Growing Families

Gifts You Can't Wrap & They Won't Forget

blog christmas gift expereinceIn the hustle and bustle of the season, could there be a way to skip the stores and still get a Christmas gift they will love? No, I’m not talking about online shopping! I’m talking about giving those you love an experience.

In our family, some of the most cherished gifts are things you can’t wrap under the tree. Since most of us don’t need more material goods, we enjoy giving experiences which make memories that last! 

One of my favorite gifts from my parents was a family membership to the Naperville Children's Museum for our family. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving! We thought of them every time we went there all year. 

When you give an experience as a gift, the key is finding something they will enjoy that fits in your budget. It could be something super simple like a date with you to a local coffee shop, or it could be a little more elaborate. 

Let’s look at some ideas for experiences that our loved ones may enjoy!

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Changing Expectations for those Expecting

blog changing expectations 2Pregnant moms get all sorts of questions. Is this your first? When are you due? Is it a boy or a girl? These questions are born out of excitement and anticipation, but some of these questions are not as straightforward as you may think.

Consider the question, “When are you due?” While there may be a prescribed due date, what does that mean? Can we really predict with accuracy when the baby will be born? 

There are so many factors that come into play. So, how much weight should we give these dates? And are there better methods of predicting a due date?

Let’s look at the history of how due dates are calculated and consider if our ideas about due dates are really accurate.



In the 1700’s, Hermann Boerhaave developed a method to calculate an estimated due date by studying the records of 100 pregnant women. He determined that adding 7 days from the last period and then adding nine months would result in an estimated due date. But Boerhaave never clarified whether this formula should use the first or last day of the woman’s period.

In the 1800’s Carl Naegele expanded Boerhaave’s thoughts, but he did not specify if the formula was based on the first or last date of the mother’s period either

For years doctors used the last day of the last period to calculate due dates. But by the 1900’s it became the standard to calculate it from the first day of the last period. Today this calculation is called “Naegele’s Rule.”

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For Just a Few Minutes After Birth: The Benefits of Delayed Cord Clamping

blog cord clampingThe moments after birth are amazing. You finally get to meet the precious little life that your body has brought into the world. In spite of the exhaustion from the intensity of labor and delivery, holding your baby in your arms for the first time makes it all worth it! 

Ideally, these moments will provide mom and baby time together to bond. This may include skin to skin contact and the beginning of the nursing relationship. It is an exciting time for dad and other loved ones as well, as they can now become more involved with the baby’s care. 

As the baby adjusts to the world outside of the womb, it is important to honor this transition. One way we can honor the transition is through delayed cord clamping, which allows the baby to receive all the benefits available from the umbilical cord and placenta. 

The Umbilical Cord & Placenta

Many people give little thought to the incredible jobs of the umbilical cord and placenta, but they are such crucial roles in the well being of the baby. They work together to provide functions that the baby is not yet able to do one their own.

The umbilical cord is the direct connection between mom and baby, throughout the pregnancy. A vein in the umbilical cord brings nutrient-rich oxygenated blood from the placenta to the baby, while two arteries take carbon dioxide and other waste from the baby to be purified in the placenta.  

Cutting the Cord

Since the early 1960’s, it has been standard for doctors to cut the cord seconds after birth. 

This is done by clamping the cord in two places and cutting it in between. A small part of the cord remains attached to the baby’s belly button until it dries up and falls off a couple weeks after the birth.

It was thought that early clamping would prevent postpartum hemorrhaging in the mother. This belief has since been disproved, but this practice has remained common even today despite evidence that delayed cord clamping may be really beneficial to the baby.

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The Beautiful Design of the Feminine Cycle

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It’s not often that women talk about their menstrual cycle in a positive light. There is often a negative connotation about periods as well as the emotional and physical sensations that are often experienced throughout the cycle. 

But when you understand the complicated dance of hormones that’s going on in your body, it’s actually quite amazing and gives you some really important information. I encourage all women to be empowered by understanding their cycle. They can use that information not only to know if they are fertile, but as a sign of health. Let’s take a step back and look at the amazing design of the female body! 


What to Expect During Your Period

An average flow for a period will measure around 50ml or 3T over the course of 2-7 days. Anything under 25ml is considered a scanty flow, while over 80ml is considered an excessive flow. (You can estimate your flow knowing that regular pads/tampons hold about 5ml, while super pads/tampons may hold up to 10ml.) 

Blood becomes darker when it is exposed to air, so a more rapid flow will produce a brighter red color. As the flow slows down towards the end of the period the flow may become more brownish-red in color.

