baby

Building a Global Team of Teachers for Healthy Pregnancy, Birth & Baby

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Danc­ing Thru Preg­nancy®, Inc.

Women’s Health & Fit­ness Pro­grams
found­ed 1979
MISSION STATEMENT
Many impor­tant health issues for girls and women involve mat­ters of repro­duc­tive
health, child­bear­ing, fer­til­ity and aging. Research informs us that an active, healthy
lifestyle pro­vides a num­ber of ben­e­fits through­out a woman’s life span:

  • reduced dis­com­forts from preg­nancy, labor, birth, recov­ery & menopause
  • reduced risk of hyper­ten­sive dis­or­ders of preg­nancy and pre­ma­ture birth
  • poten­tially short­er active labor and reduced risk of cesare­an deliv­ery
  • more rapid return to joy­ful activ­i­ties, less excess weight fol­low­ing birth
  • moth­er-infant inter­ac­tion, lead­ing to infant psy­chomo­tor enhance­ment
  • reduced rates of obe­sity, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, and type 2 dia­betes
  • reduc­tion of some can­cers, osteo­poro­sis, falls and loss of mus­cle mass
  • improved social sup­port, net­work­ing and stress man­age­ment skills
  • greater belief in one’s abil­ity to be strong and capa­ble (self-effi­ca­cy)

CleanBirth.org — Saving Lives — $5 Valentine for Safe Motherhood

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As part of our mis­sion to con­tribute to safe moth­er­hood around the globe, DTP is pro­mot­ing the work of CleanBirth.org. This orga­ni­za­tion works to make birth safer in south­ern Laos, which has the high­est rates of infant and mater­nal mor­tal­i­ty in the region[1]. CB1 Mum baby red hat The vast major­i­ty of women give birth with­out a trained atten­dant or clean sup­plies, but CleanBirth.org is mak­ing a dif­fer­ence, improv­ing out­comes through sim­ple ini­tia­tives that pro­vide life-sav­ing birthing sup­plies and infor­ma­tion.

To pro­mote hygien­ic birth, CleanBirth.org part­ners with a Lao non-prof­it, Our Vil­lage Asso­ci­a­tion (OVA) to train local nurs­es to dis­trib­ute Clean Birth Kits – the life sav­ing birth sup­plies that cost a mere $5 each. The nurs­es then train a vol­un­teer from each vil­lage to dis­trib­ute and track the kits and spread infor­ma­tion about safe birthing prac­tices.

If you can, please donate to this mis­sion:

  • $5 pro­vides a life-sav­ing Clean Birth Kit
  • $100 trains a Vil­lage vol­un­teer
  • $250 spon­sors a nurse who serves as many as 1o vil­lages

Think of this as your Valen­tine present to the world. Safe Moth­er­hood is a major glob­al move­ment, and orga­ni­za­tions such as CleanBirth.org are the on-the-ground work force that is bring­ing about improve­ments in mater­nal and new­born sur­vival.

READ MORE AND SEE MORE PHOTOS AT DTP’s BLOG SITE: http://dancingthrupregnancy.wordpress.com

Thank you!!

DTP Offspring – Renee Crichlow: REAC Fitness

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In Part 4 of our con­tin­u­ing series on DTP’s off­spring, meet Renee Crichlow, ACSM Cer­ti­fied Per­son­al Train­er from Bar­ba­dos, whose REAC Fit­ness busi­ness includes Mum-me 2 B Fit­ness Series (pre­na­tal), After Baby Fit­ness Series (post­na­tal) and 6 week Jump­start Body Trans­for­ma­tion Pro­gram (gen­er­al female pop­u­la­tion).

See pho­tos and read more about Renee’s busi­ness on the DTP Blog here. The adven­tures of one of her stu­dents is fea­tured in a recent series of arti­cles in Bar­ba­dos Today.

Renee is a women’s fit­ness spe­cial­ist, tar­get­ing all stages of a woman’s life cycle from ado­les­cent, child bear­ing years, pre­na­tal, post­na­tal to menopause. I design var­i­ous exer­cise pro­grammes to help women get into shape. As a train­er, friend and coach, I am com­mit­ted to guid­ing, moti­vat­ing and edu­cat­ing women to exceed their fit­ness goals and to per­ma­nent­ly adopt healthy lifestyles. She start­ed study­ing with DTP in March 2012 and com­plet­ed the practicum in May 2012.

