Archive for the ‘Childbirth’ Category

Birth Centers In and Around Portland, Oregon

Andaluz Waterbirth Centers

“Our midwives provide prenatal, birth and postpartum care, specializing in waterbirth. We attend to you in your home or one of our birthing centers. We provide well baby newborn care up to 6 weeks, and have a naturopathic doctor to provide care after 6 weeks. We have a beautiful large classroom where we offer classes prenatally and postpartum. Andaluz has an extended community for continued support. ”


Portland Center
3323 SW Naito Pkwy
Portland, OR 97239

Tualatin Center
19255 SW 65th Ave. ste. 220
Tualatin, OR 97062

Alma Birth Center

“Our Birth Center is a warm, inviting space to give birth to your baby. We will treat you with respect and kindness throughout your pregnancy, birth and postpartum care. Our center

combines the privacy and comfort of a homelike setting, with the reassurance and safety of knowing that clinical care and equipment are nearby. We are located in a lovely three-story house centrally located in Portland, Oregon. Our Birth Center has two spacious birthing suites each with its own built-in birthing tub and bathroom. There are many other rooms for visiting family, prenatal care, well-woman gynecology, meeting space for childbirth education and other classes, and a full size kitchen. Our Birth Center is licensed by the State of Oregon.”

1608 SE Ankeny St.
Portland, OR. 97214

Natural Childbirth & Family Clinic

“Our state-licensed birthing room aims to provide all the comforts of home; and then some! We have a large jetted tub where you can labor as much as you choose, and you can give birth in the tub as well. The tub is large enough for two adults and has easy access for family and friends to be close by, offering additional support to the birthing Mom. There is a lovely view into our garden stocked with roses and a plum tree (stop by in August for some plums!), and the room feels very private and safe.”

Contact: (click for email form)

Phone: 503.252.8125

10360 N.E. Wasco St.
Portland, OR 97220

Bella Vie Gentle Birth Center

“At Bella Vie, our rooms are uniquely different and gorgeous, offering your family luxury, comfort and safety. Each private and spacious suite includes a state-of-the art birthing tub, approved by Waterbirth International, and medical equipment mindfully tucked away.

Your room will also include a queen-sized bed, perfect for snuggling with your newly formed family. For your entertainment and comfort, we offer stereos, televisions and DVD players. Our desire is to make you feel like you are in the comfort of your own home including all of the extras like plush towels, a variety of candles, and delicious meals.”

503-315-BABY (2229)
13160 Jerusalem Hill Road NW
Salem, Oregon 97304

Alameda Clinic and Birth Center

3351 NE Broadway St
Portland, OR 97232


Placenta: Medicine, Rituals & Art

September 25, 2009 3 comments

The benefits of your placenta do not have to end after you give birth. This complex organ is revered in many cultures, known as the “tree of life”, the baby’s “first mother”, sibling or friend. There has been little research on placenta to date. However, what is out there supports the theory that consuming placenta may benefit women postpartum. By eating your placenta, you are able to reclaim what is lost due to pregnancy and birth.

Placentophagy may possibly:

  • Stimulate uterine contractions
  • Slow postpartum hemorrhage
  • Replenish nutrients after birth
  • Curb postpartum depression
  • Increase your milk supply
  • Help your uterus return to pre-pregnancy size faster
  • Replenish depleted iron
  • Decrease fatigue
  • Decrease likelihood of insomnia or sleep disorders
  • Enhance pain tolerance
  • Ease of menopausal hormone fluctuations

What does placenta contain?

  • Your own hormones
  • High in vitamins and minerals, such as B6
  • Iron and protein
  • Blood stem cells
  • High levels of prostaglandin
  • Small amounts of oxytocin

One important study of the placenta showed a possible link to postpartum depression:

Placentophagia may also increase a mother’s blood levels of a hormone known as CRH (corticotropin-releasing hormone), a known stress-reducer. This hormone is normally secreted by the hypothalamus. According to a study performed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “During the last trimester of pregnancy, the placenta secretes so much CRH that the levels in the bloodstream increase threefold. However, it was also discovered that postpartum women have lower than average levels of CRH, triggering depressive symptoms. They concluded that the placenta secreted so much CRH that the hypothalamus stopped producing it.” (PBi, Medicinal).

Photograph courtesy of Rachel Radtke

Photograph courtesy of Rachel Radtke


Your placenta can be ingested in many ways. Those who worry about or experience postpartum hemorrhage may want to cut off and ingest a small piece of their placenta right after the birth. You can also stick a small piece under your tongue or on the side of your cheek, and remove after about five minutes. “Studies have shown that eating the placenta triggers the release of oxytocin into the bloodstream, enabling the uterus to quickly heal and tone itself after childbirth.” (PBi, Medicinal Benefits.)

Another great way to reap the benefits of your placenta is to eat it raw, such as in a smoothie. Many say that adding fruit, such as berries, masks the flavor of the placenta very well. By eating the placenta raw, you are retaining much of the vitamins, minerals, and hormones that can be lost when the placenta is frozen, cooked, or processed in any other way.

