Building Your Birth Team: Part 2

Today, on the blog, we will continue the discussion about building your optimal birth team for support both before and after birth. Being fully informed and having the necessary resources during pregnancy (and beyond) could make all the difference in the beginning stages of parenthood. The previous Building your Birth Team post highlighted the importance of choosing your care provider, childbirth educator, doula and placenta encapsulation specialist. Below you will find several other supports that optimize your overall journey.

Chiropractic Care: There are many hormonal and physical changes you’ll experience during your pregnancy. Some of these will have an impact on your posture and comfort. As your baby becomes heavier, your center of gravity shifts, and your posture will adjust (sometimes for the worse). Also, this may create added pressure and misalignment in the pelvis. A misaligned pelvis may pose complications during delivery. When the pelvis is out of alignment, it can make it hard for your baby to move into the best position to be born, which is rear-facing and head down. In some cases, this could affect a person’s ability to have a natural , low intervention birth. A balanced pelvis also means your baby has a lower chance of moving into a breech or posterior position. When your baby is not in an optimal birthing position, it can lead to a longer, more complicated delivery. Evidence points to improved outcomes in labor and delivery for people who’ve received chiropractic care from a Webster Certified Chiropractor during their pregnancy. Chiropractic care can help balance the pelvis, allowing baby the room need to get in the most optimal position possible, while also allowing for a comfortable pregnancy. In fact, chiropractic care may even help reduce the length of time you’re in labor. Locate a Webster Certified Chiropractor, one who specializes in pregnancy and pediatric care, today!

Acupuncture: Many people sing the praises of acupuncture during pregnancy to ease some common discomforts such as back and pelvic pain, nausea, heartburn, swelling, and constipation. So how does it work exactly? Researchers have found that acupuncture points correspond to deep-seated nerves, so that when the needles are placed, the nerves are activated and the energy flow will regain balance. This, in turn, triggers the release of several brain chemicals, including endorphins, which block pain signals and help to relieve a number of pregnancy symptoms.

Clinical Psychologist: This support person cannot be encouraged enough. This particular birth team member will allow you to prepare for the birth as well as process and heal post birth as you enter into parenthood. Benefits of a mental health therapist encompass well being, which ultimately affect baby and partner's well being. Becoming a new parent has the possibility of bringing in unexpected stress and anxiety. Having a safe space to process this can make all the difference.

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist: This particular support involves biofeedback and exercises to encourage relaxation and strengthening of the muscles of the lower pelvis which have the tendency to weaken in pregnancy and through postpartum. A physical therapist measures muscle tone and the strength of muscle contractions, which give you the information you need to proceed with tailored exercises. After practicing at home, you can see the improvement at your next visit. When necessary, the therapist may use a massage-like technique called myofascial release to help stretch and release the connective tissue between the skin and the muscles and bones in your pelvic region.

Pelvic floor PT postpartum may: strengthen your pelvic floor, re-training your abdominal function, help libido levels or painful intercourse, and treat incontinence.

Adding these members to your birth team care for the entire person. Physical, mental, and emotional supports are vital in attaining the wellness you deserve.

Immune Boosting Tips for the Whole Family

It’s that time of year again. The sounds of coughing and sneezing can be heard in
every public place. Airplanes. Libraries. Malls. Grocery Stores. Work places. More and more
people start calling out sick and our children usually catch the brunt of it. Is there any possible
way to boost our immune systems and avoid some of this season’s sickies? Below are several
strategies to attain overall wellness for you and your family as the winter approaches.

When winter sickness strikes, it can truly take a toll on the entire family. Hopefully these simple tricks will aide in optimal wellness this season.

Virginia Apgar: An Advocate for Newborn Health

The APGAR test, a standard newborn test developed in 1953 by Virginia Apgar, assesses an infant's health immediately after birth. At 1 and 5 minutes post birth, the infant is examined and given a score based on the following criteria: heart rate, respiration, color, muscle tone, and reflex irritability. The term APGAR score is a mnemonic learning aid based on its inventor’s last name which stands for Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity and Respiration. By the 1960’s, because of its readability and effectiveness, this score was used widely across the United States. Now, it is globally used and adopted by most doctors and midwives.

This pioneering anesthesiologist worked effortlessly throughout her career to save countless newborns. Born in New Jersey in 1909, she became passionate about medicine in High School. She completed an undergraduate degree at Mount Holyoke College in zoology with minors in physiology and chemistry. She also played on multiple sports teams, reported for the college newspaper, acted in local plays, and played violin in the orchestra. Her teachers were astounded at her capacity to succeed.

