birth

NEW: Upper Valley — Vermont + New Hampshire!

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Tree Life Birth Care in White Riv­er Junc­tion, VT, is our newest loca­tion for Total Preg­nan­cy Fit­ness. The cen­ter is ded­i­cat­ed to pro­vid­ing bal­anced, evi­dence-based sup­port to women and their fam­i­lies dur­ing preg­nan­cy, labor and post­par­tum. They offer doula care, child­birth edu­ca­tion, pre­na­tal dance class­es, and lac­ta­tion con­sult­ing in the Upper Val­ley region of Ver­mont and New Hamp­shire. For more infor­ma­tion, vis­it http://LifeTreeBirth.com or email Mary Etna Haac at DoulaMaryEtna@gmail.com.

Mary Etna R Haac, MPH, PhD, DONA-trained Birth Doula. Bilin­gual: Eng­lish-Span­ish. 703–447-98–94.

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!!

Exercise and Body Trust in Birth

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In the gen­er­a­tions since birth moved from the home to the hos­pi­tal set­ting, it has become less and less fre­quent that women in devel­oped nations see birth first hand and accept it as a nat­ur­al part of life pri­or to their own first birth expe­ri­ence. The “epi­dem­ic” of fear sur­round­ing birth may well be part­ly a result of this phe­nom­e­non. In a recent post pub­lished in Mid­wives mag­a­zine, a pub­li­ca­tion of the UK’s Roy­al Col­lege of Mid­wives, DTP direc­tor Ann Cowl­in wrote a blog enti­tled ‘Exer­cise and Body Trust in Birth.’ The post address­es the con­fi­dence in one’s body that accom­pa­nies train­ing spe­cif­ic exer­cise and how this applies to preg­nant women and their prepa­ra­tion for birth. Here is the link to the blog post: http://community.rcm.org.uk/blogs/exercise-and-body-trust-birth

DTP Guest Blog — Healthy Start Brooklyn

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Healthy Start Brook­lyn (HSB) recent­ly added Danc­ing Thru Preg­nan­cy to its ser­vices with ter­rif­ic results. Find out more about HSB at http://fphny.org/programs/giving-brooklyn-families-a-healthy-start. This blog describes how DTP became a part of the pro­gram.

DTP: When did you first work or study with DTP?
HSB: We first dis­cov­ered DTP in 2011 while research­ing evi­dence-based exer­cise pro­grams for preg­nant women. DTP was exact­ly what we were look­ing for! So in Jan­u­ary of 2012, Healthy Start Brook­lyn trained three for­mer clients and one staff mem­ber to teach free DTP class­es to low-income preg­nant women in Cen­tral Brook­lyn. It took some time for us to get the pro­gram up and run­ning, but we have been offer­ing class­es since March of this year and they have been con­tin­u­ing suc­cess­ful­ly ever since.

DTP: Describe the focus or mis­sion of your work.
HSB: Healthy Start Brook­lyn is a fed­er­al­ly fund­ed pro­gram that seeks to improve the health and well­ness of women, infants and fam­i­lies in Cen­tral Brook­lyn. Rates of infant death, pre­ma­ture birth and ill­ness in the neigh­bor­hoods of Bed­ford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Bush­wick, East New York, and Flat­bush are far high­er than else­where in New York City and the U.S. as a whole. HSB pro­vides sup­port ser­vices, edu­ca­tion and train­ing to reduce these inequal­i­ties and improve the lives of Cen­tral Brook­lyn res­i­dents. Our DTP class­es, as with our child­birth edu­ca­tion and doula pro­grams, are aimed at try­ing to offer our clients free ser­vices that are avail­able to more afflu­ent women to help off­set some these inequal­i­ties that can have a neg­a­tive impact on birth out­comes.

DTP: What do you most enjoy about your work?
HSB: We enjoy see­ing our clients com­ing back to class every week. Some of them have very lit­tle sup­port sys­tems in their lives, and it is extreme­ly reward­ing to see them par­tic­i­pate in class each week and stay after class to talk to each oth­er and share sto­ries. It is our hope that the class not only pos­i­tive­ly affects their phys­i­cal health, but also their men­tal health as well, serv­ing as a place where they can de-stress and social­ize with oth­er women in sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions. We also real­ly enjoy receiv­ing pic­tures of the babies that our class had some part in help­ing enter the world healthy!

DTP: What is the most impor­tant or inter­est­ing thing you have learned from work­ing with moms, moms-to-be, or oth­er women clients?
HSB: Preg­nant women can move! In the begin­ning, we were ner­vous about mak­ing our class rou­tines too high inten­si­ty for some of the women who were fur­ther along in their preg­nan­cies. We were sur­prised to find that they could all keep up and were even request­ing the high­er inten­si­ty rou­tines.

To learn more and see more pho­tos, go to the DTP Blog:

http://dancingthrupregnancy.wordpress.com/

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.

Pregnancy Exercise — The Evolutionary Imperative for Vigorous Activity

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This arti­cle is from my blog, Danc­ingTh­ruPreg­nan­cy on Word­Press.

