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Staying safe on the go: winter travel tips

Here in Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton just announced that all of Minnesota’s public schools would be closed Monday, Jan. 6. Why? The coldest temperatures in a decade are forecast to descend on much of Minnesota. Lows are expected to reach minus 30 degrees with wind chills predicted as low as minus 50 degrees in some parts of the state.

If you and your family have to venture out into the cold over the next few days, here are some great tips, compiled by Children’s Injury Prevention team.

Before You Go:

Pack a winter survival kit.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety recommends keeping the following items in your car at all times during the winter months:

  • Metal coffee can, candles, and matches to melt snow for drinking water
  • Brightly-colored bandana or fabric and/or a whistle to alert others of your location
  • Pencil/Paper – or even some crayons and games to keep kids occupied
  • First Aid Kit
  • A battery-powered or crank-powered light; replace batteries yearly
  • Large plastic bags and safety pins to keep your feet dry and insulated
  • Snacks such as energy bars or other non-perishable foods

When possible, drivers should also make room in their vehicles for a shovel, extra warm clothes, jumper cables, tow chains, blanket or sleeping bag, and a container of sand, salt, or cat litter for traction.

Dial 511, visit, or download MN DOT’s 511 app to your smart phone to check road conditions before you go, and always call ahead to your destination so someone knows when to expect you.

If you do get stranded, don’t panic. Stay with your car and don’t keep it running if your exhaust pipe isn’t totally clear of snow.  If you do keep the car running, open a window slightly to reduce your family’s risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Lastly, COMPLETELY clean off all of your windows of snow and ice before you drive.

On the Road:

Keeping your family safe while on the road in icy and wet conditions takes a little extra planning. The Minnesota Department of Transportation recommends the following tips when you’re behind the wheel:

  • Turn on your headlights and ALWAYS wear your seat belt
  • Turn off your cruise control – if you hit a patch of ice, your cruise control will cause your wheels to spin faster, putting you in higher danger of losing control of your vehicle
  • Stay at least 5 car lengths back, and be aware of snow plows as they turn frequently, sometimes with little or no warning
  • Be comfortable with your vehicle’s braking system; never pump anti-lock brakes; instead, apply firm pressure and steer in the direction you want to go
  • Using a lower gear can help slow your car down
  • Make turns as square as possible; reducing the length of the arc on turns can prevent your car from sliding around corners

At your Destination:

As you and your family get out of the car, be aware of traffic passing nearby and be aware of the conditions under your feet. Assume there’s ice underneath the snow and take precautions so you don’t fall.

  • Point your feet out slightly like a penguin to increase your center of gravity
  • Bend your legs and walk flat-footed
  • Keep your hands out of your pockets; your arms can be used to help keep your balance
  • If you do fall, try landing on your side or bottom and don’t brace your fall with your knees, wrists, or neck; relax your muscles as you fall to reduce injury

And if you’re planning on going on frozen water, please stay safe and understand the conditions of the ice.  The DNR has great tips on what to consider if you’re headed out on the lakes.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Check out these links on other winter driving and safety tips:

MN Department of Transportation

Minnesota Safety Council

MN Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management

Children’s staff plants the seeds of cancer care in Jamaica

This post is by Dr. Joanna Perkins, a member of the Children’s cancer and blood disorders team. She, along with pediatric nurse practitioner Dawn Niess, are in the midst of helping Bustamante Hospital for Children in Kingston, Jamaica, formalize a pediatric cancer care program.

In January 2013, Dawn Niess and I “warmly” welcomed the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Nursing Officer (Dr. Michelle-Ann Richards-Dawson, and Ms. Patricia Ingram-Martin, respectively) from Bustamante Hospital for Children (BHC) in Kingston, Jamaica, to Children’s. Their visit was a welcome one for many reasons, but, not least of all was the sunny and mild weekend they brought with them from Jamaica!