A growing trend is to encapsulate it, which involves steaming, drying, then grinding it up. This method appeals to many who feel that they will not be able to stomach their raw or cooked placenta. Another interesting way of preserving your placenta is to make it into a tincture that can be taken by dropperful, by either you or your child. This tincture, or “essence”, is a remedy to be used at times of stress, illness, to boost the immune system, and whenever one feels so inclined. Placenta essence can last for years and years as long as it is stored properly.

Proper Care & Handling of Your Placenta

As soon as possible after the placenta has been birthed, it needs to be placed in a food-grade container (glass or ceramic is best, but double bagged Ziploc will also work), sealed tightly and refrigerated. If the family wants to delay cord cutting, this can be done up to three to four hours later, and then the cord must be severed, and the placenta quickly refrigerated in order to safely ingest the placenta later. Please note that you will be unable to have a lotus birth (leaving the cord attached until it detaches on its own) if you want to safely encapsulate your placenta.

If you are having a hospital birth, make your wishes known ahead of time regarding your placenta. They should refrigerate it right after birth, but to be prepared for the unexpected, you should bring a cooler with you to the hospital. If every one is too busy to take care of it quickly, place the packaged placenta on ice within the first hour or so. This will keep it cool enough until the staff has time to take care of it. The cooler is also a good idea for taking the placenta on the ride home. Read more about how to best handle the release of your placenta from the hospital HERE, and download a hospital liability release form HERE.

The placenta encapsulation process should begin 24-48 hours after the birth. It can be done up to 7 days later, but the capsules will not be as effective. If it is not possible to process the placenta within 48 hours, it should be double bagged in Ziploc freezer bags and frozen. Before encapsulation, the placenta should be completely thawed, which takes about 24 hours. The capsules can be frozen, which extends their shelf life from weeks to years. Read more about the care of your placenta HERE.

The Encapsulation Process

Shortly after birth, the placenta can be enapsulated by your partner, friend, family member, or a professional. The placenta can be steamed following the traditional Chinese medicine guidelines, then sliced and dehydrated. Another option is to skip the steaming process altogether. Once dehydrated, the placenta is ground up using a coffee grinder, mortar and pestle, blender or food processor. After the grinding, the placenta powder is placed into empty capsules, and there you have it! The number of capsules depends on the size of the placenta, usually around 150 or so.

After the Postpartum Period

Placenta still has benefits even after the initial weeks following your birth. Some women will save some of their capsules in the freezer for when they feel they really need it. Others plan to save theirs for when they reach menopause to ease the transition of hormonal fluctuations.

Beyond the postpartum period, the capsules are beneficial for any stressful transition. Having to leave the baby to go back to work, a job loss in the family, or a move can cause stress that can be helped with placenta capsules. Since the capsules also help with fatigue and milk production, they can be taken any time the mother feels worn down or needs to increase her milk supply.” (PBi, Keeping).

Rituals & Ceremonies

Many families choose to plant their placentas after birth. You can freeze your placenta for as long as you need, even holding a ceremony later on your child’s birthday to honor the placenta and birth. This ceremony can be the closure to your child’s birth, as well as healing any unresolved feelings you have. For ideas on how to create a unique ceremony for your family, take a look at this site’s suggestions.

To plant your placenta, dig the right size hole to hold your placenta and plant. Score the sides of the hole, so that the roots of the plant can take hold easier. Place the placenta at the bottom of the hole, cover with about an inch of soil, then place the plant in the hole and fill it on up. Water your plant according to its needs, and as your baby’s placenta breaks down, the plant will be nourished by it. If you choose to grow a fruit tree, the tree will bear fruit that has grown from your baby’s placenta. This fruit can then go on to nourish your family.

Placenta Art

Placenta prints are another beautiful way to commemorate your child’s birth. You can do this with a fresh or thawed placenta; simply place the placenta vein side down onto paper of your choice. Press down, and then lift up. The blood will act as a paint, and create a lovely tree of life painting. You can also wash the blood off, and paint it with all sorts of colors to make a variety of prints. These prints can be framed to keep as a keepsake of your birth. Read more about how to create placenta prints HERE.

Further reading and viewing:

Placenta Medicine: My Story by Tiffany Rosenbrock

The Placenta in Lore and Legend

Placenta encapsulation video


Medicinal Benefits of Placentophagy

MoonDragon’s Placenta Disposal Suggestions, Rituals, and Recipes

Placental Remedy dot com

Proper Placenta Care for Placenta Encapsulation

Scientific research compiled through PBi

The Care and Keeping of Placentas

Birth story | Amelia’s Unassisted Birth

November 21, 2008 1 comment

I wrote a month ago about my experience at my first unassisted birth, and I was given permission to post a link to Laura’s personal story of the birth of her daughter, Amelia, here. Definitely check it out! I love reading uplifting birth stories, and they helped me immensely when I was pregnant with Oliver.

