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.

Help Support The Global Big Latch On

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For the past 8 years Health Foundations Birth Center has had the honor of being a site for supporting the Big Latch On. The Big Latch On is a global movement to raise awareness and provide support to breastfeeding mothers. This year we are very excited to be partnering with Blooma for this wonderful event. Global Big Latch On events take place at registered locations around the world.

Some of the goals of the Big Latch On are: 

  • Provide support for communities to identify and grow opportunities to provide on-going breastfeeding support and promotion in local communities.
  • Raise awareness of breastfeeding support and knowledge available locally and globally.
  • Help communities positively support breastfeeding in public places.
  • Make breastfeeding as normal part of day-to-day life at a local community level.
  • Increase support for women who breastfeed - women are supported by their partners, family and their communities.
  • Ensure communities have the resources to advocate for coordinated appropriate and accessible breastfeeding support services.

Last year the total attendance was 50,383 people! 

We would love you to be a part of this movement with us. This year we are participating on August 3rd starting at 10:00am. Please sign up here! We will be having snacks and handing out goodie bags. Blooma will be leading a Bring Your Own Baby Yoga Class right after the latch on.

Sex After Baby: A Guide to Comfortable Postpartum Sex

Written by Jillian Wood, Women's Health Nurse Practitioner

When your provider gives you the go ahead for sex after baby (usually around six weeks and when postpartum bleeding has stopped), does that mean that you should feel ready? Nope. We want you to decide on your own watch. Your birth story, amount of healing, fatigue level, emotional readiness, or even just finding the time, all play a part. 

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Maybe you’ve been counting down the days until you can jump in the sack with your person again. But, that day is here and… I’m not ready!

Maybe your indefinite plan is to never have sex again… I just pushed out a human, thank you very much!

Getting back in the groove can take time and it is normal normal normal to have fears and reservations. 

What’s the hold up?

Here’s what other moms are saying:

“I’m scared that it will hurt.”

At first, I can’t promise you that it won’t be different. If you feel uncomfortable, listen to your body. You may have to stop before you’ve even begun and that is OK! Give yourself permission to just try again another day. Or, slow it down and spend some time with foreplay. Remember the lubrication. Hormonal changes in your body can lead to vaginal dryness, especially when breastfeeding. Take a minute to breathe and consciously relax your body from head-to-toe feeling that last bit of tension release. It may take patience and encouragement to convince your muscles and tissue to stretch. 

“I’m not feeling sexy.”

You’ve started viewing yourself as a milk-making-mom-machine. I promise you, your partner still thinks you’re sexy. Your body feels soft and your breasts are leaking. I promise you, your partner still thinks you’re sexy. To boost the mood, give each other a little massage with some awesome body oil. Sneak away while baby has a full belly and a fresh diaper. Or, try sex first thing in the morning after you’ve both had a few hours of consecutive sleep. If you’re worried about breastmilk mishaps, put on a supportive bra (maybe two) and tuck in a couple breast pads. Or just throw it out there, Hey honey, if my milk lets down, I may want to take a commercial break. 

“Reaching orgasm is impossible.”

Postpartum orgasm can be difficult to achieve. Inability to orgasm can be due to low pelvic tone, hormone changes, fatigue, stress, or all of the above. Psst (I’ll just set this right here)… researchers conclude that anywhere between 40-80% of women need direct clitoral stimulation to achieve orgasm. So, there’s that. To improve your pelvic tone, basic kegel exercise is a good place to start. For the sake of simplicity, be like Nike and Just Do It. When you find a few minutes of down time (in the shower, staring at the coffee pot, waiting in the car for 30 minutes in the parent-pickup line at preschool) alternate quick and slow pumps (try to hold for 10 seconds) ideally three times a day. You can’t screw this up. Don’t forget to contract the rectum as well. It can only help. 

Some women have to work quite hard to restore pelvic tone. If you are concerned about your difficulty with kegel exercise, incontinence, or inability to orgasm, call the birth center. Your body may need more than simple home exercises and some women benefit from the help of a physical therapist. 

