Interviews

Meet Catherine Mascari ~ Certified Nurse Midwife

NAME:  

Catherine Mascari 

HOMETOWN & CURRENT RESIDENCE:  

St. Paul

FAMILY

I am married to John and we have two adult daughters Sara and Samantha.  Throughout the years, we have/had many different kinds of furry-four-legged family members, too.    

ROLE AT HEALTH FOUNDATIONS

I am happy to be joining the midwifery team!  Providing care, with intention, to healthy women and families.  Being engaged and present, respectful relationships, being a part of an energized and knowledgeable community.   And growing along the way.

EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND/TRAINING

University of Minnesota graduate with a master's degree in nursing (MSN) within the midwifery program.  Almunae of Bethel University for my baccalaureate in nursing (BSN).  In 2004, certified as a CNM by the American Midwifery Certification Board to provide full-scope midwifery care.  I belong to ACNM on the national and MN affiliate level and am a member of ACNM's consumer committee for the Healthy Birth Initiative.  I have  completed ultrasound training for early 1st trimester dating of pregnancy and 3rd trimester biophysical profiles and amniotic fluid checks.  I have practiced in a variety settings and recently attended in the underserved areas of South Dakota, Pennsylvania, Arizona and New Mexico.       

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR OWN BIRTH

There is six girls then two boys in my family od origin and I am #4 of 8.  My mom, Joyce, tells me she was hanging clothes outside when in early labor.  She and dad left for the hospital at 7P or so and I was born at 927P on a warm July Thursday.  (I do encourage everyone to know their birth story.)    

FAVORITE THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU ARE NOT AT HEALTH FOUNDATIONS

Recently, John and I have started  to travel and have magazines galore to plan these trips.  I also have two long-time childhood friends, and several siblings, who are terrific to travel with.  Our family is planning that "trip of a lifetime" to Ireland in 2016.  I also enjoy LIVE theater, community events, walks, gardening, am a foodie while living on the edge with high-wire zip-lining and tandem sky-diving.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GET INTO MIDWIFERY?

Being the doula for my sister who had a midwife-attended birth.  Both my children were born into a midwife's hands though preparation to become a midwife was delayed to raise my family.  (BTW:  my family is amazing and they continue to be supportive of all things midwifery!)  It was the loss of a young family member that made it clear the only regret I may have in life is not having done those things I've wanted to do.  

PHILOSOPHY ON BIRTH

That labor and birth can be calm and peaceful or it can be primal and loud.   There is no right way or better way - it is what speaks to a laboring woman.  Though birth is the transformative period for she and her family the prenatal and postpartum period are significant, too. 

    photo from birthingwithoutfear.com

 

photo from birthingwithoutfear.com

WHAT DO YOU WISH ALL HF FAMILIES KNEW?  

I am excited to join HFBC and return to the community I call home while being welcome into a supportive practice that embraces and values relationships.        

WHAT ADVICE OR WISDOM CAN YOU SHARE WITH PREGNANT OR NEW MAMA READERS? 

There is variation to normal during pregnancy, labor, birth and post-partum.  Trust you seek what you need and want. There is a great selection of authors, childbirth workers/birth keepers - find what is essential to you.  If you like numbers and stats go to Eugene DeClercq or Henci Goer;  Michel Odent for human interactions; Ina May Gaskins, Rebecca Dekker of Evidence Based Birth, Sara Wickham, or Rachel Reed of Midwife Thinking; organizational leaders such as the Childbirth Connection, Choices in Childbirth, Coalition for Improving Maternity Services and Improving Birth.  Remember our very own local resources, too!   

Meet Anjali Madeira

Nicole Dummann Clinic RN

Name:  

Anjali Madeira

Hometown:

Parkersburg, WV

Family:

One husband, one daughter, one dog. 

Member of Health Foundations Team since:  

June 2015

Role at Health Foundations:

 I have the privilege of seeing mamas at every stage of motherhood. I do intakes for newly pregnant mamas, assist with births, and visit mamas at home a few days after baby is born.  

Educational background and training:  

I have degrees in Public Health and Nursing. I'm currently in the Nurse-Midwifery program at the University of MN. I've also been a doula since 2013.

Tell us a little about your own birth:  

 Let's just say my birth plan was labor at home and give birth at a birth center. My reality was induction at the hospital with IVs and an epidural. And I love my birth story. It's what you make it, interventions and curve balls aside. 

What is one of your favorite things to do when you are not at Health Foundations?  

Ultimate Frisbee!

Anjali Madeira canoeing
Anjali Madeira

If you could get on a plane tomorrow and travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?  

The Travers-Sabine track in Nelson Lakes National Park on the South Island of New Zealand.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?  

 I would be Toasty Digits Girl, with the power to heat my fingers and toes in a MN winter.

What inspired you to get into your field?  

Working with lay midwives in rural India.

What do you love about Health Foundations and what is your favorite part of your job?

The people! What a dedicated, smart and loving team, I'm lucky to be a part of it.

What is your philosophy on birth?  

Work hard, be flexible and choose your path.

What advice or wisdom can you share with pregnancy or new mama readers?  

Write a letter to your little one as your pregnancy progresses, adding a paragraph every week or two. it'll help you remember this unique experience and your kids will love reading it when they get bigger!

Meet Katrina Wu ~ Certified Nurse-Midwife

Katrina Wu - Health Foundations Nurse-Midwife

Name:

Katrina Wu

Hometown:

The Pacific Northwest! If I had to narrow it down to one city, I'd say Portland, Oregon.

Family:

I live in Saint Paul with my husband Andrew and our two cats, Sydney and Kali.

Member of Health Foundations Team since:

July, 2014

Please explain your role at Health Foundations:

I work at Health Foundations as a certified nurse-midwife. In addition to attending births, I see women at the clinic for prenatal visits, postpartum visits, and well-woman visits. Well-woman visits can range from annual exams to birth control visits like having an IUD inserted. I really enjoy being able to see women for preconception counseling before they ever become pregnant and then being able to continue seeing our moms for their health care needs long after their babies are born. I love being a resource for women in understanding their bodies and partnering with women to take ownership of their health throughout their lives.

What is your educational background and training?

I graduated summa cum laude with my bachelor of science degree in nursing from Bethel University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. After serving families through the transition of their loved ones passing away naturally at home as a hospice nurse, I decided to continue on to graduate school. I studied nurse-midwifery at Vanderbilt University, where I received the faculty choice award for most outstanding student. I was able to focus on the birth center model of care for my final clinical experience, which gave me a real love for promoting pregnancy and birth as natural processes. Following graduation I attended home and birth center births in Seattle, Washington, and then I moved back to Minnesota to help launch Bethel University's nurse-midwifery program. I am currently full-time nurse-midwifery faculty at Bethel University and practice midwifery part-time as part of the Health Foundations team.

Tell us a little about your own birth:

My favorite details are that my mom cried and that I knew my dad's voice instantly. :)

What is one of your favorite things to do when you are not at Health Foundations?

It's hard to pick just one! I most love hiking with my husband, gardening, and cooking. I'm constantly picking up new hobbies (currently thinking spinning is next!). Knitting and crocheting have been staples all my life, and I also enjoy upcycling, furniture, and painting.

If you could get on a plane tomorrow and travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Oh my list is so long! I recently checked New Zealand off my list, and it did not disappoint! I'd love to backpack Italy - perhaps that's next.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Teleportation. It would fuel my love for travel while ensuring I never miss a birth!

What inspired you to get into your field?

In nursing school, I remember most loving to work with moms and empowering them to care for their families though at the time I wasn't sure how this would unfold in my career. Then one summer I had the opportunity to work in a rural hospital in Indonesia and again found myself drawn to mothers. Working alongside a midwife, I had my first real exposure to natural birth - witnessing newborns crossing the threshold and mothers feeling empowered was so moving! I was drawn to midwifery by the amount of time available to build relationships throughout their pregnancies and by the incredible experience that is birth.

What do you love about Health Foundations and what is your favorite part of your job?

I love that Health Foundations has such a holistic view of health. As a clinician, I feel the freedom and support to explore and recommend healing modalities across the spectrum - from acupuncture to herbs to antibiotics. :) As for my favorite part of my job, it's basically impossible to top birth! Being present and welcomed into such sacred space is continually an honor.

What is your philosophy on birth?

I have the deepest respect for birth as a sacred and empowering event. It's a normal, natural process that brings forth not only babies but families. As the gateway for this transition affecting so many lives, I believe giving presence, compassion, and support with reassurance are what families most need. 

What advice or wisdom can you share with pregnancy or new mama readers? Pregnancy, birth, and parenting come with so much advice! It really can be overwhelming. My advice is to listen to everyone's advice, and let whatever doesn't naturally resonate with you and your family simply roll off your shoulders. Trust yourself. :)

I'd love love love to work with you too, so please set up a free consultation and learn more! 

Meet Liz Smith ~ Receptionist

Meet the Health Foundations Family

Name:

Liz (Elizabeth) Smith

Liz Smith and kids

Hometown:

Chetek, WI

Family:

I am a proud mother of two. I have a son, Devin, 12, and a daughter, Courtney, 10. Both have recently become quite independent, have very different personalities and I am amazed by their resiliency everyday.  I also have 6 sisters and 3 brothers and 26 nieces and nephews. Family first!

Member of Health Foundations Team since:

I joined the team July 21, 2015

Role at Health Foundations:

I am the first face you see when you walk in the door! I schedule appointments for the many roles held here, transfer calls, answer questions, and try to keep everything running smoothly for the midwives' schedules. 

What is your educational background?

I have an Applied Associate's in Science in Business Administration and am currently enrolled in a few classes in the medical field.  Previous to getting my degree, I was in management in the retail/grocery business for 15 years.

Tell us a little about your own birth: 

When my mom went into labor with me, my family happened to be vacationing in Canada. They had to drive across the border to Bemidji, MN, in order for me to be born in the United States. My mom usually delivered pretty quickly (seven previous births) so they didn't waste any time after her water broke. My mother made it into the hospital and they put her on a gurney to bring her to a room. Almost as soon as she laid down, she informed the nurse that I was coming. The nurse told my mom to just relax, patted her on the arm, and as she was walking away, I was born! In the hallway, on a gurney was when I made my entrance into the world.

What is one of your favorite things to do when you are not at Health Foundations?

Liz's kids

One of my absolute favorite things in this world is to spend one on one time with my children, with no electronics or phones to be found! Just recently we visited my sister in WI and found snail shells. Simply making up stories about how they got there and letting their creative minds flow is something I really cherish and fills my heart with immense joy. Being in nature with my kiddos is a favorite past time of mine. 

If you could get on a plane tomorrow and travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I would love to travel to Ireland. I am mostly Irish and would love to visit places I've been told stories about. I also love the greenery in Ireland and nature is something that gives me peace of mind.  

