“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!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Guide to Essential Oils in Pregnancy

It is safe to use some essential oils while you’re pregnant, as long as you’re healthy and you’re careful with them.  Essential oils are highly concentrated substances extracted from plants.  To give you an idea, 1 drop of peppermint oil is equal to 30 cups of peppermint tea! They are powerful, so it’s important to use them sparingly.  Be sure to buy high-quality oils from a reputable seller, like Mountain Rose Herbs, Aura Cacia, or Eden’s Garden. The MLM sellers of Young Living and DoTerra have good quality oils as well, but be prepared to pay 2-4 times the normal retail price.

Essential oils are used in aromatherapy, which is a complementary therapy.  The oils contain chemicals that can be absorbed into your body.  Essential oils can be diluted in a carrier oil for massage, or put in a vaporizer for you to breathe them in.

Once inside your body, essential oils work in the same way as drugs or medicines.  Because essential oil molecules are very small, there is a possibility that they may cross the placenta and reach your growing baby’s circulation.

We do not know exactly what effect essential oils may have on a developing baby.  Studies have only tested oils on animals, with varying results.

We do know that many mums-to-be find aromatherapy helpful in easy pregnancy niggles.  These include backache, nausea or swollen ankles.

If you want to use aromatherapy oils, it is best to take the following precautions:

  • Only use one drop of essential oil at a time.
  • Try not to use one particular oil for a long period of time, such as every day for serval weeks.
  • Dilute the essential oil by mixing the drop with at least a teaspoon (5mL) of a base oil before you add it to a bath or smooth it over your skin.  Grape seed oil or sweet almond oil work well as base oils.
  • You can add drops of the oil to a vaporizer, but don’t leave it on for longer than 10 minutes or 15 minutes in each hour.  If you leave it on for too long, the smell can be overpowering and make you feel nauseous.
  • It is best to start using essential oils once you are past the first trimester.  If you use them in the first trimester, always consult an aromatherapist who’s trained in treating mums-to-be.

Oils that are safe for you to use

As long as your pregnancy is going well, it’s fine for you to use:

  • Citrus oils, such as tangerine, neroli, and orange, which are said to make you feel calm and uplifted. Neroli also boosts skin cell regeneration so you will look and feel great!
  • German chamomile
  • Common lavender is said to bring serenity, relaxation, and balance (safe to use after 12 weeks).  It is also said to ease pregnancy aches and fluid retention.
  • Ylang ylang can reduce blood pressure, comfort stressed or tense individuals and is an aphrodisiac (!).
  • Eucalyptus is good if you're feeling congested.  It's a great anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antiviral to ease respiratory ailments.
  • Cypress is safe to use after 5 months and can help with varicose veins, swollen ankles, and hemorrhoids.
  • Tea tree oil (not in labor) is a great anti-fungal and antiviral oil to ease the symptoms of thrush during pregnancy.
  • Geranium boosts energy and promotes circulation.  Safe to use after 3 months, geranium can help relieve tired legs and help you feel refreshed.
  • Sandalwood is amazing if you're having trouble sleeping or feeling relaxed.  It's a natural sedative and anti-depressant and eases cystitis during pregnancy. 
  • Patchouli is good for those "baby-brain" days where it's hard to make a decision, this oil is said to alleviate apathy, indecision, and confusion.
  • Frankincense 
  • Bergamot
  • Black Pepper
  • Peppermint
  • Ginger
  • Rosewood
  • Spearmint

Some of the last oils listed are considered emmenagogues (increases blood flow to pelvis) and therefore appear on both sides of the safe and unsafe lists, depending on the source.

Oils that are not safe for you to use

Don’t use the following essential oils while you are pregnant:

  • Nutmeg, which may have hallucinogenic effects and react with pain-relieving drugs in labor.
  • Rosemary, which is thought to increase blood pressure, and may cause contractions.
  • Basil, which is thought to contribute to abnormal cell development.
  • Jasmine and clary sage, which may trigger contractions.
  • Sage and rose, which may cause bleeding in your uterus (womb).
  • Juniper berry, which may affect your kidneys.
  • Coriander
  • Pine
  • Fennel

Laurel, angelica, thyme, cumin, aniseed, citronella and cinnamon leaf should also be avoided as they could stimulate contractions.

There is a lot of confusion over the safety of lavender essential oil in pregnancy.  That’s because lavender can be used to regulate periods.  Rest assured that this does not mean using it in pregnancy raises the risk of miscarriage.  However, for the ease of mind, you may want to wait until your second trimester before using it.

Clary sage can be a great way to get labor started if used by a trained midwife for a mum who is overdue.  However, don’t use this oil yourself, as overuse can make your contractions too powerful.

