Thrive Birth Center Blog

Tears of a Midwife


Recently I had a new apprentice midwife call me to debrief a birth that I wasn’t present at. She just needed to bounce a few thoughts and feeling around with someone she trusted. This was only the third birth she had attended. She described a water birth that quickly needed to become an earth birth a few moments after the baby’s head was born. A change that let the rest of the body easily, (and a little to fast) be born.

As she told me the story I could hear her fear bubble up, I could hear her questions and doubt about what had happened. “Was that right? Was that normal? Why do I feel so traumatized? Will it always feel that way”?

My initial response was to talk through the birth……Step by step. I’ve attended hundreds of births, and I find it so interesting to listen to a student’s perspective, but reflect on the situation from my midwife perspective. Do babies sometimes come faster then we think they will? Oh, yes they do! Can meconium really not present until the whole baby is born? Shouldn’t the midwife have noticed that? Shouldn’t we have moved the mom to her hands and knees instead of standing? Who knows……. The answers are not always clear. Midwifery is an art, not a science and our intuition plays a HUGE part in each and every birth that we attend.

 Having this conversation with the apprentice pulled my memory back to the beginning of my training and to some of the first birth I attended. I shared with this student midwife that I remembered crying at almost every birth that I witnessed. My eyes would be blurred with tears the moment that baby was born… which made it difficult to do my job, but non-the less I was overwhelmed with emotion, even at the sweetest, most simple birth. When you add any kind of sudden shift to the birthing dynamic, be it poor heart tones, meconium, a mother who is frantic and unable to focus, a tight nuchal cord…. Any and all of the above add a significant level of additional stress to the energy of birth. Like I said, even the most straight forward birth is BIG, it’s profound, it’s life changing for everyone in the room.

 So, I was reflecting with her on why I cried. I know now that there were many layers. The first and most obvious is that it’s just so beautiful to watch a women become a mother! That moment of transition is amazingly heartfelt…. And overflowing with Oxytocin!! There was more to it for me though. Sometime I would go home and sit in my shower and just cry a deep cry, letting the hot water wash away my sorrow.  When I started my formal apprenticeship I was 2 moths postpartum with my second daughter. She was a planned homebirth that ended in an unnecessary transport to the hospital. I think, now on looking back, that I cried for those first two years for the beautiful and sacred moments of birth that I missed. Of being honored as the powerful mother I was becoming and having the loving care of my midwife tend to me and my daughter, not a grumpy OB with terrible bedside manner!

I finally did learn to stop crying. I become a fantastic and skilled midwife. I have had the honor to love and support many, many families welcome their new babies into the world….. And then, somehow, about 10 years later I started to find my eyes blurred and teary again. The overwhelming power of birth had somehow caught back up to me. I know I wasn’t crying for my lost homebirth any more. I learned too much from my own transport to have regret around that.

Maybe it was my age? Maybe I was just tired and that left me vulnerable? Maybe I started to get scared of bad outcomes or legal prosecution? Or maybe I was feeling the loss and grief that the baby was feeling from being born? Maybe it’s the increase in birth violence and trauma that I have seen?  I still don’t have the answers…. I must not need them yet, but they will come.

 For the last decade I’ve had the chance to work in second and third world countries providing midwifery aid, and education. I have also learned a great deal of knowledge that is absolutely unteachable through a classroom or books. The indigenous midwifes that I have had the honor sit with, pray with, eat with and birth with have touched my midwife soul with a whole new light. My eyes continually are opened to the mystery of birth, blurry or not.

I recently came across a book called “The Smell of Rain on Dust”.  I was on my way down to Guatemala to meet Mayan Midwives who were running a birth clinic called ACAM, a locally run and owned center serving low/no income women in the western highlands. Words can not describe how breathtakingly beautiful it was. Surrounded by volcano’s, shaken a little by earth quakes, drenched in rains, and on clear days the massive blue skies were hanging with white fluffy clouds and full of colorful kites.

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to travel to Central America, you will know that, beside being stunningly beautiful, life…slows…way…down. Electricity is unpredictable, internet is rarely available, and hot water is not a daily luxury. In being able to open myself up to this life style, this pace, and allowing myself to learn the ways of these wise women, I was gifted with the time and space to quiet down and reflect. It’s been an intriguing and soulful exploration of everything! Reading this book has given me a new perspective and understanding of my tears, and of my grief. I still don’t know all of the answers….. but I do have bigger questions.