If you could have one super power, what would it be?

If I had one super power, it would be time manipulation. It seems that there is hardly enough time to accomplish and experience all that I set out to. I often find myself losing sleep in order to keep up with life. I want to see and do so many things, where does the time go? 

What inspired you to get into your field?  

I enjoy working with people as well as having my hands in the business side. I have great organizational skills that I wanted to put into action as well. Finding a place like Health Foundations was a true blessing for me as I have a really big family and enjoy all stages of life, from pregnancy on.. 

What do you love about Health Foundations and what is your favorite part of your job?

I love that all the ladies here support each other and work so well together. I was welcomed with open arms and treated respectfully right from the start. I have a great amount of admiration for the midwives and nurses- they work tirelessly, while still maintaining their sense of humor and love for their jobs. My favorite part of my job is getting to know the families that come in, hearing their struggles and triumphs throughout their pregnancy, then share the experience of them coming back after the baby has arrived. Since I can't pick just one, my other favorite part of my job is watching the midwives see the new parents and baby at their two-week visit. They are so excited and the smiles on all faces are enormous. The entire experience that Health Foundations provides is really remarkable. I feel part of a supportive, endearing, and incredible family that truly cares about their patients and making sure their experience here is peaceful and memorable. 

What is your philosophy on birth?

My philosophy on birth is similar to Health Foundations. I feel that going through the laboring process naturally and listening to what a woman's body needs is vital for a woman to feel empowered throughout their labor experience and delivery. If there doesn't need to be intervention, a woman should have the right to birth her baby the way she desires. 

Liz Smith of Health Foundations

What advice or wisdom can you share with pregnancy or new mama readers?

I would tell women that are pregnant to listen to their bodies. If something doesn't feel right, look into it. Peace of mind is more important than trying to tough it out. Sleep and rest when you can, you are growing a human! For a new mama-- sleep when you can, it doesn't matter if your schedule is a little mixed up at first, sleep is so important for your mental, emotional, and physical state. Enjoy every moment of each stage your baby goes through, they are only this age once.

Try not to stress about the little stuff, like cleaning and laundry, it will get done eventually. Your baby is all that matters and he/she can sense any stress you are experiencing. If you are comfortable with it, take any help you can get. As new mom's, we learn as we go and don't need to be hard on ourselves for not knowing how to do something. A helpful reminder; there is no manual on having a baby. And that's a great thing! Listen to your intuition, as it is usually right. My mother always told me, "If baby is happy, everyone is happy!"

Meet Jenna Niggeler ~ Medical Assistant & Acupuncturist

Meet the Health Foundations Family
Jenna Niggeler, Medical Assistant and Acupuncturist

Name: 

Jenna Niggeler

Role at Health Foundations: 

Medical Assistant and Acupuncturist

When did you begin working at HF?

I started working in June 2015 and love being involved in all kinds of jobs here.

What is your educational background/training?

I have been a phlebotomist for over 7 years working at local blood banks and clinics around the metro area. I fell in love with acupuncture and holistic healing after many successful treatments while training for the twin cities marathon in 2009. Soon after, in the spring of 2014 I graduated with my Master in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. I also had the opportunity to travel abroad to Tianjin University in Tianjin China, where I completed advanced studies in acupuncture and Oriental medicine. I truly have a passion for helping others and guiding them through their healing journey.  

Where were you born and what month?  Anything you want to share about your birth?

I was born at St. Josephs on July 20th two long weeks late according to my mother. It was during a stormy day with tornado sirens going off in the background. Luckily no tornado hit, just a little lady was born at 8:25 pm.

Where do you live now?

 I live in Woodbury, with my cat Cliff.

Describe your family.

 I am the youngest of 3 children, and have 3 nephews and 1 niece. I absolutely love being an Aunt it is the greatest gift. My family is from Brainerd MN so any chance I get I am heading up north for lake fun and family adventures.

What is one of your favorite things to do when you are not at HF?

I love anything outdoors during all 4 seasons. Hiking, kayaking, and picnics are some of my favorite activities. Also curling up with a good book is always a favorite.

 
Jenna Niggeler Outdoors
 

What is one of your favorite restaurants in Saint Paul?

French Meadow is amazing! Breakfast, lunch, or dinner they have something for everyone with fresh ingredients. 

If you could get on a plane tomorrow and travel anywhere in the world for free, where would you go?

Jenna Niggeler Traveling

I have always wanted to adventure down under to Australia. I would love to experience new foods, meeting the locals, and site seeing.

What inspired you to get into your field?

Growing up I was always a helper and knew I wanted to be a part of the medical field. I have always been one to use a more holistic approach in my personal health care. I discovered the wonders Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine while training for the Twin Cities Marathon in 2009; while training I had a lot of aches, pains, and troubled knees. The prescribed rest, ice, and Ibuprofen only went so far before the aches and pains would come back. I followed up with a suggestion to try acupuncture, and after 8 treatments I finished the marathon pain-free and Ibuprofen free! It was a wonderful experience. Being a phlebotomist at the time I decided to continue my needling career and started acupuncture school that fall. Acupuncture has helped me through more than just the marathon and I want to be able to help others the way it continues to help me.

What do you love about Health Foundations?

I love the good energy you feel right as you walk in door.

Our saying “Your body Your baby Your Birth Your way” says it all, I love what Health Foundations is all about and what it has to offer families. Everyone here is so welcoming and knowledgeable; I continually learn something new every day.  

When will you be available?

I will be offering Community acupuncture Wednesday nights at the birth center from 6-8 PM, $30 per session. Please come and check it out!

Welcome Dr. Dennis Hartung!

BlogIcons_MeetStaffWe are so thrilled to introduce you to the newest member of our team: Dr. Dennis Hartung. Dr. Hartung joined our practice in January 2015. Many consider Dr. Hartung a legend in the Twin Cities birth community. He has a reputation not only for being a stellar OB/GYN, but also for being very supportive of natural birth and very empowering of the women and families under his care. He is appreciated by many of his patients for his remarkable calm, caring, approachable, attentive, and down-to-earth bedside manner and incredible skill. Welcome Dr. Hartung. dr.hartungimage-1

What is your role at Health Foundations?

I am an OB/GYN physician. I see patients that need care for their birth at the hospital, but who would like to be seen at Health Foundations. I also offer well woman and gynecologic care, including managing surgery for those who need that as part of their GYN care.

What is your educational background/training?

I received my B.A in Biology at Boston University in Massachusetts. I later earned my Medical Degree at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. I received further OB/GYN training at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Where were you born?

I was born in Billings, Montana in June 1958. I was born in a hospital and don’t know a great deal of detail about my own birth. I heard that my mom did not have a name picked out for me and that she named me after her OB.

Has anyone ever named a child you’ve helped deliver after you?

Not to my knowledge!

Where have you lived beside Minnesota?

I have lived all over the place! Growing up, my dad’s work took us from Billings and Bozeman, Montana to Yuma, Arizona. After my parent’s divorce, we moved west to Salem, Oregon. After that I moved around a lot with the Army to Clarksville, Tennessee; Hampton and Little Creek, Virginia; Brookline and Brighton Massachusetts; North Pole, Alaska (seriously); Ft Campbell, Kentucky; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Benning, Georgia; and San Antonia, Texas.

My favorite place I’ve lived has to be North Pole, Alaska. I worked for the Army as a medical doctor up there and our family just loved it there. It was colder, but my wife and I always say that Minnesota/Wisconsin feels colder much of the time in the winter. North Pole was a great place to raise our kids—we had a tightknit and very supportive community. We loved that wilderness was everywhere, all around you. Living in Alaska, you really have to adjust to the rhythms in a place where it is virtually dark 24 hours a day for a few months a year and then light for 24 hours a day for months. You could be out washing your car and realize it was 1am in the morning! But it was just a really cool place to live.

Where do you live now?

Hartung family in Hudson

I live in Hudson, Wisconsin. We’ve lived here for 9 years. My wife’s parents live on the east coast and my parents on the West, but neither of their home states really attracted us—they are not particularly doctor-friendly from malpractice and other standpoints. So knowing we wouldn’t live on either coast freed us to look around. We looked in the northern US—we wanted the 4 seasons and a place that didn’t get too hot and humid. I was eligible to retire from the army at this point…so we interviewed for a job here and fell in love with Hudson. We loved the small town feel with proximity to the Twin Cities. It has been a great place for our kids—good schools and after-school activities.

Can you say a little about your family?

I have been married to Linda for 33 years, and we have three kids: Rebekah (28), John (25) and Aaron (21). My wife and I have two cats named Rue and Sega. I have a younger sister named Jani who lives in Turner, Oregon, just outside of Salem.

Dennis and wife Linda, Dominican Republic

What led you to the Army?

When I was finishing up with high school, I didn’t have the financial means to go to college. My music teacher recommended I audition for the Army band as a flutist and get military college benefits. I was accepted and played flute for 6 years in the army. I received an army scholarship for my education with the expectation that I would serve the army as a doctor when I was done. I spent about 12 years as a student/resident and then about 11 years post-residency as an active duty army physician in OB/GYN care.

Dr. Hartung at military trauma course in medical school

What is one of your favorite things to do when you are not at Health Foundations?

I am a flutist and still play regularly at church and other times/places that I can. I love gardening, hiking, and canoeing.

Linda and Dennis, annual fundraising gala at church

What is one of your favorite restaurants in Saint Paul?

Pizza Luce

If you could get on a plane tomorrow and travel anywhere in the world for free, where would you go?

Ireland. My wife and I went there for our 25th wedding anniversary and were delighted by it. We want to go back sometime.

What inspired you to get into your field?

Being present for the birth of my daughter—our first baby. Our daughter was born while I was in college. We had a hospital birth with midwives and our care was much like what is offered at Health Foundations. Watching my wife go through labor (and later holding my newborn girl skin to skin) had a profound impact on me and really influenced my later decision to become an OB/GYN. At first, when I started college, I thought I wanted to become a dentist because I was fascinated by dental instruments. However, I spoke with some dentists during my college years and they really discouraged me from pursuing dentistry. Then I thought I wanted to go into surgery but I didn’t enjoy my surgery rotation during residency at all. When I had my OB rotation—by this time we had also had our middle son—I just knew that this was a good fit for me and that I wanted to serve women and families as an OB/GYN. 

Hartung family, Dominican Republic

 

What is your philosophy on birth?

A woman’s body can do it. Let’s approach it allowing normal physiology to take place without fussing. Then if there are difficulties, begin a stepwise intervention to facilitate a healthy birth, for mom and babe.

What do you wish all Health Foundations families knew? 

THEY CAN DO IT!

What piece of advice or wisdom can you share with pregnant or new mama readers?