In some circumstances, it’s best to steer clear of essential oils altogether. Don’t use any oils if:

  • You have a history of miscarriage.
  • You have had any vaginal bleeding in this pregnancy.
  • You have epilepsy.
  • You have heart problems.
  • You have diabetes, blood clotting problems, or have thyroid, liver or kidney disease.

It is always a good idea to talk to your midwife before using essential oils.

Adapted from the babycentre and bellybelly websites.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Breastfeeding Support

Come to Embrace Wellness Collective today at 11am for our free breastfeeding support group! We are offering a safe place for breastfeeding moms, moms-to-be, or those at any stage in the breastfeeding relationship!  Emily Mozingo will be leading the group and is a Certificated Lactation Educator Counselor (CLEC).

For more information, you can contact Emily at littlelovebirdservices@gmail.com

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Power of a Calm Birth

We are totally in love with this BEAUTIFUL viral video that shows this calm, centered mother in the precious moments before birth.  I have experienced this type of serenity in childbirth first-hand during my time as a midwife in Trinidad & Tobago where mothers gave birth in the warm island waters.  I had to figure out what their secret was and I was amazed to find out it was Hypnobirthing.  We are a huge advocate of this practice because it empowers mothers to be in control of their experience and gives them powerful methods for pain management.  I recommend taking a hypnobirthing class to all mamas!  

Viral Video Proves Childbirth Can Be Amazingly Serene
This mama looks incredibly peaceful delivering her baby in a birthing pool, giving us major labor goals.
By Zara Husaini Hanawalt

When you think about childbirth, you might imagine a woman moaning in pain, covered in sweat, tears or worse. While giving birth can be an incredibly challenging physical feat, it's also not every woman's experience. 

Need proof? This video is going viral for good reason: It shows a woman experiencing childbirth in a way that's completely unlike the depictions of it we so often see on TV and in movies. There's no screaming, no sweating, no struggle here—the mother remains completely calm and serene as she delivers her baby. 

Midwife Lisa Marie Sanchez Oxenham posted the video on Facebook, where it is getting lots of attention. Though it's not even a minute long, it gives viewers such a clear picture of how unbelievably relaxed the mother was during her delivery, which takes place in a birthing tub. 

“My client Audra’s beautiful second home birth,” Oxenham writes alongside the video, which has been shared over 86,000 times. “A midwife’s role is fluid, providing whatever is necessary for each individual birthing experience, although almost always that role is simply to offer the gift of quiet.”

This home birth looks so tranquil, doesn't it? What do you think of the video—does it make you want to deliver your baby at home or in water?

Click here to view the original article.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Pregnancy After 35

Us modern women have changed the pregnancy statistics at historic rates as we put careers first and find fulfilment on our own terms before deciding to start a family.  It seems as if Hollywood started the trend, but we find that all over the country women are getting pregnant later in life with more success than doctors of another era would have us believe.  Let's shed this stigma and get down to supportive evidence (plus a whole lot of fun and educational links)! Enjoy!

Is Having a Baby Over 35 As Risky As We Thought?

The stats that define 35 as "old" for pregnancy are pretty old themselves. Here's what you need to know.

By: Laura Kenney
Photo Credit: Kelly Knox/ Stocksy

I’ll never forget when I first saw the term on my medical record: “Elderly Multigravida.” There it was, like a death sentence, confirming all my worst fears: I was old, and dying of something very, very grave.

But, in fact, I was 35 and enjoying a healthy pregnancy with my second child.

“Elderly,” in the language of obstetrics, refers to expectant mothers who are 35 or over. (Multigravida means I had been pregnant more than once. If it were my first pregnancy, my code would have read “Elderly Primagravida.” Just as bad!) But this is just one in a litany of quasi-ageist terms knocked-up over-35’s are blasted with: There was “advanced maternal age,” “geriatric pregnancy,” and the fact that I was considered “high-risk.”

Am I being over-sensitive? As a health editor, I should be used to this, right? Or is age 35—the number that’s been creeping in the back of every woman’s brain since we first heard it in sex ed—really the age that your chances of having a healthy pregnancy nosedive?

It seems like everyone you know is over 35 and having kids, right?

I had my first child at 33, my second at 36, and recently delivered my third at age 39. When I got pregnant at 32, I was one of the first of my friends to have kids. The rest all joined in after age 35—echoing a national trend. The average age of first childbirth rose to 26.3 in 2014, up from 24.9 fifteen years ago, in part because more women are waiting longer to start families.

In fact, the first birth rate for women aged 35–39 rose in nearly all states from 2000 to 2012, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It climbed a whopping 40 percent or more in Washington, D.C., New York, Rhode Island, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming and both North and South Dakota, and jumped over 20 percent in 30 other states.

