Birth Center

Top Five Breastfeeding Essentials for the First Two Weeks

 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!

 

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.

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

 

 

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

pregnant-woman-with-question-mark-on-belly.jpg

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!

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

Big River Farms CSA at Health Foundations!

 Written by Lebo Moore

Written by Lebo Moore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

fullhealth to receive $30 off a Full-Acre Share

halfhealth to receive $15 off a Half-Acre Share

Birth Slings at Health Foundations Birth Center

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

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

Here are some position options for labor:

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

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

Understanding IUDs: Is It the Right Birth Control For You?

If you keep up on women's health, or talk to other ladies about their hooha, I'm sure you've heard a lot recently about the rising popularity of the intrauterine device and wondered if you should get an IUD. After years of living in the shadow of its flashier sister the Pill, the IUD is finally having its day in the sun — it's 99 percent effective against pregnancy and it's been recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics as the best form of birth control for young women. Everybody seems to be crazy for IUDs these days — but does that mean that they are the right birth control for you?

 

What is an IUD?

An IUD is a tiny device that's inserted in your uterus to prevent pregnancy. It's long-term, reversible, and one of the most effective birth control methods out there.

 

What does IUD stand for?

IUD stands for Intrauterine Device i.e. a device inside your uterus. It's a small piece of flexible plastic shaped like a T. 

 

What are the different types of IUDs?

There are 5 different brands of IUDs that are FDA approved for use in the United States: ParaGard, Liletta, Mirena, Skyla, and Kyleena.

These IUDs are divided into 2 types: copper IUDs (ParaGard) and hormonal IUDs (Liletta, Mirena, Skyla, and Kyleena).

The ParaGard IUD doesn't have hormones. It's wrapped in a tiny bit of copper, and it protects you from pregnancy for up to 12 years. The Liletta, Mirena, Skyla, and Kyleena IUDs use the hormone progestin to prevent pregnancy. Progestin is very similar to the hormone progesterone that our bodies make naturally. Mirena works for up to 6 years. Kyleena works for up to 5 years. Skyla and Liletta work for up to 3 years.

 

How do IUDs work?

Both copper IUDs and hormonal IUDs prevent pregnancy by changing the way sperm move so they can't get to an egg. If sperm can't make it to an egg, pregnancy can't happen.

The ParaGard IUD uses copper to prevent pregnancy. Sperm don't like copper, so the ParaGard IUD makes it almost impossible for sperm to get to that egg.

The hormones in Liletta, Mirena, Skyla, and Kyleena IUDs prevent pregnancy in two ways: 1) they thicken the mucus that lives on the cervix, which blocks and traps the sperm, and 2) the hormones also sometimes stop eggs from leaving your ovaries (called ovulation), which means there's no egg for a sperm to fertilize. No egg, no pregnancy.

One of the awesome things about IUDs is that they last for years — but they're not permanent. If you decide to get pregnant or you just don't want to have your IUD anymore, your nurse or doctor can quickly and easily take it out. You're able to get pregnant right after the IUD is removed.

 

Is an IUD right for you?

Maybe. IUDs have a lot going for them — they're the most effective form of reversible birth control for women, and you don't have to fiddle with them before sex or remember to put them in every day. But everyone comes to birth control for different things. Some of us are looking to help our forgetful selves. Some of us are trying to lessen our bad menstrual cramps. Some of us are just using birth control because we're on another medication that requires it (like Accutane). And because we all have different birth control agendas, we all need to sort through different sets of facts.

 

Interested in getting an IUD?

Do you have additional questions about IUDs?  Are you interested in getting an IUD?  At Health Foundations Women's Health & Birth Center we believe in providing the best care based on each woman's unique needs for every stage of her life.  Our providers take the time to listen to you, to answer your questions and to make sure you leave your appointment feeling informed and cared for. Give us a call to schedule an appointment 651-895-2520.

The Definition Of Perfection: A Baby's Birth Goes According To Plan

 Courtesy of Emily Grace Whebbe

Courtesy of Emily Grace Whebbe

In recounting our birth story, I finally fully understand the definition of a word I have used so many times: perfection.