She went on to attend Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons (CUCPS) as one of nine women in a class of ninety. She received her medical degree in 1933 and began a surgical residency. The chairman of surgery at CUCPS highly encouraged Apgar to switch to anesthesiology. Anesthesiology, at the time, was given by nurses but surgeries became more and more complicated. This procedure then became a doctor’s specialty. Because the field was relatively new and unresearched, Apgar had the enthusiasm and grit to take it and run with it. And that is just what she did. In 1937, she received her anesthesiologist’s certificate and returned to CUCPS to become the director of the newly formed division of anesthesia and, in 1949, she became the first female full professor in CUCPS’ history.

This high position allowed her to research and study more in depth at Sloane Hospital for Women with laboring and new mothers. She soon realized that there was no developed way and standardized measure to asses the overall health of newborn babies. Mortality for children under a year old in the U.S. had been going down in this time, however, the rate of mortality for newborns remained the same. This was mostly due to the fact that doctors weren’t identifying the babies that were born at risk. Hence no necessary interventions could be put into play. This prompted the brilliant Virginia Apgar to develop the APGAR score in the 1950’s.

She went on, in 1959, to pursue a Masters of Public Health degree at Johns Hopkins University and soon after took a position at the March of Dimes Foundation directing its research into the prevention and treatment of birth defects. She was one of the first people to focus on the effects that premature birth has on an infant’s overall health. Today, the March of Dimes still works to prevent premature birth and is one of their top priorities because of the legacy Apgar left them with. Apgar published over 60 papers and continued to tirelessly work and research until her death in 1974.

David Rose wrote, on the 100th anniversary of her birth in 2009, “Virginia Apgar was an irrepressible and charismatic champion for babies whose wit and lively personality captivated everyone she encountered in her constant quest for improvements to maternal and infant health… it has been said that every baby is first seen through the eyes of Virginia Apgar.”

 

Source: www.amightygirl.com

Baltimore Clinical Herbalist Specializes in Women's Health

Today on the blog, we have an interview with Melanie St. Ours, an author and Baltimore clinical herbalist who specializes in women’s health and mental health.

How did your clinical herbalist passion ignite?

Even though I'd had a lifelong interest in natural healing, I didn't have the courage to turn to herbs until I ran head-first into the limitations of our current healthcare system. It was 2008, and by day I was working as a massage therapist at a busy physical therapy clinic in downtown DC where I was the go-to person for clients with chronic illnesses, trauma histories, and other complex cases. Even with weekly treatments, I could see that they needed more options and that pharmaceuticals often didn't work for their needs. Meanwhile, I was getting sicker and sicker with Ulcerative Colitis --- and was shut out of the system because my "pre-existing condition" made it possible for health insurance companies to deny me access to a policy in those days before The Affordable Car Act had passed.

Seeing the ways that the system can fail people --- both those with access and those without --- made me passionate about becoming an herbalist so that I could teach people how to care for themselves with the medicines the Earth herself provides. I think of herbal medicine as a powerful complement to the medical system. The combination of both approaches is incredibly powerful, and we all deserve access to the best of both worlds.

How has this professional journey helped you in pregnancy?

More than anything, my herbal knowledge allowed me to enter into pregnancy in great health. I'm convinced that being well-nourished and well-supported was a big part of what made it possible for me to conceive right away at age 35 and to have a pregnancy that's been pretty comfortable and uneventful. I'm at 34 weeks today and still feeling good!

What has been the most helpful natural remedies for you while facing typical pregnancy ailments? Inflammation? Constipation? Decreased energy levels? Leg cramping? (Feel free to add any others)

It was a shock when I started experiencing constipation since I'm a vegan and am fantastically regular outside of pregnancy, but my favorite flax seed stool softener has been a huge help! (And I plan to drink this during labor and early postpartum to help make that first BM after birth as easy as possible.) If you want to try it, here's the recipe:

Flaxseed Stool Softener
(from The Simple Guide to Natural Health by Melanie St. Ours)

Ingredients:

1 heaping TBSP whole flax seeds
8oz room temperature (or cold) water

Directions:

1. Combine flax seeds and water in a cup or jar. Stir until all of the seeds are wet.

2. Let the cup or jar sit undisturbed at room temperature or in the fridge for 6-12 hours.

3. After steeping it complete, strain the seeds from the water. (You'll notice that the flax water is thickened and gel-like, especially toward the bottom of the glass/jar. This is what you want!) Drink the water/gel. You can use the soaked flax seeds in a smoothie or on food, or simply discard/compost them.