If you’re over 35, are you automatically a “high risk” pregnancy?

____ Many doctors I spoke with for this article were quick to discount the belief that age 35 draws a line between a healthy pregnancy and a difficult one.

“We’ve learned that there’s nothing magic about age 35,” Sarah J. Kilpatrick, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Cedars-Sinai, tells SELF. “I would never tell someone that just because she’s 35 she has to see a high-risk doctor—only if there’s something in her history, or something that happened during her pregnancy that warrants it.”

Some doctors even downplay the phrase to their patients. “I try not to use the term ‘high risk,’” says Prudence Hall, M.D., ob/gyn and founder of the Hall Center in Santa Monica, Calif. “You tell a patient ‘you are high risk’ and that’s going to set up the condition. You want to be straight and informative, but I don’t think we need to use terms that can be derogatory.”

The stats that define 35 as “elderly” are pretty old themselves.

Thirty-five became the go-to number for advanced maternal age between 20 and 30 years ago, says Kilpatrick. At that time the chance of having a baby with Down syndrome was one out of 200 for a 35-year-old woman. The risk of a miscarriage due to amniocentesis—a procedure used to diagnose chromosomal abnormalities, which involves extracting amniotic fluid with a needle from the sac surrounding the fetus—was also one out of 200.

“The risks match at age 35,” says Kilpatrick, “and that’s how this age became the cut off for advanced maternal age. It’s stuck because we use that as measure.”

Today, a 35 year old’s odds of giving birth to a baby with Down syndrome is one in 350, according to the National Down Syndrome Society. And, studies have found that only one in 1,600 women will experience a miscarriage from a second-trimester amniocentesis.

So the numbers that define age 35 as advanced maternal age are no longer valid.

That said, your chances of having a baby with a chromosomal abnormality do increase with age. But there are awesome tests for it now.

A 20-year-old woman has a one in 2,000 chance of conceiving a child with Down syndrome. That chance increases gradually with age to reach one in 350 for a 35-year-old woman, one in 100 by age 40, and one in 30 by age 45.

Source: [National Down Syndrome Society](http://www.ndss.org/Down-Syndrome/What-Is-Down-Syndrome/)

“There are many genetic abnormalities that a child can have, some minor and some that may even be lethal, but the reason why we place special focus on Down syndrome is that some babies with Down syndrome will have completely normal antenatal ultrasounds,” says Shannon Clark, M.D., a Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist and founder of Babies After 35.

Because of this, women over 35 are offered additional chromosomal screening testing, including a quad screen blood test and detailed ultrasounds. There’s also the newer cell-free DNA blood test, which screens fetal DNA in the mom’s blood for Down syndrome and a few other chromosomal disorders with a high degree of accuracy. This test can be administered as early as 10 weeks, and can tell you the sex of your child, too.

If any of your screening tests show high odds for Down syndrome or other chromosomal disorders, you can opt to undergo more invasive testing such as chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis, which can tell you for sure.

And there are age-related health risks that are valid concerns during pregnancy.

Pregnant women are monitored for a litany of conditions that can harm mother and baby, including diabetes and/or high blood pressure. Women over 35 also have higher odds of delivering prematurely, requiring a cesarean section, having placenta previa or preeclampsia and experiencing pregnancy loss.

“As we age, there is the potential for developing medical diseases; an aging woman who becomes pregnant is no exception,” says Clark. “A woman who has these or any other pre-existing medical conditions in addition to being advanced maternal age will be monitored more closely during her pregnancy.” ____

But if you’re over 35 and generally healthy, your pregnancy should be too.

“Traditionally 35 and older is considered a high risk pregnancy,” says Hall. But since that number was coined 30 years ago, Hall points out that we’ve gotten healthier as a population. If you eat right, exercise, don’t smoke and have a healthy weight, your odds of developing a harmful pregnancy condition drop dramatically.

“Age has less to do with the health of your baby versus the health of your body. A 40-year-old women could be healthier than a 20 year old, biologically.”

Bottom Line: Age by itself should not be major criteria for a high-risk pregnancy, says Kilpatrick. “It’s really age plus whatever else is going on with that woman.”

This article originally appeared on Self.com

Monday, September 19, 2016

"Embrace" Documentary Screening!

I have scheduled a screening of this amazing documentary about loving our bodies at Movieland tonight at 7:30 pm. However, in order to make it happen, we have to have reserved tickets to do so! $11 a pop, and it also allows us to meet the filmmakers and enjoy this important film as a tight community. Reserve your ticket now and we can make this happen! Reserve your tickets here ASAP!
To reserve--http://bit.ly/293QhCx
And here is the amazing trailer! https://vimeo.com/172004856

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Doula Meet & Mingle

Don't forget to come out TONIGHT starting at 6pm for our Doula Meet & MIngle! 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, September 12, 2016

Sip & Shop, Tonight!