Although I write this after a generous dose of oxytocin from breastfeeding, I will try not to embellish beyond belief. Perfection is a word and concept I rarely use or believed in, unsure of it's even existence. However, after going through the experience of childbirth and now being able to be a part of this incredible baby's life, I realize that what happened more than a week ago was as close to perfection as I could experience. Let's start at 3:00 a.m., Thursday, August 4th.

Read more about baby Revira on npr.org

10 Reasons a Birth Center Might Be Right for You

If you’re pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, you may be considering your options for birth. While the majority of babies in the US are born in hospitals, there’s another option available for women who wish to birth in a homelike setting but desire many of the resources and safeguards of a hospital. This option is called a birth center. Birth centers are designed for healthy women seeking a natural birth experience under the care of midwives instead of obstetricians. Midwives embrace the idea that birth is a natural and normal process and should be approached under the wellness model of pregnancy and birth. Birth centers are able to provide routine, woman-centered care that focuses on the natural, physiological process of birth and seeks to minimize unnecessary interventions. While birth centers are not equipped for emergency medical procedures like C-sections or other serious complications, they are typically located in close proximity to a partnering hospital for quick transfers when necessary. If you are hoping for a natural birth experience in a non-medical environment yet under the care of licensed midwifery professionals, a birth center may be for you. Here are 10 reasons you should consider delivering at a birth center.

  1. You’re hoping for a natural, intervention free birth: At birth centers, pregnancy and childbirth are seen as natural and normal events. Midwives seek to empower and support women in doing what their bodies were created to do without unnecessary intervention. According to the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, the rate of C-sections for low risk births is only 6 percent at birth centers in comparison with 27 percent of low risk births in a hospital setting.
  2. You want to have a midwife instead of a doctor: Midwives are uniquely positioned to provide personalized care to mothers during pregnancy and birth that not only focuses on physical health, but also emotional, spiritual and mental wellbeing. Midwives are trained professionals that support women in having optimal pregnancies and birth experiences with minimal medical intervention. Births that are attended by midwives tend to havelower rates of C-sections, episiotomies and perineal trauma.
  3. You believe hospitals are for sick people: If you are hoping to bring your baby into the world in a more homelike environment but you want the expertise and resources of skilled professionals, a birth center may be for you. In many countries around the world birth is not seen as a medical event at all but a natural, normal experience in life. Birth centers offer many of the safeguards and equipment of a hospital without the medical environment.
  4. You want to have a water birth: Though some hospitals do offer the option of a birthing tub, it is more commonly available at birth centers. Laboring and delivering in water has many benefits from pain relief, improved cervical dilation and a soothing transition for baby from womb to world.
  5. You want to be able to eat and drink during labor: While most hospitals will restrict your intake during labor due to the risk of needing general anesthesia for a C-section, most birth centers encourage you to nourish yourself as needed to keep up your energy and stamina.
  6. You want to save money: While you should check your insurance policy to confirm benefits and birth center coverage, delivering at a birth center is typically less expensive than delivering at a hospital. Reasons for the difference in cost include a shorter length of stay and fewer interventions among other variables. Typically, your out-of-pocket cost at a birth center will be about a third less than that of a hospital birth. 
  7. You do not want to have continuous fetal monitoring: While your midwife will likely intermittently monitor your baby, you will not be hooked up to a fetal monitor for the entirety of your labor like you may be at a hospital. This enables you to move about freely throughout your labor to the positions that offer the most relief and comfort. You also will not have to worry about any invasive internal monitoring or unnecessary cervical checks. 
  8. You don’t want to deliver on your back: Midwives are typically more flexible in encouraging the mother to birth and labor in whatever position her body tells her she should. Laboring and delivering on your back has been found to be one of the least conducive positions to helping baby move naturally through the birth canal. 
  9. You don’t want to feel rushed: In a birth center you will be encouraged and supported in laboring as long as your body needs. Rather than hastening the labor process with interventions, midwives embrace the natural normal process of childbirth in which you place trust in your body to know what it needs to do and at what pace.
  10. You want your family (or friends) involved: While a hospital may limit the number of individuals allowed in the room for your birth, at a birth center you will be welcome to have whomever you feel you need to support you in your birth experience. Birth centers will often involve the family during prenatal appointments and during labor realizing that the birth of a new baby is a family experience to be shared.

