All posts by Janine Stiles

Happy International Day of the Midwife

Every year, May 5th is International Day of the Midwife.  Every day at Mandala Midwifery Care is Midwife’s Day!


I often get asked why I am a midwife.  Why did I endure the long and sometimes grueling training?  How do I manage those days that seemed to be filled with endless charting and administrative tasks? Why do I put up with odd and often long hours? (An uninterrupted 8 hours of sleep is a thing?)

In short, I am a midwife because I was called to do it.  I ignored that call over and over again for years, but your life’s calling has a way of continually ringing until you finally pick up and answer.  It is a part of who I am and denying it is like denying a part of myself.

I am a midwife because I believe caring for women is so important in the world today.  Global studies show that societies do better when women do better.  Women’s health care in the United States has some major deficiencies and I am driven to changing that, one woman and one family at a time.

I am a midwife because birthing people and babies deserve respectful, loving and gentle care during pregnancy and birth.  It is so sad and infuriating to me that the terms “birth violence” and “birth rape” actually exist.  Pregnancy and birth are a miraculous and vulnerable time and everyone involved deserves to be nurtured and supported with compassion.

Speaking of miracles, I am a midwife because birth is an amazing miracle every single time.  Every. Single. Time.

I am a midwife because I believe everyone deserves competent, respectful sexual and reproductive care that honors who they are. Care for LGBTQ people, people of color, and other marginalized groups needs to be brought to the forefront as the many benefits of the midwifery model of care can have a powerful impact for these communities.

I am a midwife because babies deserve gentle, evidence-based care from their very first moments.

I am a midwife because helping people become parents and grow their families is a tremendous privilege and I am in awe of the trust that is placed in me every day.  I feel that I get back more from families than I give them and I am so grateful for all that I learn from each and every client.

I am a midwife because what that means and looks like is an evolution and a process.  The midwife I was when my preceptors “launched” me as a new midwife four+ years ago is not the midwife I have grown to become today.  I am so blessed to be continually learning and growing and evolving into the traditional midwife my clients need.

So why do I put up with all the inconveniences?  Simply,  because I am a midwife.

Happy International Day of the Midwife to all my colleagues out there and a special shout out to the amazing mentor midwives that I had/have the honor of learning from over the years!

Janine Stiles, CPM


Organic Foods for Fertility and Pregancy

Fruit and vegetables

Eating to optimize fertility or to maintain a health pregnancy can be a challenge for some.  Most people generally understand that eating as many organic and non-pesticide treated foods as possible is the healthiest way to go.  Studies now show that one’s fertility can be affected by pesticides and that newborn babies are born with a chemical load in their tiny bodies.  We don’t fully understand the long term impacts of this.  Mandala Midwifery Care’s advice for both our fertility and our pregnancy clients is pretty simple – the less chemicals going into your body, the better, and striving to eat only organic foods is one way to do that.

Organic foods can be much more expensive than their non-organic counterparts and sometimes availability can be limited in your area. Check out the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists to help aid in your shopping efforts.  The Dirty Dozen lists fruits and vegetables that contain the highest concentration of chemicals both on the inside and the outside when raised on conventional farms.  By contrast, the Clean Fifteen is a list of fruits and vegetables that have a relatively low concentration of pesticides in and on them even when raised on conventional farms.  Avoid the Dirty Dozen! And if you have limited resources, you can feel better about what your are eating by buying fruits and vegetables on the Clean Fifteen list.

Image result for dirty dozen and clean 15


Here’s a few resources for those looking for more information.

MN LGBTQ Fertility & Baby Making Resources


We get lots of requests for local LGBTQ fertility and family building resources so here is Mandala’s working document that we share with our clients.  Please note this is simply a resource list and not a list of recommendations.  Most items on this list come recommended by other LGBTQ people but not all.  Also it is not a comprehensive list of all local resources by any means!  