Join Embrace Birth Wellness Collective tonight at 7pm for Sip & Shop! Two great local shops, The Spotted Pocket and Green Baby Planet will be premiering new products while you shop and mingle with light refreshments! We hope to see you there!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Eating Dates Reduces Chance of Augmented Labor

I have always been an advocate and continuing researcher of the best and most recent scientific studies when it comes to childbearing and pregnancy.  Time after time, studies prove organic and holistic methods to be extremely beneficial, especially when it comes to prenatal nutrition.  Here's one little tip I always share with my mamas and have experienced it's effectiveness first-hand!  I recently found an article on thepeacefulbirthproject.org highlighting the statistics backing it up, so I thought I'd share! Enjoy!

The date fruit is the product of the date palm, a tree native to Northern Africa and the Middle East. There is a wide variety of dates including the better known Medjool and Deglet Noor. Each variety is unique in size, sweetness, flavor, and texture. Containing at least 15 minerals such as potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc, 23 types of amino acids, vitamins, carbohydrates, protein, 14 types of fatty acids, dietary fiber and a lot more, these sweet little fruits are a nutritional powerhouse. [International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 2003]

On the photo I quote a study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology which concludes that eating 6 dates daily during the last four weeks of pregnancy “significantly reduced the need for induction and augmentation of labor, and produced a more favorable, but non-significant, delivery outcome”.  Some significant findings:

  • Cervical dilation was significantly greater in the date-eating mamas upon arrival at the hospital
  • 83% of mothers who consumed dates had their membranes intact upon admission at the hospital 
  • 96% of the women who ate dates went into labor on their own
  • Use of Pitocin (synthetic Oxytocin) was significantly lower in women who consumed dates (28%), compared with the non-date fruit mothers (47%)
  • The latent phase of the first stage of labor was almost 7 hours shorter in the date-eating mothers compared with the non-date fruit eaters (510 min vs 906 min). Not bad for eating a few dates!

I also came across a very interesting research comparing the use of dates and Pitocin in the management of postpartum hemorrhage.  The study demonstrates a significant reduction in the amount of postpartum bleeding experienced by women who consumed date fruit compared to women who received synthetic oxytocin (Pitocin). The randomized clinical trial was done in two hospitals. Immediately after the delivery of the placenta one group was give 50 gram of dates. Another group  received 10 units of synthetic oxytocin in an intramuscular injection.  Blood loss mean in the end of first hour after delivery were significantly different in dates and oxytocin groups (104 ml vs 141.6 ml) The researchers suggest that dates are effective for management of postpartum hemorrhage because dates have Calcium, serotonin, tannin, linoleic acid, enzimes, iron and other nutrients beneficial to control bleeding and prevent anemia. Khadem, Sharaphy, Latifnejad (2007)

These studies are yet another confirmation of the priceless legacy of ancient wisdom. Since the beginning of time, women have been using food, teas, oils, poultices and herbs to ease the pains of labor, heal during postpartum and support breastfeeding. Eating dates has been emphasized during pregnancy and after delivery in many Islamic traditions. 

The Quaran tells of Mary eating dates in labor: “The pains of labour drove her to the trunk of a date-palm. She [Mary] said, “Oh if only I had died before this time and was something discarded and forgotten!” A voice called out to her from under her, “Do not grieve! Your Lord has placed a small stream at your feet. Shake the trunk of the palm towards you and fresh, ripe dates will drop down onto you. Eat and drink and delight your eyes…” (Qur’an, 19:23-26)

Dates are also said to increase sexual stamina, help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower blood pressure. Dates have been used for thousands of years by athletes to improve physical endurance, agility, and stamina.  So start eating your dates and have them handy during labor!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

12th Annual RVA Peace Festival!

Join the 12th Annual RVA Peace Festival! Where diversity is celebrated and community is embraced.  Embrace Birth and Midwifery Care will have a table at this year's festival being held at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church!  This has historically been a wonderful event with a great mission:

 The mission of the annual RVA Peace Festival is to provide an opportunity for children, youth, and adults of the greater Richmond area to gather in celebration of peace and diversity.  It is our hope that this will foster a growing sense of community.  

Come by our table and sign up for our free drawing for our Embrace Botanicals, Balms for the Body, Salves for the Soul, Basket of Love!

Here is the schedule of events for all interesting in going, and you can find more information at their event page!

