Top Five Breastfeeding Essentials for the First Two Weeks Postpartum

photo credit: Meredith Westin

photo credit: Meredith Westin

Breastfeeding is a journey, both beautiful and challenging at times. To help ease the first two weeks of your postpartum we have put together a list of items that will hopefully make things easier!

Motherlove Nipple Cream: Nipple cream is essential, especially in the early days. Your baby will want to nurse very frequently. Even with a great latch, it takes some time for your nipples to get used to this. Put nipple cream on your nipples after each feeding. No need to wipe it off before feeding your baby.

Nursing Bra / Tank: You will want to have these before your baby is born. It can be helpful to get sized; after 36 weeks is a good time for this. During the first two weeks of postpartum you will find yourself living in your nursing tank!  It is easy and you don't have to put anything else on. Nursing tanks are supportive to your breasts and you can find ones that also support your postpartum tummy. I recommend having 2-3 of both nursing tanks and nursing bras.

Medela Hydrogel Pads: Hydrogel pads are a serious life saver for sore, cracked nipples. After about 24 hours your nipples will feel much better if they are cracked or very sore. In saying this, if you find yourself with very sore, cracked or bleeding nipples, be sure to contact a lactation specialist. It is normal for a little bit of soreness. If you are wincing in pain when it is time for a feeding, this is not normal.

Nursing Pads: Once your milk is in, you may find that your breasts are leaking milk. Whether you are nursing on one side and the other side begins to leak or if you have a let down when your baby is not feeding, you will want nursing pads in your bra at all times. There are washable and disposable options; get both.

Resources: I cannot stress how important good resources are during the early days of breastfeeding. Maybe it is your mom, sister or a good friend, someone to talk to on rough days, and someone with breastfeeding experience. Choose one or two people to reach out to for advice otherwise too much advice can be overwhelming. Never hesitate to reach out to a lactation consultant if you need help with latch or have production issues. A great website to turn to is

A nursing station can be very helpful as well. You can prepare this before your baby arrives so it will be ready to go when you get home. Get a basket to set next to your bed and fill with snacks, water, a couple of diapers, wipes and a good book!


Top Five Breastmilk Boosting Nutrients

photo credit: Laura Robinson

photo credit: Laura Robinson

Breastfeeding your baby is rewarding in many ways, from bonding, health benefits for you and baby, cost effectiveness, and much more! But what happens when your milk supply starts off low or lessens after a few months or when you return to work? Our top five recommended breastmilk boosting nutrients are goats rue, fenugreek, blessed thistle, fennel and malunggay. Here are a couple of ways to get these nutrients into your diet.

Motherlove More Milk Special Blend: This supplement is an all-time favorite. It contains goats rue, fenugreek, blessed thistle and fennel seed. Goats rue is one of the most potent herbs to support lactation in women who have difficulty breastfeeding. The leaves stimulate development of mammary tissue to increase breast size. Fenugreek seeds are the most recommended herb in the United States for increasing breast milk. Blessed thistle supports lactation and is considered an emotional ally to uplift spirits and reduce anxiety. Fennel seed is the most commonly used herb to support lactation in the world.

Go-Lacta: Go-Lacta is an all natural plant-based galactagogue, made from premium Malunggay (Moringa oleifera Lam) leaves, which assists in increasing mom's breast milk supply. It is traditionally used in Asia. A unique quality of Go-Lacta is that is focuses on mom and baby. This supplement can be taken antepartum and postpartum. Studies have found that malunggay leaf powder prevents malnutrition in pregnancy or breastfeeding women and their children. Pregnant women recovered quickly from anemia and had babies with higher birth weights.

Aside from supplements, a fun and yummy way to boost your milk supply is with lactation cookies! 

Lactation Cookies: There are many lactation cookie recipes out there. The main ingredients to focus on when making lactation cookies are oats, flax seed, fennel and brewers yeast

If you are having trouble with breastfeeding, Health Foundations Birth Center has a full-time lactation consultant that you can meet with. You can request an appointment or give us a call. The two supplements mentioned above can be found on our on-line store for purchase.



Dr. Amy's Spring Detox


With Summer approaching, Spring can be a great time for a detox. A detox can help with energy levels, weight loss and gives our body a break from toxins. It is also a great lead in to healthy eating. There are so many different detox programs out there that it can be overwhelming to choose which one is right for you. This detox is simple, basic and effective. You can do this for 14 days or for even better results, extend it to 28 days.

Before you officially start your detox, begin weaning yourself off of coffee rather than going "cold turkey". During the detox, coffee is off limits. Also, increase your water intake. You must be drinking 1/3 of your body weight in ounces of water per day. Add an additional 8 ounces for each hour of exercise that you do.

Instead of focusing on what you can't have, we will focus on what you CAN have. Try to stick to these foods only during your detox.

