Category Archives: Northwest Arkansas

Fayetteville Skyline Love

Ben Climbs Cross in the Skyline
Ben Climbs Cross in the Skyline

When you have a small business and you are a full time nursing student and you have four sons, it’s important that you grab every moment you can to do special things like go up to Mt. Sequoyah at sunset with your 10 year old.  These are the best things in life, eh?  Not to mention, he got up early with me this morning to do yoga together. My life is amazing.

Another Cross in the Sky Tonight
Another Cross in the Sky Tonight

Spring is my favorite. Vibrant colors. Clouds. Fresh turned dirt. Clouds. Sunshine. So much green. Fayetteville is amazing in the Spring, and I’m so glad I get to share it with my sons. Makes me breathe deeper just looking at these pictures.

Massage Therapy for Mental Health

I just finished up a clinical rotation in Mental Health this semester.  It’s enough to make you suffer from depression!  Or at the very least need a massage for your Mental Health.

Our instructors and books say repeatedly that our jail systems are the biggest warehouse for the mentally ill.  There may not be any inpatient beds for somebody suffering with psychosis, but somehow they fit right into our jails.  Our mentally ill are being incarcerated for behaviors that are a result of mental illness, schizophrenia, bipolar, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer’s, or addiction.  Many of them are homeless.  They need treatment, medications, and support.

And probably the most depressing part of Mental Health Clinicals is the adolescent unit.  These kids have endured trauma and abuse beyond what I can fathom, and when they leave the treatment facility will return to the people and situations that caused their pain to begin with.  It’s downright depressing.

Massage Therapy for Mental Health
My mental health textbook references massage therapy 4 times. I’m so impressed with how far we have come.

And it’s not just that there is a little bit of mental illness.  Mental health is similar to physical health.  Sometimes you get sick.  Most of the time you’re pretty healthy.  And sometimes you have a lifelong illness (physical or mental) that needs lifelong treatment.  Most people can identify times in their lives when they were out of balance, overly anxious, stressed, depressed, or just not functioning as well mentally as they know they are capable.  And all of us know people in our family, friends, or community who are suffering with more extreme forms of those imbalances.  Mental illness touches us all.

I’m grateful for the dedicated Mental Health care professionals that I have met this semester.  God Bless Them!  We need them so badly.  We need funding and policy changes to allow mental health the same importance and voice that physical problems like cancer get.  We need more health care providers to get excited about helping people with mental health problems, to serve health care in that capacity.

I actually feel guilty because I prefer to work with people with their guts falling out than with mental health problems, because at least if your guts are falling out I can stuff ’em back inside and slap a bandage on it.  In mental health, the guts are falling out, and people are bleeding out, but you can’t stuff it back in.  You can’t see it.  It’s not so easy.  I guess I feel disempowered by mental illness.  There is no immediate fix, no bandage, just a winding road of possibilities and not enough resources for long term support.

But at the same time, I deal with mental illness/health all the time in a positive way, on the massage table.  And it has been a very empowering relationship.  People come to us in pain, grieving loss, with anxiety and depression, and needing help with dealing with the stress of everyday life on the planet. We are honored every day that our community chooses to come to us for stress relief.

According to University of Maryland, massage makes us feel better by the “release of endorphins (natural painkillers and mood elevators),” and reducing the levels of stress hormones (cortisol).  Endorphins are one of the main neurotransmitters involved in depression and bipolar.

Foot Massage is AMAZING!
Massage Therapy for Mental Health

So, looking at the mental health problems our country is faced with right now may be devastatingly depressing, but thank goodness there is massage therapy for those times when we are in pain, grieving loss, having anxiety and depression, and needing help with dealing with the stress of everyday life on the planet.  I guess massage is the bandage that I feel empowered by when dealing with the guts of every day mental health/illness.  I’m grateful to have it in my life.

