Meet Ann Griggs!

BlogIcons_MeetStaffWe are pleased to introduce to you Ann Griggs, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner here at Health Foundations.  As you will learn below, Ann brings decades of experience in working with women in reproductive health and is especially passionate about helping couples achieve fertility.  Welcome Ann– we are delighted to have you with us!

Name

Ann Griggs

Ann Griggs

Role at Health Foundations

Nurse, and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

I’m hoping to utilize my respect and knowledge to help women get pregnant. I really love working with couples seeking pregnancy, and have done lots of work over 15 years in infertility. I’m especially excited to help same sex couples add children to their families.

When did you begin working at HF?

I started working in Mid-December 2014 and have been happy to learn all kinds of jobs here. I can fold laundry with the best of ‘em!!

What is your educational background/training?

I have been a RN for over 3 decades. I became certified in Reproductive Endocrinology and infertility and have worked in an infertility practice for over 17 years. I have been a Nurse Practitioner for over 15 years. I have also spent a great deal of time learning Healing Touch and other energetic healing modalities. I wrote my own degree plan at the U of M called Women’s Health and Alternative Healing Methods. It was a wonderful way to bring the varied parts of my education and experience together. And that is one of the things I truly appreciate about Health Foundations. The ability to use my expertise and to still have so many things to learn.

Where were you born and what month? Anything you want to share about your birth?

I was born in Missouri in March and I am soon to celebrate 60 glorious years! The birth story that I know is that my mom wanted to call me Barbara Ann, but my initials would be BAG, so she thought of Dorothy, but DAG didn’t sound right either. She was medicated (as many women were – although she had studied Bradley method before my older sister was born) with my birth so coming out of delivery she told my Dad that they should name me after his mother. My grandmother was named Velma, so perhaps it was an indication of my future profession—my initials are VAG!

Where have you lived besides MN?

My husband and I took an adventure and moved to California for a short time, the economy and aging parents brought us back to Minnesota, and I love it here, winter and all!

Where do you live now?

AnnGriggs2My husband and I live in St. Paul, down by the river and love the closeness of everything!

Describe your family.

We have two sons, one lives here in St. Paul with his wonderful wife, and one son is an actor living around the country, where the jobs are! He is building himself a Tiny House, so we have fun keeping up with him and traveling to see his work.

What is one of your favorite things to do when you are not at Health Foundations?

I have a 4 harness loom and a spinning wheel. I have been spinning consistently for a year and half, and have started to use my yarns in knitting and hopefully soon the loom.   My husband is also an actor so I see lots of theatre.

What is one of your favorite restaurants in Saint Paul?

We used to live close to The Nook, and also like Shamrocks – easier to get a table!

If you could get on a plane tomorrow and travel anywhere in the world for free, where would you go?

I’ve always wanted to travel extensively, so any place would be a joy! I someday want to get to New Zealand. One of our favorite places in CA was Carmel Beach and Big Sur.

AnnGriggs1What inspired you to get into your field?

My mom was interested in going to the Frontier Nursing program. She would have been a circuit rider, delivering babies in cabins. I had always heard that growing up. When I went into Nursing I thought I wanted to be a midwife. Then my own children came along and time and expense kept me from seeking that. I like working with women, and especially love the education part of my positions.

What do you love about Health Foundations?

I really like the respect and acceptance I have received from all the people that work here. I spend a lot of time with Dr. D. Hartung, and have been so impressed with his gentle spirit. I also am so pleased to share what I know and discover how much I still have to learn.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Fertility Treatment at Health Foundations Helps Many Conceive

While Health Foundations is best known as a birth center, we also help couples before they get pregnant. We help couples who are just beginning the pregnancy journey to optimize their health to create the best foundation for a healthy pregnancy. We also offer this and additional services to those couples who are experiencing challenges in getting pregnant.

We have had great success with many of our fertility supporting techniques. One in particular has helped many Health Foundations women get pregnant. This procedure, offered here at Health Foundations, is called intrauterine insemination, or IUI, and is a type of artificial insemination. Intrauterine insemination is a fairly simple and safe procedure, and the risk of serious complications is low. It is also less invasive and less expensive than in-vitro fertilization and carries fewer side effect risks.

