Thrive Birth Center Blog

A Workshop for Birth Professionals: Caring Without Carrying

Preventing and Resolving the Accumulation of Work-Related Stress with Tina Stanley, L.C.S.W

For most of us who make our living working with pregnant, birthing and postpartum women, it is a true labor of love. For sure, few of us are becoming wealthy doing it! And whether we are midwives, doulas, childhood educators, nurses or psychotherapists, and whether we are veterans or raw beginners, self-care is an ongoing challenge and learning experience.

Most advice about self-care focuses on boundaries and the kind of self-care that relates to prioritizing one’s own needs: eating well, getting enough sleep, exercise, pampering, etc. Those are valid and important. Other advice suggests that it’s better to care less about our clients and their experiences, as a kind of self-protection; that a kind of “professional distance” is necessary to avoid burnout. Though there is a certain grain of truth in this, this approach can lead to a hardening or numbing that is itself likely to make our work unsatisfying. It is our caring that makes the work meaningful, satisfying and effective. But caring doesn’t mean merging or being “codependent”. And caring doesn’t mean that there aren’t situations where it’s necessary to respond or act without being overwhelmed by emotion.4f90aa948231a.preview-620

In this blog and upcoming course, I’m advocating working with clients with an open heart while nurturing an ongoing self-awareness about when our caring turns into carrying. When we are able to care without carrying, the experiences, thoughts, emotions, and reactions that are invoked in our work life can flow through us, leaving us unburdened. There’s a Zen saying about living life like a clean burning flame that leaves behind neither smoke nor ash.

When this is working well, we can “bless and release” each client and move forward without accumulating a weight of unresolved stress. When this isn’t working well, the accumulation of work-related stress brings to my mind an image of a woman carrying a sack of stones on her back. These stones of unresolved, unprocessed, undigested residue can be created in a variety of situations – for example; the frustrations of working within institutions, self-criticism or guilt about things we did or didn’t do, client situations that trigger our own past traumas, etc.

Every so often, we may need to pause, check to see what’s in that sack and sense into how to let go of carrying unnecessary weight. In addition, we can develop the proactive ability to keep from adding stones to the sack in the first place.

In the upcoming course on October 14, in a safe, supportive environment, we will explore how to access guidance from our inner worlds to process, release, and prevent this kind of accumulated weight that can easily lead to burnout, compassion fatigue, or secondary traumatization. Together we will create a simple healing ceremony. I hope you’ll be interested in learning more and invite you to give yourself the gift of this course. I welcome your questions or comments.

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Thrive Birth Center Blog

The Wisdom of Water Birth

IMG_4251 copyWhen a laboring woman steps into the birth tub the atmosphere changes, voices quiet and the softness of her body is noticeable.

Midwives have known for decades that warm water is one of the most powerful tools we have in reducing pain and tension in child birth. And yet, in the medical model of care, we are still seeing fear and resistance to letting women soak their bodies in water during labor and birth.

Recently, I was in Indonesia meeting with an Obstetrician and his group of students at a local hospital. We were discussing the differences between maternity care in the U.S. verses Indonesia. He asked, somewhat startled, “You don’t do water birth do you?” I replied, “Of course, more than half of the births I attend are water births.” His jaw dropped a little and he said, “You let babies eat their mom’s poop!” The table erupted in laughter. It was funny, but it also reflected that the medical world is still in the dark about the safety and benefits of hydrotherapy in birth.

The majority of hospitals in California will allow a laboring Mama to get in the shower for short periods between of time while being connected to a hospital bed for electronic fetal monitoring. Rarely are you able to be in active labor in the shower, and if you are blessed to find a hospital that offers a birthing tub, it is unlikely that you will be allowed to birth in it.

Midwives are skillfully trained in the art of monitoring fetal heart tones in any position, in any room. We use water proof hand held dopplers which allows us to keep a close eye (or ear) on your baby while you are in the tub.