If this post was so stressful that you now need a massage, call 479-251-7422 to schedule an appointment.  Or you could just come get a massage because you know you need it.  Or because we haven’t seen you in forever.  Please pop in to I.M. Spa to see us when you are downtown for the Farmer’s Market!  If for no other reason than that it is good for OUR mental health to see you!

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.  Schedule an appointment for a massage  479-251-7422


6 Commitments or New Year’s Resolutions

Today was the first day back in nursing school after a 3 week break.  And during the break I took some time to try to define what was important to me to keep up with if it was at all possible during the craziness that is full time nursing school, full time business owner, and full time mama of four boys.

My 2015 Planner (covered with post its).

Things I put in my planner were:

  1. I want to continue to run to school and to work, but I’m also training for the Hogeye Half Marathon with my son Sean (he’s 16) and Ellie, a young colleague from nursing school.  We’re training 5 days a week.  Yeah.  I don’t know how that’s gonna get done either–but there it is.
  2. I want to meditate daily-15minutes.
  3. I want to blog 3 days a week and not get onto myself if it’s not perfect.  I at least need to show up.
  4. I want to do yoga with Ben one day a week (Mondays because it’s a rest day from running).  When your nine year old kid wants to do something with you, you’d better make time for it, because God knows, soon enough he’s going to have a life that is too busy for yoga dates with mom (hopefully not, but it’s a distinct possibility).
  5. I want to continue developing my book.  Yeah, I said it.
  6. I want to invite friends over to play once a month.  Because I love them and they’re just going to have to forgive my messy home.  It is what it is.

I really don’t know if there are actually enough hours in the day for this crazy list.  But surely if I just do a little bit regularly I will be okay.  I’ll try to keep you posted on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.  But if you don’t hear from me for a while, you’ll know that I’m buried with school work.

And if I lose my mind in the process, you’ll be hearing bout it.

Schedule your appointment at I.M. Spa :  479-251-7422

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.  Schedule an appointment for a massage  479-251-7422

10 Reasons Why I Get Massage Every 2 Weeks

10 Reasons to Get Massage Every 2 Weeks.

If you go to the doctor they will tell you to take these antibiotics 2 times a day for the next 10 days.  If you go to the physical therapist they will tell you to come back and see them 3 times a week for the next 4 weeks, twice a week for the following 2 weeks, and once a week for the month after that.

If you go to the massage they say, “See how you are feeling and give us a call when you need us.”

The problem is, we forget to think about how we are feeling until our bodies are screaming at us.  We need some general recommendations for how often it is appropriate to get massage.

I can tell you that if you are preparing for a marathon, it’s a good idea to step up your massage sessions to weekly, with serious emphasis on leg massage.  You might want to do it in conjunction with your long runs.  You will notice a change in your performance and your legs will feel amazing.  It’s okay to do twice a week sessions as well if you are having a lot of tension or pain.

If you are suffering with muscle spasms you can do massage several times a week until you reach a happy place.  You can even shorten the massages to 20 to 30 minutes if you are only focusing on one area.

If you are recovering from an injury it is common to coordinate massage therapy with your physical therapy schedule.

If you are only getting massage once or twice a year then you definitely need to step it up to quarterly.  Put that appointment on the calendar before you leave the spa or it will not happen and the next thing you know, another year has gone by and you have not had a massage in all that time.

Don’t let that be you!

If you are healthy and only dealing with every day stress of life on the planet then once a month, or once every two weeks is optimum and I’ll tell you why this works for me:

