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Author Archives: Christina

Meet Your Midwife: Christina Holmes, LM, CPM

At Birthways, we are made up of a team of midwives with a broad range of experience and skill. All Birthways Midwives are licensed by the State of Florida and hold National Certifications while the entirety of our staff is certified in CPR and Neonatal Resuscitation (NRP).

Christina Holmes is a Florida Licensed Midwife (LM) and Nationally Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) since 2002, assisting over 1000 babies into the world.

Committed to Sarasota’s Families

Having grown up in Sarasota, Christina is fully invested in the health of families in our community. She has volunteered with the Newtown Health Council, was a Board Member of the Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota, and has served many years on their Fetal & Infant Mortality Review (FIMR) Committee helping to promote healthy pregnancies and babies in our community.

Christina has been active in Midwifery legislation and regulation at the State level as the former President of the Midwives Association and current Vice President of the Florida Alliance of Birth Centers. With a love for educating families and birth professionals in order to create a world of safe, compassionate birth, she has taught Midwifery, Medical, Nursing, and Physician Assistant students over the years. 

Outside of Midwifery Work

Beyond being a Midwife, Christina is a Yoga Instructor and is certified to lead Sacred Beginning circles.  She is the former secretary of a local bike club and participates in a local charity ride each year for the Team Tony Foundation.

Being knowledgeable in the area of herbs and natural medicines, Christina creates natural, homemade soaps, herbal teas, and formulas under Herbal Cricket. You can pick up her creations at Birthways.

Christina is a mother and a grandmother and wishes every woman, child, and family to be treated with kindness, love, and gentleness at the time of birth.

To learn more about Birthway’s Birth Team visit our website. Schedule an appointment for a visit and complimentary consultation today by calling us at 941-366-BABY(2229) or contact us. Your Midwifery Care awaits you!

Routine Prenatal Vaginal Exams

I’m often asked if midwives perform routine vaginal exams during prenatal visits.

My answer is simple—no we do not.

Why? Because there is no evidence that shows any benefit from the procedure unless you are planning an induction.

A routine prenatal vaginal exam is where a woman is checked for how dilated—or open—their cervix is, how much it has thinned, and the position of the baby in the mother’s pelvis.

Is this helpful? Yes and no.

It can satisfy your curiosity about how open you are, it can confirm baby’s position, but it doesn’t tell us when the baby will be born. Midwives usually determine fetal position easily by feeling your belly. Sometimes ultrasound is needed to confirm positioning.

In cases of induction, it’s helpful to know what’s happening with your cervix beforehand to decide if induction at that time is the best choice and which medications should may be most effective.

The Evidence

One study from 1984 showed that there was triple the risk of water breaking prior to the onset of labor when moms had routine vaginal exams. Avoiding this is preferable as it can lead to increased interventions such as induction of labor or an increased risk of infection in both the mother and the baby.

While the 1984 study was small (about 350 women) another study in 1992 had almost double that (over 600 women). The second study showed no increased risk associated with having a routine vaginal exam starting at 37 weeks. But then again it also showed no benefit—unless it was related to induction.

Why would the two studies show different results?

There were some questions about whether the doctors in the first study had swept the membranes of the women whose water broke after vaginal exams. Sweeping or stripping the membranes can increase the risk of your water breaking before labor starts.

In Conclusion

As midwives, we typically do not do routine vaginal exams at the end of pregnancy unless requested. And we usually don’t offer it unless there is a good reason to do so. If you want to have it done it’s absolutely your choice, but the evidence says there’s no real benefit, but there’s also no harm.

If you do not want a vaginal exam it’s okay to say “no thank you” to your care provider.

It’s your body. You don’t have to give a reason why you don’t want a vaginal exam.

If you’d like to back up your choice with the studies I mentioned, click on the links or review the sources link below for a list.

Source: https://evidencebasedbirth.com/evidence-prenatal-checks/

Top 5 Foods to Give You More Magnesium

When life hands us busy schedules it can be difficult to get some of the valuable vitamins and minerals your body needs.

Magnesium is one of the most important minerals for our bodies and boasts a powerful list of health benefits. Making sure you have enough magnesium in your diet or supplementing additional magnesium rich foods is an easy adjustment to make for some great payoffs. Magnesium helps alleviate headaches, cramps, constipation and even ineffective contractions. 

Only one in three people aren’t getting enough magnesium in their diets.

This deficiency might actually be causing some of the symptoms you’re experiencing.While some people will require their magnesium in supplement form, there’s some food choices you can make that will give your body an all natural boost. 

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are one of the best kept secrets of the health food aisle. Raw or lightly roasted pumpkin seeds provide almost 50% of your daily magnesium intake while giving you a hearty dose of zinc and vitamin E. These seeds make a great snack that keeps you energized throughout the day whether you eat them plain or seasoned. Add some pumpkin seeds to your trail mixes for a effortless boost of magnesium.


Spinach is an amazingly versatile super food that is rich in vitamins and minerals. While eating spinach raw keeps many of these properties stronger, sautéing your servings will keep that incredible dose of magnesium intact. One serving of spinach gives you nearly 40% of your daily dose of magnesium. Try subbing your salad greens with baby spinach for that extra magnesium kick your body is craving.

Cooked Quinoa

Looking for a hearty side dish for dinner or a filling vegetarian dinner? Quinoa might be a good choice for you. Similar to a rice or barley, quinoa can be worked into tons of delicious meals for anytime of day. These dainty grains pack 30% of your daily magnesium intake into a modest 2/3 cup serving that can morph to match any flavor profile.

