health

NEW: Upper Valley — Vermont + New Hampshire!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

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

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
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

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

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

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

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

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

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!

Pregnancy Exercise Safety

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

This post is adapt­ed from the 3/17/11 DTP Blog on Preg­nan­cy Exer­cise Safe­ty. For more evi­dence-based infor­ma­tion on Pre/postnatal Health & Fit­ness, check out the DTP Blog. The Blog includes infor­ma­tion start­ing pri­or to con­cep­tion and con­tin­u­ing through post­par­tum and mom-baby fit­ness.

There are three sec­tions to this post: 1) moms-to-be, 2) preg­nan­cy fit­ness teach­ers and per­son­al train­ers and 3) some spe­cif­ic con­traindi­cat­ed and adapt­ed exer­cis­es. All infor­ma­tion pre­sent­ed is based on peer-review research and evi­dence col­lect­ed over a 30 year peri­od of work­ing with this pop­u­la­tion. More infor­ma­tion on safe­ty can be found on this site on the page Ben­e­fits, Safe­ty & Guide­lines.

1) Safety & Exercise Guidelines for Moms-To-Be

First and fore­most, be safe. Trust your body. Make sure your teacher or train­er is cer­ti­fied by an estab­lished orga­ni­za­tion that spe­cial­izes in pre/postnatal exer­cise, has worked under mas­ter teach­ers dur­ing her prepa­ra­tion, and can answer or get answers to your ques­tions.

These are the safe­ty prin­ci­ples that we sug­gest to our par­tic­i­pants:

  • get prop­er screen­ing from your health care provider
  • pro­tect your­self
  • do not over­reach your abil­i­ties
  • you are respon­si­ble for your body (and its con­tents)

Squat­ting is an exam­ple of a stan­dard preg­nan­cy exer­cise used for child­birth prepa­ra­tion that must be adapt­ed by each indi­vid­ual based on body pro­por­tions, flex­i­bil­i­ty, strength and com­fort.

Don’t assume that because your teacher and some par­tic­i­pants can do a cer­tain move­ment or posi­tion that you should be able to do it just like they do. If your teacher is well trained, she will be able to help you select vari­a­tions that are appro­pri­ate for your body.

When you are exer­cis­ing, make sure you are get­ting the most from your activ­i­ty. Keep these find­ings in mind when choos­ing your work­out rou­tine:

  • Aer­o­bics and strength train­ing pro­vide the great­est health ben­e­fits, reduce the risk for some inter­ven­tions in labor, help short­en labor, and reduce recov­ery time
  • Cen­ter­ing helps to pre­vent injury; relax­ation and deep breath­ing reduce stress; and mild stretch­ing can relieve some dis­com­forts
  • Avoid fatigue and over-train­ing; do reg­u­lar exer­cise 3 — 5 times a week
  • Eat small meals many times a day (200–300 calo­ries every 2–3 hours
  • Drink at least 8 cups of water every day
  • Avoid hot, humid places
  • Wear good shoes dur­ing aer­o­bic activ­i­ties
  • BE CAREFUL! LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!

If you expe­ri­ence any of the fol­low­ing symp­toms, stop exer­cis­ing and call your health care provider:

  • Sud­den pelvic or vagi­nal pain
  • Exces­sive fatigue
  • Dizzi­ness or short­ness of breath
  • Leak­ing flu­id or bleed­ing from the vagi­na
  • Reg­u­lar con­trac­tions, 4 or more per hour
  • Increased heart­beat while rest­ing
  • Sud­den abnor­mal decrease in fetal move­ment (note: it is com­plete­ly nor­mal for baby’s move­ments to decrease slight­ly dur­ing exer­cise)

2) Safety & Exercise Guidelines for Teachers & Trainers

A prin­ci­ple of prac­tice that increas­es in impor­tance for fit­ness pro­fes­sion­als work­ing with preg­nant women is hav­ing the knowl­edge and skills to artic­u­late the ratio­nale and safe­ty guide­lines for every move­ment she asks clients to per­form.

This goal requires adher­ence to safe­ty as the num­ber one pri­or­i­ty. Here is how we delin­eate safe­ty and the pro­ce­dures we require of our instruc­tors for achiev­ing safe­ty in prac­tice:

First priority: safety [First, do no harm]
  • some­times med­ical con­di­tions pre­clude exer­cise
  • find an appro­pri­ate start­ing point for each indi­vid­ual
  • indi­vid­ual tol­er­ances affect mod­i­fi­ca­tion
  • gen­er­al safe­ty guide­lines are phys­i­cal
  • preg­nant women also need psy­cho­log­i­cal safe­ty
Mind-Body Safety Procedures
  • Cen­ter­ing enhances move­ment effi­cien­cy and safe­ty.
  • Always begin with cen­ter­ing.
Strength Training Cautions
  • avoid Val­sal­va maneu­ver
  • avoid free weights after mid preg­nan­cy (open chain; con­trol issue)
  • avoid supine after 1st trimester
  • avoid semi-recum­bent 3rd trimester
  • keep in mind the com­mon joint dis­place­ments, and nerve and blood ves­sel entrap­ment when design­ing spe­cif­ic exer­cis­es
Aerobics or Cardiovascular Conditioning Procedures
  • Mon­i­tor for safe­ty
  • Instruc­tion­al style needs to be appro­pri­ate.
  • Walk­ing steps with nat­ur­al ges­tures can be done through­out preg­nan­cy
  • Vig­or­ous steps with large ges­tures are more intense, appro­pri­ate as fit­ness increas­es
  • The abil­i­ty to cre­ate move­ment that will be safe and work for var­i­ous lev­els of fit­ness and at dif­fer­ent points in preg­nan­cy is one of the most crit­i­cal skills for preg­nan­cy fit­ness instruc­tors.
Venue Safety
  • Set­ting should pro­vide phys­i­cal and emo­tion­al safe­ty
    Equip­ment must be well-main­tained