  • Start each morning with a cup of warm water, add the juice of one half of a lemon.
  • Foods to include in your diet are fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, meat and fish, fats, and spices.
    • FRUIT: unsweetened fresh or frozen, except oranges
    • VEGETABLES: Raw, steamed, sautéed or roasted, except corn
    • NUTS and SEEDS: Almonds, cashews, walnuts, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. All of these can be made into nut butters. Avoid peanuts.
    • MEAT and FISH: Chicken, turkey, wild game and lamb. Avoid beef, pork cold cuts, frankfurters, sausage, canned meats and eggs.
    • FATS: Olive, flax, safflower, sunflower, sesame, walnut, pumpkin, coconut and avocado oil. Avoid margarine, butter, shortening and processed oils.
    • SPICES: All spices can be used but no condiments such as ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise. 
  • NO sugars should be in your diet except for the fruit that you eat.

During your detox period, add in mild daily exercise such as walking or yoga. Exercise dramatically increases blood and lymphatic circulation which moves toxins into circulation for elimination by the various elimination channels. In general, listen to your body's guidance. Don't push it; work with it. Adequate sleep and stress reduction are important to the success of your program. Your body is recharging and regenerating; help it by getting adequate rest!

Detox programs are not advised for women who are pregnant. If you are planning to conceive, check out our blog about a preconception detox. At Health Foundations Birth Center, we have Certified Nurse Midwives and Women's Health Nurse Practitioners that can do women's health visits and preconception visits. They can discuss more with you the benefits of cleansing your body for general purposes as well as preconception.


Meet Our New Midwife Jana Studelksa, CPM


My midwifery training happened over a period of 12 years, during which I was a La Leche League Leader, then a credentialed doula, a midwifery assistant and finally, an apprentice. I finished my training with a clinical placement in Belize, near the Mexican border, where I worked with World Health Organization nurses and Cuban physicians. In 2008, I started my own practice in Duluth, and was privileged to catch babies lots of Duluth babies, as well as new humans appearing in many small North Shore villages and Iron Range towns. Prior to midwifery, I was a reporter, writer, editor, and author. My degree is in communication, and until I had a baby of my own at home in Ely, thought I would be a writer all my life. Perhaps someday I will write about being a midwife....

I was born in in the Ozarks, where my parents were in love and ran a bar and bowling alley in Branson, Missouri. My maternal family moved into the area in the 1830s, and I can still find no end of cousins and relations in a few towns. My mother and grandmother were very matter of fact about birth: it's a day's work and nothing compared to the wonderful baby you get in the end. So I approached my own births with the same sort of pragmatism. I am so grateful for their wisdom and focus on the baby, as it made me consider labor just a stepping stone to getting a baby. 

When I'm not working, I will be at my cabin, which is close to the BWCA, and about as cabin-y as a cabin can be: no running water or sewer, a few solar-powered lights, and at the end of a long and winding road. In winter, we must snowshoe or ski in, so I'm there much less often. I fill my winters with reading, needlepoint, and eating Thai food with my sister. 

If I could go anywhere, it would be the Caribbean. I love to snorkel and dive, and the water there just makes my body and soul feel good. 

If I could have a super power, it would be to be able to magically clean, cut, and prepare vegetables and fruit. Because of food allergies, I have to eat very carefully. Some days, I feel like I can't face another red pepper. 

I feel like midwifery picked me, rather than the other way around. As young as 16, I was thinking about midwifery. At 18, I wrote a college paper on the history of midwifery. At 22, during my first pregnancy, I found one of the only midwifery practices in the Twin Cities to help me with my first child. Through adulthood, I collected little midwife statues and fetishes. Then I had my second child, and my experience opened my eyes to the politics of birth. At the time, midwives were being pursued my the Minnesota Attorney General's office, and being issued search warrants with cease and desist letters. I worked to help legalize midwifery in the late 1990s. And then people started calling me to come to births with them, or to talk about their birth experiences, or with questions about birth. I just followed where my community led me, and with the support of a fantastic family, was able to train and transition to midwifery over a period of about 12 years. 

Health Foundations is able to offer the Midwifery Model of Care in a birth center setting, where mothers and families can receive individualized care and midwives can receive support and time off. It's a partnership between all of us, and provides such a fantastic alternative for women who want to pursue normal, physiologic birth. I am absurdly proud to be part of an organization that not only provides this kind of care, but is a leader in the field. The favorite part of my job? The huge smiles and tears when a mom or dad reaches down to bring the baby to their chests for the first time. It's never gets old. 

My philosophy on birth is "keep it simple." Our bodies were made for this work. I believe that traditional midwifery, married to the most prudent use of modern technology, is how we can keep birth normal, safe, and satisfying. The childbearing year should be joyful, full of discovery, a foundation for the decades of parenting that are to come; not a trial to endure. Pregnancy and birth are not always simple, of course, but aiming for simple is the wisest place to start. 

Here's the best parenting advice I ever received: "Just add water." Either put the kid in water (bathe), give the kid water (hydrate), or let the baby play with water (best done with mom or dad). And it does, in fact, solve so many problems. (And still works for me as a grown up!) 