I most enjoy the good feel­ing asso­ci­at­ed with know­ing that I am help­ing women to pos­i­tive­ly change their lives through exer­cise. I have learned that we are con­nect­ed and not sep­a­rate from each oth­er. Shar­ing our chal­lenges and tri­umphs enable each of us to grow and have a sense of belong­ing like a sis­ter­hood. The baby and preg­nan­cy sto­ries always amaze me and I learn a lot con­sid­er­ing I don’t have chil­dren of my own.  I am also fas­ci­nat­ed by the fact that as the preg­nant mum­mies bel­lies grow, they are still mov­ing with lots of ener­gy and I feed off of that ener­gy.  I just love work­ing with preg­nant ladies and moth­ers.

What is Fetal Programming?

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What is fetal pro­gram­ming? Every per­son liv­ing on earth was first exposed to a uter­ine envi­ron­ment that helped deter­mine their life­time health and devel­op­ment. The term for this phe­nom­e­non is fetal pro­gram­ming. It is a hot top­ic and deserves atten­tion.

Accept­ing the impor­tance of fetal pro­gram­ming places respon­si­bil­i­ty on the moth­er-to-be to do all she can to insure her body pro­vides nutri­ents and oxy­gen to her grow­ing infant while avoid­ing pos­si­ble risks and tox­ins. At the same time, genet­ic and envi­ron­men­tal fac­tors con­tribute great­ly to the poten­tial for some dis­or­ders and prob­lems that arise. Thus, we must be care­ful in assign­ing guide­lines for accept­able behav­ior or blame for poor out­comes to preg­nant women.

On the one hand, we can all see the neg­a­tive con­se­quences of some­thing like fetal alco­hol syndrome…clearly the result of mater­nal behav­ior. Is a preg­nant woman whose baby has been dam­aged in this way guilty of abuse?

But, what if a moth­er is obese, eats poor­ly and ends up with an infant with a dis­turbed metab­o­lism. Is this abuse? What if the moth­er has an infec­tion that results in cere­bral pal­sy? Or what if she lives near a high­way and invol­un­tar­i­ly inhales fumes that neg­a­tive­ly affect the pla­cen­ta?

How do you get a healthy baby? Of course, there are no guar­an­tees. There remain many unknown fac­tors that can affect the course and out­come of a preg­nan­cy. Some fac­tors we are aware of, such as avoid­ing cer­tain fumes or chem­i­cals.  There are some behav­iors we know can max­i­mize the poten­tial for a good out­come, such as eat­ing ade­quate pro­tein, aer­o­bic con­di­tion­ing and strength train­ing. [Note for new readers…lots of these fac­tors have been cov­ered in our pre­vi­ous posts.]

But, what about all the things we don’t know about?

If these goats eat the wrong grass, will they go into labor?

Here is a cau­tion­ary tale:  There is a species of goat that, if they eat a cer­tain type of skunk grass on day 14 (and only day 14) of preg­nan­cy, will not go into labor. Why? Plant tox­ins in this grass inter­fere with the devel­op­ment of a small por­tion of fetal brain, the par­aven­tric­u­lar nucle­us. This nucle­us is involved in the sig­nal­ing cycle of labor. With­out it, the moth­er will not go into labor!

What are the take-home mes­sages here?

  • Prob­a­bly no one is ever a per­fect fetus…too many pos­si­ble threats.
  • There are some threats we can avoid…being lazy, over-eat­ing, smok­ing.
  • There are some threats we can­not avoid, so we do the best we can.

Do the best you can by your baby…aerobic fit­ness, good nour­ish­ment, sleep, good hygiene and de-stress­ing your life.

How to Get Pregnant — Coaching Topic #1

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So let’s get on with the top­ic of How to Get Preg­nant, start­ing with why do we need to know this?