7 Quick Tips for Comfortable Postpartum Sex:

  1. Share your fears and what you’re excited about. Maybe your partner is even worried about hurting you. Talk more about it. When that time comes, it will be more fun and less scary.
  2. What’s your birth control/family planning story? There will be time to talk options at the 6-week postpartum checkup.
  3. Put the lubrication at the bedside. Coconut oil is a perfect semi-solid natural option. If you’re using a condom, choose a water-soluble option instead. 
  4. Communicate your needs. Is one position more comfortable than another? Do you need to stop or slow it down? Tell your partner; It will build trust and be better for everyone. 
  5. Penetration isn’t recommended until after 6 weeks. This is due to increased risk of infection and the need for healing. But, if you are feeling sexual and it feels good, find your orgasm in other ways. 
  6. Remember that it will get easier. It will get better.
  7. Nothing embarrasses your midwife. If you are having problems in the bedroom, we hope that you won’t hesitate to reach out for help. 

Allowances, Chores & Money Jars: How to Teach Kids to Manage Money

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This past Sunday on the MomShow one of the topics we discussed was starting to teach kids how to manage money. One of the ways we talked about helping kids understand finances is to make money jars for their allowance and other money they receive. When they divide their money into separate jars they are learning responsibility and setting goals from the very beginning. After the show my daughter, Isla and I, gathered the supplies necessary to make money jars for our house.

I didn’t want to make this a complicated or involved process. We went to Michaels and purchased small glass jars and chalkboard stickers. I realized once we got home that we didn’t have chalk but we had a gold marker so we used that to write on the stickers. We made eight jars, four for each child. All the supplies totaled $12.43.

We decided to make four different jars: Save, Spend, Give and College. We assigned a percentage to each jar: Save 10%, Spend 70%, Give 10% and College 10%. At the beginning of summer, we started a points system at home for doing chores or being helpful around the house. Points are assigned to tasks and tallied over the course of the week. Every 5 points = $1. Money is paid on Friday. Now that we have the kid's money jars, the money will be divided between the jars based on the percentages above. This system has worked for our family. We have tried charts and more complicated things in the past that have not worked. As you can see from the pictures, we are sticking with simple; and simple is what we are all able to commit to so far.

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My kids are 9 and 11 years old. I decided to include a fourth jar for College to introduce the expectation of some sort of schooling after high school. I think this jar can be optional. Save, Spend and Give would be a great place to start, especially if you have younger children.

Check out Dr. Amy's recent talk on the MomShow here!

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What Parents Can Do While Raising Kids to Set Them Up Financially

written by: Cassandra Brashier

“Being a parent and raising a family is easy” - said No Parent Ever. Let’s try to break it down in some bite size pieces. Here are some things to consider financially while you’re raising those little darlings…

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Life Insurance: There are as many opinions about life insurance as there are Taxis in New York. This topic for most people is right up there with having a root canal. However, death is never timely. Try to look at life insurance as an act of love rather than a burden to bear. If you have a family and you provide for that family, either with a paycheck or by running the house (or both), then you provide an economic value and one that should be protected. What would happen if your paycheck stopped coming into the bank account every month? Let alone you not being there for the day to day tasks. Today there are so many different kinds of insurance at many different price points.  The amount appropriate will largely depend on your specific situation.  If you don’t have any now – anything you get will be better than nothing.  For example having 1X your income would keep the family going for about a year. Although, it is not uncommon to have 10 years or more factored in as well as things such as college costs, funeral expenses, etc. The right amount can’t be determined by a ‘strict rule of thumb’.  

Funding College: There are many questions people have about how to save for their children’s future education costs.  One of the most common ways is to start a 529 plan. This type of account allows you to put money in and others can contribute as well. So when Grandma Charity says she wants to help fund Wisdom’s college fund, she can do that.  A 529 plan can now also be used for elementary and high school. There are other strategies available like Coverdell ESA’s and if set up a certain way, life insurance policies can also be used as a strategy to fund college. Which one is right for you depends on your goals, income and situation. 