How to Manage Newborn's Sleep Schedule


Newborn sleep can be tricky. If you are wondering how to manage your newborn's sleep schedule, there is no perfect instruction manual when it comes to your baby and his sleep. Around 4-6 hours after your baby has been born, he will take a 4-5 hour nap. This time is crucial for mom to take advantage and get a good nap in. This period of sleep will help restore energy levels after labor and give you a boost for the next few days of very frequent nursing as your milk comes in.

Every baby is different but there is a general pattern that most babies seem to follow during their first few weeks earth-side. There are some things that you can do during this time that will hopefully guide your baby to learn a good sleep pattern as he grows. 

Days vs Nights: Your baby may take a week or two to figure out days and nights. To help encourage sleeping at night, keep the lights low, voices quiet and after feeding lay your baby down. A white noise machine can also be helpful. During day sleeps, keep it light in the room with some noise and in between sleep talk to your baby frequently.

Swaddle: Learn how to swaddle! Up until now your baby has been warm and snug in your womb. Swaddling can be very soothing, especially when he is tired or fussy.

Shush: To help soothe your baby to sleep, shushing can work very well. Surprisingly, it can be quite loud! While in the womb, the sound of the blood flow is louder than a vacuum!

Sucking: Sucking is very comforting to an infant. Once your baby has established a good latch, introducing a pacifier helps satisfy this need.

Deep Sleep: When initially laying your baby down, wait until she has reached a deep sleep. This takes about 20 minutes of rocking. Watch for unclenched fists and "loose limbs". This will help your baby to stay asleep once you lay her down.

Though this period of time can be exhausting, it does get better! Remember that there is purpose in frequent waking and light sleep. The purpose of this ensures that your baby will wake to feed when hungry which is incredibly important.







What to Pack in Your Birth Bag

birth bag.jpg

As your guess date approaches, packing a birth bag is essential. Around 36 weeks is a good time to start collecting things to have ready. We have put together a list of favorites for you.


  • Snacks: Bring your favorite snacks for you and your partner. Think of things that are mild and easy to eat. Some good ideas are trail mix, protein bars, dried fruit, honey sticks, nut butter, instant oatmeal, and yogurt.
  • Fluids: Bring a water bottle to keep near you at all times. Your partner can help remind you to hydrate through labor. It is also ideal to bring a few alternatives to water for both of you such as, coconut water, emergency-c, juices and natural popsicles.
  • Clothing: For laboring, bring comfortable nightgowns, a robe, t-shirts or pajama tops. If you plan to labor in the tub and/or shower, you may wish to bring a sports bra or swimsuit top. If your partner would like to support you in the tub or shower, bring a swimsuit. Bring a pair of slippers and cozy socks.
  • Lip Balm: In labor your lips tend to get very dry, especially during pushing. Have it ready to use and easily accessible. 
  • Hot Pack: Heat can be a wonderful comfort measure. You can use an electric heating pad, microwavable rice pack or hot water bottle.
  • Music: Think about making a labor and birth playlist. This may be soft, slow songs, spiritual songs or even fun upbeat music. If your place of birth does not have speakers, pack your own.
  • Essential Oils / Lotion: Bring your favorite oils and a plain lotion with you. Some recommended oils are peppermint (for nausea), clary sage (to help strengthen contractions), lavender (for relaxation). The lotion can help with massage. 
  • Hair Accessories: If you have long hair, you may want to put it up at some point during labor to get it out of your face. It can be nice to bring a headband too. 
  • Chargers: Be sure to pack phone chargers. If you are bringing a camera, bring a charger and extra batteries just in case.


  • Clothing: Bring comfortable clothes to wear home. Something loose and easy to get on and off. Be sure to pack a change of clothes for your partner as well. If you are breastfeeding, bring a nursing bra.
  • Baby Clothing / Blankets: For the ride home you will want an outfit for baby (onesie, footie pajamas, socks and a hat). Also bring at least 2 blankets.
  • Toiletries: Pack a small toiletry bag for you and your partner. Just the basics is fine, toothbrush, toothpaste, face wipes and a hair brush.
  • Car Seat: You will want to have your baby's carseat installed in your car at around 37 weeks so you are prepared to bring him/her home. You want to make sure that it is installed properly so give yourself plenty of time.

How to be a Flu-Fighter!


The flu virus seems to be lurking around every corner! Thankfully, there are some ways to combat this nasty virus naturally.

What is the Flu?