In our culture, unsolicited advice and “birth stories” are often told to moms-to-be. People don’t mean to be rude, they often just don’t know what else to say. Humor them, thank them and then let your body do what it was designed to do. Surround yourself with the support you need to get through it.

Meet Alicia Smith, Acupuncturist!

Aliciapic

Aliciapic Fast facts Specialties: pediatric conditions, women’s health Styles: Five Element acupuncture, pediatric acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Where are you from? My home town is Appleton located in Central Wisconsin. Although, I feel I am from northern Michigan too.

Where do you live currently? I live in St. Paul in the same neighborhood as the clinic with my husband Rudy and dog Chewie.

Tell us a little about your education. I completed my premed course work at Northern Michigan University and earned an Associates Degree. Then I studied at Bastyr University in Seattle and completed a Bachelors of Science in Natural Health and a Masters of Science in Acupuncture. I have completed specialized trainings in pediatrics and women’s health, and other complementary modalities such as hypnotherapy and flower essences.

I love my school, Bastyr! It is so fun to work with fellow Bastyr Alumnae here at Health Foundations.

Why did you become an acupuncturist? To offer healthcare that I feel is needed to balance out the healthcare system. It is my mission to provide my clients with a broader understanding of health and a more lasting sense of wellbeing. Instead of the traditional disease-centered approach of conventional medicine, natural medicine applies a client-centered approach that addresses the whole person rather than simply her symptoms.

Tell us about your practice. I specialize in pediatrics and women’s health. This means that as an acupuncturist I am intuitive and gentle. If you are needle-shy or just need to feel supported and comfortable, I am your practitioner.

What do you enjoy most about your work? I love seeing my many kids and their mamas laugh and enjoy their treatments. I also deeply respect the practitioner-client relationship.

When I am not in the clinic, I do a lot of public speaking and writing articles. Currently, I am working on creating a radio show.

What is the biggest misconception you hear about acupuncture? Acupuncture is not for kids! Acupuncture hurts! Acupuncture can’t help with that.

You treat kids? Yes! I trained in non-needle techniques and gentle natural medicine that works great for the kiddos. Believe it or not, most kids really look forward to their sessions.

How do you stay healthy in your own life? I try to stay happy! I first realize that I am human. We can be our best friend that is understanding and compassionate or we can be a judgmental and negative. When I start hearing negativity in my thought process, I make it a point to stop. Then say a couple of positive things.

I love to dance. I am looking into getting back into some local dance classes. Lastly, being by water is healing for me. Water on my skin, watching rolling waves or feeling the rainwater does it for me!

Learn more at www.acupuncture-office.com. Make appointments online or call  651-239-5856!

Meet Dr. Amber Moravec, chiropractor!

Moravec AmberToday, we chat with Dr. Amber Moravac, DC, our resident chiropractor and owner of Naturally Aligned Family Chiropractic. We are so lucky to have Dr. Amber as part of our team of wellness professionals here at Health Foundations. Read on to learn more about Dr. Amber and all the good chiropractic care can do for women, babies, kids…and beyond! Where are you from?

I grew up in a small town in southern Minnesota called Le Center.

Where do you live currently?

I live in White Bear Lake with my husband, Andrew our sons Everett and Jackson and our daughter, Ellie.

Moravec family

Can you tell us a little about your educational background?

I pursued my four-year undergraduate education at University of Minnesota Duluth, earning a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education.  I worked for a few years then returned to school to complete my four-year chiropractic doctorate at Northwestern Health Sciences University, Bloomington, MN. One of my favorite parts of chiropractic school was learning about pregnancy and infancy…I’ve loved it from the start!

What do you like to do when you are not helping families?

Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my family and friends.  I enjoy reading, gardening and yoga.

Can you tell us a little about your chiropractic practice?

I am the owner of Naturally Aligned Family Chiropractic, PA. We are located within two distinct and beautiful Minnesota locations and provide chiropractic services: Health Foundations Family Health & Birth Center in St. Paul and Synergy Family Physicians in White Bear Lake.

There are currently two chiropractic providers.  Dr. Amber provides care at Health Foundations Family Health and Birth Center and Synergy Family Physicians and Dr. Emily Ceci provides care at Synergy Family Physicians.

Our chiropractic interest and expertise are in pre/post natal moms, pediatric care, and family wellness.  We connect well with growing families looking to improve or preserve their health.  We do mostly perform manual adjustments (use our hands) but occasionally utilize a few instruments: the drop table and hand-held activator.

You have a unique practice in that you don’t work with insurance. Can you tell us more about that?

Yes, we have a cash based practice, which means we do not bill any 3rd party insurance companies. We believe chiropractic care is different from conventional medicine. Health insurance was designed for expensive medical events or catastrophic occurrences that require medical procedures or hospitalizations. We view chiropractic care and good nutrition as tools to help you maintain your health, keep you moving and keep you out of the hospital. You CAN certainly use your HSA or FSA accounts!

Honestly, setting up our practice like this is a huge bonus to families. We are able to charge much less than other providers and families usually end up paying less than they would if they used insurance. We also don’t have the headache of chasing insurance payments, so we can just focus on what we love: serving the individuals and families in our practice.

How does chiropractic care help women in pregnancy?

In one word…Balance. Your nervous system can coordinate all functions in your body IF there is balance and proper internal communication. I think about it as running with all pistons firing. Pregnancy changes your body in lots of ways—structurally, chemically, and emotionally.

Chiropractic care can help your body adapt to all these changes. Structurally, an adjustment can help you stay moving as belly grows and weight is placed in different areas. Chemically, it impacts the way hormones flow – pregnancy is fundamentally a hormonal event – we need the right amount of each hormone in all trimesters. Being pregnant and giving birth takes an emotional toll on a body. Balance does allow your body to adapt and “be-okay” with those emotions. Although, you’ll often hear me say to give into those emotions and accept them for what they are!

What are some of the most common reasons women come to you in pregnancy?

Well, first I want to dispel a major myth: Pregnancy DOES NOT have to be PAINFUL! It’s true! Sure, we see women for low back pain, sciatic pain, hip pain, and rib pain. But we like to educate our clients to see the earlier signs of imbalance before pain arises (which is often a later symptom that something is going on!). Changes in digestion (gas, indigestion, heartburn, constipation), trouble sleeping, and signs like these can all be earlier indicators that the body is needing some support to come into balance. This is the ideal time for an adjustment!   Don’t wait until you can’t walk!

Back pain and being uncomfortable aren’t inevitable side effects of pregnancy, they are warning signs!   Only 10% of your nervous system is dedicated to pain, the rest goes to keeping you alive. So when the major functions of the body go awry, like sleep or digestion, that is a good indicator that something is going on. Pain is very motivating but we usually get a lot of signs before this.

In addition to helping women feel better in pregnancy, chiropractic can have a huge effect on a woman’s birth. If mom’s body is balanced the baby has optimal room to grow and is more likely to find a better spot in mom’s pelvis before labor starts – that makes for efficient labors.

What advice do you have for expectant mothers?

Breathe! Take these months as a chance to get to know yourself and your body. Feed it well. Move it around a bit. Take time to enjoy the simplicity of your life. I encourage moms to read a few books {on pregnancy and/or parenting} if they want, but don’t go overboard. Read up on the areas you are most interested in, but don’t add stress to your life trying to read it all! Last but not least, don’t be afraid to do things differently than your mom, sister, neighbor, or best friend. If you are confident in your decision others will usually respect you for it.

How can chiropractic help a woman during labor?

chiropractic at birthWe are super fortunate to live in a community where the midwives are really great about knowing when chiropractic support may benefit a woman in labor. I am often called to labors in cases where labor is not progressing, labor is stalled for some reason, or when baby isn’t in the right position. One thing that I think surprises people is that, many times, I spend more time adjusting the laboring woman’s neck rather than her pelvis. While that seems opposite, adjusting the cervical spine is what helps to get the right hormones going in labor so that it can progress optimally.

I enjoy being a part of a women’s labor team, but I’d much rather see mama’s in my office before they get into labor!

How does chiropractic help new mamas?

Carrying a baby on the outside isn't any easier on your body!  It just changes the areas that are stressed.  Many moms feel upper back, shoulder, and neck pain due to increase breast size, looking down, and carrying baby.  After baby is a nice time to get adjusted to fix all things your body goes through in labor.

chiropractic care birthWhat advice do you have for new families?

• Rest, relax and have realistic expectations of yourself and your time. Adding a baby to your life, whether it’s your first or fourth, it’s a big deal! Allow it to be a big deal.

• Take help, food, and gifts from anyone willing to give them. But… be greedy with your baby. Babies need their parents. Nature designed it that way.

• I’ve become better at trusting my mama instincts more with each child. Like most things in life you get better when you practice! Don’t be afraid to assess and change the way you do things as a parent. It always feels like a work in progress.

• You can only make decisions based on the information you have at the time. If you learn something new and “wish you would have known better” don’t be too hard on yourself. You know now.

• Lastly, in the throes of parenting… Days are long…Years are short.

How does chiropractic care help babies?

Chiropractic can help babies adjust to life outside with womb as well as help them recover from the physical process of birth. Babies are sometimes in a position in the womb that creates imbalances we see once they are born. For example, babies are often born with short muscles on one side and long muscles on another given how they were positioned in the womb. This can affect how they latch, how they nurse, how their tummies feel, how they sleep and more. The birth process itself is a stressor on their small body and chiropractic can help bring them into balance early on in the newborn stage.

chiropractic for babiesChiropractic is also really great at each of the major milestones of a baby’s life. They go through so much growth and change in that first year (and beyond!). As baby’s master each new physical milestone: supporting and controlling their own head, rolling, sitting, crawling, walking—a baby’s nervous system is being wired to control and coordinate that part of their body.   We want to make sure it’s being wired correctly. Babies take a lot of tumbles too—think about how our bodies would feel going through the same—they can really benefit from adjustments that help restore balance in their growing, moving bodies.

Chiropractic has other benefits too. For example, research shows that babies who get adjusted have 200% increase in immune function.

Can you say a little about the client education you offer to your patients?

I feel like I spend a lot of time preparing people to get adjusted for the first time in my office. My background is in education and that really comes through. I feel like if people really understand why they are getting adjusted its more effective because they are able to associate the adjustment with something. Plus, when you teach someone how their body works, then we become a better team. They are better able to tell me how and under what conditions they are experiencing discomfort and I am better able to help.

I also teach my patients one or two exercises at each visit—this to me is a manageable amount of “homework” and can really help someone stay in balance or come into balance on their own between visits. It gives them a toolkit, so to speak, for discomfort that may arise at 10 pm one night and it also gives them things to work on that really support their health and their adjustments.