UTMA & UGMA Accounts: Don’t know that your kids will be college bound?  The sky’s the limit with these accounts.  It can be utilized for school or to fund that Tech start-up they’ve been dreaming about and any number of other options. The pros is that it’s more flexible then the 529 plan and there are no contribution limits.  The cons are that it is taxed along the way and upon the child reaching the age of majority, the funds transfer to them and the adult no longer has any say or control over the money. But thankfully most 18 year old’s are responsible money managers, right?! 

Having a Will or Trust: Once kids are in the picture you have a lot of decisions to make. Daily. This is an important one though: What would you want to happen to your kids if both parents weren’t there to raise them?  If you don’t have a Will or Trust in place then the state is going to step in and make the decision who will raise your kids. So not having a Will doesn’t mean you don’t have a plan, it’s just going to be the State’s plan. Do your kids a favor and put one in place and be sure to name a guardian who would be responsible for the assets on their behalf.  

Kids Life Insurance: With this topic most people assume the worst.  When in reality this could provide some long-term benefits to your child. Most people will become uninsurable at some point in their life.  For many it will be later in life but for some of us things happen or we are diagnosed with something before adulthood and that could prevent us from ever qualifying for life insurance (or make the cost extremely high).  This is one of the main reasons to at last have something for a child.  Either way having it and not needing is every parents hope. 

Beneficiaries: As parents we work hard to build up our assets and have life insurance for protection and it’s usually intended to be passed down to our children.  It can seem logical to have them listed then as our beneficiaries but if they are minors it’s not recommended.  A minor cannot take control of assets so they wouldn’t be able to access the funds as easily (a guardian will have to be appointed if there isn’t one already) in the event of a tragedy. If the child/children are special needs and have assistance this can also affect the funds they receive and could impact if they continue to qualify.  The best way to pass your assets along will depend on your situation. 

If you’re still reading and haven’t poked your eyes out, congratulations! (no offense to any pirates in the audience)

Allowance:  If kids can understand at an early age they have to do something to have money, they will have learned a valuable life lessonHelp them start good money habits by saving a portion of everything and watching that accumulate. Set financial goals with them for things they want to buy.  These can all be great tools to teaching kids good financial habits for their life! 

There isn’t a ones size fits all and so much of raising kids and finances is sensitive to each family. To answer questions about your unique situation talk to your tax professional, attorney and financial advisor. A little planning can go a long way and may even impact multi generations to come. 

Cassandra Brashier is a wife, mother of 3 and has been a Financial Advisor for 15 years. For questions go to www.momstalkmoney.com

Securities and advisory services offered through Harbour Investments, Inc.

Watermelon Lemonade Mocktail | Non-Alcoholic Summer Drink Recipe

Hot summers can be rough in pregnancy! Cool off with this yummy Watermelon Lemonade Mocktail. 

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Ingredients 

  • 3 Cups of diced watermelon
  • 1  Cup of lemonade (homemade is best!)
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1-2 Cups of ice

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in a blender, starting with the watermelon. Add the ice in 1 cup at a time.
  • Blend until combined.
  • Serve immediately.

Community Supporting Agriculture: Big River Farms CSA

CSA PICK UP AT HEALTH FOUNDATIONS BIRTH CENTER

Have you ever been a part of a CSA? A CSA is most commonly defined as “Community Supported Agriculture.” However, I like to think of it as “Community SupportingAgriculture.” I got this from my dad, who along with my mom, started the first CSA farm in Colorado. I grew up farming there along with my family. Community SupportingAgriculture emphasized the active support that becoming a CSA member provides to local farmers, who definitely need the continuous support of the community to keep operating their small businesses. 

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Growing up on a CSA farm I learned a lot of about the support the CSA model offers farmers. The income we made from the CSA helped us cover the many upfront costs of getting our farm going each year, including equipment maintenance, seeds, tools, gas for the tractors, electricity to heat the greenhouse, and water for irrigation. The CSA also helped take some of the uncertainty and risk out of farming, since we knew up front that we had a guaranteed market for our crops. When extreme weather such as hail storms damaged our crops, our members supported us through accepting some semi-shredded greens, understanding a few crops coming in late, and one member even baked us a chocolate “we hate hail” cake! Conversely when we had bumper crops we happily shared that abundance with our members. These are some of my fondest memories of what community and supporting farmers can look like. 

