Birth Stories: Erin

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I wrote this on a Thursday, in the odd hours of the morning while I rock my son back to sleep. Thursday’s were important markers of time during my pregnancy. Thursday’s were when my gestational weeks rolled one into the next. Thursday was the day my cat died unexpectedly when I was 35 weeks pregnant. Thursday was the day I was induced at 39 weeks. 

My son is nearing 8 weeks old. 8 weeks it has taken me to process my birth story and realize the particulars are not what matters. The exact details don’t need to be shared or even truly remembered in detail. What matters is this: 

At the end of a wonderful and easy 39 week prenatal visit with my midwife Shar, baby’s heart rate and position were checked along with my fundal height and blood pressure. All normal. Except it wasn’t this time. My blood pressure was elevated. My midwife encouraged me to go to the hospital for additional monitoring so off we went a few hours later to Metropolitan Hospital. It continued to be elevated after several hours, even with meditation and relaxing music. The on staff midwife suggested I stay to be induced but I chose to sign myself out AMA. Soon after leaving, however, both of my midwives called to urge me to return. We discussed the risks involved with elevated blood pressure and what that meant for my planned home birth (it risked me out). After lots of tears on a long call with my doula, Lindsey, I ate dinner, packed a bag and returned to the hospital. 

I had planned for an unmedicated birth at home. Even in all of my transfer scenarios I had not planned ahead for this one. Being a doula I knew that inductions could take a while. I came prepared with an eye mask, music, essential oils, and items for my birth altar.

My story is a long one, and one I don’t think is necessary to share. The short version is this. It took 3 days for my son to be born. Labor didn’t follow a typical arc. It started and stopped over and over. My doula stayed with us almost the entire time. We labored during the intense moments and chatted or rested during the quiet ones. We ate guacamole and pita chips. I was obsessed with pineapple. The hospital had wireless monitoring and wonderful midwives who support physiological birth. They allowed me to be in my space without pressure and with respect to my choices. I declined routine cervical checks and IV fluids. I moved around, walking the hallways or rocking on my birth ball. 

63 hours after arriving at the hospital, my son was born. Almost 2 hours of pushing and he came out face up (direct occiput posterior) and eyes wide open. He was a tiny little guy, 6.5lbs and 20” long. He latched for his first of many feeds in the first hour, after we both had some time to adjust to our change in conditions. 

I’m so grateful to every midwife and nurse who supported me in my birth experience. I was continually respected and supported in every decision I made. And I was allowed to make my own educated and informed decisions without pressure, which was vital to me. There were tears and laughs. Somewhere along the way my mantra became the very unzen “fucking hell” that I repeated as each new contraction began in earnest. 

Birth looked and felt like nothing I had ever imagined for myself. I had prepared for long. I had prepared for challenging. But I had not prepared for this. I’ve learned that no matter how prepared, healthy, fit, educated you are that birth happens how it happens.

5 Healing Foods for the Postpartum Mama

 
  Article contributed by Sarah Rueven of  Rooted Wellness . 

Article contributed by Sarah Rueven of Rooted Wellness

The postpartum period can be a challenging one. Adjusting to all the new changes to your life and your body is taxing to say the least! And while nutrition may be the LAST thing on your mind, it still remains as important as ever, particularly if you are breastfeeding. Instead of giving you a long list of vitamins and nutrients, here are five KEY foods to think about incorporating to support your post-labor recovery, build your strength and give you the energy you need to power through the “fourth” trimester.

Wild Salmon - Nature may not have a “perfect” food, but wild salmon is pretty high up on that list! It is loaded with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids which provide a plethora of health benefits to the postpartum mama. Omega-3 fatty acids help to rebuild cellular tissue and repair cellular damage. Studies have also demonstrated that omega-3 fatty acid intake combats depression, which a plus for fending off the “baby blues”. DHA, a subtype of omega-3 fat acids, is crucial for the development of your baby’s nervous system and cognitive development, and the amount of DHA you consume in your diet is expressed in your breastmilk. Other great sources of omega-3 fatty acids include mackerel, trout, sardines, avocado, olives, nuts/seeds and coconut oil. Make sure to continue to eat no more than 12 oz of fish (or 2 large servings) per week due to mercury concerns.