Schedule of Performances:

11:00 – 11:10: Opening Drumming Ceremony, Polly Lazaron
11:15 – 11:40: Sri Sai South Indian Dance Academy
11:45 – 12:10: Ebraheem Khabeer, Slam Poet
12:15 – 12:40: Prodigy Productions Music Group
12:45 – 1:00: Fire Ceremony, Greg Kelley

2:15 – 2:35: Interactive Dances of Universal Peace, Hayat Donna Bain
2:40 – 3:05: Drums No Guns, Ram Bhagat
3:10 – 3:35: Latin Ballet of Virginia
3:40 – 4:05: Falun Dafa Chinese Dancers
4:10 – 4:35: Cultural Libations Drama Production
4:45 – 5:00: Closing Ceremony

Exciting Exhibitions:

Mini Memoirs led by the Chrysalis Institute
Chalk for Peace, led by Art180
Healing Our Water
Meditation Labyrinth
Cooperative Games
Arts and Crafts

Wonderful Food:

La Milpa Mexican Cuisine – crafting in colorful Mexican food
Zainab’s – Middle Eastern Halal delicacy
Soul Ice -Premier Minority-owned and Certified Frozen Dessert Company
Ellwood Thompson’s – Locally-owned Market

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Role of Doulas in Reducing the Primary Cesarean

Coming up on September 14th, Embrace Midwifery Care & Birth Center will be hosting another Doula Meet and Greet!  We believe in the power of a positive support team during your pregnancy.  Our doulas specialize in everything from massage therapy to prenatal yoga, but they all specialize in meeting your needs.  Yet another reason to bring a doula into your birthing plan comes this article, highlighting their role in reducing the primary cesarean.

The Role of Doulas in Reducing the Primary Cesarean
Article published on Donainternational.org

The rise in cesarean birth rates and the effects of cesarean birth on mother and baby have become common themes in articles about birth and medical care. It seems everyone from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) to Consumer Reports to mommy blogs are talking about the need to reduce the number of cesarean births in the United States. Doula support as a way to help achieve a lower cesarean birth rate was first acknowledged by ACOG in 2014. Doulas have again received a strong endorsement for the role we play in supporting vaginal birth, this time from the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (CMQCC).  Their evidence-based Toolkit to Support Vaginal Birth and Reduce Primary Cesareans for maternity care practitioners outlines seven strategies, one of which is to #4 Encourage the Use of Doulas and Work Collaboratively to Provide Labor Support.  Their view of doulas can be summed up in one simple quote from the Toolkit:

“Doulas should be considered an integral part of the birth team.”

— California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative, Toolkit to Support Vaginal Birth and Reduce Primary Cesareans (p. 46)

The Toolkit also addresses the role of doulas and how to promote stronger teamwork with nurses. That some providers may not understand the role of doulas and may have an “antagonistic or adversarial view of them” is not ignored (p. 40). Doulas are described as having a unique skillset, and it is noted that we can be both an advocate for the birthing woman and be an ally to care providers, including nurses, when we are allowed to “function appropriately” in our role. The authors are aware that doulas have not been fully accepted in all hospital settings and “there are still many misconceptions about doula care, and often there is a stigma surrounding the ‘type’ of woman who has a doula.” (p.46)

To address this, the Toolkit provides specific recommendations to better integrate and support doulas.


— Toolkit to Support Vaginal Birth and Reduce Primary Cesareans, Table 9

In detailing this strategy, the Toolkit offers specific recommendations to promote stronger relationships between doulas and nurses to support vaginal birth including:

  • Open communication between the doula and the nurse and a “mutual understanding of roles.” Unit guidelines may need to be developed to foster delineation of roles and expectations. Posting these guidelines at the bedside may be useful.
  • Collegial rapport and joint understanding that the doula’s professional knowledge of labor support techniques complements the nurse’s extensive technical and medical skillset
  • Two-way teaching. Doulas appreciate thoughtful and respectful guidance and feedback, especially those training for future medical or nursing professions. Likewise, nurses and nursing students can learn extensive labor support skills from doulas if willing to do so.

For hospitals, the Toolkit offers these “Innovative strategies to support the use of doulas”:

  • Working with a local doula organization to provide information, support, and resources to families
  • Connecting with community-based doula programs
  • Considering the implementation of a hospital-based program

Many of the strategies outlined in the Toolkit speak to maternity care practices and hospital policies that support vaginal birth.  The importance of education for birthing families is mentioned in more than one strategy with recommendations that practitioners educate families on what to expect in early labor, the safety of laboring at home in early labor, comfort measures partners or other family members can provide throughout labor, and the use of intermittent monitoring in labor. The importance of childbirth education is emphasized in a list of tools available to providers, hospitals and families in Appendix C of the toolkit as well.

The Toolkit is free to download from their website after registering with CMQCC and completing a short survey. As a follow-up, CMQCC will be releasing both a teaching slide set and an implementation guide.

