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.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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.

Meet Alicia Smith, Acupuncturist!

Aliciapic

Fast facts
Specialties: pediatric conditions, women’s health
Styles: Five Element acupuncture, pediatric acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Where are you from?
My home town is Appleton located in Central Wisconsin. Although, I feel I am from northern Michigan too.

Where do you live currently?
I live in St. Paul in the same neighborhood as the clinic with my husband Rudy and dog Chewie.

Tell us a little about your education.
I completed my premed course work at Northern Michigan University and earned an Associates Degree. Then I studied at Bastyr University in Seattle and completed a Bachelors of Science in Natural Health and a Masters of Science in Acupuncture. I have completed specialized trainings in pediatrics and women’s health, and other complementary modalities such as hypnotherapy and flower essences.

I love my school, Bastyr! It is so fun to work with fellow Bastyr Alumnae here at Health Foundations.

Why did you become an acupuncturist?
To offer healthcare that I feel is needed to balance out the healthcare system. It is my mission to provide my clients with a broader understanding of health and a more lasting sense of wellbeing. Instead of the traditional disease-centered approach of conventional medicine, natural medicine applies a client-centered approach that addresses the whole person rather than simply her symptoms.

Tell us about your practice.
I specialize in pediatrics and women’s health. This means that as an acupuncturist I am intuitive and gentle. If you are needle-shy or just need to feel supported and comfortable, I am your practitioner.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
I love seeing my many kids and their mamas laugh and enjoy their treatments. I also deeply respect the practitioner-client relationship.

When I am not in the clinic, I do a lot of public speaking and writing articles. Currently, I am working on creating a radio show.

What is the biggest misconception you hear about acupuncture?
Acupuncture is not for kids! Acupuncture hurts! Acupuncture can’t help with that.

You treat kids?
Yes! I trained in non-needle techniques and gentle natural medicine that works great for the kiddos. Believe it or not, most kids really look forward to their sessions.

How do you stay healthy in your own life?
I try to stay happy! I first realize that I am human. We can be our best friend that is understanding and compassionate or we can be a judgmental and negative. When I start hearing negativity in my thought process, I make it a point to stop. Then say a couple of positive things.

I love to dance. I am looking into getting back into some local dance classes. Lastly, being by water is healing for me. Water on my skin, watching rolling waves or feeling the rainwater does it for me!

Learn more at www.acupuncture-office.com. Make appointments online or call  651-239-5856!

Meet Dr. Amber Moravec, chiropractor!

Moravec AmberToday, we chat with Dr. Amber Moravac, DC, our resident chiropractor and owner of Naturally Aligned Family Chiropractic. We are so lucky to have Dr. Amber as part of our team of wellness professionals here at Health Foundations. Read on to learn more about Dr. Amber and all the good chiropractic care can do for women, babies, kids…and beyond!

Where are you from?

I grew up in a small town in southern Minnesota called Le Center.

Where do you live currently?

I live in White Bear Lake with my husband, Andrew our sons Everett and Jackson and our daughter, Ellie.

Moravec family

Can you tell us a little about your educational background?

I pursued my four-year undergraduate education at University of Minnesota Duluth, earning a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education.  I worked for a few years then returned to school to complete my four-year chiropractic doctorate at Northwestern Health Sciences University, Bloomington, MN. One of my favorite parts of chiropractic school was learning about pregnancy and infancy…I’ve loved it from the start!

What do you like to do when you are not helping families?

Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my family and friends.  I enjoy reading, gardening and yoga.

Can you tell us a little about your chiropractic practice?

I am the owner of Naturally Aligned Family Chiropractic, PA. We are located within two distinct and beautiful Minnesota locations and provide chiropractic services: Health Foundations Family Health & Birth Center in St. Paul and Synergy Family Physicians in White Bear Lake.

There are currently two chiropractic providers.  Dr. Amber provides care at Health Foundations Family Health and Birth Center and Synergy Family Physicians and Dr. Emily Ceci provides care at Synergy Family Physicians.

Our chiropractic interest and expertise are in pre/post natal moms, pediatric care, and family wellness.  We connect well with growing families looking to improve or preserve their health.  We do mostly perform manual adjustments (use our hands) but occasionally utilize a few instruments: the drop table and hand-held activator.

You have a unique practice in that you don’t work with insurance. Can you tell us more about that?