If you are a healthy woman experiencing a normal pregnancy and feel that a birth center may be more in line with your hopes and plans for natural birth, contact Health Foundations for afree consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center. We are here to support and empower you from pregnancy to postpartum and beyond.

Dispelling the Top Myths About Water Birth

Health Foundations Birth Center Water Birth

With water births becoming an increasingly popular natural birthing option, there are of course many misconceptions about the practice out there. From concerns about infection, to worries about the baby drowning or inhaling water, there are plenty of scary myths about water births that aren’t necessarily true. Here are the top 7 myths we hear about water births and why you shouldn’t worry!

Top 7 Myths of Water Birth

  1. You have to be naked to have a water birth: If modesty is a concern for you and you don’t want to feel overly exposed during birth, fear not, there are no rules stating that one must be naked during a water birth. You are free to wear whatever top you feel comfortable in, be it a t-shirt, sports bra or tankini top. What’s most important is that you are comfortable and are able to more freely throughout your labor and delivery. 
  2. Your baby will be more likely to get an infection if born into water: The risk for infection is one of the most commonly cited fears about water birth. The reality is that the rate of infant infection reported in water births is less than .01 percent. Although many women do pass a stool while pushing their baby out some experts believe that the water perhaps might even provide a partial barrier to infection by diluting any bacteria making it less likely to cause harm to the baby. 
  3. Your baby will overheat if you have a water birth: The maximum temperature recommended for a water birth is 98 degrees Fahrenheit. Your baby is not at risk of overheating at this temperature and will be born into a comfortable and womb-like environment in the water. You can also choose to have the temperature cooler if that is more comfortable for you. The water temperature and your temperature will be checked routinely throughout labor and delivery to ensure that you are not overheating and your midwife will also help ensure that you stay adequately hydrated throughout the process.
  4. Having a water birth will cause more vaginal tearing: On the contrary, water births actually have lower rates of perineal trauma and vaginal tearing than non-water births due to the added elasticity because of the water. Water immersion has also been shown to help relax the pelvic floor which ultimately aids in the descent and pushing out of baby.
  5. You can’t get out of the tub if you decide to have a water birth: Water immersion can be utilized during your birth experience for any part, the entirety, or on and off throughout your birth experience. There’s no rule that says that once you are in the water you need to stay in. Should your body tell you that you need to get out and move around or you’ve decided you’d be more comfortable birthing outside of the tub, you absolutely have that flexibility to make changes as you see fit. 
  6. Your baby might drown if born into the water: Another common concern shared about delivering in water is whether or not there is risk of baby drowning. However, when your baby is born he is actually still receiving his oxygen supply from the placenta. Once he emerges from the vaginal canal he will be immediately lifted out of the water which will then signal his body to shift over to breathing through his lungs and increase blood flow to that area.  
  7. You have to be young to have a water birth: There is no age cut off for when a woman is no longer able to have a water birth. Instead, your midwife or doctor will assess your health and the health of your baby and help you make an informed decision based on those factors. Factors that may prevent you from having a water birth include maternal infection, a breech baby, excessive bleeding or other complications that may make a water birth unsafe for you or your baby. 

If you are interested in possibly having a water birth but have concerns about the process, contact Health Foundations to speak with a midwife who will be happy to alleviate your worries, address your concerns, and answer all of your questions . We are happy to offer free consultations and tours of our Birth Center, including viewing our homelike birthing suites with new built-in birthing tubs. We would love to be part of your birthing experience and help you decide if water birth is for you!