The author of the book, Martin Prechtel says “Our very lives start out from the very beginning by us crying out as hard as we can in a newly found voice, not in a complaining squeal of rage for not having things stay the same, but in a sorrowful musical wail, tiny and beautiful, that says, “Mama, where are you? Where am I? I’m cold and alone here without your drumming heart. It’s the first grief pome, a song.”

My midwife tears are also not a complaining squeal of rage or a sorrowful wail, but a pome of gratitude…  a heart song that sings to all of the women who have become mothers under my watch.

Thrive Birth Center Blog

Placenta Encapsulation……What you need to know.

Consuming your placenta postpartum can balance your hormones after birth, boost your mood and your energy, increase your milk production and help to restore your iron levels.


Why Encapsulate?

“Baby blues” is a common occurrence – 80% of mothers experience it in the first days and weeks after giving birth.  Because it is so common, nothing is typically done about it until it worsens into a diagnosis of postpartum depression, at which time anti-depressants may be prescribed.  Anti-depressants, like almost all drugs, are passed to the baby through breastmilk, and mothers who don’t want to expose their babies to these medications are often faced with the decision to either stop breastfeeding or struggle with depression.  Women suffer through the baby blues almost as a rite of passage to motherhood – but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Placentophagy, or consumption of the placenta, has been reported for decades to help stop the baby blues and diminish postpartum fatigue.  Some women have cooked the placenta in a stew, mixed it into a smoothie, or even taken it raw to tap into its powerful effects. For many who feel squeamish about this or want to reap the benefits of placenta for more than just a day or two, there is another option: encapsulation.  The placenta can be dried, ground, and encapsulated. The capsules can then be taken daily for a number of weeks. Powdered placenta has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries.  In the postpartum period, placenta capsules have been shown to:

  • Balance hormones

  • Increase and enrich breastmilk

  • Increase energy

  • Decrease baby blues and postpartum depression

  • Decrease lochia, postpartum bleeding

  • Decrease iron deficiency

  • Decrease insomnia or sleep disorders

  • Decreases postpartum “night sweats”

Placentas are rare and powerful – make the best use of the ONE available. Encapsulation is by far the optimum choice for ingestion and preservation.


The Placentas Healing Chemicals:

The known ingredients that give the placenta its healing properties are:

  • Gonadotrophin – the precursor to estrogen, progesterone and testosterone

  • Prolactin – promotes lactation

  • Oxytocin – for pain and bonding; produced during breastfeeding to facilitate bonding    of mother and infant. In pharmaceutical form this is a very addictive drug because it promotes a feeling of connectedness with others and is often referred to as the “love” hormone

  • Interferon – stimulates the immune system to protect against infection

  • Thyroid Stimulating Hormone –  boosts energy and helps recover from stressful events

  • Cortisone – combats stress and unlocks stores of energy

  • Prostaglandins – anti-inflammatory

  • Hemoglobin – replenishes iron deficiency and anemia

  • Gammaglobulin –  immune booster that helps protect against postpartum infections

  • Urokinase Inhibiting Factor & Factor XIII – stops bleeding and enhances wound healing

The placenta is full of feel-good hormones and healing chemicals, so it makes sense to safely welcome them back into your system during your postpartum period, in order to have a happy babymoon.

Methods of Encapsulation

  • RAW




Raw Method

With the raw method of encapsulation the placenta is also cleaned, sliced and dehydrated, ground into a powder and then placed into (vegan) capsules. As a result of being dehydrated at a lower temperature and not steamed the raw method capsules can have a more potent effect on energy levels.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TMC) Method

With the TCM method of encapsulation the placenta is cleaned, steamed, dehydrated, and then ground before being placed into (vegan) capsules. With the traditional Chinese medicine method pills can be stored indefinitely for help with hormone balancing later in life as well as early postpartum.

placneta caps

Thrive Birth Center Blog

The Value of Midwifery Care

The Value Of Midwifery Care


Again and again, we hear from clients why they chose midwifery care over hospital care. Here are the top reasons:

  1. Individualized clinical care in a small practice
  2. Hour long prenatal visits
  3. Continuity of care during labor and delivery
  4. Safe Birth Outcomes
  5. In-Home Postpartum Care and Lactation Support


Safe, Affordable and Gentle Care For Mom and Baby. The World Health Organization consistently supports midwifery care because the statistics reflect what we know and practice at Thrive; births attended by midwives have lower infection rates, lower C-section rates, fewer complications, and healthier outcomes – thus, lower overall medical costs.

