Preconception

Conception App Review: The Best Fertilty Apps

Glow App: Ovulation calculator, Period Tracker, and Fertility Calendar

This app is detailed and easy to use. It is fun to look at and explore different options. You choose how you would like to use the app: Avoiding Pregnancy, Trying to Conceive, and Fertility Treatments. There is even an option for a male to use it. It asks many questions to assure accuracy. You can fill out a health profile which customizes your use of the app. It gives you the option to input your partner's health information as well. For the "Trying to Conceive" it tells you each day in your fertile period and the percentage you have of getting pregnant. You can record details about your body every day. These details include, mood, medications. sexual activity, sleep, stress levels, etc. I really like this app a lot! Definitely my favorite!

Life - Period Tracker, Menstrual Cycle Calendar, Ovulation & Fertility App:

This app is very basic and simple. The look of it is not fancy. You can purchase the premium version which records things like mood, sex, fertility, weight, nutrition, fitness, sleep and medications. It clearly shows when your period is to arrive and days of your fertile time as well as the day of ovulation. There is a health profile to fill out but I don't see how it tailors the app to your body. It is very easy to use. Because it is so basic it just gives you basic information, it is not very detailed.

Ovia Fertility and Period Tracker:

Each day you enter in your data; you enter in temperature, cervical fluid, intercourse, period, mood, pregnancy tests, mood, symptoms, blood pressure, sleep, nutrition, activity and notes. The nutrition piece is very detailed which could be helpful. You can buy the premium version to unlock more features. It gives you a fertility score each day based on details you fill in. It also explains in detail your cycle phases. It does give you tips each day. The tips are helpful reminders such as sleep. There is an articles tab you can click on and read about many different topics pertaining to conceiving. Ovia is very easy to use and clear to read. It is a great app!

Lily App: Your Personal and Private Period and Cycle Tracker:

The app evaluates your cycles to help determine fertility.  There is a lot of reading to do in the beginning. You can choose how you want the advice for fertility to be based on symptoms or averages. Each day you enter in your temperature, cervical fluid intercourse, period, and mood. This app is very basic and easy to use. It is very quick and good for someone that just wants to know the basics of their cycle.

Clue App

Clue- Period Tracker, PMS alerts and Fertility & Ovulation App:

I like the design of this app. It starts with asking basic questions and then giving quick tidbits about each such as averages for period length, etc. The more you use the app the more accurate it is in it's predictions. It can sync with your "Health App" if you have an iPhone. You can track many things like emotions, sleep, pain and even hair! It is a fun app to use, very different design from the others.

Most Commonly Asked Questions about Birth Control after Baby

Birth Control after Birth

When should I start birth control again after giving birth?

Once you are cleared for sex at your six-week postpartum check-up, you can start a new birth control regimen. This check-up is a great opportunity to discuss your plans for birth control, what has and has not worked for you in the past, and any plans for future pregnancies. It’s important to wait until your doctor or midwife gives you the OK as certain birth control medications can increase your risk for a blood clot in the weeks immediately following your delivery. This is particularly true of birth controls that contain estrogen such as combination pills, the patch and the vaginal ring. 

Is birth control safe while breastfeeding?

Yes, absolutely. The hormones that are secreted into your breastmilk are minimal and are not harmful to your baby. You will want to avoid options that include estrogen though as it can cause your supply to drop. The best birth control options while breastfeeding are the progestin only mini-pill, hormonal or hormone-free IUDs and the progestin-only subdermal implant.

What are my options for birth control post baby?

Once your doctor or midwife gives you the OK to begin a birth control regimen, you will want to decide which option makes the most sense for you. Some factors to consider include whether or not you are breastfeeding your baby, plans for future children, hormone sensitivity and convenience. Here are several of the most common birth control options and whether or not they are recommended while breastfeeding.

  • Combination pills: These pills contain a combination of estrogen and progestin designed to suppressed ovulation. They are NOT recommended while breastfeeding because of the estrogen content. 
  • Mini pill: The mini pill contains progestin only and is intended for use by breastfeeding moms.
  • IUDs:  An IUD is an intrauterine contraceptive device that is inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy by disabling the sperm. There are hormonal and non-hormonal options that can be used from 3-12 years, depending on the type. They are considered to be one of the most effective forms of birth control and are safe to use while breastfeeding.
  • Vaginal ring: The vaginal ring releases hormones that suppress ovulation. It is removed during the week of menstruation and then a new one is placed. While the vaginal ring is a good option for those who have trouble remembering to take the pill, it is NOT recommended for breastfeeding moms due to the estrogen content. 
  • Subdermal implant: A newer option to the contraceptive market is the subdermal rod implant that is inserted under the arm skin. With high efficacy rates and no estrogen, this is a safe and effective option for nursing moms.
  • Injectable birth control: Depo Provera is the most commonly known injectable contraceptive and has a 99 percent efficacy rate. This progestin only injection is given every 12 weeks and is safe for breastfeeding moms. However, there is some speculation that it may cause a drop in your supply. 
  • Tubal litigation: This is a surgical procedure in which the fallopian tubes are cut or sealed to create a permanent block preventing the egg from reaching the uterus for fertilization. This option should only be considered if there is NO chance that you may want to become pregnant again. There are some concerns about the procedure affecting supply but it is generally safe while breastfeeding.
  • Non-surgical sterilization: Similar to tubal litigation, non-surgical sterilization should ONLY be considered if you are done having children. With this method of contraceptive, a device is vaginally inserted into the fallopian tube that causes scarring to create a barrier that prevents the sperm and egg from meeting. This is a PERMANENT form of birth control and should not be considered if there is a possibility you may want more children in the future. This procedure is considered to be safe while breastfeeding.

Do I need to be done having kids to get an IUD?