  1. It keeps me out of pain
  2. It’s something I give intentionally to myself. If I have gotten my massage then not even poison bullets can’t take me down.  I can handle whatever the world throws at me (I keep a picture of Wonder Woman on my refrigerator with her bullet deflecting wrist cuffs).
  3. As a mom it gives me something that is quiet, special, and belongs only to me (I’m not sharing!).
  4. It puts me in a meditative state (Alpha Level) similar to what you experience in Shavasana and it is completely rejuvenating.
  5. It keeps me aware of my body.  Very often I will ask people about their pain or their body and they have to stop and question themselves because they haven’t actually visited their bodies for a while.  When I get massage I often discover areas that need my attention that I didn’t know existed. You can’t maintain your body if you don’t know where you need maintenance.  The massage therapist is like a tour guide for your body.
  6. It feels amazing.  One of my goals in life is to be as healthy as possible, have as much energy as possible (with my food), and feel as good as possible.  If I don’t make time to feel amazing it is harder to know that it is a possibility.
  7. Relaxation takes practice.  Meditation takes practice.  Anything you want to do well takes practice.  I have watched many clients start receiving massage therapy and not know how to let go and receive.  They want to hold their arm up to help with the massage.  I still find myself tensing up sometimes when the therapist lifts my head to massage my neck.  Learning how to relax on the massage table teaches me how to relax in my real life situations when I’m frustrated.
  8. It’s good for my heart and circulation, calms my nervous system and digestion, and obviously good for my muscles.  Supple muscles do better work that hypertrophied taut muscles.  Moving through life with supple muscles is a much better approach.
  9. Keeps me from getting injured easily.
  10. Mental health.  It’s good for me and it’s good for my family.  Everybody benefits from me feeling better.

If you can only make it to the spa quarterly go quarterly.  If you can step it up to once a month you will definitely notice a difference.  But if you can manage every two weeks it makes life worth living!

Schedule your appointment at I.M. Spa :  479-251-7422

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.  Schedule an appointment for a massage  479-251-7422

Reduce Your Blood Pressure with Meditation

We got our neice a medical bag with a stethoscope, ice pack, and wound care gear.  Craig makes an excellent patient!
We got our neice a medical bag with a stethoscope, ice pack, and wound care gear. Craig makes an excellent patient!

If you have been following Craig’s (my husband of 25 years) story you know that he was able to get his Low Density Lipoprotein levels from 148 (high) to 117 (almost normal) after 4 months of raw and vegan eating.  But his Blood Pressure remained high.  Often it was 150/90 which is Stage 1 Hypertension.

Don’t be fooled by the “Stage 1” part of Hypertension.  There are only 2 stages.  150/90 is not good. 110/70 to 120/80 is normal.

We weren’t sure where to go with the meditation at first.  I guess the concept of meditation doesn’t feel weird to me.  Just sit and breathe and let your body slip into Alpha state.  But to do it with somebody who wants guidance or a method hadn’t occurred to me.  Also during this time many of my clients have been asking me pointed questions about meditation, how to do it, and where to go for resources.  There are tons of resources for learning how to meditate.  Here in Northwest Arkansas there are classes all over the place.  Classes are a great way to experience many different types of meditation to find one that works for you.

I looked into Transcendental Meditation and the Silva Method of meditation.  They are both expensive but well reviewed and researched methods.  I did not take the TM course, because as a starving nursing student it does not fit into the budget.  But a long time ago a friend of mine gifted me some Silva Method recordings and they are fabulous, especially if you need a step by step method to feel like you are doing it right.

Turns out Craig was okay without a method and it works pretty amazing whether you pay somebody $1000 to learn or not.  You can see his results after just 14 days of meditating once a day for 15 minutes.

Date Blood Pressure Time
12/4/2014 150/90 4pm
12/4/2014 135/88 11pm
12/5/2014 138/90 6:40pm
12/10/2014 124/80 pre-meditation
12/10/2014 108/77 post-meditation
12/10/2014 118/66 at Drs. Office later
12/17/2014 120/74 post-meditation
12/17/2014 118/60 post-meditation
12/18/2014 110/68 pre-meditation
12/18/2014 108/70 post-meditation

He went from 150/90 to 108/70 in 2 weeks.  Yes I know my method for recording is not daily.  But it was finals at Nursing School and I did the best I could.  The numbers speak for themselves.  You just can’t make that up.

One of the questions people always ask me is, “Is he exercising?”  Yes Craig rides his bicycle from Fayetteville to Bentonville and back (60 miles round trip) once or twice a week, and all over Fayetteville recreationally the rest of the week.

