Natural & Nutritious Formula Options: Resources & Info for Families Needing a Healthy Alternative to Breastmilk

Natural & Nutritious Formula Options: Resources & Info for Families Needing a Healthy Alternative to Breastmilk

Before I had children, I would have said that breastmilk is the absolute best choice for feeding a baby, and that a mom should try everything possible to breastfeed…and that if you tried hard enough, you would be able to succeed. However, once I entered the realm of motherhood, and actually experienced the things I had only previously read/observed/seen, I have learned that ideals are not always reality. My youngest baby just turned 10 months old, and I have once again faced the challenges of tongue-ties, latch issues, lack of sufficient supply, colic, fussiness, food sensitives, and more. Some of those subjects will be material for future posts, but I mention them to give you the background as to what inspired this post. As we have worked through these challenges, my husband has encouraged me that perhaps the things we learned will benefit others, so this is an attempt to do just that!

If you’ve struggled with nursing challenges, you totally understand the emotional roller coaster that is included. For some reason, the inability to feed and nurture your baby via the way in which you were designed to nourish him cuts deeply into our mother-hearts. As we tried one thing after another, I also felt like I was mourning a loss…I WANTED to nurse my baby, and I wanted to feed him the best, and know that I was nurturing him both emotionally and physically. I mean, breast milk is the best, right?!? And on top of those emotions (and who is not hormonal and emotional when you have a baby, aren’t sleeping, and are worried about your baby’s health?!?), there are all the questions about what to do, and if you’re going to supplement, what are you going to use??

This is where I want to help! While I know it can take a while before you can look at your situation objectively, there ARE other options available by which you can feed your baby and know that you are giving him something that is actually going to help him thrive and will meet his nutritional needs. I think that moms in the midst of feeding challenges have enough on their plates that they don’t need to add sorting through all the supplement information on top of it. My hope is that I can give you some pointers, and put some information at your fingertips in order to simplify your quest to figure out what is best for you and your baby.

As I spent time researching different options available, here are the three categories that I would recommend checking out:

  1. Weston Price Foundation Home-Made Formula: (find info here) This is what I used with my second child, who had similar nursing challenges and needed to supplement. At the time of his baby-hood, we lived in a rural area and had access to organic, raw milk from a dairy I trusted. He did really, really well on this formula, and I liked the fact that I knew exactly what was in it, and that it was REAL food. It took a bit to get the rhythm down and purchase all the ingredients, but once the pantry was stocked it didn’t take long to whip it up, and was actually a low-cost option long term. When he reached 6 months he used this formula exclusively until he was eating table foods, and was healthy and happy.  Once I used this, I figured my quest for a good supplement was over, but I didn’t count on the individual baby involved! My current baby could not tolerate it made with the milk I had available, and was also unable to tolerate it when made with goats milk. So the research continued as I tried to figure out how to help THIS baby and his own personal needs…
  2. Mt. Capra Goat Formula: (Info here) As I was continuing to research my options, I came across a number of recommendations for this formula. While it is not made using raw milk, you still assemble it yourself according to a specific recipe, thus allowing you to know exactly what it is in it, and still sticking close to the “real food” ideal. There is a kit available to simplify the process of acquiring all the ingredients, and the Mt. Capra website supplies high quality resources. After my baby didn’t tolerate the goat’s milk, I decided against the investment needed to try this, but it still looks like a really good, healthful option, and I’ve heard that there are many happy, thriving babies using this formula!
  3. European Formulas: I eventually stumbled across the realm of imported baby formulas from Europe. I’ll warn you, they aren’t cheap. And they are powered (that part still bugs me if I think about it long-what about feeding your children REAL food?!?). But they have been a literal answer to prayer for me and this baby. One of my big objections to using traditional formula is the fact that most of them are sweetened using corn syrup solids. Corn syrup!?!? We don’t even eat that ourselves, so why would I feed it to my little baby? And then there are the issues of soy, additives, and the list goes on. So I was amazed when I realized that there are several options of formula available that are made from organic milk, sweetened with lactose, have pre/probiotics, and are soy free. Instead of repeating information about these formulas myself, I’m going to include some links where you can see the brands available, along with their features and ingredients:

I will admit, too, that while powdered formula might not fit my ideal, it has been a helpful simplification to our life! My baby actually really liked the taste, and I happily observed that his diapers were hardly different in texture/smell than the usual breastmilk diapers. At 10 months (he started using formula exclusively at 7 months) he is a solid little guy that is SO much happier than he was before. There are several different suppliers in the US, and I have been happy purchasing from www.buyorganicformula.com.  Their customer service has been excellent, and my order always arrives promptly, and I’d highly recommend checking out their site. If you sign up for their mailing list, they will frequently send you coupon codes that can be quite helpful!