 When it comes to culturally competent care/services, Mandala Midwifery Care encourages all LGBTQ individuals to properly vet providers and organizations to ensure a good experience. If you have recommendations to add to this list or if you have experiences with local resources – good or bad – we would love to hear about them.   

Updated – 9/15/17

Books The New Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy and Birth by Stephanie Brill
A Donor Insemination Guide, Written By and For Lesbian Women by Mary Mohler and Lacy Frazer
Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler
Web Resources Taking Charge of Your Fertility –
Fertility Plus –
Local Organizations Family Equity Council – Midwest office –
Twin Cities Queer Families Face Book group
Queer Birth Project
Family Practice/Midwifery Clinics Mandala Midwifery Care

(fertility consultations/information sessions, cycle tracking & monitoring, ICIs and IUIs – in office or in your home)

Fairview Uptown Clinic
Dr. Rachael Rapacz or Dr. Maria Kaefer, Hennepin County Medical Center
OB/GYN Clinics Park Nicollet Clinics – Dr. Deb Thorp & Colleagues
Women’s Health Consultants – Abbott (Some LGBTQ folks are reporting mixed results when seeking care here)
Reproductive Endocrinologists (Please note these are the active RE clinics and may or may not be providing culturally competent care for our community at any given time. )
U of M Reproductive Medicine Center (Closed Summer 2015)
Center for Reproductive Medicine and Advanced Reproductive Technologies (Other LGBTQ individuals recommend not using Dr. Campbell)
Reproductive Medicine and Infertility Associates

Midwest Center for Reproductive Health

Reproductive Endocrinology  and Infertility Department, Mayo Clinic
Sperm Banks Cryogenic Laboratories
Xytex Sperm Bank
Pacific Reproductive Services  (lesbian owned)
Fairfax Cryobank (now owns the Roseville Cryobank)
Seattle Sperm Bank

California Cryobank

The Midwest Sperm Bank

Surrogacy Minnesota
International Assisted Reproduction Center
Surrogate Moms Online, LLC
Adoption Children’s Home Society/Lutheran Social Services
Gay Dad Specific The Pop Luck Club
GLBTQ Family Law Attorneys Davis Law Office
Suzanne Born
Ann Viitala
Trans/Genderfluid Specific Directory of Trans friendly birth professionals
 Acupuncture Kim Christensen

Julie Colby

For economical options (may or may not offer LGBTQ competent care) check out our many community acupuncture clinics at

© 2017, Janine Stiles, CPM

Baby Blues? Or is it something more?


No matter how your pregnancy or birth went, the immediate postpartum time with your new baby can be a roller coaster of emotions. Not only can your hormones be in a state of chaos, but you just added a new human to your family and the planet. Talk about a major life shift!

Many people spend the first few days after a new baby comes experiencing a whirlwind of emotions, ranging from intense feelings of joy, love and happiness to feeling overwhelmed by, and sometimes fearful of, the responsibility brought on by this new, helpless creature. Then mix in quite a bit of sleep deprivation and we have the perfect setting for baby blues and/or postpartum depression (PPD). All this change leaves many people wondering, “Why am I so sad? Do I have postpartum depression?”

So let’s define some terms first.

What are the Baby Blues?

According to WebMD, “The baby blues — having mood swings, feeling sad or anxious, crying for no reason — usually goes away on its own after 1 to 2 weeks.” It is generally believed that baby blues are characterized by intense feelings ranging across the scale of emotions and aren’t limited to feelings of sadness.

What is PPD?

The official word is that PPD generally starts a few months after baby’s arrival and can kick in at anytime up to 1 year after baby comes. Keep in mind, some studies now show that it can affect some parents later than 1 year. The following list of PPD symptoms comes from the Mayo Clinic website.

“Postpartum depression symptoms may include:

  • Depressed mood or severe mood swings
  • Excessive crying
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
  • Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
  • Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
  • Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Intense irritability and anger
  • Fear that you’re not a good mother
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
  • Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
  • Severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Untreated, postpartum depression may last for many months or longer.”  Anyone can experience postpartum depression, but those that have experienced depression and anxiety in the past are at increased risk.