— Adrianne Gordon, CD(DONA), MBA


Smith H, Peterson N, Lagrew D, Main E. 2016. Toolkit to Support Vaginal Birth and Reduce Primary Cesareans: A Quality Improvement Toolkit. Stanford, CA: California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

MyBirth Podcast

Listen as Corina Hossle, the Founder, Clinical Director and Midwife of Embrace Birth Midwifery Care & Birth Center talks to the lovely ladies of MyBirth in this insightful, entertaining and informative Podcast.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Breastfeeding Tips That Work!

To finish off National Breast Feeding Month strong and to Celebrate our upcoming Black Breastfeeding Week Cookout, we are dedicating our blog to all things breastfeeding this next week!

Breastfeeding Tips That Really Work
By: Dana Holmes

August is National Breastfeeding Month and if you’re a nursing mom you know how breastfeeding can sometimes feel like the most frustrating and unnaturally difficult things you ever have to face as a parent. Well, I have some stellar advice for new moms from the people who are changing the way we do it. I spoke with the people who are helping new moms feel more confident about getting the most out of that precious nursing time with their little ones.

How do you keep your supply strong?
Helen Anderson- Creator of Milkies milk-savers that catch every last drop of your liquid gold says,
“Breastfeeding often keeps your milk supply strong on its own. If your baby is fussy, don’t reach for a pacifier - breastfeed instead. When your breasts are empty, your body says, “Make more milk - baby is hungry!” When your breasts are not emptied completely or infrequently, your body says. “Slow down production - baby doesn’t need this much.” It is normal to breastfeed ALL THE TIME in the first weeks - plan to focus on caring for yourself and your baby and ask for help if you need it.”

What if I just can’t do it?
Melanie Herschorn, creator of Udderly Hot Mama Nursing and Pumping Wear, says,
“Remember that even though breastfeeding may look easy if you watch other moms doing it, it can be really hard at the beginning. Don’t shy away from asking for help if it seems too hard for you to master on your own. There are lactation specialists everywhere who can help you through the tough times.”

What can I do to prepare for breastfeeding?
Kate Doti, co-founder of jay elle by J.L. Childress, a line of chic breastfeeding totes and accessories, says,
“Prepare and practice. I really benefited from reading The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding before my first baby.”

Kimberly Schram, VP of Marketing and Communications for UpSpring Baby, creators of Milkflow healthy milk supply tea, says,
“New moms can’t rely solely on the breastfeeding information you may, or may not, get in the hospital so take a breastfeeding class before baby arrives from a certified lactation consultant. A breastfeeding class will help you be better prepared and will provide you with a resource to reach out to if you have trouble once you start breastfeeding.”

Personally, I found that teas and oatmeal cookies, massage and pumping during nursing and in between feedings was all very helpful in increasing my milk supply. Also, the lactation consultant was a total lifesaver. I learned that the hospital hadn’t taught me the best positions for me and my baby and that there were lots of positions to try in different situations. Mastering the “dream feed” where you both are practically asleep and lying down is one of the greatest gifts a nursing mother can give herself.

And, register for a housekeeper for those first few weeks. In fact, a theme of not being afraid to ask for, and hire, help during the early breastfeeding days is the one thing that all of these ladies mentioned and rings true in my own personal experience. The lesson here is that nursing is a full-time job! Don’t make yourself crazier than you have to.

To read the original article, click here.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Doctor, The Midwife, The Nurse & The Doula

Addressing the most common questions and concerns of many expecting parents, but often times, their extended family.  We have so many mothers who walk through our doors wanting to have a natural birth administered by a midwife, but are lacking support from their family members.  It is understandable for parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles to be concerned for the well-being of you and your new family, but ultimately it is not their birth.  We believe that good information and the best up to date research is a great tool to ease the minds of concerned parties when it comes to your pregnancy.  Starting with the fundamentals....

The Doctor, The Midwife, The Nurse & The Doula
From The Prenatal Yoga Center

I wanted to share some questions with you that I am asked on a regular basis: “What is the difference between a midwife and a doula? “; “Does my doctor work with my midwife?”; “Why would I choose a midwife over a doctor?”; “Isn’t the nurse like a doula?” I figured the best way to answer all of these questions would be to finally sit down and map it out.

First, let’s understand the definitions of those terms and the job of each of the people mentioned.

Obstetrician: A physician who delivers babies and is in the practice of obstetrics, the art and science of managing pregnancy, labor and the puerperium, the time immediately after delivery.

You will see your OB/GYN or members of his/her practice throughout your pregnancy, although who your care provider will be at delivery depends on who is on call during your labor. During the labor, the doctor will come in and out to check on your progress and, as the definition above states, “manage” your labor. Obstetrics is also a surgical field, so in the case of a cesarean, it would be your OB that would perform the procedure.