No. An IUD is a completely reversible form of birth control. As soon as your IUD is removed, you can become pregnant. Many women worry that an IUD will affect their future fertility because it CAN be used as a long term option. However, research actually shows high rates of pregnancy following the removal of intrauterine devices.

I’ve heard exclusive breastfeeding is great birth control. Is that true?

Yes, it is true--WHEN and IF you meet all the criteria. The Lactational Amenorrhea Method is endorsed by the World Health Organization as being up to 98 percent effective. In order to rely on LAM for birth control you must meet the following conditions:

  • No period since your baby’s birth
  • Baby is under 6 months of age
  • You practice ecological breastfeeding, nursing baby at least every 4 hours during the day and every 6 hours at night. 

Learn more about about breastfeeding as birth control

Who should I talk to to learn more about my options?

Talk to your midwife or doctor to learn more about contraceptive options and for help choosing the best method for you. Consider having this conversation even before you deliver so that there is a plan in place once you receive the green light for sex and birth control. Health experts recommend waiting at least 18 months between pregnancies to allow your body to heal and reduce chances for future pregnancy complications. 

To learn more about birth control options after baby and for any and all questions related to pregnancy and natural birth, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.

10 Ways to Prep Your Body for Pregnancy

Preparing for Pregnancy

Most people have a good understanding of what you should and should not do during pregnancy. We know that you should eat a healthy diet, should not drink or smoke, and you should take your prenatal vitamins daily. But what about what you should do before you conceive? The time to start planning for baby is actually 3-6 months before you plan to conceive. This is the time to prepare your body and adopt healthy habits to create the most favorable environment for your baby-to-be. Here are 10 simple ways to get your body in gear for a healthy pregnancy.

  1. Review your diet: Are you a generally healthy eater or could your diet use some cleaning up? Give up unhealthy foods and eat a diet rich in whole grains, veggies, fruit and protein. Adopt a clean eating plan that eliminates processed foods and additives in favor of organic, GMO free, whole foods. 
  2. Schedule a preconception check-up: Meeting with your doctor or midwife before you plan to conceive is a great time to identify any areas of your health that may need to be addressed. Whether it’s adding a vitamin to your regimen to fill a deficiency, losing or gaining weight or getting more sleep, your care provider can help you come up with a plan to get your body healthy and prepped for baby. You will also want to make sure you are current on any vaccines that are necessary before pregnancy.
  3. Start taking a prenatal vitamin: Prenatal vitamins help ensure that you are getting the all vitamins and nutrients that your body needs for pregnancy and will fill any nutritional gaps that are left in your diet. Start your prenatal vitamin at least three months prior to trying to conceive to help prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida. 
  4. Give up drinking and any other unhealthy habits: Drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes and using recreational drugs are not only dangerous for the health of your future baby but can actually interfere with your ability to conceive. Treating your body as if you are pregnant while you are preparing to conceive is the safest and healthiest plan for you and your baby to be. You should also double check that any prescription medications you are taking are safe for pregnancy.
  5. Exercise: Establish a moderate exercise routine that you can continue once you become pregnant. Exercise during pregnancy will help ensure that you don’t gain excess weight and prevent complications like gestational diabetes. It will also aid in keeping your blood pressure low, give you energy and help combat prenatal depression and anxiety.
  6. Remove toxins from your environment: Choose non-toxic cleaning supplies, sulfate and paraben free hair and skincare products and BPA free plastics for your home and body. Avoid unnecessary pesticides and herbicides and other environmental toxins to ensure that your body is as healthy as possible. Exposure to toxins during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects and abnormalities. 
  7. Schedule a dental checkup: Pregnancy hormones can do a number on your teeth from periodontal disease to loose teeth and bleeding gums. It’s best to get any preexisting dental issues resolved before you get pregnant to ensure that your mouth is as healthy as possible going into pregnancy. 
  8. Cleanse your gut: Consider adding a probiotic to your daily regimen to ensure that you have a healthy digestive tract and a strong immune system. Probiotics may also help prevent vaginal infections during pregnancy that can lead to preterm labor and other maternal and fetal complications.
  9. Reduce your stress level: Although trying to conceive can sometimes be a stressful process, stress is actually counterproductive to your fertility. Stress causes your cortisol levels to rise which can consequently suppress ovulation. Incorporating stress reducing activities into your daily life before you begin trying to conceive will help ensure that you are physically and mentally prepared for pregnancy. There are many ways you can begin to make your mental and physical wellbeing a priority including but not limited to practicing yoga, getting more sleep, meditation, acupuncture, deep breathing, counseling, and massage. 
  10. Consider doing a pre-pregnancy detox: Detoxifying your body by cutting out meat, sugar, caffeine, alcohol and dairy and increasing your water consumption can have a cleansing effect on your whole system. Consider also drinking a natural, detoxifying tea and doing a colon cleanse to further clean out your digestive tract.

Getting healthy before pregnancy is not only beneficial for your future babe but for you as well! Make it a team effort and get your partner involved by exercising together and coming up with a pregnancy-friendly diet plan for the whole family. At Health Foundations, we love to see couples 3-6 months before they plan to conceive to address any health concerns, review medical history and discuss your plans for a healthy pregnancy. Contact us for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center. We are here to support you and your family in your journey through pregnancy.

Understanding the Risks Associated with Gestational Diabetes

Pregnant Mother Belly

If you are nearing the second half of your pregnancy, you may have heard your OB or midwife mention the infamous glucose test. You’ve probably heard tales of the syrupy orange drink that you have to consume before your blood is drawn and even more intimidating, the dreaded ‘three hour test’ required if you don’t pass the initial screening. But what is gestational diabetes exactly? And how does it affect your baby? Is there any way to prevent gestational diabetes? These are all questions that you may be wondering with your Glucose Challenge Screening approaching. Here are the answers to some of your questions! 