There are many myths revolving around the risks of water birth. The primary myth is that the baby will take a breath underwater and aspirate fluid into the lungs. Rather, a healthy baby that has been thriving during labor and born into the water will be perfectly safe and will not inhale water due to the design of their throat. The larynx has 5 times more taste buds then the tongue does, which allows it to interpret solutions as they hit the back of the throat. As the solution passes the larynx the taste buds will signal the glottis to automatically close, while at the same time swallowing anything in the mouth. This automatic response is called the Dive Reflex. All healthy active babies have one. Indeed, it is believed that infants are born with this reflex so that they can easily breastfeed and not inhale milk. IMG_4449 copy

Midwives have known about the wisdom of water for a long time. By facilitating mobility and reducing stress related hormones, while at the same time increasing endorphins (which neutralize pain and encourage a trance like state during labor), midwives have have seen and experienced the following benefits of water birth:

•  Enables the mother to assume any position which is comfortable for labor and birth
•  Speeds up labor
•  Reduces blood pressure
•  Gives mother more control of body
•  Provides significant pain relief
•  Promotes relaxation
•  Conserves her energy
•  Reduces the need for drugs
•  Gives mother a private and protected space
• Causes the perineum to become more elastic and relaxed, reducing the incidence and severity of tearing and the need for an episiotomy and stitches
•  Reduces cesarean section rates and transports to the hospital for pain management 

•  Encourages an easier birth for mother and a gentler welcome for baby

It is a common belief that because babies have been happily floating in warm water for the last 40 weeks or so that birthing a baby into the water ensures a smooth and gentle transition into life with gravity. These babies are less likely to be stressed by a harsh environment. They are more likely to be born into their Mama’s hands, quietly, gently, and peacefully. IMG_4418[1] copy

Of course, there are situations that are not ideal for a water birth. Each mama and each baby are different and require individualized care to create a birth plan for you.

For more information about water birth or the benefits of laboring in water, contact Thrive. We are more then happy to discuss your birthing options!
Love, Bee Lauher, LM, CPM

*For more information hiring a birth photographer who can take photos similar to the beautiful photos taken at Thrive Birth Center, please contact Seana Burglund and see her lovely website here. Here is what one mom had to say about having Seana as a photographer at her birth:
“This is more than talent and intuitive skill. It is passion in the raw, and years of effort brought to a beautiful fruition….It takes a certain person; one who was simply born to comfort, guide, and capture so precisely the journey of pregnancy, birth, and motherhood. Seana is exactly that.”

Thrive Birth Center Blog, Thrive Birth Talk

Treasure Every Moment As A Mom? No way! ~ Tina Stanley, L.C.S.W.


“Treasure EVERY moment?” Really?

OK, all you nice old ladies out there. Listen up!!! Please stop telling all the moms with babies and toddlers to “Treasure every moment. It passes so quickly. This time when they’re little is so precious!”  Yeah, yeah, yeah…

Perhaps you’ve forgotten how challenging it might be to treasure the many sleepless middle of the night moments, or temper tantrum moments or cracked nipple moments or baby screaming while you try to take a shower moments or …..(You know I could go on!)

I know I sound cranky and I know you mean well. And I know there is a wonderful kernel of good advice in what you are saying.

However… mothers so often put so much pressure on themselves. As the mom of babies and toddlers, it’s so easy, in the midst of the mess and the chaos, to feel like you’re not doing it right. You should be more calm and cheerful. You should be enjoying it more. You should be treasuring every moment.

As a psychotherapist, I work a lot with moms who are struggling. Good, smart, devoted moms who are having a hard time. They are struggling to keep their heads above water. They are questioning themselves and comparing themselves to others. This is not a rare experience!

And I remember struggling. I remember feeling so sleep deprived that I felt like I had the flu and probably having some days when I wasn’t able to treasure any moment much less every moment.

Now, let me be clear, I am a big, huge fan of being present in the moment and savoring the treasures that are there. I’ll never forget looking down into my babies’ eyes while nursing and just falling into the beauty of that gaze. I’ll never forget the sound of my baby’s laughter or feeling the warmth of their soft, warm bodies snuggled up to mine. But, it isn’t ALL like that and I feel protective of moms who care SO MUCH about being good moms and get bombarded by unrealistic messages and expectations about what being a good mom should be like.