In the past, artificial insemination involved placing washed and concentrated sperm (those with good motility) inside the vagina, but in this newer procedure—which has a higher rate of success—the sperm is placed directly in the uterus. This procedure is timed with the menstrual cycle (around the time of ovulation) with the goal of having the sperm swim into the fallopian tube and fertilize a newly released egg.

The procedure

An intrauterine insemination procedure itself takes only a minute or two and requires no medications or pain relievers. During this procedure, you lie on the exam table and a speculum will be placed into the vagina, as it would during a normal Pap test. A vial of the small sample of healthy sperm is inserted into the vagina, through the cervix and into the uterus using a flexible tube (catheter). The catheter is then removed followed by the speculum. You may lie back for a brief period, then you can get dressed and go about your normal activities. Some women experience light spotting for a day or two, but other than that no other side effects are common. Women then wait two weeks before taking a pregnancy test. If the procedure is not successful on the first try it may be repeated another three to six months before other therapies are recommended.

Who it may help

Intrauterine insemination is most appropriate for women/couples in the following cases:

  • For women/couples using donor sperm.
  • Unexplained fertility challenges, used often as a first treatment (sometimes in conjunction with ovulation inducing medications)
  • Mild male factor fertility challenges, such as lower sperm concentration, lower sperm motility, or sperm size and shape abnormalities.
  • Cervical factor fertility challenges—for example, overly thick cervical mucus can impede the sperm’s movement into the uterus; IUI bypasses the cervix, which can help couples conceive.
  • Semen allergy

If you would like to learn more about intrauterine insemination or other fertility support offered at Health Foundations, please call to schedule an appointment at 651-895-2520.

Health Foundations Unique Model of Integrative Care

Your body. Your baby. Your Birth. Your Way.

This statement is more than just our slogan—it is the cornerstone of our philosophy of midwifery care for pregnant women and their families. Our families are truly at the center of everything that happens here at Health Foundations. We exist to serve you—to empower you to make the best informed choices for your family and your future.

While it’s true that we offer comprehensive midwifery care for expecting families, our center is unique in that we combine mainstream medical therapies with complimentary and alternative medicine—the best of both worlds, all under one roof. We serve individuals and families through a variety of healing modalities. We also serve our clients beyond the pregnancy, birth and immediate postpartum stages.

This integrative care model is unique in the Twin Cities, and the nation. It is truly a rare birth center that offers so many healing services in one place. Health Foundations is renowned nationally as practicing a model that many strive to emulate.

We believe this model of care best meets the needs of our families and our community. And we are so thrilled to offer so many wellness services under one roof that we wanted to tell you all about them today.

In addition to our top-notch midwifery care,

We help couples via fertility and conception support.

We help couples before they get pregnant. Conception support can set up a couple for the healthiest start to a pregnancy. The couple need not have any prior difficulty with conception to seek this service. This is all about optimizing the health of both future-parents so they can have the best start. Think of this like preparing the soil before a seed is planted—a little preparation can go a long way!

We also help couples that have been trying to conceive but perhaps have encountered bumps along the road.

Our fertility and conception support combines the best of conventional medicine—blood work and other diagnostics, for example—with naturopathic and other alternative medicines, as well as nutritional support. This combination offers couples comprehensive support as they begin (or continue!) their journey into parenthood.

Read more about our preconception planning services here.

We offer naturopathic care.

We offer naturopathic care for all adults and children.

Naturopathic physicians, or NDs, combine the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science. Founded in traditional healing practices, naturopathic medicine values holistic, proactive prevention and comprehensive diagnosis and treatment. Naturopathic doctors promote the body’s inherent ability to restore and maintain optimal health.

NDs treat all medical conditions and can provide both individual and family health care. Here are just some of the common ailments they treat:

  • Allergies
  • chronic pain
  • digestive issues
  • hormonal imbalances
  • weight problems
  • respiratory conditions
  • heart disease
  • fertility problems
  • menopause
  • adrenal fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome
  • cancer
  • fibromyalgia

Here at Health Foundations, Dr. Amy specializes in women’s health, fertility and pediatrics. You can learn more about our naturopathic care here.

We offer well woman visits.

You don’t have to be pregnant, or even of childbearing age, to utilize our well woman services. We offer pelvic exams and Pap smears, as well as serving women who have specific health concerns that may benefit from gynecological, obstetric or surgical care. Currently our staff OB-GYN, Dennis Hartung, is offering well woman care. You can learn more about our women’s health services here.