What is Gestational Diabetes?

To best understand gestational diabetes, it is helpful to understand how pregnancy impacts the body’s ability to process glucose (or sugar). In a healthy human body, the pancreas produces the hormone insulin which aids in moving glucose from your blood to the body’s cells where it is then used as energy. 

During pregnancy however, the placenta actually produces high levels of hormones that interfere with the process of insulin turning the glucose to energy, creating higher than normal blood sugar levels. As you progress in your pregnancy and your baby grows, your body produces more and more of these insulin blocking hormones. When your blood sugar rises to a level that is dangerous to mom and baby, this is considered gestational diabetes. 

What Are the Risks Associated with Gestational Diabetes?

If left untreated, gestational diabetes poses serious risks for both mom and baby. Health risks for your baby include:

  • Preterm labor or birth and respiratory distress syndrome
  • Macrosomia: This is when your baby is born too large (over 9 pounds) and is more likely to experience complications or injuries in the birth canal. This often results in the necessity of a C-section.
  • Hypoglycemia: Your baby may be born with low blood sugar due to the overproduction of insulin which can result in seizures.
  • Increased risk for obesity and Type 2 Diabetes later in life

Health risks for mom include:

  • High blood pressure or preeclampsia
  • Future diabetes  

Treatment for Gestational Diabetes

The good news is that gestational diabetes is a highly manageable condition that can be treated with a few lifestyle changes and some extra attention from your doctor. You can expect the following steps to be a part of your treatment plan if you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes: 

  • A healthy diet: Although you should always strive to eat a balanced diet while pregnant, it is extremely important to your health and the health of your baby if you have gestational diabetes. A diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fiber and low in fat and calories will help you keep your blood sugar levels down.
  • Exercise: It is recommended that pregnant women get 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day, most days per week. If you aren’t able to do thirty minutes, try breaking it up into smaller increments throughout your day. 
  • Medication: Fortunately, only 10-20 percent of women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes require insulin medication.
  • Daily blood sugar monitoring through at-home testing
  • Close monitoring of your baby’s growth and development. GD may necessitate more frequent visits to your care provider during the last three months of your pregnancy.
  • You may be referred to an endocrinologist or dietitian.
  • Your blood will be checked immediately following delivery and then again at six weeks postpartum. Fortunately, in most cases your blood sugar levels will return to normal following the birth of your baby. 

What are the Risk Factors for Gestational Diabetes?

There are some preexisting factors that may make you a more likely candidate for gestational diabetes. These factors include:

  • Personal or family history with high blood sugar or Type 2 Diabetes
  • Previous pregnancy with gestational diabetes
  • Previous baby born over 9 pounds
  • Previous unexplained stillbirth
  • Pregnancy over the age of 25
  • Having a BMI of 30 or higher at the start of your pregnancy
  • Non-Caucasian race: It is not fully understood why, but women who are black, Hispanic, American Indian and Asian have a higher incidence of gestational diabetes than women who are white.  

Prevention

Although the cause of gestational diabetes is not always known, there are some things you can do to lessen the likelihood of its onset. These include:

  • Seeking healthcare prior to trying to get pregnant to assess for risk level and to discuss your plans for a healthy conception and pregnancy
  • Eating a well-balanced, healthy diet
  • Engaging in regular, moderate exercise during pregnancy
  • Losing excess weight prior to becoming pregnant 
  • Staying current on routine recommended screenings throughout pregnancy. Typically, your care provider will recommend you take your Glucose Challenge Screening between weeks 24-28 of pregnancy.

Gestational diabetes is a serious condition during pregnancy that requires medical attention and healthy lifestyle changes to protect the health of you and your baby. Fortunately, however, by following the guidance of your doctor or midwife and taking the extra precautions to keep your blood sugar levels low, your chances of experiencing any complications can be greatly reduced. Because there are typically no symptoms of gestational diabetes, consistent prenatal care is necessary for its detection. If you are concerned about gestational diabetes or have questions about how to have a healthy pregnancy, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife. Your health and the health of your baby are our top priority.

15 Natural Ways to Boost Your Fertility

Natural Ways to Boost Fertility

When you decide you want to have a baby, often any amount of waiting feels like too long. Women in their twenties have approximately a 20-25 percent chance of getting pregnant each cycle. Once you turn thirty, this number drops to about 15 percent and at 35 declines even more drastically to a less than 10 percent chance. Fortunately, there are natural ways and simple changes to your lifestyle that can increase your odds of conceiving and ensure that your body is primed for baby. Here are 15 natural ways to increase your odds of getting pregnant.

1) Eat a healthy diet: A diet rich in protein, vitamins C and D, iron and zinc help can help keep your menstrual cycle consistent and consequently keep you ovulating regularly. Consider taking a prenatal vitamin even before you conceive as many of baby’s most vital organs begin developing in the first weeks of pregnancy. 

2) Maintain a healthy body weight: Having too little body fat prohibits the body from producing enough hormones necessary for ovulation and to sustain a pregnancy. Having too much body fat can also interfere with ovulation by causing excess production of hormones and consequently less frequent ovulation. A normal BMI ranges between 18.5 and 24.9.

3) Get to know your cycle: Having an understanding of your monthly menstrual cycle and knowing how long it typically lasts can help you determine which days are your most fertile. A normal cycle can range from 21-35 days and although the average time for ovulation is day 14, it can happen as early as day 6 or as late as day 21. You can predict your ovulation more accurately by charting your basal body temperature or using an ovulation prediction kit. There are great apps that allow you to take control of your reproductive health. Track your sexual health and period cycles, pinpoint your ovulation day and maximize your chance for pregnancy.