Thrive is a lush and professional space, one where families know that the care they receive before, during, and after birth will have a dramatic affect on the health of the whole family. In the UK, The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has made sweeping recommendations for mothers with low-risk pregnancies to birth out of hospital. Let’s explore why this works at Thrive.

Value of Midwifery

Hour Long, Family Centered Prenatal Visits with Licensed Midwives.  We use these visits to discuss mother and infant health, physical exams, emotional and nutritional counseling, perinatal education.  We answer ALL of your questions while having ample time to get to know you and your birth partner. Our care is based on your body, your needs, and your desires.

Evidence Based Care And The Midwifery Model Of Care. The Midwives Model of Care is based on the fact that pregnancy and birth are normal life processes. We provide:

  • Monitoring of the physical, psychological, and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle
  • Individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support
  • Minimizing of technological interventions
  • Identifying and referring women who require obstetrical attention
  • Thrive Midwives collaborate with clients to achieve informed consent regarding every aspect of clinical care; resulting in an informed clientele base who feel respected and empowered as they step into parenthood

The application of this woman-centered model of care has been proven to reduce the incidence of birth injury, trauma, and cesarean section.


Baby Nursing

Highly Trained Midwives for Normal Pregnancies. A midwife is a trained professional with special expertise in supporting women to maintain a healthy pregnancy and birth, offering expert individualized care, education, counseling and support to a woman and her newborn throughout the childbearing cycle.

A midwife works with each woman and her family to identify their unique physical, social and emotional needs. When the care required is outside the midwife’s scope of practice or expertise, the woman is referred to other health care providers for additional consultation or care. We are midwives who are trained in the art and science of birth. We are experts in low risk pregnancies, VBACs, and natural birth.

Thrive Birth Center Blog

Easing Morning Sickness

I have a dear friend and Midwife who is 8 weeks pregnant right now. We check in every couple of days and the first thing we talk about is this constant state of nausea that so many pregnant women are dealing with. Until you have felt this queasy, hungry, not-hungry state of rocking sea sickness that really never leaves you…. at least not for the first 15 weeks or so, you just don’t understand! It can be hard to conquer even the simplest tasks. But, hang in there mama! All of these feelings are good signs of a healthy pregnancy. Try a few of these tips below.



Morning sickness ( but don’t be fooled….this is an all day – all night sensation) , nausea, or vomiting can be caused by one or many of the following factors:
 Hunger, low blood sugar, strong smells, hormonal surges and imbalances, pregnancy related changes in digestion, & vitamin deficiencies. 
There are MANY remedies for this common early pregnancy discomfort. You may only need to try one or you may need to try them all. If at any point, you are unable to hold down any fluids or foods for a full day call your midwife or doctor to be evaluated for dehydration. 
Diet- Try eating many small meals and snacks frequently throughout the day and keep crackers by bedside to eat before rising in the mornings to maintain blood sugar and reduce stomach acid.
 Make sure your protein intake is adequate. A high protein and complex carbohydrate diet helps stabilize blood sugar longer then simple carbohydrates alone. 
Dehydration can aggravate nausea, even when the thought of drinking sounds horrible. Take small sips and add a little honey or lemon to your water to help get it down.
 Supplement support- 20-40 mg of B-complex 2x daily
. Herbal Remedies- Ginger tea with honey is proven to help relive nausea. Steep 1 tea. of ginger root in one cup boiling water. You can also take ginger capsules, 2 caps every few hours. Not to exceed 10 caps or two cups of tea. (Ginger should not be used if there is a history of miscarriage)
 Dandelion Root supports the liver in filtering all the extra hormones of pregnancy. 
Chamomile tea relaxes the stomach, reduces acid in the stomach, supports the liver and improves the appetite. It also relieves anxiety and tension.
 Herbs in the mint family relive digestive upset: peppermint, spearmint, catnip, and lemon balm.
 Wild Yam reduces vomiting and nausea by relieving spasms in the stomach. 30 drops of tincture 4 to 6 x daily .
Homeopathic Remedies- Ipecac 30x or Nux vomica 6x

Fresh air, sunshine and short walks outside can also ease queasiness and sooth the soul. Be sweet and patient with yourself. You are doing such big work right now!