My happy fellow at 9 months!

My hope is that my experience and time spent searching can help to lift the load for another mom wading through her options! May you be encouraged today, and remember that you can still have a special bond with your baby AND know that you are meeting his/her nutritional needs even if you need do it in a different way than nursing.

I’d love to hear your thoughts-and what worked for you. Please feel free to comment with your own resources, experiences, stories and information-it’s great when we can help each other this way. Thanks for your contribution!

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Postpartum Home Visit in Pictures

Postpartum Home Visit in Pictures

In January, I received a request from a photo-journalism student at Penn State, who wondered if she could photograph me and some “cute babies” for a project. The day after she emailed, little Brielle made her appearance, and Brielle’s family graciously gave permission for Baidi to join us at their home for the second half of their home postpartum visit. Baidi was absolutely tickled to get to see a brand new baby, and gave us all the gift of numerous photos of our time together. For those of you who have wondered what a typical postpartum visit looks like, here’s your peek!

Generally, this visit takes place sometime between 24-48 hours after delivery, as the required tests need to be performed during this window. First mom gets attention, and we talk about how things are going, any issues/concerns, and make sure her physical condition is within normal limits. Then mom or dad checks over the birth certificate info I bring (double checking spelling and any details) while baby gets checked over.

If baby is happy, we start with the pulse oximeter screening for congenital heart defects, a newer requirement in PA for all babies.

Then comes an exam, where baby’s heart rate & respirations are listened to, skin/cord/eye condition are noted, and overall condition is assessed.

Next, baby is weighed in preparation for the newborn metabolic screening (current weight must be listed along with birth weight). Here you can see daddy holding the baby while the blood samples are collected-our hope is to keep the baby feeling safe & secure throughout the experience!

Lastly, baby is snuggled and we go over any other questions or concerns. All the necessary paperwork is gone over and a copy of the newborn exam and newborn screen info is given to the parents for their pediatrician. And all of this without the family needing to leave their own home!

A big thank you to Kelly, Daniel & Brielle for their willingness to share this experience with  you!

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And thank you to Baidi for your great photos!

Looking Back & Looking Forward!

Looking Back & Looking Forward!

As we head into 2018, I want to say thanks to each of the families we served last year. It is always an honor to be asked to care for each mom & baby, and it’s a special privilege to be present when the miracle of birth occurs. It was definitely a year full of variety, with many random & unusual situations and circumstances. Babies ranged from 6 lbs to over 10 lbs, arrived anywhere from over two weeks early to just past two weeks late (!), most came during the night (yay for cooperating with my own sleeping baby!), many were fast labors, and all the moms were amazing! Being a midwife you end up walking with families experiencing great joy as well as heartache when families have to say goodbye before they meet their little ones. There are also the situations that tax your skill and abilities, and the challenges that leave you researching and looking for answers. I am grateful for the opportunity to expand my experience an education, but I’ll also be honest and admit that I’m hoping for less of these experiences in 2018!

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Some of our sweet babies in their “born at home” onesies!

I continue to be grateful for the help of my backup midwife, Rose Marie (who took such good care of clients when I was out of town, and then later on maternity leave), and that of my assistant, Lynelle. Besides being a great assistant, Lynelle also expanded her experience when she ended up catching her first baby (my son!) just as Rose Marie arrived. That was a special surprise for her! Having a team of ladies to depend on, call when needed, and work with definitely helps to make the work of midwifery much more sustainable long-term.

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Fun birth memories with Rose Marie and Lynelle!