Midwife: A midwife is a trained professional with special expertise in supporting women to maintain a healthy pregnancy birth, offering expert individualized care, education, counseling and support to a woman and her newborn throughout the childbearing cycle.

A midwife works with each woman and her family to identify their unique physical, social and emotional needs. When the care required is outside the midwife’s scope of practice or expertise, the woman is referred to other health care providers for additional consultation or care.

Midwives operate from The Midwives Model of Care which emphasizes the fact that pregnancy and birth are normal life processes. Midwives statistically have lower rates of interventions and provide the mother with individualized education, counseling, prenatal care and postpartum support as well as continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery.

Midwives, like doctors, may work in a group that rotates who is on call and who will see you for your prenatal visits. Some midwives work alongside doctors in their practices, while some work individually or outside the hospital setting. There are different types of midwives: Direct Entry Midwifes, Certified Professional Midwives, and Certified Nurse Midwives. Depending on their credentials and training, some midwives work in hospitals while others solely attend home births.

Labor and Delivery Nurses: Nurses in this field provide care to women who are in labor or who have recently delivered, or for those who may be having complications with labor. They also work with doctors to develop a plan to aid in the safe delivery of healthy babies.

Labor Support Doula: A trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.

Unless the doula has additional training, she is NOT a medical professional and will not perform medical procedures on the laboring mothering or deliver the baby. However, she most likely will be one of the most consistent elements of the labor experience. She does not change shifts and only deals with one client at a time. The doula will also labor with you at home and come with you to the hospital or birth center.

Now that there is an understanding of what each professions offers, it may be clearer how they might or might not work together. So, back to the original questions:

What is the difference between a doula and a midwife?

As described above, the doula acts as an emotional, physical and informational support for the mother. While the midwife may offer many of those same qualities, it is the midwife that will deliver the baby and perform the necessary medical examinations throughout pregnancy, labor, delivery and postpartum. Midwives are also available to do “well woman” yearly exams throughout a woman’s life, not just working with her while pregnant.

Does my doctor work with my midwife?

Yes, sometimes a practice has both doctors and midwives. But if your current doctor does not work with midwives you cannot have both as care providers. If a midwifery practice does not have a doctor as part of the group, there will be a doctor that backs up that group. However, if you choose a home birth, you will have just a midwife; should you need further medical assistance, you would be transferred to a hospital. Some midwives have privileges at a hospital, while others just have a relationship with a doctor and will no longer be your care provider should you be admitted.

Why would I choose a midwife over a doctor?

Choosing your care provider is a very personal choice. It requires a long, hard look at the model of care you would like for your pregnancy and delivery. While both professions try to offer the best care they can to women, the path in which that support is offered differs. The Model of Care that midwives subscribe to reflects the idea that pregnancy and birth is a natural physiological process that should be inherently trusted, while the medical model focuses on the pathologic potential of pregnancy and birth. They both have the same desired outcome, but use different routes to get there.

You should also consider the style of care you personally prefer. Midwives will tend to be more present during labor; moreover, they will be more holistically based and allow more space for the labor to unfold naturally before moving to medical interventions. Doctors are not as likely to give you as much personal care and time and may move to medical interventions more quickly.

Isn’t the nurse like a doula?

Many of the Labor and Delivery nurses (L & D nurses) I have worked with are wonderful and can offer a lot of helpful advice for the laboring mom. However, I would not advise depending on your L & D nurse to provide the same comfort and assistance as a labor support doula. The L & D nurse often has several women they are monitoring at the same time and cannot offer consistent support since they work in shifts and breaks. You may also find it appealing to choose your labor support doula and have the opportunity to previously discuss you birthing preferences with this person.

Now that the cast of characters has been laid out, I hope this makes it easier to make decisions about the model of support you will receive and who you would like at your birth.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

My Job Isn't Done Until There's a Baby on a Boob!

As a midwife, I always say that my job is finished when I have a baby on a boob.  We are always on the lookout for the best research and data supporting holistic birth practices and this article highlights the importance of nearly immediate breastfeeding.  Skin to skin contact and feeding as soon as your newborn shows eagerness to feed are vital to an infant's health and the mother-child bond.

More than half of newborns not breastfed in first hour raising health risks, UNICEF says

NEW YORK –  NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - More than half of newborn babies are not breastfed within the first hour of life, putting them at heightened risk of disease and death, the United Nations' children's agency said on Friday, highlighting sub-Saharan Africa as an area of concern.

Feeding babies within an hour of birth passes on critical nutrients, antibodies and skin contact with their mothers that can protect them, UNICEF said.