Another that I always hear is, “I can’t get my mind to stop so that I can meditate. I never feel like I’m doing it right.”  I always hear that there is no right way and no wrong way to meditate.  That being said there are times when I don’t “get there.”  Usually when that happens it’s because of interruptions.  I get a little irritated but I have to forgive myself.  I think this might be key to people who criticize themselves so much they can’t let go and sink in.  Forgiveness and practice are the key.  Show up to your practice every day.

One of the things that Craig and I have learned about our meditation practice is that it is not a good idea to wake up from a dead sleep and start meditating.  That might have been a no brainer, but at the time it seemed like it might be a more efficient use of our time.  NOT.

We also discovered that we prefer 15 minutes to 10.  Ten minutes is okay, but we just barely sink in and start floating before the timer is going off.

I aspire to meditate 3 times a day for 15 minutes each time.  Morning, noon, and night seems like a good recipe.  I’ll keep you posted about how it is going for Craig.  It’s scary coming into your 40s and staring those numbers in the face.

Do you have methods you use for keeping your blood pressure down?  What types of meditation do you practice?

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.  Schedule an appointment for a massage  479-251-7422


Cask and Grove

Christmas Local Shopping Guide

Cask and Grove
Cask and Grove, a new oil and vinegar shop on Center Street.
As a small business owner, I value small businesses. We have the best small business community here in Fayetteville, with very unique, high quality, one of a kind talents, services, and goods.
When I’m thinking about getting a gift for a family member, friend, or colleague I actively look for things to buy that they can’t find anywhere else, that are unique to their personality, and that are high quality and local.  I want my money to stay in my community. I don’t want it to go to some corporate headquarters that got tax subsidies for bringing their ginormous, monochromatic styles to our city.
I want to shop in a place where people make eye contact, say “hey, how are you doing, I’m so glad to see you.”
I want to connect with people from my community when I’m in their businesses. Revel in what they are geeky about. Be excited about their skills and talents.
I like to walk into a small local business and know that there is only one store on the planet with this particular layout. It is unique. It has its on flavor. And it is beautiful.
We are lucky to live in a place with such active support of small local businesses. This community really shows that we put our money back into our community, supports our local businesses, uniqueness, and diversity.
The best vote we have in this country is where we spend our dollars. We choose what we believe in every time we spend. I believe in Fayetteville local businesses.
Thank you for shopping local this season.
There are some fabulous new shops downtown.  Andrea K. who used to do massage here with us at I.M. Spa opened up her own local business called Cask and Grove. I never knew that there was a whole world of infused oils and balsamic vinegars.  When you go in there you can taste all the flavors, like fig balsamic with blood orange olive oil, or peach balsamic with chipotle olive oil.  They’re on Center Street just across from Taste of Thai.
Center Street Mercantile
Center Street Mercantile
Another fabulous new shop that just opened up is The Center Street Mercantile. It’s underneath David Adams jewelry shop.  They have intricately beaded bracelets, hand made laundry soaps, and cleaning supplies, hand carved crafts, locally sourced jams, even crocheted flamingos.

And our newest neighbor on Block Street is Foxtrot.  They have one of a kind styles and if you are in the neighborhood to check out their boutique, you get the bonus of being able to pet their resident chocolate lab.

I.M. Spa (of course!) bubble bath, body scrubs, skin care, candles, and gift certificates
The Mustache-All kinds of great gifts.  Brian and his wife have brought a unique shop together sourcing local independent goods all from their travels all over the country.
Surf Arkansas at the Moustache
Surf Arkansas at the Moustache
Little Bread Co. (great handmade cookies-with your kids names on them, custom cakes, and pastries)
Wit & Whimsy-Boutique. This young woman is an inspiring entrepreneur from Missouri who came to Fayetteville with her fashion and business. Love her.
Ultra Studios-Fashion boutique & salon. Brooke Benham owns this beautiful shop and now she does hair too.  Love it here.
Himalayan Mountain Shop-cool imports from Nepal & Bhutan.  Have I told you lately how much I LOVE Lama Thinley and Sandy from the Himalayan Mtn. Shop?  Their store is awesome!