Glow App

4) Cut back on alcohol: Regular alcohol consumption may alter your estrogen levels which can ultimately interfere with the implantation process. If you are trying to conceive, it is a good time to start practicing the healthy lifestyle habits you will need to adopt once you become pregnant.

5) Quit smoking: Wanting to get pregnant is just one of the many reasons you should quit smoking now. Cigarette toxins can damage your eggs, cause premature aging of your ovaries and interfere with the implantation process. Although smoking can cause permanent damage to your fertility, you will recover some of your ovarian function upon quitting.

6) Get enough rest: Try to get a full 7-8 hours of sleep per night if you are trying to conceive. Sleep is associated with the production of the hormone Leptin which is necessary for ovulation to occur. Sleep also affects the production of fertility hormones such as estrogen, luteinizing hormone (LH), progesterone and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).

7) Have sex: Having sex every 1-2 days during your fertile period can significantly increase your chances of getting pregnant. Some research suggests that women who have intercourse regularly are more likely to have consistent menstrual cycles making it easier for them to identify their most fertile days. Weekly sex is also associated with higher levels of estrogen production.

8) Curb your caffeine intake: Excess caffeine may also interfere with fertility hormones and make it more difficult for you to conceive. Start limiting your intake to 200 milligrams daily or 1 to 2 caffeinated beverages. 

9) Keep up on your dental health: Brush twice daily, floss before bed and stay current on your dental check-ups. Gum disease has been shown to add an extra two months to the amount of time it takes to get pregnant. It’s best to see your dentist and get any necessary work completed before you start trying to conceive. 

10) Protect yourself from workplace hazards: If you work in a setting where you are exposed to radiation, industrial chemicals, nitrous oxide or jet fuel, take precautions to wear all the necessary protective gear to shield your body from these harmful agents.  Exposure to toxins like these has been shown to decrease fertility and interfere with a woman’s regular menstrual cycle.

11) Avoid contact with pesticides and herbicides: Similarly, chemicals used to kill insects and weeds can also be detrimental to fertility by disrupting ovarian function and interfering with a woman’s monthly cycle. Be sure to wash fruit and vegetables carefully before eating and consider choosing organic options to avoid exposure to residue from these chemicals.

12) Exercise moderately: While it’s a good idea to make sure you are getting regular exercise, if you are trying to conceive don’t push yourself too hard. A research study found that women who engage in five or more hours of vigorous exercise per week were 42 percent less likely to get pregnant than women who did not exercise at all. This is because intense exercise can negatively impact ovulation thus disrupting a woman’s natural cycle.

13) Choose lubrication wisely: Using lubrication during intercourse can actually interfere with the process of the sperm reaching the egg. Even natural lubricants like saliva can have a negative impact on your chances of conception. Safer choices include mineral oils, canola oil, vegetable oil and Preseed, a lubricant specially designed for trying to conceive. 

14) Reduce your stress level: Reducing your stress level and eliminating unnecessary obligations from your plate can have a positive impact on your fertility. Stress may cause changes to your body’s hormone production making your menstrual cycle unpredictable and consequently making it harder to conceive. 

15) Don’t underestimate the importance of your partner’s role: Just like women, men who are trying to conceive should also focus on getting healthy. Being a healthy weight, eating a nutritious diet,  limiting alcohol intake, quitting smoking and taking daily vitamins are all ways that your partner can help ensure his sperm are healthy and ready to fertilize your egg. 

Specifically, vitamins E & C and the mineral selenium are thought to improve sperm quality and can be taken in addition to a daily multivitamin. Trying to conceive can be an enjoyable and a stressful time period all in one. Make sure to take the necessary steps to take care of your own health so that your body will be ready to provide a temporary home for baby. If you have questions about getting pregnant or are interested in learning more about having a natural birth, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our beautiful Birth Center.

5 Ways to Increase Your Chances of Getting Pregnant

If you are a healthy, fertile couple in your 20s, your odds of getting pregnant are looking rather rosy. If you wait a decade longer or have medical issues that may impact your reproductive system, things may get a little more complex. Still, unless you have been diagnosed with infertility, most women conceive within the first year of trying.

Here are 5 ways to increase your chances of getting pregnant:

1. Eat a Healthy Diet

There are two reasons you should consider focusing on your diet when you are trying to conceive. First, it is important that you are at a healthy weight. Being over or under weight can cause fertility issues. Experts recommend a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 18.5 to 24.9 for your best chances of conceiving. Also, a diet made up of varied fresh, organic produce with lean meat and full-fat dairy may help you conceive by providing your body with all the nutrients it needs for your reproductive system to function normally.

2. Limit Caffeine

You may have to limit caffeine during pregnancy, depending on how much you are drinking, so start a healthy habit now. If you are having two cups of medium-strength coffee a day, you do not need to worry. However, if you are having the equivalent of five cups of coffee daily (or 500 milligrams of caffeine), it may be affecting your fertility. Remember that caffeine content can vary greatly by brand and brew, so be careful about getting too close to your limit. One cup of brewed Starbuck's coffee can have as much as 300 milligrams, so two cups would put you over the daily limit.

3. Have Sex During Your Fertile Window

You can only get pregnant when you are ovulating, so make sure you are having sex in the days leading up to and including ovulation day. Experts do not recommend having sex too often (it can reduce sperm quality and quantity) so try for every two to three days. If you do not want to worry about tracking ovulation, just have sex every two to three days during your cycle.

4. Be Smart About Lubrication

Many lubricants on the market are just plain bad for conception. Some contain spermicides that are meant to kill sperm. Others contain ingredients that may unintentionally kill sperm. Even saliva can be dangerous to sperm. To be safe, use a lube that was designed for trying to conceive or use a vegetable oil.