Many times there is confusion as far as what the flu actually is. Influenza is a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system. It is more severe than a common cold and is not the same as a ‘stomach flu’ virus that causes diarrhea and vomiting.  The flu tends to come on suddenly whereas a cold usually develops slowly over a couple of days. Symptoms include:

  • Fever over 100.4 F
  • Aching muscles, especially your back, arms and legs
  • Chills and sweats
  • Headache
  • Dry, persistent cough
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sore throat

How to prevent the flu:

  • A good vitamin D supplement is a wonderful way to keep your immune system, 5,000 iu. With our months of underexposure to sunlight, we need to be particularly vigilant about getting enough vitamin D through diet and supplementation.
  • Eat nutritious, whole foods and avoid processed sugar. Load up on fruits and veggies; particularly green leafy vegetables. Keep your protein intake high as well. Eat protein with every meal and snack.
  • Aim for 8 hours of sleep per night. This can be tough a with little ones but try your best to go to bed early so that you can get your 8 hours in.
  • Wash your hands regularly throughout the day. This may seem easy but it sure is effective! 
  • Avoid contact with sick family members and friends. You may find yourself having a family member or friend that needs support in their time of sickness. You can still do this. Make them a meal and set it outside their door.
  • Exercise has been shown to flush bacteria from the lungs and airways that may cause colds and viruses. It also can cause changes to the body’s white blood cells and antibodies positively impacting the immune system.

What to do if you get the flu:

Sometimes there is just no avoiding it! If you find yourself with the above symptoms there are some ways to try and shorten how long you feel miserable!

  • Rest, rest and more rest! You probably won't feel like doing much anyway but try and stay in bed and sleep throughout the day and night.
  • Stay hydrated! You can alternate water, Emergen-C and coconut water to help with this. The Emergen-C and coconut water will help keep your electrolytes up.
  • Eat simple foods such as vitamin rich bone broth.
  • Take extra Vitamin C daily.

Pregnancy and Postpartum Uncensored

Let's be honest ladies, there are many things that happen during pregnancy and postpartum that no one ever told you about. In the moment they are far from funny but looking back all you can do is laugh!

Pregnancy Uncensored

No Control Over Gas: Starting in early pregnancy our digestive system does all kinds of strange things we are not used to. Gas being one of them. And it only gets worse as pregnancy progresses! This can happen in the most inopportune times...

Hiccups and Belching: Ladies with manners goes out the window. There is no stopping it. It doesn't matter what you eat or drink, it is happening! Thank your lovely digestive system once again.

Unpredictable Emotions: You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll probably yell. Emotions are up and down throughout pregnancy. They can change on a dime any time of day. Commercials alone can get the tears flowing. Hunger can cause an angry outburst. The next minute you may find yourself dying of laughter. 

Wetting Your Pants: It could be a sneeze, a cough or a good belly laugh that causes it. It could be a trickle or a gush. The pressure on your bladder is no joke mamas! You may want to keep a pair of clean undies in your purse.

Nipple Changes and Pain: It is amazing how your body changes during pregnancy. Women's nipples and areoles become quite dark and large. The reason for this is for breastfeeding. It makes it easier for the baby to see them. But it can be quite alarming! Side note: if you are pregnant in winter, watch out! Cold temps can cause a stabbing pain in your already sensitive nipples!

Postpartum Uncensored

Bleeding and Mesh Underwear: Most of us are not prepared for the month long bleeding that comes after birth. Fun times. No period for 9 months and then BAM! 3-6 weeks of bleeding. To accommodate this you will be given mesh underwear with a pad that is more like a diaper. Victoria's Unkept Secret.

Hair Falling Out: A few months after your bundle of joy has arrived, your glorious pregnancy hair may fall out at an alarming rate. Don't worry- Although it may seem like you'll lose it all, you won't. Your body is just readjusting. During pregnancy you don't lose much hair at all so it is just making up for lost time!

First Postpartum Poop: This is definitely not discussed ahead of time and there should be a forewarning! After giving birth, which might feel like a huge bowel movement, the last thing you want to do is actually have a bowel movement! The pressure can feel kind of scary, but I promise your insides will not fall out even though it feels like they might!

Labial Swelling: Whether you push for 15 min or 2 hours, there will be swelling- probably lots of it. You may not recognize yourself down there. Stick with ice packs and 3-4 sitz baths per day. The swelling goes down! 

Hemorrhoids: This little cluster of grapes on your backside can happen in pregnancy, labor, birth AND postpartum. It is part of why the first postpartum poop is so uncomfortable. Have no fear, they do get better. Those lovely sitz baths will help immensely!

Pregnancy and postpartum is a very special time in a woman's life. It is beautiful and messy all at the same time. All laughs aside, if you are struggling during your postpartum time or something just doesn't seem right, please reach out. There are many resources in the Twin Cities such as, Postpartum Support Minnesota, WildTree Psychotherapy and Iris Reproductive Psychiatric Clinic



Welcome Jessica Gustafson with Reverie Acupuncture!