4. To prevent constipation, drink 1 serving per day. To reverse constipation, drink at least 2 servings per day -- one in the morning and one in the evening. You can increase to up to 4 doses per day if needed, and/or use this remedy in combination with Magnesium to enhance results.

I hope this will help you get some relief in the near future! If you try it for 2-3 days and don't notice much change, I'd add some liquid Magnesium (or Natural Calm dissolved in water) to the equation until you're feeling better.

I understand you have written a book that compiles your professional journey as a clinical herbalist. What inspired you to write the book? What is your hope for the book after publishing?

Well, the book isn't really about my journey as much as it's a guide to help others who are starting out on their own. 🙂 It's called The Simple Guide to Natural Health and is designed to make it easy for beginners to get the most out of all kinds of natural remedies including essential oils, natural body care recipes, healing foods (these are some of my favorite recipes in the whole book!), and homemade herbal tea blends, tinctures, and treats. We've already sold over 10,000 copies and I've spotted the book "in the wild" at Whole Foods, so really my biggest hope at this point is just that it reaches people and helps them to start experiencing how amazing herbs are in their own lives. This medicine really does belong to all of us, and I hope that my work somehow makes it a little bit easier for people to get started.

 

Acupuncture and Moxibustion: A Dynamic Duo

What is Moxibustion?
Moxibustion is a form of heat therapy in which dried plant materials called "moxa" are burned on or very near the surface of the skin. The intention is to warm and invigorate the flow of Qi in the body and dispel certain pathogenic influences.

Moxa is usually made from the dried leafy material of Chinese mugwort, but it can be made of other substances as well to achieve the same goal.

What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the method of treatment based on influencing the body by inserting needles in the specific points of human body, called acupoints. The name originates from Latin and literally means “inserting needles” – Latin “acus” – needle and„ “punctura” – to needle/to stick needles.

Why are these two therapies often used as a pair?
Practitioners often pair the two therapies because it is believed that the two of these together can be more effective when the diagnosis allows for it, such as a breech presentation of baby.

 

How can this double therapy be helpful in pregnancy?
This powerful pair is often used in relation to breech baby presentation which typically appears around 20+ weeks of pregnancy. This happens in about 4% of all pregnancies. Many times, baby turns on his/her own and no further treatment is needed. However, when approaching the end of pregnancy with a breech baby, these two ancient Chinese therapies could find themselves extremely useful! A study in 2009 showed that these two methods were, in fact, effective in changing the presentation of the baby.

The conclusion of the study is as follows: Acupuncture plus moxibustion is more effective than observation in revolving fetuses in breech presentation. Such a method appears to be a valid option for women willing to experience a natural birth.

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.

Using Elderberry to Boost Your Child's Immunity

Having sick kids is nothing we look forward to come winter time. Snotty noses, unstoppable coughing, and grumpy attitudes. Not to mention the worrying a mama goes through about the illness. It’s truly a lose-lose situation. And then if mama gets sick, then the whole ship sinks.

This winter, I wanted to try to give my family the tools we needed to avoid those cold induced ear infections and the terrible flu virus that often plagues our communities. Because for me, staying quarantined the entire winter is not an option. We have to get out and moving, in public places even, where those big, bad, ugly germs are lurking.

The most potent tool in my arsenal right now is my Homemade Elderberry Syrup. I priced some already made syrups online and thought they were outrageously priced for such a small bottle. So, after reading the amazing benefits online, I knew I had to make it myself and cut back on some of the cost. Also, it makes you feel like a total mom boss when you can boil down berries and yield a substance to boosts your child’s immunity.

The first step is finding a quality, dried, organic elderberry online to use as your base of the syrup. The same rings true for honey. You will need a good local honey that contains the area’s pollen and seasonal allergens. This will also aid in cough suppression.
Organic Elderberry
Raw, Local Honey

Then you will boil a third of a cup of dried elderberries with three cups of water. Add a few shakes of cinnamon and clove and a tablespoon or so of fresh ginger and boil until the liquid decreases by half and looks more like a syrup. Wait for it to cool and then use a fine sieve to strain in a jar. Cool completely and add a cup of honey. TADA! You did it. Your very own elderberry to build that immunity in the whole family.

