“Giving birth should be your greatest achievement not your greatest fear.”

~Jane Weideman


Birth is Sacred. It is powerful, and mysterious, and life changing. After your birth, you and your partner will never be the same. Babies who come into this world without medication or interference are better able to find their way to the breast and to latch on in that first important hour. They are born alert and ready to meet you face to face. Mothers who are educated about birth and trust their bodies and attendants are more likely to have a smooth birth experience, and feel empowered in doing so.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Sex After Childbirth - A Dad's Guide!

Many men are clueless about a woman's recovery process after childbirth.  What they might be going through physically as well as emotionally, are things for new dads to take into consideration when trying to support their partner.  Men can experience these changes as well, and starting a new family is a part of growing both personally and as a partnership.  So when this article appeared in GQ Magazine, we were thrilled they sought out the opinion of a woman to tell the men what's up!

A mother tells you how to have sex after childbirth
The first time you’re intimate after a child’s arrived can be fraught with problems. Read this and do it right

By Holly Von Bock
Published in GQ Magazine on 10 October 2016

A complete kibosh on penetrative sex after your partner's had kids isn’t a possibility, it’s a certainty. But for how long is completely down to you and your partner. Rush things and you’re only extending your sexual purgatory, but waiting too long won’t do anyone any good either. As a mum of two with a healthy sex life, allow me to suggest what to expect now you’ve finished expecting.

First things first, newborns. I know every woman says it, but you try pushing a melon out of you’re a***hole and then gleefully accepting something else in there shortly afterwards – tears, bleeding and all. You should let your partner come to you after you’ve had a baby, and don’t even think about hinting for at least two months. Those nine weeks (minimum) are what your iPad’s for.

Now, once the dust has settled, she’s healed and there’s potential for some action between the sheets, you have to tread carefully. The key to instigation is relaxation. Understandably, she might be nervous or feel unattractive down there (probably both) so reassurance is the order of the day, as is a nice big cold glass of something.

If she’s ready, she’ll instigate. And remember, gents – foreplay after childbirth is 100 per cent dealer’s choice, so let her show you what she wants. Remember to be mindful of the changes her body’s gone through, too. One big pointer for dads is that mums who have breastfed will not like to have their nipples licked or sucked for sexual gratification. There’s also milk leakage to consider, which is exacerbated by contact. Take it from me, it can really put you off your stroke if you’re a woman.

Now, the final frontier – penetration. If everything about her body language tells you it’s OK to go inside then move in with caution. And lube. Remember that she’s been without sex for just as long as you have, so her eyes might be bigger than, well, you know what I mean. My point is that rushing things won’t do anyone any good. If she looks like she’s just bitten into a chilli then pull the f*** out, reassure her that it’s probably best to wait a little longer and give her a cuddle.

If all’s well, keep it slow, gentle and be mindful of her movements. If her hips are moving away from you as you go in, it’s time to bail because she’s not ready. If she seems happy, gradually get deeper, and take your time. She won’t want the whole thing at once – or necessarily at all - so if she gives you an inch wait for her to ask for the rest. Even if you’re only a little way in, remember that blood and blood clots are common, too. Don’t you dare get grossed out by it – we’ve just spent two months mourning the loss of our vaginas while you’ve been wanking on the sofa.

But don’t let this scar you – normal service will eventually resume. I love speaking to friends about this because everyone’s different. Some couples do a complete 360 once their children are older and are at it like rabbits, sneaking around and having a quickie in the kitchen with something propped against the door whilst their children are watching a film, but others are content with a monthly romp. But all took their time to get there. Just remember to treat any sex in the first six months as a bonus. And to keep your iPad charged.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Nine Essential Oils & Helpful Recipes for Pregnancy & Birth


Lavender, Geranium, Cypress, Lemon, Clary Sage, Spearmint or Peppermint, Ginger, Tea Tree, 
& Rose

Many mothers wish to integrate essential oil treatments into their pregnancy routine.  If you're experiencing any of these common ailments, using essential oils is a great way to holistically treat them. 