A Word to Partners and Non-Birthing People

In some cases, a new parent is experiencing depression symptoms but doesn’t believe that what they are experiencing is in fact PPD. This is where a great partner, friend or family member can be invaluable. If you sense that your loved one is in this situation, talk to them about it and help them get the help that they need. Also, keep in mind that partners can get PPD too! (They went through some major life shifts here too!) While giving birth is certainly a risk factor for developing PPD, it isn’t the only one. To this end, adoptive parents should also be on the look-out for PPD and shouldn’t hesitate to seek out additional resources and help.

So What to Do?

  1. Check out the many resources listed below.
  2. Build a support network of close friends and/or family and ask for help. Sometimes just having someone to lend an extra hand around the house or run errands can be very helpful. Asking for help can be hard but it can be such an important hurdle to overcome. Seeking out and managing helpers is a great way for partners to help prevent PPD by giving the person experiencing it free time to focus on and tend to their needs.
  3. Find other parents to connect with that might be experiencing similar parenting ups and downs.  Look in your community for local meet-ups, playgroups, support groups, etc. (See parenting groups listed below)
  4. Hire a postpartum doula! Most people agree that postpartum doulas are worth their weight in gold. These wonderful people help with many things – baby care, nursing support, household chores, holding your baby so you can shower, providing local community resources to help stave off depression or to help manage it if you are experiencing it. Many people think postpartum doulas are only for the first few weeks following birth – and they can be extremely helpful during this time – but they can be hired for later on as well.
  5. Talk to your care provider about what you are experiencing. Mandala Midwifery Care provides postpartum care for clients for 6 weeks after birth and, during this time, we screen for signs and symptoms of PPD. We are also available after the 6 week visit to talk, make assessments and to make referrals. Don’t hesitate to reach out!
  6. Call a helpline such was the wonderful one at Postpartum Support Minnesota. They are great at listening and then, if applicable, helping you get the additional care you may need. Their phone number is: 612-787-PPSM (7776).
  7. Reach out to a postpartum support therapist. Postpartum Support International can connect you to qualified professionals:
  8. If you or your spouse feels like they may harm themselves or their little one(s), please immediately contact your care provider, call 911 or seek help at your local emergency room.


Great Resources to Check Out

(A word of caution:  Mandala Midwifery Care is committed to using gender neutral  and culturally aware language and seeks out resources that do the same, where possible. We apologize as some of the resources below may not be completely inclusive in their language.)

BabyCenter, L.L.C, PPD symptoms quiz:

Postpartum Support Minnesota: Great Helpline!, outline of differences “between ‘baby blues,’ postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis”:

WebMD, “Winter Babies and Postpartum Depression”:

WebMD, “A Visual Guide to Postpartum Depression”:

Psych Central, “5 Damaging Myths About Postpartum Depression”:

Parenting Groups

If you are LGBTQ identified, check out the parenting resources at the Queer Birth Project:  We offer a free monthly in-person support group for new and prospective parents on the second Saturday of the month.

If you are a Twin Cities mom of color, check out the mom’s support group offered by Ahavah Birthworks.

Amma Parenting Center in Edina, MN offers fee-based new mom and new parent classes in addition to many other pregnancy and new parenting classes.   These classes encompass education, support and community building.

Blooma offers more than just yoga! Most of their yoga classes are part yoga, part pregnancy and new parent education, and part community.  In addition, they also offer free new mom groups in both their Minneapolis and St. Paul locations.

Everyday Miracles is a wonderful community resource that offers low-cost and free childbirth education and doula services.  In addition, they offer new mama classes.  Check out their calendar for more details.