So, nice old ladies, (yeah, I know I’m coming into the old lady category myself, which is partly why I give myself permission to speak to you like this)… next time those words “oh, be sure to enjoy every single moment when they are little” start to come out of your mouth, pause and consider. Look closely at this mom that you are about to address. Remember that she is a unique person having a particular day and your comments may either make her day a little easier or a little harder. Don’t project your nostalgia about the idealized memories of your early mothering onto her life. Smile. Say hello. Maybe say something like, “I remember how wonderful AND challenging those days could be when my kids where little. How’s your day going today?”

Thrive Birth Center Blog

Vaginal Birth After Cesarean, a Birthing Midwife’s Perspective

Vaginal Birth After Cesarean; by Jasmine Maes, LM, CPM

I am writing both from the perspective of midwife and from that of a birthing woman. I had been a midwife for eight years when I learned I was pregnant with my first baby. I felt confident and supported. I planned for the homebirth of my dreams. I encountered some complications of pregnancy at 37 weeks and agreed to a hospital induction of labor. After 40 hours, many tears, a whole lot of Pitocin, and very little sleep, I agreed to a cesarean birth. My amazing son was born, and I was relieved and in love, and absolutely heartbroken. How could I, an experienced midwife, allow such a thing to happen to me? I felt harmed and tricked, and sadly my story just sounded cliché, an all too common tale. I spent countless hours deliberating which decision might have allowed me to birth my son the way I had envisioned. My body wasn’t ready. That tub was so shallow. Was I really that sick? Was the induction even necessary? What if I had been able to keep going without an epidural?

With my second pregnancy, I was determined from the start to give birth vaginally. I did not fear labor, uterine rupture, or having another cesarean birth. I just knew that I needed to be left alone. I absolutely needed to be at home. I needed water that was deep and hot. I needed privacy. I needed my husband to believe me and believe in me, and hold me through every contraction. I needed experienced midwives around me to keep the birth room safe and peaceful.

I went into labor several days after my due date. I had mild regular contractions during dinner and went out for a walk with my husband and our son. By the time I reached the bottom of our hill, I called our midwives. Soon after, I was moaning and leaning over the stroller, I still had to make it back up that hill. One of the midwives agreed to come over and listen to our baby and check in. As I reached the driveway, my water broke, and the midwife arrived. She and my husband filled the birth tub and just 5 short hours later, our baby girl was born. Birth works. It is powerful and true, and in my opinion it is as safe as life gets. Even with a previous cesarean scar. Jasmine

Many families are surprised to hear that VBAC is “allowed” or even possible in Sonoma County. Though some hospitals do not allow or support a woman’s decision to birth vaginally after a previous cesarean, the Thrive midwives have had the experience of supporting women through this journey for many years. Midwives have long been the guardians of successful VBAC. Our patience and trust in birth are key elements in any birth, but are crucial for the woman desiring a VBAC. Freedom of movement, emotional and physical support, effective relaxation through hydrotherapy, and choice of birth position are essential in a VBAC experience. So is the ability to allow labor to unfold in its own unique way, free from the confines of time limits and protocols, free from the supervising eye of the surgeon.

Myths and realities abound around the risks of VBAC and uterine rupture. In just a few minutes of research, I found what I was looking for. Lots and lots of numbers. The risk of uterine rupture is higher in women with previous cesarean scars, that fact cannot be argued. And what about the risks of repeat surgery? Increased chance of hemorrhage, infection, organ damage, placental complications in future pregnancies, increased pain and recovery times, and breastfeeding challenges. I encourage you to look, the results are fascinating.

But numbers aside, the overwhelming reality is that vaginal birth after cesarean is considered an acceptable option for women who have access to emergency medical care when necessary, and that is not necessarily defined as birth in the hospital. The National Institutes of Health found inconclusive evidence to support the recommendation that women desiring a vaginal birth, labor in a hospital with 24 hour surgical staffing. With Thrive’s optimal location near two major surgical centers, we have better access to emergency care than many women living in a rural area, or birthing in a lower volume community hospital. Women should have the choice to birth vaginally and be supported in this choice, wherever they feel safest.