self+care (1)

yaourt dans un pot en verre,fabrication artisanale
Thrive Birth Center Blog

5 Tips For A Healthy Pregnancy and Birth

Lara Sodergren has been a home birth midwife of seventeen years and recently joined Thrive’s midwifery team. Merging evidence based care and informed consent into every interaction with our clients, Lara upholds our vision for quality midwifery care through the childbearing years. We asked her to share her 5 favorite tips for a healthy pregnancy and birth, and here is what she has to say: 

Pregnancy is a time of profound transformation; a journey into the unknown that encompasses a full range of feelings, emotions as well as a myriad of physical changes. There is a whole host of things that a woman may experience while pregnant, from joy to fear, elation to uncertainty, profound love to curiosity. Each woman’s experience of pregnancy is completely individual and unique. Here are five suggestions to help you rock your pregnancy, labor and birth experience.


1. Find a provider that you trust! Explore your options. Interview. Dive deep and figure out where it is that you feel the safest having your baby. Whether that be at home, at a birthing center or in the hospital. Only you can decide where that is! If you have a provider and it isn’t feeling right, keep looking. Don’t stop until you know you have found that person who can meet your needs and can support you and your family in the best ways possible. Even if that means changing providers a month before your due date.

2. Keep your mind and your body healthy. Try to do something daily that moves your body or quiets your mind. Walk, swim, find a yoga class that works for you, dance in your living room. In addition to movement, quieting your mind is one of the best ways to 74956680_wideprepare for labor and birth. Even if you only find 5 minutes a day to sit and still your thoughts, this will help you when it comes time to have your baby. Your body knows how to give birth! We just have to ‘get out of the way’ so to speak and meditation is a great way to prepare your mind to step aside and let your body do the work.

yaourt dans un pot en verre,fabrication artisanale 3. Boost your immune system by building up your gut flora. It is a well known fact that the seat of our immune system lies in the gut. Eat a diet rich in probiotic foods to help build up healthy gut flora. This includes fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, dairy kefir as well as probiotic beverages such as water kefir. By cultivating a strong immune system, you can prevent things like Group Beta Strep, which is tested for at around 35-37 weeks and can require IV antibiotics in labor if you test positive.

4. Learn about optimal fetal positioning. Help your baby find the best position before labor by going to and working some of the exercises recommended there. Avoid reclining back in big cushy chairs and keep yourself upright in order to keep your baby aligned with your spine thereby preventing positions that can make labor longer. OpenKneeBreech

5. Trust yourself and your body! Your body knows how to grow and birth your baby. If something doesn’t feel right or you need more information, seek it out. Talk about it and don’t push it aside. Your body is your guide, trust it!

Thrive Birth Center Blog

Fruit Leather with Lorelle Saxena, L.Ac.

We are so excited to have a guest post by the mama who was voted “Best Acupuncturist in Sonoma County” five years in a row! Lorelle Saxena is a licensed acupuncturists who we continually refer to because, like her website states, she is a strong believer in “slow medicine”–that is, addressing the root cause of symptoms from a lifestyle perspective–rather than seeking quick, temporary fixes, and we see that work well for our clients. If you’re not already following her blog, we highly recommend it. It’s filled with gems on creating a health and family,  just like in this sweet post she wrote for us. Hope you enjoy! 

Eight years ago this August, Adam and I moved into our home. The big old fig tree and unnamed-4the little old plum tree in the backyard were exploding with fruit, dropping it all over the ground. Our big mutt, Toby, happily ate fallen fruit for hours on end, even after it gave him indigestion.

We like making jam, but that’s a focused and time-consuming endeavor, and we had our hands full trying to settle in to the new place. Still, we couldn’t bear to have all that fruit go to waste. What we needed was a quick way to preserve the fruit, a method that didn’t require the watchful eye and constant stirring and temperature-taking that jam needs.

So we bought a great big Excalibur dehydrator, with nine trays. It was a pretty substantial purchase for new homeowners, one starting a business, in a dicey economy–and we’ve never regretted the purchase. With minimal effort, we filled jar after half-gallon jar with delicious dried figs and prunes. Since then, we’ve dried lots of other fruits, and Adam has also used the dehydrator to make delicious yogurt or raise yeasted dough.