According to Dr. Google, the recommended dosage is a teaspoon for children and a tablespoon for adults daily during the week. Take the weekend off.
**Remember a child under 12 months of age should not consume honey.**

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.

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.

Maryland Court Delivers A Hostile Ruling To Breastfeeding Mother

A breastfeeding mother in Maryland is fighting a magistrate’s order allowing the father of their infant, the right to feed the exclusively breastfed baby formula, during overnight visits.

Amber Brown and Corey Lewis, residents of Charles County Maryland, welcomed a baby boy in February 2017, but separated shortly after their child’s birth. During a custody hearing in July, Monise Brown, a county magistrate facilitated a disagreement between Ms. Brown and Mr. Lewis’ beliefs regarding how to feed their baby during overnight visitations. The baby’s mother was exclusively breastfeeding her infant, and was not able to express enough breastmilk to send with the baby for overnight visits, with the father. Mr. Lewis insisted that he should be allowed overnight visits, and has the right to feed his baby formula during that time.

Magistrate Brown agreed with the father, stating “breast-feeding is not a reason to prevent [Lewis’s] visitation, and that insisting on breast-feeding would be considered deliberate alienation of [Lewis],” according to Ms. Brown’s attorney.

The mother filed a request for exception, providing a note from her son’s pediatrician stating the baby could not tolerate formula. At a follow-up hearing, in August, a second court official, Magistrate Mitsy Metzgar, agreed with the initial recommendation, forcing the Mother to comply with the overnight visitation ruling, that includes allowing the father the right to feed his exclusively breastfed infant, formula. Even though the American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization strongly recommend infants be fed only breastmilk for the first six months of life, and Maryland law protects and states a vested interest in the infant and mother nursing relationship, as a basis to promote family values and public acceptance of breastfeeding, two court magistrates support detrimental recommendations for this mother-baby dyad.

This insulting arrangement in the custody ruling, comes at a very ironic time. Throughout the month of August, several organizations and coalitions spotlight breastfeeding with National Breastfeeding Month, World Breastfeeding Week, and Black Breastfeeding Week. Huge efforts are made to highlight and celebrate the importance of increasing a collaborative effort to generate a breastfeeding-friendly landscape. It appears that our culture and courts have quite a bit of remedial work to do, if they want to support and honor breastfeeding mothers, babies, and families!

The Nurturing Root proudly supports breastfeeding mothers. The health of our families, communities, institutions, and societies, are inextricably linked to our commitment to honoring breastfeeding mothers and babies.

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!

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

Six Tips For Hiring A Placenta Encapsulation Specialist

Are you considering hiring a specialist to encapsulate your placenta?

Placenta encapsulation is an awesome process that transforms your baby’s placenta into capsules. You then take your ‘placenta pills’ as a postpartum supplement. Placenta encapsulation can improve your overall postpartum wellness experience, and may help: balance hormones, support lactation and enhance milk supply, replenish iron, minerals, and vitamins, mitigate postpartum bleeding, provide natural pain relief, ease ‘Baby Blues’, decrease severity of postpartum mood disorders, and boost energy. If you are wanting to know more about what hormones, minerals, and vitamins are in your placenta and why they can help facilitate postpartum healing, take a look here.

Once you have decided that encapsulation is right for you, the next step is to find a qualified placenta specialist. So you search Google for ‘Placenta Encapsulation Cleveland’, but what next? Here are six tips to help you hire the best placenta encapsulation specialist.

Find A Specialist That Is ‘Triple Trained’

Placenta services are an unregulated industry, but there are certain standards, trainings, and precautions your professional specialist should follow. You want to find a placenta encapsulation specialist that has:

Completed training and certification with a comprehensive, research-based placenta education program. Ask your prospective placenta encapsulator with whom they have trained. Check out their certifying agency’s website to learn about the curriculum and requirements. Is their organization listed with the Better Business Bureau? If yes, what is their rating? Does internet search results return positive feedback?

The Nurturing Root is proud to have trained with both Placenta Benefits (PBi) and the Association of Placenta Preparation Arts (APPA). Both PBi and APPA are very well-respected organizations providing extensive education and credentialing in placenta preparation. We recommend using either the PBi directory or APPA directory to find an encapsulator in you area.

