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Promoting Pregnancy Wellness and Breastfeeding Success in Our Communities

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

As a leading provider of natural and safe products to support pregnancy and nursing, we love to hear about the work that people are doing in our community (and throughout the nation) to promote pregnancy wellness and breastfeeding success. And, we especially love it when these people ask us to partner with them in their efforts. Here are some of the exciting people and organizations we have been working with over the past several months to reach pregnant and nursing women.

A few months ago, our website caught the eye of Amelia Axness, a senior at Macelester College in St. Paul, MN, studying both German Studies and Biology. Amelia contacted us at here at Fairhaven Health as she was formulating her plans to complete a service project in her hometown of Medford, Oregon. As part of her required coursework, she had been studying the importance of routine prenatal care and nutrition for pregnancy wellness.  Through her research in this area, she discovered that the women visiting the Jackson County Department of Health and Human Services Clinic in Medford, OR needed better educational materials about the role that prenatal vitamins play in pregnancy wellness and early development of the fetus. She received a fellowship that covered the cost of developing and printing new educational materials for the women, but, she also hoped to provide these low-income women with free prenatal vitamins. We were happy to help! Here is what Amelia had to say about her amazing project:

“With the help of Fairhaven Health I was able to provide the Jackson County Health and Human Services Clinic in Medford, Oregon with 60 pregnancy kits. The kits included a two-month supply of prenatal vitamins (PregnancyPlus®) along with a brief, easy to understand 4×5 card listing the various vitamins and minerals vital for a healthy pregnancy and lactating period. Many young women who visit the clinic are of low-income and are there for a pregnancy screening. The majority of the women qualify for the Oregon Health Plan (OHP), Oregon’s Medicaid program. The women are also able to receive prenatal vitamins under their OHP policy. However, from the moment they learn that they are pregnant until the time the paperwork is processed and they can finally get a hold of the vitamins, critical windows of development have come and gone. My goal was to provide those women who couldn’t afford the vitamins during that in-between period with the prenatal vitamins. Years ago the clinic actually would give out free prenatal vitamins to expecting mothers, however that program was canceled due to budget cuts. Ideally I would like to see a permanent reinstatement of such a program and continue to work with the clinic to try and provide those women in need.”

Thanks, Amelia, for stepping out to make a difference in your community and for giving Fairhaven Health the opportunity to help you spread the word about pregnancy wellness.

At Fairhaven Health, we support breastfeeding as the optimal feeding choice for moms and babies. But, we also understand that for some women, “choosing” breastfeeding isn’t always easy. Pregnant woman are constantly bombarded with confusing messages about breastfeeding and formula feeding, and even when new moms want to breastfeed, they often lack the information and support (from peers and professionals) they need to breastfeed successfully.

The American Academy of Physicians recommends exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first 6 months of a baby’s life, followed by breastfeeding in combination with the introduction of complementary foods until at least 12 months of age, and continuation of breastfeeding for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby. While we understand that these guidelines might be easily achievable for some women, for other women, achieving these goals requires a Herculean effort. We are committed to helping new moms reach their breastfeeding goals (whatever those goals might be, 1 week to 1 year or longer) and we are proud to partner with several amazing organizations that are working to normalize breastfeeding, provide moms with the evidence-based, unbiased information they need to make a truly informed choice about feeding options, and ensure that moms have the support they need from peers and lactation professionals to successfully breastfeed.

It is our pleasure to support the work of the following breastfeeding organizations in their efforts to make breastfeeding accessible to all moms and babies.

Cottonwood Kids:

Many new mothers receive their first can of formula for free, from the hospital where they give birth. These “free” samples come at a tremendous cost in terms of breastfeeding success. Cottonwood Kids was created solely to assist in elevating breastfeeding in the eyes of families across the country and to help hospitals and birthing centers create a breastfeeding-friendly environment for their patients. Cottonwood Kids created the Healthy Baby Bag, a useful product designed to store expressed breast milk that is given to new mothers at the hospital where they deliver. Packaged inside the bag are essential breastfeeding product samples and support information for new moms. The Healthy Baby Bag Program was launched in July of 2009, and since then more than 600,000 bags have been sent to more than 500 hospitals around the country.