Since our opening a year ago, we have had 5 healthy and victorious VBAC deliveries at Thrive! There is something so healing and inspiring about watching a woman discover her own power through birth. Amazement as she reaches down to feel her baby emerging, disbelief that her body knows just how to do this. It reminds me why I love being a midwife, and of my own journey to motherhood. Serving the courageous women and families in our care has helped me to see my son’s cesarean birth as a treasure, an experience of value that has allowed me to connect with so many women on a vulnerable and deeply emotional level. For months after his birth, I wished I could go back and do it all over again. Now, I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world.





www.VBACFACTS.com – an awesomely researched and un-biased site with tons of information and studies on VBAC


consensus.nih.gov/2010/images/vbac/vbac_statement.pdf –  The National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Conference Statement on Vaginal Birth After Cesarean: New Insights


www.ICAN-online.org – International Cesarean Awareness Network


www.uptodate.com – widely referenced by physicians


Resources, Thrive Birth Center Blog, Thrive Birth Talk

Bee’s Books for Birth and Beyond

resources1Put your phones down, resist the urge to look up every sensation that you have on Google and throw away “What To Expect While You’re Expecting”. The title is perfect but the information is fear based and a constant reminder of what can go wrong week by week. Google is no better! More then half of the information you look up about pregnancy is based on another mother’s experience. This can be great if you have questions about which diapers to use, but not when you are looking for medical advice. Pregnant women are already bombarded with opinions from social media, movies and the random bystander that walks up and wants to touch your belly, or better a yet a new mom who decides she needs to tell you how painful her birth was!

My point…. there is brilliant, positive inspiring information out there. Pregnancy has a sharp learning curve. There is so much you want to know, so much to prepare for. Most women have not spent years studying and researching in the ins and outs of growing a baby. So, you’ve got 9 moths to figure it out.

I want you to spend your time reading inspiring information that will get you excited about your growing belly and your upcoming birth! I encourage you to leave fear behind and and step into this pregnancy with confidence and grace. Educate your self on your body’s growing needs, learn about the normal changes in your body, understand your hormones, and prepare for the sacred moments of labor and birth!

Pick and choose from this list. You definitely don’t need to read them all.

Please don’t substitute books, Google, or your friends’ advice for good prenatal care by your Midwife or Doctor. If you have something going on that you are unfamiliar with contact your health care provider FIRST! You will save yourself from unnecessary worry and fear.

Grab a cup of tea, get cozy and enjoy the list….. Bee Lauher, L.M., C.P.M.


Pregnancy Day by Day ~ Sheila Kitzinger

Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Years~ Susan Weed

Our Bodies Our Selves~ Judy Norsigian

Pregnancy, Childbirth, Newborn, The Complete Guide~ Penny Simkin

Spiritual Midwifery~Ina May Gaskin


Labor and Birth

Ina Mays Guide to Childbirth~ Ina May Gaskin

Birthing from Within~Pam England

The Birth Partner~ Penny Simkin

An Easier Birth~ Gayle Peterson

Thinking Women’s Guide to a Better Birth~ Henci Goer

The Birth Book, Everything You Need To Know To Have A Safe and Satisfying Birth~ William and Martha Sears