Yes, we have a cash based practice, which means we do not bill any 3rd party insurance companies. We believe chiropractic care is different from conventional medicine. Health insurance was designed for expensive medical events or catastrophic occurrences that require medical procedures or hospitalizations. We view chiropractic care and good nutrition as tools to help you maintain your health, keep you moving and keep you out of the hospital. You CAN certainly use your HSA or FSA accounts!

Honestly, setting up our practice like this is a huge bonus to families. We are able to charge much less than other providers and families usually end up paying less than they would if they used insurance. We also don’t have the headache of chasing insurance payments, so we can just focus on what we love: serving the individuals and families in our practice.

How does chiropractic care help women in pregnancy?

In one word…Balance. Your nervous system can coordinate all functions in your body IF there is balance and proper internal communication. I think about it as running with all pistons firing. Pregnancy changes your body in lots of ways—structurally, chemically, and emotionally.

Chiropractic care can help your body adapt to all these changes. Structurally, an adjustment can help you stay moving as belly grows and weight is placed in different areas. Chemically, it impacts the way hormones flow – pregnancy is fundamentally a hormonal event – we need the right amount of each hormone in all trimesters. Being pregnant and giving birth takes an emotional toll on a body. Balance does allow your body to adapt and “be-okay” with those emotions. Although, you’ll often hear me say to give into those emotions and accept them for what they are!

What are some of the most common reasons women come to you in pregnancy?

Well, first I want to dispel a major myth: Pregnancy DOES NOT have to be PAINFUL! It’s true! Sure, we see women for low back pain, sciatic pain, hip pain, and rib pain. But we like to educate our clients to see the earlier signs of imbalance before pain arises (which is often a later symptom that something is going on!). Changes in digestion (gas, indigestion, heartburn, constipation), trouble sleeping, and signs like these can all be earlier indicators that the body is needing some support to come into balance. This is the ideal time for an adjustment!   Don’t wait until you can’t walk!

Back pain and being uncomfortable aren’t inevitable side effects of pregnancy, they are warning signs!   Only 10% of your nervous system is dedicated to pain, the rest goes to keeping you alive. So when the major functions of the body go awry, like sleep or digestion, that is a good indicator that something is going on. Pain is very motivating but we usually get a lot of signs before this.

In addition to helping women feel better in pregnancy, chiropractic can have a huge effect on a woman’s birth. If mom’s body is balanced the baby has optimal room to grow and is more likely to find a better spot in mom’s pelvis before labor starts – that makes for efficient labors.

What advice do you have for expectant mothers?

Breathe! Take these months as a chance to get to know yourself and your body. Feed it well. Move it around a bit. Take time to enjoy the simplicity of your life. I encourage moms to read a few books {on pregnancy and/or parenting} if they want, but don’t go overboard. Read up on the areas you are most interested in, but don’t add stress to your life trying to read it all! Last but not least, don’t be afraid to do things differently than your mom, sister, neighbor, or best friend. If you are confident in your decision others will usually respect you for it.

How can chiropractic help a woman during labor?

chiropractic at birthWe are super fortunate to live in a community where the midwives are really great about knowing when chiropractic support may benefit a woman in labor. I am often called to labors in cases where labor is not progressing, labor is stalled for some reason, or when baby isn’t in the right position. One thing that I think surprises people is that, many times, I spend more time adjusting the laboring woman’s neck rather than her pelvis. While that seems opposite, adjusting the cervical spine is what helps to get the right hormones going in labor so that it can progress optimally.

I enjoy being a part of a women’s labor team, but I’d much rather see mama’s in my office before they get into labor!

How does chiropractic help new mamas?

Carrying a baby on the outside isn’t any easier on your body!  It just changes the areas that are stressed.  Many moms feel upper back, shoulder, and neck pain due to increase breast size, looking down, and carrying baby.  After baby is a nice time to get adjusted to fix all things your body goes through in labor.

chiropractic care birthWhat advice do you have for new families?

• Rest, relax and have realistic expectations of yourself and your time. Adding a baby to your life, whether it’s your first or fourth, it’s a big deal! Allow it to be a big deal.

• Take help, food, and gifts from anyone willing to give them. But… be greedy with your baby. Babies need their parents. Nature designed it that way.

• I’ve become better at trusting my mama instincts more with each child. Like most things in life you get better when you practice! Don’t be afraid to assess and change the way you do things as a parent. It always feels like a work in progress.