Amy Johnson-Grass Elected the Board President of the American Association Of Birth Centers

The membership of the American Association of Birth Centers (AABC) has elected Amy Johnson-Grass, ND, LM, LN, CPM, President-Elect of the AABC.  Johnson-Grass is the first Certified Professional Midwife to serve as President of the Association..

Why We Love The Business of Being Born (And You Should, Too!)

Business of Being Born Banner

Did you know that the US currently has one of the highest infant mortality rates among industrialized nations? Though you may find this to be shocking given the wealth of our nation and available technology, this issue is among several concerns about birth in the US that Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein set out to explore in their documentary, The Business of Being Born. This cutting edge documentary was created with the intent to provide women with a thorough examination of the current state of the birth industry in the United States. Through raw footage of empowering homebirths, candid interviews with mothers, doctors, midwives and other health professionals, and an analysis of common hospital birth practices, Lake and Epstein have created a provocative and informative film that is a must-see for all women. 

Why They Created It:

Ricki Lake initially sought to create a film examining common birth practices in the US after her own first birthing experience left her feeling unsatisfied and like something was missing. Interested in the factors leading to the decline of the use of midwives and the increase in the use of medical interventions, including C-sections, Lake hoped to expose some of the reasons women feel unequipped to have a natural birth. Epstein, a strong proponent of natural homebirth directs the documentary while pregnant herself and as you see in the end provides viewers with a firsthand account of why it is necessary to be flexible sometimes with your birth plan in spite of your own wishes.  

Why We Like It:

This film is all about empowering women to realize the tremendous and natural capabilities of their own bodies without intervention. Through extensive and awe-inspiring footage of natural births, The Business of Being Born successfully shows that women need not fear childbirth and that they have the strength within themselves that they will need to birth their baby. The post-birth euphoria that the new moms experience in the film is palpable through the screen and allows viewers to see some of what they might be missing should they feel pressured to undergo a cascade of medical interventions at the hands of their doctors. Lake and Epstein also take a look at the potential motivations for hospitals to encourage the use of interventions and in some cases even favor the use of Cesarean sections to avoid the possibility of a lawsuit. This film is beautifully feminist yet will appeal to any individual who is expecting a baby and wants their partner to have the dignity of the choice to have a childbirth that is best for her and her new baby. 

What You’ll Learn:

The Business of Being Born is a treasure trove of interesting facts about the history of childbirth in the United States, the decline of midwifery and the rise of and reasons for the medicalization of birth. A few topics explored in the film include:

  • The cascade effect of childbirth interventions 
  • The reasons many obstetricians are ill-suited to attend to natural births 
  • The economic implications to hospitals when allowing women to follow their body’s natural birth plan without intervention
  • The risks associated with repeat Cesarean sections
  • The primal bonding mechanism of the natural birth process
  • The relationship between the growth of technology and the changes to the childbirth industry in the US
  • The power, pride, and strength a woman experiences through natural birth.

The Take Home Message:

All women deserve the right to make informed decisions about their childbirth experience. Whether you choose to birth at home, in a birth center or at the hospital, you are entitled to the right to be educated, empowered and supported in the process. Lake and Epstein have created a powerful film that boldly personifies this mission through real life accounts, professional commentary, and raw footage. The Business of Being Born is a must-see for all women expecting a baby. This December, Health Foundations is thrilled to welcome the esteemed creators of this cutting edge documentary to our EVERY WOMAN CAN event at Aria. Lake and Epstein will give the keynote address during this night of celebration, community, and empowerment. For more information about EVERY WOMAN CAN, visit our website at http://www.everywomancan.co/.

The Quick Guide to Natural Childbirth

Natural Birth

If you have decided on or are considering birthing in a setting like a freestanding birth center, it perhaps has to do in part with your desire to have a natural birth experience. It is estimated that approximately 85 percent of childbearing women are considered low-risk and are great candidates for a natural birth. But what is a natural birth exactly and what does it entail? Are there really worthwhile benefits to it and how much pain will I experience? These are all important questions when considering your birth plan. Here are the whos, whats, wheres and whys of the choice of natural birth.