I enjoy talking to families about the things that are happening in their lives and their lifestyles, taking time to educate about nutrition, exercise and things like baby sleep, foods, development, and just life in general!

Meet Amanda DeVoogdt!

BlogIcons_MeetStaff  

Amanda2Name:

Amanda DeVoogdt (de vote)

Role at Health Foundations:

Staff Midwife

Education:

  • BA in Women’s Studies and Cultural Studies (minor) at the University of Minnesota in Duluth
  • Midwifery Program Graduate (3-year program) from Birthwise Midwifery School, a MEAC (Midwifery Education and Accreditation Council) accredited school, in Bridgton, Maine.

Let’s start with some basics. 

What do you love to do when you are not at Health Foundations?

I love food- cooking it, eating it, sharing it.  One of my favorite things to do is whip up an impromptu dinner for friends or attempt a challenging recipe that’s caught my eye. Back when I had a TV, I used to watch a lot of old reruns of Julia Child on PBS and America’s Test Kitchen.

Running is also a common past time of mine. I ran a marathon once and as I crossed the finish line swore I would never do another-ha! I’m more of a 4-5 miler these days. Just enough to de-stress, get me outside and make me feel the runner’s high.

If you could get on a plane and travel anywhere tomorrow, where would you go and why?

Oh gosh, I think my travel bug has been tamed! I had lots of traveling adventures throughout my 20s, so now I’m much more of a homebody. I’d much rather take a long weekend and explore a small town in Wisconsin and camp outside than jet-set anywhere.

Do you have a favorite restaurant in Saint Paul?

Black Sheep Pizza and Mango Thai are a couple of my favorites for take-out.

Tanpopo Restaurant is the best-kept secret in St Paul and The Blue Door Pub makes a mighty fine juicy-lucy! 

When does your story with Health Foundations begin?

I started with Amy Johnson-Grass before she opened the birth center.  She was closing her private midwifery practice and had just purchased the building that is now the birth center. She very graciously took me on as a ‘volunteer’ even though I had no skills or experience- I hadn’t even been to a birth at that point!  I basically just wanted tasks so I could follow her around and see what it was like to be a midwifeJI packed boxes and organized charts and eventually I applied to midwifery school and she became my preceptor. It’s been a whirlwind ever sense.  Nothing could have prepared me for how hard and character-building midwifery school would be. I’ve been with Amy through all of my training and am so grateful for her endless patience and kindness towards me while I grew into a midwife. She’s my mama midwife- gently leading me and teaching me along the way.

After graduation I stayed on as a staff midwife and have been here ever since. I’m so proud to be one of the original staff members and to have been able to see the birth center grow and change over the years. We’ve come so far!

Amanda3Did you know before your work with Amy that you for sure wanted to be a midwife or were you just exploring a possible interest? 

The first time I heard about midwifery was in my Women’s Studies classes in college.  I was really fascinated by the profession of midwifery and by women that chose to give birth in their homes. I’m a big fan of bold women that go against the grain and stand up for what they believe in, so midwifery felt like home to me.  I had a lot of things I wanted to do in my life first though. My gypsy spirit really had to have its time before I could be ready for the life commitment that is midwifery. So I spent a lot of time traveling and working various jobs after college, but my heart was always in midwifery. I knew I would come back to it.

For me, and for many midwives, midwifery is a calling. A vocation that picks you. That’s what gets you through the sleepless nights, the long labors and the many days without seeing your family or friends. You truly have to love the work and believe that it is making a difference because it can be very challenging at times.

Tell me more about your bucket list.  What were some of the things you did to feed your gypsy spirit before becoming a midwife?

Well, I took a year off in college and moved to China to work as an English teacher for a while. I was literally fresh off the farm from rural North Dakota and plopped down in the middle-of-nowhere China.  It was my first time leaving the country and it totally blew my mind. After I finished college I took a job in The Netherlands working as a personal assistant to a woman who was pregnant at the time.  The Netherlands, specifically in Amsterdam where I was—the social norm is to have a homebirth. I was really exposed to a culture that supported out-of-hospital birth and midwifery and that had a big influence on me. Once I left The Netherlands, I took a job in South Korea and wrote textbook curriculum for a little over a year. It was a wild time. I was literally living out of a suitcase and had sold all of my belongings. I knew that I would never have a time in my life like that again- I totally took advantage of being single and free of commitments.

I’m so glad I had all of those adventures and experiences and I am also glad that it’s over!  I like hot showers and real beds too much now.

What do you know about the story of your own birth?

I was adopted when I was an infant, so my birth story was told to me by my birth mother a couple of years ago when I met her for the first time. It was a story that I had been waiting to hear my whole life and now has added importance because of my work in birth. It was very moving to hear my own birth story and it was also very moving to hear a birth story from the perspective of a birthmother. I felt like I knew my entire ‘life story’ once I heard the story of my birth and I greatly encourage all women to write about their birth experiences not only for themselves but also for their children one day.

Amanda4What do you love about working here?

My co-workers are like my family.  We have a lot of fun together and we laugh a lot.  Everyone is sharing food, stories and hugs around here.  This is a great place to come if you are having a great day, and a great place to come when you are having a bad day because everyone is going to be there to support you.

When I’m up all night at a birth and haven’t slept I am guaranteed to have a coffee waiting for me, a sandwich on the way, and someone is working to rearrange my schedule so I can get a nap in or go home early—everyone just comes together to take care of one another. That is crucial in this kind of work.

Amanda5What is your philosophy on birth?

I often find myself saying “Just do what you need to do…” during labors. I’m usually saying it when someone’s at the point where she just needs to give into the process.

Cry it out. Sing. Let’s have a dance party. Get mad. Yell. Cry some more. Just do what you need to do. Tap into that deep place and let it give you strength. Labor is an emotional journey that is different for every one. I love holding a safe space for women while they figure it all out and “do what they need to do”.

What do you love about Health Foundations families?

I love that our clients come in with thoughtful questions about their health and that they request alternative treatments for common ailments.  There are so many things that can be treated through changes in diet and natural remedies. I love sharing what I know and giving people information that they can use beyond their pregnancy.

Do you have any advice or other wisdom to share with our readers?

Chiropractic care in pregnancy is key. So is sitting up straight in the car and not reclining back in comfy chairs. “Optimal fetal positioning” is the mantra for the third trimester!

Meet Amy Johnson-Grass!

BlogIcons_MeetStaff Today we get to know Amy Johnson-Grass, founder, director, midwife and naturopathic doctor at Health Foundations Birth Center.

Amy_birth_BabyName:

Amy Johnson-Grass

Family:

Husband Tim, and two kids, Liam (7) and Isla (5).

Amy_FamB&W

Current residence:

Saint Paul, in the same neighborhood as the birth center.

What is your birth story?

I was born in February in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.  My mother always spoke warmly about her pregnancy; she loved being pregnant and always gets a glow when she talks about it.  At the time, they didn’t let dads into the labor room, so women spent much of their labor on their own.  It’s so interesting; it’s such a difference from most women’s birth experiences today.

And of course, it was February, in a snow storm…the snow always brings the babies!

Where else have you lived besides Minnesota?

Everywhere!  Growing up, my family moved about once every year and a half to two years, so I have lived lots of places.  As an adult, I lived in Seattle for many years and Tim and I moved back to Minnesota in 2005...living in St. Paul is the longest I will have lived anywhere!  While I wouldn’t change my childhood, I love the idea of building roots in one place for our children.

What is your favorite Saint Paul restaurant?

We love Salut, just down the street from the birth center on Grand Ave.  It is our neighborhood hangout.  They know us there, know our names, our order, everything.  We love that it is walking distance from our house and their patio is the best in the summer!

If you could travel anywhere tomorrow for free, where would you go?

I’d go somewhere warm with a beach.  I love adventure and going to new places, so I am not sure where I’d go exactly, maybe somewhere new.

Amy delivering babies in Vanuatu, an island in the South Pacific

If you could have one super power what would it be and why?

I’ve always wanted to have the nose-wiggling power from the show Bewitched!  Just wiggle your nose, and poof!  The house is clean!  Food is made (and cleaned up after)!  The laundry is washed and folded and in the closet organized (and all the socks match)!

What do you love to do when you are not at Health Foundations?

Well, I am here a lot!  But when I am not, I really enjoy running, it is very calming.  I also really love to spend time with Tim and the kids.  The kids are really active and we spend a lot of time outdoors, year-round.  In the summer, we especially love being in the water, being on the boat, and just being outside in the sun.  I love the sun.

Amy at the Dirty Girl Mud Run-- HFBC has a team every year!

Great, let’s shift now to Health Foundations…

What is your role at Health Foundations?

My husband Tim and I own the birth center.  I am also the director, a naturopathic doctor, and a midwife in the practice.  As a naturopathic doctor, I specialize in pediatrics and women’s fertility.

Amy_atBirth

What is Health Foundations' ‘birth story’?

Tim and I moved back here in 2005 from Seattle.  When we returned, I opened a private practice on the other end of Grand Avenue and I was a homebirth midwife, serving local families from about 2005 to 2010.  And at the same time I was in a three-year postdoctoral fellowship with the National Institutes of Health for Complementary and Alternative Medical Clinical Research.  I also worked at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis in their Integrative Medicine Program.

In 2008, Tim and I began looking for the perfect space for the birth center.  It took a while, actually, to find this space.   We were also the first birth center to open in the Twin Cities [in February 2010] so we had to work with the city on zoning.  It took several months to work with the city on not being zoned as a hoptial. The birth center has grown in so many ways since we have opened!  We are going on our fifth year, turning five in 2015.

What is your educational background?

I did my undergraduate work at Saint Olaf, in Biology and Environmental Education.  I always knew I wanted to go into medicine, so I was initially a pre-med student.  Even though St. Olaf is small, one of my early memories of the pre-med program was sitting in a big auditorium, they said “these are the numbers you need to get, these are the tests you need to take…” and it was just a big numbers game.  That is just not me.  So I looked into other majors, such as sociology and anthropology, but everything kept bringing me back to the medicine.

At the same time, I was volunteering at a surgery unit in the hospital and we would see the same patients back again and again.  There was such a lack of education for patients so that they would make the changes needed and not have to keep coming back; so they could actually be healthy and not need so many surgeries.  So that is really what got me into naturopathic medicine, it was the philosophical difference of that education piece and the finding a root cause of things that are going on with people so that you can really make a positive and lasting difference in their health and well being.

After my undergrad, I pursued and completed a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine, a Masters of Science in Nutrition and a Certificate of Midwifery at Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington.  I am also completing a Masters of Clinical Research at the University of Minnesota.  My Clinical Research masters thesis is on the statistics of Health Foundations Birth Center for the first four years in operation!

What inspired you to get into your field?