Joining a CSA also supports farmers by ensuring that your money goes directly to farmers. This is important in a time where, according to a recent Washington Post article, “farmers only get 7.8 cents of every dollar Americans spend on food.”

By joining the Big River Farms CSA, you support a very special group of Farmers. At Big River Farms, a program of Minnesota Food Association, we operate a Farmer Education Program for beginning farmers who are primarily immigrants, refugees, and farmers of color. We focus on providing resources for immigrants and farmers of color since they face particularly significant barriers to land access and farmer training. The profits from our CSA go directly to supporting these farmers as they grow their own organic farm businesses.

Through our CSA, members receive weekly deliveries of certified organic produce grown by farmers enrolled in the program. We also offer certified organic fruit shares. This summer we are happy to partner with Health Foundations as drop site for our CSA for the second year. Each Wednesday June 20th- through mid-October, we will deliver produce to Health Foundations Birth Center along with recipes, farmer stories and invitations to on-farm, family friendly events with hay rides, farm tours, games and more.

We hope you will join us this year in this delicious way to support local farmers! 

Please follow this link for more information and to sign up: http://www.mnfoodassociation.org/our-csa

Written by Big River Farms

Looking & Feeling Beautiful & Radiant

A couple of weeks ago on the Mom Show we talked about a Spring Detox. Doing a basic detox is a great way to kick into a healthy life style shift. Life's busyness can get in the way of us feeling good about ourselves. Here are some tips on how to feel radiant from the inside out!

Supplements: Supplements can be very helpful for your body to feel good and balanced. A good food-based multivitamin is a nice start. Make sure it is food-based, they are much easier for your body to absorb. Some other key supplements are B Complex, fish oil, magnesium and vitamin D-3. This regimen will help with long lasting energy, improved mood, healthy cholesterol and strong immune system.

Sleep: Eight hours of sleep every night is ideal. Sleep deprivation can wreck havoc on your body. Sleep helps your skin glow, your mood to be steady, you body to be free of illness and of course good energy levels! If you have to wake up early, plan to go to bed and hour or two earlier. Do something relaxing before bed to help you get into a deep sleep such as reading for 10 minutes, a bath or meditation.

Water: Try and make 3 liters of water per day your goal. Get a water bottle that holds a liter and keep track of how many you drink. If you need something more exciting than water, try adding fruit. You can add any fruit to water. Put it in the fridge overnight; pour it into your water bottle the next morning and you have an amazing tasting beverage! Water does wonders for wrinkles and just helps you feel good in general.

Skin Care: There really is no reason to spend hundreds of dollars on skincare, unless you want to of course! If you are looking to save money and have beautiful skin, you can keep it simple. Buy a micro-fiber cloth and wash your face with a gentle soap in the morning and before bed. After washing use a toner is important; it helps your moisturizer soak into your skin. Use a moisturizer with an SPF to protect your skin from sun damage daily, even in the winter. Last, use an eye cream for around your eyes, not face moisturizer. The skin around your eyes is sensitive and needs something formulated for that area.

Exercise: There are so many exercise programs out there today. There is something for everyone! Whatever route of exercise you use, whether it be walking, running, yoga, a home DVD or crossfit, it is important to move your body for at least 30 minutes per day.

Diet: The main thing to keep in mind for your diet is eating whole foods. If you can stick to fruits, vegetables, meat, cheese, nuts and whole grains, that is key. Stay away completely from all processed foods. Sleep, water intake, exercise and diet all work together for a healthier, more radiant YOU!

Top Five Breastfeeding Essentials for the First Two Weeks Postpartum

 photo credit: Meredith Westin

photo credit: Meredith Westin

Breastfeeding is a journey, both beautiful and challenging at times. To help ease the first two weeks of your postpartum we have put together a list of items that will hopefully make things easier!