A current food safety certification. A food safety certification ensures that your placenta encapsulation specialist has tested knowledge in food hazards, proper hygiene practices, cleaning and sanitizing processes, and time and temperature controls.

The Nurturing Root Ohio holds a current ServSafeⓇ Food Handler Certificate.

Completed an OSHA compliant Bloodborne Pathogens training. It is crucial that your placenta encapsulation specialist has demonstrated competency regarding the precautionary guidelines and decontamination practices for handling potentially infectious and biologically hazardous materials.

The Nurturing Root has completed the Biologix Solutions Bloodborne Pathogens Training for Doulas and Placenta Encapsulators.

Decide Which Preparation Method Is Right For You

There are two preparation styles for placenta encapsulation, the Raw Foods Inspired method and the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) method.

Raw Foods Inspired Method  

This method is based largely on the principles surrounding the raw foods philosophy of eating. Raw foods principles teach that food is most nutritious if it is heated no higher than 118℉. Above this temperature certain enzymes will begin to degrade. For the Raw Foods preparation, your placenta is cleaned, sliced, then dehydrated at either 118℉ OR 160℉ overnight. The Association of Placenta Preparation Arts recommends drying the placenta at the higher temperature of 160℉ to ensure any possible bacteria are eliminated.  Then your placenta is ground into a fine powder and placed in capsules. With this placenta process, it is thought that the potency of hormones and nutrients will be best preserved and available for your body.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Method

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been incorporating placenta in powerful remedies for 1400 years. It is used to increase lactation and augment the ‘Qi’ or life energy, after birth. The many hormones and nutrients found in placenta can help you heal, and find optimal balance, during the postpartum transition period. With the TCM method your placenta is cleaned, lightly steamed with ginger and myrrh, sliced thin, and dehydrated overnight. Then your placenta is ground into a fine powder and placed into capsules. Steaming the placenta with ‘warming herbs’ is an integral part of this preparation method. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, a mother’s postpartum body requires heat and warmth to replenish the energy that is lost during childbirth. Raw foods are generally seen as a cooling element. Therefore, consuming raw placenta not recommended for the tonifying elements needed to nourish the blood and restore energy and balance to the body.

The Nurturing Root offers the Traditional Chinese Medicine method of placenta encapsulation to our clients. We believe that this preparation, and the Chinese medicine philosophy, offers the greatest healing benefits to new mothers.

Know Where Your Specialist Performs Their Work

A placenta encapsulation specialist will prepare the placenta either in their workspace or in their client's home. With both workspaces, your ‘triple trained’ placenta encapsulation specialist should implement identical sanitizing protocol. Also with both methods, capsules will usually be processed and made available within 72 hours of birth.

Specialist’s Workspace

Your placenta encapsulation specialist will either personally pick-up or use a courier service to collect your placenta from the hospital or birth center and have it brought to their workspace. Their workspace can be a family kitchen, a dedicated encapsulation processing space in their home, or a dedicated space in another location (like their studio or a commercial-style kitchen.) Once your placenta capsules are ready, your specialist will most likely bring the capsules to you at home.

Client's Home

After having your baby, you, a family member, or a friend will bring the placenta to your home.  Your placenta encapsulation specialist will then come to your house to process your placenta. The capsules will be left with you, or arrangements may be made to take them to your birthplace if you are not at home yet.

The Nurturing Root exclusively processes your (our client) placenta in your home. Your house is a special space with your family’s energy and unique microbiome, and we strongly believe that your placenta belongs in your residence. We also value the connection we make by processing your placenta in your house. We encourage you or family to observe the process, and welcome any discussion about the preparation method or questions you have regarding your placenta, birth experience, or the postpartum healing process.

Consider Hiring A Professional That Offers Complimentary Services

In addition to placenta capsules, look for a placenta encapsulation specialist that offers other placenta specialties, like: placenta art prints, tincture, or mother’s broth. You may also want to find a placenta encapsulation specialist that provides additional prenatal and postnatal services.

The Nurturing Root offers a variety of placenta remedies.  In addition, we also offer Birth Boot Camp natural childbirth education for couples, labor comfort measure workshops, birth and postpartum planning sessions, and family-centered postpartum doula care. We are quite active in the birth community, so we also have available a comprehensive list of community resources for expectant and new moms.

