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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/

Active Pregnancy — the rationale

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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.

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.

Pregnancy Pathway — Exercise cont’d

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MORE?!! You didn’t think that was it? Only a few com­ments on evi­dence as to WHY mov­ing around, burn­ing calo­ries, being strong and learn­ing to relax while preg­nant is ben­e­fi­cial? No, of course not. You know there is more to it, like WHAT move­ment is safe and effec­tive dur­ing preg­nan­cy?

So, what is safe? Well, first, unless you have a very few con­di­tions that your health care provider con­sid­ers unsafe, every woman — fit, cur­rent­ly seden­tary, young or a lit­tle old­er — can exer­cise safe­ly in preg­nan­cy. How much of what kind depends on your fit­ness lev­el and exer­cise his­to­ry. Get med­ical screen­ing first.

If you are fit, you can do vigorous exercise

If you are fit, you can do vig­or­ous exer­cise

If you are fit, you just need to learn how to mod­i­fy some move­ments to accom­mo­date your bio­me­chan­ics. As your body changes, stress on the joints and tis­sues means a lit­tle less jump­ing or bal­lis­tic motion will be more com­fort­able and safer. If you are fit, you can con­tin­ue with vig­or­ous exer­cise and it will be of ben­e­fit to you and your baby.

If you are not so fit or are seden­tary, find a cer­ti­fied pre/postnatal instruc­tor and join a group where you will have fun, get some guid­ance and be mon­i­tored for safe­ty. How do you find such a per­son? Try our Find A Class or Train­er page.

What is effec­tive? Don’t spend your time on things that may be nice to do but don’t help you focus and pre­pare for birth, relieve dis­com­forts or have the sta­mi­na for birth and par­ent­ing. There is sub­stan­tial sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence and infor­ma­tion from large sur­veys that these things are help­ful.

Car­dio­vas­cu­lar or aer­o­bic activ­i­ty is the most impor­tant activ­i­ty you can do. Already fit? Keep work­ing out; join a class if you want sup­port or new friends. If you are seden­tary or some­what active, you can improve your fit­ness by doing at least 20 — 30 min­utes of aer­o­bic activ­i­ty 3 times a week. Work at a mod­er­ate pace — some­what hard to hard — so that you can talk, but not sing an aria! If you are more than 26 weeks and have not been doing car­dio, you can walk at a com­fort­able pace. Aer­o­bics is key because it gives you endurance to tol­er­ate labor and pro­motes recov­ery.

Strength and flex­i­bil­i­ty exer­cis­es that do not hurt and are done cor­rect­ly are also safe. There are some spe­cial preg­nan­cy exer­cis­es that actu­al­ly help you pre­pare for birth. Essen­tial exer­cis­es that aid your com­fort, align­ment and birth prepa­ra­tion include:

Kegels (squeez­ing and relax­ing pelvic floor mus­cles) — squeez­ing strength­ens them and thus sup­ports the con­tents of the abdomen, and learn­ing to release these mus­cles is nec­es­sary for push­ing and birth.

Abdom­i­nal hiss/compress and C-Curve® - con­tract­ing the trans­verse abdom­i­nal mus­cles reduces low back dis­com­fort and strength­ens the mus­cle used to push and lat­er to recov­er abdom­i­nal integri­ty after birth.

Squatting

Squat­ting

Squat­ting — get­ting into this posi­tion strength­ens the entire leg in a deeply flexed posi­tion; start seat­ed and use arms for sup­port, sta­bil­i­ty and safe­ty. Leg strength improves mobil­i­ty and com­fort in preg­nan­cy and post­par­tum; plus, deep flex­ion is a com­po­nent of push­ing in almost all posi­tions.

Strength­en­ing for bio­me­chan­i­cal safe­ty — strength­en­ing some parts of the body helps pre­vent injury to bone sur­faces, nerves and blood ves­sels with­in joints re-aligned in preg­nan­cy. This can be done using resis­tance rep­e­ti­tions (weights, bands, cal­is­then­tics or pilates) or iso­met­rics (yoga or bal­let). A respon­si­ble class will focus on upper back (row­ing), push-ups, abdom­i­nals, gluteals, ham­strings, and mus­cles of the low­er leg.