Lama Thinley at the Himalayan Mtn Shop
Lama Thinley at the Himalayan Mtn Shop
Block Street Records-records, cds, music
Handmade Market-lovely gift shop
Dark Star Visuals-Bead,Specialty gifts, and Boutique. Stacy at Dark Star is old school Fayetteville and a treasure to have downtown.  Her most recent passion is healing stones.  They are dazzling. Ask her about them when you go in. Everybody needs a little healing.

Dark Star Visuals
Dark Star Visuals
Savoir Faire-Boutique
World Treasures-Guatemalan Imports. I aspire to go back and forth to Guatemala as often as these guys do. In the meantime I can pick up gifts for my family there that give us a taste of what it is like there. So grateful to have them in our neighborhood of shops.

World Treasures
World Treasures
Uncle Sam’s-Outdoor Gear and apparel.
Flying Possum Leather-Birkenstock and leather shop
Swifts-Jewelry store
Terra Tots-Earth Friendly Kid Shop
Blue Moon Music-awesome stringed music shop and instrument repair
Good Things Boutique– organic clothing boutique
Nightbird Books-Keep this treasured book store hopping!  Shop there often. My kids always ask for gift cards from Nightbird (especially Ben-he’s a readaholic).
Pack Rat-These guys have had this shop for a looong time. They are committed to clean, green products, community, and anything outdoors.  Love them.  And when you go shop there, say hey to my son Levi!

Levi Helping Ben With the Climbing Wall
Levi Helping Ben With the Climbing Wall
Packrat Owners, too beautiful!
Packrat Owners, too beautiful!
Don’t forget the Little Craft Show is coming up this weekend!
And if you want good eats while you are out and about:
Zuppa Zuppa soup kitchen is at the Yacht Club. Ann is definitely a master chef.  Good healthy eats to be had over there and that is hard to come by.
Zuppa Zuppa
Zuppa Zuppa

Taste of Thai is always amazing and we are addicted to their Evil Jungle Prince with Vegetables!

Green House Grille has organic, locally sourced foods that are yummy.

Farmer’s Table just opened this year and it is run by this amazing couple who are so active in our community working with Feed Fayetteville to improve foods in our community.  Good stuff!

There are tons more great food places at the Yacht Club on College, Center Street, and Dickson.  So many flavors, so little time.

And I almost forgot!  We have this sweet new tea shop downtown called Savoy Tea Company that sells great drinks, smoothies, and teas.  It’s a great place to take your neice or nephew for a date (that’s what I like to do!) and have special one on one time.

And you should definitely check out Underwood Jewelers on Dickson Street.

And if you have a kid who likes longboarding (or a grown up kid) you HAVE to go to The Path.  They even kept me from shopping at the mall this season cuz they carry Vans shoes.

And we just discovered this beautiful shop on College Avenue, Dick Palmer Archery.  He is 81 years old and has been there making custom made arrows since forever.  He stocks leather finger guards and quivers for arrows, hunting gear, and even slingshots.  I have been in Fayetteville since 1993 and I am just now discovering this hidden gem.  And I have 4 boys.  Jeez!  Please go check it out.  He’s a treasure.
I heard there is a new gourmet kitchen shop on Dickson Street but I’m not sure where it is yet.  And Lauren Jamesstarted out as an online store but just set up brick and mortar on Dickson Street as well.


Our website (I.M. Spa) has been updated to make it easy to buy gift certificates.  You can find us here


I.M. Spa Gift Card
I.M. Spa Gift Card

Can’t wait to see you downtown! There are sooo many good things happening here! Come discover them!

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.