What is a natural birth?

Natural birth is a vaginal birth that is free of pain medication and has minimal, if any, medical interventions. With a natural birth, the mother is in control of the labor process; she is a part of each and every decision, including when it’s time to rest, change positions and push, with her care providers acting as support throughout the process. 

Why do women choose to have a natural birth?

There are many reasons women choose to have a natural birth. Whether you are expecting your first baby or had a past birth experience that left you wanting to try something different, here are a few of the top reasons moms choose natural birth:

  • To have a sense of control over the birthing process
  • They view birth as a natural, normal, non-medical event
  • To have a sense of presence and awareness during birth
  • To have the ability to move about freely during labor
  • To have the ability to follow the lead of your body’s natural instincts
  • Less invasive
  • To avoid unnecessary medical interventions
  • To avoid undesirable side effects of pain medication to mom and baby (such as drowsiness, a drop in blood pressure or nausea)
  • To avoid undesirable side effects of pain medication on labor (such as slowing or stopping the progress)
  • A sense of empowerment
  • Reduced risk of certain interventions such as the use of synthetic oxytocin (Pitocin), forceps and vacuum extraction
  • The ability to eat and drink throughout labor

Where do women have natural births?

While you can absolutely have a natural birth in a hospital setting with the right supportive team and a clear birth plan, you might find that a birth center is more conducive to your goal of a natural delivery (It is important to note that some hospitals call their labor & delivery units "birth centers"...this is not what we are referring to). Birth centers place a strong emphasis on empowering women to realize the amazing capabilities of their own bodies without intervention or pain medicine. Another option for natural birth is having your baby in your own home. This approach typically includes the attendance and care of a midwife. 

Who can have a natural birth and who attends them?

As previously stated, approximately 85 percent of women are considered great candidates for a natural, vaginal delivery. However, in order to plan for a natural delivery, a woman should ideally have a low-risk pregnancy with few complications or other existing serious conditions. 

A natural birth can be attended by a doctor or midwife, along with a birth assistant and a doula, depending on your setting and personal preferences. Continuous care and support from a midwife or doula throughout labor has been associated with lower rates of the use of pain medicine, incidence of C-sections and other interventions in addition to shorter labors and greater overall satisfaction with the birth experience.

How do women cope with the pain of a natural birth?

Every woman will experience the pain of childbirth differently. Fortunately, there are many alternative forms of pain management that can be used during a natural birth instead of medication or an epidural. Here are just a few of them:

Nitrous oxide for Labor Pain
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Water immersion/water birth
  • Massage
  • Relaxation
  • Acupressure
  • Acupuncture
  • Visualization
  • Hot/cold compresses
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Deep breathing
  • Yoga
  • Changing positions
  • Distraction
  • Visual imagery
  • Meditation
  • Walking
  • Hypnosis
  • Birthing ball

Consider taking child birth preparedness classes that focus on natural birth and pain management. The better prepared you are, the more tools you will have to help you achieve your goal of a natural birth.

What if something goes wrong?

The most important thing with any birth plan is to approach it with flexibility and a willingness to heed the advice of your caregivers who have you and your baby’s best interest at heart. While having a natural birth is typically very safe, complications do arise occasionally where medical interventions are not only suggested but necessary. Beginning with a caregiver that you trust is an important step to helping you feel confident and comfortable in the event that a change is made to the plan involving unexpected interventions. Just know that no matter what course your birth ends up taking, whether it is perfectly natural or ends in a C-section, you and your body have done an incredible, life-giving thing. There is no shame in a birth that does not go as planned.

For questions about natural birth, prenatal and postpartum care and all other women’s care services, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center. Our goal is to support you in realizing your body’s tremendous strength and potential.

10 Cool Facts About Nitrous Oxide for Labor Pain

Nitrous Oxide In Labor

Rapidly increasing in popularity in the US, nitrous oxide is a safe and affordable option for pain relief during labor in both hospitals and birth centers alike. With both anxiolytic (anxiety reducing) and analgesic (pain reducing) effects at low doses, nitrous oxide is becoming the choice of many women who want to forego or postpone more invasive options like an epidural yet wish to have some relief from pain intensity throughout labor and birth. Here are ten cool facts about the use of nitrous oxide during labor that you may not know!