5. Limit Alcohol Consumption

Having a drink or two while you are trying to conceive is not a bad thing. It may reduce your inhibitions and loosen things up a bit – especially if you have been feeling stressed. Just try not to overdo it. And if you find that you are binge drinking often, get help. It may be impacting your fertility, and if you are addicted, it can certainly cause problems for your baby.

Author: Dr Zeenobiyah McGowan Ph.D., an expert on women's health and helping couples conceive naturally. Dr McGowan is a mother of one beautiful girl. She is editor-in-chief for Ovulationcalendar.com, also founded Impact Humanity, a charity which helps under privileged children get the basic necessities like food and education in Kenya.  http://www.ovulationcalendar.com/

 

Health Foundations Unique Model of Care

Your body. Your baby. Your Birth. Your Way. 

Your Body Your Baby.jpg

This statement is more than just our slogan—it is the cornerstone of our philosophy of midwifery care for pregnant women and their families.  Our families are truly at the center of everything that happens here at Health Foundations.  We exist to serve you—to empower you to make the best informed choices for your family and your future. 

While it’s true that we offer comprehensive midwifery care for expecting families, our center is unique in that we combine mainstream medical therapies with complimentary and alternative medicine—the best of both worlds, all under one roof.  We serve individuals and families through a variety of healing modalities.  We also serve our clients beyond the pregnancy, birth and immediate postpartum stages.  

This integrative care model is unique in the Twin Cities, and the nation. It is truly a rare birth center that offers so many healing services in one place.  Health Foundations is renowned nationally as practicing a model that many strive to emulate.  

We believe this model of care best meets the needs of our families and our community.  And we are so thrilled to offer so many wellness services under one roof that we wanted to tell you all about them today. 

In addition to our top-notch midwifery care,

We help couples via fertility and conception support.

We help couples before they get pregnant.  Conception support can set up a couple for the healthiest start to a pregnancy.  The couple need not have any prior difficulty with conception to seek this service.  This is all about optimizing the health of both future-parents so they can have the best start.  Think of this like preparing the soil before a seed is planted—a little preparation can go a long way!

We also help couples that have been trying to conceive but perhaps have encountered bumps along the road. 

Our fertility and conception support combines the best of conventional medicine—blood work and other diagnostics, for example—with naturopathic and other alternative medicines, as well as nutritional support.  This combination offers couples comprehensive support as they begin (or continue!) their journey into parenthood. 

Read more about our preconception planning services here.  

We also offer intrauterine insemination (IUI)!  Read more about IUI here.

We offer naturopathic care.

We offer naturopathic care for all adults and children.

Naturopathic physicians, or NDs, combine the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science. Founded in traditional healing practices, naturopathic medicine values holistic, proactive prevention and comprehensive diagnosis and treatment. Naturopathic doctors promote the body’s inherent ability to restore and maintain optimal health.

NDs treat all medical conditions and can provide both individual and family health care.  Here at Health Foundations, Dr. Amy specializes in women’s health, fertility and pediatrics. You can learn more about our naturopathic care here.    

We offer comprehensive women's health care. 

You don’t have to be pregnant, or even of childbearing age, to utilize our women's health services.  We offer pelvic exams and Pap smears, as well as serving women who have specific health concerns that may benefit from gynecological, obstetric or surgical care.  Currently our staff OB-GYN (Dr. Dennis Hartung, MD), our nurse midwives (Katrina & Rachel) and women's health nurse practitioner (Ann) offer women's health care.  You can learn more about our women’s health services here.  

We offer pediatric care. 

Whether or not you birthed at the birth center, you can take advantage of our pediatric services.  The well-loved, compassionate, and skilled pediatric nurse-practitioner Lindsey Deeb of Dakota Pediatrics sees patients at Health Foundations every week.  We offer well child visits as well as visits when there is a specific health concern. 

We offer chiropractic care.

We offer chiropractic care for pregnant women, as well as children and other adults.  The amazing Dr. Amber Moravec of Naturally Aligned Family Chiropractic see patients at Health Foundations weekly.  Dr. Amber is dedicated to helping women have comfortable, pain-free pregnancies and efficient labors. Dr. Amber sees women in pregnancy, will attend labors to help mom’s body function optimally and see both you and baby after you deliver. She offers terrific care at an affordable price and can make a huge difference in your family’s health!

We offer acupuncture. 

We offer gentle and intuitive acupuncture for both pregnant and non-pregnant members of your family. This even includes kiddos!  We offer non-needle techniques that are excellent for little ones. Our acupuncturist specializes in pediatrics and women’s health. 

We offer craniosacral therapy.

Craniosacral therapy (CST) is a very gentle technique that works to help the body’s natural healing mechanisms by relieving stress on the central nervous system. Using extremely gentle touch, the practitioner evaluates the craniosacral system for restrictions and initiates a release to allow the body to correct itself.  Craniosacral therapy is great for pregnant women, newborns and children, and adults with a variety of healing goals.

We offer yoga.

We have offered yoga here at Health Foundations for many years.  We have partnered with Blooma yoga to offer yoga classes in our beautiful upstairs gathering space.  Call us to learn more! 

We are a full-service lactation center.

We have a full product assortment from Bravado nursing bras, to pump parts, to breastfeeding supplements and much more, that allows you to "one stop shop" for all your breastfeeding, lactation & educational needs. We offer free nursing bra fittings and can order those difficult to find nursing bra sizes! 

We offer classes, support groups and community events.

Building and supporting community is one of our highest values at Health Foundations. We offer childbirth education classes as well as two support groups that are free and open to the public: Mama’s Milk hour for mamas and their babies, and New Mom’s group. We frequently host community events including holiday and seasonal celebrations. 