Our discussions that day led to plans for Dawn and me to travel to Kingston to further our collaboration. We are working with a Minnesota non-profit – The Organization for Strategic Development in Jamaica (OSDJ) – a partnership created in response to a request from the Jamaican Ministry of Health to OSDJ, with the goal to improve the care and outcomes for children with cancer in Jamaica. Wayland Richards, president of OSDJ, invited Dawn and me to participate in a fact-finding trip to Kingston, to help us better understand the needs of children undergoing cancer treatment in Jamaica. We were also invited to present on multiple pediatric oncology topics to the pediatricians, pediatric nurses and other healthcare providers caring for kids with cancer in Jamaica.

This initiative follows very important ongoing work of our own pediatric neurosurgeon, Dr. Joseph Petronio, and a team of physical medicine and rehabilitation specialty staff from Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. Their team has been making trips over the past seven years, in a similar collaboration that is working to improve care for Jamaican children with cerebral palsy.

Jamaica is an amazingly beautiful island in the Caribbean; the third largest island in the Greater Antilles. It is made up of 14 parishes, and Kingston is the capital city. Kingston is located at the base of the Blue Mountains, world famous for their sunrises and coffee beans. Over the years, approximately 2.5 million Jamaicans have emigrated to other countries, particularly the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. They comprise what is referred to as the Jamaican Diaspora, and many are actively involved in collaborations with Jamaica on issues such as the improvement of health care.

The climate is tropical, with hot and humid weather year-round. This was a welcomed change for Dawn and I, who missed two snowstorms during our April week in Jamaica! There is a well-deserved sense of great pride amongst Jamaicans for their many international achievements, not the least of which is in the sport of track and field, and in the reggae music industry. Although we were not lucky enough to meet Usain Bolt or Shaggy, we were delighted to be given the opportunity to listen to an extremely talented local reggae band “One Drop Routz”, who we hope will be a part of an upcoming reggae festival to be held in Minneapolis later this year, as a fundraising event for BHC.

BHC was established in November 1963 and is the only pediatric specialty hospital on the island. It is named after the late Prime Minister, Sir Alexander Bustamante. BHC serves children from birth to 12 years of age, has 283 inpatient beds, and is staffed by 679 amazing and talented pediatric health care professionals. There are multiple medical and surgical specialists at BHC, but no pediatric hematologists/oncologists, and no specialty trained pediatric oncology nurses. At BHC, general pediatricians and general pediatric nurses provide all of the care for the children going through cancer treatment, as well as treatment for many other types of diseases.

The doctors, nurses and staff at BHC are highly educated and passionate advocates for the children they serve. Working with their staff felt very similar to working with staff here at Children’s. The major differences we saw were in the facilities themselves. The clinics and inpatients units have open windows; with a lack of air conditioning, the tropical breezes help keep the buildings cool. Several of their waiting areas are outdoors. It was amazing to us to see patients and families sitting outside, sometimes for many hours, waiting for their appointments. Despite that, people appeared comfortable and somehow managed to entertain their children during these long waits. Everyone seemed grateful for their care.

Unlike at Children’s, cancer patients at BHC are hospitalized amongst children with other diseases, throughout several inpatient wards. This makes it difficult to concentrate specialists and supportive care services for children with cancer in one area. A central pharmacy provides services for the emergency department, outpatient clinics, and all inpatient units. There is no computer system, so staff run orders and medications back and forth from building to building. The physicians mix and administer chemotherapy on the inpatient wards. This gave me an even greater appreciation for our pharmacy and nursing colleagues at Children’s!

A major limitation we observed was the lack of access to port-a-caths for administering chemotherapy. Although there are several outstanding pediatric surgeons at BHC, due to financial limitations of BHC and the health system in general, access to equipment like port-a-caths is very limited. Most children receive chemotherapy through peripheral IVs, which can lead to very severe skin burns.

Dawn and I led a three-day conference on multiple aspects of caring for children with cancer. We then attended and taught at the annual Advancements in Medicine and Healthcare conference, a three-day conference at the nearby University of the West Indies. We were extremely honored to be invited to meet with the Jamaican Minister of Health, the Honorable Dr. Fenton R. Ferguson. We joined with several other health care professionals, local and international, to continue dialogue and expand ideas on ways to improve the care for Jamaican children with cancer. 

After returning home, we at Children’s were delighted to host the Jamaican Ambassador to the United States, the Honorable Ambassador Stephen Vasciannie. Ambassador Vasciannie met with staff from Children’s, OSDJ, and other Twin Cities hospitals, and is very supportive of our Minnesotan-Jamaican health care collaborative.

