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Bellies, Babies & Beyond a Postpartum Support Group

A strong passion of mine is supporting and connecting families with resources, whether this be details about events and activities, product and service reviews or information about my personal experience on certain topics. I feel the more information we are given and the more opportunities that are available to us, we can make the best decisions for ourselves and families.

Since the beginning of my postpartum doula journey, I have envisioned a place where mothers can come together in a safe and open place to share their concerns, thoughts, laughter, tears and just feel loved.

Beginning in February 2017, I will be hosting Bellies, Babies & Beyond twice a month. This group will be just that. I will be there twice a month to chat with you, answer your questions, and give you additional resources if needed. Do you not have any concerns or not sure what you want to talk about? That is okay too! Just come and be with us! This is a great opportunity to get out of the house and be with other mothers in the same place as you. 

I will be holding Bellies, Babies & Beyond twice a month:

The 1st Thursday of the month; 9:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. at the Iowa Doula Agency located at 120 5th Street, West Des Moines.

The 3rd Saturday of the month; 9:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. at Balance Chiropractic & Wellness located at 6611 University Avenue, Windsor Heights.

Feel free to come to both each month! This will be an open house style group. Feel free to come late and if you need to leave early, that is okay too! Registration in not required. Newborn babies to 12 month are welcome!

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me here!

Note: Bellies, Babies & Beyond is registered with Postpartum Support International.
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7 Ways to Create “Me” Time Postpartum

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links!

After having a child, it can be harder to create alone time, or what some like to call “me” time. During your postpartum period it can be even more crucial as you are adjusting to life with a newborn, or with more children. Your “me” time allows you to relax, re-set and refocus on you. When you are finished with your “me” time, you can return to your children and family refreshed and happier.

Creating “me” time can be as simple as 10 minutes to 1 hour a day or it could be a few hours one afternoon, once a week. Allowing yourself time to re-set is important for your health, just as exercising and eating healthy is. If you are a planner and have a family calendar, carve these days out in your schedule. If it’s on the schedule then you and your significant other will be prepared and it is more likely to happen.

Are you not sure what to do during your “me” time? Check out this great list I put together!

Take a Hot bath, Epsom Salts & Lavender Essential Oils. This is my favorite and the most simplest way to have some alone time. Grab your favorite book and some hot tea. Of course, if you are newly postpartum you may need to wait a few weeks until your doctor approves you to bathe. Epsom salts are a great way to relax your tense muscles from carrying and nursing your baby. Add a few drops of Lavender Essential Oil to your bath. Lavender Essential Oil can help relieve nervous tension, enhance blood circulation and much more. Plus, it just smells amazing!

Spend an afternoon at a local coffee shop or book store. Grab your favorite book, a journal, or go look for a great book to read while taking your hot bath. Every new parent needs coffee right? Treat yourself and get a fancy, specialty drink and relax. Read your book or people watch. Both can be equally entertaining 🙂 Check out some great, local coffee shops here!

Spa Day! What woman doesn’t love a spa day? It doesn’t need to be an entire day, but you can go get a manicure and pedicure or an hour long massage. If someone is wanting to get you something postpartum, ask for a gift certificate! You just gave birth and are juggling life as a mom, you deserve some pampering. Do you live in Central Iowa? Check out some great spas in the area here.

Sign-up for a yoga class. Yoga is a great way to relax and to get your body moving. It does not have to be a sweaty workout, but it can be an opportunity for you to become re-centered. Yoga is a great time to meditate too! I know whenever I leave a yoga class, I am refreshed and ready for the world. If you live in the Des Moines area I highly recommend checking out The Family Tree Yoga. They offer several great classes and workshops for pregnancy, postpartum and more. They also offer massage too! 🙂 Check out Power Life Yoga, also! They offer several locations in the Des Moines area.

Take a walk. Fresh air is truly some of the best medicine. After being cooped up in the house all day with your newborn, getting outside and taking in the scenery can be a great way to unwind. The Des Moines area is truly blessed with tons of bike trails. One of my favorite places to walk and explore is the PappaJohn Sculpture Park located right by Central Library and Ritual Cafe. You can also walk along the Des Moines River on the Principal Riverwalk. Too chilly out? Check out Botanical Blues at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden.

