Building Your Birth Team in San Antonio

pregnant woman on the phone. Building your birth team

Congratulations on your pregnancy! As you prepare for your pregnancy, birth and postpartum, it’s important to build a supportive birth team to support you throughout this transformational experience.  Choosing care providers that align with your birth goals and values is essential to having the experience you’re hoping for, so research your options and meet a variety of providers to see who is the best fit.  There are so many decisions to make during pregnancy, but be assure, this is the most important one. 

Care Provider: A care provider is who you choose to do all of your prenatal care. This person/group focuses primarily on maternal and fetal health. There are two different models of care, the Midwifery Model of Care and the Medical Model of Care. It cannot be understated that this is the most important choice you will make your entire pregnancy as it will greatly affect your desired outcome. Fully trusting your care provider brings peace and confidence as you prepare to meet your baby, so it is important that your provider’s philosophy of birth aligns with your goals. Remember, it is also never too late in pregnancy to change care providers if you are unhappy with decisions and/or approaches to your care.

  • Midwifery Model of Care- Monitoring the physical, psychological, and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle. Providing the pregnant person with individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support. Midwifes can work in a variety of settings and generally utilize interventions less and only if they are indicated. The midwifery model is for low risk pregnancies and if a pregnancy is determined high risk, care will be transferred to an obstetrician.
  • Medical Model of Care- This model of care focuses on preventing, diagnosing, and treating the complications that can occur during pregnancy, labor, and birth. Prevention strategies tend to emphasize the use of testing, coupled with the use of medical or surgical interventions to avert a poor outcome. In many cases, low risk people find themselves having the same testing and interventions as their high risk counterparts.

Doula: A doula is a professional trained in childbirth who provides emotional, physical, and educational support to a mother who is expecting, in labor, or has recently given birth. The doula’s purpose is to help people have a safe, memorable, and supported birthing experience. The support of a doula has shown to have a 39% decrease in cesarean rates, shorter labors, less interventions, and a 31% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with their birth experience.  Because the doula is not medically trained, she does not attend to fetal/maternal physical health but more so focuses on mother’s emotional well being before and during labor.

Birth Educator: A birth educator is trained to teach childbirth education classes to expectant families, so they can be informed consumers. Childbirth educators are a resource for families providing information they may not have access to outside of a birth class. They help couples learn valuable coping skills and strategies to have an empowered, informed birth experience. While your birth educator may not be present at your birth, she is considered part of the birthing team.

Placenta Encapsulation Specialist: Placenta encapsulation is the process of turning your baby’s placenta into capsules to aid in your postpartum recovery. The placenta encapsulation specialist adheres to all OSHA & EPA guidelines regarding blood-borne pathogen transmission, infection prevention, standards for sanitation, and safe food handling. The encapsulation process happens within 72 hours of baby’s birth and is believed to help with increasing energy levels, lactation, postpartum anxiety/depression, increased levels of CRH (stress-reducing hormone), and restoration of iron levels in the blood.

Chiropractic Care: There are many hormonal and physical changes you’ll experience during your pregnancy. Some of changes will have an impact on your posture and comfort. As your baby becomes heavier, your center of gravity shifts, and your posture will adjust. This may also 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 difficult 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. 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 may strengthen your pelvic floor, re-training your abdominal function, help libido levels or painful intercourse, and treat incontinence.

Give yourself the gift of a well-rounded birth team, ready to support an expectant family every step of the way. Being uplifted and encouraged during labor makes all the difference prenatally and postnatally. Investing in getting information and support while you embark on one of the greatest (yet challenging) adventures in your life will have big pay outs in your wellness long term. Physical, mental, and emotional supports are vital in attaining the wellness you deserve.

Stay well and best wishes.

Is Placenta Encapsulation Safe for GBS+ Mothers?

placenta encapsulation and GBS

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.

Families Bond Through Infant Massage

infant massage

Today’s post comes from Baltimore-based massage therapist, Jessie Bernstein, LMT, BCTMB, CEIM.  You can find Jessie teaching infant massage classes at Greenberries or providing therapeutic massage at Satori Wellness.