And this year, our almost-four-year-old, Kamal, has fallen in love with fruit leathers. Which can be a really terrific, healthful snack–but they tend to be relatively heavily packaged, and sometimes they contain added sugar or preservatives.

unnamed-5So this summer, we bought even bigger piles of berries from our favorite berry stand, Farmer Lao’s on Route 12 between Santa Rosa and Sebastopol. Every year, starting in the spring, we drive past Farmer Lao’s hoping it’ll be open. And as soon as it is, we buy piles and piles of berries–mostly strawberries, but blueberries, too, if Farmer Lao has them. We eat as many fresh berries as we can, which, especially if you’re Kamal, is a LOT. Adam makes enough jam to keep our toast covered for a whole year. And this year, to Kamal’s delight and thanks to our dehydrator, Adam turned a bunch of berries into fruit leather.

The nice thing about this recipe is that you don’t need exact measurements or complicated instructions: you just need berries, a dehydrator, and maybe applesauce and lemon juice, if you’d like.

After washing the berries and trimming the hull, Adam used our old Vitamix to turn the berries into beautiful red and purple purees. You can also combine the berries, but Adam decided to keep them separate.

unnamedThen he mixed the purees with an equal part of applesauce–so for each cup of berry puree, he mixed in a cup of applesauce. This is completely optional; we just had a lot of beautiful applesauce that Adam put up earlier in the year from apple’s we’d picked at our friends’ orchard, and it seemed silly to leave it out.

At this point, you can taste the puree and decide whether you’d like to brighten the flavor with a bit of lemon juice, or whether you’d just like to keep it as sweet as possible. Another consideration: lemon juice will also help preserve the bright colors of the fruit by preventing oxidation.

Adam lined the dehydrator trays with parchment paper, spread the puree across the paper to about a quarter-inch thickness, slid the trays into the dehydrator and and left it to dry at about 135 degrees (Fahrenheit) for several hours, till it felt fruit-leathery. Depending on the moisture content of your fruit and the humidity where you’re located, the length of time can vary pretty widely, so don’t forget to check every so often, unless you’re okay with ending up with crispy fruit puree.

Next, Adam pulled the trays out and let them cool. Then he lifted the parchment paper ofunnamed-2
f the trays, rolled the paper and fruit leather into the cylinders you remember from back in the day, sliced them into manageable lengths, and stored them in an airtight container.

Now they’re ready to be doled out to Kamal and his friends over for playdates (or me rooting around in the cabinet late at night with a sweet tooth), and they’ll taste like summer until the very last one is gone.

Thrive Birth Center Blog

Gut Health and Pregnancy; By Tessa Mancini Gillen

You might have read the recent article in the NY Times about microbes and the wondrous world of human milk, or you might have seen our Facebook post on the benefits of babies born through the bacteria dense birth canal. Let’s dive in a little more, into the magical world of gut bacteria and pregnancy, and how you can balance the micro biome through diet and nutrition. There is a reason we call refer to healthy gut bacteria as the second greatest ‘gift’ a mother can give her child.

Beneficial microbes that populate our gastrointestinal tract are not only unique for every individual, but are also laid out from birth. Babies essentially inherit their micro-biome from their mother, making maternal gut health of vital significance during pregnancy and the postpartum period. These microbes can affect the mechanisms that regulate our body weight, energy, digestion, assimilation of nutrients, mood, mental health, immune system function, among other factors, and these colonies of microbes can be quite complex. For example, did you know that the severity of toddlers tantrums can be linked to the populations of microbes in their gut? Or that 90% of our serotonin (the happiness hormone) is made in our gut, and how much serotonin we make as an adult can be traced back to our gut health as an infant? Or even that the microbiome of a pregnant woman’s reproductive tract can predict preterm birth? (4) Pretty wild, eh?

Our gut microbiome actually changes during each trimester in pregnancy, with these beneficial microbes shifting as pregnancy hormones do, helping to support fetal growth as it progresses. (2) Research suggests that our bodies are coevolving with these microbes, and that we are able to use them as a tool, inducing metabolic changes that promote energy storage, allowing fetuses to grow optimally. (2) The importance of gut flora can not be understated and is of vital significance, not only during pregnancy, but during birth and the postpartum period as well. New research from Scientific American notes the possible connection with gut health and the microbiome’s role in autism. According to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, children with GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome), toxicity flows from their gut throughout their bodies and into their brains. This burdens the nervous system, preventing it from performing its normal functions and process sensory information. She states,“Virtually any toxic exposure, including a vaccine, can be the “straw that broke the camel’s back” in a situation like this. The end result can be symptoms of autism, and/or any number of other neurological problems.” (3)