Motherlove Nipple Cream: Nipple cream is essential, especially in the early days. Your baby will want to nurse very frequently. Even with a great latch, it takes some time for your nipples to get used to this. Put nipple cream on your nipples after each feeding. No need to wipe it off before feeding your baby.

Nursing Bra / Tank: You will want to have these before your baby is born. It can be helpful to get sized; after 36 weeks is a good time for this. During the first two weeks of postpartum you will find yourself living in your nursing tank!  It is easy and you don't have to put anything else on. Nursing tanks are supportive to your breasts and you can find ones that also support your postpartum tummy. I recommend having 2-3 of both nursing tanks and nursing bras.

Medela Hydrogel Pads: Hydrogel pads are a serious life saver for sore, cracked nipples. After about 24 hours your nipples will feel much better if they are cracked or very sore. In saying this, if you find yourself with very sore, cracked or bleeding nipples, be sure to contact a lactation specialist. It is normal for a little bit of soreness. If you are wincing in pain when it is time for a feeding, this is not normal.

Nursing Pads: Once your milk is in, you may find that your breasts are leaking milk. Whether you are nursing on one side and the other side begins to leak or if you have a let down when your baby is not feeding, you will want nursing pads in your bra at all times. There are washable and disposable options; get both.

Resources: I cannot stress how important good resources are during the early days of breastfeeding. Maybe it is your mom, sister or a good friend, someone to talk to on rough days, and someone with breastfeeding experience. Choose one or two people to reach out to for advice otherwise too much advice can be overwhelming. Never hesitate to reach out to a lactation consultant if you need help with latch or have production issues. A great website to turn to is www.kellymom.com

A nursing station can be very helpful as well. You can prepare this before your baby arrives so it will be ready to go when you get home. Get a basket to set next to your bed and fill with snacks, water, a couple of diapers, wipes and a good book!

 

Top Five Breastmilk Boosting Nutrients

 photo credit: Laura Robinson

photo credit: Laura Robinson

Breastfeeding your baby is rewarding in many ways, from bonding, health benefits for you and baby, cost effectiveness, and much more! But what happens when your milk supply starts off low or lessens after a few months or when you return to work? Our top five recommended breastmilk boosting nutrients are goats rue, fenugreek, blessed thistle, fennel and malunggay. Here are a couple of ways to get these nutrients into your diet.

Motherlove More Milk Special Blend: This supplement is an all-time favorite. It contains goats rue, fenugreek, blessed thistle and fennel seed. Goats rue is one of the most potent herbs to support lactation in women who have difficulty breastfeeding. The leaves stimulate development of mammary tissue to increase breast size. Fenugreek seeds are the most recommended herb in the United States for increasing breast milk. Blessed thistle supports lactation and is considered an emotional ally to uplift spirits and reduce anxiety. Fennel seed is the most commonly used herb to support lactation in the world.

Go-Lacta: Go-Lacta is an all natural plant-based galactagogue, made from premium Malunggay (Moringa oleifera Lam) leaves, which assists in increasing mom's breast milk supply. It is traditionally used in Asia. A unique quality of Go-Lacta is that is focuses on mom and baby. This supplement can be taken antepartum and postpartum. Studies have found that malunggay leaf powder prevents malnutrition in pregnancy or breastfeeding women and their children. Pregnant women recovered quickly from anemia and had babies with higher birth weights.

Aside from supplements, a fun and yummy way to boost your milk supply is with lactation cookies! 

Lactation Cookies: There are many lactation cookie recipes out there. The main ingredients to focus on when making lactation cookies are oats, flax seed, fennel and brewers yeast

If you are having trouble with breastfeeding, Health Foundations Birth Center has a full-time lactation consultant that you can meet with. You can request an appointment or give us a call. The two supplements mentioned above can be found on our on-line store for purchase.