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Name: Jessica Gustafson

Hometown:  St Paul, MN

Family: I live with my husband Eric, our daughter Aila and our two cats, Ginger and Renni

With Health Foundations since:  December of 2017

My role at Health Foundations: I currently do community acupuncture on-site and offer outcall services for private appointments

Educational Background and training: In 2011 I attended Northwestern Health Science University’s (NWHSU) Massage Program, graduating with my AAS in Massage in 2012. After this program I immediately began NWHSU’s Master’s program in Oriental Medicine completing my degree in 2015 and I attained my NCCAOM Diplomate status later the same year. While I attended this program, I also pursued a certification in CranioSacral techniques from the Heartwood Institute. My internships included the DeRusha Clinic, the Edith Davis Acupuncture Clinic and Dispensary, the Bloomington Natural Care Clinic, the Salvation Army, the Masonic Children's hospital, the University of Minnesota Medical Center and the Regions hospital orthopedic wing. As a student employee I also worked for over 3 years at the Pillsbury house integrated clinic as their clinic coordinator.

Favorite thing when not at Health Foundations: I like a nice, sunny day off where I can drink tea, hang out with my family and get things done around the house at a leisurely pace, catching up on my reading and petting the cats.

Travel anywhere: This might be cheating because it's multiple places, but my “I just won the lottery” vacation would be to take six months and: Fly to Austria and hang out with a friend, then go up through Denmark, Sweden and Norway stopping at various Viking monuments and my family's home town. Then to Iceland for some spas, down though Scotland, Ireland and Britain to visit distilleries and other friends. Over to Toronto, down to Baltimore, to Ohio, to Tennessee, then Texas, Oklahoma, through the mountains and up to Washington and finally coming back through the mountains to home with about a month to decompress.

Super power: I would like the ability to stop time so I could put my feet up or get things done, as needed.

Inspiration to be an acupuncturist: I always knew that I wanted to work with people, helping them to meet health goals but I didn’t know what that would look like until I got to college. I decided to go to massage school as a way to learn a skill and found that I loved it but it wasn’t quite right. The more I learned about the acupuncture program the more sure I became that that was the direction I wanted to go. It wasn’t until my last year of acupuncture school that my focus began to shift from musculoskeletal conditions and mental health support to women’s health and pediatrics, but it’s been a passion of mine ever since.

What I love about Health Foundations: When I gave birth at Health Foundations, the thing that struck me time and time again was how warm and supportive the staff were. People were excited to see you for your appointments and genuinely interested in your progress. It was on a whole different plane than any other medical experience I’ve had. I’m looking forward to being part of the team and helping new mamas and their families feel the same support and care I had.

Birth philosophy: All babies are different, all mamas are different and all births are different. We can make the “best” possible decisions and plans and still be surprised. Like the rest of life, it’s about going with the flow - let the birth be what it’s going to be.

Advice for mamas: You are strong, you are amazing but it's ok to feel like you can’t do it and lean on your support system to catch your breath. This goes for during the birth and after. Always remember that you’re not alone.

How to learn more: You can visit my website at or follow me on Facebook or Instagram

If you’d like to get a head start, download the intake forms here and bring them to the next community acupuncture night. Community Acupuncture is held at Health Foundations Birth Center every Wednesday and Friday evening from 5:00-8:00pm.



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


Along with excitement, pregnancy can bring many questions and concerns. Your body is changing rapidly. Each week seems to bring a new change; some delightful and some not! Most of the changes and symptoms are very normal. You may experience all of them or none at all. That is normal too! Below you will find common pregnancy discomforts, why they happen and a tip on how to help alleviate.

Round Ligament Pain: As your baby grows, your belly grows and with that, many women experience round ligament pain. It feels like sharp twinges/muscle pull usually on the right or left side of the lower uterus. The pain is usually relieved within a minute or two. Change positions to help and also massage the area with your hand. Chiropractic care can help if this is something that happens frequently. Also try sleeping with a pillow between your legs, this provides more uterine support.

Leg Cramps: Legs cramps are quite common in pregnancy and can occur in response to carrying extra weight, changes in circulation, or mineral deficiencies. These sudden, painful cramps in your legs may wake you in the middle of the night. Helpful treatments include:  walking daily, stretching your calf muscles regularly, wearing low healed shoes, and eating foods that are high in calcium and magnesium. A liquid calcium magnesium supplement can be great, discuss this with your healthcare provider.

Trouble Sleeping: Sleep disruptions start early on in pregnancy, usually beginning with having to urinate more frequently during the night. Getting comfortable can be troublesome as well. Along with this, changing hormones can cause your body to have trouble falling and/or staying asleep. Purchase a body pillow, this can help support your body physically. Some other things to try are: take an epsom salt bath before bed, add some lavender essential oil, exercise 30 minutes daily, avoid coffee and eat small meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar level.

Constipation: Hormone changes slow down your bowels and can cause constipation. This is normal in pregnancy but there are things you can do to help. Drink 8-10 glasses of water per day, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables each day. A good calcium magnesium supplement can help with this too! 

Darkening of Complexion: ‘Chloasma’ or “mask of pregnancy” refers to darkened patches on your face. These dark patches tend to fade away few months after delivery. To try and help reduce the darkening, use sunscreen daily and wear a hat if you are in the direct sunlight.