We offer pediatric care.

Whether or not you birthed at the birth center, you can take advantage of our pediatric services. The well-loved, compassionate, and skilled nurse-practitioner Lindsey Deeb of Dakota Pediatrics sees patients at Health Foundations every week. We offer well child visits as well as visits when there is a specific health concern.

We offer chiropractic care. 

We offer chiropractic care for pregnant women, as well as children and other adults. The amazing Amber Moravec of Naturally Aligned Family Chiropractic see patients at Health Foundations weekly. She offers terrific care at an affordable price and can make a huge difference in your family’s health.

We offer acupuncture.

We offer gentle and intuitive acupuncture for both pregnant and non-pregnant members of your family. This even includes kiddos! We offer non-needle techniques that are excellent for little ones. Our acupuncturist specializes in pediatrics and women’s health.

We offer craniosacral therapy.

Craniosacral therapy (CST) is a very gentle technique that works to help the body’s natural healing mechanisms by relieving stress on the central nervous system. Using extremely gentle touch, the practitioner evaluates the craniosacral system for restrictions and initiates a release to allow the body to correct itself. Craniosacral therapy is great for pregnant women, newborns and children, and adults with a variety of healing goals.

We offer yoga.

We have offered yoga here at Health Foundations for many years. Recently we partnered with Blooma yoga to offer regular yoga classes in our beautiful upstairs gathering space. Call us to learn more!

We offer classes, support groups and community events.

Building and supporting community is one of our highest values at Health Foundations. We offer childbirth education classes as well as two support groups that are free and open to the public: Mama’s Milk hour for mamas and their babies, and New Mom’s group. We frequently host community events including holiday and seasonal celebrations.

We are here to serve and support our community in a variety of ways that all seek to empower and heal individuals and families. Please call us to learn more about any of our services: (651) 419-3569.

Welcome Dr. Dennis Hartung!

BlogIcons_MeetStaffWe are so thrilled to introduce you to the newest member of our team: Dr. Dennis Hartung. Dr. Hartung joined our practice in January 2015. Many consider Dr. Hartung a legend in the Twin Cities birth community. He has a reputation not only for being a stellar OB/GYN, but also for being very supportive of natural birth and very empowering of the women and families under his care. He is appreciated by many of his patients for his remarkable calm, caring, approachable, attentive, and down-to-earth bedside manner and incredible skill. Welcome Dr. Hartung.

dr.hartungimage-1

What is your role at Health Foundations?

I am an OB/GYN physician. I see patients that need care for their birth at the hospital, but who would like to be seen at Health Foundations. I also offer well woman and gynecologic care, including managing surgery for those who need that as part of their GYN care.

What is your educational background/training?

I received my B.A in Biology at Boston University in Massachusetts. I later earned my Medical Degree at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. I received further OB/GYN training at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Where were you born?

I was born in Billings, Montana in June 1958. I was born in a hospital and don’t know a great deal of detail about my own birth. I heard that my mom did not have a name picked out for me and that she named me after her OB.

Has anyone ever named a child you’ve helped deliver after you?

Not to my knowledge!

Where have you lived beside Minnesota?

I have lived all over the place! Growing up, my dad’s work took us from Billings and Bozeman, Montana to Yuma, Arizona. After my parent’s divorce, we moved west to Salem, Oregon. After that I moved around a lot with the Army to Clarksville, Tennessee; Hampton and Little Creek, Virginia; Brookline and Brighton Massachusetts; North Pole, Alaska (seriously); Ft Campbell, Kentucky; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Benning, Georgia; and San Antonia, Texas.

My favorite place I’ve lived has to be North Pole, Alaska. I worked for the Army as a medical doctor up there and our family just loved it there. It was colder, but my wife and I always say that Minnesota/Wisconsin feels colder much of the time in the winter. North Pole was a great place to raise our kids—we had a tightknit and very supportive community. We loved that wilderness was everywhere, all around you. Living in Alaska, you really have to adjust to the rhythms in a place where it is virtually dark 24 hours a day for a few months a year and then light for 24 hours a day for months. You could be out washing your car and realize it was 1am in the morning! But it was just a really cool place to live.