As we head into a new year, and anticipate the first babies of 2018 due soon, here’s a few updates:

  • We have some new resources in the library! Two NEW books were published in 2017 that are excellent reads for pregnant moms. The Positive Birth Book by Milli Hall is just what the title describes. And my new favorite pregnancy book is Mama Natural’s Complete Guide to Pregnancy & Birth. It’s a week-by-week guide that covers all the details from growth & development of baby to what you should be eating, thinking about and considering-all from a natural perspective! So far my clients have enjoyed it so much that I now own 3 copies so moms can keep it longer! We also have a copy of the “Why Not Home?” Documentary, which is available for those of you who may want that perspective as you contemplate home birth.
  • A *NEW* birth kit item: upgraded camera! While we can’t promise you professional photos (we are midwives, not photographers!), we have been delighted to add better photos for families who find that aspect important to them. A number of our families are delighted to have some better-quality photos before, during and after birth, especially if hiring a birth photographer is desired but out of reach financially. We occasionally add a third member to our team if photos are something you really want, and a number of our clients have been delighted with the result. Be sure to ask about this at your next visit.
  • New Playdates! We hosted our first mommy meet-up/playdate in the fall of 2017, and it was SUCH fun to see the families and clients that have become friends-we miss you! It was popular enough that we plan to do it again, so if you want to be alerted specifically about the next date, be sure to let me know!

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    Fun with moms and babies at our first playdate!

  • New, upgraded phone for the midwife. 🙂 I know, it’s about time! But if you don’t have my new number and are a former client (current clients all have the new # by this time!) be sure to drop me an email and ask for it!
  • And finally…a new student! Charity is just beginning to “test the waters” to see if unnamed (1) midwifery is her calling, so she’s hoping to attend births in January (as long as babies give her enough time to get here!). We’ll see where things go, but we’re excited to have Charity join our team this month!

And as always, please let me know if you have any topics or suggestions of things you’d like to see covered in future blog posts. I hope to make the website more educational for clients, and would love to have it become a helpful resource for all expectant families! Be sure to follow Gentle Delivery on facebook and instagram, as well, as you never know what news or info may pop up over there!

Blessings in 2018…until next time!

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Topics for 2018 & a Give Away!

Since my fourth child arrived in  May, I’ve been pretty quiet on this site! But now that baby has reached 6 months, and life is settling into more of routine, I’m thinking about the new year. Here’s where I need your help: I would LOVE to hear your ideas of what you would like to see covered in future blog posts! I’d like to realize my goal of one post a month throughout 2018, but I could use some input as I try to sketch out a plan for the next year. I often try to post about topics that are relevant & beneficial to my clients, and for families who are considering midwifery care and/or healthful, natural living. So send me your ideas, and topics you would like to hear more about!

And here is your incentive: each person who submits an idea (either in the comments below, or on our Facebook post with this same title) will be entered into a drawing to receive a copy of one of my favorite pregnancy/birth related books that was published this year. The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Gide to Pregnancy & Childbirth is a wonderful addition to your pregnancy and birth library. Think of it as a “natural version” of the old “What to Expect” favorite. “Mama Natural” covers everything from nutritional needs, what is happening to baby & mom each week of pregnancy, how to prepare for natural birth, pros and cons of multiple caregivers and birth locations, and so many of the questions that moms wonder about during pregnancy. I think you’ll love it, and if you don’t need it yourself, you just might have a friend that would enjoy it!

So here’s the details: submissions can be entered until midnight on Sunday, December 10, and a winner will be announced on Monday, December 11 (unless a baby changes my schedule-I’m a real life midwife, so there’s always the possibility that I may have to announce the winner later!). Entries can be made below in the reply/comments section, or you can enter by leaving a comment below the facebook post with this headline. I’m looking forward to finding out what you all want to discuss, learn and/or find out more resources about in the next year. Thanks for helping me out!

Feel free to share this with friends, so they can enter too!

Is Homebirth the Right Option for Me?

Is Homebirth the Right Option for Me?

As a midwife providing home birth services, I hear this question frequently. It is my goal to provide families with the information they need in order to make the right decision for them-home birth is not for everyone, just like hospital birth is not for everyone! Ultimately, the choice of where to give birth and which care provider to use is the responsibility of the parents seeking such services, and it’s my desire to assist you by providing accurate information that can assist you in making this decision.