Healing Community

When I was a kid we moved around a ton.  Texas, the Bahamas, San Diego, New Hampshire, Possum Trot, Low Gap, Monterey.  My parents were musicians and the community we had was the community of artists and musicians.  It’s a beautiful thing because there is a whole culture of people who speak the same language, hold the same values, and they dedicate their lives to their art.

It’s been amazing watching my kids grow up in the same house for the past 18 years.  It’s a whole other level of community that I’ve come to know, and man is it beautiful.  We have a supportive spiritual community in our church, a very active and supportive local business community, a musical community, an educational community at the university as well as at the public schools,  a farm community that is feeding us well, and a downtown local community of folks who, you might not know them all one on one, but there are faces that are just part of the fabric that makes this town so beautiful.  I’m sure I’m leaving out a bazillion folks but you get the idea.

We also have a healing community here in Fayetteville that is a remarkable resource.  We have great chiropractors, acupuncturists, naturopaths, physical therapists, vibration therapists, acoustic therapists, art therapists, nurses, doctors, psychologists, hypnotherapists, yoga instructors, physical trainers, midwives, doulas, herbalists, nutritionists (or rather ‘foodies’), and many other specialties.  Hah!  I almost left out one of my favorites, massage therapists.

I’m on a mission to interview as many talented, smart, innovative, out of the box thinking, health practitioners who are amazing at their job as I can.  (Which isn’t very many right now since I’m in nursing school full time).  I love to find out how people got interested in their work, what they love about it, how it changes lives, and how it contributes to our  healing community.

I have quite a list of people I want to talk to, but I’m interested in you.  Who do you love?  Who has helped you with your health?  Who has made you feel better?  Who are you grateful for, and can we talk to them so that we can tell others how awesome they are?

Leave a comment below with the website and contact information of the healing community people you love, so that we can share the love.  Inquiring minds want to know!

Learn more about I.M. Spa or book a massage, facial, or acupuncture appointment 479-251-7422.

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.

Claudia at Mt. Sequoyah

Tools for Getting Out of Pain

Claudia teaches at Mt. Sequoyah
Claudia teaches at Mt. Sequoyah

Sometimes massage gets people out of pain.  Sometimes chiropractic or acupuncture gets people out of pain.  And sometimes Claudia gets people out of pain.

A little help
A little help

When I think about Claudia doing her thing next door at BFit, I see her leading a class of world class athletes who are sweating and cursing while she’s doing the exercises alongside of them, breathing easily with a smile on her face.  She’s a badass.

But that’s just one aspect to the work she does.  She excels in one on one rehab work with people who want to get out of pain, or people who just want to get in better shape and develop more endurance.

Recently I had a client who I had been trying to help with some chronic hip issues over many months.  She had been going to chiropractic as well and still could get no relief.  And it goes without saying that we can straighten you out, balance your energy meridians, and soften your tissue till the cows come home, but if you are not moving well, or if you go right out and get back into your same old hurtful movement (as well as thought and emotional) patterns, you are not going to get better.

That’s where Claudia comes in.  She teaches people how to move well.

After our client went to see Claudia for a while, her pain was gone.  Why?  Because Claudia worked with her to train her body to move better.

Claudia has a background in dance and has been doing some volunteer yoga work with the women’s prison, inspired by the Prison Yoga Project.

Claudia in the women's prison
Claudia in the women’s prison

I’ll be doing another, more in depth piece about what Claudia has been up to.  She inspires me so.  But for now, if you want to learn more about how you can incorporate better movement into your life to help you get out of pain, watch the BFit Fayetteville Facebook Page for her next FREE Foundation Training event.  Or better yet, hit her up for some one on one training.  She’s the best.


You can also learn more about Foundation Training here.  Or find some Foundation Training exercises to do on Youtube.

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.


Early C Section in Arkansas

What’s a Doula? You have Options.

When it came to birthing babies, I knew I didn’t want to do it in the hospital.  I had all 4 of my sons at home with my dear midwife who is still one of my best friends almost 20 years after the birth of my first son.