3) Contraindicated and adapted exercises

Exer­cis­es for which case stud­ies and research have shown that there are seri­ous med­ical issues include the “down dog” posi­tion, rest­ing on the back after the 4th month, and abdom­i­nal crunch­es and oblique exer­cis­es. Here is more infor­ma­tion and adap­ta­tion sug­ges­tions:

Con­traindi­cat­ed: “Down Dog” requires that the pelvic floor and vagi­nal area are quite stretched, bring­ing porous blood ves­sels at the sur­face of the vagi­na close to air. There are records of air enter­ing the vagi­nal blood ves­sels in this posi­tion and mov­ing to the heart as a fatal air embolism.

Adap­ta­tion: Use the child’s pose, with the seat down rest­ing on the heels and the elbows on the ground, hands one on top of the oth­er, and fore­head rest­ing on the hands. Keep the heart above the pelvis.

_________

Con­traindi­cat­ed: Rest­ing on the back dur­ing relax­ation.

Adap­ta­tion: Rest in the side-lying posi­tion. About 75% pre­fer the left side, 25% pre­fer the right side.

_________

Con­traindi­cat­ed: Abdom­i­nal crunch­es and oblique exer­cis­es can con­tribute to dias­ta­sis rec­ti in some women. The trans­verse abdom­i­nal mus­cle is not always able to main­tain ver­ti­cal integri­ty at the lin­ea alba, and thus there is tear­ing and/or plas­tic­i­ty of that cen­tral con­nec­tive tis­sue.

Adap­ta­tion: Splint­ing with curl-downs, see posi­tions below. By press­ing the sides of the abdomen toward the cen­ter, women can con­tin­ue to strength­en the trans­verse abdom­i­nals with­out the shear­ing forces that place lat­er­al pres­sure on the lin­ea alba.

Curl-downs are gen­er­al­ly the safest and most effec­tive abdom­i­nal stren­then­ing exer­cise.

Splint by cross­ing arms and pulling toward cen­ter (L)

Or, splint by plac­ing hands at sides and press­ing toward cen­ter ®

Safe Motherhood

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

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.

Active Pregnancy — the rationale

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
Moving into Motherhood

It’s time to hit the main theme again:  Aer­o­bi­cal­ly fit women are at reduced risk for things that go wrong in preg­nan­cy, improve their tol­er­ance for labor and birth, and recov­er more rapid­ly in the post­par­tum peri­od.

Mov­ing into Moth­er­hood

The arrival of the hol­i­days pro­vides a good rea­son to bring this up, yet again! Preg­nan­cy is a gate­way time in women’s lives…we become more aware of our bod­ies, our sen­sa­tions, our feel­ings, our needs, and how ver­sa­tile and amaz­ing our bod­ies are. We can make peo­ple with our bod­ies! Dur­ing preg­nan­cy, we often take precautions…we eat more care­ful­ly, avoid tox­ins, try to avoid stress. When the hol­i­days arrive, we see indul­gent behav­ior in a dif­fer­ent light.

Yet, even with all this focus on behav­ior, we some­times miss the biggest aid to a healthy preg­nan­cy:  phys­i­cal fit­ness. Research clear­ly demon­strates that fit women do bet­ter, are health­i­er and hap­pi­er. More and more in the U.S. we see dis­or­ders of nor­mal organ func­tion that accom­pa­ny seden­tary preg­nan­cy.

Let’s look at this a lit­tle clos­er (yes, I am going to repeat myself some more, but it is an impor­tant con­cept to spread). We live in a body mod­el that rewards an active lifestyle.

Being sedentary causes things to go wrong

Not mov­ing cre­ates bio­chem­i­cal imbal­ances because the car­dio­vas­cu­lar sys­tem atro­phies and mol­e­cules cre­at­ed in the brain or brought in through the diges­tion may not get where they need to go for a healthy metab­o­lism.

Your car­dio­vas­cu­la­ture is the high­way that brings usable sub­stances to the place they are used. You have to help it grow and devel­op, use it to pump things around and give it a chance to be healthy. Aer­o­bic fit­ness does all these things.

Advice for young women of childbearing age

If you are think­ing of preg­nan­cy, have recent­ly become preg­nant, or work with women of child­bear­ing age, we encour­age you to open avenues of activ­i­ty for your­self or oth­ers in this pop­u­la­tion. You can learn more from our blog dancingthrupregnancy.wordpress.com. You can seek out local pre/postnatal fit­ness experts on this site. Yoga is nice…we use some of it in our work, along oth­er spe­cif­ic exer­cis­es for which there is a direct health ben­e­fit. But, we also see yoga con­verts who come into our pro­gram in mid preg­nan­cy unable to breathe after walk­ing up a flight of stairs. How will they do in labor? Not as well as those who have been doing aer­o­bic dance or an ellip­ti­cal machine 2 or 3 times a week.

The AHA/ACSM guide­lines for the amount of aer­o­bic exer­cise need­ed to improve car­dio­vas­cu­lar sta­tus hold true for preg­nant women just as they do for the rest of the pop­u­la­tion – a min­i­mum of 150 min­utes of mod­er­ate, or 75 min­utes of vig­or­ous, or a com­bi­na­tion of these lev­els of inten­si­ty, per week. If you are not get­ting this lev­el of activ­i­ty, you are putting your health – and that of your off­spring – at risk.

High Birth Weight: The New Adverse Outcome

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

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.