Where do you live now?

Hartung family in Hudson

Hartung family in Hudson

I live in Hudson, Wisconsin. We’ve lived here for 9 years. My wife’s parents live on the east coast and my parents on the West, but neither of their home states really attracted us—they are not particularly doctor-friendly from malpractice and other standpoints. So knowing we wouldn’t live on either coast freed us to look around. We looked in the northern US—we wanted the 4 seasons and a place that didn’t get too hot and humid. I was eligible to retire from the army at this point…so we interviewed for a job here and fell in love with Hudson. We loved the small town feel with proximity to the Twin Cities. It has been a great place for our kids—good schools and after-school activities.

Can you say a little about your family?

I have been married to Linda for 33 years, and we have three kids: Rebekah (28), John (25) and Aaron (21). My wife and I have two cats named Rue and Sega. I have a younger sister named Jani who lives in Turner, Oregon, just outside of Salem.

Dennis and wife Linda, Dominican Republic

Dennis and wife Linda, Dominican Republic

What led you to the Army?

When I was finishing up with high school, I didn’t have the financial means to go to college. My music teacher recommended I audition for the Army band as a flutist and get military college benefits. I was accepted and played flute for 6 years in the army. I received an army scholarship for my education with the expectation that I would serve the army as a doctor when I was done. I spent about 12 years as a student/resident and then about 11 years post-residency as an active duty army physician in OB/GYN care.

Dr. Hartung at military trauma course in medical school

Dr. Hartung at military trauma course in medical school

What is one of your favorite things to do when you are not at Health Foundations?

I am a flutist and still play regularly at church and other times/places that I can. I love gardening, hiking, and canoeing.

Linda and Dennis, annual fundraising gala at church

Linda and Dennis, annual fundraising gala at church

What is one of your favorite restaurants in Saint Paul?

Pizza Luce

If you could get on a plane tomorrow and travel anywhere in the world for free, where would you go?

Ireland. My wife and I went there for our 25th wedding anniversary and were delighted by it. We want to go back sometime.

What inspired you to get into your field?

Being present for the birth of my daughter—our first baby. Our daughter was born while I was in college. We had a hospital birth with midwives and our care was much like what is offered at Health Foundations. Watching my wife go through labor (and later holding my newborn girl skin to skin) had a profound impact on me and really influenced my later decision to become an OB/GYN. At first, when I started college, I thought I wanted to become a dentist because I was fascinated by dental instruments. However, I spoke with some dentists during my college years and they really discouraged me from pursuing dentistry. Then I thought I wanted to go into surgery but I didn’t enjoy my surgery rotation during residency at all. When I had my OB rotation—by this time we had also had our middle son—I just knew that this was a good fit for me and that I wanted to serve women and families as an OB/GYN. 

Hartung family, Dominican Republic

Hartung family, Dominican Republic

 

What is your philosophy on birth?

A woman’s body can do it. Let’s approach it allowing normal physiology to take place without fussing. Then if there are difficulties, begin a stepwise intervention to facilitate a healthy birth, for mom and babe.

What do you wish all Health Foundations families knew? 

THEY CAN DO IT!

What piece of advice or wisdom can you share with pregnant or new mama readers?

In our culture, unsolicited advice and “birth stories” are often told to moms-to-be. People don’t mean to be rude, they often just don’t know what else to say. Humor them, thank them and then let your body do what it was designed to do. Surround yourself with the support you need to get through it.

Ten homeopathic remedies for the postpartum period

homeopathic-remedyHomeopathy is safe and gentle energetic medicine used to support our bodies, minds and spirits from the inside out. Homeopathic remedies are available at local health food stores including Whole Foods and local co-ops. Over the counter dosages of the following remedies (at 10x to 30x) can be used to treat issues that may arise after birth (follow directions on the bottle or given by a care provider). Dr. Amy and Monica at Health Foundations are both trained in naturopathic medicine and can also advice on appropriate remedies for you or your family.

Here are ten homeopathic remedies that may help women after birth, as they heal physically and adjust to the intense transformation they’re undergoing. Many of these are great for mood disturbances that can come after birth.

Arnica

Arnica is commonly used for bruising and can aid in healing the perineum and other tissues after birth. It can also be used for afterpains and uterine cramping that can occur with nursing.