Black Beans

These beauties are great for your digestive health and are a great way to sneak some additional magnesium into your diet. You’re getting a ton of fiber with your 30% of your daily magnesium intake. You don’t need much to gather some healthy vitamins and minerals, just a 4 to 8 cups of black beans per week for optimized health benefits.


This delicious snack is great for busy moms on the go looking for that extra boost of energy without the guilt. Choosing to snack on some cashews can perk up magnesium levels with 29% of your recommended daily intake. Put some in bags and throw them in your gym bag for a magnesium boost on the go and some wholesome energy to help you power through a workout.

Your body tells you what it needs.

Making the conscious choice to choose magnesium rich foods can help your body find some balance. If you’re experiencing some of the side effects of magnesium deficiency, making little changes in your lifestyle can help you feel much better.

Banishing Stress

Being a parent often means putting your own relaxation on the back burner to keep up with the kids.

Even a veteran parent can tell you it’s important to take some time to yourself every now and then, while devoting a little time each day to stress management. Everyone’s body relaxes at a different pace and while some parents are content unwinding with a nice nap on the couch, it might take some yoga or meditation to banish some of your built up stress.

Scheduling time into your day to activities that help you relieve stress and rejuvenate are important to creating a little more balance and harmony in other areas of busy life as a parent.


Meditation can start or end your day on a peaceful and enlightened note that leaves no room for stress or anxiety. Some might choose to meditate in a specific area of their home while others define the meditative experience as a simple break away from a stressful situation. The object of meditation is to clear your mind of everything except the physical sensation of your body being grounded to the earth, thinking only of functions like deep breathing and relaxing your posture. You might choose to recite a mantra or simply close your eyes and focus on some deep, calculated breaths. 


A yoga routine can be just as powerful for relaxation as it can as an exercise routine. Yoga allows you to focus a cluttered mind onto the pose you’re trying to accomplish and to easily incorporate meditative strategies as you hold certain poses. Yoga poses often require you to actively engage all your muscles to hold positions and fully extend limbs to reach these goals. Engaging your muscles increases blood flow, gets your heart pumping and flowing refreshing new oxygen throughout your body. Incorporating a few yoga poses once or twice per day can help you feel rejuvenated and keeping stress at bay.


Physical activity in general can transform a bad mood and relieve stress. Light cardio, aerobics, or gentle weight lifting can improve cognitive function, alertness, concentration, and reducing fatigue. Stress doesn’t just affect our bodies emotionally, but can take a physical toll too. Exercise simply makes your body feel better and when your body feels better so does your mind. Adding some exercise to your schedule every week will keep your mind and body in top top shape.

Stress Away Essential Oil

The power of smell is an incredible thing and certain herbal blends can dramatically reduce stress and anxiety. Stress Away is an essential oil blend of tropical and citrus that relaxes and comforts the body and mind. Whether you’re using the essential oil to maintain a relaxing space in your home or a refreshing aromatherapy break on the go, Stress Away is a staple for finding a little peace every day, available on it’s own or in the Premium Starter Kit. 

With busy schedules getting busier and often more stressful, adding some stress management into your daily routine can keep you feeling centered, focused and ready to seize the day.

Introducing Your Dog and Baby

For dog lovers, our pets are family.

If this is your first pregnancy, your dog might have very well been your first baby. When it comes time to bringing your baby home for the first time, you might be wondering how to introduce your dog to your brand new baby. 

Our dogs are very in tune with our emotional energy, but they don’t always know what these different feelings around the house mean. Pregnancy is an emotional journey with ups and downs and your pet will likely reflect these emotions in their own behavior.

New parents shouldn’t feel stressed to introduce their two favorite “people” together for the first time, so we’re bringing expectant parents some peace of mind for this exciting new chapter for their growing families. 

Break Bad Habits

While you’re pregnant, it’s a great opportunity to focus on your pet and breaking some bad habits they might have. If your dog has some behavioral quirks like jumping when greeting new people, territoriality or even accidents in the house, it might be helpful for you to get them on a training regimen. When it comes time to bring home your newborn, it’s a sigh of relief to have your dog being well behaved and in a calm and comfortable state of mind.  

Prepare Your Pet 

Dogs have an acute sense of smell and sound and these are immediately connected to many of their behaviors. Preparing your dog with the sights, sounds an scent of your new baby helps acclimate your dog to the changes around your home. Play baby sounds at a low volume throughout the day, turning the volume up while your dog is more relaxed. Use a realistic baby doll to help your dog understand how to interact around the baby, praising or rewarding them for good behavior. It can also be helpful to introduce your new baby’s scent on a blanket or an article of clothing to help your pet develop a relationship with the new baby.

Don’t Scold

When dogs are confused or anxious, they might give warning signs to people that can come across as aggressive. Low growls or mumbles out of your dog give you an opportunity to assess the situation or conflict, understanding more about what is triggering this emotion in your dog. Observe their body language, help remove them from the situation if they become visually stressed. Don’t punish the warning signs your dog are sending you, they are just looking for some understanding.

Patience is everything in the first few weeks home with your new baby and that goes for your baby’s relationship with your dog too. 

Don’t overstimulate your pet by forcing the interaction with your baby and a little understanding and patience will result in an amazing lifelong friendship.

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