BestforBabes:

Best for Babes was founded by Bettina Forbes and Danielle Rigs, two moms eager to change the way breastfeeding is viewed in the United States. Best for Babes is the only mainstream nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness of and removing the barriers (The Breastfeeding Booby Traps™) that keep millions of mothers in the U.S. from achieving their personal breastfeeding goals. The Best for Babes Credo sums up what makes this organization a champion for moms:

  • ALL moms deserve to make a truly informed feeding decision and to be cheered on, coached and celebrated without pressure, judgment or guilt.
  • ALL breastfeeding moms deserve to achieve their personal breastfeeding goals without being undermined by cultural & institutional Booby Traps.

One of the things that we love most about Best for Babes is that they use style, fun and glamour as weapons in their fight to eliminate the BoobyTraps.  Best for Babes recently partnered with Healthy Child Healthy World and actresses Jenna Elfman, Kelly Preston & former boxer Laila Ali, to host the first-ever event (an afternoon tea at the home of Jenna Elfman) to raise awareness among expecting and new celebrity moms about the barriers to breastfeeding and the benefits of toxin-free living in raising healthy children. Fairhaven Health was honored to participate in this event as a contributing sponsor.

The wonderful hosts - Bettina Forbes, Jenna Elfman, Kelly Preston, Danielle Rigg, and Laila Ali (from left to right). Courtsey of LeAnna Azzolini.

Fairhaven Health's nursing supplements displayed as the focal point in Jenna Elfman's Bathroom! Courtesy of Jessica Pettyjohn

The Leaky Boob

Started in 2010, the Leaky Boob consists of an informative blog, an active Facebook page, and a moderated forum.  What caught our attention is the amazing community of support that the Leaky Boob Facebook page provides. With over 500 new people participating in the site each week, the Leaky Boob Facebook page provides a safe and convenient place for breastfeeding families to get immediate answers and support for all of the breastfeeding questions and issues that arise. As most new moms will tell you, this 24/7 help and feedback is vital for breastfeeding success. We are proud to support the work that the Leaky Boob is doing to ensure breastfeeding families feel supported and encouraged in their breastfeeding journey.

La Leche League

La Leche League is an international non-profit organization dedicated to breastfeeding awareness and promotion. Their mission is to help mothers worldwide – through support, encouragement, information and education – to obtain a better understanding of the importance of breastfeeding in the healthy development of the baby, as well as the for the emotional and physical health of the mother. We’ve recently had the honor of supporting our local La Leche League group by donating to their fundraising auction. We provided educational brochures for the attendees as well as provided gift baskets of our nursing supplements and products for the auction. As a leading online retailer, we feel lucky to be able to support our local community as well.

Thanks again to all of these passionate people for allowing us to partner with them in lifting up pregnant and nursing women. Wishing you all pregnancy wellness and breastfeeding success!

Did you know that exposure to environmental toxins may be decreasing your fertility?

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Over the last couple of decades, environmental and reproductive health advocates have been sounding the alarm about the devastating impact that short-term and long-term exposure to toxic chemicals in our environment has on male and female fertility. And, these folks are not just crying wolf: The mounting evidence linking exposure to environmental toxins with impaired reproductive function (including decreasing fertility rates and increasing rates of pregnancy complications) grows larger and larger with each passing year.

Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to completely avoid exposure to the chemicals that harm reproductive health, which is certainly unsettling news for trying-to-conceive couples. These chemicals, often referred to as endocrine disruptors because of their ability to wreak havoc with the normal function of our hormones, are everywhere in our environment. You breathe them in, drink them in, eat them, and apply them to your hair and skin when using cosmetics and shampoos.

While it is impossible to completely avoid exposure to toxins in today’s world, there are steps you can take to mitigate their effect on your reproductive health. Here are 10 things you can do to reduce the toxic burden in your body:

1.     Get to know the enemy. Here is an introduction to the chemicals that may be reducing your fertility.  By familiarizing yourself with these names, you can take steps to reduce your exposure, remembering of course, that some exposure is inevitable.

Bisphenol–A: BPA is used to make the plastics found in food and drink containers, the lining of tin cans, toys, baby bottles, dental sealants, flame retardants, and plastic wraps. The story of BPA clearly illustrates the uphill climb that environmental and reproductive health advocates face when trying to initiate change. Armed with a large body of scientific evidence (based on animal research) that reveals that BPA exposure contributes to heart disease, diabetes, as well as fertility and reproductive issues, advocates have been lobbying for years to get BPA banned. In January 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did officially state concern about the health effects of BPA exposure, although no additional action was taken to restrict the use of BPA in the manufacturing of plastics.