I have long want­ed to write this post. Recent­ly two arti­cles appeared in the NY Times prompt­ing me to move for­ward. One arti­cle dealt with how it is that ongo­ing vig­or­ous exer­cise pro­duces brain enhance­ments. The sec­ond arti­cle dealt with how run­ning cre­ates its “high” and explained why the result­ing addic­tion is an evo­lu­tion­ary ben­e­fit for human sur­vival.

Every day in Africa a gazelle wakes up.

It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.

Every morn­ing a lion wakes up.

It knows that it must out­run the slow­est gazelle or it will starve to death.

It doesn’t mat­ter whether you are a lion or a gazelle.

When the sun comes up, you bet­ter be run­ning.

Abe Gubegna
Ethiopia, circa 1974

The preg­nant mom who exer­cis­es vig­or­ous­ly and reg­u­lar­ly — the one who runs or swims or does aer­o­bic danc­ing — is not the one at risk, or whose infant is at risk, of a lack of tol­er­ance for the rig­ors of labor or for lifestyle health prob­lems. It is the seden­tary or low activ­i­ty moth­er and her off­spring who are at risk. I have writ­ten at length on this real­i­ty in my chap­ter on Women and Exer­cise in Varney’s Mid­wifery.

This real­iza­tion has plagued me for ages, and the two arti­cles in the Times con­vinced me to make this state­ment, explain why it is true and exhort women of child­bear­ing age to become aer­o­bic ani­mals.

In the con­tem­po­rary world, we are not as active as pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions. Few women exer­cise to the extent required to devel­op the capac­i­ty to with­stand the rig­ors of birth. It is lit­tle won­der that so often health care providers hear that women are afraid to exer­cise, and child­birth edu­ca­tors hear that preg­nant moms are afraid of birth and don’t have con­fi­dence in their abil­i­ty to do it. There are solu­tions for these issues…

The biggest bang for the buck is aer­o­bics. This gets almost every­thing that helps you in labor. It increas­es endurance, strength and range of motion. It improves breath­ing capac­i­ty (you get more oxy­gen + less fatigue). It reduces your need to tap your car­diac reserve (your body works hard in labor but not to the degree it must if you are not fit). Plus, reg­u­lar par­tic­i­pa­tion in a good car­dio or aer­o­bic work­out gives you the men­tal tough­ness and con­fi­dence you need to know that your body is capa­ble of the work and the recov­ery — what we call body trust. Fit Preg­nan­cy has dis­cussed the myths sur­round­ing how hard a preg­nant woman can work out.

Learn­ing use­ful posi­tions and move­ments is extreme­ly help­ful. Be sure that your work­out also includes strength and coor­di­na­tion move­ments — such things as squat­ting, core move­ments for pelvis and spine, and oth­er motions that aid your progress in labor. Being upright and mov­ing are keys to a healthy labor. These require strength and coor­di­na­tion.

Men­tal focus and being present teach you to work with your body. Activ­i­ties such as relax­ation train­ing, yoga, pilates for preg­nan­cy and dance help you devel­op the men­tal skills (mind­ful­ness and deep breath­ing) that accom­pa­ny your move­ment. Learn to rec­og­nize your body’s sig­nals so you know when it’s time to push.

A tru­ly effec­tive use of your time is a one hour class a cou­ple times a week that com­bines all these ele­ments. We have known this for decades. The evi­dence is clear that it works. Keep moving…right into labor and birth!

Find a safe and effec­tive class or train­er.

Birth of Pregnancy Exercise: Evolution of DTP

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Some­times it is fun to look back at the long road to the present! Recent­ly, I was inter­viewed by our local online media out­let (the Bran­ford CT Patch) and was real­ly thrilled with the result­ing sto­ry. It focused on the 30 year road of DTP and I thought you might find it inter­est­ing.

Here is the link to the sto­ry and the sub­ti­tle:

http://branford.patch.com/articles/ann-cowlin-a-prenatal-fitness-pioneer-celebrates-30-years-of-work

What start­ed as a “fledg­ling exper­i­ment” has become one Bran­ford woman’s life work.

Thank you for tak­ing a look!

Still look­ing for new ways to devel­op core strength & coor­di­na­tion for new moms…start with the pos­ture on the left (inhale) and move to the one on the right (exhale). Keep the trans­verse abdom­i­nal sucked in. Repeat.…

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.

Safe Motherhood

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The chal­lenges to safe moth­er­hood vary depend­ing where in the world you live. In some areas the chal­lenge may be to get ade­quate nutri­tion or clean water; in oth­er areas, it may be to pre­vent infec­tion; and in still oth­er loca­tions it may be try­ing to avoid preg­nan­cy before your body is ready or get­ting access to pre­na­tal care. In the U.S., it may mean avoid­ing being seden­tary and mak­ing poor food choic­es, or hav­ing to deal with the high tech­nol­o­gy envi­ron­ment of med­ical birth that can sab­o­tage the innate phys­i­o­log­i­cal process of labor and birth.

Birth begins the bond­ing or unique love between moth­er and child.

The biol­o­gy of birth is a com­plex series of cause-effect process­es…baby’s brain releas­es chem­i­cal sig­nals to the moth­er and the pla­cen­ta begins to man­i­fest the mater­nal immune system’s rejec­tion of the fetus.