Hire A Well-Respected, Highly Reviewed, and Experienced Specialist

Using a placenta encapsulation specialist recommended by a trusted friend is a great option. But make sure to do your own research on any prospective encapsulator. Look through their website, check their social media accounts, and read or ask for testimonials. Schedule a call or meet with the placenta encapsulation specialist you are interested in hiring. Get an idea of who they are, how and why they chose to become a professional placenta encapsulator, and ask them how many placentas they have encapsulated.

The Nurturing Root has been providing placenta encapsulation services to families since 2011. We have helped nearly 600 mothers experience their best postpartum, with our placenta encapsulation services. We are honored to have overwhelmingly positive reviews and testimonials from our Baltimore families.

Have Your Questions Answered Before Booking Services

Your placenta encapsulation specialist should return your email, message, or call promptly and provide you with an overview of their services, fees, policies, and protocols. You should also see if your prospective specialist has a comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page on their website. You want to feel confident about your specialist and her services before paying a deposit.

The Nurturing Root keeps an updated FAQs page on our website, so you can learn all about our placenta encapsulation services. We also respond to inquiries with thorough details about the placenta encapsulation process.

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

This post, in part, was re-published on Parent.co

Is Placenta The Perfect Postnatal Supplement?

While pregnant did you take a prenatal supplement? And what about after baby is born; have you considered taking a postnatal vitamin? It is well known that a high quality prenatal supplement can provide you with extra folate, vitamin D, and magnesium to support a healthy pregnancy. Once baby arrives, you may still need additional vitamins to facilitate breastfeeding and healing. Your placenta may be the perfect postpartum supplement! In this post I’ll discuss what hormones, nutrients, and vitamins are present in your placenta, various research supporting placenta consumption, and how it can help you heal and find balance during the postpartum transition period.

What hormones, nutrients, & vitamins are in my placenta?

Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone (CRH) Stress relieving hormone.
Human Placental Lactogen (hPL) Regulates maternal insulin, protein, and fat levels; promotes breast tissue growth.
Oxytocin Decreases pain; controls uterine contractions; enhances 'letdown' reflex; counteracts stress hormones.
Placental Opioid-Enhancing Factor (POEF) Stimulates the production of your body’s natural opioids reducing pain.
Prolactin (PRL) Promotes lactation and increases milk supply.
Interferon Signaling protein that stimulates the immune system to help fight infections.
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone Regulates metabolism and energy, and supports recovery from stressful events.
Immunoglobulin G (IgG) Type of antibody that protects against infections and enhances immune system response.
Fibrin Stabilizing Factor (XIII) Enzyme that stops bleeding and promotes wound healing.
Vitamin B-6 An essential vitamin that supports metabolism, energy levels, and nervous system function.
Hemoglobin (Hb or Hgb) An iron-rich protein that carries oxygen throughout the body.

What research supports postnatal placenta consumption?

The research surrounding the positive attributes of placenta encapsulation is very promising. Your placenta is the lifeline to your baby, and this temporary organ is made to nourish. It brings vital nutrients and exchanges waste, to support the normal growth and development of your baby. Your placenta is also an integral member of your endocrine system. It produces and contains critical hormones, nutrients, and molecules, including: corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), human placental lactogen (hPL), oxytocin, placental opioid-enhancing factor (POEF), and more.

Corticotropin-releasing hormone is a stress relieving hormone usually produced by the hypothalamus. But during pregnancy, your placenta takes over synthesization of CRH. A woman's level of CRH increases three-fold during pregnancy. After birth, it takes a few weeks for the hypothalamus to begin re-regulating CRH. Low levels of CRH in postpartum women may be linked to depression.

Human placental lactogen is responsible for regulating maternal insulin, protein, and fat levels, to benefit the growth of the baby. It is crucial for milk gland stimulation and for the initiation of colostrum production. In a small study from the 1950's, 210 new mothers were given dried placenta, which is rich in hPL. Over 86% of participants in the study noted an increase in milk production.

Oxytocin, often called 'the love hormone', is responsible for uterine contractions and the 'letdown' reflex while breastfeeding. Oxytocin also promotes love, empathy, and bonding. When you consume your placenta, its high levels of oxytocin can help slow your postpartum bleeding, relieve discomfort, and facilitate breastfeeding.

Placental opioid-enhancing factor is only present in the placenta and amniotic fluid. POEF can stimulate the production of your body's natural opioids, reducing pain and enhancing your sense of wellness. In one study, the benefits of placenta ingestion by nonhuman mammalian mothers (rats) are significant. It provoked an increase in mother-infant interaction, and increased the effects of pregnancy-mediated pain relief.