In the past few decades, the aver­age age for a first preg­nan­cy in the U.S. has moved from the mid twen­ties into the mid thir­ties. In the same time peri­od, the facts of con­cep­tion — sperm enters egg released in mid cycle, then zygote implants in the uterus, along with how sex allows this to hap­pen and how to pre­vent it — seems to have dis­ap­peared from mid­dle and high school health class­es. If that weren’t enough, as women have become more and more essen­tial in the work force, the cost of hav­ing chil­dren as well as start­ing lat­er, have dri­ven down the birth rate. Sim­i­lar con­di­tions exist in most devel­oped nations, although teen preg­nan­cy rates are low­er every­where else.

The birthing pop­u­la­tion has bifur­cat­ed — we see old­er women (over 35) and teens as the major groups hav­ing chil­dren. On the one hand we have been work­ing to reduce teen preg­nan­cy while help­ing old­er and old­er women become first time moms. To a cer­tain extent, they need the same infor­ma­tion; its just that with teens we use this infor­ma­tion to pre­vent preg­nan­cy and with old­er women we use infor­ma­tion to help them increase their odds of get­ting preg­nant.

Under­stand­ing the men­stru­al cycle, ovu­la­tion, chart­ing tem­per­a­ture — all the basic tech­niques of using the “nat­ur­al” method of birth con­trol — have become the first steps of the how-to-get-preg­nant coach­es. Beyond this, a num­ber of sites have their own essen­tial lists to help women be healthy and ready. Sites such as gettingpregnant.com, pregnancy.org/getting-pregnant, and storknet.com/cubbies/preconception/ pro­vide addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion. Many sug­ges­tions — things to avoid eat­ing, what pro­teins are need­ed for ovu­la­tion, how to reduce stress, what to do if there are sperm prob­lems, how to find IVF clin­ics, donors and sur­ro­gates — are addressed.

How effec­tive are these sug­ges­tions? Well, research tells us they are some­what effec­tive. None of the sites I con­tact­ed answered my query about how they mea­sure or assess con­sumer out­comes when fol­low­ing their sug­ges­tions.

An inter­est­ing arti­cle in the NY Times 9/1/2011, enti­tled Are You as Fer­tile as You Look? openened with this sen­tence: “FORTY may be the new 30, but try telling that to your ovaries.” The real­i­ty is that being under 35 is still the best pre­dic­tor of how dif­fi­cult it may be for you to become preg­nant. As the arti­cle makes clear, look­ing 30 and being 30 are not the same thing. Even healthy liv­ing does not pre­vent the loss of good eggs.

So, what con­clu­sions can we draw? First, even if you come from a “fer­tile fam­i­ly,” it may behoove you to have your chil­dren in your late 20s or ear­ly 30s. Sec­ond, if you are putting off hav­ing chil­dren beyond that time, ask your­self what extremes you are will­ing to go to to have your own bio­log­i­cal off­spring. And, third, con­sid­er adop­tion. Frankly, it would be won­der­ful if adop­tion were eas­i­er, but in the dri­ve to con­ceive at lat­er and lat­er ages we see the hand of biol­o­gy and under­stand why adop­tion is not easy:  Our own off­spring — our own DNA out there in the world — is a heady moti­va­tion.

If you are on the path­way of becom­ing preg­nant, being under 35 is the best ally you have. If not, maybe some of the sug­ges­tions on the web will work for you. What­ev­er you decide, all the best.

One part­ing com­ment:  Reg­u­lar mod­er­ate exer­cise — while it helps you stay young and healthy — will not pre­vent your eggs from being popped out every month. It will help you have a healthy preg­nan­cy if you con­ceive, so stay with it!

Holiday Contributions That Make a Difference.

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This is the time of year many of us con­sid­er where to make our char­i­ta­ble con­tri­bu­tions. We have assem­bled a list of  groups to which you might want to con­sid­er giv­ing this year. By donat­ing to these orga­ni­za­tions you can help improve the lives of moth­ers, newborns,children and fam­i­lies around the world. Most will also send a card or email mes­sage to a mom in whose hon­or you give the gift.

UNICEF Inspired Gifts.  You can choose gifts that improve edu­ca­tion, water, health, nutri­tion, emer­gency care and oth­er fac­tors that affect the well-being of women and chil­dren.

White Rib­bon Alliance for Safe Moth­er­hood. You can advo­cate for every moth­er and every child in 152 nations when you give to this orga­ni­za­tion.