Delaying breastfeeding by two to 23 hours after birth increases the risk of a baby dying in its first month by 40 percent and delaying by 24 hours or more increases the risk of death to 80 percent, UNICEF said.

Studies show newborns account for nearly half of all deaths of children under age 5.

UNICEF, which has been campaigning to promote early breastfeeding, estimates 77 million babies around the world each year are not breastfed within the first hour of their life. It estimates about 130 million babies are born each year.

"Breast milk is a baby's first vaccine, the first and best protection they have against illness and disease," France B'gin, UNICEF senior nutrition adviser, said in a statement.

"Making babies wait too long for the first critical contact with their mother outside the womb decreases the newborn's chances of survival, limits milk supply and reduces the chances of exclusive breastfeeding."

Efforts to promote early breastfeeding have been slow, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where mortality rates for children under age 5 are high, UNICEF said.

In South Asia, rates of early breastfeeding tripled from 2000 but 21 million newborns a year are not breastfed in the first hour, UNICEF said.

Among the obstacles, UNICEF said, doctors, nurses and midwives assisting births in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia are less likely to promote early breastfeeding than are unskilled attendants or relatives assisting.

In some countries UNICEF said it is customary to feed a baby infant formula, cow's milk or sugar water in its first three days.

If all babies were fed nothing but breast milk from birth to six months, more than 800,000 lives could be saved each year, UNICEF said.

Around the world, 43 percent of infants less than 6 months old are fed breast milk exclusively, according to UNICEF. Those who are not breastfed at all are 14 times more likely to die than those fed only breast milk, it said.

The figures were released ahead of World Breastfeeding Week running from August 1 to August 7 in more than 170 nations.

To view the original article, click here.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Embrace Wellness Collective Breastfeeding Support Group

Join our Breastfeeding Support Group this Wednesday, August 18th from 7 pm - 8 pm.  Hosted by Embrace Wellness Collective, join Emily Mozingo (CLEC) in this free support group and safe place for breastfeeding moms,  moms-to-be, or those at any stage in the breastfeeding relationship.

No registration is necessary.  Please contact Emily for more information at littlelovebirthservices@gmail.com

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Meet & Greet Our Doulas TONIGHT!

TONIGHT! Starting at 6pm we will be having a meet and greet with our fabulous team of doulas. Everyone is welcome and you certainly don't have to be a client of ours.  Come learn the benefits of hiring a doula for your pregnancy.  I always say the job of a doula is to make the Dads look like rock stars!  They are the ultimate support for any expecting mom and always have a wide range of skills to meet your personal needs.  Some of our doulas specialize in yoga, some of them in massage therapy, aromatherapy, nutrition....each one of these ladies has something special to offer their moms.  So come meet the perfect doula match for you!

8 Tips to Increase Chances of Conception

  1. When you decide you're ready to start trying to get pregnant, make an appointment with your midwife.  Together, you can review your health history (i.e. hypertension, diabetes, thyroid issues) to identify any risks or obstacles to get under control before you conceive.
  2. Get to your ideal Body Mass Index (BMI).  The ideal BMI for pregnancy is between 20 and 25.  Being over or underweight can have an adverse affect hormones.
  3. STOP SMOKING.  Everyone should do this anyway, but studies show that women who smoke and are trying to get pregnant can take up to a year and a half to conceive.
  4. Limit your alcohol.  Heavy drinking affects fertility by increasing the amount of time it takes to get pregnant and reduces your chances of having a healthy baby.  This goes for men as well.  In addition, smoking marijuana reduces male sperm motility and decreases sperm count.
  5. Try to conceive in Winter or Spring.  Studies show that male sperm are healthier during these times.
  6. Track your ovulation.  You can download free apps to track your cycle, purchase ovulation predictor kits or use the basal body temperature method.  Generally, ovulation occurs around day 14 before your next cycle begins.
  7. Have sex before and after ovulation.  Have sex in the 4 days leading up to ovulation and 1 to 2 days after.
  8. Avoid commercial lubricants.  They have adverse effects on conception by decreasing sperm motility and potentially harming the sperm.  Opt for natural substitutes like olive oil.

BONUS TIP— Relax!  Your sexual activity should now have two goals instead of one.  Making a baby and climaxing.  Stress has harmful effects on the body and stressing out over conception isn’t helping you, your partner, or conceiving.

For more information on this topic visit Parents.com

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Community Class Success!

We had such a great time last night at our FIRST Community Class at Ellwood Thompson's last night! Thank you to all of our participants, it was actually quite a diverse crowd of couples in different stages of conception and some wonderful doulas wanting to learn more!  We will absolutely be doing another class there, topic to be decided...any suggestions?