Beans and Legumes – Beans and legumes really ARE magical for the postpartum mama. They are a great source of lean protein, folate and fiber – the latter is especially important for fending off constipation – a common postpartum concern! Beans and legumes are also loaded with iron.  Eating plenty of iron rich foods will help prevent iron depletion post-birth, which is quite common due to the iron demands of pregnancy and blood loss immediately after birth. Make sure to eat beans and legumes with a source of vitamin C, such as bell peppers, broccoli, citrus fruits or strawberries to maximize iron absorption.

Spinach and other dark leafy greens – If spinach makes you think of Popeye’s massive biceps, then you’re on the right track! Spinach and dark leafy greens pack a punch for essential nutrients and minerals in high demand during the postpartum period - such as vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron and vitamin K. Throw greens in everything from your morning egg scramble or smoothie, to soups and stews – these delicious leaves are as versatile as they are nutritious.

Eggs – Consuming protein is incredibly beneficial towards healing and building strength during the postpartum period. Protein helps to build and repair muscle, skin and other body tissues, as well as delivering oxygen throughout the body, which promotes the health of all your cells! Eggs are rich in healing protein (one egg packs in a whopping 7 grams!) as well as 13 essential vitamins and minerals including vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, zinc and choline. Plus, eggs are an easy-to-cook option for the time-pressed postpartum mama. Go for DHA- fortified eggs to boost your intake of this important omega-3 fatty acid.

Oats –Oats are truly a postpartum superfood! Oats are rich in zinc, magnesium, iron and folate. Plus, oats are a great source of fiber, which helps keep you full and promotes healthy digestion. Oats and oatmeal are galactogogues – which means they promote healthy breastmilk production. Oats are a great source of complex carbohydrates, helping to meet your elevated carbohydrate needs in the postpartum period. Getting adequate carbohydrates in the form of whole grains is particularly critical for keeping your energy up and balancing your blood sugar, all of which is ideal during those first few weeks of altered sleep!

Don't miss Sarah's complimentary Postpartum Nutrition workshop hosted by FPC at the studio next Wednesday, May 2 from 5:30 - 7:00PM for more information. SIGN UP NOW

 

The Second Stage of Labor: Pushing and Protecting the Pelvic Floor

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Contributed by Chantal Traub

Throughout the years of assisting women in birth, I realized that many moms are unprepared for the 2nd stage of labor. The second stage is when the mother assists her body by pushing the baby out. As a doula, I've heard many interesting stories about labor and delivery. I would find myself at the playground with my children or at a party and chat with a mother who would say “oh you are a doula, let me tell you about my birth!” Sometimes it is a beautiful birth experience, often, it is a story about a disappointing or a physically traumatic birth that led to ongoing pain with intercourse or urinary incontinence. A woman past childbearing age might tell me she had developed an organ prolapse or leaking.

During pushing, the muscle tissue in the pelvic floor will give as far as it needs to. Sometimes, this can result in a small tear, which eventually heals well, but could subsequently contract or atrophy due to the trauma and cause problems later in life. There are ways to prepare and protect the pelvic floor, for example: choosing the right providers, the positions you use to allow your baby to descend, the provider's patience at the time of crowning, your nutrition, and habits and lifestyle, and exercises that strengthen and tone the pelvic floor.

Over the years, I have talked with providers about better preparing mothers for the 2nd stage of labor. One of the answers that I'm given is that “she will figure it out while doing it and she only has to do it once, for her first vaginal birth, because pushing is so much easier and shorter the second time”. And I would think, yes that's true. The muscle strength and ability is there and there is a normal learning curve in the beginning of the 2nd stage, but...?

We, as pre-and postnatal providers, keep seeing so many postpartum issues, shouldn't moms prepare better? Wouldn't it be good to know beforehand how to strengthen your pelvic floor during pregnancy and before entering menopause?