Since this question is one of the foundations of whether or not to pursue working with a midwife and planning towards a home birth, I thought it might be helpful to provide links and resources that may help you in determining the answer to this question. As always, I am happy to sit down and talk with anyone who wants to ask specific questions and discuss their options in person, but I know that many of you would like to gather some more detailed information before a formal meeting. Thanks to the availability of information via the internet, great books, educational videos and more, there are many resources that you can access to learn about the potential risks and potential benefits of midwifery care, and specifically the home birth option.

FILMS & DOCUMENTARIES:

  • Why Not Home? The Surprising Birth Choices of Doctors and Nurses: This is THE current film on home birth and why some families make this choice…and this film in now available to watch online and/or be purchased for home viewing! From the description on the website: Why would doctors who attend birth in hospitals choose to have their own babies at home? What do they know about birth that others don’t? Join Jessicca Moore, filmmaker and nurse practitioner, on a compelling journey through maternity care in the United States. Told through the lens of doctors, nurses, and midwives, Why Not Home? examines the latest evidence on risks and rewards of different birth settings. The film presents a balanced and accessible view on the latest research, along with moving personal stories of medical practitioners faced with big decisions for their own growing families. Viewers are challenged to move beyond preconceived ideas, and to envision a fresh future for maternity care in America. Watch it here.
  • The Business of Being Born: This film has been out for a number of years now, but it still contains some great information on birth choices, interventions, birth locations and more. You can watch it free on youtube here.
  • Natural Born Babies: short video of several moms and dads describing what influenced them to make the choice to deliver at home. Watch here

ARTICLES:

BOOKS:

  • Your Best Birth: Know All Your Options, Discover the Natural Choices, and Take Back the Birth Experience by Rikki Lake & Abby Epstien.  An easy-to-read overview of options available to moms, this book covers all the possibilities (hospital, home, OB/GYN, midwifery care, etc.) and why different options may work best for different situations and individuals.
  • Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin. Ina May began her career as a midwife back in the hippie movement of the 1970’s. Since then she has delivered thousands of babies, and has done extensive research in the field of natural birth, and she shares her wisdom in this book. She highlights the need to make a choice of birth location in which the mom feels totally comfortable, be that home, birth center or hospital. Great information about routine procedures, tests, and how to have a healthy pregnancy and wonderful birth experience.
  • Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care by Jennifer Block. While not a very positive or light-reading style book, this one can really help you understand how medicalized maternity care has become in our country, and enables you to think through some of the routine policies and procedures that are in place in our countries hospitals. Very eye-opening and thought-provoking.

WHAT MIGHT IT LOOK LIKE?

And finally, some couples wonder about what a home birth might look like. What about “the mess”? How can it work at home, if we’ve only experienced the hospital setting? How do midwives adapt to different settings, positions and environments? How does the medical side of midwifery care happen in a home setting? These videos, pictures and personal stories can give you a glimpse of what home birth with a midwife looks like for some families:

I’d love to hear from you-what helped you to determine whether home, birth center or hospital was the right location for your birth? What resources would you recommend to help other families make their decisions? Feel free to comment below, or send me an email with your suggestions. I love hearing from my readers!

Preparing for birth-some excellent resources!

Preparing for birth-some excellent resources!

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I love collecting birth resources-be it books, DVD’s, magazines, articles-you name it! The only problem is, with the limited amount of “extra” time I have (or don’t have!), I don’t always get a chance to preview and read the resources I collect right away. And I find myself hesitant to pass along information to clients and friends that I haven’t read or previewed myself.