Bellis Perennis

This homeopathic remedy can be used in the postpartum to treat abdominal symptoms. It too can be helpful for bruising and injury related to birth, as well as afterpains. It can also support healing after a tear. It may help women who have had a C-section.

Sepia

Sepia is one of the best remedies for assisting women experiencing hormonal changes, making it great for the postpartum period. It can be especially helpful in women experiencing the baby blues or even postpartum depression—those who may feel irritably, apathetic, resentful, or burdened. Women who benefit from this remedy may also feel indifferent to the birth experience and have trouble bonding with the baby. This remedy can also help with pelvic weakness or uterine prolapse.

Phytolacca

This homeopathic remedy can be helpful for issues arising with breastfeeding, including engorgement, painful nipples, and plugged ducts.

Natrum muriaticum (Nat Mur)

This remedy can be helpful when a woman is experiencing feelings of disappointment about the birth experience or overall outcome. It can help when one feels irritation at other’s attempts to console them even though they are sad. Women needing this remedy may also get headaches or heart palpitations when depressed.

Pulsatilla

This remedy can aid women who are feeling emotionally sensitive and prone to tears in the postpartum. These women may feel needy and insecure, wanting constant affection, reassurance, and nurturing. Getting fresh air and avoiding warm stuffy rooms can help. Finding a way to express/release the emotions in some way also greatly assists women experiencing this heightened sensitivity in the postpartum.

Phosphorus

This remedy is good for women who are experiencing anxiety and fear that something bad will happen to themselves, the baby, or others. This woman may have a hard time being alone. Many women who experience these fears and anxieties in the postpartum also experience heightened sensitivity to stimuli and exhaustion.

Calms Forte

This is a wonderful and very gentle sleep aid, helpful for women who are exhausted but having trouble sleeping and adjusting to their drastically altered sleeping rhythms.

Calcarea carbonica

This remedy can help women overwhelmed in the postpartum. For thes women, weakness and fatigue may lead to depression, anxiety, insomnia, and nightmares. A person who needs this remedy often feels sluggish, cold, and easily tired by exercise.

Cimicifuga

This remedy is for emotionally and hormonally based depression. A woman needing this remedy may feel “a dark cloud” has crept over her life and that nothing is right. Anxious and low-spirited, she may begin to believe she is incapable of caring for the baby. Alternatively, she may become excitable and talkative, saying and doing irrational things.

If you are dealing with challenging emotional or physical symptoms after birth, please reach out and connect with your care providers and your personal support team of friends and family, who can all help you.

A Brief (and Fascinating) History of Breastfeeding and its Alternatives

Madonna-Child

Painting by Artemisia Gentileschi

Breastfeeding has never been without cultural commentary. Breast milk is arguably one of the most provocative of bodily fluids—we do not feel as passionate about urine, sweat, snot, or tears—and yet breast milk is a biggie. Since the beginning of time, breast milk has been revered…and has been a substance of great contention. The history of breastfeeding is fascinating, especially seen in the context of our current culture about breastfeeding.

Breastmilk has been revered since ancient times. In Classic Greece, the milk of a Greek goddess was thought to confer immortality to those who drank it. It was Hera’s breastmilk that made Hercules invincible. It was Hera’s breastmilk that formed the Milky Way itself (so the story goes). The Mother Mary was exempt from sex, pain in childbirth, and perhaps many bodily functions (at least as the story goes)—and yet she breastfed. Baby Jesus at the breast of Mary has been one of the most popular and powerful artistic images for millennia.

Painting by Leonardo DaVinci

Painting by Leonardo DaVinci

In ancient Egypt, wet nurses were exalted, despite their station as servants. They were invited to royal events. The children of royal wet nurses were considered kin to the king. In the great tale of Odysseus, only two individuals recognized the protagonist after his long absence from home—his loyal dog and his wet nurse. History has long recognized and exalted the special nature of the breastfeeding relationship.

But history has also complicated the breastfeeding relationship by adding cultural and ethical baggage to what is a biological function. We all know the current conditions around which our babies are fed—the importance given to breast milk, the push for formula by some and the rejection of it by others, the judgments that are made about women who want or don’t want to breast feed, women who can and cannot breastfeed, women who love and women who loathe breastfeeding, women who breastfeed a short while and those who nurse for years. It all comes highly charged.