Nurture. Compassion. Intention. All of these are vital components when connecting with another form of life. Infant massage is one of the best ways to start introducing this lesson to our young ones. It’s such a fabulous way to initiate bonding between parent and infant. What I love about infant massage is that it benefits all parents and babies, including those with special needs. Infant massage is a remarkable resource for birth parents, adoptive parents, foster parents, single parents, and other caregivers being a part of an infant’s development.

As an infant massage instructor, one of the biggest impacts I have seen has truly been from witnessing fathers eagerly participate. Before dads attend the class, many struggle with confidence when tending to their newborns.  They want to feel nurturing, and supportive, but often feel a lack of connection since babies are so dependent on their mothers, particularly early on.

A father’s relationship with baby differs from mom’s in some ways, but they can build a nurturing relationship through different means. By learning touch, infant massage not only gives dads an esteem boost, but supports an established connection and enhances bonding. Touch is one of the most amazing forms of nonverbal communication, and is a valuable tool for the entire family to use. It’s such a pleasure to see the smiles and confidence grow in my students with each class, and the moms gleam with joy knowing their little one is connecting with dad.

Some of the benefits to the infant include:

  • helping with constipation and gas
  • relaxation
  • body awareness
  • sensory stimulation
  • improved sleep
  • improved digestion.

My infant massage classes are laid back and informal to help you feel confident, and to prepare you with supportive techniques and encouragement. This 4-week series covers different topics each week and all of the supplies are included. Classes are currently being taught at both Greenberries locations in Columbia and Baltimore City. I also offer families private classes in the comfort of your own home. I encourage both parents or a parent and a caregiver, who has an active role in the infant’s care, to attend the series. In my experience, the whole family not only benefits, but also enjoys the class and time together.

 

If you are interested in learning more about Jessie and her services, she can be reached at 410.493.0196 or you can email her at  jab.massage at gmail dot com.

Why You Should Consider Hiring a Postpartum Doula

postpartum doula Baltimore

 

Postpartum mothers need support, especially in a culture that unrealistically expects women to bounce back so quickly after giving birth. As a society, we can be so hard on new mothers. Culturally, new moms often receive messages that there is shame in needing help. This is a huge shift from 100 years ago when mothers had a tribe of women lending their love and support when a baby was born. Moms may experience feelings of guilt for letting the laundry pile up while they nurse and bond with their baby and some may feel inadequate for hanging onto baby weight, choosing different parenting philosophies than their families, or needing more time to adjust to motherhood. In this social media/Pinterest age where everyone seemingly has it so together, modern mothers are under an immense amount of pressure to do it all and to do it all well.

A new mother has just gone through an intense physical and emotional experience and needs time to rest, heal, and get to know her baby and growing family. A postpartum mother needs support, nourishing foods that promote health and healing, and she needs to be able to sit and feed her baby as long as she needs without feeling guilt over the pile of dishes in the sink. But how is a veteran mother supposed to rest after having her baby when she has a home and other children to tend to and no real support network to help? And how is a new mother to rest when she’s navigating the physical and emotional demands of her new role as a mother?

A postpartum doula is a trained professional who not only brings support to the whole family after the arrival of a new baby, but she also brings with her a wealth of knowledge related to baby care, breastfeeding, and postpartum health. A postpartum doula can fill the gaps, so the family has more freedom to do what is most important, be together.

Perhaps you’ve had a cesarean and your partner doesn’t get much time off of work to help with the house and the other children. You have a lot to tend to, but are healing from major surgery and your baby is nursing or wanting to be held around the clock. What’s a new mom to do? A postpartum doula can come over, do a few loads of laundry, play with and look after your kids, fix lunch and prepare and easy dinner you’ll be eating later that night.

Maybe you’re a first time mom, you have no experience with babies, and you’re feeling a little lost. A postpartum doula can come over to help you feel more comfortable caring for your baby. The doula may show you how to give baby a bath, she may teach you some breastfeeding positions to make nursing more comfortable, and she may give you pointers on calming a fussy baby. A postpartum doula also comes with a list of vetted resources to help meet all of your postpartum needs whether it is a lactation consultant or a therapist specializing in postpartum mood disorders.

Maybe you’re really struggling and are finding the lack of sleep is really effecting you. A postpartum doula can come lend a hand and tend to baby overnight, only disturbing you if you choose to nurse.