Sweet Dreams – Sleep Ideas for Families with Babies


When my son was a newborn and we would visit my older sister, she would always be militant about getting her kids off to bed on time.  I thought she was being too firm and she would always look in my direction and say knowingly, “Sleep is sooooo important.” Though, she and I have had very different sleep strategies for our children, over the years I have often come back to the deeper truth in her words. Maintaining good sleep habits or figuring out what that meant for our little one didn’t always come easily to us.   Are you experiencing sleep issues with your kiddo? Is good sleep a priority in your household?

Through the Queer Birth Project, I co-host a parenting support group for new parents who are LGBTQ identified.  Sometimes this group will discuss topics that are important to LGBTQ parents specifically, but many times the discussion turns to topics that all parents face.  At our last monthly meeting, the new parents discussed sleep – and more specifically getting more of it!

Here are some of my best tips and some additions from the group to get more sleep:

  1. Prioritize good sleep habits for your family. Commit as a family to the importance of getting everyone a good night’s rest. Establish a regular bedtime routine and follow it as many nights as possible.  Work to accommodate age-appropriate lengths of sleep.  Adults should work on healthy sleep habits as well – sometimes this takes compromise amongst the adults!
  2. Sleep when the baby sleeps, if possible. This applies to both parents during the newborn period but should also apply to any parent of an older baby/child who is sleep deprived.  This isn’t always practical as other responsibilities may make napping or early bedtimes impossible but, when possible, adults should prioritize sleep too.  Everyone at the parenting support group agreed wholeheartedly that this is easier said than done!
  3. Get more sleep to get more sleep. It seems counter intuitive, but for most babies and some toddlers, skipping naps can make for harder bedtimes and increased night waking.  Consistent napping and bedtime routines are important for most babies.  This can be a balancing act for busy families and those with multiple children.
  4. Question rigid ideas on where a baby should sleep. Studies show that safe and unsafe sleep happens for babies who sleep alone in a crib and for babies who co-sleep.  The key is to find safe sleep practices using sleep locations that facilitate the most amount of sleep for all family members.  Keep in mind this may need to change as your baby(ies) change and grow. Babies should always be put to sleep on their backs.
  5. Have honest conversations about sleep and sleep deprivation among the adults in the household. If one parent is exclusively nursing or can sleep with the baby during the day, it may make more sense for that parent to handle more of the nighttime parenting.  Households function better with only one sleep deprived parent. The parent getting the most sleep should step up and handle more tasks to keep the household functioning smoothly.   If one parent is doing most of the nighttime parenting during the week due to work schedules, then find creative ways for that parent to get breaks and additional sleep on the weekend.
  6. Get a 4-hour chunk of sleep at some point in the night. Be open to creativity here.  This may mean going to sleep early in the evening when baby goes down initially or maybe staying in bed at the end of the night when partner gets up with baby for the day.  Many new parents get 7-8 hours of sleep over 10-12 hours in bed.
  7. Be wary of aggressive sleep training regimes. If your gut tells you it isn’t right for you or your baby, listen to that.
  8. Adjust your expectations, Our society has many expectations on what babies and their parents should or shouldn’t be doing and bedtime and sleep is no exception. One of the most common questions new parents get is, “Is she/he sleeping through the night?”  New babies aren’t designed biologically to sleep through the night and, as they grow, formula fed and breastfeed babies tend to have different sleep patterns.  Generic statements around what babies should and shouldn’t do may not apply to your little one.  What matters are the needs of your baby at various stages and how your family chooses to respond to those needs.
  9. “This too shall pass….” Babies and toddlers change at a tremendous rate and so do their sleep patterns. Know that if your little one is having sleep trouble, they will likely move on to more restful nights in the future.
infant sleep, newborn sleep, midwife, baby sleep
Wishing You Sweet Dreams

Some resources that may be helpful:

The No Cry Sleep Solution, by Elizabeth Pantley –

The Baby Sleep Book, by Martha and William Sears –

The Science of Baby Sleep –

Breastfeeding and Nighttime Parenting –

Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory –

The Gentle Sleep Book –

Birth and Baby Expo

This weekend is the Birth and Baby Expo.  The Expo is a wonderful and free event and Mandala Midwifery Care will be there again this year!