Diet, Nutrition & Exercise

Eating Expectantly ~Bridget Swinney

Your Vegetarian Pregnancy~Holly Roberts

Beautiful, Bountiful, Blissful~ Gurmukh

Yoga for Pregnancy~ Sandra Jourdan

Prenatal Yoga and Natural Childbirth~ Jeannine Parvati Baker



Natural ChildBirth after Cesarean Section~ Karis Crawford

Artemis Speaks: VBAC Stories~ Nan Koehler

Cesarean Recovery~Chrissie Gallagher-Mundy



After the Baby’s Birth~ Robin Lim

When Survivors Give Birth~ Penny Simkin + Phyllis Klaus

Natural Health After Birth~ Aviva Romm



Ina May’s Guid to Breastfeeding~Ina May

The Womanly art of Breastfeeding~ La Leche League

Breastfeeding Your Baby~Sheila Kitzinger


Newborn/Baby Care

The Baby Book~ Dr. William Sears

Your Amazing Newborn~Marshall and Phyllis Klaus

Nighttime Parenting~ Dr. William Sears

You Are Your Childs First Teacher~ Rahima Baldwin

Magical Child~ Joseph Chilton Pearce


Children’s Books

Baby Come Out~ Fran Manushkin

Hello Baby!~ Jenni Overend

The Twelve Gifts of BIrth~Charlene Constanzo

Nutrition, Thrive Birth Center Blog

Watermelon Cooler Recipe For Families

When it’s this hot, there is one person that Thrive staff tend to turn to~ Tessa Mancini Gillen, our lovely nutritionist, herbalist, and local foodie. If you’ve met Tessa in person, you’ll know that she always carries a large woven basket filled with homemade nutritious treats and jars of yummy hydrating juices and coolers. Yesterday, around the 93 degree peak in Santa Rosa, we reached out to Tessa to see what she was drinking. Watermelon Cooler Recipe, she says? Yes please!

Watermelon Cooler photo-2

Servings: 2

Muddle a handful of mint with the juice from one lime. In a small blender, puree two cups of cubed watermelon. Add the puree to the muddled lime/mint combo and add 1 TBS chia seeds. Add ice, and garnish with a lime wedge, slice of watermelon, or mint. Enjoy! 

*Watermelon can be cubed and frozen in advance for extra coolness! For more of Tessa’s recipes for families, check out our class or event schedule on our calendar.




Thrive Birth Center Blog

Midwifing the Partner, A Chile Verde Recipe for Father’s Day

We often think about midwifing as a service specifically for laboring women, when in fact, midwifing takes into account all of the participants who have been invited into the birth space. Midwives know that by supporting the entire family, a mama will allow herself to confidently turn inward to birth her baby. Supporting the birth partner is one of the ways we can support mama, because she won’t have to worry about whether or not her family is being attended to.

It is not uncommon to step into Thrive’s family kitchen to smell a veggie soup or meat stew brewing, bringing out sweet or earthy smells like ground cumin and lime meeting tomatillos. This is when you know that Jasmine Maes is the midwife on-call.

IMG_4508Jasmine Maes joined Thrive late this winter as one of our trusted professional and licensed midwives. Not only does she bring seventeen years of birth experience to Thrive, she also brings a deep understanding of how nutritious food impacts families on a physiological and emotional level. At Thrive, you know it’s a good day when you show up to work and Jasmine has brought in an over sized dutch oven filled with her decadent Chile Verde Pork Stew. It’s a stew that will meet you on many levels; it soothes, it inspires, it makes you want to write a blog post about it. Her husband and two children love this meal, and so do we. And get this, this recipe was handed down to Jasmine by her mother-in-law’s best friend. These two friends met in a childbirth class in 1977 and have been sharing recipes since then.

We now share this recipe with you. Perhaps you’ll use it for Father’s Day, perhaps for an upcoming potluck, or perhaps you’ll share it with another person in your community. Enjoy, and don’t forget to let us know how it turns out!

CHILE VERDE 051121067-06-asian-pork-stew-recipe_xlg

6-8 servings

2 Tbsp. Oil

3 pounds lean, fresh pork butt, cut into 1 ½ inch cubes

2 medium white onions, thinly sliced lengthwise

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 ½ tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Ground cumin

3/4 tsp. Dried Oregano

8 small fresh OR 1 cup canned tomatillos, finely chopped (I often use canned green salsa with tomatillos)

3 or 4 fresh Anaheim chilies OR canned green chilies, seeded & finely chopped

1 large tomato, peeled & coarsely chopped

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

3/4 cup chicken broth

2 tsp. Lime juice

4 cups cooked white rice

1/4 cup toasted, slivered almonds (I have never added this!)

Fresh cilantro

Sour Cream, if desired


Heat oil in 5-6 quart dutch oven over medium heat. Add about 1/3 of pork in a single layer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until brown on all sides; remove to plate. Repeat until all pork has been browned.

Add onions and garlic to pan drippings; saute over medium heat until soft, about 4 minutes. Stir in salt, cumin & oregano.