Really it was women’s choice, and women knowing their choices and their options.  And then as time has gone on, it’s been more and more about women’s empowerment.  I see how much pregnancy, and labor, and delivery, and birth can really change a woman—who she is and how she thinks about herself.  It’s more of a self-perception than an “anyone else” perception.  But in turn how a woman thinks of herself impacts the type of mom she is, the type of partner she is… that’s a big deal.

And the other piece is the education.  That has always been huge for me.  It’s a partnership so, in our practice at least, we give our patients the information and then our families digest it, ask lots of questions, and make the best choices for them.

Amy_LaborCoach

What makes Health Foundations unique?

I think it is really unique to the Twin Cities that we are an integrative practice.  So we are in both worlds.  We understand the complementary medicine piece of herbs, homeopathy, botanicals, and counseling, physical medicine, nutrition and diet & lifestyle counseling—because that is huge.  But we also understand the conventional side of it too—medications, prescriptions, specialists and surgery.  We offer both worlds under one roof that is specifically serves women & children.

Also, I don’t think the community knows we offer fertility counseling and education for GLBT families and surrogates.  Low-tech (IUI) inseminations are done in our office, including both known donors and cryobank specimens.  This is such a special time in families lives that The Center is a welcoming and relaxed environment for these families to be.

Amy_swaddledbaby

What is your favorite thing about Health Foundations?

Truly, the community here.  It’s just amazing to see how moms and families connect with each other, either through the classes we teach, the HFBC events, Moms Group...  There is a big sense of community here.  That is really why Tim and I built the birth center was to create community.  And, as a choice for women.  Giving women choices in birth.

I also LOVE the HFBC staff of women I get to work with everyday.  I am so thankful for such an amazing group of women!

Also, I’ve been practicing in Minnesota since 2005. The first baby I delivered here was born in 2006.  So to see those kids and families grow, is the best.  I just ran into a mom at a coffee shop and her son just turned four—not so little anymore—it is wonderful to see families grow.

Amy_Birth_babybed

What is your philosophy on birth?

You know, everybody always says birth is normal, and it is—our midwives, we are truly experts in normal birth.  And that is so important today because normal is a rarity.  And knowing that birth, labor, and delivery don’t look the same for every woman is so important, to really know the range of normal and respect and allow for that.  I believe in woman’s right to have mobility and be able to eat in labor, to be in the positions that are best for them in their labor.  Its really about women and their experience.

What do you love about Health Foundations families?

The proactive role they take in their health.  And the energy and enthusiasm they bring to their care and their experiences.

What do you wish all Health Foundations families knew?

Well {laughs}, I am famous for the unpopular but important “no ice cream in pregnancy” rule!  Really, ice cream is not good for mom or baby!  It’s been so funny, because lately moms who’ve given birth with us have come back in and joked about the no ice cream rule!

Also, for new parents, I suggest choosing how you want to handle sleep before your baby hits 9 months!

Know that really, you only have so much control.  Your job in pregnancy is to exercise, and eat right, and get good sleep, and do everything you can do.  But ultimately, babies decide where they are born.

Amy_BirthBaby

Meet Monica Liddle!

We are bringing a new feature to the blog this year—a series of interviews of our own family here at Health Foundations.  We hope this will allow our prospective and current clients to get to know us a little better. We know that it can be hard to choose a care provider based simply on the credentials that come after one’s name or from a basic biography—hopefully this will give a sense not only of who we are as professionals, but who we are as people.  We feel so privileged to get to know each and every one of our families and we want you to feel like you know us a bit too. 

The first member of our team we’d like to introduce on the blog is Monica Liddle, one of our fantastic midwives.

Name:

Monica Liddle

Hometown:

Columbus, Indiana

Current residence:

Saint Anthony Park neighborhood of Saint Paul

Family:

Husband Tom, who is currently getting his Masters of Divinity at Luther Seminary, and two children Hannah (born 2004 in Duluth, MN) and Simon (2010 in East Timor).

Monica and her family (husband Tom and kids Hannah and Simon)

Member of Health Foundations Team since:

February 2013

Monica, please tell us a little about your role at Health Foundations

I am a licensed midwife and a naturopathic doctor.  I provide comprehensive maternity care to women in the childbearing year, including prenatal, labor and delivery, and postpartum care.  I also play a supportive role in naturopathic medical care for our patients.

What is your educational background/training? 

I received my BA from University of Arizona in Tucson in 1994.  I received my degree in interdisciplinary studies in a combination of Women’s Studies, Modern Dance, and Creative Writing.  I received my Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine in 2002 and my Certificate in Naturopathic Midwifery in 2003, both from Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington.  This is where I met fellow midwife and Health Foundations owner Amy Johnson Grass. 

Tell us a little about your own birth

I was born in July 1971 in Columbus, Indiana.  I am the second child in my family.  My mom had a pretty straightforward seven-hour labor with me and had a normal spontaneous vaginal delivery (NSVD) in a hospital.

It sounds like you’ve lived in quite a few places, where have you lived beside MN?

I’ve lived in lots of places, including Indiana, Arizona, North Carolina, Washington, Duluth (Minnesota), and East Timor, an island nation in Southeast Asia.  I moved to the Twin Cities in 2013 with my family and am happy to be back in Minnesota.

Monica in East Timor

What is one of your favorite things to do when you are not at Health Foundations?

I love reading stories to my kids.  That has to be one of my favorite things to do with them.  Bedtime reading includes Dr. Seuss and Busytown Books (the Cat Family) for Simon. Harry Potter is Hannah’s favorite.

If you could get on a plane tomorrow and travel anywhere in the world where would you go?

I would definitely travel back to East Timor—I have many friends and loved ones there, not to mention, it’s warm and sunny!!!

If you could have one super power what would it be? 

I would want to fly!  And I would probably fly myself to East Timor, as mentioned.

Okay, lets get into your midwifery practice.  What inspired you to get into your field?

At the very beginning of my naturopathic medical program at Bastyr, I participated in a new student orientation interest group session on the midwifery program.  I wasn’t necessarily considering it before, but as I listened to the midwifery program advisor talk about natural childbirth, I was struck by how clearly birth was central to the naturopathic philosophy of health.  Namely, that natural birth strives to avoid unnecessary interventions in the birth process, and that solid foundations in good nutrition and positive self-care can and do support a woman’s ability to have a healthy pregnancy and birth, and a healthy newborn.

It took many months before I could actually pursue this path (after my general naturopathic curriculum), but once I began the midwifery program and started attending births, I really loved it.  It was interesting to see how the program “thinned out” as fellow students began to realize the lifestyle commitment required of midwives (namely the 24/7 on-call commitment), but this didn’t dissuade me from pursing this line of work because of how important I believe midwifery and natural health care to be.

In addition to midwifery coursework, I spent 9 months after completing my ND program working with naturopathic midwives in Seattle. Naturopathic midwives are those of us trained at US Department of Education-accredited naturopathic medical schools with doctoral degrees in naturopathic medicine AND specialty training and certification in comprehensive maternity care.   The final piece of my midwifery training in 2003 was at Bairo Pite Clinic in East Timor, working alongside Timorese midwives.

Monica with a family in East Timor

Actually, when I think back to my introduction to midwifery at Bastyr, I think the reason that it resonated so much to me is because of my experience in women’s studies as an undergrad.  I felt like my eyes had been opened to the world through women’s studies.  And then along came midwifery, and I was struck: midwifery in America is truly “radical health care for women.”  While those of us who practice midwifery in out-of-hospital settings are considered “outside the box” by American standards of maternity care, there are things to keep in mind. For example, midwives are the primary providers for childbearing women worldwide, and out of hospital settings are the norm in many places. In East Timor, over 70% of deliveries happen at home in this very rural country, and most women don’t have access to competent medical or midwifery care.

Finally, here in the US, the research bears the truth: midwifery care by trained providers both in and out of the hospital is without question a safe option for low risk women with the benefit of less interventions, good outcomes for mothers and babies, and more personal attention for individual women.

What do you love about Health Foundations?  What is your favorite part of your job?

I love working with women who are committed to serving other women with care and commitment.

I love catching babies!

And, I love when first time moms have that moment: “Oh !*%?! I can’t believe I am doing this!!!!”….and then they do it!

What is your philosophy on birth?

I feel like giving birth is a natural part of a woman’s life.  In the work I do with midwifery care, I feel like I am honoring that most essential aspect of womanhood.  And it’s really important for me and always has been to see birth as an opportunity to empower women because when women are empowered through birth, through giving birth, it can change their lives.

What do you love about Health Foundations families?

I love to witness the diversity from which Health Foundations families come, and with similar intent: for an empowering, natural birth.

What do you wish all HF families knew?  What advice or wisdom can you share with pregnant or new mama readers? 

Read Ina May Gaskin!

Practice your squats!

Trust your body!

Honor yourself and your baby.

Interview: Welcome Baby Care's Carey Lindeman

wbcWe had the pleasure of speaking with Carey Lindeman, founder of Welcome Baby Care to discuss postpartum care and her pioneering postpartum doula service in the Twin Cities.  Many people don’t know what a postpartum doula is or how they can help.  Hopefully, this interview will shed some light on this invaluable and unique type of postpartum support and what amazing doulas, like those at Welcome Baby Care, can offer.

What is a postpartum doula?

While a lot of people have heard what a birth doula is, not everyone has heard of or understands what a postpartum doula is.  Essentially, what a postpartum doula does is come into a family’s home after the birth. Our first priority is taking care of the mother and making sure that she is healing properly and bonding with her baby.  So our goal is to relieve her of the things that would normally be overwhelming her.  Whether that be laundry, changing the sheets, keeping the bathroom clean, cooking, maybe running errands.

So there is that piece and there is also the education piece where we educate on taking care of baby—you know, best practices, what’s normal, what’s not, as well as what is normal and what is not in her own recovery.  So a lot of the questions she may call the doctor about or wonder about, we are able to help with and so help her with the transition into a more confident parent and navigating all of the unknowns.

Having this support can speed up the process of becoming a more confident parent and bonding with your family, staying connected with your husband, all those things you are negotiating during this tremendous transition.

What does a typical doula visit look like? 

ppdoula

It could be two different things depending on whether it’s a day shift or an overnight shift.  A daytime shift is usually a minimum of 4 hours.  When the doula arrives at a family’s home she is going to assess what is going on—she may walk into a sink full of dishes,

piles of unfolded laundry, or mom may need some hands on help with the baby or with breastfeeding).  She is not going to ask, “what can I do” but instead will assess and do what needs to be done.  She may ask things like “Have you had anything to eat today?” to mom.  Usually what a doula will do is prepare snacks for the day for when mom is feeding, she’ll prepare food for later, she’ll clean up, and essentially her goal is to create a very stress-free environment.

And, you know many times a doula is walking into chaos, there may be multiples or other challenging situations.  A doula’s role is to put a “calm” on the situation.