Presently, we are planning teleconferences, and future trips to Jamaica, to help formalize a pediatric cancer care program at BHC. I am very optimistic that our new relationships with the wonderful staff at BHC will form a strong basis for ongoing knowledge exchange, and I do believe that together we can make great strides at improving care for children with cancer in Jamaica.

Five things you may not know about music therapy

In honor of music therapy week, Erinn Danielson, music therapist, gives us a peek inside her job at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. 

Stepping onto the Children’s elevators each day, guitars on our backs and instruments in hand, we tend to draw comments from fellow riders. They range from the typical “You must be the entertainment” to “Do you actually play all those instruments?” to “I wish I had your job.”

Although explaining the ins and outs of music therapy isn’t always possible by the time one of us gets off on the fourth floor, we do usually manage to smile and say, “I’m one of the music therapists.” After being in this field for almost seven years, I find that this doesn’t always provide a lot of clarification. So in no particular order, here are five things you might not know about music therapy:

1. Music therapy isn’t just for fun. Don’t get me wrong, music therapy usually is funWhat kid or teen doesn’t enjoy music, especially when they get to play along on a shaker or fancy electronic drum set?  However, a casual observer may not notice that a music therapist has goals for each patient he/she works with, ranging from giving a 3-year-old an effective means of emotional expression when he doesn’t have the words, to giving a 15-year-old relaxation strategies using music during a procedure, to motivating a 10-year-old to get out of bed.  The point of music therapy is that we are using the musical experience as a means of reaching a non-musical goal.

2. A child doesn’t need to be a musician or have musical experience to benefit from music therapy. Our goal as music therapists is not to teach kids how to play an instrument, or sing better, or dazzle everyone with their harmonica stylings. Therefore, the child doesn’t need to be musical to benefit from music therapy. Even patients who are sedated can benefit from music therapy, as music therapy can lower heart rate and blood pressure, as well as increase oxygen saturations. Patients who are able to participate on a more active level can play drums, shakers, xylophones and even a special type of harp with little to no previous musical experience.  A music therapist may use teaching the guitar as a way to improve the child’s fine motor skills, or having a child blow through the harmonica as a way to encourage deep breathing, but learning skills on these instruments is never the goal of the session.

3. We always use patient-preferred music. Music therapists use music from all genres to effect positive changes in the patients we work with.  We wouldn’t use “Old MacDonald” in a session with a 16-year-old (unless he or she requested it!) and we probably wouldn’t use a song from the 1920s with a 5-year-old. One of the first things music therapists ask when getting to know a new patient is what kind of music the he or she prefers.  We then work to accomplish our goals using this or similar music. We can’t promise to know every song, (we’re not human jukeboxes!) but we can always use recorded music or find a similar song if need be.

4. Music therapists are not just musicians waiting to make our big break on “American Idol.” Across the board, the music therapists I know went into the field because they want to use their passion for music to make a difference in people’s lives. We went to school for four or six years to do exactly what we do: music therapy. We spent six full months doing an unpaid music therapy internship and worked hard for the jobs we have. Although some music therapists perform outside of their day jobs, we are not performing when we are working with patients. Just listening to us sing is not likely to accomplish very many therapeutic goals!

5. We don’t just sing and play instruments. We do a lot of singing and instrument play with kids, this is true. However, we also work with kids doing songwriting (for emotional expression, processing, or a way to “tell your story”), lyric discussion (again to process emotions, facilitate coping, or put a new perspective on problems), music-assisted relaxation, procedural support, recording, and CD compilation.

So let’s go back to the elevator, so we can finish those conversations:

“You must be the entertainment!” –No, I’m not a performer. I do get to spend the day making great music with courageous, insightful and amazing kids, though!

“Do you actually play all those instruments?” Yes, I can…but I’d rather have the kids playing them!

“I wish I had your job!” -Yes, it is a wonderful and rewarding profession, and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else!


Mom to shave the day for childhood cancer


No mom should have to hold her child’s hand and tell him that his cancer has returned – after having his kidney removed, undergoing seven days of radiation and getting 25 weeks of chemo treatment.