So where do we start? How a baby enters the world influences their microbial profile, with microbe communities differing in babies born vaginally versus via ceacarean. An article in Science Daily reported:

“At the time of delivery, the vagina is dominated by a pair of bacterial species, Lactobacillus and Prevotella. In contrast, infants delivered by caesarean section typically show microbial communities associated with the skin, including Staphylococcus, Corynebacterium, and Propionibacterium. While the full implications of these distinctions are still murky, evidence suggests they may affect an infant’s subsequent development and health, particularly in terms of susceptibility to pathogens.” (5)

The documentary Microbirth, directed by Alex Wakeford and Toni Harman, takes an in-depth look at the life-long consequences that our micro-biome have on our health, noting that there are generational impacts, affecting DNA that can then be passed on to future generations. This new emerging research shows how vital these microbes really are, and how imbalances can contribute to life-long chronic, degenerative diseases. (3) Toni Harman wrote an article about her film in the Huffington Post, stating: “Two amazing events happen during childbirth. There’s the obvious main event, which is the emergence of a new human into the world. But then there’s the non-human event that is taking place simultaneously, a crucial event that is not visible to the naked eye, an event that could determine the lifelong health of the baby. This is the seeding of the baby’s micro biome. However, with interventions like the use of synthetic oxytocin (Pitocin / Syntocinon), antibiotics, C-section and formula feeding, this microbial transfer from the mother to baby is interfered with or bypassed completely.” (1)

Babies born without this first exposure to the microbes, located in their mother’s birth canal, start life with an incomplete and imbalanced microbiome. This imbalance can have life-long consequences. Harman continues, “The discovery of the microbiome is an exciting moment in human history. The insight gives into the existence of the trillions of bacteria that live on us and in us potentially offers the medical community a new way to treat disease. Even more importantly, it also offers the possibility of helping prevent disease in the first place. And it all starts with birth. Even if vaginal birth isn’t possible, then immediate skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding should be fully supported and encouraged by all healthcare providers to help ensure the baby’s microbiome is still seeded with the mother’s own bacteria. Apart from the obvious gift of life, the seeding of the baby’s microbiome is perhaps the second greatest ‘gift’ a mother can give her baby.” (1)

And while it is easy to recommend ways to reinoculate the gut with beneficial microbes, it is just as easy for the bad guys to take over. Antibiotic use, sugar consumption, birth control, and processed food all negatively affect the micro-biome. Beneficial gut microbes are highly susceptible to toxins, which can wreck havoc on your gut health. Studies show that glyphosphate, the active ingredient in Roundup, alters and DESTROYS these beneficial microorganisms. (3) So a good place to start is simply to eat non-processed, organic foods, with an emphasis on including fermented foods into your diet, everyday. The health of your baby’s gut starts with the health of your gut, so make it a priority. Yogurt, Kimchee, Sauerkraut, and Coconut Keifer are a few of my favorites.

DSC_0136 And then there are Probiotic Pops (recipe below). The sun is out, the weather is hot, and summer is kicking. These golden days are often accompanied with trips to the beach, rafting on the river, and more often than not, treats for the kids. But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your child’s health, nor your own, while loading them up with refined sugar, which leads to the growth and overpopulation of the bad microbes. These frozen treats not only help to cool you down during these scorching days, but are rich in beneficial gut microbes and are sweetened with natures array of natural sugars that actually help to feed these good guys. These microbes are essential for you, for your kids, for your unborn baby, and these pops make it easy to ensure everyone is getting the goods.

Probiotic Pops

2 cups Watermelon
Fresh fruit of choice
Coconut Water Probiotic (I love inner-eco, but there are several good ones out there.)

Puree watermelon and pour into popsicles molds. Fill 3/4 full.
Add 1 TBS Coconut Water Probiotic to each mold.
With a chopstick, stir to disperse evenly.
Add in chunks of your favorite fruit to fill the molds. Blueberries, strawberries, kiwi slices, figs, you get the picture.
Freeze and enjoy. <3


Tessa Mancini Gillen is Thrive’s go to herbalist and nutritionist. She teaches classes and is the master mind behind the Mama Meal Plan which delivers home cooked, organic and nutritionally dense meals to new families in Sonoma County.