Parabens: These chemicals are found primarily in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals as a preservative, appearing on ingredient labels with names like methylparaben, ethylparaben and propylparaben.

Phthalates: These chemicals are added to plastics to make them more flexible and resilient. Phthalates are found in lots of different products that we come in contact with daily, including detergents, plastic bags, food packaging, shower curtains, children’s toys, soaps and shampoos, and hair spray. Again, it is important to read labels, as these chemicals may appear in the ingredient listing with names like DBP (di-n-butyl phthalate) and DEP (diethyl phthalate).

Dioxin: A general name given to a group of hundreds of chemicals that are formed during industrial processes that involve the use of chlorine, including waste incineration, chemical and pesticide manufacturing, and pulp and paper bleaching. Dioxin is released into the air and settles onto the ground where it contaminates soils, and thereby makes its way into the food supply.

Organophosphates and organochlorines: These compounds are used in the manufacture of pesticides and herbicides.

Heavy metals: Due to industrial processes, pollution from automobiles, cigarette smoke, and heavy pesticide use, heavy metals (such as cadmium, mercury, lead and arsenic) pervade our food supply and our environment. As a result, most people are exposed on a daily basis to these metals, which can accumulate in our organs and impair reproductive health.

2.     Support organic farming. Whenever possible choose organic produce, dairy products, and meats. Buying “organic” guarantees that your food will be free of pesticide residues and artificial growth hormones. And, it is important to remember that many toxic chemicals are stored in fatty tissues, which means that organic dairy products and meats that contain fat (which all of them do to some extent) will have fewer contaminants than animal products coming from conventionally raised livestock.

3.     Break the habit. Cigarette smoke is a major source of heavy metal exposure.

4.     Say no to BPA. Avoid purchasing food and drinks packaged in plastics containing bisphenol -A. And, never microwave food in plastic containers.

5.     Drink filtered water. And, be sure to avoid bottled water packaged in plastic bottles containing bisphenol-A.

6.     Supplement with fish oil. Omega 3 fatty acids (found primarily in fish oil) are an important part of a healthy diet, and especially important for trying-to-conceive and pregnant women. But, unfortunately, the fish that are high in Omega 3s also tend to have high levels of mercury. By supplementing with a high-quality fish oil supplement, such as Pregnancy Plus Omega 3, you will reap the benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids without the risk of increasing your mercury levels.

7.     Put the green in clean. Use only non-toxic cleaning supplies in your home.

8.     Free yourself from parabens and phthalates. Read the labels of the personal care products you use very carefully, and avoid products that contain phthalates and parabens.

9.     Don’t contaminate your yard. Choose natural, non-toxic alternatives to conventional pesticides and fertilizers for your lawn and garden care needs.

10.  Take FertileDetox! At Fairhaven Health, we, too, are concerned about the impact of environmental toxins on reproductive health. In response, we gathered our team of doctors and nutritionists together to develop FertileDetox, a comprehensive formulation designed to enhance fertility in women and men by helping the body’s detoxification systems to neutralize and remove the toxic compounds that diminish reproductive health. For more information on how FertileDetox can enhance your trying-to-conceive efforts, check out www.fertiledetox.com.

Secondary Fertility – Two Peak Fertility Readings in One Cycle

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

When trying-to-conceive, many women track their cycles to determine their most fertile days by using ovulation tests or fertility monitors.  Charting your cervical mucus consistency and basal body temperature can also indicate when your most fertile days are and help confirm when ovulation has occurred. Some women, more commonly women with PCOS or irregular cycles, may be unaware that they are experiencing multiple follicular stimulation in a single cycle.

If you have ever received two peak readings or a second lh surge in one cycle just a couple days apart– you may have unknowingly experienced multiple follicular stimulation. In order to achieve pregnancy, the follicle is released from your ovary and it must rupture for the egg to be released from the follicle. In cases of multiple follicular stimulation, your body releases the follicle, but it doesn’t rupture – therefore the egg is not released and you are unable to achieve pregnancy at that time. Your body realizes that this has happened and subsequently releases a second follicle 3-5 days later.

Typically, after ovulation, fertility monitors will register ‘low’ fertility, cervical mucus egg-white consistency will be gone, and there will be shift in basal body temperature. Women that experience multiple follicular stimulation will receive a second peak reading with their monitor and may continue to see any other natural fertile signs. If you receive a second peak reading, it is extremely important that you continue intercourse as you can only conceive after ovulation has taken place (i.e. conception will not result from the first follicle that was released).