 

 

Dr. Amy's Spring Detox

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With Summer approaching, Spring can be a great time for a detox. A detox can help with energy levels, weight loss and gives our body a break from toxins. It is also a great lead in to healthy eating. There are so many different detox programs out there that it can be overwhelming to choose which one is right for you. This detox is simple, basic and effective. You can do this for 14 days or for even better results, extend it to 28 days.

Before you officially start your detox, begin weaning yourself off of coffee rather than going "cold turkey". During the detox, coffee is off limits. Also, increase your water intake. You must be drinking 1/3 of your body weight in ounces of water per day. Add an additional 8 ounces for each hour of exercise that you do.

Instead of focusing on what you can't have, we will focus on what you CAN have. Try to stick to these foods only during your detox.

  • Start each morning with a cup of warm water, add the juice of one half of a lemon.
  • Foods to include in your diet are fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, meat and fish, fats, and spices.
    • FRUIT: unsweetened fresh or frozen, except oranges
    • VEGETABLES: Raw, steamed, sautéed or roasted, except corn
    • NUTS and SEEDS: Almonds, cashews, walnuts, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. All of these can be made into nut butters. Avoid peanuts.
    • MEAT and FISH: Chicken, turkey, wild game and lamb. Avoid beef, pork cold cuts, frankfurters, sausage, canned meats and eggs.
    • FATS: Olive, flax, safflower, sunflower, sesame, walnut, pumpkin, coconut and avocado oil. Avoid margarine, butter, shortening and processed oils.
    • SPICES: All spices can be used but no condiments such as ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise. 
  • NO sugars should be in your diet except for the fruit that you eat.

During your detox period, add in mild daily exercise such as walking or yoga. Exercise dramatically increases blood and lymphatic circulation which moves toxins into circulation for elimination by the various elimination channels. In general, listen to your body's guidance. Don't push it; work with it. Adequate sleep and stress reduction are important to the success of your program. Your body is recharging and regenerating; help it by getting adequate rest!

Detox programs are not advised for women who are pregnant. If you are planning to conceive, check out our blog about a preconception detox. At Health Foundations Birth Center, we have Certified Nurse Midwives and Women's Health Nurse Practitioners that can do women's health visits and preconception visits. They can discuss more with you the benefits of cleansing your body for general purposes as well as preconception.

 

Meet Our New Midwife Jana Studelksa, CPM

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My midwifery training happened over a period of 12 years, during which I was a La Leche League Leader, then a credentialed doula, a midwifery assistant and finally, an apprentice. I finished my training with a clinical placement in Belize, near the Mexican border, where I worked with World Health Organization nurses and Cuban physicians. In 2008, I started my own practice in Duluth, and was privileged to catch babies lots of Duluth babies, as well as new humans appearing in many small North Shore villages and Iron Range towns. Prior to midwifery, I was a reporter, writer, editor, and author. My degree is in communication, and until I had a baby of my own at home in Ely, thought I would be a writer all my life. Perhaps someday I will write about being a midwife....

I was born in in the Ozarks, where my parents were in love and ran a bar and bowling alley in Branson, Missouri. My maternal family moved into the area in the 1830s, and I can still find no end of cousins and relations in a few towns. My mother and grandmother were very matter of fact about birth: it's a day's work and nothing compared to the wonderful baby you get in the end. So I approached my own births with the same sort of pragmatism. I am so grateful for their wisdom and focus on the baby, as it made me consider labor just a stepping stone to getting a baby. 

When I'm not working, I will be at my cabin, which is close to the BWCA, and about as cabin-y as a cabin can be: no running water or sewer, a few solar-powered lights, and at the end of a long and winding road. In winter, we must snowshoe or ski in, so I'm there much less often. I fill my winters with reading, needlepoint, and eating Thai food with my sister. 

If I could go anywhere, it would be the Caribbean. I love to snorkel and dive, and the water there just makes my body and soul feel good. 

If I could have a super power, it would be to be able to magically clean, cut, and prepare vegetables and fruit. Because of food allergies, I have to eat very carefully. Some days, I feel like I can't face another red pepper. 

