Pregnancy 101

With so many products and services out there for pregnant women and new moms, and so much advice floating around, how do you know what’s really best for you? We talked to local experts about lesser-known, not often talked about, or even slightly controversial options for pregnant women, and got the scoop on a few important ideas that women may have never considered.

Branch of Life

Expert: Danielle Garcia, owner

Headed by Danielle Garcia, Branch of Life, provides placenta encapsulation services. The placenta is ex- pelled after birth (thus the colloquial term for the placenta: afterbirth), and Danielle comes to the hospital, collects the placenta, dehydrates it using one of two methods–traditional Chinese or raw dehydration–and encapsulates the dried placenta into small, ingestible pills. Danielle explains, “People have been eating placentas for centuries. It’s rich in iron, and after the bleeding from birth, your iron levels are low, so it helps with that. It also helps postpartum bleeding, helps bring in breast milk, helps get rid of the baby blues, increases energy.” Danielle expounds that since the placenta is unique to each mother, the health benefits are better than a generic vitamin pill. Danielle charges $200 for her services, which includes the collection of the placenta, and each placenta can make approximately 200+ small pills.

Sweet Cheeks

Expert: Amanda Emch, owner

Sweet Cheeks provides parents with the convenience of shopping for natural baby essentials at a local store. Amanda Emch opened the store, she says, “because I think natural products are healthier and safer. I think green products save not only the environment, but also a lot of money for parents because most of the prod- ucts are reusable.” Sweet Cheeks is the “go-to” spot for many parents who use cloth diapers, which, ac- cording to Amanda, “is a big money-saver for new parents.” Cloth diapers vary in price and ease of convenience: “You could be all set up for $150 if you went with the basic cloth diapers, but if you wanted the all-on-one diapers that are similar to disposable diapers and can just be thrown in the wash, that would be closer to $500. It’s an investment, but you save money over the long run.” Amanda also recommends their skin care line that prevents irritation because all of the products are natural.

Lotus Yoga Center

Expert: Michele Baran, instructor and co-owner

Lotus instructor and co-owner, Michele Baran, explains that “the goal of prenatal yoga is to experience a posi- tive and comforting transition, moving from one place to another in the yoga postures, and learning about controlling the body to help with the upcoming birth.” Exercise during pregnancy has many benefits, such as increasing the flow of oxygen to the baby, helping lower stress levels, improving overall sleep, increasing energy levels, and possibly easing labor and delivery. As with all forms of exercise, pregnant moms need to be careful to listen to their bodies dur- ing yoga. Michele says, “You need to be more con- sciously aware of certain positions you place your body in: nothing on the abdomen, and twists need to be approached with caution. Mild inversions can be fine. Those with sciatica need to be careful of how they stretch their hips so as not to inflame the sciatica more.” For more information on Michele’s prenatal classes, visit





Naturally New-To-You

This Facebook group is dedicated to relisting used baby items, thus “new to YOU.” Many of the members involved list more naturally-minded products, such as cloth diapers and breastfeed- ing accessories, but run-of-the-mill baby items, such as strollers or toys, are also listed on a regular basis. Members can also post “ISO” (in search of) requests, which sometimes prove successful. It’s also a great place to learn about baby accessories that might be unfamiliar to you, such as babywearing wraps or re- usable baby food pouches.


Madela Breastpumps

Madela Breastpumps have been among the most popular options for breastfeeding mothers. Available at Lullaby Lane at Fallen Timbers, the breastpumps are easily accessible and soon to be covered by insurance. Currently in development is a program hoped to be launched by the fall, where mothers can visit Lullaby Lane’s website to fill out a form, come see the Madela products in store and be able to breastfeed without worrying about the expense. Their goal is to help moms successfully breastfeed their babies for as long as they choose, and Lullaby Lane is working on making that possible.


Toledo Midwife

Mary Franks and Barbara Lahey, midwives

Toledo Midwife, with the help of midwives Mary Franks and Barbara Lahey, offers home birth services with a Christian-based philosophy. Mary Franks summarizes their goal: “We support couples in making informed decisions and choosing the birth that’s right for their family.” Mary, a certified midwife and mother of 7, became a midwife because she wanted more options for her own birth, and she had an incredibly difficult time finding help, so she thought to herself, “There have got to be more midwives out there, even if I have to become one myself!”

Mary prefers birthing with a midwife for a few reasons. She had given birth with doctors, and she just felt as if that route wasn’t an ideal fit for her. She didn’t want “unnecessary interventions, like episiotomies or IVs.” Mary clarifies, “I had a birth where the IV insertion was the most painful part of the birth. I thought, ‘This just isn’t necessary; this isn’t the way birth was de- signed.’” Since Mary was low-risk in all of her pregnancies, she decided that the doctors’ expertise was better used on those with higher risk pregnancies.





What is your best advice for new moms and dads? What is the one thing you wish you knew if you were doing it over again?

"It gets easier. No one believes it when they’re in the midst of the newborn haze, but truly, it does."  Dana Hubartt, Toledo

"I wish I had done hypnobirthing with my first labor!" Mary Wyar, Sylvania

"Take up the offers to come over and watch the baby so you can sleep! We recall how worn out we were and sincerely mean it when we offer." Deana Willard, Toledo

"Don’t feel like you have to register for everything the stores tell you to. Wait to see what you might need or take advice of others about the stuff you 'need.' Also, everything big should be gender neutral."  Joanna Bollinger, Toledo


Naturally Sweet Parents

Expert: Carrie Dadey, member

This local Facebook group that addresses common parenting questions and concerns with a more natural-minded approach. The group follows the tenets of natural parenting, which, according to Carrie Dadey, who has been a member of the group for about a year, are “breastfeeding and extended breastfeeding, baby-wearing, listening to your baby cues (not letting them ‘cry it out’), having genital integrity (i.e. against circumcision and episiotomies for convenience), following natural birth practices, and being deliberate about your vaccine choices, like when you do them if you do them.”

Carrie personally joined the site, she explains, “to learn more about natural ways of doing things. I’m also interested in sharing the information that I’ve learned from some of the holistic doctors we’ve been to over the years and through my own research.” Her oldest son, Jaxon (age 8), has dealt with digestive and behavioral issues, and holistic treatment has “totally and completely changed his life.” Carrie says, “I try to be the friend that I wish I had had when Jaxon was going through what he went through.”