It is important to track your cycle diligently so you are able to catch cycles where there may be a delay in the time when you are able to conceive that month. Using the OvaCue Fertility Monitor can help to identify the release of a second follicle so you don’t miss this opportunity to conceive. The combination of the oral sensor and optional vaginal sensor indicates ovulation with a dark pink/purple color on the OvaCue fertility calendar – if this color is seen a second time that cycle, you can conclude that secondary fertility has taken place. When this second set of peak days are identified, intercourse should be continued as ovulation didn’t occur as it should have with the first peak reading. This is one of the main reasons that women experience a cycle that is a couple days longer than usual. Women who experience irregular cycles or who have been diagnosed with PCOS should be especially cognizant of this.

A Few Ovulation Myths Uncovered

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Ovulation occurs when an egg is released from one of your ovaries and travels through the fallopian tubes to await fertilization. On average, the egg will live approximately 12-24 hours awaiting fertilization from sperm. If conception doesn’t occur, the unfertilized egg, uterine lining, and additional blood will be shed during menstruation. If conception does occur, the egg will implant in the uterine wall within about 6-12 days.

Understanding ovulation is very important if you are trying to conceive. Here are a few common myths and misconceptions.

A Woman Can Get Pregnant Only One Day During Her Cycle. It is true that ovulation (meaning the dropping of one or more eggs) generally only occurs on one day of the cycle, but a woman can actually get pregnant from having had intercourse 4-5 days before ovulation occurs. The reason for this is that sperm can live for up to 5 days in a healthy reproductive tract.

A Normal Menstrual Cycle is 28 Days, and Ovulation OccuEggs-Basketrs on Day 14 of the Cycle. The reality is that every woman’s cycle is different, and generally ranges from 24-36 days. Ovulation days can also depend on the woman and can occur many days before or after the 14th day of her cycle. You will not necessarily be fertile on the 14th day of your cycle. Fertility Charting, and the use of ovulation microscopes and other predictor devices are recommended to test for your window of fertility.

Women Can Ovulate More Than once During Her Cycle. This is not true. Ovulation only occurs once during the cycle of a healthy woman. It is true that more than one egg may be released during ovulation, but this almost always occurs within 24 hours of each other.

Women Ovulate on the Same Day Each Month. While most women ovulate towards the middle of their cycle, the actual day can change month to month, even in women with regular cycles. This is one reason that tracking for ovulation is so important!

Alternative Therapies: Improving Fertility With Acupuncture and Yoga

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Dating back thousands of years in China, acupuncture is increasingly becoming a respected form of treatment in Western medicine for many ailments and conditions, including infertility. Yoga is also increasingly viewed as a legitimate alternative fertility treatment. Traditionally Indian, meaning “union” in Sanskrit, yoga is a series of physical postures and poses designed to create union between the mind, body and spirit. Combined with proper supplementation, yoga and acupuncture may help you increase your fertility odds, and is a great alternative to harsh and expensive fertility treatments!

Acupuncture

In acupuncture, based on the problem you’re experiencing, different ‘points’ are stimulated using long, thin acupuncture needles. These long, thin needles vary in length according to which point it is to be inserted into. The idea is that by stimulating these points, energy flow is reAcupunctureFertilitybalanced and the body can then begin to heal itself. While Western practitioners admit that they are unsure of the connection between acupuncture and fertility, many recommend it as a way of regulating ovulation and menstruation for women trying to conceive, as well as decreasing stress levels, opening blocked sperm ducts in men, and increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs. Acupuncture has been recommended by fertility specialists and naturopaths and homeopathic specialists for both diagnosed and non-diagnosed couples with fertility problems. It has also become widely recommended to women undergoing In vitro Fertilization (IVF) and other fertility treatments. In fact, A German study in 2002 found that performing acupuncture about 25 minutes before and 25 minutes after an embryo transfer increases pregnancy rates to 42.5 percent, compared to about 26 percent without acupuncture! *

Yoga

While gaining popularity by many Westerners as great exercise and an alternative to the gym, like Acupuncture, yoga has also become a recommended alternative to infertility treatments such as In vitro Fertilization and Clomid. Yoga and specific yoga poses recommended for fertility, help to balance 6771_110377760781_92240570781_2157315_114072_nhormones while others increase the amount of blood flow to your organs, thereby stimulating and strengthening them. Meditation can also be a part of yoga, which can be a great stress management technique. Check out PhD, RYT, scientist and yoga instructor Anna Davis’s Bend, Breathe & Conceive for a respected fertility yoga DVD that receives incredibly good feedback and reviews!