She may be managing other people as well—maybe there are grandmas involved or aunts, cousins—she may have to say to them “This is where you can be most helpful right now.”

 What about if there are older children there, how does that look with a postpartum doula? 

With other children, what a doula will do is find a way to entertain and manage them while mom needs to be breastfeeding or napping or whatever she needs.  But she also finds ways to incorporate the family together.  So it isn’t just a separation of mom from partner and other children.  Sometimes, for example, the doula will make a snack and ask dad or an older child to take it to mom and sit with her.  We are always trying to foster family bonding.

Great, and what about that overnight postpartum doula service you mentioned?

Yes, going back to our overnight care, this looks a little different.  This is a separate service and definitely our most popular.  A typical overnight shift will begin at about 9 or 10 at night. Mom and partner are off to bed immediately and we take over from there.  We are with the baby.  Mom may choose to pump and have us feed the baby or maybe she wants to breastfeed.  In that case, we would console baby for as long as possible, then bring the baby into her, she can breastfeed, and then we will change the baby and put him or her back to bed.  So we are with the baby all night long while the parents sleep.  The doula will stay as long as the family wants them in the morning but a typical shift ends about 6 am or so.  A lot of times we leave when everyone is sleeping.  And mom can get up with baby whenever that is.

What does service typically look like for a new or growing family—how often do people need care, is it different for everybody? 

You know it is different for each family, depending on if there are multiples or not, if it is a first child, etc.  We do have packages offered on our website that give some examples.  And I would say that most people buy one of our packages.  Probably in the next few weeks people will be able to purchase these right from the website (as well as our classes).

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What does the training look like for a postpartum doula? 

We have our own postpartum doula training and certification program.  We have an excellent trainer formerly from Fairview and she has developed a certification program.  We felt that a lot of postpartum doulas coming to us as DONA-trained doulas (birth doulas with a piece of postpartum education) had great training but that it didn’t go far enough.  We wanted more extensive training.  So we developed our own specific postpartum training program.

People can go through it and not necessarily work for us, though there is always the option to interview with us, while other people will work independently or just want to learn this information for their own benefit.  We give people a max of 6 months to go through the program and there are 4 components: reading, classroom training, shadowing a doula, and pro bono work for moms in the community that need help.  The details of the classroom training content can be found on our website.

How did Welcome Baby Care come to be? 

One of the unique things about our service is that we also do senior care—so we are kind of a full spectrum in-home care provider.   How Welcome Baby Care started was with this senior business.  When my stepdaughter was having her first baby—and I have raised four children myself—I was there as a grandmother I thought, “I’m really rusty—I don’t really have all the answers to help out.” So what occurred to me at that time was, just like seniors, new moms need support, everybody needs a doula.  And its just one of those things, you know it’s the same type of care, the difference is the type of caregiver.  But it is still that turbulent time in people’s lives where they don’t know what they are getting into.  It’s so new.

So that is when we decided to have these two ends of the care spectrum (we split these into two sister companies).  And that’s how it came about.  Then I discovered that a doula with her expertise, the sixth sense they have…those were the kind of people that I wanted to do this care.  They are just so loving and caring and have such a heart.

Can you tell me more about the doulas you work with? 

The doulas are hand picked and multi-talented.  They all have their own gifts; they are all different in so many ways.  They are all doulas but they all have special additional gifts that they can offer.  So when we are interviewing with families, what’s great is that we have this whole team to pick from, not just one person.  So we can really assess what the family needs and hand pick the doula or doulas that are going to be the best fit.

Another great thing about having a doula team—and all of our doulas are our employees, none of them are contract—is that we have ongoing monthly training. So we may have speakers come in, and there is always a discussion session.  If there is ever something with a family that they maybe have a question or concern about, it’s all confidential, but they also have this team to talk with and get support from.  So they are not trying to figure things out all on their own.  And what’s really important is this ongoing training component.

When they go into a home, we always want that continuity of care.  So when you hire our doulas, you are not going to get someone different every time.  You are going to get the doula or two that are the best fit for you (# of doulas per family depends on # of hours needed).

What other services does Welcome Baby Care offer?

Through in-home care, lactation support, and classes, we offer:

  • Information for bonding techniques for new families (including adoption)
  • Breastfeeding support and counseling
  • Special care for preemies and multiples
  • Expertise in postpartum depression
  • Overnight care
  • Household care
  • Bedrest support
  • In-Home infant CPR

As far as our classes go, we offer a gamut of breastfeeding classes.  We have Breastfeeding 101, which is “the basics”.  The 201 class is not just breastfeeding or bottle feeding but also weaning, starting solids, and those types of things.

We also have a Grandmothers class, which is really popular.  This is where the expectant mom and her mother and/or mother-in-law come to class together.  And they talk about the differences between when grandma had the babies versus now.  A lot of new things that are happening, such as back to sleep and feeding and equipment, and all those things that may be new that grandma may not know about.

Kind of breaking down the barrier of her knowing what is important, and what mom feels is important, because often grandmas play a large role in raising the new child.  So with the help of this class, they are not going into it with preconceived ideas, barriers, and walls and not really discussing it.  And it’s learning on both ends—both the new mom and the grandma.  It’s a combination of education and facilitating communication between the generations.

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What if you are not sure during pregnancy whether you want or need a postpartum doula? 

I would suggest pursuing it.  We are here to answer all questions without any strings attached.  And maybe its not even postpartum services she may have questions about.  We also have a separate lactation service so maybe if she is feeling uncomfortable about breastfeeding and has questions, you know she can ask without being locked into in-home services.

I think that it’s worth attending one of our classes. We help provide a postpartum plan.  You know a lot of people make a birth plan, but not always a postpartum plan.  And we help you develop a plan, which covers things you should be aware of postpartum.

And again, consider calling and asking questions or even interviewing someone just in case, because again no strings attached ever.  People don’t always realize the importance of having that care.  You know, in other countries, people have their families and they have people helping them and we just don’t have that in this country.  The lesson is from second world nations that really know how important extended family care is.

What if you are sitting at home one week postpartum and you realize you need some help.  Is it too late to call a doula? 

It’s never too late.  We answer our phone 24/7.  I get calls during the night.  Calls come in when people are in the hospital or are feeling like they need to go back to the hospital.  You know, I got a call from a mom recently, I couldn’t even understand her.  She was so tired and so overwhelmed—it was four in the morning—and I was trying to get information and finally I just asked: “Do you need help right now?”  She asked if we could call her back in the morning at nine.  So we called her back and she was so overwhelmed.  But we were able to help her.

So anytime, we are available for new moms.  We want you to call us.

What advice might you have for pregnant mamas?

No expectations.  I mean, plan, but have an open plan for how the postpartum is going to look.  I think one of the most damaging things about our social world and the media is they put such high expectations on new moms and I think that is a mistake.  To buy into that and listen to too many people ahead of time and have all these expectations and lofty goals is a mistake.

You know, take things a day at a time and realize that, more than anything, you just want to have time for that baby, and give them everything they need.  But don’t have this idea of what its going to look like—like you’re going to lose weight, you’re going to look like this, you are going to have all the perfect equipment and clothes, and everything is going to look perfect and composed, and then buying into what all your friends are saying.

You know make sure you know who your support people are: get the support.  But don’t surround yourself with people who tell you how you need to be—just get that loving non-judgmental support.  And know, too, that we come in with NO judgments—mom can decide and parent the way she feels is right.  You know, we will guide and support but we will not judge.  That’s the biggest thing—you do not want judgment around you because it is just toxic.

What advice do you have for new mamas, who are maybe going through the postpartum period right now?

For them, I would say, the same information applies.  You need the support of other people.  Do not isolate.  Get the support.  Find those people that don’t have expectations for you.  Because you are the parent and you know your baby better than anybody and you need to be the one to make decisions.  You know, 10 or 20 years from now, it is going to be your decisions that matter, not anyone else’s.  So I think you need to really look at your own “mama guts” because you know.  And don’t think you don’t know because you DO know what is best.

And also, there are so many good resources out there, so take advantage of these great resources.

And plenty of rest and relaxation, and try not to put too many expectations on yourself.

You can contact Welcome Baby Care on their website or by calling 952-942-5676. 

 

Interview: Sarah Longacre of Blooma

SLongacreBloomaSTPWe recently had a chance to catch up with the lovely and phenomenal Sarah Longacre, owner of Blooma, a fantastic Twin Cities birth hub offering yoga, fitness, education, wellness and more for pregnant and new mamas and their families.  If you haven't heard of Blooma or been to one of their amazing classes, we recommend learning more about their many, many class offerings and workshops.  Read on to hear what Sarah shared with us on her business, the benefits of yoga during pregnancy, her advice for mamas, and much more.  A big thanks to Sarah for taking time out of her busy life to chat with us!

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Name: Sarah Longacre, owner of Blooma, yoga instructor, and birth doula extraordinaire

Hometown: Minneapolis

Current Hometurf: Minneapolis

Family: Married (Brian) with two step children, Levi (7) and Phoenix (4), and a baby due Fall 2013

How did you find your way into yoga?

I’ve been practicing yoga ever since my college years at Arizona State University.  I continued my personal practice through my 20s and I started integrating yoga into the births I attended as a doula.  I began attending births in 2000 in Portland, Oregon.

How did you incorporate yoga into the births you attended?

Really just the basic, basic fundamentals of yoga—mind, body, and breath—having breath be the foundation of a mother’s birth.  And then from there it is physically getting out of bed and moving and stretching and using really easy, gentle, basic poses to help moms open up space not only in their physical body, but also in their minds and hearts for the birth of their baby.

Can you tell us how Blooma came to be?

So I had been teaching prenatal yoga in half a dozen yoga studios in Minneapolis and I started realizing the priority of prenatal yoga for many studios was just not there.  You know, it’s challenging—you are working with an audience, a special population, that has a very short span of time and the turn over rate is extremely high.

But I felt very strong that there needed to be a place, a center, for women—not only to come and get education on yoga, but also education on childbirth and wellness.  And really connecting with others.  And at that time, in 2007, there were no birth centers or out-of-hospital childbirth education courses except for a few Bradley classes in churches and whatnot.  There was the amazing Childbirth Collective but, what the Twin Cities really needed with a home, or hub, for all of the resources women need during pregnancy.

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So we opened the doors of Blooma in October 2007 (this year we will be six!).  Our first location was on the edge of Minneapolis and Edina (44th and France). We were there for five years and we literally grew out of the space.  We just needed more and more yoga space and more childbirth education.  Our classes were growing.  The childcare we have at Blooma is one of our biggest perks.  Between all of those things, we knew it was time to expand and change locations.  Really what it came down to was looking at the demographics of our clientele and they were coming more from southwest Minneapolis as opposed to Edina.

