Veterans Moms Tell All: Advice for Moms-to-Be

In today's information age, preparing for motherhood can sometimes be an overwhelming and daunting experience. It can be incredibly challenging to find  unbiased information for many topics related to pregnancy, birth, infant care, and the postpartum period, and it seems like just when you think you have the answers you're seeking, someone in your life contradicts it.

In an effort to get real life advice from moms who have been there and done it, we took to our local Facebook group, Baltimore Birth, Babies & Breastfeeding and asked the following question:

What is the most important piece of advice you could give to a person who is about to welcome their first baby?

We got an outpouring of responses to share with you.  Below you will find very honest, candid, and wise feedback about those early postpartum days from moms throughout Baltimore.  If you're looking for a place to ask your own questions related to the childbearing year, join us on Facebook!

The Call for Limiting Ultrasounds During Pregnancy

Fetal ultrasound is a method of viewing a fetus while in the womb. Ultrasound technology uses
sound waves, that bounce off the baby’s mass, to produce a picture of the baby. While both the
American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and the Food and Drug Administration
both agree that limiting fetal ultrasound is important, some doctors continue to insist on
frequently looking at baby in-utero without caution.

To avoid unnecessary viewing of your unborn baby, ask why an ultrasound is necessary.
Oftentimes, doctors utilize certain technology simply because it’s readily available without taking
into account the potential risks at-hand. In the case of fetal ultrasounds, it seems that
obstetricians, especially those with direct-in-office-access to ultrasound technology, like to “take
a peek” at baby in-utero far more frequently than may be clinically-indicated. Some women have
a fetal ultrasound performed at nearly each prenatal visit. Patients, trusting the doctor, don’t
always question why the ultrasounds are being conducted, and understandably so, enjoy being
able to view baby. However, if there is not a clear clinical need to have these images taken,
these ultrasounds are better off being declined.

What are the potential risks you’re even avoiding if you were to decline an ultrasound? In this
FDA article, Dr. Shahram Vaezy, an FDA biomedical engineer, states that,
“Ultrasound can heat tissues slightly, and in some cases, it can also produce very small bubbles
(cavitation) in some tissues.” Dr. Vaezy also warns that, “...prudent use of these devices by
trained health care providers is important.” Ultrasound has also been utilized recently to help
heal fractured bones and is also used to “blast” away kidney stones. Something that has the
potential to change the tissues of a developing fetus should be used with caution and operated
strictly by a trained health professional. This means that not only should the storefront
“keepsake” ultrasonography shops be completely avoided but frequent viewing of baby under
any circumstance increases risks to the fetus.

A trained ultrasound technician should be the only person performing these scans but it’s not
just the operator that holds significance. The length of time the ultrasound takes place is also of
significance. The longer the fetus is exposed to ultrasound, and the longer the fetal temperature
is altered, the higher the potential risks. The ACOG, in an October 2017 “ACOG Committee
Opinion” release note specifically that, “Ultrasound imaging should be performed efficiently and
only when clinically indicated to minimize fetal exposure risk using the keeping acoustic output
levels As Low As Reasonably Achievable (commonly known as ALARA) principle.”
Worth noting is that fetal Dopplers, often used by care providers to listen, not look, at baby in-
utero, also utilize ultrasonic sound waves to pick up baby’s heartbeat. These monitors carry a similar risk to visual ultrasound and also carry warnings as to be used only by healthcare
professionals. By purchasing this type of monitor, many mothers feel reassured by being able to
listen to baby’s heartbeat at any given time. However, Doppler monitors have not been
designed for at-home use.

The decision for frequency of ultrasound exposure during pregnancy remains with the patient.
With information regarding both risks and benefits of this medical intervention, one can make an
informed choice as to how she wishes to proceed when ultrasound is recommended by her care
provider. It is always important to have an open dialogue with your provider regarding any
concerns about recommended procedures. Only when the patient is comfortable and in
agreement, should a non-emergent procedure take place. As a patient, you have the right to
decline any or all ultrasounds recommended by your care provider. You also have the right to
question what the provider is hoping to find through the recommended imaging and how the
imaging itself would affect future medical recommendations.

While ultrasound is widely accepted in the medical community as being safe and carrying little
to no risk, it is still wise to proceed with caution. Let us not forget that several decades ago, X-
rays were used readily for a host of reasons, including fetal imaging and were considered “safe.”
Of course, now more is known and there is great caution with X-ray use. This is a good lesson
in why, for a healthy pregnancy, less medical intervention is often the best choice.

Placenta Print Art

The placenta is an amazing organ that gave your baby life for the 9 or so months that s/he lived inside of your body. Most often this organ is discarded as medical waste with a total disregard for it's important work. Instead of tossing it, how can you honor the birth of your baby and maximize the use of the “tree of life?” Placenta art may be one of the last things that pop into your head, but there are a number of reasons why to consider having your baby's placenta printed:

These prints can be displayed on a wall or kept with baby’s other precious mementos. Whatever you choose to do with your prints, know that it is a lasting way to celebrate the birth of your baby.

Contact us to discuss whether placenta prints are right for you!

 

 

Protein in Pregnancy: What’s the big deal?

Have you ever wondered just how important your diet is for your growing baby in your belly? Have you ever allowed craving after craving to drive your food intake? Have you ever felt like your body only wanted to eat carbs, carbs and more carbs? If you have answered yes to one or all of these questions, this blog post is for you.

Throughout pregnancy, a protein rich diet can make all the difference in maternal and fetal health. It can reduce risk factors for pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes, and even improve your birth outcome. But how?!

When your baby is growing the fastest, during the second and third trimester, it is vital that your body intakes protein which contains amino acids. These acids are the building blocks for you and your baby. Most experts recommend consuming a minimum of 80 to 120 grams of protein per day while pregnant. It is also important to use salt to taste. Between 20-25% of your daily calories should come from protein. As explained in the chart below, albumin is made directly from the protein mom eats which in turn increases blood volume. When mom doesn’t get enough calories, the protein is burned up rather than being used to make albumin. This unfortunately drops blood volume. The result of high blood pressure is due to the kidneys producing an enzyme called renin which makes the blood vessels constrict. This down spiral of events often leads to early signs of pre-eclampsia and usually early induction of baby.

Adequate protein and salt for the pregnant mom are vital in an overall healthy pregnancy and an uncomplicated delivery. Best choices that include protein are as follows: meat and poultry, fish and seafood, eggs, dairy products, beans and peas, nuts and seeds, high protein grains, protein powder. If the mother will increase the amount of salt, protein, and calories that she eats, the blood volume will increase, and blood pressure will come down to a normal level. Sometimes, this could even mean eating an ounce or two of protein every hour. It is in fact possible to reverse pre-eclampsia risks with proper protein-rich nutrition. For more information on the link between nutrition and pre-eclampsia, see www.drbrewerpregnancydiet.com.

protein in the maternal diet

Meet Hyeon-Jin Kwon, Baltimore acupuncturist and women's health practitioner

Today we are discussing acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine and women's health with Baltimore acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine practitioner Hyeon-Jin Kwon. The Nurturing Root has had the honor of serving Hyeon-Jin after the births of all 3 of her babies, and have enjoyed learning about the important work she does to help women conceive and have healthy pregnancies and postpartum experiences.