I feel like midwifery picked me, rather than the other way around. As young as 16, I was thinking about midwifery. At 18, I wrote a college paper on the history of midwifery. At 22, during my first pregnancy, I found one of the only midwifery practices in the Twin Cities to help me with my first child. Through adulthood, I collected little midwife statues and fetishes. Then I had my second child, and my experience opened my eyes to the politics of birth. At the time, midwives were being pursued my the Minnesota Attorney General's office, and being issued search warrants with cease and desist letters. I worked to help legalize midwifery in the late 1990s. And then people started calling me to come to births with them, or to talk about their birth experiences, or with questions about birth. I just followed where my community led me, and with the support of a fantastic family, was able to train and transition to midwifery over a period of about 12 years. 

Health Foundations is able to offer the Midwifery Model of Care in a birth center setting, where mothers and families can receive individualized care and midwives can receive support and time off. It's a partnership between all of us, and provides such a fantastic alternative for women who want to pursue normal, physiologic birth. I am absurdly proud to be part of an organization that not only provides this kind of care, but is a leader in the field. The favorite part of my job? The huge smiles and tears when a mom or dad reaches down to bring the baby to their chests for the first time. It's never gets old. 

My philosophy on birth is "keep it simple." Our bodies were made for this work. I believe that traditional midwifery, married to the most prudent use of modern technology, is how we can keep birth normal, safe, and satisfying. The childbearing year should be joyful, full of discovery, a foundation for the decades of parenting that are to come; not a trial to endure. Pregnancy and birth are not always simple, of course, but aiming for simple is the wisest place to start. 

Here's the best parenting advice I ever received: "Just add water." Either put the kid in water (bathe), give the kid water (hydrate), or let the baby play with water (best done with mom or dad). And it does, in fact, solve so many problems. (And still works for me as a grown up!) 

How to Manage Newborn's Sleep Schedule

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Newborn sleep can be tricky. If you are wondering how to manage your newborn's sleep schedule, there is no perfect instruction manual when it comes to your baby and his sleep. Around 4-6 hours after your baby has been born, he will take a 4-5 hour nap. This time is crucial for mom to take advantage and get a good nap in. This period of sleep will help restore energy levels after labor and give you a boost for the next few days of very frequent nursing as your milk comes in.

Every baby is different but there is a general pattern that most babies seem to follow during their first few weeks earth-side. There are some things that you can do during this time that will hopefully guide your baby to learn a good sleep pattern as he grows. 

Days vs Nights: Your baby may take a week or two to figure out days and nights. To help encourage sleeping at night, keep the lights low, voices quiet and after feeding lay your baby down. A white noise machine can also be helpful. During day sleeps, keep it light in the room with some noise and in between sleep talk to your baby frequently.

Swaddle: Learn how to swaddle! Up until now your baby has been warm and snug in your womb. Swaddling can be very soothing, especially when he is tired or fussy.

Shush: To help soothe your baby to sleep, shushing can work very well. Surprisingly, it can be quite loud! While in the womb, the sound of the blood flow is louder than a vacuum!

Sucking: Sucking is very comforting to an infant. Once your baby has established a good latch, introducing a pacifier helps satisfy this need.

Deep Sleep: When initially laying your baby down, wait until she has reached a deep sleep. This takes about 20 minutes of rocking. Watch for unclenched fists and "loose limbs". This will help your baby to stay asleep once you lay her down.

Though this period of time can be exhausting, it does get better! Remember that there is purpose in frequent waking and light sleep. The purpose of this ensures that your baby will wake to feed when hungry which is incredibly important.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What to Pack in Your Birth Bag

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As your guess date approaches, packing a birth bag is essential. Around 36 weeks is a good time to start collecting things to have ready. We have put together a list of favorites for you.