  1. Nitrous oxide was commonly used for pain relief during labor in the US up until the 1960s and 1970s when the use of the epidural rapidly popularized. With the rise of epidurals, the use of nitrous oxide became virtually obsolete until around 2011 when midwives began bringing the practice back. You will now find nitrous oxide available for pain relief during labor in over 100 hospitals and over 50 birth centers in the United States. 
  2. While the use of nitrous oxide for labor pain plummeted in the US with the inception of the epidural analgesic, the practice remained commonplace in other areas with sophisticated healthcare systems around the world such as Australia, Europe, New Zealand and Canada.
  3. While many believe that the nitrous oxide received during labor is the same as what you receive at the dentist, it’s actually less concentrated. When you utilize nitrous oxide during labor, the gas you are receiving is 50 percent N2O and 50 percent oxygen. Dentists use varying concentrations of nitrous oxide for their patients but can use up to 70 percent N2O and only 30 percent oxygen.
  4. Another way that nitrous oxide for labor is different than the nitrous oxide you receive at the dentist is that during labor it is controlled by the woman only. You will be given a handheld mask that contains a demand valve which opens to release the nitrous oxide when you inhale. When you exhale, the valve will close. This allows the woman in labor to use the nitrous oxide when she feels she needs it and to place it aside when she does not. This is much different than an epidural which is inserted into your spine and typically gives a continuous dose of analgesic throughout the rest of labor. Conversely, once you remove the nitrous oxide mask during labor, the effects will dissipate in about five minutes.
  5. While epidurals typically remove or greatly lessen the pain of labor, women who have used nitrous oxide report that they still feel the pain but their perception of it is altered. Because of the anxiety-reducing effects of the nitrous oxide, many women are better able to handle difficult contractions and other painful parts of the process with its use.
  6. You may begin using nitrous oxide for pain relief at any stage of labor or even post-delivery. There is no cut off in the process of labor when the treatment becomes unsafe making it a great option for moms who wish to try to make it as far as they can without any sort of medical intervention. Some mothers even decide not to use it until they are undergoing repairs following the birth for any tears occurred.
  7. If there was not an initial need for continuous fetal monitoring of your baby prior to your decision to use nitrous oxide, there will be no need for continuous monitoring after. You will still be free to move about, change positions, use a birthing ball or tub or any other position you wish to labor in after you have used the nitrous oxide. Your midwife or doctor will just want to ensure you are not experiencing any dizziness from the treatment before you go walking around but this is a quite uncommon side effect.
  8. There has been no evidence found that the use of nitrous oxide during labor slows the progression of labor at all. Particularly because you are able to move about freely in positions that are conducive to birthing, baby is able to further make his way into the birth canal. Nitrous oxide also does not impede the body’s natural production of oxytocin which is necessary for labor to progress.
  9. One of the most important factors to know when considering the use of nitrous oxide during labor is that it is safe for both mother and baby. Unlike certain narcotics that are often used during labor such as fentanyl, there is no risk of depressing baby’s breathing with nitrous oxide. It also should not negatively impact the infant’s alertness upon delivery and consequently, there should not be an effect on his ability to breastfeed and bond with the mother or father during the time period following delivery.
  10. Although unfortunately many insurance companies do not cover nitrous oxide treatment for labor at this time, the cost of nitrous oxide is significantly cheaper than having an epidural. And, unlike an epidural which requires a hospital birth and the presence (and a bill from) an anesthesiologist, nitrous oxide can often be offered at a birth center by a midwife.

If you are considering alternative options for pain control during labor, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife to discuss the benefits and risks associated with the use of nitrous oxide. We’d be happy to give you a tour of our Birth Center and answer any questions you might have about delivering at our Center and becoming part of the Health Foundations family.