Baltimore acupuncture pregnancy
Hi, my name is Hyeon-Jin. I work at Sustainability Wellness located inside Ruxton Towers in Towson. Our office offers many different forms of healing and energy work such as acupuncture, massage, readings, reflexology, and therapeutic touch.
How were you lead to this professional path?
I've tried on many different hats throughout my career. I never quite felt satisfied with the jobs I had and was always searching for the next thing that I thought would feed my soul. One day, with absolute clarity, I knew my work would be in acupuncture. I was let go from my job at the time as a gemologist (one of my many hats) because of downsizing. I thanked the Universe and I happily packed my bags. I drove from LA to SF in the hopes I would get into acupuncture school. I didn't have a Plan B and I've never looked back.
What are you most passionate about in your profession? Why?
My passion is helping others in their journey. Patients come to my office for many reasons and at all stages of health but it's my job to figure out what is it they need in this moment and in the long term. It could be tangible like a Chinese formula or it could be intangible like encouragement. Sometimes all it takes is a small shift to make a big difference.
I'm also passionate about education. My belief is that if patients are given all the information then they can make an informed decision. Too often than not, I find that piece missing when listening to patients. I want them to feel confident and take control of their health.
What are the benefits of your practice for the pregnant woman?
I see many women during the pregnancy for all the fun things. Nausea, constipation, and fatigue are common during first trimester. Back pain, sciatica, pubic pain, edema, and carpel tunnel are just a few things during second and third trimester. If there is an issue before pregnancy, it's usually exacerbated with pregnancy so I work on minimizing if not relieving it.
At times I see women just at the tail end of their pregnancy. I help with labor preparation by working on the physical and psychological aspects of opening up for labor and delivery.
Explain how you are able to use your work to help women facing
infertility issues.
Chinese medicine is wonderful at understanding the complexities of the individual person and is not a one-size fits all. We begin with a thorough intake of their medical history which includes understanding their cycle. There is so much information to be learned from each week of the cycle. I examine where they are in their fertility journey and where they would like to go. In addition to a treatment plan which includes acupuncture, herbs and supplements; I offer nutritional and lifestyle counseling. The same approach is used for women trying to conceive naturally or with assisted reproductive treatments. Fortunately the medical community has become more open and even encouraging women going through IUI and IVF to seek out acupuncture.
What drew you to using placenta medicinally during your own postpartum experiences and how do you think it helped in your recovery?
I first learned about placenta encapsulation when I was an acupuncture student from my doula classmates. While in herbs class, I also learned placenta is part of the Chinese pharmacopeia. Placenta can not be used as part of an herbal formula that I prescribe in the US as determined by the FDA. But knowing the properties and benefits of placenta, I thought if I were to give birth then I would absolutely encapsulate - it made perfect sense. My recovery, luckily, was pretty smooth. My energy was good and my milk came in well (thank you Carmen for that reassurance) after taking the pills. I am so grateful especially for increasing my milk production which caused this new mom quite a bit of stress! Luckily, I had rather large placentas so I had enough pills to freeze. When production started to dip as I went back to work those capsules in freezer gave me peace of mind. I have happily called upon the services of The Nurturing Root for each of my 3 babies. And recommending placenta encapsulation is always on my list of recommendations to my mama-to-be patients.

Fourth Trimester… Oh My! Tips for sanity and survival

Congratulations. You have grown a baby. The 40 or so weeks of waiting are finally over and you are wondering what on earth to expect now. While your body is no longer housing a tiny human, something still feels off. The fog has not lifted. Your energy is low, your hormones are whack, and your stamina is half of what it used to be. Life seems to be filled with endless feedings, swaddling, burping, soothing and not sleeping. The days are blurry and the nights are endless. You have officially entered the fourth trimester. These next twelve or so weeks are a completely different marathon. Below are 6 tips that I felt helped me transition into motherhood with grace and kindness towards myself and my baby.

1. Take it easy the first few weeks. You will be back to “yourself” eventually but right now, your body is healing. Healing from pregnancy and birth. It will not feel “normal” anytime soon.

2. Never say “no” to someone offering help. People, in general, want to know how they can help. Let them cook meals, buy you Starbucks, clean your house, hold/feed your baby, carry your purse… anything. You don’t have to do it all. Even ask for help if you need it. You are not weak if you ask. You just made a human. That’s pretty damn strong.

3. Do not put pressure on yourself to get that pre-pregnancy body back during this trimester. It will not happen and you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Things are a little more shifty and squishy. It is ok. No one is judging you and if they are, you don’t need them in your life.

4. An hour or two goes by VERY quickly. Especially realized when a newborn baby is eating that often. At the end of the day, if you are wondering where the day has gone, know that you kept your baby fed. That is a big feat in itself. But everyday, try your best to do at least one thing for yourself. Eat a cookie. Walk slowly around the block. Ask for a massage from your partner. Take a bath. Read something (googling articles about your baby doesn’t count).

5. These first three months are all about SURVIVAL. Forget ALL. THE. RULES. and trust your instincts. If you hold your baby all day for him/her to nap, fine. If you get take out for 12 weeks straight, great. If you rock or nurse your baby to sleep, job well done. There is no “right” way to parent. Your mama instincts are powerful. You have everything you need inside of you to care for your baby. Silence the judge-y noise.

6. Believe the saying “the days are long but the years are short.” Although it feels like you’ll never have poopless days, you will. Try your very best to enjoy the little moments of sweetness. The coos and giggles. The messes and madness. These times are tiring times, but bound to make our hearts and lives oh so full.

You got this, mama. I believe in YOU!

“Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.” –Robert Browning

Soothing Hemorrhoids in Pregnancy and Postpartum

Hemorrhoids, which are swollen and exposed blood vessels in the rectum, are perhaps one of the biggest complaints I hear from expecting and postpartum parents.  Some find they have hemorrhoids during pregnancy, while others get them postpartum, likely from pushing.  hemorrhoids

But why do hemorrhoids happen in pregnancy?

During pregnancy, the increased progesterone levels cause the walls of the veins to relax, increasing the likelihood of swelling.  Progesterone levels can also cause constipation in expecting mothers, particularly in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy.  With increased swelling, constipation, and the growing uterus adding pressure to the inferior vena cava, hemorrhoids can become a common and unpleasant pregnancy symptom.

What can I do to soothe hemorrhoids in pregnancy/postpartum?

Eat well and supplement to make sure stools remain soft. Don't strain. Eating a diet high in fiber can help keep constipation at bay.  Leafy greens, fruits, beans, and whole grains are all good sources of fiber.  Supplementing with magnesium is also known to help keep bathroom habits comfortable and regular.  I love this magnesium supplement and add it to my daily smoothies. Regular exercise can also encourage mobility in the bowel.

Witch Hazel is an anti-inflammatory antiseptic that can reduce discomfort and itchiness.  Witch hazel is also an astringent, which contracts the tissues to minimize bleeding. After wiping, dip a cotton ball in witch hazel and apply to the area.

Sitz Baths are a basin that sits in the toilet bowel and can be used to soak your bottom in warm water.  Not only can a sitz bath keep the area clean, but the warmth of the water can be comforting and also increases blood flow to the area encouraging healing.

Using cold compresses or ice packs can reduce pain and swelling in the area.  Alternating between hot and cold throughout the day is ideal.

Kegeling can help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which can prevent internal hemorrhoids from being exposed.  The exercise can also increase blood flow to the pelvic area, promoting healing of existing hemorrhoids.

Potatoes! Using a cheese grater, shred a raw potato.  Use the grated pieces of potato to make poultice and place it next to the hemorrhoid (do not insert into the rectum).  This is reported to reduce the swelling and the size of the hemorrhoid.

A diet high in vitamin C is known to strengthen blood vessels and can help prevent hemorrhoids.  An added bonus of vitamin C is it also maximizes iron absorption. 

 

 

New Childbirth Classes in Baltimore

We have had the honor of providing childbirth classes in Baltimore since 2014. There are many reasons we love and use the Birth Boot Camp curriculum to prepare couples for an amazing birth. The materials are unmatched and the curriculum, which is updated with current statistics and research yearly, is the most modern and comprehensive we have found.

Since the program was launched in 2011, it has had amazing growth. Birth Boot Camp childbirth classes are now taught throughout the United Stated, as well as in Canada and Guam. The latest, and potentially most exciting change, has just been announced.  In addition to the comprehensive 10-week childbirth series, Birth Boot Camp will now offer 5 new classes to meet the different needs of birthing couples.

homebirth baltimore

 

 

Training Couples for an Amazing Out-of-Hospital Birth

This class gives you all the tools and information you need to know about the nuts and bolts of labor.  We will discuss the stages and variations of labor and tools to keep labor pain and discomfort at a minimum.  Waterbirth, labor positions, and relaxation techniques are also addressed. This 4-series class is $220 and includes a beautiful color workbook.