Thrive Birth Center Blog

Water Birth Photos



With most births, labor starts slow and begins to build. Oxytocin and endorphins begin to flow, and mama can feel surges of euphoria between and even during intense contractions.




Often, the birth room is quiet as the support team works quietly and mama works hard.







Vocalizations, changing positions, they all watch as she goes deeper inside herself.






Supporting a laboring woman is more about bearing witness to her expressions of love and uncomfortability than trying to make labor seem like it’s not happening.






And although she knew she was having a baby, it’s still a surprise, an everyday miracle of sorts.





Thank you to Ellen and Dustin for trusting us, and sharing these beautiful images of the birth of their babe with us.

Thrive Birth Center Blog

The Value Of Postpartum Care; Where You Give Birth Matters

By Jasmine Maes, LM, CPM

The first days and weeks after a baby is born are full of emotion, new experience and adjustment to life with baby. There are often tears of joy and frustration, limited sleep and new physical sensations. Caring for baby, healing after birth, and the arrival of breast milk all bring a sense of fullness to days and nights. New parents are often recovering from labor and missed sleep.

Following a hospital birth, a woman may stay for 1-3 days as a patient at the hospital. During these days, her vital signs, healing and functions are monitored by the staff. Her baby also is a patient, and a nurse comes in frequently to check vital signs, feeding, weight loss/gain, and jaundice. On the second day most families are discharged home with strict instructions to follow-up with their family doctor or pediatrician within a day or so for weight and jaundice checks for baby. A woman’s milk has not arrived yet, and her nipples may be sore from the adjustment to feeding baby, not to mention tenderness from any healing stitches. Her sleep has been interrupted by regular visits from staff and family, and there is little to no space made in the hospital for families to snuggle together. Even more stressful for many families, little accommodation is made for older siblings to be in the hospital with their families.

It is often routine for babies to be taken to the nursery for weight checks, tests, and hearing screening. Even seemingly harmless procedures like bathing a newborn in the hospital can do more harm than good, as amniotic fluid and vernix are shown to be protective against bacteria, as well as to play a key role in newborn feeding, imprinting, and bonding (No smelly synthetic Baby Magic shampoo for my new baby, please!). There are often rules about baby’s safety and co-sleeping, which can limit skin-to-skin time and breastfeeding. After discharge from the hospital, parents are instructed to return to their pediatrician’s office every few days for weight checks until milk has arrived, baby has regained its birth weight and breastfeeding is more established. No care is regularly scheduled for new moms following hospital discharge until 6 weeks following the birth! No evaluation of healing, minimal breastfeeding support, no postpartum depression screening, or the chance to discuss, process, and ask questions about labor or her baby’s birth. A woman who gives birth by cesarean may have a two-week post-op appointment with a doctor to check her incision, but otherwise it’s the long six weeks till she is seen again by her doctor or nurse-midwife.

In contrast, following a birth center or home birth, the focus is on uninterrupted bonding and skin-to-skin connection with baby. Assessments of mama’s and baby’s well-being are done unobtrusively with baby at the breast or in a parent’s arms. Separation is neither encouraged nor necessary to provide thorough care for a newborn baby. Midwives recognize that the safest and healthiest place for a baby is with it’s mama. Even the routine and thorough newborn exam following birth is offered in the bed with parents and no procedure is ever performed without clear permission and consent. After a nap, a good hot meal, and some care and teaching by our midwives, families get to go home to the inviting comfort of their own beds around 4-6 hours following birth or in the morning if the birth occurs overnight. Or even easier yet, following a home birth, the midwives tuck a family into their own bed and plan to return for follow-up care the next day. Here is where the truly deluxe treatment begins.

IMG_0089 Whether birth happens at Thrive or at home, a midwife visits the family at home within 24 hours of birth, on day 3-5, and again on day 7-10. These visits last about 90 minutes, with time for care of both mom and baby. Vital signs are checked, baby is weighed and evaluated for jaundice, with appropriate referral for any abnormal findings. In-depth discussion of breastfeeding and any emotional or physical challenges are reviewed. Newborn Genetic and Metabolic screening, which is offered to all families in California, can be performed at the 3-5 day home visit, with parents’ permission. Additionally, families are invited to return to Thrive at 3 and 6 weeks post birth for continuing postpartum care visits for mom and babe, including family planning counseling and well-woman screening.   Additional postpartum visits are available in the event that there is a concern or challenge.