Beautiful Belly Blend — 7 drop of rose, 6 drops of lavender, and 5 drops of orange blended into 2 Tbsp of almond oil, 1 Tbsp of wheat germ oil, and 10 drops of borage seed oil.

Varicose Veins — 15 drops of geranium, 5 drops of cypress, 2 drops of lavender, blended in 2 Tbsp of almond oil.  Rub into legs, stroking gently from ankle to thigh.

Hemorrhoids — 15 drops of geranium and 5 drops of cypress blended into 4 Tbsp of almond oil or into a small tube of KY jelly.  Apply to anal area as needed.  The essential oils can also be blended and add 2-3 drops into a sitz bath 3x/day.  

Insomnia— 1 drop of lavender on your sternum.

Nausea— 2 drops of spearmint and 1 drop of lavender mixed into 1 Tbsp of honey.  Stir into 1 cup of hot water and add the juice of one lemon. Use a maximum of 3 times a day for 6 days.  The oils can also be diluted in 1 tsp of almond oil and rubbed on your feet.  Ginger or lemon oil, 1 drop per bowl of hot water and inhaled deeply can help, also.

Muscle Cramps — 5 drops of geranium, 10 drops of lavender, 2 drops of cypress and 1 cup of Epsom salts in a warm bath.

Swelling— 3 drops ginger, 2 drops cypress, and 2 drops lavender blended in 2 Tbsp of almond oil.  Massage in with long strokes toward the heart.  Also helpful to add 1 drop of lemon oil to hot herbal for diuretic and cleansing.

Yeast Infections— 3 drops of tea tree oil in a sitz bath, or added to a light vinegar douche.  Do 3 times a day for 3 days, then follow with 3 days of plain, active yogurt inserted vaginally at night.

Perineal Massage— 5 drops of rose OR 3 drops geranium and 2 drops of lavender in 1 tsp of almond oil.  Massage daily for last 10 days— 2 weeks.

Stop Early Labor**— 5 drops lavender, 1 cup Epsom salt in a warm bath.

Enhance Early Labor and/or Strengthen Contractions**— 8 drops clary sage, 8 drops of lavender and 8 drops of rose in 4 Tbsp of almond oil.

New baby skin— 3 drops of lavender in 2 Tbsp of almond oil.  Massage in well.

Increase Breast Milk — 15 drops of geranium OR 10 drops of clary sage blended in 2 Tbsp of almond oil.  Massage under arms and around breasts once a day, wash off before breastfeeding.

**Always consult a midwife or birth professional before attempting these treatments.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Truth About Tearing

Vaginal tearing can be a very scary subject, but it's always better to be informed about your body than remain in the dark about your options.  There are preventative steps and recovery methods available, fortunately, tearing is almost never as bad as the imagination can convince.

Levent Ince / Getty Images

The Truth About Your Vagina Tearing During Childbirth
Here's the scoop on tears, snips, and recovery.

By Zahra Barnes

Giving birth can be so many things: magical, overwhelming, and terrifying, to name a few. But the prospect of tearing below the belt during a vaginal birth is a particularly worrisome aspect for many pregnant people. “It’s probably one of the first questions people ask about what to expect during labor and delivery,” Jamil Abdur-Rahman, M.D., board-certified ob/gyn and chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Vista East Medical Center in Waukegan, Illinois, tells SELF.

Between 53 and 79 percent of vaginal deliveries result in some kind of tearing, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. But—deep breaths—it’s usually not the disastrous situation you might be envisioning.