HERE is her story 🙂

“Baby, You’re Home”

November 14, 2008 Leave a comment

The NY Times wrote a great article about home birth on the rise a couple days ago. I always love reading about birth in the news. I think it is great the Ricki Lake’s documentary “The Business of Being Born” made such an impact on moms in this country. No matter what a woman chooses, I think it important that she knows what options are out there.

As a new mother, the reality of birth is so much different than what you expect it to be. By bringing birth out in the open, taking away it’s mystery, women are given a chance to see it for what it really is: an incredibly raw, brutally intimate, & overwhelming, life changing event like no other.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“Some people, concerned that a home birth might be traumatic for children to witness, send them to stay with a friend or relative for the duration. Ms. Rickert and her husband, Cameron Skene, on the other hand, saw it as an educational opportunity for their 2 ½-year-old daughter, Maya. “There’s nothing mysterious about birth unless you want there to be,” Ms. Rickert said. “For us it just introduced Maya to life, and how life comes about.”

Maya awoke around 4 a.m. and joined her parents in the living room. “She was munching away on her apple and talking about 2-year-old stuff when I was having contractions,” Ms. Rickert said.

When it was time for Ms. Rickert to push, Maya watched intently. Although she didn’t like the blood and water that followed the baby, her mother reported, she wasn’t surprised: for months Ms. Rickert had prepared the toddler with an explanation of what would happen.

Check out the article in it’s entirety HERE.

Vasa Previa

November 13, 2008 2 comments

I came across this great video that was taken after a birth of twins. The video is of a placenta with vasa previa, and a nurse explaining what you are looking at. Pretty interesting (and graphic)!

Vasa previa is a rarely (1:2500) reported condition in which fetal blood vessel(s) from the placenta or umbilical cord crosses the entrance to the birth canal, beneath the baby. The condition has a high fetal mortality rate (50-95%). This can be attributed to rapid fetal exsanguination resulting from the vessels tearing when the cervix dilates, membranes rupture or if the vessels become pinched off as they are compressed between the baby and the walls of the birth canal.

For more information, check out

Amelia’s Unassisted Birth Story

October 24, 2008 4 comments

I am a big fan of unassisted births. Hey, I had my own! Many birth professionals look down on women who choose to go unassisted, believing them to be taking birth ‘too far’ or being selfish. I personally believe that every woman should be able to birth how she feels she needs to. I find it very sad that even those surrounded by birth, women who say that they trust birth,  are so quick to call unassisted birth irresponsible.

All of the women I have come across who have gone unassisted know their stuff. I know I read a million books about birth before I had Oliver. Most of these women are not going blindly into birth. It is a tough road to travel; you must defend your choice to everyone who finds out about your “plan”.

As a doula, I am proud to say that I support any woman who wants an unassisted birth. Surprisingly, when I began researching doula work, I discovered that most doulas will not attend an unassisted birth. Most fear that if something goes wrong, that they will be prosecuted.

So, as I was saying, I love free births! I was extremely excited when I was asked to attend one in September.

I got the call early on September 25. She was in early labor, but definitely progressing. Once I got there mid-morning, I was really pumped! She was doing great, and her partner was there by her side. I was happy to be able to provide relief for him, so he could rest and take care of a few things. She was having back labor, and I was lucky to have brought along my new little massage ball.

It really helped, and through the rest of her labor, both her partner and I took turns massaging her lower back.

Although really tired from lack of sleep, she did so fantastic. She changed positions when she needed to, and was really amazing. I felt so lucky to be able to be apart of something so great 🙂

During transition, she thought she had more time to go, so she wanted to get in the tub. Before the water even rose high enough, the baby was crowning! She stood in the tub, and with the support of her partner, gave birth to their beautiful daughter.

I felt a bit useless at the time, so I did what I knew I could: take some pictures! She was kind enough to give me permission to post this:

Amelia was born at 3:15 in the afternoon, just a little under 4 hours after I arrived! It was a beautiful birth. Brought me back to that excitement and awe of having my own birth. I am usually not a gushy person, but I definitely had tears in my eyes when she was born.

Long labor.

August 13, 2008 1 comment

I attended my longest birth so far last weekend. Twenty-nine hours. It was long and hard, but great practice for me. I ended up crying at the end, all alone in the cardiac department, because I was so exhausted and missed my family terribly. I wasn’t able to sleep for almost two days, and by the end, I was a wreck. I had never been away from my kids that long, and I didn’t realize how lack of sleep would make me feel.

At the hospital

At the hospital

It was also the first time I had a negative experience with nurses. They were very rude, and any time I walked by they glared at me. They were not welcoming at all, and when they were out at their station, they just sat and chatted. Many times when I walked by, I could hear them talking about the mom I was with. This was the same hospital I gave birth to my daughter at – St. Vincent’s in Portland. Brought back a lot of memories.