Pregnant with Ben 2005
Pregnant with Ben 2005

Now I can’t remember how I knew that I could have a midwife assisted birth.  It seems to have been something I knew about all my life.  I realize that many people don’t even realize that birth doesn’t have to be done in a hospital setting, and probably even less realize that you can hire a Doula to help you with your birth whether you choose a hospital or a home birth.  I didn’t know what a doula was until I was in my late 20s, early 30s.

Before we go any further I want to say that I am grateful that we have hospitals in the event of complications in the birth process.  It is tremendous to know that if something goes wrong there is a place where people are trained to handle those emergencies.

The midwife assisted c-section rate in Arkansas is 3%.  Nationwide the midwife assisted c-section rate is between 3 to 4.4%.

That means 4 women out of 100 have major cesarean section surgery with a midwife.  Nationwide.  Pretty good odds.

Here in Arkansas in hospitals, the rate of c-sections (in 2012) was 35.7%.  That’s 11,486 general anesthesia, cesarean sections in one state in one year.

That means 36 women out of 100 (or more than 1 in 3) have major cesarean section surgery if they give birth in a hospital.  Wow. 

Zach holding Baby Ben just before he was born.
Zach holding Baby Ben just before he was born.

There are lots of reasons for that that I won’t go into right now.  Suffice it to say that just with those numbers if you are in your child bearing years, you might want to weigh your options.  Or maybe you didn’t know you had options.

In Europe, midwives attend over 70% of births.  In the U.S. 7.9% of births are attended by midwives.

The United States is 36th in the world for infant mortality rate among developed countries.

What are we doing wrong?

Well, it’s complicated.  I won’t go into depth about the complexities right now, but I will say that our babies are coming too early.  Whether it is a planned cesarean, or a poverty stricken mother unable to carry her baby to term.  We need to care for our mothers better and stop treating birth like an emergency (unless it is one), and more like a process.

Newborn Ben, born at home
Newborn Ben, born at home

I knew I wouldn’t be able to relax in the cold white, cement block walls of an institution with people I didn’t know running in and out of my birth room on their own agenda, peeking up under my carriage and feeling around whether I was ready or not, telling me I had to lay down so they could monitor my progress from the nurses station.  Giving birth was the most primal thing I have ever done in my life.  I wanted to do it at home, moving around at will, standing, squatting, pacing, surrounded by people I love (my mom, husband, kids, friends, midwife), while my mom baked cinnamon rolls.

That’s how we do birth at the Finn house.

And I’m loud when that baby is coming out.  There is a sound that comes out of a woman when she is giving birth that is like the portal between two worlds.  If I hear that sound now it makes me cry.  I’ve heard a similar sound in the wailing after the passing of loved ones.  It’s uncanny, and I could never imitate or recreate that sound again.  It’s like something opens up inside of you that is not of this world.

I can’t imagine doing that in a hospital.

I can imagine that if I were in a setting where I didn’t feel free to open up my body and turn completely inward, supported by the people I love, that I would be more susceptible to needing a c-section.  If I couldn’t move about the way my body wanted me to, if I had to submit to timed cervical examinations, if I were self conscious about what was happening, I know I would have been more susceptible to having a c-section.

Some people just feel more comfortable with the idea of giving birth in a hospital where all the emergency equipment is (midwives also carry emergency equipment, but not for major surgery).  And we’re lucky now to have more options with the Birth Center that just opened up in Northwest Arkansas.  That way you get the best of both worlds, a medical facility with mama and baby centered care in a comfortable setting.

Early C Section in Arkansas
Early C Section in Arkansas

On April 28, 2014, Arkansas Medicaid Director William Golden said “nearly half of the babies born in the hospital statewide in 2009 were born prior to 39 weeks because of elective delivery. Frankly, the data was pretty bad,” Golden said.