Bleeding Gums: Bleeding gums are a common complaint in pregnancy. Most of it has to do with hormonal changes. These hormonal changes also make you more susceptible to bacteria in plaque so it is important to keep up with regular dental visits during pregnancy.

Nausea/Vomiting: Nausea and vomiting is common and normal in pregnancy. Again, it is due to hormones. For many women it starts around week 6 and tapers off at week 12. Other women may experience this symptom long after that or during their entire pregnancy. Drinking plenty of water and eating small frequent meals that include protein is a great way to stave off nausea. This is a symptom you should always share with your midwife or doctor in case your symptoms are severe.

Always consult with your provider before starting new supplements during pregnancy. 

Health Foundations Birth Center is a free-standing birth center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Our midwives provide integrative care for our families. We would love to have you come in and learn more about our services! Schedule a consult or tour today!

Reproductive Life Plans: Thoughtfully Considering Your Childbearing Years

Written by Katrina Wu, CNM, MSN

What is a reproductive life plan?

Creating a reproductive life plan is about providing a framework for considering how you want to build your family. With half of pregnancies unplanned in the United States, being thoughtful about how you approach this life season helps you to approach your childbearing years with purpose.

At its core, a reproductive life plan is asking these questions:

  • Do you want to have children?
  • If so, how many children would you like to have?
  • At what timeframe in your life would you like to have them?
  • What values guide your approach to family planning?

These questions help women proactively take charge of their fertility and also provide insight into the most appropriate choice for contraception and family planning options.


There’s no, one perfect contraception method for everyone.  Are you good at faithfully taking pills every day or would you prefer a method that doesn’t require you to think about it? Do you have any menstrual issues that might improve with taking hormonal contraception, like irregular or heavy periods? How soon do you want to get pregnant? How important is it to you that you have a highly effective method? Discussing your current situation and desires with your healthcare provider can help you find the best fit for you and your current situation. The chart below demonstrates the various contraceptive options available based on their efficacy.


Ways to build families

There are many ways to form your family. Some families are all biologically related, while others form through family blending following a new marriage, still other families are created through adoption. Same-sex families or families who walk a more difficult journey to pregnancy may conceive by donor sperm, donor eggs, or with the help of a surrogate. A reproductive life plan is meant to be fluid and flexible. Having an adjustable plan can help you navigate the unexpected that life brings.

Example of forming a plan

Let’s see how Anna thinks through her own reproductive life plan. She’s a 24 year old who is about to start graduate school and is engaged to be married. They currently use condoms for contraception because birth control pills caused her to have mood swings and feel a little depressed. To begin answering the reproductive life plan questions, they do want to eventually have children – perhaps 2 or 3. They would like to wait to have children for at least 3-4 more years, so that Anna can graduate and be established in her career first. They hope to be done having children by around age 35. Their timeline for having children aligns well with the number of children they want to have. She values contraceptive options that keep her mood steady, and is interested in non-hormonal options. After receiving counseling on all her options, she ultimately decided on a copper intrauterine device (IUD). Because they are not planning to have children for awhile, she liked that she wouldn’t need to remember something daily and that it would be effective for up to ten years. She appreciated that it did not contain any hormones, and that the effectiveness is so high.

By forming a reproductive life plan, you can proactively navigate your childbearing years and achieve your goals for your family.

Health Foundations Birth Center provides well woman care for all ages. We provide contraception counseling and can also provide the type of contraception you decide on. Make an appointment today!

Top 10 Taboo Topics for Moms


Let's face it mamas. There are some topics that get brought up in our every day lives as mothers that strike a cord. We have put together a list of 10 common "taboo topics" that frequently come up for new moms including advice on how to avoid hurt feelings. This journey is full of joy and bumps in the road. Let's come together as a community of women and support each other in our choices.

Breastfeeding vs. Bottlefeeding: This can be a very touchy subject for some.  Some mamas breastfeed for years, others do it for months or weeks, some don't try nursing at all for personal reasons and there are those who simply cannot breastfeed — and that's all okay. Breastfeeding has great health benefits for babies, but pediatricians still say formula-feeding is a fine alternative. If feeding preferences comes up in conversation, be open to everyone's point of view and personal experience.

Cloth vs. Disposable Diapers: In the past few years, cloth diapers have made a huge comeback. There are so many options! For some families this is the way to go but for others it can feel like a higher maintenance option. Disposable diapers can be much more convenient for busy families. Or you can do both! Either way, try and avoid voicing strong opinions on how someone else should cover their baby's bum.

Circumcision: The word alone can start an argument these days! There are many respected organizations to help inform you on making this decision. The American Academy of Pediatrics, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Family Physicians, maintains that there is not enough data to medically recommend or oppose circumcision. This is a very personal decision for families to make on their own.