• You can only make decisions based on the information you have at the time. If you learn something new and “wish you would have known better” don’t be too hard on yourself. You know now.

• Lastly, in the throes of parenting… Days are long…Years are short.

How does chiropractic care help babies?

Chiropractic can help babies adjust to life outside with womb as well as help them recover from the physical process of birth. Babies are sometimes in a position in the womb that creates imbalances we see once they are born. For example, babies are often born with short muscles on one side and long muscles on another given how they were positioned in the womb. This can affect how they latch, how they nurse, how their tummies feel, how they sleep and more. The birth process itself is a stressor on their small body and chiropractic can help bring them into balance early on in the newborn stage.

chiropractic for babiesChiropractic is also really great at each of the major milestones of a baby’s life. They go through so much growth and change in that first year (and beyond!). As baby’s master each new physical milestone: supporting and controlling their own head, rolling, sitting, crawling, walking—a baby’s nervous system is being wired to control and coordinate that part of their body.   We want to make sure it’s being wired correctly. Babies take a lot of tumbles too—think about how our bodies would feel going through the same—they can really benefit from adjustments that help restore balance in their growing, moving bodies.

Chiropractic has other benefits too. For example, research shows that babies who get adjusted have 200% increase in immune function.

Can you say a little about the client education you offer to your patients?

I feel like I spend a lot of time preparing people to get adjusted for the first time in my office. My background is in education and that really comes through. I feel like if people really understand why they are getting adjusted its more effective because they are able to associate the adjustment with something. Plus, when you teach someone how their body works, then we become a better team. They are better able to tell me how and under what conditions they are experiencing discomfort and I am better able to help.

I also teach my patients one or two exercises at each visit—this to me is a manageable amount of “homework” and can really help someone stay in balance or come into balance on their own between visits. It gives them a toolkit, so to speak, for discomfort that may arise at 10 pm one night and it also gives them things to work on that really support their health and their adjustments.

I enjoy talking to families about the things that are happening in their lives and their lifestyles, taking time to educate about nutrition, exercise and things like baby sleep, foods, development, and just life in general!

Meet Amanda DeVoogdt!

BlogIcons_MeetStaff

 

Amanda2Name:

Amanda DeVoogdt (de vote)

Role at Health Foundations:

Staff Midwife

Education:

  • BA in Women’s Studies and Cultural Studies (minor) at the University of Minnesota in Duluth
  • Midwifery Program Graduate (3-year program) from Birthwise Midwifery School, a MEAC (Midwifery Education and Accreditation Council) accredited school, in Bridgton, Maine.

Let’s start with some basics. 

What do you love to do when you are not at Health Foundations?

I love food- cooking it, eating it, sharing it.  One of my favorite things to do is whip up an impromptu dinner for friends or attempt a challenging recipe that’s caught my eye. Back when I had a TV, I used to watch a lot of old reruns of Julia Child on PBS and America’s Test Kitchen.

Running is also a common past time of mine. I ran a marathon once and as I crossed the finish line swore I would never do another-ha! I’m more of a 4-5 miler these days. Just enough to de-stress, get me outside and make me feel the runner’s high.

If you could get on a plane and travel anywhere tomorrow, where would you go and why?

Oh gosh, I think my travel bug has been tamed! I had lots of traveling adventures throughout my 20s, so now I’m much more of a homebody. I’d much rather take a long weekend and explore a small town in Wisconsin and camp outside than jet-set anywhere.

Do you have a favorite restaurant in Saint Paul?

Black Sheep Pizza and Mango Thai are a couple of my favorites for take-out.

Tanpopo Restaurant is the best-kept secret in St Paul and The Blue Door Pub makes a mighty fine juicy-lucy! 

When does your story with Health Foundations begin?

I started with Amy Johnson-Grass before she opened the birth center.  She was closing her private midwifery practice and had just purchased the building that is now the birth center. She very graciously took me on as a ‘volunteer’ even though I had no skills or experience- I hadn’t even been to a birth at that point!  I basically just wanted tasks so I could follow her around and see what it was like to be a midwifeJI packed boxes and organized charts and eventually I applied to midwifery school and she became my preceptor. It’s been a whirlwind ever sense.  Nothing could have prepared me for how hard and character-building midwifery school would be. I’ve been with Amy through all of my training and am so grateful for her endless patience and kindness towards me while I grew into a midwife. She’s my mama midwife- gently leading me and teaching me along the way.