Labor

  • Snacks: Bring your favorite snacks for you and your partner. Think of things that are mild and easy to eat. Some good ideas are trail mix, protein bars, dried fruit, honey sticks, nut butter, instant oatmeal, and yogurt.
  • Fluids: Bring a water bottle to keep near you at all times. Your partner can help remind you to hydrate through labor. It is also ideal to bring a few alternatives to water for both of you such as, coconut water, emergency-c, juices and natural popsicles.
  • Clothing: For laboring, bring comfortable nightgowns, a robe, t-shirts or pajama tops. If you plan to labor in the tub and/or shower, you may wish to bring a sports bra or swimsuit top. If your partner would like to support you in the tub or shower, bring a swimsuit. Bring a pair of slippers and cozy socks.
  • Lip Balm: In labor your lips tend to get very dry, especially during pushing. Have it ready to use and easily accessible. 
  • Hot Pack: Heat can be a wonderful comfort measure. You can use an electric heating pad, microwavable rice pack or hot water bottle.
  • Music: Think about making a labor and birth playlist. This may be soft, slow songs, spiritual songs or even fun upbeat music. If your place of birth does not have speakers, pack your own.
  • Essential Oils / Lotion: Bring your favorite oils and a plain lotion with you. Some recommended oils are peppermint (for nausea), clary sage (to help strengthen contractions), lavender (for relaxation). The lotion can help with massage. 
  • Hair Accessories: If you have long hair, you may want to put it up at some point during labor to get it out of your face. It can be nice to bring a headband too. 
  • Chargers: Be sure to pack phone chargers. If you are bringing a camera, bring a charger and extra batteries just in case.

Postpartum

  • Clothing: Bring comfortable clothes to wear home. Something loose and easy to get on and off. Be sure to pack a change of clothes for your partner as well. If you are breastfeeding, bring a nursing bra.
  • Baby Clothing / Blankets: For the ride home you will want an outfit for baby (onesie, footie pajamas, socks and a hat). Also bring at least 2 blankets.
  • Toiletries: Pack a small toiletry bag for you and your partner. Just the basics is fine, toothbrush, toothpaste, face wipes and a hair brush.
  • Car Seat: You will want to have your baby's carseat installed in your car at around 37 weeks so you are prepared to bring him/her home. You want to make sure that it is installed properly so give yourself plenty of time.

How to be a Flu-Fighter!

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The flu virus seems to be lurking around every corner! Thankfully, there are some ways to combat this nasty virus naturally.

What is the Flu?

Many times there is confusion as far as what the flu actually is. Influenza is a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system. It is more severe than a common cold and is not the same as a ‘stomach flu’ virus that causes diarrhea and vomiting.  The flu tends to come on suddenly whereas a cold usually develops slowly over a couple of days. Symptoms include:

  • Fever over 100.4 F
  • Aching muscles, especially your back, arms and legs
  • Chills and sweats
  • Headache
  • Dry, persistent cough
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sore throat

How to prevent the flu:

  • A good vitamin D supplement is a wonderful way to keep your immune system, 5,000 iu. With our months of underexposure to sunlight, we need to be particularly vigilant about getting enough vitamin D through diet and supplementation.
  • Eat nutritious, whole foods and avoid processed sugar. Load up on fruits and veggies; particularly green leafy vegetables. Keep your protein intake high as well. Eat protein with every meal and snack.
  • Aim for 8 hours of sleep per night. This can be tough a with little ones but try your best to go to bed early so that you can get your 8 hours in.
  • Wash your hands regularly throughout the day. This may seem easy but it sure is effective! 
  • Avoid contact with sick family members and friends. You may find yourself having a family member or friend that needs support in their time of sickness. You can still do this. Make them a meal and set it outside their door.
  • Exercise has been shown to flush bacteria from the lungs and airways that may cause colds and viruses. It also can cause changes to the body’s white blood cells and antibodies positively impacting the immune system.

What to do if you get the flu:

Sometimes there is just no avoiding it! If you find yourself with the above symptoms there are some ways to try and shorten how long you feel miserable!

  • Rest, rest and more rest! You probably won't feel like doing much anyway but try and stay in bed and sleep throughout the day and night.
  • Stay hydrated! You can alternate water, Emergen-C and coconut water to help with this. The Emergen-C and coconut water will help keep your electrolytes up.
  • Eat simple foods such as vitamin rich bone broth.
  • Take extra Vitamin C daily.