But that’s exactly the position Stephanie Merfeld found herself in recently. Her son, Adrian, 11, was diagnosed with a Wilms’ tumor in October 2011. He immediately underwent extensive treatment. Three months later, his scans were clean. Six months later, tests showed the cancer had returned. Adrian went back on chemo. In March, his tumors had grown despite chemo. He’s undergoing daily radiation, except for weekends, for the next three weeks, Merfeld said.

“It sucks big time and naughty words go through my head all the time. It is what it is, and you put one foot in front of another and you walk,” Merfeld said. “You have to be strong for your kid. It’s scary. I’m scared. I don’t want to lose him.”

Merfeld is determined to keep other families from experiencing what hers has during the past 18 months. On April 11, she’ll go bald to help raise money for childhood cancer research – an area she says is critically underfunded.

“These kids need help, and they need help now,” she said.

You can shave a head and help save lives, too. Join Merfeld and us on our Minneapolis campus on Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. to help raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, whose mission is to cure childhood cancer. Shavees show their support by shaving their heads voluntarily, and inspiring friends and family to donate money to support childhood cancer. Sign up here.

Video: Dr. Steve Haun, who works in our pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), already shaved his head for St. Baldrick’s. Will you?

Video: Watch last year’s shavees.

#TwitterTour: The Mother Baby Center

The Mother Baby Center — A sneak peek

The Mother Baby Center doesn’t open until Feb. 4. But, we wanted to give the public a special preview. We consider it our crowning achievement — a great place to have a baby and a great place to be a baby. In case you missed the virtual tour, here are some highlights:

Storified by Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota· Thu, Jan 31 2013 12:03:04

If you want a sneak peek of The Mother Baby Center, join us for a #TwitterTour today at noon. Details:’s Minnesota
Thanks for joining us for a sneak peek of @TMBCenter! During the next hour, we’re going to share info, photos and more! #TwitterTourChildren’s Minnesota
Got questions during the hour about @TMBCenter? You can fire away now and we’ll answer them at the end of the #TwitterTour!Children’s Minnesota
First, we’d like to give a shout out to @AbbottHospital. Together we’re able to make @TMBCenter a reality! #TwitterTourChildren’s Minnesota
The #TwitterTour is underway. Follow @ChildrensMN for the next hour to get a sneak peek of our center.Mother Baby Center
Opening its doors this Monday at 7AM, @TMBCenter is the only birth center of its kind in MN #TwitterTour’s Minnesota
From traditional to alternative to high-risk pregnancies, @TMBCenter is equipped for all birthing situations #TwitterTourChildren’s Minnesota
10% of 4k annual births at @AbbottHospital involve high-risk pregnancies or complications requiring add’l newborn care #TwitterTourChildren’s Minnesota
Currently @AbbottHospital delivers more babies than any hospital in MN. With @TMBCenter there’s capacity for up to 5k births! #TwitterTourChildren’s Minnesota
Before @TMBCenter, high-risk newborns were transported a 1/4-mile from @AbbottHospital to Children’s, separating mom and baby #TwitterTourChildren’s Minnesota
This separation happened to the Stoltz and Windschitl families. Read more: and #TwitterTourChildren’s Minnesota
[Video] Jim and Jodi Muelken had a similar story: #TwitterTourChildren’s Minnesota
With @TMBCenter, our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is just steps away from labor & delivery! #TwitterTour’s Minnesota
A reminder, you can jump in with questions about @TMBCenter during or after the #TwitterTour! We’re happy to answer them.Children’s Minnesota
Our NICU is the 4th largest in the United States, with more than 1,900 admissions per year #TwitterTourChildren’s Minnesota
The NICU has private rooms where parents can sleep #TwitterTourChildren’s Minnesota
There are 3 operating rooms for cesarean sections and open (in utero) fetal surgeries #TwitterTour’s Minnesota
Connected to the OR is a resuscitation room for the safety of high-risk babies that’s a short hallway from the NICU #TwitterTourChildren’s Minnesota
[Photo] Resuscitation room: #TwitterTourChildren’s Minnesota
The Special Care Nursery @TMBCenter has 24 rooms with 31 bassinets, including rooms for twins and triplets #TwitterTourChildren’s Minnesota
Good question. @TMBCenter is located only in Minneapolis. RT @babyfactory6: @ChildrensMN does this include St. Paul campus? #TwitterTourChildren’s Minnesota
The Special Care Nursery rooms have privacy curtains, breast pump, pull-out sofa and a recliner #TwitterTour’s Minnesota
Let’s get to the labor delivery rooms! There are 13 L&D rooms, with private bath and shower! #TwitterTour’s Minnesota
The L&D rooms have 3 levels of lighting, a flat screen TV, DVD player and iPod docking station #TwitterTour’s Minnesota
It does! MT @babyfactory6: @ChildrensMN I meant to ask if the stat about the NICU being 4th largest includes St. Paul NICU? #TwitterTourChildren’s Minnesota
There’s a waterbirth room featuring a 96-gallon tub. There are 3 add’l portable tubs #TwitterTour’s Minnesota
There are 34 providers @TMBCenter including physicians and midwives who can perform waterbirths #TwitterTourChildren’s Minnesota
Expecting? You can find a provider here: #TwitterTourChildren’s Minnesota
There are 3 family sleep rooms for those experiencing adoption or surrogacy #TwitterTour’s Minnesota
Families and guests can visit our Celebration Plaza, which includes a play area for kids #TwitterTour’s Minnesota
Expecting moms will be evaluated at the Maternal Assessment Center. We have 6 rooms #TwitterTourChildren’s Minnesota
Dads often ask about parking and where to drop off the mom-to-be. The main entrance has a circle driveway for easy drop-off #TwitterTourChildren’s Minnesota
There are 4 short-term stork parking spaces in the ramp. Directions: #TwitterTourChildren’s Minnesota
People can also enter @TMBCenter through the second floor of Children’s #TwitterTourChildren’s Minnesota
Expecting and plan on guests? Find visitor guidelines here: #TwitterTourChildren’s Minnesota
We’re about to wrap up soon, but we want to share this fun video of @TMBCenter: #TwitterTourChildren’s Minnesota
We also want to share this beautiful story about @TMBCenter from @MyFOX9: #TwitterTourChildren’s Minnesota
For those unable to follow the entire #TwitterTour today, we’ll share a transcript soon.Children’s Minnesota
Thanks for joining us! We hope you enjoyed the #TwitterTour. For more info about @TMBCenter, visit:’s Minnesota