After graduation I stayed on as a staff midwife and have been here ever since. I’m so proud to be one of the original staff members and to have been able to see the birth center grow and change over the years. We’ve come so far!

Amanda3Did you know before your work with Amy that you for sure wanted to be a midwife or were you just exploring a possible interest? 

The first time I heard about midwifery was in my Women’s Studies classes in college.  I was really fascinated by the profession of midwifery and by women that chose to give birth in their homes. I’m a big fan of bold women that go against the grain and stand up for what they believe in, so midwifery felt like home to me.  I had a lot of things I wanted to do in my life first though. My gypsy spirit really had to have its time before I could be ready for the life commitment that is midwifery. So I spent a lot of time traveling and working various jobs after college, but my heart was always in midwifery. I knew I would come back to it.

For me, and for many midwives, midwifery is a calling. A vocation that picks you. That’s what gets you through the sleepless nights, the long labors and the many days without seeing your family or friends. You truly have to love the work and believe that it is making a difference because it can be very challenging at times.

Tell me more about your bucket list.  What were some of the things you did to feed your gypsy spirit before becoming a midwife?

Well, I took a year off in college and moved to China to work as an English teacher for a while. I was literally fresh off the farm from rural North Dakota and plopped down in the middle-of-nowhere China.  It was my first time leaving the country and it totally blew my mind. After I finished college I took a job in The Netherlands working as a personal assistant to a woman who was pregnant at the time.  The Netherlands, specifically in Amsterdam where I was—the social norm is to have a homebirth. I was really exposed to a culture that supported out-of-hospital birth and midwifery and that had a big influence on me. Once I left The Netherlands, I took a job in South Korea and wrote textbook curriculum for a little over a year. It was a wild time. I was literally living out of a suitcase and had sold all of my belongings. I knew that I would never have a time in my life like that again- I totally took advantage of being single and free of commitments.

I’m so glad I had all of those adventures and experiences and I am also glad that it’s over!  I like hot showers and real beds too much now.

What do you know about the story of your own birth?

I was adopted when I was an infant, so my birth story was told to me by my birth mother a couple of years ago when I met her for the first time. It was a story that I had been waiting to hear my whole life and now has added importance because of my work in birth. It was very moving to hear my own birth story and it was also very moving to hear a birth story from the perspective of a birthmother. I felt like I knew my entire ‘life story’ once I heard the story of my birth and I greatly encourage all women to write about their birth experiences not only for themselves but also for their children one day.

Amanda4What do you love about working here?

My co-workers are like my family.  We have a lot of fun together and we laugh a lot.  Everyone is sharing food, stories and hugs around here.  This is a great place to come if you are having a great day, and a great place to come when you are having a bad day because everyone is going to be there to support you.

When I’m up all night at a birth and haven’t slept I am guaranteed to have a coffee waiting for me, a sandwich on the way, and someone is working to rearrange my schedule so I can get a nap in or go home early—everyone just comes together to take care of one another. That is crucial in this kind of work.

Amanda5What is your philosophy on birth?

I often find myself saying “Just do what you need to do…” during labors. I’m usually saying it when someone’s at the point where she just needs to give into the process.

Cry it out. Sing. Let’s have a dance party. Get mad. Yell. Cry some more. Just do what you need to do. Tap into that deep place and let it give you strength. Labor is an emotional journey that is different for every one. I love holding a safe space for women while they figure it all out and “do what they need to do”.

What do you love about Health Foundations families?

I love that our clients come in with thoughtful questions about their health and that they request alternative treatments for common ailments.  There are so many things that can be treated through changes in diet and natural remedies. I love sharing what I know and giving people information that they can use beyond their pregnancy.

Do you have any advice or other wisdom to share with our readers?

Chiropractic care in pregnancy is key. So is sitting up straight in the car and not reclining back in comfy chairs. “Optimal fetal positioning” is the mantra for the third trimester!

Meet Amy Johnson-Grass!

BlogIcons_MeetStaff

Today we get to know Amy Johnson-Grass, founder, director, midwife and naturopathic doctor at Health Foundations Birth Center.

Amy_birth_BabyName:

Amy Johnson-Grass

Family:

Husband Tim, and two kids, Liam (7) and Isla (5).

Amy_FamB&W

Current residence:

Saint Paul, in the same neighborhood as the birth center.

What is your birth story?