Your body does a pretty stellar job of preparing your vagina for the massive undertaking of childbirth. “Pregnancy is a state of high estrogen, which makes tissue good, strong, and stretchy,” Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale Medical School, tells SELF. “There’s also a hormone called relaxin that helps stretch tissue and move the pubic bone to let the kid out of there.” The protein elastin comes into play as well, priming your vagina to be extra pliable, Abdur-Rahman explains. But since your vagina can only accommodate so much, even when stretching to an impressive three times its usual size to pass a baby, tearing can still happen.

There are different degrees of tearing during childbirth, and most people only have to deal with the less serious ones.

Those would be first- and second-degree lacerations. “First-degree means the mucosal tissue that lines the vagina has been torn,” Abdur-Rahman says. “Sometimes the doctor doesn’t even have to place stitches, they just [apply] pressure to stop the bleeding.” Either way, this should only take a few weeks to heal.

Thanks to the pressure of the baby coming out, your labia minora can also rip. Although the degrees of tearing only refer to the vagina, perineum, and anus, Abdur-Rahman says these are basically first-degree tears. “[Labial tears] are easy to repair with stitches, but sometimes doctors don’t catch them,” he says. They’ll usually heal on their own. Sometimes the skin can remain split where it once joined together, leaving some people displeased with the appearance (which can be fixed with surgery later, if it bothers you).

Second-degree tears have that vaginal aspect, but there’s also some splitting at the perineum, or the area between the vagina and anus. That usually requires stitches, Abdur-Rahman says, and can also take a few weeks to heal.

Things start to get more serious with third-degree tears. Those involve wounds to the anal sphincter, or the muscle that creates a seal allowing you to poop or pass gas when necessary, but hold it in when not. Then, fourth-degree tears rip the lining of the anus on top of everything else.

Third- and fourth-degree tears often require surgical treatment, Abdur-Rahman explains. If they’re not caught on time or treated properly, they can lead to leaking gas or stool, or create fistulas (abnormal passages) between the rectum and vagina that necessitate surgery.

Doctors don’t do episiotomies (preemptively snipping the perineum) as much as they used to.

Obstetricians often used to rely on the procedure to protect against tearing during childbirth. “The thought was it helped to prevent lacerations and pelvic floor dysfunction after childbirth,” Abdur-Rahman says. But research started to show that episiotomies didn’t do much to ward off those issues, and in fact, natural tears may heal better than episiotomies do, Minkin explains.

Minkin says when she was first in practice in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, episiotomies were the standard. But they’ve been declining sharply, especially since 2006, when ACOG advised against routine episiotomies. “Now, the official recommendation is to try to avoid them—if somebody tears a little bit, they tear a little bit,” Minkin says, while noting that there are certain exceptions.

One is if the infant is particularly big. This is known as fetal macrosomia, meaning the baby’s birth weight will be more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces. In those cases, doctors may need more room to perform special maneuvers to get the baby out safely, Abdur-Rahman explains. Even if the baby is a normal size, if one or both of its shoulders gets stuck, an episiotomy may still be in order, Minkin explains.

Doctors might also decide on one if they can tell that, for some other reason, you may be prone to severe tearing. “When somebody’s really going to tear the hell out of their bottom, an episiotomy is probably better,” Minkin says.

Now, here’s some reassurance about tearing during childbirth.

Most people who give birth vaginally don’t experience severe tearing. “First-degree tears are the most common, then it goes linearly,” Minkin says, explaining that fourth-degree tears are vastly less reported than the others. ACOG also notes that doctors may be able to use things like perineal massage or warm compresses to reduce the risk of severe tearing during childbirth, although it’s not a sure thing. As for at-home prevention, Minkin says there's no evidence to back up methods like massaging the area on your own with lube or oil, although if you want to try it out, feel free (just be careful with getting oil in your vagina, depending on the type and your sensitivity level).

Even if you do find yourself with a third- or fourth-degree tear, as long as the doctors treat it appropriately, you should be fine. “If the repair is well-done, there shouldn’t be any long-term problems,” Minkin says. After that, if you have more children in the future, you’ll probably tear less. “The tissue is stretchier and tends to be more forgiving,” Minkin says, adding that this was true in her own experience.