Common questions about bacteria, viruses and vaccines during pregnancy

By Dr. Deb Krahl

Dr. Deb Krahl has been a practicing OB/GYN for 16 years. She received her medical degree from the University of Minnesota before completing her residency training at the University of California-Irvine. She has been with Aspen Medical Group for the last nine years and is currently the lead OB/GYN physician there. She is excited to be among the OB/GYN’s delivering at The Mother Baby Center.

Another glorious Minnesota winter is just around the corner – yay! Experiencing the first snowfall, sledding with hot cocoa and spending the holidays snuggled up with family are wonderful winter thoughts. Unfortunately, winter is also associated with colds, coughs, strep throat and the flu. That makes it a relevant time to go over possible viruses and infections – weather-related and otherwise – that I always like to discuss with my patients.


If you’re pregnant during the winter, the most important thing you can do is GET A FLU SHOT! Children, the elderly, people with chronic medical problems and pregnant patients are the high risk groups that should get the flu vaccine. Don’t think “I never get sick” or “I don’t want the flu shot because I might get sick from it.”  If you get the flu while pregnant, you could become extremely ill, have severe respiratory problems or even die, so please get your flu shot.


Whooping cough or pertussis has made a comeback nationally. The Tdap vaccine (tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis) is strongly recommended during pregnancy if you haven’t had this vaccine in the past 10 years. This vaccine is important for both you and your baby. It protects your baby against whooping cough from birth to 2 months when the baby gets his or her first pertussis vaccine as a newborn.

Varicella (chickenpox)

Most people have had chickenpox. But if you’re unsure, please tell your OB provider at the first visit. Blood work can be done to check your immunity. If not immune, you should get the chickenpox vaccine after delivery.