Baby's Name: Parents put months into choosing a baby name. This new little person has this name forever! It is a huge decision. Some families chose to share the name ahead of time, some don't. It can be good to wait if you can because it is unlikely for someone to comment negatively once they see your sweet one! If a friend shares her list of baby name ideas and asks for your advice, let her know your favorites, but keep any negative comments to yourself.

Birth Experience: Moms often feel a little defensive about their birth choices because everyone seems to have an opinion about it. Whether it is at a birth center, hospital or at home, every mama has the right to choose. Some mothers are more comfortable the natural route while others want an epidural. There is no reason to feel guilty about your choices. Birth is a beautiful experience either way. Lend an ear to your friend and be sensitive to her wishes.

Working Mom or Stay at Home Mom: Either route you take is has it's own challenges. Working after baby for some comes as a relief and families find good balance doing this. Other moms are passionate about staying at home with their child. There is no right way or wrong way. On either side of the fence, at the end of the day, moms need support during this journey of motherhood.

Sleep: Sleep deprivation is a very real scenario in the first few weeks of having a newborn. Some get lucky and have a baby that loves to sleep and wakes only to be fed in the night. Other parents struggle with long sleepless hours in the night. This can be very hard. People love to give advice in this area. This again is a personal journey. There are many methods to helping your baby sleep, take time to find the right option for your family.

Conception and Fertility: It isn't polite to ask about a baby's conception. Some people are not at all afraid to ask questions that are personal and this can be offensive. "‘Was it planned? Was it a surprise? How long did it take to get pregnant?'" Or if there are twins, "Were they natural?" or "Did you have fertility treatment?" Just be happy for the parents and congratulate them. If they would like to share their journey of conception they will.

Parenting Style: No two mothers have the same exact parenting style. You will find there are many different labeled styles and methods. Some families may stick to one or find a balance with a couple. The important piece is finding what fits your family best. All moms seek advice and wisdom from others but try and avoid commenting on another mom's methods, like saying she coddles too much.

Baby's Size and Development: All babies grow and reach certain milestones at their own pace. Comments on a baby's size and questions about whether she's sitting up, crawling, walking, or talking can be wearing on a mom, especially if her baby is way ahead of or behind the curve. It is one thing if it is a conversation between friends but in passing, try to avoid doing this.

The most important thing to remember is this: We are all in this together mamas. Let's support each other the best that we can.

10 Surprising Facts About Your Newborn


Newborn babies may be small and need a lot of caring for but they are such a wonder! It is amazing what they can do. Here are some surprising and interesting facts about your newborn.

Vernix: Many babies are born with vernix on their bodies. If your baby comes past his due date, there will probably very little. Every baby has a thick coat of vernix in utero. Its main benefit is its anti-microbial properties which protects your baby’s delicate skin from the acidic levels of your amniotic fluid. Rather than wiping or washing it away, rub it into your baby's skin. The World Health Organization recommends leaving it for at least 24 hours.

Skin to Skin: It is no secret how important skin to skin contact is with your baby; not just right after birth either! Skin to skin is beneficial for weeks. Laying with your baby this way, supports breastfeeding, regulates her body temperature, and greatly reduces stress. Studies have shown that it reduces the risk of postpartum depression in mother's as well.

Baby Poop: Get used to talking about your baby's poop! Your baby's first poop is called meconium. It is dark, tarry and consists of amniotic fluid, secretions of the intestinal glands, bile pigments, fatty acids, and intrauterine debris. It can be hard to wipe off! It is helpful to put some olive oil on your baby's bum, this will help get the meconium off easily. If breastfeeding, your baby's poop will transition to a mustard yellow and will look seedy. This is normal! Your baby's poop won't change to brown until solid foods are introduced.

Taste buds: By the early age of 13 weeks gestation, your baby's taste buds are fully formed. Your baby can taste everything you eat through the amniotic fluid. Research shows that baby's have a predisposition to like sweet flavors more; your breast milk has a sweet flavor.

Vision: Newborns are very nearsighted; they can focus no further than 6-10 inches away. Baby's enjoy looking at your face but don't see the details. Newborns don't see color well and focus better on black and white images however, they develop color vision very quickly.

Crying: Newborns are born with working tear ducts and glands, but only enough to lubricate the eyes. You won't see any tears when your baby cries until about 1 to 3 months of age. As far as crying goes, your baby cries for many different reasons. The most common are hunger, thirst, dirty diaper, wanting to be held and being tired.

Eating: Babies are born with a very tiny stomach which makes sense because before your breast milk is in, your baby will only eat small amounts of colostrum, albeit very frequently! To give you an idea of just how small their tummy is, on day one it is the size of a cherry and should only take in 1-1.4 teaspoons at each feeding. By one month it is the size of a large egg.

Sleep: During the first 24 hours of life outside the womb, your baby will take a decent nap for a few hours at around 6 hours of age. From 0-3 your baby's sleep pattern will very likely look nothing like yours! Their sleep schedule can range from every 45 minutes to 3-4 hours any given day. This is normal. Their circadian rhythm takes time adjust.