Inter­na­tion­al Con­fed­er­a­tion of Mid­wives. This group exists to raise aware­ness of the glob­al role of mid­wives in reduc­ing mater­nal and new­born child mor­tal­i­ty.

The Fis­tu­la Foun­da­tion. This group exists to raise aware­ness of and fund­ing for fis­tu­la treat­ment, pre­ven­tion and edu­ca­tion­al pro­grams world­wide. Fis­tu­la is the dev­as­tat­ing injury cause by untreat­ed obstruct­ed labor.

The Preeclamp­sia Foun­da­tion. This orga­ni­za­tion sup­ports research to pre­vent and treat one of the most dan­ger­ous dis­or­ders of preg­nan­cy, one that accounts for a large per­cent­age of pre­ma­ture births and low birth weight infants. Hav­ing preeclamp­sia is also a risk fac­tor for lat­er heart dis­ease for the moth­er.

Clean Birth. Clean Birth Kits are designed to pro­vide birth atten­dants and/or expect­ing moms with the tools they need to ensure a clean birthing envi­ron­ment. The Kits ensure the WHO’s “6 Cleans”: clean hands, clean per­ineum, clean deliv­ery sur­face, clean cord cut­ting imple­ment, clean cord tying, and clean cord care.

March of Dimes. The “moth­er” of all char­i­ties for help­ing pre­vent and treat dis­or­ders and dis­eases that affect chil­dren.

Peace, Love and Joy to all.

High Birth Weight: The New Adverse Outcome

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While pub­lic aware­ness of low birth weight and pre­ma­ture infants is becom­ing — at long last — inter­est­ing to the main­stream cul­ture and media, anoth­er phe­nom­e­non is begin­ning to shake the pro­fes­sion­al birthing world:  high birth weight. Because it is occur­ring in a more afflu­ent ele­ment of soci­ety, it is alarm­ing. This tells us that you can­not buy your way out of preg­nan­cy risks that are cre­at­ed by a seden­tary, tox­ic food life-style.

Here is the dilem­ma:

Nor­mal weight and some over­weight women who eat too much in preg­nan­cy tend to have babies who are, basi­cal­ly, already obese at birth. There­fore, these infants already have meta­bol­ic and car­dio­vas­cu­lar dys­func­tion. Babies born over 8 lbs. 14 oz. are at increased risk for Type 2 Dia­betes and heart dis­ease.

Inter­est­ing­ly, the Insti­tute of Med­i­cine  recent­ly issued new guide­lines on preg­nan­cy weight gain. After near­ly 20 years of adher­ing to the “nor­mal” weight gain being 25 to 35 pounds, the Insti­tute rec­og­nized that pre­na­tal BMI plays a role in how much weight gain is nec­es­sary for a healthy preg­nan­cy.

The evi­dence that under­lies this change demon­strates that gains greater than 22 pounds — for all clas­si­fi­ca­tions of pre­na­tal BMI — is the demarka­tion point for increased health prob­lems.  More infor­ma­tion on this is avail­able at:  New IOM Guide­lines.

We have known for a while now that obe­si­ty in preg­nan­cy puts moth­er and infant at risk for a num­ber of prob­lems from car­dio­vas­cu­lar, meta­bol­ic and immune dis­or­ders to pre­ma­tu­ri­ty, low birth weight, increased need for cesare­an birth and slow recov­ery. Add anoth­er one:  Obese new­borns with increased risk for heart and metab­o­lism prob­lems.

Ref­er­ence on weight gain and high birth weight:

Lud­wig DS, Cur­rie J. The asso­ci­a­tion between preg­nan­cy weight gain and birth­weight: a with­in-fam­i­ly com­par­i­son. Lancet. 2010 Sep 18;376(9745):984–90. Epub 2010 Aug 4.

A good ref­er­ence for issues sur­round­ing obese preg­nan­cy:

Led­dy MA et al. The Impact of Mater­nal Obe­si­ty on Mater­nal and Fetal Health. Rev Obstet Gynecol 2008;1(4):170–178.

Fitness Starts Early!