 

 

infant care class baltimore

 

 

Homecoming: Life with a New Recruit

Get parenthood off to a great start with this 2-series class.  Topics include: postpartum health, newborn procedures, babywearing, breastfeeding, and safe sleep.  This class includes a workbook and a 3.5 hour breastfeeding video download, which discusses feeding positions, common challenges, and pumping and returning to work.  The fee is  $115

 

 

food and fitness

 

Food & Fitness

Aside from preparation, staying low risk increases the likelihood of meeting your birth goals.  Join us for this 3 hour workshop to discuss how eating well and preparing your body can be the most effective way to remain low risk.  We will discuss nutrients that are crucial to a maternal diet as well as exercises and stretches to promote flexibility and stamina, giving you the most comfort during pregnancy and birth.  This class includes a workbook.  The fee is $95.

 

 

Classes coming in January 2018 include:

Coping Strategies for an Amazing Birth

Training for an Amazing Hospital Birth

 

We proudly provide our childbirth classes in Baltimore at The Womb Room in Hampden.  To learn more about our classes or to see our class calendar, click here.

 

Natural Pain Relief Options For Birth

Maybe you are looking to have a natural birth experience? Or perhaps, you plan on getting that epidural as soon as you get to the hospital! No matter what your ideal birth looks like, the majority of women will benefit from some great natural pain relief options and techniques to help them get through contractions!

Labor is so aptly named, as it is the purposeful hard work you do, on the final journey to meet your baby! During labor your body goes through incredible physical, emotional, and hormonal changes. This transformation of birth is often accompanied by a substantial degree of discomfort. Of course laboring women want to mitigate pain, but short of using pharmacological interventions, how do you really reduce pain in labor and birth? You support your body’s own natural pain relieving abilities! Here is the key to natural pain relief: During birth you want to reduce cortisol levels, the hormone produced in response to stress, and catecholamines, the ‘fight or flight’ hormones, produced in response of fear. And you want to increase oxytocin and beta-endorphin levels, to help facilitate labor, provide a sense of euphoria, and alleviate pain. The following seven natural pain relief options for birth help your body balance specific hormones, to ease labor discomforts.

Education
Educating yourself about pregnancy, labor, and birth will help build your knowledge, prepare you emotionally and mentally, and give you the necessary tools and techniques to navigate the modern birth landscape. Education serves as an important natural pain relief tool, because you are replacing fear of the unknown with information and excitement about your birth. When you know what to expect from the birth process, it becomes much easier to cope with the pain of labor. You can educate yourself by taking a comprehensive childbirth course, read birth stories, and find informational and supportive books about the birth process. Knowing what to expect will build your confidence and prove to be a powerful pain relief tool!

Relaxation
There are several facets to relaxation that you should consider. You want to create a relaxing birth environment and learn to relax, both physically and emotionally. Employing this trifecta will serve as exceptional natural pain relief during labor. First, you want to create a relaxing birth environment. Curating a serene atmosphere with dim lighting, candles, aromatherapy, and calming music can get the oxytocin flowing, and ease tension to help you enjoy labor.

It is also important to relax both physically and emotionally. A recent study suggests engaging in relaxation exercises, through a mindfulness-based practice during pregnancy, can help reduce anxiety and facilitate an easier and more satisfying birth experience. Mindfulness is simply a state of awareness, that arises from paying attention to the present moment. This mindfulness app, specifically created for pregnancy, birth, and parenthood, is a fantastic training tool to help you engage in relaxation wherever you are. There are also several simple, but effective exercises that will teach you how to relax your muscles during times of tension and stress. To benefit most from these physical and emotional relaxation exercises, set aside time once or twice per day during your pregnancy. Relaxation training can truly help you have an amazing birth experience.

Movement
Your baby must navigate down and out through your pelvis during labor and birth. Movement is key in facilitating this, and serves as an important pain relief strategy for you. Getting into a more upright position, or even just changing positions regularly can really help you manage even the most intense contractions. Movement can speed up a slow labor, help a posterior baby turn into a more optimal (and less painful!) position, and help you get a little more comfortable. Consider taking a walk, spending time on a birth ball, or use the support of your partner’s body to sway through contractions. Finding rhythm and ritual through movement is a fantastic pain coping mechanism.

Water
Hydrotherapy is a scientifically proven natural, stress reducing and pain relief technique. Laboring in a warm bath can provide an incredible level of pain reduction. Taking a hot shower can be exceptionally relaxing, while helping you get upright, which helps baby move down and through your pelvis.

Acupressure
Acupressure is based on principles from Traditional Chinese Medicine, an ancient and holistically focused wellness practice. Utilizing and applying direct pressure to specific points on the body during labor, may provide you with phenomenal pain relief. Acupressure is a wonderfully convenient and cost-effective pain relief tool. You can take advantage of the benefits almost anywhere, and without any special equipment. When direct and appropriate pressure is applied to this area of the back and on the feet, relief from uncomfortable back labor may be alleviated, almost effortlessly.

Massage
The demonstrated pain relief benefits of massage during labor are extensive. There are both physical and emotional advantages to massage therapy during labor and birth. It can relax tense muscles, easing the pain of contractions, shorten labor, facilitate rest, ease anxiety, and promote a sense of serenity. Your partner or birth support person can help you access the amazing pain relief options of massage by following these techniques.

Emotional Support
Having a supportive birth team is one of the most effective natural pain relief tools available! It is crucial to find a provider you trust, who encourages your birth philosophy, educate your birth partner, and hire a birth doula! A doula is a trained maternal support practitioner who provides emotional, physical, and educational assistance to a laboring mother and her birth partner. Evidence overwhelmingly supports having a doula as a powerful natural pain relief option. With dedicated labor support, women are more likely to have a satisfying and positive birth experience and require less medical pain management. Doulas can provide comfort with numerous pain-relief techniques that help reduce anxiety and fear, support physical and emotional relaxation, promote an uncomplicated physiological birth, and facilitate a positive birth environment.

Birth can be a joyous occasion for the the entire family. With the right preparation, support, and natural pain relief options, you can absolutely have the best (and possibly pain-free) birth experience. If you would like more natural pain relief tips, tools, and techniques, enroll in our Natural Pain Relief Strategies For Labor Workshop. This incredible class helps couples gain an amazing sense of self-reliance, so they can cope with labor beautifully.

The Nurturing Root loves to support and educate families in Baltimore. We offer an exceptional array of Birth Boot Camp natural childbirth courses and holistic newborn care classes, in-home placenta encapsulation, and family-centered postpartum doula and infant care support. We are honored to serve your family. Please contact us for more information, today!

7 Tips To Prepare For A Natural Birth

Did you know that 85% of pregnant women are able to have a safe natural childbirth experience? But, only about 2% of American women give birth without any interventions. What is the disconnect? Certainly choice plays a role. Some women aren’t necessarily interested in unmedicated childbirth. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control National Vital Statistics Report, over 60% of women use an epidural for pain relief in labor. Also our culture and institutions impact a mother’s ability to birth naturally. Since one in three women welcome their babies via surgery, desiring a natural childbirth can feel somewhat unattainable. Know that if you are considering natural childbirth, it is so crucial to properly prepare yourself. With commitment and support, you can have an awesome, unmedicated birth experience! Follow these 7 tips, and you will be on target to have the best natural birth!