Reflexes: Newborns are born with several different reflexes that disappear over the next few months. The rooting reflex happens when you touch your baby's cheek and signifies hunger; this disappears at 3-4 months. The stepping reflex is present at birth. If you put your baby's feet on a flat surface, he will march his legs up and down like walking; this disappears at 2-4 months. These are just a couple!

Hearing: Within 10 minutes of birth, your baby's hearing is sophisticated enough to determine where a sound is coming from.

Newborns aren't newborns for very long! This time is wonderfully challenging and beautiful. Take it one day at a time.

Health Foundations Birth Center has a Moms Group that meets weekly on Thursdays at 2:30. This group is free and open to the public. This is a great way to connect with other mamas! We hope to see you there.


Conversations for Parents-To-Be to Have Before Baby Arrives

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Welcoming a baby into the world as a couple of a very exciting time! Perhaps this was something you planned for months or maybe your baby was a surprise; either way there are so many wonderful things to prepare and look forward to. There are also decisions to be made on how to parent right from the beginning. Rather that bring these up as you go and possibly have arguments, we have made a list for you so you can talk before your sweet baby arrives! Start early! Thankfully, you have nine months to get squared away on these sometimes tough topics. It always helps to get information so that you can discuss with facts, not just opinion.

  • Where to deliver? Hospital, Free-standing Birth Center, Home?
  • Family bed or crib right away? Some families choose to co-sleep and have a family-bed until a certain age; others may choose to have the baby in their own crib.
  • His last name, her last name or combine the two? Whether married or not, this is a decision that will have to be made at some point before your baby arrives for the birth certificate.
  • To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? In recent years, this has become a hot topic! There is a lot of information out there, be sure to use reliable sources.
  • Hold them to sleep or cry it out? Another hot topic. Some have strong advice about this and it comes at you in all directions! Take time to just make a decision together.
  • Daycare or stay at home parent? Some parents take the plunge to quit their job and be a full-time stay at home parent. There is a right answer for everyone. Try and write down the pros and cons to help you make a decision.
  • Sex after baby... The average safe time to begin having sex is 6 weeks but that doesn't mean both parties with be ready. A woman's body goes through a lot when it comes to birth, it is okay to wait until you are comfortable and important to set some expectations.
  • Placenta, keep it or toss it? There are different ways to keep your placenta; placenta encapsulation, planting it, and more. It is okay to toss it too!
  • If it's a boy...circumcising or intact? This is a very personal decision for families and definitely one to discuss ahead of time!
  • Who will be in the room during birth and after? Grandma, grandpa, a sibling, a friend, a doula?
  • Dad during birth? Discuss the kind of support you would like from him.
  • Night duty. Talk about ways you can share the parenting role at night. Perhaps dad on diaper duty and mom on nursing.

This is a good place to start. Try to talk about the bigger topics one at a time and if the conversation gets heated, take a break and come back to it!



Top 5 Things to Have a Successful Start to School

It won't be long before it is time for kids to head back to school! Along with school supplies and new clothes and shoes there are great ways to help prepare your children for a successful start to the school year.

1. Start the day with a good breakfast that includes protein. We have all heard the importance of a good breakfast. For kids, it is very important to eat a good meal before a full day of learning. Including protein in the meal will help tide them over until snack or lunch. Here are some simple ideas even for the pickiest eaters!

  • Eggs, bacon/sausage and wholegrain toast
  • Pancakes or waffles cooked with protein powder, these can be made ahead of time and frozen
  • Fruit smoothie with protein powder

2. A good night's rest is essential. Children between ages 6-11 need 9 to 11 hours of sleep per night. In this day and age of electronics and constant stimulation this can be hard for some families. Here are some tips:

  • Start a bedtime routine and follow it diligently each night, even on weekends if possible
  • Turn off the TV and electronics at least one hour prior to bedtime as this is very stimulating to the brain
  • Read a book or have your child read a book before bed
  • A sound machine can be soothing as well as diffusing essential oils

3. Add a supplement or two to their diet. Adding supplements into your child's diet can help with their immunity, nutrition and brain development. It is important to buy quality supplements; a good place to look is your local co-op. Here are some supplement options:

  • Multi-vitamin: a food based option is a great choice
  • Vitamin D-3: This will help keep your child's immunity strong
  • Fish Oil: We love Nordic Naturals, they are small, chew-able and kids love the taste

4. Make space for family check ins. Does your family have a regular time to check in with each other? This could be during after school snack, family dinner or bedtime.

  • Learn to talk about emotions and how to manage emotions
  • Set aside a specific time each day
  • Create a safe space in your family for everyone to be heard

5. Be prepared the night before. Getting ready for the morning the night before will help the morning go smoother for you and your child.

  • Pack lunches and snacks
  • Make sure homework is complete, checked and put in the backpack
  • Have clothes ready and laid out

As the new school year approaches try and set aside a special day for your family to celebrate the new year. Best wishes to you and your family for the year ahead!