We are here to serve and support our community in a variety of ways that all seek to empower and heal individuals and families.  Please call us to learn more about any of our services: (651) 895-2520.

 

Flower essences

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAFlower essences are an amazing and lesser-known healing resource that can be quite amazing for expectant and new mamas, and, really, anyone.  We offer a line of flower essences by Santosha Birth and Wellness that are specifically for conception, pregnancy, birth and motherhood.  We also have a new acupuncturist that is trained in the use of flower essences.  With all the buzz about flower essences, we wanted to share a bit more about what flower essences are and why they are so wonderful for the childbearing cycle.  

What are flower essences?

Flower essences are type of botanical medicine that works on the energetic level (like acupuncture does) to positively affect the emotions, energy, and deeper soul levels. Flower essences are especially suited to helping people overcome obstacles, heal the past, reduce negative thoughts, actions and perspectives, cope with changes and challenges, and achieve greater joy and peace. Put simply, flower essences are energy medicine—they safely and effectively address root causes of emotional and physical issues to bring healing and growth on all levels (physical, emotional, mental and soul).

Odorless and virtually tasteless, a flower essence is an infusion of flowers stabilized in water and a small amount of brandy to preserve. 

What is the history of flower essences?

Flower essence therapy has been used by indigenous people for centuries and have been thoroughly studied and developed in the West for over a century. Dr. Bach, a British physician and homeopathic doctor, was the first to develop a robust system of flower essence therapy in the early 1900s. His system included 38 flower essences and his blend, Rescue Remedy® is the most famous of all flower essences. Dr. Bach’s early death left room for further development and refinement of this system and additional flower essences have been added to this healing system.

Master herbalists such a German healer Julia Graves (creator of the Lily Circle) and Flower Essence Service, among others, have continued Dr. Bach’s legacy, producing high quality flower essences that yield profound results. The Lily Circle (used in Santosha's blends) is exceptionally well suited for female archetypal issues and those surrounding birth and motherhood, but are equally powerful and healing for all people.  

Why flower essences?

There are so many reasons why flower essences are an incredible healing tool, especially in the childbearing cycle.  

They are safe: Because flower essences work on the energetic rather than biochemical level, they don’t pose the same risks that some pharmaceuticals, herbal tinctures, and essential oils may pose. This makes flower essences particularly attractive for treating issues that may arise in the childbearing cycle, when other treatments may not be advised. Flower essences are completely safe for use in pregnant women, birthing women, nursing women, newborns, infants, and children (and even pets and plants, evidence shows!). There are NO known contraindications.

They are gentle: Flower essences are gentle, they don’t work by force, nor do they overwhelm the body or mind. Flower essences are subtle, yet powerful and profound in the positive change they produce.

They address root causes of physical ailments and emotional/spiritual conditions. Flower essences often get to the source of one’s physical or other ailments. By addressing underlying emotional/mental/energetic/spiritual factors contributing to dis-ease or challenges, flower essences heal the deeper levels of one’s being and when they are healed, the body follows. What better time than pregnancy to clear out what doesn’t serve us and make room for greater wellbeing in parenthood? The healthier and happy we are going into parenting, the better we can be for ourselves and our children!

How do you use a flower essence?

Flower essences are commonly taken by mouth, with 4 drops taken orally 4 times a day. This is a general guideline—a person in an acute situation (e.g. labor) may take an essence as frequently as every 10 minutes as needed. Taking an essence frequently is the path to desired change. Because there is a small amount of brandy in the essence, some pregnant women or sensitive individuals may prefer not to take the essence directly under the tongue. You can add an essence to beverage—covered water is best (but tea or juice can also be used). For those that wish to avoid ingestion entirely, flower essences can be sprayed or applied on to the skin, clothing, bedding or air. One can also take a flower essence bath.

How long should one use a flower essence?

Many flower essence practitioners note a definite cycle period in taking a flower essence, typically two to four weeks though this can be longer or shorter for some and depending on the reason for use.

Can flower essences be used together with other healing modalities?

Flower essences can be used alone or in conjunction with other therapies to enhance a healing process. They have been used with great success by flower essence practitioners, naturopathic doctors, massage therapists, psychologists, medical doctors, veterinarians, and other health care practitioners.

How do I learn more?  

If you want to learn more about flower essences, you can speak with us at an upcoming appointment or contact Santosha Birth and Wellness directly at www.santoshamama.com.  

4 of the most important pregnancy foods you never hear about

Bone brothHere at Health Foundations, we emphasize the importance of a healthy diet before and during pregnancy because we've seen again and again how much of a difference good nutrition makes in the health of mom and baby, including a reduced risk of c-sections, easier labors, quicker postpartum healing, and so much more.  And the benefits aren't just relegated to the childbearing year.  Babies who receive good nutrition in the womb are at a lower risk for many serious diseases in their child and adulthoods, including high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, breast cancer, autism, and ADHD.  Science is finding the crucial role nutrition plays in epigenetics, or the factors, such as chemical reactions, that influence gene expression.  Cutting edge studies are finding the importance of the gut microbiome in overall health for both babies and adults.  

So in that spirit, here are five foods that you might not find on the list of best pregnancy foods but are actually some of the best foods you can eat when expecting (and when planning to conceive).  

1.  Traditional Fats:  

We went through a phase in our collective history during which everyone feared fats.  And we still haven't quite recovered.  But many kinds of natural fats are not only good for you, they are essential to your wellbeing.  Across cultures, you will find fats emphasized in fertility and pregnancy diets.  Good fats include ghee, butter, dairy fat (full fat dairy products), avocados, and coconut oil.  Used in moderation, these healthy fats can do a world of good for you and baby.  They can support maternal skin health, optimizing your body's response to the stretches and effects of gravity that pregnancy impose.  Healthy fats in pregnancy also lower the risk of childhood allergies for baby, research shows.  Additional studies show that health fat consumption in pregnancy can lower the risk of baby later developing autism.  