Be thoughtful when selecting a birth location!
In most places throughout the United States, you have access to three different birth locations. Mothers can give birth in a hospital setting, at a freestanding birth center, or at home. There are benefits and risks to all of these locations. You also need to decide where you feel most comfortable having your baby. If you really want an unmedicated natural birth experience in a hospital setting, find out what the c-section rate is for the facility you are considering. Individual hospital c-section rates vary widely, even within the same community. If you are thinking about having your baby at a freestanding birth center, this study presents great evidence to support safe and satisfying birth outcomes for mom and baby in a center environment. The study explains that if you have a low-risk, healthy pregnancy, your chances of having a c-section (via hospital transfer) is only 6% at a birth center, versus a 25% chance of c-section if you birth at a hospital. Your risk of interventions and c-section are lowest if you are planning a home birth. In this significant study, which analyzed nearly 17,000 planned home births, nearly 96% of women delivered their babies vaginally, and only 4.5% required pitocin to start or augment their labor. Compare this to a 30% induction rate in a hospital setting for first-time, low-risk mothers. Where you decide to birth matters! Understand the risks and benefits of different birth locations, and choose wisely.

Select a midwife as your prenatal provider!
Just like birth location, the provider you choose to see during pregnancy, and to attend your birth, has huge implications in your ability to have a natural birth experience. If you are having a healthy, normal pregnancy absolutely choose a midwife over an OB/GYN. The midwifery model of care sees pregnancy as a normal life event, that almost always results in a healthy mother and child. Midwives view pregnancy and birth through a holistic lens, and support women with more individualized care and minimize technological interventions. They also will identify and refer expectant mothers to obstetrical care, when truly necessary. There are several types of midwives, including Certified Nurse Midwives, Certified Professional Midwives, licensed midwives, and direct-entry midwives. The majority of pregnant women are able to access midwifery care in a hospital, birth center, and/or home environment. Research midwives in your area, find out if they attend births in your desired setting, and select a midwife that encourages your wishes for an unmedicated birth!

Take a comprehensive natural childbirth course!
Everyone knows that knowledge is power! Simply wishing for a natural birth will almost certainly not get you there. Educating yourself about birth will help build your knowledge, prepare you emotionally and mentally, and give you the necessary tools and techniques to navigate the modern birth landscape. Invest in a thoughtful, comprehensive childbirth education program that prepares both you and your partner for natural birth. Look for natural childbirth classes that covers staying low-risk in pregnancy, nutrition, exercise, relaxation techniques, choosing a care provider and birth location, anatomy and physiology of labor, birth-partner preparations, common policies and procedures, breastfeeding, newborn care, and possible complications, interventions, and alternatives. A great childbirth education course will really build your natural birthing confidence and abilities!

Take exceptional care of your body!
Preparing your body for birth is crucial. Having a healthy, nutrient rich diet and exercising regularly and appropriately, provides a strong foundation for natural birth. Caring for your body and baby with proper nutrition and exercise will help keep you low-risk, and may alleviate common pregnancy related ailments. Also consider chiropractic care during pregnancy. Find and visit a chiropractor certified in the Webster Technique. A chiropractor can help balance your pelvis and spine, so your baby can find the best position for birth. A review of studies found that women who received regular chiropractic adjustments throughout pregnancy had 39% shorter labors. Achieving optimal wellness with diet, exercise, and chiropractic will pay off big time!

Practice mindfulness!
Training your mind and heart for natural birth is just as important as preparing your body. A recent study suggests engaging in a mindfulness-based practice during pregnancy can help reduce anxiety and facilitate an easier and more satisfying birth experience. Mindfulness is simply a state of awareness, that arises from paying attention to the present moment. A prenatal mindfulness practice can be applied in a variety of ways. You may choose to facilitate your own quiet meditative practice, choose visualization exercises, engage in progressive relaxation, or even use a mindfulness app, specifically created for pregnancy, birth, and parenthood. Whatever you choose, mindfulness is a practice, so set aside time once or twice per day, and focus on the moment, to help you achieve an amazing natural birth.

Find your tribe!
Connect to other pregnant and new mothers that are interested in natural birth. It is so bizarre, but culturally normal, for veteran moms to share pregnancy and birth horror stories with expectant mothers. Disregard this negativity, and find your natural birth tribe. You can, of course, find a community of like-minded natural mothers everywhere online. If available, search for and attend a birth group or mama’s circle in your area.

Hire a doula!
Regardless of the type of birth you want or ultimately have, you should hire a birth doula! A doula is a trained maternal support practitioner who provides emotional, physical, and educational assistance to a laboring mother and her birth partner. Doulas help families have a safe, memorable, and empowering birth experience. Evidence overwhelmingly supports having a doula present during labor. With continuous labor support, women are more likely to have a satisfying and positive birth experience, less likely to have surgical interventions, and require less medical pain management. Birthing women with doulas also have shorter labors and fewer birth-related complications for mom and baby.

Having a natural birth is biologically normal, and most often physically and emotionally ideal, for mom and baby. It can prove to be a positive experience for the entire family, as well. With the right preparation, support, and education, you can absolutely achieve the best natural birth.

The Nurturing Root loves to support families that desire an unmedicated birth. We offer an exceptional array of Birth Boot Camp natural childbirth courses and holistic newborn care classes to support you during this exciting time of transition. Additionally, we support Baltimore families with in-home placenta encapsulation and family-centered postpartum doula and infant care support. We are honored to serve your family. Please contact us for more information, today!

15 Facts about the Foreskin and Circumcision

Circumcision, the surgical removal of the foreskin from the penis, is most commonly performed on newborns.  With a global circumcision rate of approximately 30%, the United States in the only country in the world that circumcises infant for non-religious reasons.

FACTS ABOUT CIRCUMCISION

  1. Originally, the goal of circumcision was to desensitize the penis to curb masturbation. Dr. Kellogg, inventor of the corn flakes, was a major promoter of the procedure.
  2. The foreskin, similar in sensitivity to a clitoris, is a highly erogenous, functioning part of the male anatomy.  It's purpose is to protect the glans, or the head of the penis from abrasions and to keep dirt and bacteria from the urinary tract.
  3.  The average adult foreskin consists of 1½ inches of outer skin, 1½ inches of inner mucosal lining – totaling a length of 3 inches – and is 5 inches in circumference when erect. This amounts to a surface area of 15 square inches, or a surface area equivalent to that of a 3" by 5" inch index card.
  4. Circumcision is not routinely practiced in most countries.  In fact, The United States is the ONLY country where circumcision is done routinely for non-religious reasons. Aside from being a Muslim and Jewish cultural practice, it is a very American practice.
  5. After reviewing 40 years of research, it has been determined by the American Academy of Pediatrics that routine infant circumcision cannot be recommended.  In fact, no professional medical association in the world recommends routine infant circumcision, nor do they state it is medically necessary.
  6. When the foreskin is removed, the head of the penis can develop a thick layer of skin to protect it, making it much less sensitive.  As a result, circumcised men are 3 times more likely to have issues with erectile dysfunction.
  7. Circumcision can reduce a baby's risk of getting an urinary tract infection (UTI) by 1%.  In other words, in order to prevent 1 UTI, 100 circumcisions would need to be performed.
  8. It has been claimed that circumcision can reduce one's risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. The United States has one of the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS, yet we are the only country that routinely circumcises male babies.
  9. A foreskin doesn't separate from the head of the penis until adolescence, sometime between 3 and 15 years of age.  Until this separation occurs, you only need to clean the outside of the penis.  You clean it just as you would any other part of your body.  In fact, a newly circumcised penis, which has an open wound, may be more difficult to clean and care for during diapering.
  10. 117 babies die each year as a result of circumcision complications. The foreskin and penis is a highly vascularized area that contains a significant amount of blood flow. A newborn only has a total of  11.5 ounces of blood.  That's just shy of a cup-and-a-half.  A newborn only needs to lose 1 ounce to hemorrhage, and 2.3 ounces, which is a the amount in a shot glass, to bleed to death.  You can read more about it here from DrMomma.org.
  11. According to the CDC, circumcision rates have fallen to 55.4% in the United States.
  12. A Mohel, a person specially trained  in circumcision techniques, can perform the circumcision, even on non-Jews.  It has been argued the Mohels perform the procedure more quickly and gently than in clinical settings.
  13. Cortisol levels, a stress hormone, are 3-4 times higher during circumcision than prior to the procedure, which can contribute to post-op breastfeeding challenges.  It is also thought that the pain and trauma from undergoing circumcision may impact the child's response to pain or stress throughout their life.  Canadian investigators report that during vaccinations at age 4-6 months, circumcised boys had an increased behavioral pain response and cried for significantly longer periods than did intact boys. For more information about this click here.
  14. Foreskins are harvested to make high-end face creams and are often used for cosmetic testing to determine a product's safety.
  15. Anti-circumcision activists are referred to as intactivists.
If you're in Maryland and researching topics related to pregnancy, birth, and newborn care, please visit our class descriptions page. We'd be honored to help you prepare for an amazing birth and entry into parenthood.