Part of what makes all of this so scary is the thought of how painful it must be for anything in the vaginal neighborhood to rupture. (Minkin says some women ask for elective C-sections to avoid the possibility of tearing altogether. She doesn’t recommend it: It’s “a hell of a lot easier” to recover from natural tearing, or even an episiotomy, than from a C-section, she says.) The truth is, you probably won’t feel the actual tearing as it’s happening. “The same nerves that transmit the pain of laceration are the ones transmitting the pain and pressure of labor and delivery,” Abdur-Rahman says. “A lot of times, people don’t feel pain until afterwards.”

At that point, doctors have likely found the tears, so you’re already on the road to recovery (which will admittedly be tough, but doable). There are a few things you can do to make the process as comfortable as possible, like using a squeeze bottle to douse the area in warm water while peeing, applying ice packs, and taking stool softeners.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Doula Meet & Greet

TONIGHT! Starting at 6pm is our Doula Meet & Greet!

Whether you are an Embrace client or not, you are welcome to come Meet and Greet with the doulas! Learn the benefit of having a doula at your birth, and have the chance to meet several in one place.  Every doula is there to provide educational, emotional and physical support both during and after pregnancy. Some have backgrounds in physical therapy, others in yoga or massage, but they all share a passion for giving you the support you need!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Rememdies for Minor Discomforts of Pregnancy

Photo Credit: babycentre.co.uk

You may have thought about how wonderful it would be to be pregnant…how your skin would glow and your hair would grow!  So, you might be a bit surprised that growing a tiny human affects EVERY part of your body, and some of those changes are a bit uncomfortable.

BACK PAIN— can start at 20 weeks and last until your baby comes.

- try pelvic tilts, yoga, walking (at least 20 minutes), swimming
- maintain good posture while standing, walking and sitting
- avoid standing for long periods of time
- avoid slouching as this can cause the baby to get into a malposition (check out www.spinningbabies.com)(seriously!)
- elevate one foot while standing
- avoid high heels, wear flat, well-supported shoes
- bend knees when lifting, keeping back straight
- roll onto your side prior to getting up from a lying down position
- use a pillow between your knees when sleeping
- keep weight gain to 30–35 pounds
- try a warm bath with 2 scoops of Epsom Salts or a heating pad on low or medium setting
- use of ‘prenatal cradle’ to support the abdominal muscles
- physiotherapy, chiropractic or massage therapy may be helpful
- alter your midwife of persistent back pain, or of any back injuries you may have suffered prior to this pregnancy
- SAFE MEDS: Tylenol, Motrin in 2nd trimester only


- use a soft toothbrush
- ensure regular dental hygiene, flossing (you can run your floss through a drop of Tea Tree oil to assist with any infection of the gums
- dental checkups are generally safe
- ensure a healthy diet of fresh fruits and vegetables
- increase Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids to 500— 1000 mg a day


- increase fluids, especially water
- have fluids prior to meals
- decrease dairy intake, increase high fiber foods (you may also use a fiber supplement)
- exercise such as yoga, stretching, walking
- 6 prunes a day or 2 cups of prune juice
- SAFE MEDS: Dulcolax stool softener, Colace, Metamucil, Citracel
- SAFE HERBS: Cautious use of Senna or Smooth Move tea. Psyllium supplements are safe in moderation


- eat regularly, with 8–10 grams of protein every 2 hours
- increase fluids, consider drinking 1 bottle of water by 10,12, 2, 4, and 6
- rest with a cool cloth on the forehead
- decrease stress and practice relaxation techniques
- consider massage therapy or chiropractic care
- keep a food diary, if headaches are frequent or chronic
- SAFE MEDS: Tylenol, Motrin in 2nd trimester only

*consult your doctor or midwife if headaches persist or if they are severe

HEARTBURN— from 20 weeks to term

- try dry crackers before you get out of bed
- avoid irritating, spicy or greasy foods
- eat smaller meals and eat more often
- chew slowly and thoroughly
- reduce, discontinue or change iron supplement
- sleep propped up
- try 1tsp of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- try papaya enzymes
- chew 6 raw almosts 75 times
- prop the head of your bed up 4 inches and never lie down after a meal
- SAFE MEDS: Zantac and occasionally, Tums (Tums is NOT good for frequent use!)