We also used to offer classes out of Health Foundations’ amazing upstairs gathering space, but grew out of that as well.  So in 2012, we opened two new studios—one on Lyndale Avenue in Minneapolis and another on Selby Avenue in Saint Paul.  We also serve mamas in Shakopee at St. Francis's Hospital—we love to have the support of a local hospital!

What services does Blooma currently offer to pregnant women and new moms?

In terms of yoga, we offer prenatal yoga, BYOB (Bring your Own Baby) yoga for postpartum mamas and their babies, Vinyasa yoga for everyone, Barre classes for everyone and yoga for tots, kids and teens.  We also offer New Mama groups, which really support and provide community for new mothers as they make this huge transition into motherhood.  We also have baby weigh-ins and childcare offered during many of our classes.  This summer we’ve been offering yoga camp for kids.  We regularly hold special yoga workshops.

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In terms of childbirth education, we offer classes and workshops in Bradley Method, Birthing from Within, HypnoBirthing, and offer our own courses titled "The Blooma Birth Class," "Blooma Again, Childbirth Refresher," and “Blooma's Birthing Intensive for Couples”.  We hold workshops on diverse topics, including but not limited to VBAC, breastfeeding, postpartum, prenatal nutrition, and more.  We rent space for Mother Blessingways and offer personalized coaching for pregnant women and their partners/labor support.

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As far as wellness, we are proud to have many amazing practitioners offering acupuncture, chiropractic, massage (including Mayan Abdominal Massage), and belly + body art.

What are you most excited about when it comes to Blooma these days?

I’m hands-down most excited about our childbirth education.  We have the most incredible doulas that teach our classes.  And the thing I love most is that these doulas are at births every single day.  These women are literally out on the “front line” helping women at their births.  So when they teach childbirth education, they are teaching from such a real place and such a place of passion, and trust and intelligence for and about birth.

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Unfortunately, one thing I see way too much is women and families coming into childbirth education who are really full of fear.  I believe our teachers are so passionate about birth that they teach in a way that is so full of knowledge, but also really respecting every parent’s unique needs.  And parents do have such personal, individual needs.  It is hard to teach the masses as many hospitals do—you know they often have 20, 30, 40 couples in each class.

And so I am really very thrilled about our childbirth education.  We have a team of educators and classes coming up this fall that I feel very strongly are the best available in the Twin Cities.

What are some of the benefits of yoga for pregnant women and new mamas?

The physical benefits are unparalleled—when you are talking about your body changing and growing (gaining anywhere from 20 to 60 pounds) our bones, our ligaments, everything is adjusting and there is not a better way to learn how to strengthen, but also soften and breathe into, the places where we are feeling these constraints.

In my own pregnancy, at 30+ weeks, I can tell you I have never felt better physically in my whole life, but I have never needed yoga more in my whole life until now.  I’ve known the power of yoga, and I know the power of birthing, but until this part of my journey, I’ve never been so 100% sure that prenatal yoga is the best physical activity for pregnancy.

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While these physical benefits are huge, to me, one of the biggest benefits that people don’t often talk about is coming together in community.  With all the pressure moms have in 2013 in being mothers—from how to give birth, to cloth diapering, to "do we breastfeed?"—the pressure that is put on women to raise children a certain way!— to "do we go back to work?", to "what do we have to give up?"—it’s a very scary time and it’s a very isolating time.  I felt like I was the only pregnant woman on the planet during the first 15 weeks of my pregnancy because I felt like no one else could be experiencing what I was going through

Until I go to Blooma.

When I go to Blooma, and I get on my yoga mat, when I look around at all the other women in our classes, I see women who absolutely have the same fear, the same excitement, the same challenges in their marriage, and challenges in their own hearts, and I realize that I have a tribe, that I have sisters, and that I am not alone.  And that, in itself, is worth stepping onto your mat.  It is worth coming and taking a deep breath in a circle of other women.

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Whether you take a class that is mostly talking or more of a movement based class, Blooma is a place for all women to come and connect with their breath, their body, and their community.

What are your favorite poses for pregnancy these days and what are the benefits of such poses?

{Laughs} Hands-down, savasana!  Resting pose at the end—I mean, to me, it's like birth—that feeling women get towards the end, after all the hard work...“I just want my baby in my arms!” in yoga it's similar—“I've worked so hard, I just want to lay down and relax!”  I say this half-jokingly but I also think it is so important to take the time to relax, especially in pregnancy.

But personally, for me, I love standing poses—I love warrior poses.  Because warrior and goddess poses make me feel bigger and larger than life, they open up space for me to extend and expand, but also really get grounded.  Getting grounded is key, I think, in pregnancy to having a sense of being in the present moment.  To get super grounded to the earth through your legs and then open up your heart to the sky—those poses have become so beneficial to me in prenatal yoga.  So it’s a good balance of standing poses, and yeah, I SO look forward to the end of my yoga practice when I am soft and curled up and I can feel my baby—there is just nothing better than that.

And for postpartum mamas, what are some juicy poses?

Definitely heart-openers—we spend so much time as new moms hunched over—whether we are breastfeeding or bottlefeeding, carrying baby, etc.  So poses that lengthen out the side body, draw the shoulders back and engage the core, help to lift the heart in a way that moms need more than ever.

Do you have any advice for expecting mamas? 

The biggest advice I have—and I feel like I have said this before but I mean it now more than ever—to be so loving, and so kind, and so gentle to yourself.  The pressure that is put on pregnancy and women—it’s huge.

One of the big things for me in my first and second trimester is—you know, people would say to me “Oh my gosh, are you so excited?! Are you so excited?!” and “This is such a blessing, this is such a gift” and it didn’t feel that way to me.  Because I was really starting to wonder, “How am I going to do it all?” And I was already mourning the loss of the life I have known.  And that is when I am called into the present moment and to trust that this child 100% chose me, this child wants to be with me and this child was given this opportunity to come into my family.  And I get to learn. I get to learn from my baby—I get to learn so much. 

Overall, I think that we don’t teach ourselves to love ourselves unconditionally.

I feel nothing but compassion for the pressure that women feel.  I can be in a class of 30 moms and ten of them couldn’t be more excited about being pregnant—they’ve been waiting and trying for years.  Another ten of them, they are scared out of their minds.  And ten of them, they go in between.  And there is nothing wrong with any of that.  I taught just this Saturday and half my class was in tears because they couldn’t even wrap their heads around: “What is it like to be a mom??”  And I am not just talking about first time moms, for some this could be their second, third, or fourth—and you know, they need the yoga more than anyone.  And many of them know the importance of stepping onto their mat to take care of themselves.

The other thing I would say is not to feel intimidated by yoga.  A lot of women are coming to yoga in pregnancy or even in postpartum for the very first time, which is awesome. So many women are intimidated, they think they have to be a certain way or look a certain way or be able to do certain poses—but I just want to break that myth down—you don’t have to be decked out in yoga name brands and look perfect throughout the entire class.  Here at Blooma, you know, we are all about crying babies.  It’s important not to feel ashamed or discouraged from coming onto your mat after having a bad day—that is actually when you need it the most.

And for some moms in the postpartum, they don’t love being a mom, they don’t know if they chose the right path and they are struggling with their relationship with their child—and how normal is that?  But we don’t talk about that.  We DO talk about that at Blooma.

At New Moms group, this is a key place, because there is more talking and sharing.  And this is a place where it's okay for new moms to say, “I am scared” or “I feel alone” And if you do BYOB yoga before that, you open up a place in your body where a lot of that energy may otherwise get stuck.

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Any other advice you have for new mamas?

I would say New Moms group is the best place to start, especially after a C-section or otherwise difficult birth, for mom’s that aren’t ready yet for physical movement—New Mom’s group is a wonderful resource.  And, hey, come back in November and I’ll give you more advice for new moms.

Do you have anything else to add?

Yes! I want to extend a BIG thanks for the Birth Community of St. Paul and Minneapolis. My staff of 60+ and I could not be here without all of the unconditional love and support they give… and I pray we give it right back to them!

Interview with Lindsey Deeb, Pediatric Nurse-Practitioner

Recently, we had the good fortune of catching up with Lindsey Deeb—our fabulous pediatric care provider—to chat with her about her practice, her style of care, and her recommendations for expectant and new families.  Lindsey is accepting new clients at Health Foundations, where she practices every Thursday.  She practices out of her clinic in Inver Grove the rest of the week. LINDSEYName: Lindsey Deeb, nurse-practitioner and owner of Dakota Pediatrics 

Hometown: Sioux City, Iowa, where her parents, brother, and his three kids still live. Lindsey’s family makes the 4 to 5 hour drive to see them almost monthly.

Family: Husband, Bobby, and two kids: Andrew (3) and Kathryn (18 months).

Education/Background:

  • Studied child psychology at University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked in inpatient child psychology for a few years before going into nursing.
  • Studied nursing at Saint Catherine’s in Saint Paul. Worked in pediatrics at the University of Minnesota for a couple years.
  • Moved to San Francisco to complete advanced practitioner studies at the University of California, San Francisco.  Spent four years in San Francisco, where she married her husband and had her son, Andrew.

Current Home Turf:  Lives in Minneapolis and is building a house on the Eagan/Inver Grove border, which will bring her closer to the clinic.  She’s excited to run or bike to work!

Can you tell us a bit more about Dakota Pediatrics?

We are a small private pediatric practice located in Inver Grove (and I see patients at Health Foundations as well).  The practice was founded by my mother-in-law and we had always planned on working together.  Unfortunately, she died suddenly of cancer, so now I own and operate the clinic with my husband, just like his parents did 30+ years ago.

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Vivian Rider is our pediatrician; she’s been practicing in the area for over 25 years. For a long time, she practiced at a small clinic that was engulfed by a large corporate clinic system.  Once the clinic transitioned to new protocols, she was seeing about 30 patients a day and would often get in her car at the end of the day and just want to cry—it was just a horrible way to practice medicine.   But now, she loves practicing in our atmosphere here and believes that she is practicing medicine the way it should be done.

We have three medical assistants, Leann, Kao Song, & Chrissy, who are all trained in pediatric primary care and triage.  They can handle the most common issues, and if they have questions about something they haven't seen before, they always come to us for guidance.  And we have an in-house billing and referral specialist, Deb, who has been with Dakota Peds for over 20 years.  Jenny is our receptionist, but also handles some billing and administrative duties. Bobby’s aunt Linda, who is also an LPN, is our special projects coordinator.  And Bobby helps me with almost everything else that goes on "behind the scenes" or outside of the patient room in our case…so he’s like a jack of all trades and, like myself, is always available to any family if they have an issue or concern.