New Mothers Are Choosing Placenta Encapsulation To Help Them Breastfeed

A growing number of mothers are choosing to consume their placenta, in order to have greater breastfeeding success.

August is National Breastfeeding Month, a time that highlights the importance of increasing a collaborative effort to support a breastfeeding-friendly landscape. A growing community of mothers are turning to alternative practices like placenta encapsulation, to help them establish and meet their breastfeeding goals.

According to the Centers for Disease Control Breastfeeding Report Card, 70% of mothers make the attempt to breastfeed their newborns, but at six months of age, only about 15% of babies are being exclusively breastfeed. This number is in stark contrast to the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that all babies be exclusively breastfed until six months of life.

There are several medical, physical, emotional, and social hurdles that can affect breastfeeding success rates. Changes to policies, practices, and the ability for new mothers to access breastfeeding support is slowly helping to increase these numbers. Some resourceful mothers are choosing a more controversial route to ensure they have the best breastfeeding experience.

The placenta, the temporary organ, that grows along with the baby and serves as its lifeline until birth, is most often treated as medical waste. But it may be a continued source of support to the Mother, after she gives birth. Through placenta encapsulation, the baby’s placenta is steamed, dehydrated, and pulverized. Then it is made into pills. A new mother can take her capsules as a postpartum wellness supplement. In addition to supporting lactation and increasing milk supply, many mothers report a boost in energy, feeling emotionally well and strong, lessened severity of mood swings, and decreased postpartum bleeding. Here are some of the great experience mothers are reporting:

“I am certain that taking my placenta pills allowed me to recover from my c-section at a much quicker rate, and with no baby blues at all! My milk came in immediately, my energy level was great even after long nights establishing a nursing a schedule. I felt stable and clear headed.” Kristen Sharp

“With my first child, I didn't produce much milk - had to supplement from day 1 and was only able to produce the little I did for 4 months. I am currently 2 weeks postpartum with my 2nd [child] and feel fantastic using my placenta pills! My milk came in 3 days postpartum and my supply is really good.” - Amanda Lynn

“Not only did this help me immediately postpartum, I took my capsules again 3.5 months postpartum when I was stressed about leaving my daughter for the first time for a work trip. It not only brought a lightness back into my mood, but increased my pumping output so I could add enough to my stash to leave her. I would recommend The Nurturing Root’s services to everyone.” - Michelle Woolschlager

The Nurturing Root has been providing professional placenta encapsulation services in Baltimore, since 2011, helping over 650 mothers have their best postpartum recovery experience. Additionally, The Nurturing Root supports expectant couples with Birth Boot Camp childbirth education classes and family-centered postpartum doula care in Baltimore. If you are interested in learning more about how placenta encapsulation can enhance you postpartum recovery experience, contact The Nurturing Root here!

Three Reasons Families Love In-Home Placenta Encapsulation

The Nurturing Root has been providing professional placenta encapsulation services to families since 2011, helping over 650 mothers have their best postpartum recovery experience. Placenta encapsulation can improve a mother’s overall postpartum wellness experience, and may help: balance hormones, support lactation and enhance milk supply, replenish essential nutrients, mitigate postpartum bleeding, provide natural pain relief, ease ‘baby blues’, decrease occurrence of postpartum mood disorders, and boost energy. To learn more about what hormones, minerals, and vitamins are in the placenta, and why they can help facilitate postpartum healing, take a look here.

So many families choose The Nurturing Root for placenta encapsulation because of our fantastic reputation. We have rigorous standards and practice strict safety and sanitation protocols. One policy that sets us apart, is that we always complete the entire encapsulation process in our clients’ home. Here are three reasons clients want their placenta encapsulated in their own kitchen:

Personalized Postpartum Support
Our families really value the connection we make while completing the encapsulation process in their homes. If interested, we encourage clients and family to observe the process, and welcome any discussion about the preparation method or questions regarding the placenta, birth experience, or the postpartum healing process. Additionally, our placenta encapsulation specialists are also trained postpartum doulas. We truly offer un-matched support to our families during their transition to parenthood. Our clients love that we hold a wealth of experience regarding the postpartum adjustment period. They can ask questions about normal newborn behavior, infant sleep, postnatal recovery, and breastfeeding. The Nurturing Root is happy to offer referrals and recommendations to other providers and community resources, including, chiropractors, massage therapists, support groups, pediatricians, and more. This family-centered support is a key reason our clients enjoy in-home placenta encapsulation.

Our Comprehensive Education and Safety Standards
The Nurturing Root is proud to have trained with both Placenta Benefits and the Association of Placenta Preparation Arts. We have extensive education and credentialing in placenta preparation. We also hold a current food safety certification. This ensures we have working knowledge in food hazards, proper hygiene practices, cleaning and sanitizing processes, and time and temperature controls. Most importantly, we have completed an OSHA compliant bloodborne pathogens training. This training ensures we fully understand the precautionary guidelines and decontamination practices for handling potentially infectious and biologically hazardous materials.

A family’s house holds a special energy and unique microbiome, and we strongly believe that a client’s placenta belongs in her residence. Transporting and processing the placenta outside a client’s home may introduce unfamiliar bacteria or contaminants to the placenta. Since it will be consumed as food, the placenta needs to be handled with discretion, as it is a perishable item. Proper storage at a safe temperature is paramount. It is also critical that all tools and surfaces be properly sanitized before and after the placenta encapsulation process. When we complete the encapsulation process in our client’s home, they can witness our rigorous safety and sanitation protocols for themselves.

The Nurturing Root Complies With Regulations
Currently, placenta encapsulation services are not explicitly regulated in Ohio. Though placenta encapsulation may operate in a bit of a legal ‘gray area’, there are very clear regulations and legislation pertaining to the production and distribution of potentially hazardous foods, and the transportation of human tissues. In Ohio, it is unlawful to prepare meat in an un-inspected, non-commercial kitchen and then sell that product. This is one of the main reasons we complete the entire placenta encapsulation process in our clients’ homes. It is also important to consider that the transportation of potentially infectious biological materials is highly regulated. If a business is transporting human tissue, like a placenta, both the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Transportation require that the company hold a packing and shipping certification and use specific, standardized packing materials and labels for regulated items. This is the main reason why we have our clients transport their own placenta home. It is very clearly out of scope for The Nurturing Root to pick-up a client’s placenta, process it in an unregulated, non-commercial kitchen, and return the placenta capsules to our client. The Nurturing Root is operating with respect to, and in accordance with all applicable laws, and our clients really appreciate this!

The Nurturing Root steadfastly believes that a placenta should only be transported by the family and processed in their home. We implore those interested in hiring a placenta professional, to be quite diligent when researching encapsulation services. It is crucial that families are able to witness the sanitation protocols implemented by their specialist, and know for certain, that the placenta being encapsulated belongs to them, was processed safely, and was not contaminated by another source. We strongly encourage families to read this post, which lists six tips to consider before hiring a placenta encapsulation specialist. The Nurturing Root has encapsulated over 650 placentas, to date, with a 100% safety record and we have received only overwhelmingly positive reviews from our families. We believe in absolute transparency in the encapsulation process. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have about our philosophy, standards, and protocols.