HEMORRHOIDS— What a Pain in the Butt! from 24 weeks to term

- daily kegel exercises (talk to your midwife for proper instruction)
- lie don and elevate hips and feet 10 to 15 minutes, 3 times per day
- avoid constipating foods and salty foods
- ensure fluid intake is adequate (8–10 glasses of water per day)
- SAFE MEDS: Preparation H and Tucks

*If your hemorrhoids are protruding, they will feel much better if you can tuck them back inside your anus, and then lay down and elevate your hips while tightening your glutes
*Consult your midwife if hemorrhoids persist or bleed

INSOMNIA— usually from 28 weeks to term

- exercise daily, a minimum of 20 minutes of walking
- get plenty of fresh air and sunshine
- eat meats early (full stomach = heartburn)
- avoid taking multi-vitamins before bed or during the late afternoon
- avoid caffeine
- have a warm bath with Epsom Salk, or take a dose of Calm (magnesium supplement)
- practice relaxation breathing exercises
- SAFE MEDS: Benedryl or 1/2 of a Unisom

*Consult your midwife if insomnia is not resolving

NAUSEA & VOMITING— usually lasts from 4 to 16 weeks, but can last longer

- discontinue taking prenatal vitamins with iron for the first 12 weeks
- continue taking 0.4mg of folic acid as a separate supplement during the first 12 weeks
- eat frequently, especially crackers, dry toast, cereal
- prepare foods with little odor
- avoid greasy and spicy foods
- take B6— 25mg, 3x a day
- snack just before bed
- increase rest
- try eating only one food at a time
- try eating 6 small meals rather than 3 large meals
- try ginger tea, peppermint tea, raspberry leaf tea
- try peppermint Altoids, or Ginger Chews
- try 250mg of ginger 4x a day
- try to eat a small amount of protein every 2 hours

*If vomiting persists, consult your midwife immediately

SWELLING— usually occurs after 28 weeks and may affect feet or hands

- elevate feet twice daily for 15 minutes at a time
- lie on your left side when resting and sleeping
- increase water intake and add fresh lemon
- change your position frequently to enhance circulation

*symptoms such as headaches, blurry vision, upper right gastric pain or rapid onset of swelling should be reported to your midwife immediately

VARICOSE VEINS— from 16 weeks to term

- wear maternity support hose
- try ice packs to affected areas
- exercise daily
- drink plenty of water
- lie down and elevate legs 10 to 15 minutes 3 times per day
- avoid sitting or standing for long periods
- ask about our Varicose Vein Massage Oil at your next visit

*Consult your midwife if you experience painful swelling, increased heat, redness, or tenderness

Although pregnancy aches and pains can make everyday life less fun, remember that pregnancy doesn’t last forever, and you are doing big work every day growing a new life.

Usually, almost always, the discomforts don’t mean anything terrible, and they are just your body adjusting to all the changes that the new baby is bringing.

This, too, shall pass.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Useful Herbs During Pregnancy

As many as 10% of obstetrical patients use herbs during pregnancy, but in our experience midwifery clients are much more likely to use herbs and alternative medicines.  We have included some basic herbal guidelines for you. Remember that any common herb you use for cooking is likely just fine in the amounts used in cooking.  A good example is Basil.  Basil, even pesto, is fine, but basil essential oil is contraindicated.  Rosemary, garlic, sage, oregano, turmeric, are also good examples of herbs that are safe in cooking, but not in supplement amounts.