Herpes virus

Genital herpes is very common, and it’s important to discuss this with your OB provider so they know your history. Anyone with a history of herpes should be on daily medication the last month of pregnancy to prevent this infection from being passed to the baby in labor. If someone has an active herpes infection in labor, she would need a Cesarean section so the virus does not pass to the baby while going through the birth canal.


Avoid changing or touching cat litter and eating uncooked meats to avoid this infection during pregnancy.


Don’t eat any unpasteurized milks or cheeses, which could cause this infection during  pregnancy.

Parvo virus (Fifth disease)

This virus is most common in young children so teachers, daycare providers and mothers of little kids are most likely to encounter it. If you’re exposed to this in pregnancy, call your OB provider to get blood work done to check your immune status. If you are not immune, repeat blood work will be done to see if an exposure has occurred.

HIV and hepatitis B

All OB patients are encouraged to have these tests done at the first OB visit. If a patient is a hepatitis B carrier, it is crucial the baby gets the hepatitis B vaccine and immune globulin immediately after delivery. If a patient has HIV, treatment during pregnancy is essential to reduce the chances that HIV will be passed to the baby.

Common bacterial infections

Strep throat, sinus and ear infections, bronchitis and pneumonia are all common winter illnesses. Most antibiotics used to treat these conditions are safe in pregnancy, so don’t be afraid to take medication if cleared by your OB doctor.

As winter creeps up on us, get your flu shot, find a bigger winter coat to grow into and make sure to have comfortable winter boots so you don’t slip on the ice…and let the snow fall!

Check out The Mother Baby Center on Facebook and visit the website.

Four reminders to prevent the flu

Flu season. It’s that time of year when we duck for cover in Minnesota. We all know someone who has battled the flu.

The flu is a serious respiratory illness, and the symptoms can be downright nasty – sudden onset of fever, cough, congestion, sore throat, achy muscles, fatigue, occasionally pneumonia, and, in extreme cases, death.

Each year, an average of 20,000 kids under 5 are hospitalized because of flu-related complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza causes more hospitalizations among young children than any other vaccine-preventable illness.

“Don’t think of influenza as ‘just the flu.’  For infants and children especially, it can be a scary, very severe disease.  Prevent it,” said Patsy Stinchfield, nurse practitioner and director of infectious disease at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

Here are some easy reminders to keep your family and you healthy during flu season:

  1. Get vaccinated against the flu. All people 6 months of age and over need an annual flu vaccine.  While flu vaccines are not perfect (100 percent effective), not getting one provides zero protection.
  2. Wash your hands with soap and water. At Children’s, we wash ‘em proud. You should wash your hands before and after eating, after using the restroom, after blowing your nose and sneezing.
  3. Cover your cough and sneeze. If you’re visiting Children’s, we ask that you wear a mask if you have a cough. We ask staff and visitors to stay home if they are ill and if they have a cough to wear a mask to prevent the spread of such things as influenza and other infections to our vulnerable patients.
  4. Sick? Please, stay home from work or school. If your child is sick, keep him/her home from school and daycare, too.
Visit our flu prevention website for more information.

Kohl’s Cares and Children’s Flu Prevention Tips from Children's of Minnesota on Vimeo.

Choosing a midwife, from her point of view

Forty years ago in her home country of Iran, Nahid Shokohi Razmpour became a midwife. She’s been delivering babies ever since.

Shokohi Razmpour, part of HealthPartners Medical Group and delivers at Abbott Northwestern Hospital and will work at The Mother Baby Center when it opens in February, loves being a midwife.

“I have a special passion to be with the woman during labor,” she said. “I love to help the woman.”

Last week was National Midwifery Week – the celebration of a profession that’s dear to her.

Nahid Shokohi Razmpour

Of the 4,000 babies born at Abbott Northwestern each year, 600 to 700 are delivered by a midwife, according to Shokohi Razmpour. And the number of women choosing a midwife is growing in Minnesota. Between 1989 and 2008, deliveries that involved a midwife increased from 3.2 percent to 7.5 percent, she said.

“Women feel more comfortable with a female provider,” she said.

Shokohi Razmpour took time recently to chat about what factors to consider when evaluating what kind of practitioner to see for prenatal care and childbirth.