2.  Organ meats:

Okay, we are not a culture that commonly enjoyed organ meats.  In fact the words alone may turn people off.  But meats like liver are super foods when it comes to baby making (we're talking pregnancy here, folks).  Organic, grassfed and/or free range organ meats are some of the most nutrient dense foods absolutely loaded with a wide array of vitamins, minerals, proteins and fat.  They are particularly rich in the nutrients that help keep our brains healthy and grow healthy well-functioning baby brains-- i.e.  the essential fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docasahexaenoic acid), and AA (arachidonic acid). Liver is one of the best sources of folate, which is SO crucial in pregnancy (and supplemental folic acid pales in comparison to food-sourced folate in terms of health).  Liver and other organ meats are also tremendous sources of:

  • high-quality protein
  • fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K
  • vitamin A, which is rapidly depleted during periods of stress
  • All the B vitamins in abundance, particularly vitamin B12
  • A highly usable form of iron, so important in pregnancy
  • Trace elements such as copper, zinc and chromium
  • CoQ10, a nutrient that is especially important for cardio-vascular function
  • Purines, nitrogen-containing compounds that serve as precursors for DNA and RNA

One of the easiest and tastiest ways to eat liver is through liver pates.  Here is a tasty recipe for Chicken Liver Pate.  Here is one for a delicious Beef Liver with fig, bacon, and caramelized onion.  While not as ideal as consuming as food, desiccated liver in capsule form is also available.  

3.  Bone Broth

Beloved by the burgeoning paleo health movement, bone broth has numerous benefits for both mamas and babies (and the rest of us!)  Bone broth has shown to offer the following benefits:

  • builds, rebuilds and repairs our connective tissue, including joints, tendons and ligaments
  • improves hair, skin and nails
  • strengthens bones
  • heals and promotes a healthy digestive system 
  • supports optimal nerve health
  • great for the immune system
  • good source of protein
  • supports brain health
  • boosts fertility
  • and much more

Because broth supports the nervous system, endocrine system and brain function, consuming it while pregnant helps the developing fetus build healthy organs.

Bone broth is cheap and easy to make yourself.  You can use the bones from a whole chicken you have cooked or can get soup bones from the coop. It is best to use high quality bones to make bone broth-- those from healthy (grassfed or free range), organic sources.  This is not a difficult thing to do in Minnesota!  There are many great recipes out there for bone broth.  Here is one simple way to make and enjoy bone broth throughout the week.

4.   Fermented foods

Fermented foods are some of the best sources of probiotics one can get from food (which is a superior source of all nutrients, compared to supplements, in virtually all cases).   Fermented foods are great for maintaining a healthy digestive system in pregnancy, which many of us know can go awry when we are expecting.  Eating these probiotic-rich foods is also great for gut health and the immune system and can positively impact your child's gut health and overall wellbeing.  Fermented foods also increase your body's ability to absorb the maximum level of nutrients from the foods you eat.  You can make your own fermented foods or there are some great (and quite tasty!) options available at co-ops, Whole Foods, and other health markets.  Examples of fermented foods include:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Kefir
  • Plain yogurt
  • Kombucha

Here's to you and your family's health, mamas!

Ten ways to naturally increase your fertility

meditationIn our external-oriented culture, we often seem to search for a magic pill, procedure, or treatment that will help solve our problems.  Sometimes we forget that the answer can be much more simple and that it is found right inside ourselves.  Our lifestyles exert a tremendous effect on myriad elements of our wellbeing, including our fertility.  While we don’t always have control over all the factors that affect our fertility, we can make lifestyle choices that support our ability to conceive new life. Here are ten lifestyle-oriented ways to support fertility.  The only potential side effects are reduced stress, improved relationships, and greater joy.

1. Talk it out

It's important to keep the channels of emotional expression open so that blockages in this area of your life do not lead to fertility “blocks”.  Talk about how you are feeling with someone you trust—express your fears, your frustrations, your disappointments, your hopes, your desires, and your dreams.  Keep connected to your emotions and your needs at this time.  Don’t be afraid to ask for support.  You don’t have to go through this experience alone.

 2. Sleep optimally

Sleep is paramount to fertility.  A diminished amount or quality of sleep has been shown to decrease fertility, so it’s important to make sure that you are well rested.  Sleeping in a completely dark room gets our circadian rhythms working optimally, setting ourselves up for the regenerative and restorative phases that support our hormones and ovulation.  Sleeping in silence and comfort are also key.  Lastly, it is important to get enough sleep.  Sleep needs vary by individual: some people need only 7-8 hours and others need 9 or 10.   Your body will tell you what you need if you really listen.

3. Practice yoga

Practicing yoga can encourage conception by:

•    Reducing stress •    Increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs •    Opening the pelvic and hip region •    Aligning the spine •    Releasing toxins •    Releasing emotional tension •    Regulating the endocrine system •    Elevating mood •    Relieving insomnia

 4. Get creative

Practicing what creativity looks like to you—perhaps gardening, cooking, dancing, drawing, painting, writing, singing, crafts, knitting, etc.—is a way to get creative energy flowing.  Those same creative forces are what support fertility.  Connecting to your creative side actually supports the creative act of conception.  It also can relieve stress and anxiety and increase enjoyment.