As licensed primary caregivers for low-risk mamas and newborns in the first 6 weeks after birth, midwives are trained and equipped to give comprehensive and safe care during this especially sweet and sensitive time. The midwife returns at these regular intervals so that parents can spend these precious and vulnerable first days in the privacy and comfort of home. No unnecessary exposures or long waits in germy waiting rooms, no delayed feedings, no climbing in and out of the car for sore mamas, or wrestling engorged breasts into uncomfortable nursing bras. Just rest, recuperation and togetherness. Another benefit is that older siblings can be a part of postpartum care to help ease adjustment to the new baby’s arrival.

breastfeedHelp with breastfeeding challenges and support for mamas with emotional adjustment stand out as two of the most valuable pieces of this ongoing care. Plenty of new mamas are unsure their baby is getting enough milk, feel overwhelmed learning to help their baby latch, have challenges with producing enough milk, or receive mixed messages or inaccurate information about breastfeeding. The US has a relatively low breastfeeding success rate, with 72% of women breastfeeding at birth, but only 49% still breastfeeding at 6 months, and a dismal 27% still breastfeeding at 12 months, despite the World health organization recommendation of breastfeeding through 2 years of age, or as long as mutually desired by mother and child. Multiple studies show that prolonged breastfeeding gives children the absolute healthiest start to life by reducing incidence of obesity, diabetes, autoimmune disease, food and environmental allergies throughout the lifespan. What most women need for success is more support and information. Women cared for by midwives regularly have breastfeeding success rates that surpass these national averages.

When choosing where to give birth, doesn’t it make sense to consider what care will look like after baby arrives? It makes sense to have care that takes into consideration the needs of the entire family, and to have frequent, professional, and personalized care in those crucial first days and weeks of your baby’s life.

Thrive Birth Center Blog, Thrive Birth Talk

Mineral Magic

Mineral Magic; by Tessa Mancini Gillen, Holistic Nutritionist and Herbalist

Preparing a nutrient rich mineral broth is an essential skill to be learned and utilized, as it brings healing and rejuvenation to your kitchen and every dish it compliments. Substituting mineral broth for water in many everyday recipes can truly transform your health. When cooking grains, beans or pasta, use mineral broth. When making a soup or stew, mineral broth. Or simply drink it as is, and enjoy this alkalinizing, mineralizing and rejuvenating beverage. It is recommended to gently simmer these vegetables and herbs for 4-5 hours, optimizing the nutrition that will infuse into the broth. I often start a broth before heading to bed, and strain it first thing in the morning. And don’t worry, many of the desired therapeutic compounds found in this broth are not heat sensitive and won’t be damaged from the cooking.

1 1/2 pounds onions with skins, quartered
6 celery stalks, with leaves, chopped
3 carrots, scrubbed and chopped
1/2 pound shiitake or maitake mushrooms
2 1/2 pounds yams, chopped
1 small celery root, chopped
3-4 pieces dried kombu
1/4 cup dried wakame
5 or more cloves of garlic (crush/chop and allow to sit for 10 minutes before adding to broth)
1 bay leaf
Handful of Calendula Flowers (omit if pregnant)
1/2 bunch fresh parsley

Heat a heavy-bottomed stockpot (with pasta strainer in) over medium heat and add the onions, celery, and carrots. Add 3 TBS of water and cover the pan. The vegetables will release their own water content, known as sweating.
After 5 minutes, remove the lid. add mushrooms, and cover the pan again to continue sweating.
Add yams, celery root, seaweed, garlic, bay leaf and fresh calendula, and cover with filtered water. You want the vegetables to be covered by 2” of water. Bring to a soft boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 4-6 hours.
Add in the fresh parsley during the last hour of cooking.
When the stock is finished, strain by removing the pasta strainer and press as much of the liquid out as possible. You could also strain using cheese cloth, pressing the solids to get as much of that golden liquid out as possible.
Once cooled, store mineral broth in canning jars for up to one week in refrigerator. If freezing stock in canning jars, be sure to leave 2 inches of head room at the top of the canning jars. Or fill ice-cube trays or other freezer molds with broth for easy and accessible use when needed. This allows for a few quick cubes here and there, without having to de-thaw a whole jar. Enjoy.

For more info on Tessa’s upcoming classes or her individual consultations on fertility and perinatal nutritional health, please contact Thrive at (707) 387-2088.