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Preg­nan­cy fit­ness is not only impor­tant for moms, but for the fetus as well. Evi­dence is clear that aer­o­bic fit­ness improves brain, heart, immune and meta­bol­ic function…at all ages, includ­ing in utero. If con­tin­ued ear­ly in life, healthy phys­i­cal adap­ta­tions that occur in the uterus become rein­forced behav­ior, prepar­ing a good foun­da­tion for a healthy lifestyle. Babies are acute observers of move­ment and activ­i­ty, and learn from each oth­er. A key com­po­nent of a good mom-baby pro­gram is the inter­ac­tion of the babies them­selves. A good teacher will facil­i­tate healthy activ­i­ty among our small­est class mem­bers!

There is grow­ing evi­dence that at all ages, aer­o­bic fit­ness pro­duces the great­est num­ber of ben­e­fits. Recent­ly, researchers deter­mined that aer­o­bic fit­ness in 9 and 10 year olds pro­duced ben­e­fits in the devel­op­ment of two impor­tant brain regions — the basal gan­glia and the hip­pocam­pus — that are sig­nif­i­cant fac­tors in prob­lem-solv­ing intel­li­gence. This is just one of the lat­est reports that tells us the capac­i­ty to absorb and use oxy­gen (which improves with aer­o­bic fit­ness) is a key to health, qual­i­ty and length of life…beginning in the womb!

New Mom Reports

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We labored at home for six intense hours, went to the hos­pi­tal, and he was born forty min­utes lat­er. J did such a good job coach­ing the doc­tor asked, “Have you tak­en a birth prepa­ra­tion class?” We got a lot out of your class — thanks a mil­lion!!” — A, J & E

We both feel we had a beau­ti­ful birth sto­ry that was made up of well edu­cat­ed deci­sions.  From the entire birth team, even though it was not at all what we had envi­sioned. Thanks Ann for your instruc­tion and class that equipped us for such suc­cess!” — O.A .& S.Q.

We’re hap­py to report our baby was born on Sat­ur­day at 12:31 am…our exer­cise class­es were ESSENTIAL in the lat­er part of labor — the doc­tor and nurse described me as a “nat­ural” at push­ing, but I had to admit I’d been prac­tic­ing my c-curves twice a week!” — G.S.

We arrived at the hos­pi­tal at 8pm on Fri­day and I was 6 cm dilated…I deliv­ered by 1 am with­out pain meds.  It was an amaz­ing expe­ri­ence. You real­ly do focus inward.  I found sit­ting in the show­er hold­ing the sprayer to be help­ful.  Def­i­nitely try dif­fer­ent posi­tions.  I used the bar for when it can time to push.  Just know that there is an end in sight and just hold­ing your baby at the end is the most won­der­ful, amaz­ing feel­ing in the world!”  — P.E.

New Breastfeeding Research: More Baby Protections

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We have long known that vagi­nal birth and breast­feed­ing are key fac­tors in the devel­op­ment of a healthy immune sys­tem in infants. Pass­ing through the vagi­na expos­es the baby to an array of bac­te­ria that help stim­u­late its unchal­lenged immune sys­tem. Breast-fed babies receive anti-bod­ies, pro­teins and oth­er mol­e­cules that pro­tect it from infec­tion and teach the immune sys­tem to defend the infant.

Breast­feed­ing is key for long-term health.

Recent research at UC Davis has shown that a strain of the bifi­do bac­te­ria — acquired from the moth­er — thrives on com­plex sug­ars (large­ly lac­tose) that were pre­vi­ous­ly thought to be indi­gestible. The bac­teri­um coats the lin­ing of the imma­ture diges­tive tract and pro­tects it from nox­ious bac­te­ria.

This com­bi­na­tion of inter­ac­tions affects the com­po­si­tion of bac­te­ria in the infant gut as it matures. Anoth­er exam­ple of how evo­lu­tion has “invent­ed” the per­fect nutri­tion for infants, this research con­tributes to the notion that evo­lu­tion has select­ed for many genes that serve nor­mal birth and breast­feed­ing by pro­tect­ing the new­born. Inter­ven­ing with the nor­mal pro­gres­sion of birth and breast­feed­ing — while occa­sion­al­ly nec­es­sary — inter­rupts these ben­e­fi­cial adap­ta­tions and con­tributes to aller­gies and autoim­mune dis­or­ders.