Health Foundations Staff

Meet Katrina Wu ~ Certified Nurse-Midwife

Katrina Wu - Health Foundations Nurse-Midwife

Name:

Katrina Wu

Hometown:

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

Family:

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

Member of Health Foundations Team since:

July, 2014

Please explain your role at Health Foundations:

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

What is your educational background and training?

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

Tell us a little about your own birth:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What inspired you to get into your field?

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

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

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

What is your philosophy on birth?

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

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

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

Meet Liz Smith ~ Receptionist

Meet the Health Foundations Family

Name:

Liz (Elizabeth) Smith

Liz Smith and kids

Hometown:

Chetek, WI

Family:

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

Member of Health Foundations Team since:

I joined the team July 21, 2015

Role at Health Foundations:

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

What is your educational background?

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

Tell us a little about your own birth: 

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

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

Liz's kids

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

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

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

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

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

What inspired you to get into your field?  

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

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

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

What is your philosophy on birth?

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

Liz Smith of Health Foundations

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

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

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

Meet Monica Liddle!

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

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

Name:

Monica Liddle

Hometown:

Columbus, Indiana

Current residence:

Saint Anthony Park neighborhood of Saint Paul

Family:

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

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

Member of Health Foundations Team since:

February 2013

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

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

What is your educational background/training? 

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

Tell us a little about your own birth

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

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

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

Monica in East Timor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monica with a family in East Timor

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

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

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

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

I love catching babies!

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

What is your philosophy on birth?

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

What do you love about Health Foundations families?

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

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

Read Ina May Gaskin!

Practice your squats!

Trust your body!

Honor yourself and your baby.