Add tomatillos, chilies, tomato and cilantro leaves to pan; stir in stock. Heat to boiling.

Return pork to pan; reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, until pork is tender, 1 ½ to 2 hours.

Uncover pan; increase heat to medium. Cook at low boil, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, 20 to 30 minutes. Stir in lime juice. Watch partner begin to drool as the smell captivates the family’s attention.

To serve, spoon pork mixture over rice; sprinkle with almonds. Garnish with cilantro and radish slices, if desired. You can also serve it with tortillas & sour cream.


Thrive Birth Center Blog

Father’s Day DYI Gifts with Abi of Stinging Nettle Apothecary

Abi Huff is a Mother of 3 beautiful boys aged 4, 2, and 7 months. She and her partner live in the Town of Sonoma with their lovely family. She has been studying herbs since 2004, and is a graduate of The California School of Herbal Studies, Evergreen School of Botanical Medicine, and is currently studying with Aviva Romm. As a practicing herbalist, Abi runs a small apothecary called The Stinging Nettle, located in Sonoma. She has a strong affinity towards supporting women on their journey through motherhood with the use of herbs, self awareness practices, and sisterhood. Abi is also an educator, teaching workshops that help parents to build their own herbal first aid kit, appropriate herbal dosing with children, medicine making, and more. Abi’s postpartum tea and sitz baths are available at Thrive’s Mama Marketplace, and because we believe so much in Abi’s medicine and herbal remedies, we sat down with her to talk about supporting our life partners as they support us. 

Thrive: What’s an “herbal must have” for partners as they head out for adventures with our little ones? FullSizeRender

Abi: I absolutely love Lavender. Lavender essential oil has been called by many ” a first aid kit in a bottle”. Lavender has many amazing properties that include: anti-microbial, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial actions, it is an anti-inflammatory, it is known to help heal sunburns and heat burns, it is amazing on minor scrapes and cuts, and it’s very calming! I like to carry a small 4oz spray bottle filled with distiller water and between 20-40 drops of lavender angustafolia essential oil. You can also use it as a hand sanitizer for the little ones because lavender is quite gentle and one of the few essential oils safe enough to use on babies. It is always a good idea to do a skin test just to make sure no irritation occurs. With all essential oils, especially when used on children, it is safest to use a carrier like oil or water when applied.

Thrive: Often our partners are also awake long nights taking care of babe, and feel the full affect of family life, including the joys but also the stress. What advice do you have for supporting partner’s adrenals? 

Abi: Mamas usually get the bulk of attention, but it is so important that we support and honor their partners. When children arrive, everyone is running on less sleep and generally has more on their plate. Although self care can be a challenge to fold in, it is still clearly necessary and the extra effort has a big payoff. Besides asking for help and reaching out to your community, I recommend folding in a nice adrenal supportive tea or tonic into self care. Adaptogenic herbs support the entire body with big changes by toning and nourishing the nervous system and other organs. Here is one of my favorite recipes for partners; parts are considered equal measurements. IMG_0204

1 part eleuthero
1 part maca
1 part cinnamon chips
1 part cacao nibs
1 part cinnamon
1 part licorice root
1 part pau d’arco
1 to 1/2 parts ginger

This recipe can replace coffee in the morning and will actually encourage true energy!

Thrive: Fantastic! With Father’s Day around the corner, do you have any advice on DYI gifts for the big daddy or partner in your life? 

Abi: Papas/Partners sometimes have a hard time slowing down, and as their partners, we have to really encourage and remind them how important their self care is for the whole family! Here is a fun recipe for a Beard Oil (or aftershave oil). Beard oils not only condition and soften facial hair, but the skin as well. This is one I’ve tried which has worked well for The Man in my life!

1/4 oz organic vegetable glycerine
1/4 oz Argan oil
1/2 oz almond oil
10 drops sandalwood essential oil ( preferably cultivated or Australian)
10 drops frankincense
5 drops vetiver

You can also create your own blend to suit Papas senses! The rule to thumb is 10-12 drops essential oils per oz of carrier, but you can work drop by drop to find the balance you like.