I was born in February in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.  My mother always spoke warmly about her pregnancy; she loved being pregnant and always gets a glow when she talks about it.  At the time, they didn’t let dads into the labor room, so women spent much of their labor on their own.  It’s so interesting; it’s such a difference from most women’s birth experiences today.

And of course, it was February, in a snow storm…the snow always brings the babies!

Where else have you lived besides Minnesota?

Everywhere!  Growing up, my family moved about once every year and a half to two years, so I have lived lots of places.  As an adult, I lived in Seattle for many years and Tim and I moved back to Minnesota in 2005…living in St. Paul is the longest I will have lived anywhere!  While I wouldn’t change my childhood, I love the idea of building roots in one place for our children.

What is your favorite Saint Paul restaurant?

We love Salut, just down the street from the birth center on Grand Ave.  It is our neighborhood hangout.  They know us there, know our names, our order, everything.  We love that it is walking distance from our house and their patio is the best in the summer!

If you could travel anywhere tomorrow for free, where would you go?

I’d go somewhere warm with a beach.  I love adventure and going to new places, so I am not sure where I’d go exactly, maybe somewhere new.

Amy delivering babies in Vanuatu, an island in the South Pacific

Amy delivering babies in Vanuatu, an island in the South Pacific

If you could have one super power what would it be and why?

I’ve always wanted to have the nose-wiggling power from the show Bewitched!  Just wiggle your nose, and poof!  The house is clean!  Food is made (and cleaned up after)!  The laundry is washed and folded and in the closet organized (and all the socks match)!

What do you love to do when you are not at Health Foundations?

Well, I am here a lot!  But when I am not, I really enjoy running, it is very calming.  I also really love to spend time with Tim and the kids.  The kids are really active and we spend a lot of time outdoors, year-round.  In the summer, we especially love being in the water, being on the boat, and just being outside in the sun.  I love the sun.

Amy at the Dirty Girl Mud Run-- HFBC has a team every year!

Amy at the Dirty Girl Mud Run– HFBC has a team every year!

Great, let’s shift now to Health Foundations…

What is your role at Health Foundations?

My husband Tim and I own the birth center.  I am also the director, a naturopathic doctor, and a midwife in the practice.  As a naturopathic doctor, I specialize in pediatrics and women’s fertility.

Amy_atBirth

What is Health Foundations’ ‘birth story’?

Tim and I moved back here in 2005 from Seattle.  When we returned, I opened a private practice on the other end of Grand Avenue and I was a homebirth midwife, serving local families from about 2005 to 2010.  And at the same time I was in a three-year postdoctoral fellowship with the National Institutes of Health for Complementary and Alternative Medical Clinical Research.  I also worked at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis in their Integrative Medicine Program.

In 2008, Tim and I began looking for the perfect space for the birth center.  It took a while, actually, to find this space.   We were also the first birth center to open in the Twin Cities [in February 2010] so we had to work with the city on zoning.  It took several months to work with the city on not being zoned as a hoptial. The birth center has grown in so many ways since we have opened!  We are going on our fifth year, turning five in 2015.

What is your educational background?

I did my undergraduate work at Saint Olaf, in Biology and Environmental Education.  I always knew I wanted to go into medicine, so I was initially a pre-med student.  Even though St. Olaf is small, one of my early memories of the pre-med program was sitting in a big auditorium, they said “these are the numbers you need to get, these are the tests you need to take…” and it was just a big numbers game.  That is just not me.  So I looked into other majors, such as sociology and anthropology, but everything kept bringing me back to the medicine.

At the same time, I was volunteering at a surgery unit in the hospital and we would see the same patients back again and again.  There was such a lack of education for patients so that they would make the changes needed and not have to keep coming back; so they could actually be healthy and not need so many surgeries.  So that is really what got me into naturopathic medicine, it was the philosophical difference of that education piece and the finding a root cause of things that are going on with people so that you can really make a positive and lasting difference in their health and well being.

After my undergrad, I pursued and completed a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine, a Masters of Science in Nutrition and a Certificate of Midwifery at Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington.  I am also completing a Masters of Clinical Research at the University of Minnesota.  My Clinical Research masters thesis is on the statistics of Health Foundations Birth Center for the first four years in operation!

What inspired you to get into your field?