Stretch­ing of areas that tend to get tight — reliev­ing some dis­com­forts through flex­i­bil­i­ty helps you main­tain a full range of motion. Sta­t­ic stretch­es, used in com­bi­na­tion with strength exer­cis­es or fol­low­ing aer­o­bics, is most effec­tive. Stretch­ing pri­or to exer­cise tends to pro­duce more injuries than not stretch­ing. Areas need­ing stretch­ing include the chest, low back, ham­strings and hip flex­ors (psoas).

Mind/Body skills are very impor­tant. There are two activ­i­ties that exer­cis­ers con­stant­ly tell us are a big help in preg­nan­cy, birth and par­ent­ing.

• Cen­ter­ing employs a bal­anced or neu­tral pos­ture, deep breath­ing and mind­ful­ness to help you work in a relaxed way. Ath­letes and dancers call this “the zone.” Start­ing your work­out in asso­ci­a­tion with your body estab­lish­es econ­o­my of motion, some­thing very use­ful in birth and par­ent­ing, and reduces risk of injury.

• Relax­ation is anoth­er key activ­i­ty; it relieves stress, pro­motes labor in the ear­ly stages and helps you enter the zone!

Remem­ber: Birth is a Motor Skill™

Pregnancy Pathway — Exercise

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How lucky is this? Just a few days ago, yet anoth­er study was released and has been cir­cu­lat­ing on Med­scape and oth­er med­ical sites that indi­cates exer­cise is ben­e­fi­cial in preg­nan­cy, whether the moth­er is a pre­vi­ous exer­cis­er or not. Just in time for this entry!

Behavior Affects Pregnancy Outcome

Behav­ior Affects Preg­nan­cy Out­come

Phys­i­cal exer­tion (we call it “exer­cise” nowa­days) is a nor­mal state for healthy humans. Only in the last cen­tu­ry has the desire to rest or the need to store extra calo­ries as fat become more pos­si­ble to achieve than our need to move about to sur­vive.

Preg­nan­cy is a state in which both of these fac­tors (rest­ing and stor­ing calo­ries) are enhanced through organ­ic changes in body chem­istry, adap­ta­tions that favor fetal sur­vival. The cur­rent seden­tary lifestyle exag­ger­ates these meta­bol­ic changes and results in syn­dromes that increase the risk for a num­ber of meta­bol­ic, car­dio­vas­cu­lar and immuno­log­i­cal dis­or­ders of preg­nan­cy.

When con­front­ed by the idea that it is coun­ter­in­tu­itive to think exer­cise in preg­nan­cy might be safe (let alone ben­e­fi­cial) I am dumb­found­ed. To me, it is coun­ter­in­tu­itive to think that a seden­tary lifestyle in preg­nan­cy might be safe!

Burning Calories in Pregnancy Improves Outcomes!

Burn­ing Calo­ries in Preg­nan­cy Improves Out­comes!

What is the evi­dence that exer­cise in preg­nan­cy is ben­e­fi­cial? Keep in mind that some stud­ies have been exe­cut­ed more expert­ly than oth­ers. But, what is com­pelling is that numer­ous well-respect­ed researchers have sought to test the hypoth­e­sis that exer­cise is not safe, but come away with results that indi­cate the oppo­site!

