exercise

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)

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/

About Pain and Birth

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This is excerpt­ed from our Danc­ing Thru Preg­nan­cy blog.

That Was Then…

As I became involved in the birthing field, one of the nurse-mid­wives with whom I was acquaint­ed intro­duced me to Jung’s quo­ta­tion: “There is no birth of con­scious­ness with­out pain.” (Alter­nate­ly, “There is no com­ing to con­scious­ness with­out pain.”) It struck a deep chord in me.

When I first saw the say­ing, “There is no birth of con­scious­ness with­out pain,” inter­twined with a draw­ing of a woman lit­er­al­ly giv­ing birth, the truth of the image seemed obvi­ous to me. It become hard-wired into my under­ly­ing assump­tions about giv­ing birth. The process itself com­bines intense nox­ious sen­sa­tions with mid brain emo­tion­al input into what neur­al sci­ence calls pain. For years, this real­iza­tion has dri­ven what and how I teach: Being fit and edu­cat­ed in body/mind are the tools of enlight­en­ment and self-empow­er­ment.

…And This Is Now

A lit­tle while ago I came across a NY Times arti­cle “Prof­it­ing From Pain.” While the arti­cle con­cerns the huge increase in the legit­i­mate opi­oid busi­ness – prod­ucts, sales, hos­pi­tal­iza­tions, legal expens­es and work­place cost – it restart­ed my think­ing about a top­ic fer­ment­ing in my brain between That Was Then And This Is Now: The sense of enti­tle­ment to a pain-free exis­tence. The idea that pain free is bet­ter than painful. And the sell­ing of this idea for prof­it.

Where does this come from? Try­ing to oblit­er­ate pain has led to increased addic­tion, death and oth­er adverse side effects. A new top­ic has shown up in women’s health dis­cus­sions: Increas­ing use and over­dose from pre­scrip­tion pain killers by women, includ­ing dur­ing preg­nan­cy.

Could it be that human fear of pain is being used to gen­er­ate finan­cial prof­it? (the opi­um-is-the-opi­ate-of-the-mass­es mod­el). Per­haps once the notion of pal­lia­tive care reached a cer­tain lev­el of accep­tance for the dying with­in the med­ical com­mu­ni­ty, it began to spill over into oth­er human con­di­tions (the slip­pery-slope mod­el). Or, per­haps we don’t want trans­paren­cy at all (the denial mod­el).

In the last few days, NPR has raised the ques­tion of whether the high cesare­an birth rate is tied to the pay­ment for pro­ce­dure rather than out­come mod­el? The recov­ery from cesare­an is more painful than the recov­ery from vagi­nal birth, has adverse side-effects for moth­er and baby, and was orig­i­nal­ly designed for use only for the 15% +/- of real com­pli­ca­tions that arise in nor­mal birth. So, how is it being sold to 35% of women in the U.S,? At one point, there was a seri­ous dis­cus­sion with­in the med­ical com­mu­ni­ty that if women were afraid of the pain of birth and want­ed a cesare­an, a care provider should do one. No dis­cus­sion of why it seems painful or how to deal with pain.

The Afford­able Care Act aims to improve some of the cost issues in med­ical care by shift­ing the pay­ment incen­tive away from pro­ce­dures and on to out­come assess­ment. As a result, the cesare­an rate and even such seem­ing­ly innocu­ous pro­ce­dures as fetal mon­i­tor­ing are com­ing under scruti­ny. If we tru­ly want to do a ser­vice to the moth­ers-to-be in the ACA tran­si­tion peri­od and beyond, I think we must dis­cuss the ques­tion of birth and pain.

I can think of many ques­tions that fall under this topic…Why do we call the intense phe­nom­e­non of birth “painful”? How do our genet­ics, behav­ior, train­ing and thought-process­es affect our expe­ri­ence of pain? What about the health care cul­ture – has it focused on reliev­ing pain at the expense of what we gain from work­ing with pain short of trau­ma or immi­nent death? How do we pre­pare women for work­ing with sen­sa­tion with­out auto­mat­i­cal­ly label­ing it pain? Is the “empow­er­ment” often attrib­uted to giv­ing birth what is learned by going through the cen­ter of the “there is no birth of con­scious­ness with­out pain” expe­ri­ence? These ques­tions are just a start.

In closing…

Let me address the child­birth edu­ca­tors and preg­nan­cy exer­cise instruc­tors. This is our present chal­lenge. In my work, I feel the neces­si­ty to make all pain man­age­ment strate­gies under­stand­able to my clients. I find that most of the women I see in class­es must deal first with self-dis­cov­ery before they can assess their com­mit­ment to the view of birth they car­ry in their minds. The images of birth we lay out for them to con­sid­er need to include an under­stand­ing that you can­not escape the work of birth. Being present – mind­ful­ness – can be scary and intense but it is the medi­um by which our con­scious­ness expands. Car­dio­vas­cu­lar fit­ness and strength are the source of our endurance and pow­er.

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.

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!

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.…

Postpartum Exercise: Creating Your 3rd Body

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Recent­ly, while talk­ing with some moms in our post­par­tum exer­cise class, DTP’s Mom-Baby Fit­ness™ pro­gram, I real­ized it has been a while since I have addressed the notion of what we call “the 3rd body.” This stems from the idea that before you are preg­nant, you live in your 1st body; then, while preg­nant, you live in your 2nd body. After giv­ing birth, many women feel their options are to try to get their first body back or live in what they are left with after birth. We sug­gest anoth­er way:  cre­ate your 3rd body.

We dis­cov­ered this 3rd body in work­ing with women to gain the fit­ness nec­es­sary to have a healthy recov­ery and enjoy moth­er­hood. What we found was that women were often becom­ing more fit than they had been before preg­nan­cy, with less body fat and more mus­cle, yet their clothes did not fit the same.  Some­times the flar­ing of the ribs and/or hip bones made for a larg­er waist – despite less fat!

Many clients also feel a new, deep­er sense of their core devel­oped. In fact, over time they real­ized they actu­al­ly liked this body bet­ter in some ways! After all, they came into the world with the pre-preg­nan­cy body, but this body they actu­al­ly cre­at­ed out of the pro­found expe­ri­ence of the phys­i­cal self that preg­nan­cy and birth pro­vide. It extend­ed the empow­er­ment of birth into moth­er­hood.

Extend­ing this metaphor even fur­ther, of course, leads to the 4th and 5th bod­ies, if you have anoth­er child. Even­tu­al­ly, there are more bod­ies as women go through per­i­menopause, menopause, post menopause, and what I like to call the phe­nom­e­nal wis­dom stage. Each body rep­re­sents a new oppor­tu­ni­ty to become some­one strong and pro­found.

I fig­ure I am to body #8 now, and in each stage I have found some­thing incred­i­ble that I could not have at oth­er stages. Long ago I gave up look­ing for my past bod­ies. Each one has been bril­liant in some way, but in the end it had to be left behind if I was to enjoy life’s path to the fullest.

Liv­ing in the moment does require know­ing where you are in time, space and ener­gy. So, dis­card your past bod­ies with delight and move on. Use your ener­gy to cre­ate your­self in the present.

It’s a process and you won’t ful­ly live in your next body until you own the toll of the last one. A post­par­tum mom may expe­ri­ence hair loss, big­ger feet, a mal-aligned spine, con­stant thirst if she is breast­feed­ing, exhaus­tion and a jel­ly bel­ly. But, all these things will pass with time, if you eat right and exer­cise reg­u­lar­ly. Oh, and you can bring the baby, who will have a blast meet­ing oth­er babies!!