Take a class. After becoming a parent, you easily can forget to do things you love to do! Find something you want to learn or something you have always loved, and take a class. Are you artistic? Paint some pottery or canvas at Glazed Expressions! There are several places to do canvas art in the area. You can also take a cooking class! The Des Moines Public Library offers an Adult Coloring Time weekly.

Get adjusted! This seems simple and actually does not take much time at all, but can easily be added to your afternoon break before you head to the coffee shop or book store. After giving birth, whether it be vaginally or via c-section, your pelvis and entire body experiences changes. Not only from child birth, but from nursing positions, carrying your newborn, and carrying that hefty car seat! Getting adjusted regulary by a chiropractor you trust and is experienced with prenatal and postnatal adjustment is highly recommended! Check out Dr. Jennifer Thompson at Balance Chiropractic & Wellness.

Photo Credits: PappaJohn Sculpture Park, Smokey Row Coffee Shop
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Sweet Me Photography + Giveaway!

I am so excited to announce that Midwest Mom & Wife is teaming up with Sweet Me Photography!

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Sweet Me Photography offers in-home and affordable newborn photography. There are photographers available all over, but just recently Sweet Me Photography has came to Des Moines.

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Why am I so excited about this? As a mom, I know how important those first photos are of your precious baby. But, as a postpartum doula, I know how important it is for you to rest, recover and bond with your newborn. Sweet Me Photography provides boutique sessions in the comfort of your own home. No need to pack up all sorts of baby necessities and no need for you to be up moving around. Let the Sweet Me photographers take care of it all. They bring lighting, heating, props, outfits (but if you have your own, you are more than welcome to use it!), blankets, and backdrops.

Go take a shower, get some rest and let the photographers capture some wonderful photos. Every Sweet Me photographer is also trained in baby safety, so you can rest assure they are properly taking care of your newborn.

Because Midwest Mom & Wife has begun an amazing partnership with Sweet Me Photography we are offering a giveaway! One lucky winner will win Sweet Me Photography’s package one valued at $350! And there is moreANYONE who enters for the giveaway will receive $25 off any package of their choosing, just for entering!

Giveaway will end Sunday, October 2nd! Make sure you share with all your expecting friends!

Enter here!

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Hike it Baby: One Year Anniversary!

Have you heard about Hike it Baby? For those of you who haven’t, we are an organization dedicated to developing communities that get families outside with children from birth to school age. There are branches in cities all over the world! Iowa has four branches: Des Moines, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and Davenport. An Ames branch will be starting soon, too!

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Come celebrate Des Moines’ one year anniversary with us! We went from an inspiration to an entire branch with over 800 Facebook members and hundreds of hikes on the calendar in a year! We have some fun things planned, including an amazing giveaway filled with donations from local businesses.

When: Sunday, June 5th at 2:30pm at the Ewing Park Children’s Forest and Nature Trail. We will meet at the Ashley Okland Star Playground and hike the Nature Trail at 3pm then have time to play on this AMAZING playground. Bring your own chairs, a picnic basket, and join us!

More information can be found on our Facebook page under Events, and here: https://hikeitbaby.com/hike/hike-it-baby-des-moines-1-year-anniversary-hike-and-event/ 

Check out more information about Katy Severe, leader of Des Moines’ local chapter here!

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Bump Day 2016

Come out to Iowa Family Chiropractic on April 9th, 2016!

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From 9 am until 11 am there will be around 20 vendors sharing their business, goods, and services for new and expecting parents/caregivers and for families trying to get pregnant! Such as local midwives, doulas, photographers, places to shop, acupuncture, massage, and much more.

List of vendors include:

1. Acupunture Wellness Center
2. Farm Baby Foods
3. Willowsong
4. Roots Prenatal Yoga
5. Little Padded Seats
6. Iowa Doula Agency
7. Basking Babies LLC
8. Hy-vee Nutrition
9. Fadeaway Flotation
10. Little Children’s Boutique
11. Babydale Diaper Service
12. Central Iowa Placenta
13. Mercy Midwives
14. It Works
15. Food4Thought
16. Iowa Birth Organization
17. Kiwi Marie Photography
18. Sams Club
19. Ankeny Dog Training Academy

AND Midwest Mom & Wife and Des Moines Parent!! 🙂

Not only will the be an educational event for families to see what Central Iowa has to offer, but there will be some fun stuff too! Bring some cash & prepare to shop! 🙂

Bump Bags full of free goodies for the first 50 families, plus door prizes and giveaways.