Here are some of the major find­ings:

• The pla­cen­ta is larg­er and has more trans­port sur­face in exer­cis­ers than seden­tary women

• The fetus­es of (aer­o­bic) exer­cis­ing moth­ers make ben­e­fi­cial car­dio­vas­cu­lar adap­ta­tions

• Women who do aer­o­bic exer­cise are less like­ly to devel­op severe preeclamp­sia or ges­ta­tion­al dia­betes, and the long term health prob­lems that accom­pa­ny these dis­or­ders

• Women who are aer­o­bi­cal­ly fit recov­er from birth 10 times faster than seden­tary women (as mea­sured by time need­ed to metab­o­lize free rad­i­cals pro­duced in labor)

• Women who exer­cise in preg­nan­cy are more like­ly to be phys­i­cal­ly fit in midlife

• Babies of aer­o­bi­cal­ly fit women are at reduced risk for pre­ma­tu­ri­ty and low birth weight
DTP_mover2
So, we have arrived at the take-home mes­sage: MOVE!! Preg­nan­cy works best when you move and burn calo­ries in a mod­er­ate to vig­or­ous fash­ion. But, alter­nate this activ­i­ty with rest and good nutri­tion, and be sure to stay well hydrat­ed.
If you want more specifics and resources on this top­ic, try these:
“Women and Exer­cise” in Varney’s Mid­wifery.

Pregnancy Pathway, Pregnancy

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Time for an entre: Preg­nan­cy!!

Up for dis­cus­sion…

Health Influences in Pregnancy

Health Influ­ences in Preg­nan­cy

Let’s start at the begin­ning…in the first trimester you feel sick and tired, right? Three things:

1) your immune sys­tem is pro-inflam­ma­to­ry (caus­ing nau­sea and fatigue), 2) your body is pro­tect­ing your fetus from some tox­ins (if you eat some­thing not so great for the fetus, you throw up), and 3) you have extreme swings in blood sug­ar lev­els so that after you eat, the lev­el soars and you feel sick.

Num­ber 3 can be fixed with behav­ior, but you may have to wait out 1 & 2. To fix num­ber 3 eat very small meals fre­quent­ly (6 or 8 times a day) and be sure to eat pro­tein, that is, eggs, meat, fish, fowl, cheese, nuts, rice & beans, soy, etc. with each small meal. This sta­bi­lizes blood sug­ar and pre­vents dra­mat­ic ele­va­tions that can cause nau­sea.

In most healthy preg­nan­cies, the immune sys­tem will rebound in the sec­ond trimester so that you feel good; it is pro­tect­ing you again!  But, those wicked tox­ins and infec­tions are still out there in the envi­ron­ment, so the mes­sage is beware bad air (smog, smok­ing, indus­tri­al air pol­lu­tion), high­ly processed foods (lunch­meats, things with names you can’t pro­nounce), any drugs or meds not pre­scribed or okayed by your ob or mid­wife, alco­hol, and dan­ger­ous bac­te­ria, virus­es and oth­er microbes!

Exer­cise wisely…no sky-div­ing or scu­ba div­ing! Eat healthy food and get enough sleep. De-stress through relax­ation and med­i­ta­tive tech­niques. Don’t take risks with your health, but do stay active and start to pre­pare for birth and bring­ing home a baby (or two?).

Third trimester & the immune sys­tem goes on the fritz again — can’t keep this baby in here for­ev­er; must expel! You may feel sick and tired again. BUT, keep your pre­na­tal care appoint­ments, keep mov­ing, get good nutri­tion, rest and stay focused. Before you know it the real work begins, not to men­tion the 18 years of sleep depri­va­tion.

Get­ting from here…

Being Fully Present in Your Pregnancy...

Being Ful­ly Present in Your Preg­nan­cy…

…to here..

Being Fully Present as Mom

Being Ful­ly Present as Mom.

…is a jour­ney like no oth­er. The adap­ta­tions of your body to the demands of preg­nan­cy are amaz­ing. If you pay atten­tion, you will learn more about the mean­ing of exis­tence from this than from any­thing else.

BE HERE NOW!!

Sign up for this Blog (top tool­bar, click blog info and sub­scribe)!! Learn from our more than 30 years of help­ing make healthy moms & healthy babies.