Really it was women’s choice, and women knowing their choices and their options.  And then as time has gone on, it’s been more and more about women’s empowerment.  I see how much pregnancy, and labor, and delivery, and birth can really change a woman—who she is and how she thinks about herself.  It’s more of a self-perception than an “anyone else” perception.  But in turn how a woman thinks of herself impacts the type of mom she is, the type of partner she is… that’s a big deal.

And the other piece is the education.  That has always been huge for me.  It’s a partnership so, in our practice at least, we give our patients the information and then our families digest it, ask lots of questions, and make the best choices for them.

Amy_LaborCoach

What makes Health Foundations unique?

I think it is really unique to the Twin Cities that we are an integrative practice.  So we are in both worlds.  We understand the complementary medicine piece of herbs, homeopathy, botanicals, and counseling, physical medicine, nutrition and diet & lifestyle counseling—because that is huge.  But we also understand the conventional side of it too—medications, prescriptions, specialists and surgery.  We offer both worlds under one roof that is specifically serves women & children.

Also, I don’t think the community knows we offer fertility counseling and education for GLBT families and surrogates.  Low-tech (IUI) inseminations are done in our office, including both known donors and cryobank specimens.  This is such a special time in families lives that The Center is a welcoming and relaxed environment for these families to be.

Amy_swaddledbaby

What is your favorite thing about Health Foundations?

Truly, the community here.  It’s just amazing to see how moms and families connect with each other, either through the classes we teach, the HFBC events, Moms Group…  There is a big sense of community here.  That is really why Tim and I built the birth center was to create community.  And, as a choice for women.  Giving women choices in birth.

I also LOVE the HFBC staff of women I get to work with everyday.  I am so thankful for such an amazing group of women!

Also, I’ve been practicing in Minnesota since 2005. The first baby I delivered here was born in 2006.  So to see those kids and families grow, is the best.  I just ran into a mom at a coffee shop and her son just turned four—not so little anymore—it is wonderful to see families grow.

Amy_Birth_babybed

What is your philosophy on birth?

You know, everybody always says birth is normal, and it is—our midwives, we are truly experts in normal birth.  And that is so important today because normal is a rarity.  And knowing that birth, labor, and delivery don’t look the same for every woman is so important, to really know the range of normal and respect and allow for that.  I believe in woman’s right to have mobility and be able to eat in labor, to be in the positions that are best for them in their labor.  Its really about women and their experience.

What do you love about Health Foundations families?

The proactive role they take in their health.  And the energy and enthusiasm they bring to their care and their experiences.

What do you wish all Health Foundations families knew?

Well {laughs}, I am famous for the unpopular but important “no ice cream in pregnancy” rule!  Really, ice cream is not good for mom or baby!  It’s been so funny, because lately moms who’ve given birth with us have come back in and joked about the no ice cream rule!

Also, for new parents, I suggest choosing how you want to handle sleep before your baby hits 9 months!

Know that really, you only have so much control.  Your job in pregnancy is to exercise, and eat right, and get good sleep, and do everything you can do.  But ultimately, babies decide where they are born.

Amy_BirthBaby

Meet Monica Liddle!

We are bringing a new feature to the blog this year—a series of interviews of our own family here at Health Foundations.  We hope this will allow our prospective and current clients to get to know us a little better. We know that it can be hard to choose a care provider based simply on the credentials that come after one’s name or from a basic biography—hopefully this will give a sense not only of who we are as professionals, but who we are as people.  We feel so privileged to get to know each and every one of our families and we want you to feel like you know us a bit too. 

The first member of our team we’d like to introduce on the blog is Monica Liddle, one of our fantastic midwives.

Name:

Monica Liddle

Hometown:

Columbus, Indiana

Current residence:

Saint Anthony Park neighborhood of Saint Paul

Family:

Husband Tom, who is currently getting his Masters of Divinity at Luther Seminary, and two children Hannah (born 2004 in Duluth, MN) and Simon (2010 in East Timor).

Monica and her family (husband Tom and kids Hannah and Simon)

Monica and her family (husband Tom and kids Hannah and Simon)

Member of Health Foundations Team since:

February 2013

Monica, please tell us a little about your role at Health Foundations

I am a licensed midwife and a naturopathic doctor.  I provide comprehensive maternity care to women in the childbearing year, including prenatal, labor and delivery, and postpartum care.  I also play a supportive role in naturopathic medical care for our patients.

What is your educational background/training? 