Bottle and add a sweet label!
Directions: Add small amount to hands, rub together and apply to beard or face after shower, enjoy the botanical goodness!

Practitioners, Staff, Thrive Birth Center Blog

Meet The Midwife, an Interview with Bee Lauher


Brandi Lauher is a Licensed Midwife in California and a CPM (Certified Professional Midwife). She has been working with mothers and their families for 17 years. She is an internationally educated and home birth apprentice trained midwife. She has traveled to Mexico, Vanuatu, Costa Rica, Uganda, South Africa and Indonesia to explore, educate, serve and volunteer as a midwife and educator. Brandi is passionate about natural birth, cultural diversity, mother/baby bonding and international midwifery. She has also been trained as an EMT ( Emergency Medical Technician). Bee is one of the midwives at Thrive so we sat down to talk to Bee about her calling into midwifery, hospital versus birth centers and home birth, the affect of media on birth culture and more.


How did you become a midwife?

My calling to midwifery began in 1997 in Taos, New Mexico. I went to my fist birth in August of that year and was amazed at the incredible ability of a woman’s body. Powerful, raw, emotional passionate and unbelievably strong. Midwifery and birth drew me in. I went to births for years as a doula, supporting mama’s through their labor until I finally gained the courage to dive into my formal midwifery training. After that, it has been a non stop journey of gestation, transformation and birth!

What are the major differences between birthing in a hospital or birth center?

I have had the privilege to deliver babies in a variety of settings and countries. I have experienced birth in  the most rural of setting with no water or electricity, to the most high tech hospitals. The biggest difference that I have witnessed in the amount of constant distraction and interruption in the hospital setting. There are so many people coming in and out of the birthing room, interrupting the laboring woman during contractions and disrupting her natural and normal progression of labor. It’s pretty amazing that  it takes only 2 midwives at Thrive to accomplish the same task that is takes 6-8 providers to do in a hospital. Birth Center Midwives are trained in all aspects of primary care from conception through the postpartum period and beyond.

What advice do you have for a first time mom trying to decide where to birth?

I tell all the women and families that interview me or have questions about where to birth, that by far, the safest place for a woman to give birth is where she feels the safest and most comfortable. You have to trust your intuition on this one.

Who are your mentors in the birth world and what did you learn from them?

I have learned from each and every midwife that I have every done a birth with. Some of my best, most profound lessons have been in foreign countries in cultures where we don’t speak even close to the same language. In these birth rooms, I have witnessed and watched the way the mysterious magic of birth happens regardless of race, religion, color or any other difference we may have. Birth is a human right in it’s most raw form!

A midwife that I have looked up to and admired is Jennie Joseph. She has worked for years making midwifery care accessible to women from all socioeconomic backgrounds, and believes every woman has the right to have a midwife at her birth.

If you could change one thing about birth culture, what would it be?

I would love to change the way social media and television have portrayed birth to be. It has become a scary, fearful, painful thing that women dread to do. Women have been set up to fail in the main stream medical model of care.

I would love to see more healthy, empowering birth stories being promoted and shared.

What are the major misconceptions that you hear about midwives and how do you address them?

I have been working as a home birth midwife for the last 1o years before coming to work at Thrive. I think the least understood aspect of home birth is that the midwives who offer that service are highly skilled and medically trained primary care providers. We offer all the same testing and birth options that a hospital does, minus pain medication, while providing complete continuity of care.

Thrive Birth Center Blog

Easy Breezy Baby Wipes

Have you ever wondered what ingredients make up baby wipes, or what repercussions could result from everyday exposure to these wipes? We begin to use these cleansing & moisturizing wipes the day our babies are born, and use them continuously for years, averaging 20 wipes per day in my household. Skin absorbs 70% of what we put on it, and we make the assumption that the companies who make these baby care products have our best interest at hand. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Ninety percent of body care ingredients have NEVER been fully analyzed for safety, and are only evaluated if and when a complaint is filed, after the product is released to the public.

Baby products are no exception, and when symptoms do arise, it is difficult for parents to pin point what the aggravating culprit is, as babies are exposed to countless new substances daily. So we just continue on, using these safe and gentle baby wipes EVERY SINGLE DAY, assuming they are our best option.