There will be lots of classes, lots of panel discussions and lots of exhibitors.  Anyone that is planning to conceive, pregnant or are parents of young children should be sure to check out this fun event being held at Burroughs School at 1601 W 50th Street in Minneapolis.

For more info on the Expo, visit their website:  The Twin Cities Birth and Baby Expo

Mandala Midwifery Care will have a table in the exhibit hall so stop by and say “Hi.” I will also be on a panel of home birth midwives at noon so if you are looking for information on whether home birth is right for you, please join in this great discussion.  Finally at the end of the day, I will be doing a short presentation titled “First Steps on the Journey to LGBTQ Baby-making” in Room 353.  I will be giving out coupons for discounts on my fertility consultation services!

I would love to see you there.

Janine Stiles, CPM

Welcome to Mandala Midwifery Care’s New Blog!

blog header image

Writing a blog has been on my agenda for some time and here it is, my first blog post!  Check back often to find out the latest goings on for me and Mandala Midwifery Care (MMC).  I have heard several people say recently, “I didn’t know about you” or “I didn’t know you offered XYZ service,” so I would like to start off with a brief description of what MMC has to offer.  (You can also see a basic list of services here.) I founded MMC two years ago this past June.  Check out my bio here.  Yes, my family treats our Minneapolis lot was an urban farm – complete with gardens, herbs, apples, a feisty dog, bunnies and chickens!  Over the past two years, I have lovingly served many families in partnership with a handful of local community midwives at my side (including the other co-founder of Mandala Midwifery Care, who left active practice last year).  It has truly been an honor to watch families grow and change.  A special thanks goes out to all past and current MMC clients!

As stated on my bio page, I am a Certified Professional Midwife and I strive to provide individualized, loving care to all types of families wishing to have a home birth.  In this capacity, I provide traditional midwifery care through comprehensive, evidence-based prenatal care and home birth services, including water birth.  I also provide in-depth postpartum care, which some clients describe as the best part of their MMC care experience.  In reference to the home birth and immediate post-partum care she received, one client said:  “I feel like a Queen.  I really have received the royal treatment!”  Not only do I provide attentive and nurturing care, but I have seen better outcomes for parents and babies because of it.  I provide a minimum of four postpartum home visits in the first two weeks (starting at 24 hours post birth) to ensure a gentle and safe transition for parents and baby and to help the family reach their breastfeeding/chestfeeding goals.  Interested in what the evidence says about the safety of home birth?  Check out this link here.

In addition to home birth care, I also offer fertility consultations and insemination services to LGBTQ individuals/families and single parents by choice.  In this capacity, I help those wishing to be gestational carriers assess their fertility signs, track their cycles, and consult on proper insemination timing.  The services I offer typically begin with a detailed and individualized initial consultation in which I help translate the client’s individual circumstances into a fertility plan.  During this initial consultation, I fully review signs of fertility and provide education on additional markers often overlooked by those trying to conceive.  I provide information on nutrition and lifestyle changes to enhance fertility and on donor options.  I also help individuals decide if they should pursue medical options while on their journey to conceive.  If clients feel it is right for them, I offer both intracervical insemination (ICI) and intrauterine insemination (IUI), either in office or at home.  It has been a tremendous joy to help individuals connect with their bodies in a new way and help create families where there were once only couples or individuals.

I am so privileged to follow my calling and I take that responsibility very seriously, continually updating my knowledge base and practices to enhance care at MMC.  Because of the special midwifery needs of the LGBTQ community and people of color, I have sought, and continue to seek, additional training and awareness to appropriately serve them, including specific training to provide culturally appropriate care to trans and genderqueer individuals.   I love that my client load over the last two years has included individuals, couples and families from many different walks of life!

If you are looking for midwifery services from MMC or know someone who is, I would love to hear from you.  Reach out.

Thanks for sharing in my first blogging adventure!


Janine Stiles, CPM