I received my BA from University of Arizona in Tucson in 1994.  I received my degree in interdisciplinary studies in a combination of Women’s Studies, Modern Dance, and Creative Writing.  I received my Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine in 2002 and my Certificate in Naturopathic Midwifery in 2003, both from Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington.  This is where I met fellow midwife and Health Foundations owner Amy Johnson Grass. 

Tell us a little about your own birth

I was born in July 1971 in Columbus, Indiana.  I am the second child in my family.  My mom had a pretty straightforward seven-hour labor with me and had a normal spontaneous vaginal delivery (NSVD) in a hospital.

It sounds like you’ve lived in quite a few places, where have you lived beside MN?

I’ve lived in lots of places, including Indiana, Arizona, North Carolina, Washington, Duluth (Minnesota), and East Timor, an island nation in Southeast Asia.  I moved to the Twin Cities in 2013 with my family and am happy to be back in Minnesota.

Monica in East Timor

Monica in East Timor

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

I love reading stories to my kids.  That has to be one of my favorite things to do with them.  Bedtime reading includes Dr. Seuss and Busytown Books (the Cat Family) for Simon. Harry Potter is Hannah’s favorite.

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

I would definitely travel back to East Timor—I have many friends and loved ones there, not to mention, it’s warm and sunny!!!

If you could have one super power what would it be? 

I would want to fly!  And I would probably fly myself to East Timor, as mentioned.

Okay, lets get into your midwifery practice.  What inspired you to get into your field?

At the very beginning of my naturopathic medical program at Bastyr, I participated in a new student orientation interest group session on the midwifery program.  I wasn’t necessarily considering it before, but as I listened to the midwifery program advisor talk about natural childbirth, I was struck by how clearly birth was central to the naturopathic philosophy of health.  Namely, that natural birth strives to avoid unnecessary interventions in the birth process, and that solid foundations in good nutrition and positive self-care can and do support a woman’s ability to have a healthy pregnancy and birth, and a healthy newborn.

It took many months before I could actually pursue this path (after my general naturopathic curriculum), but once I began the midwifery program and started attending births, I really loved it.  It was interesting to see how the program “thinned out” as fellow students began to realize the lifestyle commitment required of midwives (namely the 24/7 on-call commitment), but this didn’t dissuade me from pursing this line of work because of how important I believe midwifery and natural health care to be.

In addition to midwifery coursework, I spent 9 months after completing my ND program working with naturopathic midwives in Seattle. Naturopathic midwives are those of us trained at US Department of Education-accredited naturopathic medical schools with doctoral degrees in naturopathic medicine AND specialty training and certification in comprehensive maternity care.   The final piece of my midwifery training in 2003 was at Bairo Pite Clinic in East Timor, working alongside Timorese midwives.

Monica with a family in East Timor

Monica with a family in East Timor

Actually, when I think back to my introduction to midwifery at Bastyr, I think the reason that it resonated so much to me is because of my experience in women’s studies as an undergrad.  I felt like my eyes had been opened to the world through women’s studies.  And then along came midwifery, and I was struck: midwifery in America is truly “radical health care for women.”  While those of us who practice midwifery in out-of-hospital settings are considered “outside the box” by American standards of maternity care, there are things to keep in mind. For example, midwives are the primary providers for childbearing women worldwide, and out of hospital settings are the norm in many places. In East Timor, over 70% of deliveries happen at home in this very rural country, and most women don’t have access to competent medical or midwifery care.

Finally, here in the US, the research bears the truth: midwifery care by trained providers both in and out of the hospital is without question a safe option for low risk women with the benefit of less interventions, good outcomes for mothers and babies, and more personal attention for individual women.

What do you love about Health Foundations?  What is your favorite part of your job?

I love working with women who are committed to serving other women with care and commitment.

I love catching babies!

And, I love when first time moms have that moment: “Oh !*%?! I can’t believe I am doing this!!!!”….and then they do it!

What is your philosophy on birth?

I feel like giving birth is a natural part of a woman’s life.  In the work I do with midwifery care, I feel like I am honoring that most essential aspect of womanhood.  And it’s really important for me and always has been to see birth as an opportunity to empower women because when women are empowered through birth, through giving birth, it can change their lives.

What do you love about Health Foundations families?

I love to witness the diversity from which Health Foundations families come, and with similar intent: for an empowering, natural birth.

What do you wish all HF families knew?  What advice or wisdom can you share with pregnant or new mama readers? 

Read Ina May Gaskin!

Practice your squats!

Trust your body!

Honor yourself and your baby.