How can a postnatal placenta supplement help me recover from birth?

Our culture of childbirth and the postpartum period are rife with trauma, stress, anxiety, and depression. Placenta encapsulation presents a gentler, and perhaps, biologically normal, way of balancing the chaos that can come with a new baby.

Placenta is ancient medicine for modern healing. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been using placenta as a remedy for 1400 years. The many hormones and nutrients found in your placenta can help you heal, and find optimal balance, during the postpartum transition period. Choosing to encapsulate your placenta may help:

Balance Hormones
Support Lactation & Enhance Milk Supply
Replenish Iron, Minerals, & Vitamins
Mitigate Postpartum Bleeding
Provide Natural Pain Relief
Ease 'Baby Blues'
Decrease Severity of Postpartum Mood Disorders
Boost Energy

Welcoming a new baby is a joyous occasion, but this exciting time of transition can be challenging. Our placenta encapsulation services can help you have a calmer, more peaceful, and restorative postpartum experience.

New Recommendations From The American Academy Of Pediatrics

The American Academy Of Pediatrics (AAP) 2016 National Conference and Exhibition concluded last week. During their annual meeting, the AAP discussed a wide array of topics, and presented studies regarding children’s health and wellness. During the conference, the AAP released updated recommendations on two important topics: healthy media use, and safe sleep practices for infants.

Healthy Media Use

The new media use policy released last week acknowledges most American  families are using screen-time on a daily basis. While digital media can have a positive impact on a child’s development, it needs to be used correctly. To help your family make smart media choices, here are the updated rules and tools for screen-time.

Infants and Toddlers: No screens (This includes phones, tablets, computers, and televisions) for children under 18 months. Previously the ‘zero media’ recommendation was up to two years old.  AAP recognizes that many families use video chatting apps, like FaceTime, to connect better with relatives.  Easing the age restriction  ales it more manageable for younger kids to begin using limited digital media. If you would like to introduce your child, aged 18-24 months, to screens only view ‘high quality’ programming or video chat for short durations. You should always be present to help your toddler understand what they are seeing.

Preschool, Ages 2-5 Years  Preschoolers should watch no more that one hour of media per day. Previously, it was recommended that children of all ages, have no more than two hours of screen-time per day. The AAP also clarifies that you should continue to co-view high quality programming with younger kids, whenever possible.

Children, 6 Years+ The advice for older kids is more ambiguous. The AAP recognizes that setting a universally specific digital media limit does not work for families. The new suggestions are to use good judgement; be consistent and clear with screen-time rules. Also make sure that your older child is getting plenty of play, rest, study, and conversation time throughout the day. A new and really important aspect of the guidelines, is communicating regularly with your kids about good online citizenship and treating others with respect.

This family media planner is a great new tool that can help you thoughtfully integrate screen-time boundaries and limits specific to your needs.

Safe Sleep Recommendations

The sleep guidelines released Monday are the updated recommendations for creating optimal circumstances and ideal infant sleep environments to reduce sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related deaths.

With this goal, the American Academy Of Pediatrics advises:

The new policies also discuss best breastfeeding practices at night.  The AAP now advises mothers to bring baby to bed to nurse.  Insure all blankets, pillows, and flat sheets are removed.  When you are finished breastfeeding, or baby is sleeping, place your infant back in her co-sleeper. Bringing baby to a couch or rocking chair to nurse is not recommended.  The concern being mom and baby falling asleep in an unsafe position that could lead to positional asphyxiation.  Mom and baby falling asleep while breastfeeding in bed is the safer option.  The AAP does not endorse bed-sharing, rather ‘bed-nursing’ as an alternative.

The new AAP guidelines for media and SIDS reduction provide advice for what they consider optimal. There are also other organizations with different or more nuanced guidelines regarding screen-time and safe sleep practices.  Ultimately, as a parent, it is your responsibility to research which policies and recommendations work best for your family.

If you live in the Baltimore area and are looking to learn more about infant sleep, consider attending this event, on November 6th, 2016, hosted by Thrive Chiropractic and Parenting Works.

Celebrate Autumn With Pumpkin Seeds

Autumn has finally arrived in Maryland and that means that is it pumpkin season. Almost everywhere you’ll find lattes, pies, and soups with its namesake. We are celebrating the harvest with the seeds of this seasonal squash. Also called pepitas, these little seeds are extremely nutrient dense, and contain a wide array of vitamins and minerals. Here are why pumpkin seeds are fall’s favorite superfood!

