“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, 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.