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Though we are small, we have a robust electronic medical record (EMR) that helps us provide better care and more services to our families.  Compared to a practice that still uses paper charts (many of them that still do!), our EMR helps take care of the busy "paperwork" more efficiently, so we have more time to devote our families.  Our EMR also gives each patient an online portal account where they can see their medical records and shot records, schedule appointments, see lab results, etc.

We have two patient care coordinators (social workers) who come in once a week—they can get families lined up with services that they may need or help navigate complex cases involving multiple care providers, such as situations of chronic illness, where families are maybe feeling overwhelmed and need some extra help.

We operate an on-site lab that performs the most common tests, such as blood draws, urinalysis, urine cultures, rapid strep screens, etc. right in the clinic.  Any complex test that we can't handle in-clinic is sent to an outside lab (almost every clinic does this) and our courier comes twice a day so we can get urgent tests back very quickly.  We receive all our lab results electronically, so we get them very fast and the results are automatically posted to the patient's online portal account and an email notice is sent the family, so it's a pretty convenient feature of our EMR.

I anticipate that we may bring on another provider possibly within the year. I am not sure who that person will be yet, we’ve talked about family practice and sort of expanding that way a little bit.  So we’ll have to see.

How did you get connected to Health Foundations?

I approached Amy not too long after I moved back from California—I was trying to get to know other people in the area. Also, as a pediatric nurse-practitioner, and just personally, I really believe in natural birth (I had my kids naturally with a midwife) and I really believe in the midwifery model of care.

So I knew of the Birth Center, and I approached Amy, just to meet her. We seemed to hit it off from our first meeting.  And I think it was during that meeting that she brought up possibly working together—so things just slowly evolved from that point on.

I actually just saw the baby I did my first home visit with—he just turned one.   I’ve been doing home visits for a year and I have been at Health Foundations since February 2013—and I am really enjoying it.

How has your experience working at Health Foundations been so far?

It’s been really great.  Obviously, the entire team here is really warm and welcoming.  I like the atmosphere, its nice to be here and see people who really appreciate the Center for what it is.  My appointment times are a little longer here so I feel like I really get a good amount of time to see people.

The thing that I enjoy the most is home visits, which are done 6 to 10 days postpartum. It’s so nice to see people in their home environment—I get to know my patient families on a little bit different level and its nice to be able to sit and chat and not feel like you are in a clinic setting.  Even though I feel like our clinic is very inviting, it is still really nice to be at home with your newborn and not have to leave.

Also I think that home visits fit really well into how Health Foundations does their postpartum home visits—someone comes to you at 24 hours, at three days, and then I come a few days later, then [the family] is back at Health Foundations at 2 weeks—so its good continuity of care that way.

How about going forward at Health Foundations?

Well, long term, I would love to have another location here in St. Paul and I can see that happening if things keep moving in the right direction.  I don't have any real specifics on when or how that might work, but I've really enjoyed working with Amy and the Health Foundations staff. So, I would hope that if we expanded further in Saint Paul, we would continue or strengthen our working relationship with Health Foundations. 

What do you love most about working with kids and families?

LINDSEYBABYI have always wanted to do primary care.  I’ve worked in several different hospital settings and I’ve always worked with kids.  I realized at some point, while I like working with people in the hospital, I really wanted to see kids grow over time and get to know parents and families.  Being in a small practice, that’s something we can really do, and I think it’s really hard to come by these days. That is, building a relationship with your provider and feeling like you are not a number when you come in.

I really like the preventative care part of my job.  Growing up, my mom was always very prevention minded—she always talked about being healthy and active—how taking care of yourself now pays dividends in the end. We had a big edible garden, we composted and canned so we had healthy food to eat all winter. Being healthy and taking care of myself and my family is a big part of who I am.  For me to able to share that with the families I serve is probably one of the things I like the most.  Especially today, because everyone is so busy and there is less time.  I strive to provide people with efficient ways to be healthy—easy things you can do here and there.

How does being a mom shape your practice?

Oh, huge, it’s huge. My work before kids and after kids looks completely different.  It actually caught me off guard.  Before I had my son I never realized that I would lose all objectivity in caring for my own children.  After kids, my empathy level went up even higher than before—I worked in pediatric hematology and oncology before I had kids and I don’t think I could do it again.

I am a worrier by nature—I would say that I worry about my patients a lot.  And I think that makes me a better provider, but it’s increased since I had my own kids because, now more than ever, I feel how important of a job it is to take care of other people’s kids.  I feel honored to take care of other people’s kids.  And, as a parent, I hope that anyone taking care of my kids really takes it seriously, because it’s a big deal.

I think having kids has ultimately made me a better provider.  I can definitely relate to everything people are going through—being up in the night, worrying about your child for this or that, yeah, all the experiences of having young kids.

How would you describe your style of care?

I really believe that the entire family is my patient.  Trust is a big component, too.  I hope people find me to be a really down-to-earth, approachable, trustworthy person.  I am really into relationship building.  And I want people to know that if I recommend something, its really coming from a good place and something I feel is important. I want people to feel included in decision making whenever possible.  It drives me crazy when people come in and they say they’ve been to someone else who was “scolding” them about something—that’s a word that people use a lot—or giving them a hard time or judging them.  I just think that no matter what the topic, doing that is so unhelpful.  I might not always agree with everything my families do but I certainly respect their decisions and I want there to be open discussion around everything.  I never want anyone who comes to me to feel judged.

In addition to that personal level of care we talked about, what are some of the benefits of a small practice setting?

Calling someone like us versus calling a larger corporate clinic to make an appointment, you are going to have a very different experience.  With us, you will probably get someone that you have talked to before, you’re going to be able to make the appointment then, and you are probably going to be able to get in when you want to get in.  If it’s important, we will fit you in or we will stay late and that is not something you’re always going to get at a bigger clinic.

And the other big thing is that if you want to get a hold of us, you can.  Vivian or I are always on call at night, and during the day our staff is great but if you want to talk to one of us just say so when you call.  There is not a run around, you are not going to get bounced all over the place to get your needs met.  For billing or insurance issues, any of my staff members can handle most issues, otherwise Bobby handles him.  And I've seen him email families with an answer at 11 pm or on the weekends, so it’s much simpler here.  We’re a small staff that takes care of you as best as we can.

I really hope that we convey a family atmosphere, that people feel welcome and comfortable when they come to us.  I know Dr. Rider feels the same.  And I think our practice is unique because we have a doctor and a nurse practitioner—we come at health care from a couple of different models and I think it leads to a more holistic way of caring for people.  She and I talk about patients together all the time and make sure we both feel like we are doing the right things.  We’ve built a solid network of good specialists and colleagues we can call on when we need to as well.

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One final benefit is that we charge about 20-40% less than a larger corporate group for the same service or test.  That's something not everyone realizes.  Who wouldn't want more personalized service while saving money at the same time?

What do you love to do when you are not taking care of patients? 

I’ve always been a really active person—I swam competitively, through college at Madison.  Then I started running after that and I’ve completed several marathons and a few triathlons.

lindseykidsI love spending time with my kids, especially outside.  This summer, we’ve been going to lots of parks, going on walks around the neighborhood, and playing with neighbors. We also hang out with Bobby’s sister and family, their kids are 5 and 3, so they are close in age to ours.

I love to knit, although I haven’t been doing it lately.  And I love to read—I still read lots of medical literature, but I have enjoyed a couple of novels lately. I really, really like to cook.  My favorite dish is a squash risotto with rosemary and its really good.  And though I like it, we are challenging ourselves to go light on meat these days.

 As far as travel, my parents have a log home in the Black Hills in the middle of nowhere, so we try to get out there a couple times a year.  I also try to get to Ontario, Canada’s Lac Seul to go fishing every year.

How do you feel about seeing pregnant women/couples before baby arrives?

I really love it when people come in before they have the baby—I always love that visit.  It allows me to see them before and get a feel for them, and we can see if we’re a good match, which I think is really important.  It’s good to know that ahead of time.

What do you recommend that families look for in a pediatrician?

There are many things you should ask.  If you are going to meet ahead of time, its good to really think about it and even write down the questions that you have.  I do think it’s better when people are a little prepared before they come in.

I can always speak to the things that most people ask me about, but that is not necessarily what everybody is wondering about. Everyone has some topics that are really important to them, for some people it is immunizations for others it’s antibiotic use.  So, directly ask about those things.  I think its okay to ask some personal questions too to get a feel for that person.  Ask if they have kids.

I think you should ask how long visits are and how easy it is to get in. Ask about how easy it is to get a hold of someone off hours.  Because those are the things that, once you have the baby, make you feel better—to know if you can get a hold of somebody,  to know that someone is going to have the time to answer your questions.  And its good to ask about experience and education as well.

What are your thoughts on well child visits? 

SONY DSCSome people ask “Are well child visits really that important?” I do think they are important for a few reasons.  Some people are worried that they may get hounded about immunizations during these visits or that immunizations would be the only reason to go to a well child visit.  And really, it’s more about questions and talking through things.

And growth is really important to monitor, in the first two years especially,—to make sure the head is growing appropriately, that baby is gaining weight fine, etc.  And well child visits can offer a lot of guidance—for example in terms of nutrition, making sure breastfeeding or bottlefeeding is going well.  Well child visits are an opportunity to do a full exam and to just to look over everything.   You might feel pretty bad, as a parent, if you knew you could have caught something sooner, but you didn’t go in.

Plus, since preventative care is completely covered by insurance in MN, you've already paid for your physical through your monthly insurance premium.  So if you don't come in for the physicals, you've basically given the insurance company $120-$200 per physical and got nothing in return.  That's a lot of money to give away.

I always tell people too, I am happy to sit and talk with parents but if someone wants to make it quick, that’s fine too!  I’m into meeting people where they are at.

Do you have any advice for pregnant or new mamas?

I jokingly tell people, do everything you really like to do by yourself now.  But I think it’s really important and something you don’t always “get” until afterwards. And do things together, because that changes.  That change is good, but it’s different and things are never exactly the same again. And I always say, too, make sure you get a lot of rest in pregnancy.

Nothing in the world will prepare you for that feeling you have when you see your baby for the first time—it’s just amazing.  So take it in, just really take it in.  And when you get really tired and sleep deprived—which I think is really hard for a lot of people—you can remember that moment. (And remember you won’t always feel so sleep deprived!)

And as far as breastfeeding, you need be easy on yourself because it’s a new thing to you, it’s a new thing to baby and you have to figure each other out.  That takes a little bit of time and it’s different for everyone.

For new parents, take lots of pictures and really take it in, because it does go really fast.  And I always tell my patients, don’t hesitate to call—no question is a silly question.  That’s what I am there for, I don’t mind the calls and it’s much better than sitting there and worrying about something.  There’s no point in that.  If you can call, we can talk and you can feel better—it’s well worth it.

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