Vis­it our web­site:  www.dancingthrupregnancy.com

Pregnancy Pathway, Preconditions — Environment

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Please refer to Feb­ru­ary 5 entry for entire graph­ic. Today: Envi­ron­men­tal Pre­con­di­tions to Preg­nan­cy.
bubblus_preconditions-environment
Our envi­ron­ment is with us all the time. Even if we think we are pre­vent­ing or con­trol­ling envi­ron­men­tal fac­tors that impinge on our bod­ies and minds, they are lurk­ing here, there, every­where, and they are myr­i­ad. Our envi­ron­men­tal influ­ences are every­thing from the air we breathe to the per­sons who raise or teach us, from the food avail­able to our hous­ing, from our job stress­es to cul­tur­al forces or even the weath­er in our part of the world. These things help shape who we are phys­i­cal­ly and men­tal­ly, over the long term and from moment to moment.

08-4Are you pre­pared to become a par­ent? One way to tell is to look at your environment…is it healthy? Are you liv­ing in a sit­u­a­tion that you can count on? What about clean air, safe paint or safe food? What about water? What about peo­ple around you? Are they sup­port­ive? Does your envi­ron­ment help you stay healthy?

What about your body? Fac­tors in the envi­ron­ment that affect fer­til­i­ty (or lack of it) may deter­mine if  you can even become preg­nant, or when you can become preg­nant. Think about this:  Women who work togeth­er often cycle togeth­er. What if you work alone, say at home…does this affect your ovu­la­tion? One fac­tor iden­ti­fied in the low­er­ing age of men­stru­a­tion in girls is the increas­ing num­ber of hor­mones in var­i­ous meats. Anoth­er fac­tor is the pres­ence of non-bio­log­i­cal­ly relat­ed old­er males in the house­hold. If these things are known, imag­ine what is not known about sit­u­a­tions, chem­i­cals or peo­ple in our envi­ron­ment that affect our repro­duc­tion!

There is not an absolute sep­a­ra­tion of genet­ics, envi­ron­ment and behav­ior. If we are genet­i­cal­ly pre­dis­posed to cer­tain dis­or­ders, for exam­ple, we may or may not devel­op them, depend­ing on envi­ron­ment. Some per­sons are inclined toward autoim­mune dis­or­ders, but they may do well or poor­ly depend­ing on the air pol­lu­tion where they live. Some indi­vid­u­als may devel­op immune dis­or­ders. And, this sit­u­a­tion may adverse­ly impact inflam­ma­to­ry respons­es dur­ing implan­ta­tion.

Peo­ple who strive to take care of them­selves even if they live in hor­ri­ble con­di­tions can use their behav­ior to improve their chances for suc­cess in every­thing from a healthy preg­nan­cy to a mean­ing­ful exis­tence. Even if genet­ics and the envi­ron­ment are against the process, behav­ior can some­times over­come the odds. Grant­ed, it’s not like­ly you can pro­duce 6′5″ off­spring (see last post on genet­ics!) if the egg per­son is 5′2″ and the sperm per­son is 5′7″, but much is pos­si­ble beyond that.

So, what do you do about your envi­ron­ment if you are think­ing about becom­ing preg­nant? Take stock. Ask your­self what, if any­thing, might have to change. Ask what you can or can’t accept for your off­spring, if you know there are envi­ron­men­tal fac­tors that aren’t per­fect. Fetus­es are amaz­ing crea­tures; the pla­cen­tas that sup­ply and defend them are ruth­less and will pro­tect a fetus at all costs. But, you can give your body and poten­tial baby a good chance to do well by pro­vid­ing a six month span of a healthy envi­ron­ment lead­ing up to con­cep­tion. And, healthy for mind as well as body.

When your baby comes into the world, a door opens in your heart to a room you didn’t even know was there. In that room is a cer­tain kind of love and car­ing that can­not be described. It is love for this being who is and isn’t you. As a moth­er, you have been her/his envi­ron­ment for nine months or how­ev­er long you have shared. The womb is a small, pro­tect­ed, orga­nized envi­ron­ment, one that reflects your larg­er envi­ron­ment. So, take stock now, ahead of time.