This event is also sponsored by Fadeaway Floatation! Check out the great experience I had!

Make sure you join the Facebook event to keep track of everything!

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Curvy Yoga DSM: Yoga For Every Body!

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I have practiced it on and off since I was 13. Growing up in small town Iowa, I didn’t have exposure to a yoga studio or organized classes. All I had was videos, books, and the teachers my high school brought in from time to time. I loved yoga right away. When I decided to check out a local Des Moines studio I thought I would waltz in there and fit right in. I was wrong.

Everything about the studio was beautiful – the people, the clothes, the yoga mats, even the floors. The whole place was very intimidating all by itself (also very intimidating when there are beautiful yoga bodies all around you). I suddenly became very aware of how big my body was. No one said anything. No one looked at me funny. But I didn’t notice that. To me, everyone’s eyes were all on me and my (probably see-through) yoga pants.

Despite all that I was hooked right away. I was exhausted and sweaty but I felt great. The following day I ached in places I didn’t even know existed. After my first week I still didn’t know what a chaturanga was or how to properly do one (still a matter of contention two years later) but I did know that I was going to come back.

Yoga has completely changed the way I see myself inside and out. It has reminded me that I am strong, beautiful, and capable. Being skinny isn’t going to make me a better person. It’s not going to make me happier. My self worth is not determined by the size of my jeans.

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It’s easy to think that yoga isn’t for you. I’m here to tell you that it is. You don’t have to be flexible. You don’t have to wear special clothes. You don’t have to look a certain way. All you have to do is show up. Really, truly, that’s it. Ignore the beautiful Instagram pictures on beaches. Ignore the perfect bodies in tight clothing. Ignore the commentary in your mind.

Join me on Tuesdays at the South Suburban YMCA at 4:45 or on Thursdays at 4020 70th Street in Urbandale. Tuesday classes are free with a YMCA membership and Thursday classes are $15 each, but your first two classes are free. Punch cards are available for purchase and offer discounts by buying multiple classes at a time. My classes are geared towards beginners and will help you understand some basic yoga poses, connect you with your breath and body, and help build confidence in yourself and your yoga practice. There is no need to sign up ahead of time. Just show up!

I’m a Yoga Alliance certified yoga teacher and am working towards becoming Iowa’s first Curvy Yoga Certified yoga teacher. If you have questions, want to schedule a private session, or just want to chat yoga, email me at curvyyogadsm@gmail.com.

Written by Jamie Elliott

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Central Iowa Great Cloth Diaper Change 2016

I am so excited to be participating and helping with the Great Cloth Diaper Change this year!Great-Cloth-Diaper-Change-Logo-03

What is it?!

The Great Cloth Diaper Change was created and began in 2011 by Judy Aagard. She had the desire to celebrate Earth Day by holding an event within her community, which quickly grew into a dream that set a Guinness World Book Record of the most cloth diapers changed simultaneously. Shortly after, the cloth diaper lovers everywhere wanted to continue this annual event to spread awareness that cloth diaper’s are a real option for every family.

When is it?!

Each year it is held on the Saturday around Earth Day! This year the Great Cloth Diaper Change will be held Saturday, April 23rd!

Where is it?!

If you are local to Des Moines, Iowa this year’s change will happen at Uplift Fitness Studios located in Grimes. We are so gracious of the owners to donate their space for this awesome event.

If you are not located near Des Moines, check here for a location near you that may be participating.

What will happen?!

Registration will begin at 10:30 am on Saturday, April 23rd. Bring yourself, kiddo and a cloth diaper! We will have goody bags for the first 30 attendees! We will also be giving aways some awesome prizes and there will also be a few speakers such as a representative from the Central Iowa Babywearing International group!

Make sure you are following our Facebook page for updated details on giveaways, speakers and more!

Help us spread the word! We want to break our local record and spread awareness about cloth diapering!

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Do you know of a family who may be in need of cloth diapers and cannot afford diapers? Please check out information about Share the Love!

Why I am the

Why I am the Postpartum Doula For You!

You may have already heard the exciting news! I am working with the Iowa Doula Agency as a postpartum doula!

Why I am theI am so excited to support mothers after birth. My dream is for every mother to have that one BEST friend after they birth their child. An individual who will be there to support them emotionally, physically and give evidence-based support for the mother and family.

