavor.

Vision: Newborns are very nearsighted; they can focus no further than 6-10 inches away. Baby's enjoy looking at your face but don't see the details. Newborns don't see color well and focus better on black and white images however, they develop color vision very quickly.

Crying: Newborns are born with working tear ducts and glands, but only enough to lubricate the eyes. You won't see any tears when your baby cries until about 1 to 3 months of age. As far as crying goes, your baby cries for many different reasons. The most common are hunger, thirst, dirty diaper, wanting to be held and being tired.

Eating: Babies are born with a very tiny stomach which makes sense because before your breast milk is in, your baby will only eat small amounts of colostrum, albeit very frequently! To give you an idea of just how small their tummy is, on day one it is the size of a cherry and should only take in 1-1.4 teaspoons at each feeding. By one month it is the size of a large egg.

Sleep: During the first 24 hours of life outside the womb, your baby will take a decent nap for a few hours at around 6 hours of age. From 0-3 your baby's sleep pattern will very likely look nothing like yours! Their sleep schedule can range from every 45 minutes to 3-4 hours any given day. This is normal. Their circadian rhythm takes time adjust.

Reflexes: Newborns are born with several different reflexes that disappear over the next few months. The rooting reflex happens when you touch your baby's cheek and signifies hunger; this disappears at 3-4 months. The stepping reflex is present at birth. If you put your baby's feet on a flat surface, he will march his legs up and down like walking; this disappears at 2-4 months. These are just a couple!

Hearing: Within 10 minutes of birth, your baby's hearing is sophisticated enough to determine where a sound is coming from.

Newborns aren't newborns for very long! This time is wonderfully challenging and beautiful. Take it one day at a time.

Health Foundations Birth Center has a Moms Group that meets weekly on Thursdays at 2:30. This group is free and open to the public. This is a great way to connect with other mamas! We hope to see you there.

 

Conversations for Parents-To-Be to Have Before Baby Arrives

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Welcoming a baby into the world as a couple of a very exciting time! Perhaps this was something you planned for months or maybe your baby was a surprise; either way there are so many wonderful things to prepare and look forward to. There are also decisions to be made on how to parent right from the beginning. Rather that bring these up as you go and possibly have arguments, we have made a list for you so you can talk before your sweet baby arrives! Start early! Thankfully, you have nine months to get squared away on these sometimes tough topics. It always helps to get information so that you can discuss with facts, not just opinion.

  • Where to deliver? Hospital, Free-standing Birth Center, Home?
  • Family bed or crib right away? Some families choose to co-sleep and have a family-bed until a certain age; others may choose to have the baby in their own crib.
  • His last name, her last name or combine the two? Whether married or not, this is a decision that will have to be made at some point before your baby arrives for the birth certificate.
  • To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? In recent years, this has become a hot topic! There is a lot of information out there, be sure to use reliable sources.
  • Hold them to sleep or cry it out? Another hot topic. Some have strong advice about this and it comes at you in all directions! Take time to just make a decision together.
  • Daycare or stay at home parent? Some parents take the plunge to quit their job and be a full-time stay at home parent. There is a right answer for everyone. Try and write down the pros and cons to help you make a decision.
  • Sex after baby... The average safe time to begin having sex is 6 weeks but that doesn't mean both parties with be ready. A woman's body goes through a lot when it comes to birth, it is okay to wait until you are comfortable and important to set some expectations.
  • Placenta, keep it or toss it? There are different ways to keep your placenta; placenta encapsulation, planting it, and more. It is okay to toss it too!
  • If it's a boy...circumcising or intact? This is a very personal decision for families and definitely one to discuss ahead of time!
  • Who will be in the room during birth and after? Grandma, grandpa, a sibling, a friend, a doula?
  • Dad during birth? Discuss the kind of support you would like from him.
  • Night duty. Talk about ways you can share the parenting role at night. Perhaps dad on diaper duty and mom on nursing.

This is a good place to start. Try to talk about the bigger topics one at a time and if the conversation gets heated, take a break and come back to it!

 

 

Top 5 Things to Have a Successful Start to School

It won't be long before it is time for kids to head back to school! Along with school supplies and new clothes and shoes there are great ways to help prepare your children for a successful start to the school year.

1. Start the day with a good breakfast that includes protein. We have all heard the importance of a good breakfast. For kids, it is very important to eat a good meal before a full day of learning. Including protein in the meal will help tide them over until snack or lunch. Here are some simple ideas even for the pickiest eaters!

  • Eggs, bacon/sausage and wholegrain toast
  • Pancakes or waffles cooked with protein powder, these can be made ahead of time and frozen
  • Fruit smoothie with protein powder

2. A good night's rest is essential. Children between ages 6-11 need 9 to 11 hours of sleep per night. In this day and age of electronics and constant stimulation this can be hard for some families. Here are some tips:

  • Start a bedtime routine and follow it diligently each night, even on weekends if possible
  • Turn off the TV and electronics at least one hour prior to bedtime as this is very stimulating to the brain
  • Read a book or have your child read a book before bed
  • A sound machine can be soothing as well as diffusing essential oils

3. Add a supplement or two to their diet. Adding supplements into your child's diet can help with their immunity, nutrition and brain development. It is important to buy quality supplements; a good place to look is your local co-op. Here are some supplement options:

  • Multi-vitamin: a food based option is a great choice
  • Vitamin D-3: This will help keep your child's immunity strong
  • Fish Oil: We love Nordic Naturals, they are small, chew-able and kids love the taste

4. Make space for family check ins. Does your family have a regular time to check in with each other? This could be during after school snack, family dinner or bedtime.

  • Learn to talk about emotions and how to manage emotions
  • Set aside a specific time each day
  • Create a safe space in your family for everyone to be heard

5. Be prepared the night before. Getting ready for the morning the night before will help the morning go smoother for you and your child.

  • Pack lunches and snacks
  • Make sure homework is complete, checked and put in the backpack
  • Have clothes ready and laid out

As the new school year approaches try and set aside a special day for your family to celebrate the new year. Best wishes to you and your family for the year ahead!

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