5. Eat optimally

A Harvard Medical Study found that the following dietary habits support fertility:

  • eating a mostly plant-based diet
  • consuming high-fat dairy instead of low-fat dairy
  • taking a prenatal vitamin
  • avoiding trans fats
  • choosing healthy monounsaturated fats
  • choosing low-glycemic foods

6. Enjoy sexual expression

When fertility comes to the forefront in a relationship, it can cause challenges in a couple’s sexual relationship.  A couple may become distanced from the recreational and relational aspects of sexual expression, favoring the procreative aspects.  It can be helpful to intentionally rebalance this and allow yourself the ability to enjoy sexual expression, not “just get a job done.”  This can relieve pressure and stress and increase calmness and joy, which can actually support your fertility.

7.  Be Still. Relax. Take deep breaths.

The link between stress and infertility is well recognized. The trouble is stress and cause infertility and then the stress of coping with fertility challenges can compound the problem by adding more stress.  Studies have shown that the diagnosis of infertility can create a “stress response” similar to that experienced by patients with terminal illnesses.  Physiologically, stress hormones, such as cortisol, ACTH, norepinephrine and epinephrine, are released into the bloodstream and force the body into “survival mode”.  In this state, vital functions are prioritized over reproductive function.  A constant surge of stress hormones over time interferes with hormonal balance and ovulation patterns.

Taking time daily to consciously counteract stress can change this physiological pattern.  This is a great time to develop a mediation practice, a yoga practice, or just start simple with a few deep calming breaths throughout the day.  Try to imagine your breath going all the way down into your lower abdomen as you inhale, and breathe out all the stress of the day on an exhale.

Other steps that can reduce stress are found in #s 8-10.

 8. Be kind to yourself

You and your body are doing the best you can.

 9.  Set boundaries so you don’t overextend yourself

10. Do things that make you happy

Health Foundations offers preconception planning services that can greatly support/increase your fertility.  Contact us to schedule an appointment today.

Preconception Planning

PPcoupleMost couples don’t think about preconception planning—yet it can make a world of difference in fostering a healthy pregnancy and birth.

Every couple benefits from addressing their overall health and wellness in preparation for pregnancy, even if they are not having fertility issues. This preparation supports a healthy and happy pregnancy and eases the transition through postpartum into parenthood.

preconceptionP1For all the gardeners out there, consider this metaphor: preconception planning is much like preparing/improving the soil. Creating a healthy environment for your growing darlings even before they are planted optimizes their chances of thriving -- sometimes in ways that later care doesn’t allow (e.g. water and sun; or, in our case, pregnancy care).

Health Foundations offers preconception planning services, including comprehensive visits to discuss your health and create an individualized plan that works for your family.

When should preconception planning begin?

Ideally, we love to see couples three to six months before they hope to conceive.  This gives us time to correct any nutritional deficiencies (such as low iron or Vitamin D), which can have a significant impact on the pregnancy.  Sperm live for approximately 3 months, so we want to get dad as healthy as possible before conception so that his contribution to the pregnancy is healthy and strong.  Eggs begin their maturation process around this time too; when, like sperm, they are most vulnerable to toxins, radiation, and nutritional deficiencies.

What does a preconception planning visit look like?

During a preconception visit, we will talk with you and your partner about your current health, lifestyle, diet, personal and family medical history, medications you are taking, work and home environments, past pregnancies, and you and your partner's desires and concerns about getting pregnant.  Here are some of the issues we will explore during your appointment:

  • General current health:
  • Blood Sample
    • We recommend women receive a pap and cultures during a well-woman visit (which Health Foundations can provide)
    • Visit a dentist to get a cleaning and any necessary work done prior to conception
    • Talk to your provider about current medications to make sure they are safe at this time
    • Discuss any history of hormonal birth control
    • Have diagnostic/lab tests for various issues that can impact pregnancy and maternal health (all offered at Health Foundations)
  • Diet/Weight
    • Love coupleWe can work with you to optimize your diet to ensure the greatest health prior to and during pregnancy
    • Eliminate caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and recreational drugs.
    • Drink plenty of water (aim for 8 glasses a day)
    • Weight: women 15% below their ideal weight may benefit from added pounds during pregnancy; women who are overweight, however, do not benefit from crash dieting prior to pregnancy, as this can deplete their health.  In either case, we can create a plan to create optimal health for you.
  • Lifestyle
    • Establish a consistent exercise pattern
    • Inventory your environment for chemical, heavy metal, and other toxic exposure (you may want to work with a professional on a detox plan)
    • Address emotional health and stress
  • Use of supplements
    • We recommend women begin prenatal vitamins at least three months prior to conception (folic acid is especially important to begin prior to conception to avoid neural tube defects in baby)
    • Omega-3 and DHA are also important
    • Nutritive herbal infusions such as alfalfa, nettles and red clover can support overall health
    • Vegans and vegetarians may want to begin B12 supplementation
    • Additional supplements may also be recommended based on the individual
  • Men’s health
    • Men should follow the same dietary and lifestyle recommendations as their partner
    • Men should also take a multi-vitamin for the months leading up to conception
  • Fertility awareness
    • PPchartingWe help couples understand their fertility so that they can maximize their chances of conceiving.
    • Taking Charge of your Fertility by Toni Weshler (book and website) and Fertility Friend (website) are great resources for understanding fertility awareness and how to chart your fertile periods each month
    • Inexpensive, reusable fertility test kits are available (less expensive than one-time ovulation tests)
  • Useful therapies
    • Acupuncture has proven benefits for women wanting to conceive
    • Massage, yoga, aromatherapy, and chiropractic can also help by reducing stress, balancing hormones, and overall physical wellness.
  • Having fun
    • Above all, we encourage couples to have FUN during this process!  It takes an average of 6 to 9 months to conceive—being stressed during this time will only make conception more difficult.  Plus, this is your time to really enjoy your partner and all those things that can be a bit more difficult to enjoy during pregnancy and into parenthood.