These are herbs that will help the mother and baby in the early development stages:

Black Haw— used in the early stages of pregnancy to help prevent miscarriage.

Blessed Thistle— used in the latter stages of pregnancy as a liver tonic and builder, as well as a stimulant of blood flow to the mammaries, and used to increase milk production, also reduces hemorrhaging during childbirth.

Chamomile— lifts spirits and calms the nerves, used for digestive disorders during pregnancy, is combined with ginger to help morning sickness, and has a high calcium content as well as an anti-inflammatory aid.

Dandelion— greens and root— a high source of vitamins and minerals, aids digestion, nourishes, and tones the system, diuretic, useful for fatigue and exhaustion, liver booster.

Echinacea— safe for 7-10 days to boost immunity. 1 tsp tincture 2x/day.

Ginger Root— used for morning sickness and digestive problems, safe during pregnancy for treating colds, sore throats, and congestion.  No more than 1 gram of dried ginger a day, preferably 250mg taken 4x/day.

Kelp— high in vitamins and minerals, aids thyroid

Nettle Leaf— rich in many vitamins and minerals, especially iron, so it is very useful for those suffering from chronic fatigue and exhaustion due to low iron, aids in enriching and stimulating flow of milk; good for use throughout all stages of the pregnancy

Red Raspberry Leaf— tones and nourishes the uterine muscles, rich in vitamins and minerals, enriches and increases milk flow, restores the system after childbirth, good for the entire pregnancy.

Peppermint— used to reduce nausea and vomiting.  Peppermint tea is safe in normal doses, however, be aware that 1 drop of peppermint essential oil has as much power as 30 cups of tea and is not recommended without supervision.

Spirulina— high in vitamins and nutrients

Herbs to avoid or use with caution during pregnancy:

Angelica— stimulates suppressed enstruation
Black Cohosh— uterine stimulant— mostly used during labor
Blue Cohosh— A stronger uterine stimulant
Borage oil— a uterine stimulant— use only during the last few days of pregnancy
Comfrey— can cause liver problems in mother and fetus— use only briefly, externally only, for treating sprains and strains
Dong Quai—may stimulate bleeding
Fenugreek— uterine relaxant
Goldenseal— too powerful an antibiotic for the developing fetus, also should not be used if nursing
Henbane— highly toxic
Horsetail— to high in silica for the developing fetus
Licorice Root— can create water retention and/or elevated blood pressure with extended use. OK for short periods of time for sore throats if no high blood pressure present
Motherwort— stimulates suppressed menstruation
Mugwort— can be a uterine stimulant
Nutmeg— can cause miscarriage in large doses
Pennyroal Leaf— stimulates uterine contractions (NOTE: Pennyroyal essential oil should not be used by pregnant women at any time!)— do not handle if pregnant or nursing
Rue— strong expellant
Shepherd’s Purse— used only for hemorrhaging during/after childbirth
Uva Ursi— removes too much blood sugar during pregnancy and nursing
Yarrow— uterine stimulant

If you would like more information on herbs during pregnancy, please use respected resources.

Excerpts from www.thebuikherbstore.com, with modifications from www.avivaromm.com

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Aromatherapy & Affirmations for Pregnancy TONIGHT @ The Beet Cafe

Come join Senior Midwife Corina Hossle, owner of Embrace Midwifery Care & Birth Center, for a fun, informative evening.  Having used aromatherapy for more than 25 years (decades before the MLM’s made it popular!) she has come to know and love the effect essential oils can have on your physical and mental well-being.  Corina will guide you through choosing and using affirmations and oils that support your gentle, safe and peaceful birth beliefs.  Learn what oils are safe in pregnancy and how to create your own custom blends to assist with normal pregnancy discomforts.  Plus, take home a banner and a sample of a custom-made oil blend!

Where: The Beet Cafe at Ellwood Thompson's
When: 6pm - 7pm

RSVP Here!