All of these things just to say that you have options.  Just because the majority of births happen in the hospital in the United States doesn’t mean that it’s been good for our mortality rates.  More information is better.  And we are fortunate to live in an area with a thriving community of midwives, doulas, and educators about birth.  (But we also live in an area where the medical school UAMS has a 39% c-section rate, and one of the main birthing hospitals has a 35% c-section rate).

Which brings me back to what I really wanted to talk to you about in the first place.  I love Jessica Crass.  She has worked with us at I.M. Spa for 3 and a half years and we are so lucky to have her.  She is a talented massage therapist, ex-social worker, traveler, and farmer.  Last year after helping a good friend through her birth process, the attending midwife, Jennifer Creel (from Terra Tots) mentioned that Jessica should consider training as a Doula.

Jessica is a member of DONA International and Northwest Arkansas Doula Connection.  She has one more birth to attend to be a certified Doula, trained to offer physical, educational, and emotional support during the months leading up to birth, as well as during the birth process.

If I were ever going to have a hospital birth I would definitely want a Doula, somebody who knows my birth plan, who knows what I want and don’t want, somebody whose sole job is to help me make it through the marathon that is birth.  I would want somebody who knew the ropes sticking up for me when I’m not in the best position to stick up for myself.

And if I were to have another home birth(which ain’t ever gonna happen again praise the lord.  I love the birth process, but enough is enough), having a Doula would be icing on the cake in the supportive atmosphere of my home.

If you are examining your birthing options, don’t rule out a midwife assisted birth, because it is by the numbers the most reliable, best track record kind of birth you can have.  But also, consider hiring a Doula.  There is so much to learn about birth, and there are so many decisions to make.

Giving birth is like running a marathon.  You need a support crew on the way.  You can do it!  Go team!  Go team go!

Our whole family after the birth at home
Our whole family after the birth at home

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.

A Spa Day in the Life

A spa day in the Life.

Woke up this morning, homemade raw granola with almond milk for breakfast.  Drove to the food co-op to refill the spa water jug and bought a Kale, Lime, and Apple juice drink.  Pulled into work at the spa.  It’s Farmer’s Market today so big crowd downtown and all the local shops have outdoor sales today because it is the Dog Days of Summer sale.  Dark Star Visuals, Flying Possum Leather, Swift’s Jewelers, Town and Country, Terra Tots, The Mustache.  These are the people that make up the fabric of our community.  I love them.

Went by Little Bread Company to pick up chocolate covered strawberries for a spa girl party at I.M. Spa.

Farmer’s Market with beautiful bouquets walking by, babies in strollers, dog’s on leashes.  Music on every corner.  Fresh blackberries, cause you know it’s July.  Zucchini, lettuce, TOMATOES!  Lots of tomatoes.  Good tomatoes.  Beefsteak tomatoes.  Basil and rosemary, and everything that smells like summer.  And did I mention bouquets?  Big, beautiful bouquets.

At work we did a spa party for 10 year old girls while their moms walked the market.  We did another spa party for a bride to be and 5 of her friends.  I did a foot massage for some poor sweet neuropathic feet.  I did a stress point massage for an aerial dance teacher who had no idea how tight her teres major, teres minor, and subscapularis were.  Another hour and a half massage for somebody whose 12 year old daughter conspired with relatives to buy her some spa time, how awesome is that?

Body waxes and duets happened in our space today.

A friend came by with her daughter and we dreamed about going to Tahoe for a girl’s week.  I got to see an employee whom I have not seen since she had her baby.  I love her.

Another friend came by to see if she had money on her account.  She didn’t want to use it, she’s just saving it for a rainy day.  Her baby is due soon.  She’s waiting, but she is happy  knowing she has a gift certificate.

Another woman bought $500 worth of gift certificates for 3 of her employess with gift bags of soaps as a beautiful addition.

Had C.H.E.W. (Clunk’s Hungry Express Wagon) deliver some sushi while I balanced the drawer.

11 hour day in the life of a spa girl.

Now to put on my Nursing Student Cap.  I have a test over 6 chapters of pathophysiology on Monday.  Better get cracking.

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.