Since your period is the shedding of the lining of your uterine wall, tissue from the lining of your uterus may be noticed along with the blood. You should see a mostly liquid flow, but a few small clots (up to the size of a dime) is nothing to be alarmed about. 


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Listening to Your Period

Good normal predictable periods are signs of health. When things are off with them, it is important to pay attention. Listening to what our bodies are telling us through our periods can give us valuable information. 

For example, spotting prior to your bleed likely means that your progesterone isn't high enough. And while painful cramps aren’t uncommon, they aren’t normal either and can be a sign of excessive inflammation. These things aren’t necessarily a big deal, but should be noticed. 

Our cycle is influenced by what was going on in our lives 3-4 months ago. Sometimes stressful events will give us a funky period. But if your cycle persists in being irregular, let’s talk about it. There are many things that can be done to encourage a healthy cycle and period. 


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Welcome to the World: Our Homebirth Story

birth blog cnver brighterA Trip to the Farmers Market, a Nap, a Bath, & a Walk

Saturday morning began as any other morning, except that I was 11 days past my due date. I had only ever gone 5 and 6 days past my due date with the other babies, so this was uncharted territory.

We decided to go to the Farmer's market so we could get out of the house for a little bit. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions with activity for days, so the slight contractions I was having that morning were nothing new. 

When the girls went down for naps in the afternoon, I decided to take a nap as well. This time, I continued to have some light contractions while laying down. This was new, so I figured something was starting to shift. When I woke up around 2, I sent messages to my sister (who was going to be hanging out with our kids), our doula, and the midwife to let them know that maybe something was finally happening. 
I called my parents to see if they would play with our big girls for the afternoon so I could relax. I took a bath while listening to a hypnobirthing meditation and continued to have light contractions, maybe every 10 minutes or so. 
After the bath, my husband Jared and I went for a walk around the neighborhood in the light rain. I continued to have contractions every 7-10 minutes, but they were nothing intense. I could walk and talk through them, so I figured we were still very early in the labor process. 
We picked up dinner and brought it over to my parents house. I didn't feel like eating, but sipped on a smoothie. Around 7 we headed for home. The plan was for my sister to come over to our house around 8. We set up air mattresses for both her and the doula so everyone could get some sleep, as I figured we'd be up in the middle of the night at some point once things picked up. 

Calling the Midwife

I called the midwife at 7:10 to check in and get her input on when would be a good time for her to come over. We decided that things still seemed a little early since I could still talk through contractions (but was starting to vocalize a little). She was going to finish up what she was doing and then drive over (30 minute drive) just to check in. Her assistant lives about 4 minutes from us, so she said if things were too early, she'd just go hang out there and drink coffee and wait close by for us to call. 

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Black Mamas Matter: What Maternal Health Outcomes Reveal About Racial Inequality

racial justice black mamas matterLooking at issues of racial inequality can be uncomfortable. Many people would like to believe that the world treats everyone in a fair manner. When evidence reveals that it doesn’t, we should be uncomfortable, because we shouldn’t be comfortable with injustice.

One would hope that the medical community - those there to care for your health - would be free from this inequality. Unfortunately, especially when it comes to maternal health outcomes that is simply not the case!

I understand that many things in this article may be hard to read. But if we want to truly understand these issues and make a difference, it is important to take an honest look at both where we are at as a nation and how we got there.  

In a way, I hope this article makes you uncomfortable... uncomfortable enough to respond with compassionate action! (And don’t worry, we won’t be focusing only on the problem, there will be some action points at the end of the article so that you can be part of the solution today.)

Even though it is a good thing for many of us to be in this uncomfortable discussion, I want to honor those who have been affected directly by these issues. Therefore I am issuing my first ever trigger warning.

**Trigger Warning - Racial inequality, negative maternal health outcomes, maternal mortality, medical cruelty, etc.**


The Current Truth

In the US, Black women are actually three to four times more likely than White women to die from pregnancy related complications (1). Their babies have twice the rate of preterm deliveries and low birth rates (2). It is important to note that research has found “this increased risk of pregnancy-related death among Black women is independent of age, parity, or education” (3). 

One study calculated the amount of patients with preeclampsia, eclampsia, abruptio placentae, placenta previa, and postpartum hemorrhage. It found that while the prevalence rates were the same, Black women were 2 to 3 times more likely to die from these issues then White women were (3).

In order to understand this tragedy, it is important to look at both our history as well as current factors.

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