And this high charge is nothing new. Formula vs breastmilk may be the contemporary dichotomy of choice (with a long list of subtler but equally divisive nursing nuances), but there have long been alternatives to a baby nursing at his or her mother’s breast.

We think of formula as a relatively new invention, but seeking breastmilk substitutes has long been a human enterprise (however unsuccessful many of those attempts). Breast-shaped clay bottles have been found in ancient sites in Europe that date back to 3500BC. Some historians believe that cows and goats were actually domesticated for the reason of providing a human breast milk substitute to infants. Babies may have suckled directly from these animals or been given human-fashioned devices very roughly akin to our modern baby bottles. Cow and goat milk substitutes largely fell out of favor when people learned that babies do not thrive on these human milk alternatives. Records from 18th century Europe, for example, show that babies given milk from these animals early on suffered greater rates of diarrhea and death compared to those fed human breast milk.

Animal shaped ceramic feeding bottle from Regensburg, Germany, ca. 1350–800 BCE

Animal shaped ceramic feeding bottle from Regensburg, Germany, ca. 1350–800 BCE

In addition to the long search for human milk substitutes, history shows us a long storied use of proxy milk givers—the practice of a woman other than the child’s mother nursing the child. This practice—called wet-nursing—is ancient and was one of the few ancient professions open exclusively to women. While not a common or accepted practice in the West today, wet nurses were once so popular that they had to advertise their services and compete for business. In 16th century England, how-to books were published for new parents about how to hire a wet nurse and what attributes she should possess. In Renaissance Florence, wet nurses gathered in public squares to sing songs in promotion and celebration of their services.

The use of wet nurses began in the upper classes; but, like many elite trends, it trickled down to the masses. (Formula use followed a similar trend.) By the 1600s in Europe, over half of all women were sending their babies off to be nursed by other women paid for such a service. In 1780, less than 10 percent of all Paris-born babes were nursed by their mothers, according to one historian. Expensive wet nurses even sent their babies off to be nursed by cheaper wet nurses so they could keep their supply for paying customers.

The Wet Nurse, c.1802, by Marguerite Gerard

The Wet Nurse, c.1802, by Marguerite Gerard

Why such popularity in wet nurses? Historians postulate many reasons for the rave. Some argue that men did not wish for their wives to breast feed for a gamut of reasons. One, it “ruined their maidenly bosoms.” Two, it took women and their affections away from men. Three, nursing was understood to compromise a woman’s fertility—the more a woman lactated the fewer babies she made. Men seeking progeny and heirs became great critics of lactating wives. There were also superstitions that intercourse somehow tainted breastmilk, another reason for a lack of support for breastfeeding.

As with so many popular trends, there came a backlash against the use of wet nurses. Come the late 1700s/early 1800s—as part of the reform movements that swept across the social landscape of Europe and the United States—many women and men were calling for a return to in-home breastfeeding of babies by their own mothers. It was even billed as a feminist issue, though women still bore the brunt of this new creed—where once you were not a “good enough woman” if you DID breastfeed; now, you were not “good enough” if you DIDN’T nurse your babes. (Sound familiar?)

In 1793, the French declared that women who did not breastfeed were ineligible for welfare. In 1794, the Germans took it a step further and made it a legal requirement that all healthy women breastfeed their babes. By the early 1800s, elite women were bragging about their commitment to breastfeeding. Ah how the tides do change.

Victoria Era breastfeeding

Woman breastfeeding in Victorian Era

Though wet nursing has never regained popularity, similar themes have risen and met their demise in times since. The 20th century equivalent came with the advent of infant formula. Elite men and women again led the charge. Formula has historically been both hailed and rejected. At one time, formula was considered superior to breast milk in purity and nutrition. Later it was condemned as a harmful substitute for human milk. Other arguments swirl around these, many of which we know well for we still swim in these cultural waters.

porch nursing

Original source unknown

The sway between breastfeeding and formula use has been striking in the United States in the last hundred years or so. Prior to 1930, most all mothers nursed their babies. By the early 1970s, only 22 percent of mamas breastfed, and most only for the first few weeks of life. Today, breastfeeding rates are on the rise. In 2011, 79 percent of newborn infants were breastfeed. Though the World Health Organization currently recommends babies breastfeed for 2 years, many nursing pairs do not breastfeed that long. Of infants born in 2011, 49 percent were breastfeeding at 6 months and 27 percent at 12 months.