Protein During pregnancy you should be consuming an extra 25g of protein per day. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of vegetarian protein with about 5g in a one-ounce serving. Adding some seeds to a salad or a smoothie is an easy way to increase your protein intake. Pepitas are also particularly high in tryptophan, one of the 9 amino acids that comprise protein. Tryptophan is used by your body to synthesize the hormone serotonin; which is partly responsible for nervous system health, sleep regulation, and muscle growth and repair.

Minerals Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of several essential and trace minerals.

Omega-3  These fatty acids are crucial for brain growth and fetal development. Consuming sufficient amounts of Omega-3’s from foods like pumpkin seeds is linked to better birth outcomes including a higher placental weight, lower risk for preeclampsia, longer gestation, and higher birth weight.

B-Complex Vitamins  There are eight ‘B’ vitamins. All are crucial to normal body functions and a healthy pregnancy. The B-complex vitamins are essential for proper metabolism function, immune support, and normal nervous system growth in baby.

After you are finished carving your pumpkin make sure to set aside the seeds. Here are twelve plant-based recipes featuring pumpkin seeds. Enjoy!

If Most Mammals Consume Placenta, Why Don’t We?

The placenta, a temporary organ, has a crucial role to play in pregnancy.  It nourishes the fetus, also bringing oxygen and removing waste for the mother’s kidneys to dispose of.  This essential organ also regulates hormone production throughout pregnancy and is responsible for sustaining the pregnancy. The placenta, attached to the baby via the umbilical cord, is born shortly after the birth of the baby.

We know that with the exception of just a few species, all mammals, including herbivores, consume their placenta as an innate behavior after giving birth to their young. Some say the behavior, also known as placentophagy, satisfies a nutritional need of the mother.  Others claim it is a way for the animal to clean their nest in an effort not to attract predators.  While at first glance, the cleaning-of-the-nest theory makes sense, we know that animals whose young can walk immediately after the birth, such as horses or giraffes, still consume their afterbirth with great enthusiasm even though they could just walk away from the birth site to a perceived safer location. Similarly, monkey species also engage in placenta consumption even though they could let the placenta fall to the ground below away from their tree-top birthing location.

If mammalian mothers only consume placenta as a way to clean the nest site, why don’t they take the time to lick up the blood and other fluids from giving birth?  What are they gaining from the practice? And finally, if most other mammals do it, why don’t humans eat placenta after birth?

 

The Fire Hypothesis:

Last spring, I had the pleasure of attending PlacentCon, a conference for birth workers that hosted many presentations centered around the placenta and placentophagy.  The conference, held in Las Vegas, had speakers from a variety of specialties, but one of the most memorable talks was given by Dr. Daniel Benyshek, medical anthropologist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).  Dr. Benyshek, along with researcher, Sharon Young, discussed their work with the groundbreaking placebo VS. placenta study currently underway at UNLV.  When asked about why humans don’t innately engage in placentophagy, Dr. Benyshek had a fascinating hypothesis.

He explained that as a species, early humans probably did consume their placenta after birth.  When fire was discovered millions of years ago, trees, absorbing heavy metals from the earth, were then burned.  As a result, expecting mothers were around smoke and inhaling it regularly.  While we know that the placenta does not act like a filter, holding onto toxins, it does have difficulty ridding itself of heavy metals.  As the women were around smoke more and more, their placentas had increased levels of cadmium and lead.  Upon ingesting their placentas after giving birth, women began either getting very ill or dying, and over time, we evolved to discontinue the practice.  For the same reason, in present day, it is thought that cigarette smoking in mothers is a contraindication of placenta encapsulation.

Though there is research supporting the benefits of placentophagy in new mothers, the body of research is small and incomplete.  The anecdotal evidence, however, showing that placenta encapsulation can help ease a new mother’s transition into motherhood is overwhelming.  Women who consume their placentas often report:

Whatever the cause of placentophagy in the animal kingdom, it’s clear that moms from across the world are pleased with the results from utilizing their placenta for postpartum recovery. It’s exciting to see more research developing about this practice.  Stay tuned in 2016 for the results of UNLV placenta VS. placebo study to be published!

 

To read what moms in Baltimore and the surrounding area have to say about their experience with placenta encapsulation, visit our testimonials page & our Facebook page.