What does the research say? With limited research out there, there is nothing conclusive to date. I did find some compelling information on the link between baby wipes and the skins pH. In a double-blind clinical trial, significant changes were found in the pH on the skin surrounding the pubic and buttock area. The babies who were exposed to baby wipes had a significantly lower skin pH in comparison to the babies who solely used soap and water. Every part of our body has a specific pH necessary for balance and vitality, and altering this pH can have lasting and detrimental consequences. The last line of the clinical trial states, “Further research is necessary to evaluate the implications of these findings.”  Unfortunately, no further research has been done.

I picked up a bag of unscented wipes, with the label reading: hypoallergenic & free of alcohol, parabens, phthalates & chlorine. That sounds pretty good, pretty clean, right? Well, let’s take a look at the ingredients and see if the packaging claims live up to the actual product.

Water, Propylene Glycol, Aloe barbadensis leaf juice, Tocopheryl acetate, PEG-75 Lanolin, Disodium cocoamphodiacetate, Polysorbate 20, citric acid, Disodium phosphate, Disodium EDTA, Ethylene Brassylate, 2-Bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-Diol, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate

Aside from water and aloe, did you even slightly recognize these “pure & safe” ingredients? Let’s take a closer look.

Propylene Glycol (PG) is an ingredient used to help draw moisture from the air, and deliver it to the skin. The FDA considers PG to be “generally recognized as safe”, even though it is banned from cat food. PG has been shown to provoke skin irritation in even low doses under 2%, while it is commonly used in formulations up to 50%.
Noted side effects are:
• Can cause burning
• Irritating & allergenic
• Can cause eye irritation and conjunctivitis, as well as upper respiratory irritation

EDTA (Disodium EDTA), a neurotoxin linked to brain damage in animals, is added to enhance the products penetration. Made from formaldehyde, this ingredient has caused fetal death & birth defects in animals, but is still approved for use in cosmetics & baby food.

Bronopol (2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-dill), a known endocrine disrupter, as well as a lung and skin toxicant, causes allergic contact dermatitis. Does this sound hypoallergenic to you?

Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate can affect thyroid function, and also causes allergic contact dermatitis. Interesting how a product that claims to be hypoallergenic has the potential to cause an allergic reaction.

These pure and safe wipes are turing out to be not so pure or safe. But worry not, there is an easy and affordable solution. Take matters into your own hands and make your own. It’s super simple, and you have the control to determine exactly what ingredients your baby is exposed to.

Lychee Therapeutic’s Easy Breezy Baby Wipes



•1 cup calendula, chamomile, or lavender tea. Use purified water, bring 1.5 cups to a boil, add a handful of fresh or dried selected herbs & simmer for 20 minutes. Let cool and strain. Resulting infusion will yield about 1 cup.
•1/2 cup witch hazel
•2 TBS aloe vera juice
•5 drops calendula essential oil
•3 drops tea tree essential oil
•5,000 IU vitamin E oil (optional) This helps to preserve the liquid.

1. Pour all ingredients into a jar with a lid and shake well.
2. Load pre-cut paper towels (or reusable cloth) into a waterproof container. About 20 squares should last 1 day.
3. Pour liquid over paper towels. Put the lid on the container and flip over to make sure all pieces are equally soaked with the liquid.
4. Store in cool, dark place and refill as needed.

Written by Tessa Mancini Gillen, CNC

1. Gabriel, Julie. “The Green Beauty Guide” 2008 Health Communications, Inc.

2. Johnson W Jr. “Final report on the safety assessment of PEG-25 propylene glycol stearate, PEG-75 propylene glycol stearate, PEG-120 propylene glycol stearate, PEG-10 propylene glycol, PEG-8 propylene glycol cocoate, and PEG-55 propylene glycol oleate.” International Journal of Toxicology. 2001; Suppl 4:13-26

3. Priestly GC, et al. “Changes in skin pH after the use of baby wipes.” Pediatr Dermatol. 1996 Jan-Feb; 13(1): 14-7