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.


  • 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.


  • 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!


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.

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


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.


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.


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


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


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


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!