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

Courtesy of Emily Grace Whebbe

Courtesy of Emily Grace Whebbe

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

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

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

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

Empowering Woman to Make Informed Choices: EVERY WOMAN CAN, December 09, 2016

Photo by Dany St-Arnaud/iStock / Getty Images

Health Foundations is thrilled to announce our upcoming special event this December 9th, 2016, EVERY WOMAN CAN. This night of community, celebration, empowerment, great music and honored speakers will take place at Aria and will feature keynote speakers, Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein and the musical stylings of female folk singers, Indigo Girls.

The EVERY WOMAN CAN movement was founded by our very own Amy Johnson-Grass of Health Foundations and its mission is to empower and support women in making informed choices for childbirth and their bodies. EVERY WOMAN CAN is a community for every woman, throughout womanhood, pregnancy, childbirth, motherhood and beyond. No matter what choices you make for your body or childbirth, we strive to support one another in recognizing the incredible strength and potential we have as women.

Ricki Lake & Abby Epstein

To celebrate this powerful mission with us, we welcome Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein, creators of the raw and thought-provoking documentary, the Business of Being Born. Lake is a well-known advocate in the birthing community having served on the board of the nonprofit organization, Choices in Childbirth for many years. In their keynote address, these seasoned advocates of the birth community will address informed decision making and natural birth. Lake and Epstein’s work and life’s missions embody the spirit of the EVERY WOMAN CAN movement, seeking to empower women with knowledge and choices and to recognize the extraordinary potential of our bodies.

Indigo Girls

The grand finale of this special evening will be an exciting performance from none other than Grammy Award winning folk rock band, Indigo Girls. Amy Ray and Emily Saliers are not only known for their hit albums and timeless ballads, but their profound political and environmental activism and support for women issues. Ray and Saliers will close the evening with a performance following the key note speakers and a social hour to allow us all time to connect and celebrate.

Health Foundations is proud to partner with Free the Girls, Nurture Project International and Esther’s Home to bring you this incredible night to remember. A portion of the proceeds from the event will go towards supporting these organizations and their commendable causes. Here’s a little bit about the work of these partnering organizations:

Free the Girls provides a unique opportunity for victims of sex trafficking to rebuild their lives through operating their own business selling secondhand clothing while going to school, establishing a home and caring for their families. Joined together with fellow survivors, these brave women sell second-hand bras to other women in need around the world. Health Foundations is honored to be an official drop off site for bra donations that benefit the Free the Girls organization.

Nurture Project International is a US-based, nonprofit organization that provides resources for communities impacted by crisis and disaster. Through the organization and support of volunteers, Nurture Project seeks to provide tangible services to those people whose lives have been negatively impacted by crisis and who are suffering the most.

Esther's Home is a support center for victims of domestic violence that provides shelter, programs, education and counseling to women and children as they rebuild their lives following abuse. Esther’s Home seeks to equip women with the tools and support necessary to reclaim their lives and well being following the traumatic experience of domestic violence.

Together with Health Foundations, these organizations eagerly await the EVERY WOMAN CAN event at Aria on December 9 th , 2016. Please join us for this momentous, once in a lifetime opportunity to join hands with women from around the world to celebrate a woman’s right to choose. To purchase tickets to EVERY WOMAN CAN, please visit the website at or contact Health Foundations directly with questions. We look forward to celebrating with you!

Zika Virus: What Pregnant Mamas Need to Know

Pregnant Mother Traveling

If you’ve been watching the news lately, you have probably heard the growing concern over the spread of the Zika virus. Health officials around the world have declared the Zika virus a public health emergency and efforts to contain it and address the crisis are in motion across the world. Many of the warnings are directed at pregnant women regarding the serious threats the virus poses to unborn children. You may be wondering if this is something you need to be worried about in Minnesota. Here’s all you need to know about the Zika virus as a pregnant woman.

What is the Zika Virus?

Zika is a mosquito born virus that is transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. The virus belongs to the Flavivirus family along with yellow fever and West Nile and is particularly threatening because there is no vaccine to prevent it and no medicine to treat it. The World Health Organization's Director General has called the recent outbreak an “extraordinary event” and predictions show that an estimated 3-4 million people across the Americas will contract the virus in the next year. Spread primarily through mosquito bites, symptoms of the Zika virus are typically mild and include fever, headache, muscle aches, lethargy, rash and conjunctivitis. The real risk; however, appears to be the harmful effects on the unborn fetus as the virus readily passes through amniotic fluid.

Why Are There Heightened Concerns for Pregnant Women?

The Zika virus has gained worldwide attention due to its potentially damaging effects on unborn babies. The virus has been linked to a serious neurological birth disorder called microcephaly in which babies are born with abnormally small heads. It has also been linked to other neurological abnormalities and Guillain-Barre syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that can lead to paralysis and death. In Brazil alone, some 4,000 cases of microcephaly have been reported since the fall of 2015 and are suspected to be related to the recent outbreak of the Zika virus. Currently in Colombia, there are an estimated 3,100 pregnant women infected with the Zika virus further raising concerns about the rapidly spreading epidemic and the risks to unborn babies. It should be noted that despite the serious risks the Zika virus poses to pregnant women, they are no more susceptible to contracting the virus than men and non-pregnant women. 

Should I Be Concerned About the Zika Virus?

Zika Virus Outbreaks

It’s easy to see all the hype about the spread of the Zika virus and feel afraid that you and your baby are in danger. And although several states in the US do have confirmed cases of the virus, thus far it has only been found in persons who have traveled abroad to affected areas. If you have not recently traveled to an affected area of the world or come in contact with the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, it is very unlikely that you have contracted the Zika virus. Countries and territories that currently have active Zika outbreaks include: 

  • Barbados
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, US territory
  • Costa Rica
  • Curacao
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • French Guiana
  • Guadeloupe
  • Guatemala
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Jamaica
  • Martinique
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Saint Martin
  • Suriname
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Venezuela
  • American Samoa
  • Samoa
  • Tonga
  • Cape Verde

If you have recently traveled to any of the affected areas and are experiencing two or more symptoms of the Zika virus, contact your healthcare provider for further testing and examination. Even with the absence of symptoms, it is a good idea to share any recent travel concerns with your doctor to ensure that you and your baby are monitored closely going forward. It is believed that the greatest risk is posed to the fetus when exposure to the Zika virus occurs during the first trimester when vital organs are developing. 

How Can I Protect Myself from the Zika Virus?

The best way to protect yourself from the Zika virus is to postpone travel to affected areas until the virus is under control and you are no longer pregnant. The CDC has advised against travel to Zika affected areas for all pregnant women and has recommended that women who reside in those areas avoid becoming pregnant for up to two years. If you absolutely have to travel to an affected area, carefully follow all CDC guidelines to protect yourself from the virus including:

  • Using an EPA approved insect repellent over sunscreen containing deet, picaridin or IR 3535 (all are safe for pregnant women when used properly)
  • Wearing long pants, long sleeves and when possible, permethrin treated clothing
  • Sleeping in an air-conditioned or screened-in room

In addition to avoiding travel and taking the necessary precautions should travel be necessary, take extra measures to prevent mosquitos from gathering around your living space at home. This includes discarding any standing water, keeping screens closed and utilizing insect repellents. The types of mosquitos that can carry the Zika virus are present in many US locations and precautions should be taken to avoid them when possible.

If you have further questions about the Zika virus or if you are pregnant and are concerned about a recent trip to an affected area, contact your healthcare professional for further guidance to ensure that you and your baby remain healthy and thriving.