    This winter I’ve found myself in the remote hills of Arkansas, with more time on my hands than usual, as my husband is teaching at a small winter Bible School for young people. Keeping the children occupied is my main job here, but with the absence of our usual activities and schedule AND having all our meals provided, I’ve enjoyed the chance to finally dig into some of the resources that have been sitting on my shelves at home waiting for me to get to them.
    So, with that introduction, I want to mention a few EXCELLENT resources that would be worth any of you expectant moms, or anyone wanting to learn more about birth, to take time to watch or read. I can’t believe I’ve had these around this long and didn’t realize what treasures they were!
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The first one I’ll mention is the Parent Class DVD by Spinning Babies teacher Gail Tulley. I’ll confess that this one I have recommended to clients as I’ve taken one of her classes in person myself, and know she has alot to offer. But I didn’t realize how many jewels were in this educational presentation! It was a great refresher to me as a midwife, as Gail does and excellent job of teaching you how to help “make room” for your baby in your pelvis, and help your entire body to function more efficiently with less discomfort. The only drawback with this DVD is that, while she is teaching this class to a participating group of expectant couples, she does get fairly technical with some of her explanations. But in the long run it is helpful, as I think it helps you to get a better idea of WHY some of her positional suggestions and exercises help to eliminate certain issues. Using a great variety of teaching aides, examples, charts and object lessons, Gail shows you how exactly the uterus, baby, brain and body all work together, and how you can help. This would be great DVD for an expectant couple to watch together, or for any midwife or doula to watch in order to give you some great ideas of how to help your clients through specific issues and achieve better positioning for babies. It is well worth the $ you would need to invest, in my opinion! You can find out more about Gail, and purchase this DVD here.
    Next in my pile of resources was a book by Ina May Gaskin. If you’ve been in the childbirth realm long, you’ll recognize this name as one of the most famous midwives in the USA. Ina May has been practicing since the 1970’s, and is probably most well known for her involvement with births on “The Farm” in rural TN. People have come from all over the world to have their babies in this community that has come to be known for it’s amazing work with natural childbirth. I’ll admit that while I’ve appreciated many of the things I’ve read or heard taught by Ina May, I was still a bit skeptical of her book “Guide to Childbirth”. I think I was expecting it to have a real “back to earth” or “hippie” type flare, which I know can turn off families who are looking for evidence-based and scientific information on preparing for birth. I was in for a big surprise! Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth has been amazing. Written in an easy-to-read manner, it is full of so much helpful information. Starting with birth stories to help women realize that birth is both natural and do-able, it then proceeds to teaching you about the things you really need to know about how your body works, how to care for yourself during pregnancy, how to understand tests and the “whys” behind them, helpful suggestions for choosing both caregivers and birth locations, ways to prepare for labor, and the list goes on. I love her honest, down-to-earth style of writing, yet all of her information is based on evidence, research, and studies, and she includes citations and information for further study. If you are wanting just one book to help you understand pregnancy and prepare for birth, this one is it. And it’s not just for moms planning to birth at home-there is information in this book that would help anyone to be better prepared and ready for the amazing experience of labor and delivery.
    The last resource I’ll mention here is a DVD that was given to me by one of my clients. She had purchased it during her last pregnancy, and wanted to pass it on to other moms when she was done with it. “Practicing for an Active Birth”  is basically a childbirth class presented by Instructor Neri Choma by Birth Coach Method. While Neri could probably be a bit more dynamic in her teaching style (I’d suggest watching 30 min. at a time-the DVD is about 2 hrs. and 15 min. long), she does a very good job of helping  you to understand the process of labor and the terms used to talk about each stage, and gives couples LOTS of great position and relaxation techniques. Using charts and models, she helps you to learn how to visualize what is happening during each stage of labor, and how you might be able to help facilitate comfort and relaxation during each stage, working together as couples. While I think that it is best for couples to take a live childbirth class whenever possible, this would be an excellent option for those who might not have that opportunity in their area.
    I personally feel like much of preparing for a great labor and birth involves understanding how your body works so you are not tensed with fear of the unknown. If you KNOW what is happening, understand WHY you are experiencing certain sensations, and have IDEAS for what to do and when, you and your partner will be able to relax and work together much better. Moms (and dads!) that are prepared tend to do much better emotionally and physically through the marathon of labor. I would strongly recommend you look into any or all of these resources as ways to prepare for a wonderful experience of bringing your baby into the world.
    I’d love to hear about what worked for you. Do you have any favorite resources you would care to share with others? Tell us about it in the comments! And consider sharing  this post with your pregnant friends to help them hear about ways they can prepare for labor and birth from the comfort of their own home.
2016 Highlights for Gentle Delivery

2016 Highlights for Gentle Delivery

What a year 2016 turned out to be! I’m very thankful for the many clients I was privileged to work with, and for the many special memories that were made. When it comes to births, 2016 was extremely unpredictable, and I’ll be thankful if 2017 isn’t quite as adventurous. We had one very early baby, one very late baby, a set of twins, a baby that came so fast we didn’t make it in time (!), and about everything in between. 🙂

A few highlights and items of interest from the past year:

– Great birth team and back-up midwife:

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Rose Marie, Lynelle & Myself with twins!