We want you to have a healthy pregnancy, empowering birth experience, and gentle postpartum recovery. If you want to learn more about placenta encapsulation services and reside in Baltimore please contact The Nurturing Root here!

Is Placenta Encapsulation Safe for GBS+ Mothers?

Is Placenta Encapsulation Safe?

Recently, The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) released an alarming single case report, in which a newborn was found to have a recurrent infection of group B Streptococcus agalactiae (GBS, group B strep), that was attributed to the mother’s consumption of placenta capsules. This has many people asking, ‘Is placenta encapsulation safe?’ We will navigate the findings of this case report, explore how this occurred, and discuss placenta encapsulation safety.

 

What are the findings of this case?

The CDC report discussed findings about a newborn who experienced a recurrent group B strep infection. GBS is a common bacterium, found in a person’s intestines or lower genital tract. Group B strep is present in about 25% of pregnant women, and is usually harmless. If transmitted to a newborn during birth, it can cause a rare but serious, illness known as group B strep infection. Because of this, it is standard practice for obstetricians and midwives to test expectant mothers for GBS, to determine if colonization is present. In this CDC report, the maternal GBS culture taken at 37 weeks was negative, meaning the mother’s lab test showed no colonization. Very shortly after birth, the newborn exhibited signs of an infection and lab results revealed the infant tested positive for group B strep. The infant was treated with antibiotics and hospitalized for about eleven days. Five days after the newborn’s release from the hospital, the baby again presented with GBS symptoms and tested positive for the same strain of group B strep. The baby was treated and was again released from the hospital after antibiotic therapy. At this point, it was discovered that the baby’s placenta had been encapsulated. The mother had been taking the placenta as capsules from three days postpartum. The capsules were tested and found to contain the same GBS strain that had infected the newborn. The mother’s breast milk was tested and did not contain group B strep, thus breastfeeding was ruled out as a potential source of reinfection. The authors of this report infer that ingestion of the GBS positive placenta capsules may have elevated maternal group B strep intestinal and skin colonization, facilitating transfer to the infant. The authors conclude by stating ‘placenta encapsulation process does not, per se, eradicate infectious pathogens; thus, placenta capsule ingestion should be avoided.’

 

So, How Did This Happen?

According to the report, the mother hired a company to pick up the placenta from her hospital and encapsulate it. The encapsulated placenta was returned to the mother three days later, and she began taking her capsules until it was suspected that they may be a source of group B strep. The encapsulator, who remained unnamed in the report, prepared the placenta from a raw state, dehydrating it at temperatures ranging from 115°F–160°F. According the CDC, heating at 130°F for 121 minutes is required to reduce bacteria present in placental tissue.

There are three problems with this case contributing to the placenta capsules testing positive for GBS, possibly re-infecting the newborn, and demonstrating unsafe processing practices.

 

The placenta was dehydrated from a raw state: This placenta was not heated to an adequate temperature, and possibly not for a long enough period of time to kill pathogens, like group B strep. Proper encapsulation protocols, require a specialist to steam the placenta, at 160°F, and then dehydrate it at 130°F for twelve hours. This method drastically reduces the occurrences of potentially harmful bacteria remaining present in the placenta. If the placenta referenced in this case was processed properly, it would almost certainly not have tested positive for group B strep.

 

Infection was present in baby: It is not a contraindication to encapsulate a placenta if a mother is found to have GBS. But if there is in an infection occurring in the infant or mother following birth, the placenta should absolutely not be encapsulated or consumed. Responsible and properly trained encapsulators will always inform their clients about any and all contradictions to placenta consumption.

 

The placenta was not processed in the client’s home: Another concern, is that this placenta was picked-up from the mother’s birth place and processed in a location other than her residence. It is impossible to know what type of preparation space the specialist worked in, if proper food safety protocols were followed, and if precautionary guidelines and decontamination practices for handling potentially infectious and biologically hazardous materials were utilized.

 

So, Is Placenta Encapsulation Safe?

A placenta from a normal, healthy infant and mother, when processed correctly is almost always safe to consume. With proper preparation, placenta encapsulation and consumption possesses almost no danger to a mother or baby.

 

Final Thoughts

Though startling, this report is only a single case study, and represents the findings and extrapolated assumptions of the authors. This is not an official CDC recommendation pertaining to placenta consumption. The report should serve as a caution for businesses offering encapsulation remedies and for families searching for placenta services. The Nurturing Root steadfastly believes that a placenta should ONLY be processed in a client’s home, using the traditional method, which steams the placenta first, to eradicate possible pathogens. It is crucial that you are able to witness the sanitation protocols implemented by your specialist, and know for certain, that the placenta being encapsulated is yours, it is processed correctly, and it is not contaminated by another source. We strongly encourage you to read this post, that lists six tips to consider before hiring a placenta encapsulation specialist. The Nurturing Root has encapsulated over 650 placentas, to date, with a 100% safety record and we have received only overwhelmingly positive reviews from our families. We believe in absolute transparency in the encapsulation process. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have about the CDC report or placenta encapsulation safety. Ohio families contact us here, and Maryland families, here.

Yoga Poses for the Pregnant Mother

Written by: Stephanie Misanik

Yoga is one of my FAVORITE things to talk about with expecting mommas.  Whether you are an experienced yogi or brand new to the mat, prenatal yoga can be a fantastic tool to help ease moodiness, shortness of breath and swollen ankles often experienced during pregnancy.  It provides you with a sacred space to really bond and connect with your baby AND helps prepare your body for the upcoming mystery of labor.  In addition, hitting your mat in a room full of other expecting mommas really creates an energy that I have never experienced anywhere else.  There is something super powerful about expecting mothers coming together and taking time to connect with themselves, their babies and other moms.  If you are feeling all alone in your pregnancy, like nobody gets it…get to a prenatal yoga class!  It’s a safe space to share your experience (the good, the bad and the ugly) with other moms who really truly understand what it is you’re going through.  It’s a fantastic way to create community and feel supported during this beautiful time of life.

If the thought of doing any physical exercise whatsoever seems incredibly overwhelming to you, think of it like this.  Labor is one of the most physically and emotionally intense experiences you will ever endure in this lifetime.  You wouldn’t run a marathon without some physical preparation, and labor is no different.  The asanas (physical poses) of yoga help you to build your strength and stamina while improving circulation.  The meditation during savasana can help you relax and bring your awareness within.  The pranayama (breathing exercises) will be an indispensable tool that you can use to breathe through your contractions when the big day comes.

Safety is key when it comes to exploring the world of prenatal yoga.  If you have never practiced yoga before, it’s important that you only practice prenatal yoga when pregnant.  Now is not the time to check out hot yoga for the first time.  If you already had a strong yoga practice before pregnancy, you may be able to continue that practice (with modifications) during your pregnancy.  Whether you are experienced or brand new, I recommend sticking to a gentle non-heated flow during your first trimester as the fetus is still implanting and the risk of miscarriage is highest.

As you hit your mat, keep in mind that when pregnant, your body produces a bunch of the hormone relaxin, which softens the connective tissue.  This is super important because it allows the joints in your pelvis to become more flexible as your uterus expands, making room for your growing baby.  Unfortunately, it also can lead to instability in the sacroiliac (SI) joints and can cause lower back pain, so be careful not to overstretch during your practice.

When it comes to knowing which poses are safe and which should be avoided, there are some general guidelines, but mostly I suggest listening to your body.  If something feels good, keep doing it…and if something feels bad, stop.  Here are some helpful guidelines to get you started:

Safe Poses:

Standing poses such as Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle), Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle) and Virabhadrasana 1-3 (Warrior 1-3) are safe and a great way to ground you to the earth and build strength throughout your pregnancy.

Balancing poses such as Vrkasana (Tree) and Garudasana (Eagle) are okay too.  I recommend doing them near a wall or chair if you are feeling unstable.