Happy mother and daughter with her babysitter

 

 

 

The Nurturing Root provides

 

 

 

postpartum doula services to mothers and families in Baltimore, Annapolis, and the surrounding counties. As postpartum doulas, we can help and support your family in a variety of ways to suit your needs:

  • Clean and fold laundry
  • Support the overall transition with a new baby by providing education on baby care, baby sleep, diapering, etc.
  • Provide a list of local resources to help make your postpartum experience a peaceful one
  • Breastfeeding support
  • Preparation of healthy snacks & meals for your whole family to enjoy
  • Sibling care
  • Errand running
  • An ear to listen
  • Overnight assistance
  • Light housekeeping, including sweeping, mopping, dishes, etc.

If you are an expecting or new mother in the Baltimore, Annapolis area and are looking for postpartum support, our postpartum doulas at The Nurturing Root would be honored to serve you as you transition to a larger family.

 

20 Reasons to LOVE Birth Boot Camp

childbirth classes in Baltimore

 

I make it no secret that I love Birth Boot Camp, a 10-week natural childbirth class for couples. I am proud to be a part of the organization and I know that the curriculum and materials really do help couples have AMAZING births. Take a peek and I know you’ll love Birth Boot Camp too.

1. Up to Date, Modern, Evidence Based Education for Couples: Birth Boot Camp prepares couples for an amazing birth. The curriculum is up to date, featuring modern research and evidence based practices. Don’t worry, you won’t be watching birth videos from the 1970’s, but you will see modern women birthing their babies in a variety of environments and ways.

2. Partners Learn How to Be an Amazing Birth Support: You’re going to have a joyous birth and your partner will be supporting you every step of the way. Birth Boot Camp helps partners prepare too, so they’re confident and educated on the best ways to support a laboring person. Your relationship will soar to new heights after you experience childbirth together.

3. Nutrition: Proper nutrition is crucial to a healthy pregnancy and birth.  Birth Boot Camp class #2 is dedicated to proper nutrition in pregnancy. There is also a nutritional focus every week where couples will learn which foods are best for pregnancy by decreasing certain ailments, helping boost immunity in mom and baby and MORE! Moms will fill out their chow chart each week to track protein and food intake, to give them a better picture of their overall diet.

4. Exercise: Does your back ache? Are you experiencing heartburn?  Birth Boot Camp has a PT exercise every week that not only gets moms up and moving, but it also teaches couples which exercises and stretches help with common aches and pains like sciatica and even indigestion.

5. Comfort Measures: Every week in class, we will go over a comfort measure (maybe even 2 or 3) to help you stay relaxed and as comfortable as possible in the thick of labor. Partners will know how to touch you in labor and when to use certain techniques. By the end of class, you’ll have a toolbox filled with a wide variety of comfort measures to use in labor.

6. Birth Videos: At Birth Boot Camp we want you to be prepared for everything. Sometimes things come up that aren’t planned or expected, but by watching a variety of births, moms and dads will have an idea of what birth looks like from a variety of lenses. We watch a birth video in every class, including homebirth, induction, birth center water birth, shoulder dystocia, vaginal breech, and we even watch a cesarean. The goal is not to scare couples, but to prepare them and give them information so that they can make an educated, informed decision should the unexpected arise.

7. Relaxation: Relaxation is a crucial tool for having a natural birth. Tense muscles cause more pain and inhibit progress and lose, relaxed muscles are going to allow baby to descend in the birth canal more easily.  We practice relaxation in every class and there are a variety of relaxation exercises in the student manual for you to practice with your partner at home. When D-Day arrives, you’ll be well prepared to get into a relaxed state easily.

8. Games & Demos: Every individual has a different learning style. Some folks are visual learners, some auditory, and some people need action and movement to learn something well. Sometimes it can be easier to remember something when you see and feel it in action, right? Be prepared to laugh and have fun with your classmates when we break out games and hands on demonstrations.

9. Rebozos: A rebozo is a beautiful, long woven garment that women traditionally wear in Mexico and throughout Latin America, but it can be used as a versatile birth tool. Couples will learn of variety of rebozo techniques to help keep mom comfortable in labor. As a San Antonio-based, Rebozo Certified, Birth Boot Camp instructor, I incorporate a rebozo technique into most classes to give couples more tools in their Comfort Measure Toolbox.