* http://www.alpineacupuncture.com/Infertility.htm

An Interview with Elizabeth Austen, the Founder of ‘Fill Their Arms’

Friday, October 16th, 2009

“…infertility has had such a huge impact on my life – I’m going to have a huge impact on infertility”!

beth1.5Elizabeth Austen is the Founder of Fill Their Arms, a non-profit organization created to provide financial support for those struggling with infertility. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from California State University of Northridge as well as a certification in crisis counseling from The Women’s Coalition of Ventura, California. Elizabeth is married and has experienced the pain of infertility and miscarriage. We feel very fortunate to have been able to interview her about Fill Their Arms and hope you find this information helpful.

Fill Their Arms Mission Statement: We intend to eliminate the financial hardship that infertile couples experience by empowering family and friends to contribute and provide support. We strive to increase infertility awareness by educating the public and spreading truth.

Fairhaven Health: What prompted you to start a business like Fill Their Arms?

Elizabeth: There is a huge need! During my and Zach’s four year struggle with infertility, we found that our options were extremely limited. Fertility care and treatment was a struggle because of the expense; Adoption was completely out of our reach. Meanwhile, I observed how other foundations served people who had illnesses. I thought to myself, “What about infertility? Why isn’t there something for that?” I thought about how much easier things would be if everyone in our family and circle of support donated towards our efforts to become parents. As I began to connect with other couples in the same boat, I saw that there was a real need.

Fairhaven Health: And then you started Fill Their Arms?

(more…)

Infertility- Some Thoughts From Those Who Suffer

Monday, October 5th, 2009

Thank you so very much, to all of you who have opened your hearts and shared your story with Fairhaven Health. Here are some thoughts that have been shared by our customers, friends, and online community about infertility.

Infertility…

  • is the time a future parent suffers the most for their child.bigstockphoto_Couple_In_Love_73114
  • can be scary, emotional, and very difficult to deal with. But it doesn’t have to be dealt with alone!
  • is a struggle that can be overcome… we just have to believe and stay positive!
  • is a struggle that no one can understand until it happens to them.
  • is really difficult, but “Some of the BEST things in life are WORTH waiting for.” :)
  • has been and still is the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to go through.
  • is the most frustrating & heart wrenching aspect of life one can go through. To not know “why” and “what” is the biggest problem.
  • is something most don’t understand. Those suffering from it would give anything in the world to get pregnant. Along with infertility comes: tears, charting, OPK, BBT, frustration, neg pregnancy tests, and much more.
  • is hard to deal with but worth it in the end when your blessed with an angel!
  • changes the lives of many. Not only do we have to deal with all the problems of trying to get pregnant, but also the many losses that can also result from infertility issues, then we try and pick up the pieces and start all over again. It gets harder and harder as more time goes by.
  • gets harder and harder as each HPT is negative.
  • is rarely talked about and the person next to you could be experiencing the same thing and u never know it. It is one of those things u wanna hide in the closet and leave there. Quite depressing really when all u want is a child of your own!
  • is very emotional, it makes you a whole different person. You feel like no one understands you and what you are feeling and struggling with. It is also very hard on couples to become so consumed with with having a baby
  • is life altering. You never think you are going to be “that person” until you go through it first hand and the experience really changes you- as a person and as a couple.

__________________

  • Waiting *patiently* for a baby isn’t easy, it’s quite a roller coaster ride! Between the hopefulness, anticipation, letdown and tears, not to mention the insensitive comments from others, it’s overwhelming sometimes.
  • No matter how tiring and frustrating it may become…we will continue to push forward in hopes that one day soon we will be blessed w/ another child.
  • I so want my little boy to have a sibling soon. I wish for it real soon, but know it will happen on God’s timetable.
  • People tell me that since its me and not my wife and that we still have a chance of getting a pregnant. People tell me to get a sperm donor and that hurts me very much. Prayers are appreciated from a great man that wants to be a great father.
  • After trying for 7 years, we finally became pregnant in 2005 with our now three year old son. We started trying again in 2007, so that there wouldn’t be a big age gap between our kiddos, well two years later and one chemical pregnancy, we still do not have another baby. I really want to give my son a sibling and want to feel the joys of being a mom all over again.

Please read Melissa Sanford’s blog post about Staying Positive in the Midst of Infertility for tips on how to keep your chin up!

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