It is wonderful to have your spouse, family and friends around to help; but it is so beneficial to have an educated individual to assist. A postpartum doula’s focus is the mother.

You can be extremely prepared to have a baby. You can have freezer meals made, washed all the babies clothes, shopped for essentials, baby room prepped, and so on. Each birth and each postpartum period is different. There will be questions that need to be answered about your newborn or yourself. A postpartum doula will bring comfort and ease stresses.

I will (just a few and not limited to!):

  • Encourage mother-baby bonding
    • Help with skin-to-skin
  • Provide basic newborn care
    • Swaddle
    • Bathe
    • Change diapers
  • Provide physical help so mother can recover
    • Rest and sleep for mother
    • Healthy snacks
    • Ice packs
  • Basic household care
    • Light house cleaning
    • Errand running
    • Folding laundry
    • Meal preparation
  • Help provide sibling care

As a postpartum doula, I do not dispense medical advice, diagnose medical conditions, interpret medical diagnosis, perform medical clinical procedures, or prescribe/administer medications or treatment.

I am a resource tool! If you are concerned about breastfeeding and need to find a lactation consultation or need to find a mom’s group to socialize, I have many resources for you! If I cannot do something you need, I will help you find the perfect person to help you.

There is always a free consultation. At our consultation we will chat about what your concerns are and what you feel you may need the most assistance with. If you feel that I am the right fit, we will create a plan that we both are comfortable with!

I want to help every mother create and enjoy a special bond with their newborn. 

Have questions? Want to meet? Feel free to e-mail me at Erin@iowadoulas.com

5 Reasons You Should Try Acupuncture

Five Reasons You Should Try Acupuncture

When I get asked what my career is and I reply that I’m a Licensed Acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine practitioner a common response is “Cool! Tell me more.”. I love these moments as it’s an opportunity for me to educate an individual about the amazing benefits of acupuncture.

5 Reasons You Should Try Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been performed for thousands of years, but has only gained popularity in the United States since the 1980s. The fact that as the years go by, the number of people using this form of holistic medicine is growing exponentially is an indication of it’s effectiveness and depth of health conditions it can treat. As acupuncture has become more mainstream, the amount of research studies and clinical trials have increased only further proving it’s efficacy.

There are a number of amazing benefits to regular acupuncture care. The following explains just some of the reasons why you should add it to your health regime:

1) It treats the root cause of your symptoms

We take an over-the-counter pain reliever or NSAID for our muscle tension and headaches, an anti-histamine for our allergies, birth-control pills for our menstrual cramps and an anti-diarrheal for our IBS. These medications, though, are masking your symptoms and not treating the root cause of why you have the symptom in the first place. They may be a temporary relief, which at times is necessary, but when a condition becomes chronic, the issue lies in the person’s body constitution. That’s where acupuncture and Chinese Medicine come in. It treats each individual uniquely, based on what their body needs and what traditional diagnostics are showing. By treating the root cause of a health condition, the individual’s health stabilizes and their body becomes more in balance.

2) It reduces the body’s stress response

Your stressors aren’t going to disappear with acupuncture, unfortunately, but your body’s response to potential stress will be reduced. Acupuncture helps to relax the sympathetic nervous system, which kicks in to high gear when we are in “fight or flight” mode. We need our fight or flight response when we are in danger, but do we need it sitting in traffic or at our job each day? Daily activities will be more enjoyable when we are in a more relaxed, coherent state.

3) It can balance your hormones

Monthly irritability, mood swings, food cravings, cramps, sound familiar? These are all signs of hormone imbalance, all of which acupuncture can help to correct. By increasing circulation to the ovaries, uterus, hypothalamus and pituitary glands, acupuncture can treat the underlying cause of these unenjoyable symptoms. It is also effective at helping the liver remove toxic estrogens from your body, a common cause of hormone imbalance.

4) Better sleep

When our sympathetic nervous systems don’t feel the need to release cortisol all night long, the body can more easily go in to “rest and digest” mode and sleep soundly through the night. Our bodies heal and repair when we sleep. If we don’t sleep, we don’t heal, period.

5) Improved digestive function

In my opinion, Chinese medicine is one of the best forms of therapy for digestive imbalance. If digestion is not functioning properly, other body systems will be affected. By bringing circulation of fresh oxygen, nutrients and hormones to the digestive tract, the system can rebuild and begin to digest our food and fluids efficiently. Signs of an out-of-balance digestive system include constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, upset stomach, heartburn, immune system weakness, such as seasonal allergies, and much more. When the digestive system is working properly, food and fluids are turned in to blood and energy which result in more energy and a stronger immune system.