So what should you consider when evaluating whether to choose an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN) versus a midwife?

From Shokohi Razmpour’s point of view:

  • Whenever possible, a midwife involves the partner on day one.
  • A midwife spends more time with the mother during labor.
  • Because a midwife spends significant time with the mother during labor, relatively few patients require intervention. The midwife encourages medication-free deliveries.
  • A midwife suggests showers, bathing, massage, homeopathy, changing positions and using a birthing ball instead of intervention like medication. However, if pain medication is needed during labor, she supports this choice, as well. She recognizes each person’s birthing experience individually.
  • A midwife counsels the mother during the pregnancy about diet, exercise and emotional support.
  • A midwife also prepares the parents for the arrival – from what to buy to what to bring to the hospital.

“I give (expectant moms) what they want – part of that is service, part of that is love,” she said.

She wants the birth experience to be what the expectant mom wants it to be – an easy and positive experience in her life.

When things don’t go as planned, Shokohi Razmpour doesn’t leave the expecting mother’s side. In the case of a Caesarean section, “I scrub in right away…I stay with my patient as a supporter.”

Post delivery, she doesn’t leave the mother’s side. She encourages breastfeeding and stays with the mother after the birth to assist.

“We take great pride in making the experience more personal,” she said.

Learn more about The Mother Baby Center by visiting its Facebook page.

A mom’s story: The power of walking

This is a guest blog post by Liz Keating. She’s a Family Advisory Council member at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota and a mom of three.

I had to be largely off my feet while pregnant with my first two kids. That was tough. Although I’ve never considered myself an athlete, my body and my brain had grown accustomed to an active lifestyle. Being forced to slow down was a bummer. So it was a real blessing when I was able (and encouraged) to stay active to a much greater degree while expecting our third child. Every pregnancy truly is different.

Staying active while pregnant wasn’t fancy. Our garage has accumulated quite an array of sports equipment over the years—bikes, scooters, in-line skates, ice skates, running shoes, cross county skis, snowshoes, even a four-person toboggan that doubles as a make-shift snowboard—all of which gathered dust during my pregnancy.

I had no regimented workout routine, gym membership, orspecialized equipment. Rather, the core of my daily activity was walking my eldest to and from school – about two miles in all. I added distance on some days and got outside with my family on weekends once the fatigue of the first trimester diminished. But how far I walked was never the point. The most important thing was to get outside and do SOMETHING.

I benefited a lot from staying active. I was able to face the physical and mental rigors of pregnancy with greater strength and stamina. My lower back hurt less. I slept better. Fresh air lessened my nausea somewhat. I recovered faster from delivery. Through walking, I learned to listen to my body.  I never “glowed,” but I coped better. But the greatest benefit, and the most unexpected, was the amazing connection I made with neighbors and others in my community.

Each day while walking my regular route I was greeted with smiles and waves from people passing by in cars, riding their bikes, or walking their dogs. The smiles and waves kept me going and seemed to increase as my due date approached. And now, when I am out walking the girls to school, I am stopped regularly by those same people who smiled and waved wanting to meet the baby they’d been rooting for. Having a new baby can be somewhat isolating, and making those unexpected connections helped take the edge off.

Read more about health for expecting moms. You can also visit The Mother Baby Center’s Facebook page.


Childhood cancer Twitter chat with Children’s

Join Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota for a Twitter chat on childhood cancer on Monday, Oct. 1, at 3 p.m. CST.

We’ll talk about:

  • Childhood cancers: How does cancer impact kids differently? What is the latest in research?
  • Children’s has a unique care philosophy for treating its pediatric cancer patients. What is it and how does it impact the patient and family experience?
  • What is Children’s doing to advance cancer research?

There are a few ways you can participate:

  • On Twitter, follow the hashtag #childrenschat
  • You can also follow the chat via the live stream below, which will activate at 3 p.m. Monday.

You can submit questions in advance by:

  • Using  the hashtag #childrenschat on Twitter
  • Email your questions/comments to
  • Entering your questions/comments in the box below when the chat starts at 3 p.m. Monday

Chat leaders include:

Dr. Kris Ann Schultz

Dr. Joanna Perkins