Hip openers such as Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose), Upavistha Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend), Agnistambhasana (Ankle-to-Knee Pose), Eka Pada Kapotasana (1/2 Pigeon Pose), Balasana (Wide-Knee Child’s Pose) and Malasana (Deep Squat) are great because of the focus on flexibility that will be needed later on for delivery, just don’t overdo it because the hormone relaxin is softening all the joints and they are easily dislocated with excessive stretching.  These hip openers are especially helpful in the third trimester because they relieve lower back pain and create space around the pelvis.  They are great poses to use during labor as well to release the lumber spine and open the hip joints.

Stretches on the back such as Supta Baddha Konasana (Recline Bound Angle Pose) and Supta Padagusthasana (Reclining Big Toe Pose – with a strap) are great during the first trimester.  After 20 weeks, I suggest placing a blanket or bolster under your upper back to elevate your upper body past 20 degrees

Poses to Avoid:

Avoid intense abdominal work like Paripurna Navasana (Boat Pose) because the uterus is super delicate right now.  As you progress in your pregnancy, doing super intense abdominal work runs the risk of tearing and separating your abdominal muslces.

Avoid deep twists like Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle), Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle) as they tend to exert too much pressure on the abdominal cavity.

Avoid inversions except Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog) for short amounts of time.

Safe Backbends During Pregnancy:

I am often asked if backbends are okay during pregnancy, and my answer is YES, with modifications.  It is super important to listen to your body, so if your body is telling you that something doesn’t feel good listen to it!  Here are some safe backbends to take during pregnancy, if it feels good to you:

Supported Matsyasana (Supported Fish Pose)

Sphinx Pose on two blocks and a bolster underneath your thighs.  During pregnancy, the femurs shift forward in the hip sockets.  Placing a bolster underneath your thighs helps to lift the femurs toward the hamstrings, centering the thighbone in the hip socket.  The blocks give extra height to create space for you baby bump.

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog) with a bolster under your thighs

Purvottanasana (Upward Plank)

Ustrasana (Camel Pose) with blocks on the outside of your legs

In addition to the asanas, breath work is a fantastic yogic tool to calm the mind and prepare you for the big day.  The two most beneficial kinds of pranayama (breathing exercises) during pregnancy are Ujjayi (long, strong deep breaths in and out, through your nose with a slight constriction in the back of your throat) and Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing).  It’s important to stick to these two and avoid any kind of breath retention or hyperventilation because it could limit the baby’s oxygen supply.

In the end, remember that you are a powerful woman.  Trust your intuition.  If something doesn’t feel good, don’t ignore that feeling.  Listen to your body, do what makes you feel good.  Prenatal yoga is a great opportunity to bond with your baby, to meet other moms and to prepare your body for the birthing process.  I hope to see you in class!

Plants for Life,

Stephanie Misanik, INHC, RYT-200

Moms & Babies Benefit from Chiropractic Care

Pregnancy presents the perfect opportunity for us to evaluate our health and lifestyle practices. Many of us commit to achieving optimum wellness for ourselves and baby. In addition to regular prenatal visits, many moms also consider treatment from a chiropractor. Chiropractic care targets the health of your nervous system, which controls and coordinates virtually all bodily functions. It can help holistically address discomforts during pregnancy, strengthening your body for labor and birth, and help you have a gentler postpartum period.

Have An Easier Pregnancy

In just nine months our bodies transform hormonally and physiologically to support, grow, and birth baby(ies). Unfortunately, these rapid changes can be accompanied by some unpleasant symptoms.

Often an early pregnancy symptom, nausea and vomiting (morning sickness), is an ailment partly attributed to rapidly rising hormone levels and the detoxification capabilities of your liver. An adjustment targeting parts of your thoracic spine may help mitigate symptoms.

Approximately 70 percent of expectant mothers experience low back or pelvic pain during pregnancy.  Changes including the growth of baby and uterus, weight gain, increased breast tissue, and the softening and stretching of ligaments can all be sources of discomfort. A recent study shows that nearly ALL women who received chiropractic care for back pain experienced dramatic improvement in their discomfort within just one week of treatment.

Shorten Your Labor and Birth

Aptly named, labor is the work that we put into birthing our babies. A chiropractor can adjust your pelvis, allowing baby to settle in the best position for birth. A method called The Webster Technique is proven to help you have a shorter, easier birth with less medical interventions. Some of the astonishing statistics include, a 50% reduction in use of pain medication, about a 30% faster than average first stage of labor, and a significant reduction in the use of an epidural, forceps, vacuum extraction, an episiotomy, and likelihood of a surgical birth.

Enjoy A More Blissful Postpartum Period

Breastfeeding your newborn is a rewarding experience, though sometimes challenging.  According to the CDC, nearly 80% of US mothers initiate nursing their newborn, but by three months of age, less than half of babies are exclusively breastfeeding. Some early breastfeeding difficulties are attributed to our modern birthing practices. Interventions including induction of labor, IV fluids, pain medications, and separation of mother and baby can contribute to nursing challenges.  An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant can examine you and baby, and may refer you to chiropractic care for help. Mom may need an adjustment to augment her milk supply. A newborn could benefit from gentle bodywork to allow for a deeper latch or more coordinated sucking.

Colic, a newborn ailment, defined by long stretches of inconsolable crying and poor sleep, beginning within the first few weeks of life, can be disheartening to parents. Adjustments can help restore proper nervous system function to your baby.  A calm, alert baby is better able to nurse, sleep, and grow.
The Nurturing Root believes that chiropractic care enhances your physical and emotional well-being during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. We are happy to provide chiropractic and other natural parenting resources for families living in the Baltimore area.

Wishing you a well adjusted pregnancy and birth!

Written by: Alayna Spratley

5 Ways Partners Can Bond With Their Breastfed Baby

By Alayna Spratley

During this first week of August, we celebrate World Breastfeeding Week. This global awareness initiative is coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), an international network of organizations working to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding.  Learn about World Breastfeeding Week 2016 here.

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week here are five ways fathers and non-nursing parents can bond with their breastfed babies:

  1. Skin To Skin Contact

Holding a newborn baby on your bare chest has so many benefits beyond the obvious snuggles. Skin to skin contact helps normalize baby’s body temperature and glucose levels; heart and respiratory rates also stabilize.

  1. Babywearing

Successfully carrying an infant in a sling, wrap, or a Soft Structured Carrier (SSC) is life changing! Most babies love to nestle on mom or dad’s chest. Wearing baby provides the physical closeness infants need while freeing a caregiver’s hands to participate in daily activities. It is so empowering to accomplish any task while babywearing.

  1. Co-Sleeping

Co-sleeping is a superb way to feel deeply connected to baby, while getting a more restful night’s sleep.

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  1. Movement

Inside mom, babies spend approximately nine months in motion.  So it is no surprise that they crave similar movement once born. Rock, sway, or bounce (I suggest using a Pilates ball) that baby! You will help soothe, calm, and lull your infant to sleep.

  1. Rituals

When baby starts having a more predictable rhythm, have dad start a short daily routine. A morning ritual could include taking baby upon waking, changing a diaper and clothes, and wearing her while making breakfast. An evening routine, that implements several bonding strategies, could include a taking a bath, enjoying some skin to skin time, and having a cuddle in the rocking chair.  

Supporting breastfeeding is a cultural responsibility that begins in the home.

We want all families committed to breastfeeding to succeed. If you reside in the Baltimore area, we offer postpartum services to help all family members be included, confident, and supported throughout the nursing journey.

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

Nourishing Recipes For The First Trimester

Obtaining Essential Nutrients With Whole Foods

Eating a colorful, varied, and minimally processed diet is ideal for optimal health, and during pregnancy, this becomes more apparent. Your body requires specific essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to support and grow a baby.

In these three recipes, I will explain why certain foods are ideal during the first trimester, and how their specific nutrients help you and baby. These nourishing dishes are all free from grains, dairy, and refined sugars.