If you are experiencing any of the unfortunate symptoms listed above, consider treatment of the underlying cause of your health concern. By tailoring acupuncture treatments to your needs, the body is the ability to heal and flourish.

About the Author

View More: http://alycarroll.pass.us/stephanieStephanie Braunwarth is a board-certified Licensed Acupuncturist with a special focus in womenʼs health, fertility and nutrition. Stephanieeducates her patients about the importance of treating the underlying cause of a health condition and encourages them to take an active role in their health.

Stephanie serves patients at Des Moines Acupuncture Clinic in Des Moines.

Des Moines Acupuncture Clinic

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Bell Farm: Where Good Food Grows

My name is Ellen Bell and I am a wife, mother, and farmer. Two years ago, I moved my family from our suburban home to a 10 acre farm just outside of Des Moines, and I started Bell Farm. I’m following a dream of mine, and I haven’t looked back.

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Bell Farm began with a large garden and a small flock of laying chickens. We sold a little bit of produce through our Facebook page ​and a few dozen eggs a week to friends and family. As word of mouth grew, we slowly expanded and branched out, trying new things.

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For example, we brought home a few dozen chicks from the state fair one year, and lo and behold, our meat chicken business was born! Now we raise 100+ meat chickens a year. They are free­range and pastured on our property, and we humanely butcher and process them ourselves here at the farm. We’ve also found markets for some of the other by­-products of the meat chickens, such as hearts, livers, gizzards, and necks/backbones for making homemade chicken broth and stock.

Our laying flock of hens has grown, as well. We currently have 28 laying chickens with plans to increase to 50 this year. We sell approximately 10 dozen eggs each week. Our customers seem to appreciate the fact that our hens live happy, healthy lives outdoors, and that they can come visit their egg producers anytime they want!

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Our first summer at the farm, we planted a medium sized garden, primarily for our family. Like other things, that expanded quickly as well. Last summer we cultivated roughly a half acre and sold 40+ varieties of fruits, vegetables, and herbs through a CSA. For those who are unfamiliar with this farm model, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and refers to a program where customers (also called members) can pre­pay for a portion of the farm’s harvest (also called a share). Shares are typically distributed to the farm’s members on a weekly basis throughout the growing season. Last year, Bell Farm’s CSA ran for 5 months and included 10 member families. This summer, we will continue our CSA program and expand it to 12 full shares, which we will sell in either full or half share increments. We’ll be cultivating over an acre this year, and we have plans to sell our excess produce at area farmer’s markets, through our Facebook page, and to other outlets like grocery stores and restaurants.

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An interesting side­shoot of our farming business is teaching classes. In the last decade, there has been a resurgence of interest in homesteading topics like gardening, food preservation, raising backyard chickens, etc. For several years, friends would casually inquire if I had ever thought about teaching classes on any of these topics. I always dismissed the idea, but once we moved to the farm, I decided to give it a try. The first class I taught was a Garden Planning Workshop. The two hour course, taught here at the farm, instructs beginners and seasoned gardeners alike in how to plan out and execute a low maintenance, productive vegetable garden. This class continues to be one of our most popular courses. Since then, we have added almost a dozen other class offerings such as Pressure Canning, Raising Chickens 101, and Making Homemade Yogurt.

This spring we will embark on yet another new farming adventure: pastured pork. We are currently in the process of prepping about 2 acres of heavily wooded land on our property for 4 piglets that will be coming to the farm in April. We will be raising a heritage hog breed that is well adapted to forest life and foraging. The pigs will be rotated through the woods in paddocks. This means that they can root up one area of the woods, eating lots of plants, shrubs, nuts, and roots. When that area is showing signs of wear, we will move them to a fresh patch of land, which will allow the previous area to re­grow and repair itself. This is unique method of sustainable grazing in a wooded area is also known as Silvopasture. We are excited to dive into this new project and learn more as we go.

For more information about our farm, please feel free to contact me through our Facebook farm page here! ​We also welcome visits to the farm, and we gladly accept offers of help during planting season. We love to show others how they can get up close and personal with their food!

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Written by Ellen Bell