10. Weekly Emails: Not only do couples get a ton of useful info in class, but every week after class every student will receive an email chock full of links to extra reading materials and videos pertaining to the topic of the week.

11. A Beautiful, Color Workbook: Each couple receives a colorful, 170-page workbook with great articles, chow charts, relaxation exercises, PT routines, diagrams, and vocabulary. This book will become your #1 resource for 10-weeks and can continue to be helpful even during labor.

12. A Breastfeeding Video: Each Birth Boot Camp couple will receive a breastfeeding video download, Breastfeeding: The Ultimate MRE, which is loaded full of helpful, essential info and trouble shooting advice for breastfeeding your baby.

13. Online Classes: Something has come up and you can’t make it to class? Have no fear, you won’t miss any of the info or material!  Each student has access to 2 make-up classes online. No time for a 10-week live class? That’s OK too. Birth Boot Camp also offers the entire curriculum as an online class to students who have a hard time committing to a certain time and place each week.

14. Knowledgeable, Trained Instructors: Every Birth Boot Camp instructor is trained and knowledgeable about birth.  Many have had natural, unmedicated births of our own, we’ve witnessed other’s births, and we’re experienced breastfeeding moms. Birth Boot Camp instructors have a lengthy reading and video list to complete, assignments in the per-certification study guide, and a weekend workshop the wraps up with an exam. Your Birth Boot Camp instructor lives and breaths birth, and will be a wonderful support and resource for you and your partner.

15.Comprehensive Education Written by Experts in the Field: The Birth Boot Camp curriculum is brought to you by several professionals in the field, including midwives, massage therapists, childbirth educators, lactation counselors,  holistic health coaches, and doulas. Birth Boot Camp is one of the most comprehensive curricula in the field of childbirth education. This program leaves no stone unturned and couples graduate with a well rounded education.

16. Massage: Moms, how can you say no to massage? At Birth Boot Camp, learn techniques to properly massage a pregnant mom. This will be beneficial during pregnancy and during labor.

17. Newborn Care: Many couples have an amazing birth and then go home, not really sure what to do next. This can cause a great deal of anxiety in new parents. In class #10, we discuss many of the newborn procedures that are typically done after birth and you’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether or not any are right for your baby.  We will also discuss baby sleep options, baby wearing, diapering options, breastfeeding, and baby soothing techniques..

18. Postpartum Health: Birth Boot Camp classes extend well beyond birth. We want moms and partners to be prepared and to have a plan for what their babymoon will look like. In this class, we will talk about postpartum nutrition, healing and recovery, postpartum depression, breastfeeding, and even SEX!

19. Instructors Located Nationally & Internationally: Birth Boot Camp has instructors throughout the United States and even in Canada and Germany.

20. Amazing Statistics: In 2014, Birth Boot Camp students had AMAZING births! Only 14% of students had cesareans, which is less than half of the national average. 86% of moms had vaginal births, 73% of which were unmedicated. Birth Boot Camp’s stats speak for themselves. This curriculum trains and prepares couples to birth confidently.

If you are looking for a childbirth class in the San Antonio area, contact us for more information on our Birth Boot Camp classes. 

Warming the Mother: A Use for Placenta Broth

Placenta Encapsulation Services
In China, it is common for a postpartum mother to only eat and drink warm foods and beverages. It is thought that a new mother is cold for the first 40 days postpartum. According to TCM, a postpartum woman is cool because she has lost Qi (the life force) due to loss of blood. In order to return her body to homeostasis, we must warm the mother by only giving her stews, broths, tea, etc. By steaming the placenta, a tonifying or warming food, it helps the mother return to baseline.
photo courtesy of Justin Tsucalas.
photo courtesy of Justin Tsucalas.
I encapsulate placentas using the Traditional Chinese Method.  The steaming process creates a rich broth loaded with the vitamins and minerals that can aide in mom’s recovery.  In an effort to give the mother the benefits of her placenta before her capsules are even completed, I make my clients a cup of tea with the leftover placenta broth.  By doing this mom is able to reap every last drop of the placenta’s benefits and nothing is wasted. By drinking the tea, she is able to warm her body, contributing to her recovery.  Many of my moms have even noticed a difference in their milk supply after consuming the tea.  The placenta broth may also be frozen in ice cube trays and added to soups or other drinks.

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