First Trimester Smoothie

Coconut milk is a great alternative to traditional dairy; it is a rich source of several B-complex vitamins including B1, B3, B5, and B6. (There are 8 B-vitamins) Some of the many benefits include immune and nervous system support and enhanced energy production. During pregnancy, you also require more protein to support the rapid growth of your placenta and baby. Almond butter is a delicious addition to the smoothie and a great source of plant protein.

½ sliced, frozen banana

½ cup fresh or frozen blueberries

3 tbsp almond butter

¼ tsp cinnamon

½ cup full fat coconut milk

¼ tsp lemon zest

Place all ingredients in blender and mix.

Ultimate Prenatal Lentil Salad

Adapted from My New Roots

This salad is particularly delicious! Lentils are an amazing source of folate, a B-vitamin that helps baby’s neural tube develop properly. Folate also helps support red blood cell production, which is important as your blood volume increases throughout pregnancy. Lentils contain a ton of protein and fiber, which really increases the satiety factor of this dish.

1 cup black (du puy) lentils, rinsed, cooked, and drained

¼ cup dried tart cherries

handful of finely chopped fresh herbs. (I enjoy mint and parsley)

3 tbsp chopped capers

¼ cup chopped almonds

Vinaigrette:

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp strong mustard

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp ground cumin

¼ tsp turmeric

¼ tsp ground coriander

¼ tsp ground cardamom

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

¼ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp cinnamon

Place salad ingredients in bowl. Prepare vinaigrette by placing all ingredients in a jar with lid. Shake well to combine. Pour vinaigrette over salad and toss everything together. This dish tastes best fresh at room temperature.

Wilted Greens with Creamy Lemon Tahini

Adapted from Love and Lemons

This recipe is loaded with superfoods. Dark leafy greens including spinach, chard, and kale are rich in vitamins and minerals. Greens like spinach are a surprisingly great source of calcium, which is needed for baby’s bone development. The addition of avocado lends more than creaminess to the sauce. It also contains high levels of vitamin B6, which helps baby’s brain development. Vitamin B6 can also ease nausea, a common first trimester symptom. Dark greens and the sesame tahini provide a superb source of iron, which supports red blood cell production, helping to prevent fatigue and anemia. Adding lemon to this dish enables your body absorb iron more effectively.

4 cups dark leafy greens (I prefer baby spinach)

1 cup broccoli florets

⅓ cup sesame tahini

½ avocado

juice of 1 lemon

salt and pepper, to taste

Sauté greens and broccoli in olive oil and set aside. Blend tahini, avocado, and lemon together in food processor. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water, to thin, if necessary. Plate greens and pour sauce on top.

Enjoy!

When your friend has a baby: 10 ways to support a new mother

When my closest friends were having babies, I was just getting married.  I was pretty clueless about most things regarding the postpartum period and since the last baby to be born in my family was my 22-year-old sister, I knew even less about babies. I hadn’t a clue as to ways to support a new mother.

My best friend, the first one of us to have a baby, had a long labor, which ended with a cesarean. When she returned home, I am sure she was incredibly sore, but she was also clearly frustrated with breastfeeding.  When I think back to how painfully clueless and useless I was when she had her baby, I shudder.  I mean, I brought her a plant.  A PLANT!  While plants are lovely and they brighten up a room, it’s also one more thing for her to tend to and it isn’t remotely helpful to her in any way.  Oh, and that’s not all.  When lunch time rolled around, she heated up leftovers for us to eat.  SHE heated up leftovers for ME. (**shudder**)  It actually makes my stomach turn to think that I was that out of touch with what she needed.

After my own postpartum experiences, coupled with lots of training on birth and the postpartum period, I think it’s safe to say that thankfully, I’ve learned a few things since then.  Here are 10 ways to support a new mother, so the next time you have a friend have a baby, you’ll know how to shower her with love (and clean laundry).

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  1. Walk her dog. She’s healing from birth and her partner deserves a break. Take Fido for a stroll.
  2. Take her children outside. If mom has other children, take them outside to expel some energy. Playground, walk around the block, bike ride, whatever. Mom will appreciate the quiet and the kids will love the fun.
  3. Fix her family a snack or bring her a meal (or 2).  Anything you can do to take some of the load off, please do. Make them a meal or a snack, and if you can, involve the kids.  The kids will enjoy the activity and mom will get a reprieve by them being entertained.  If you won’t be there long, bring a meal already prepared, but also one that is freezable, so they can enjoy it later if needed.
  4. Bring her groceries.  When I had my first baby, a friend came to visit, and with her came 2 grocery bags full of food.  Some of the food was already prepared and the rest was perfect grab-and-go foods for snacking.  I was so touched and appreciated having new items in the fridge.  We sat around the table and noshed while she held and loved on my baby.  It was incredible and I appreciated it so much.
  5. Hold the baby and send her upstairs for a long, hot shower.  It’s amazing how much a hot shower can change a person.  Even if she doesn’t need it, take the baby, and if she has one, the 3-year-old, and send her upstairs for a hot shower and some alone time.  She’ll come down feeling grateful and refreshed.
  6. Load her dishwasher and run it.  I’m placing bets that when you go see her there will be a sink piled high with dishes.  Load the dishwasher and be sure to run it.  If you’re there long enough, empty it on your way out the door.
  7. Wash a load of laundry.  It’s amazing how much laundry a 7-pound baby can produce.  Whether it’s spit up on the onesie or breastmilk leaked on her shirt, there’s bound to be a load of clothes waiting.  Wash a load for her.  If there’s a load that’s been done, fold it.  Laundry is one of those things that can get out of hand fast. Helping her stay in front of it will take a lot of burden off of her.
  8. Take out the trash.  On your way out the door after your visit, take the trash with you.
  9. Sweep.  Dog hair, cheerio crumbs, dried up play-doh pieces.  It’ll take 5 minutes and will make a big difference.
  10. Bring her something for just her.  Bring her something that will make her feel good.  Ok, so maybe that plant wasn’t all bad.  I love plants, but whatever it is, make sure it’s something that will make her feel warm and pampered.  Maybe bring some great shampoo, bath salts, or handmade soap for the shower she’ll take during your visit.  Whatever it is, make it special.

There are endless ways to support a new mother, these are just a few.  The bottom line is make her life easy, make her plate lighter, and let her know you love her.  Having a baby is hard, and sometimes the postpartum period is even harder.  New moms are all too often left unsupported in our hustle-and-bustle culture, but we were never meant to do it alone.  Be a good friend, show up, and give her what she needs.  When she has a friend have a baby, she’ll remember how you made her feel, and she’ll pay it forward.  Little by little, maybe our culture will begin to shift.

Postpartum Doulas Support Baltimore Families

 

Having a new baby can be a very challenging time for some mothers and their families.  Mom may be healing from surgery or a difficult birth.  Dad or partner may not be able to take any time off work, or maybe he travels a lot.  Some families don’t live in the same area as their extended family, so they may have minimal family support.  Perhaps they have other young children that need tending to while mom is healing.  Maybe they just need help stocking the empty fridge.

Many families are finding comfort and support through postpartum doulas.  While a birth doula supports families emotionally and physically during labor and delivery, a postpartum doula supports families after their baby arrives.  Postpartum doulas support Baltimore families in a variety of ways.  Their tasks may vary depending on the family’s needs, but ultimately the doula will help ease the family’s transition with baby, and help keep their home afloat while they recover from birth and bond with their growing family.

Postpartum doulas help families with light housekeeping, meal prep, sibling care, overnight support, errand running, and more.  Just imagine…

We can do all of that.  We can take care of you.

By offering non-judgmental support, families feel safe asking questions related to breastfeeding, baby care, and postpartum wellness.  Mothers and families feel secure knowing they can take the deserved time to rest and bond with baby while their doula keeps their home running smoothly.  Our postpartum doulas support Baltimore families with passion, compassion, and expertise.