I was grateful to have the ongoing help of my current student, Lynelle Martin, as well as the help, support and back-up services of Midwife Rose Marie Spicher. These ladies are great to work with! Since relocating to PA several years ago, I have really missed the network of midwives that I used to assist and work with, and Rose Marie has been such a blessing to fill this niche. I’m grateful to know that clients are in caring, capable hands during the times I need to be off-call or out of town.

 

– Opportunities to further my education: Attending one day of Midwifery Today’s International Conference in Harrisburg, PA was a great way to meet up with other

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Bridge Certificate 

midwives, listen to lectures on issues and complications during labor, and make new friends in the midwifery world. I also had the opportunity to attend the Midwives Alliance of PA Educational Retreat, where we spent two days learning about a variety of subjects such as congenital heart defect screening, perinatal mood disorders, atypical findings in newborn exams, and more. Updating my Neonatal Resuscitation Certification and CPR at the local Mt. Nittany hospital is always a great way to get better acquainted with the closest hospital in my area, and I enjoy the learning opportunities these occasions afford. Finally, towards the end of the year, I submitted the needed proof of 50 hours of continuing education credits in certain areas (pertaining specifically to emergency and complications during labor and immediate postpartum) and applied for and received my “Midwifery Bridge Certificate”. This ensures that my education and training as a Certified Professional Midwife are also up to the standards set forth by the International Confederation of Midwives to ensure competent and qualified care for women.

– Addition of CCHD screening at postpartum home visits: 

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Trying out the Pulse Oximeter

One new requirement for midwives providing out-of-hospital births in PA is that of submitting Critical Congenital Heart Disease screening result along with newborn blood screening test. This year Gentle Delivery added a Pulse Oximeter to our kit, and we’ve been successfully performing this test on all of our babies since this fall. We’re happy to be able to try to offer our moms and babies a full range of services-did you know that free hearing screenings are also now available for our clients?

 

– First Public Event: “Birth Expo 2016” & “Why Not Home?” Film Screening 

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Celebrating Birth Expo 2016

We are attempting to help educate the public on the full variety of choices they have locally when it comes to birth-this includes support (such as doulas), care providers (CNM’s, CPM’s and OBGYN’s), choice of birth location, and resources that help them to succeed in parenting (such as breastfeeding and babywearing). With these thoughts in mind, Gentle Delivery hosted the first “Birth Expo” for Centre County in July 2016. We were very excited about the support of over 30 businesses and birth professionals that came together for the day, and we’ve received alot of positive feedback from parents who found out about resources they didn’t know were available in this area. Viewing the new film “Why Not Home?” also provided a way for more families to hear about the option of home and midwife-attended birth. The big question now is whether to host something similar in 2017…if we did, would you be interested in helping to make it happen? Please contact me with your interest!

– New Resources in the Library

The library in the prenatal office continues to grow, with more books and resources added in 2016. Some of my personal favorites include “Redeeming Childbirth” by Angie Tolpin and “Your Best Birth” by Rikki Lake. Check out the list of Recommended Reading  to see all of the titles available for clients to check out.

– Gift bag for Newly Expectant Moms 

Helping moms to connect with local support services and resources is something we are passionate about! Due to being located in a university town, many of the families we interact with don’t have any family or previous connections in the area. One way we have attempted to help with this is by giving each family who comes in for an initial interview a free bag full of samples from natural-minded companies, coupons, and lots of cards, brochures and information from many area birth professionals and mommy/baby-centered support groups and businesses. If you or your business would like to be included in this welcome bag, send us an email or message and let us know!

– Our own special gift to new babies… instagramcapture_ee2d01d4-3eb4-45ec-8440-8612375dcf01

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And while not necessarily “important” news, we’ve had fun giving our babies in 2016 special onesies to commemorate their big event! I have fun taking the time to make each of these little shirts for our babies, and clients in 2017 can also look forward to this little “thank you” gift that we pass on to our families.  img_0348

Thank you for allowing us to serve you all in 2016, and blessings to each of you as you head into the new year! Remember, too, to follow this blog for future updates, “like” us on Facebook to receive current info and informative articles (Gentle Delivery), and watch for our photos of new arrivals on Instagram @gentlemidwife . We’d love to keep in touch!