WPA PSA

Women throughout all of history have been subject to the cultural ideals and mores of the current day. All women throughout time have done their best, given the constraints of work, responsibility, familial and social expectations, desire, health, and ability.

Florence Owens Thompson (mother), taken in 1930s in Nipomo, California

Florence Owens Thompson (mother), taken in 1930s in Nipomo, California

Please note that this article does not attempt to be exhaustive in covering of breastfeeding’s history, which is certainly a topic that could be covered in MUCH greater detail. This article does not cover historic breastfeeding trends worldwide, but rather, primarily focuses on Western culture, and even within this sphere of focus, much is surely uncovered.  We invite you to delve further into this rich history should you so desire and share with us your interesting findings!

The information in this article is largely based on a chapter from Natalie Angier’s phenomenal book “Woman: An Intimate Geography.” For all those who love and care for the female body, this book is an incredibly insightful and valuable read.

Shorten Labor by Eating This Fruit

Did you know that you can increase your chances of a shorter and easier labor just by adding a particular fruit to your diet in the last few weeks of pregnancy? One study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that women who ate dates in the last 4 weeks of pregnancy dilated faster and had faster labors compared to those that did not consume dates.

dates

The Study

The date and pregnancy study was carried out at Jordan University of Science and Technology, who studied 114 women from February 2007 to January 2008. The date consuming group (69 women) consumed at least 6 date fruits per day in the last 4 weeks of pregnancy compared to the non-date consuming group (45 women) who had none. The two groups were similar in terms of gestational age and maternal age.

The date consuming group were more dilated upon admission to the hospital, had a higher proportion of intact membranes, a greater rate of spontaneous labor, a lower rate of induction, and an average of 7 hours shorter labor compared to the non-date consuming group.

The researchers concluded that eating dates in the last month of pregnancy can reduce the need for induction and augmentation of labor and may shorten the overall duration of labor.

Researchers believe that something in the dates mimics the hormone oxytocin, a hormone involved in labor, among other things.

Dates

Date fruit (phoenix dactylifera) comes from a date palm tree which has long been cultivated for its fruits. Date fruits (which contain a hard seed inside) can be soft or dried and enjoyed in a number of ways. Dates are a terrific source of potassium and also contain sugar, protein and a number of vitamins and minerals. They can serve as a great natural sweetener. Dates can be stored in a glass jar in a cupboard or in the fridge.

Date Recipes

Date Energy Balls

These vegan and paleo energy balls are a quick and easy treat, perfect for snacking! These would also make great labor snacks.

Makes: 24

Ingredients

  • 2 cups walnuts, or other nut/seed of choice
  • 1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 2 cups soft Medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 T coconut oil
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 1 t vanilla extract

In a large food processor, process the walnuts and coconut until crumbly. Add in remaining ingredients and mix until a sticky, uniform batter is formed. Scoop the dough by heaping tablespoons, then roll between your hands to form balls. Arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then place in the freezer to set for at least an hour before serving. Store the balls in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for an even longer shelf life.

You may also roll them in shredded coconut or cocoa powder before chilling.

Date Walnut Bread

Ingredients

  • ½ cup blanched almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • ⅛ teaspoon celtic sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 large Medjool dates, pitted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped

In a food processor, mix together almond flour and coconut flour. Add salt and baking soda. Next add the dates until mixture resembles coarse sand. Add eggs and apple cider vinegar. Lastly, pulse in walnuts. Transfer batter to a mini loaf pan. Bake at 350° for about 28 to 32 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for 2 hours before removing.

Chocolate Cranberry Power Bars

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cups pecans, lightly toasted
  • ¼ cup cacao powder
  • 15 large medjool dates, pits removed
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 10 drops stevia
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
  • ½ cup dried cranberries (you can add more if you like)

Blend pecans and cacao powder in food processor until combined and coarsely ground. Add in dates and process until blended into dry ingredients. Process in vanilla, stevia and agave until well combined. Stir in dried cranberries with a spoon.

Press mixture into an 8 x 8 inch baking dish. Freeze for 1 hour, or until firm, then cut into 16 squares. Enjoy!