To help the ball get rolling, relax­ation (the trophotrop­ic response) helps pro­mote the release of oxy­tocin. With the help of grav­i­ty, the head press­es on the cervix, ampli­fy­ing the uter­ine con­trac­tions. After an ultra-dis­tance aer­o­bic endurance test, the cervix opens enough to let the baby move into the vagi­na and the mother’s dis­com­fort moves from sharp cramp­ing into the bony struc­ture as she tran­si­tions to the strength test of push­ing. She tran­si­tions. Relax­ation mod­u­lates into an ergotrop­ic — adren­al — response to gath­er her pow­er.

Push­ing is an inter­est­ing term…more mas­cu­line, I think, than the one I pre­fer:  Releas­ing. Releas­ing or let­ting go of the baby. It’s a cathar­sis. In this por­tion of the labor anoth­er set of impor­tant process­es help the baby clear its lungs of amni­ot­ic flu­id, stim­u­late its adren­al sys­tem and chal­lenge its immune sys­tem, as the con­trac­tions dri­ve the baby down­ward. The mother’s deep trans­verse abdom­i­nal mus­cles — if strong enough — squeeze the uterus like a tube of tooth paste, to aid this expul­sion. In the mean­time, the labor is help­ing set up the moth­er to fall in love and pro­duce milk. When the baby emerges and moves onto the mother’s chest, s/he smells and tastes the moth­er, rec­og­niz­ing her mother’s fla­vor and set­ting up the poten­tial for bond­ing.

Any way you slice it, there are two parts to safe moth­er­hood. One is a safe preg­nan­cy…healthy nutri­tion, phys­i­cal fit­ness, safe water, infec­tion pre­ven­tion, sup­port and a safe envi­ron­ment. The oth­er is a safe labor. In a safe labor, there is both an envi­ron­ment that pro­motes the nat­ur­al process of labor and the means nec­es­sary for med­ical assis­tance when need­ed. Women die at an alarm­ing rate from preg­nan­cy or birth-relat­ed prob­lems. Despite some progress made in recent years, women con­tin­ue to die every minute as a result of being preg­nant or giv­ing birth.

What keeps us from hav­ing a bet­ter record on moth­er­hood is often lack of care in the devel­op­ing world and too much inter­ven­tion in the U.S.. They are two sides of a coin. Moth­ers’ expe­ri­ence and health needs are not on equal foot­ing with oth­er cul­tur­al val­ues. In places where basic pre­na­tal care or fam­i­ly plan­ning are low pri­or­i­ties, at-risk women are vul­ner­a­ble to the phys­i­cal stress­es of preg­nan­cy and birth. In the U.S., machine-mea­sured data is para­mount, even if it pro­duces high rates of false pos­i­tives, unnec­es­sary inter­ven­tions or coun­ter­pro­duc­tive pro­ce­dures. We are learn­ing that obe­si­ty and seden­tary lifestyles have detri­men­tal effects, but few­er preg­nant women than their non-preg­nant coun­ter­parts exer­cise.

Despite the mon­ey spent to sup­port the tech­no­log­i­cal mod­el of preg­nan­cy and birth in the U.S., there are parts of the world with low­er rates of mater­nal deaths — espe­cial­ly Scan­di­navia, North­ern Europe and parts of the Mediter­ranean and Mid­dle East (Greece, the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates, Israel, Italy and Croa­t­ia). In fact, in the U.S., mater­nal deaths are on the rise.

It’s a tricky busi­ness. Clear­ly West­ern med­i­cine has a lot to offer the devel­op­ing world when there are med­ical con­cerns. On the oth­er hand, import­ing the U.S. mod­el could cre­ate more prob­lems than it solves. Instead, the micro-solu­tions now being devel­oped in many loca­tions will be observed and evi­dence col­lect­ed by orga­ni­za­tions such as the White Rib­bon Alliance and UNICEF.

There is an effec­tive inter­na­tion­al mid­wives mod­el adopt­ed by JHPIEGO, the Johns Hop­kins NGO work­ing toward improved birthing out­comes. It assess­es the local pow­er struc­ture, social con­nec­tions, poten­tial for trained birth assis­tants, and loca­tion of avail­able trans­porta­tion to cre­ate a net­work so that locals will know when a labor is in trou­ble and who can get the woman to the near­est hos­pi­tal.

In the U.S., there are in-hos­pi­tal birth cen­ters that allow low-risk moth­ers the oppor­tu­ni­ty to labor and birth in a set­ting designed to encour­age the innate process­es. Women are begin­ning to vote with their feet…staying home for birth. Women are going abroad to give birth. At the same time, women are com­ing to this coun­try to give birth, believ­ing it is safer than where they are. There are sev­er­al ways these scenes could play out.

But, I’ll wager, improv­ing out­comes will involve com­pro­mise:  Watch­ful­ness and sup­port in most births, plus bet­ter ways to assess dan­ger and pro­vide tech­nol­o­gy. No mat­ter where you live in the world, the solu­tion may be essen­tial­ly the same.