In my workshop, you will learn how the pelvis and fetus interact as well as simple exercises to bring awareness to your pelvic floor. You will review breathing and positions for pushing, and I will offer you tools and tips to prepare.

One of the many ways to help tone the pelvic floor during pregnancy, post-baby and beyond is the practice of yoga. Below are some of my personal favorites. In my yoga classes, I will tailor the poses to your levels and abilities.

 

Chantal Traub is a certified doula, childbirth educator and yoga teacher who has been
assisting expectant mothers for over 15 years. She maintains the passionate belief that there is a better way to help mothers prepare to push more effectively and protect the pelvic floor during pregnancy and birth. Chantal offers expertise and guidance to
pregnant women who want to prepare for birth and beyond. She is certified by both
Lamaze International and the Childbirth Education Association of Metropolitan New
York and is a board member of the Childbirth Education Association of Metro NY.
Chantal runs a private doula practice and offers private childbirth workshops. She's a
mom of two children.

5 questions answered about Elvie

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Contributed by Dr. Erin Williams, DPT

I am not affiliated with Elvie but I am a Pelvic Health Physical Therapist who understands how difficult it can be to perform a kegel (pelvic floor muscle contraction) correctly and I am always looking for tools to better assist my clients with accomplishing a strong and healthy pelvic floor and took it upon myself to personally try out Elvie! Here is what I found!

1. What is Elvie?

Elvie is a small green sensory device that is placed into the vagina during use and connects with the Elvie app that can be downloaded for free onto your smart phone. The app provides strengthening and endurance training exercises with visual aids and performance tracking to better help you connect with and provide feedback for your pelvic floor muscles. 

2. Does it work? 

The short answer is, YES! I found that it was very accurate and responsive to correct pelvic floor muscle contractions (kegel) and would notify me when I was (purposely) doing a kegel incorrectly, or “bearing down” which is a common error made my many women. An important point to note is that Elvie is an up-trainer for the pelvic floor so all of the exercises are geared toward strengthening the pelvic floor and not for relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. Although less talked about, the pelvic floor can have too much muscle tightness/tension (think pain with penetration/sex or constipation) and strengthening the muscles will not benefit this presentation. If you feel like this is you, I would strongly advise getting evaluated by a Pelvic Health Physical Therapist first before trying Elvie. Overall I loved using Elvie to track my progress and identify where I was weak! I am a visual learner and competitive with myself so seeing that I was improving over just 1 week of training and having visual aides to facilitate my kegel was very helpful!

3. Is it uncomfortable/painful to place and use?

Elvie is quite comfortable and easy to place and use! If you feel like you bear-down when initiating a kegel the Elvie device will slip out of you so this can be helpful immediate feedback!

4. Can I use it while Pregnant and postpartum?

Yes, Elvie can be used while pregnant. The Elvie website states that it can be used with non complicated pregnancies and to seek medical advice from your doctor if unsure. It can be used 6+ weeks postpartum. There is no need to use it immediately  following postpartum as the pelvic floor muscles are healing and just need to rest.  

5, How much is it and where can I buy it?

Elvie is normally $199 however for Fit Pregnancy Club mammas I was able to get a DISCOUNT CODE (elvie15b) which you can enter at checkout and enjoy 15% off! www.elvie.com

I would recommend this device to anyone looking to have improved awareness of their pelvic floor muscles for pregnancy, postpartum, urinary incontinence or better sex! I would strongly encourage women to have a pelvic floor assessment completed by a Pelvic Health Physical Therapist first to make sure Elvie is a good fit for you! 

If you have any questions or are interested in getting to know your pelvic floor better please do not hesitate to reach out to me at erin@womenshealthnyc.com and let me know you read my blog on the FPC website and receive $50 OFF your first session with me! 

-Erin Williams, DPT

www.womenshealthnyc.com

Instagram: eewilliams20

The Birth Story Series: Carolina's Third Baby

 
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If there is one thing moms and moms-to-be can't seem to get enough of it is listening to as well as sharing their birth stories. So, naturally, we are here to assist. If YOU want to share yours with the women in our community, please email us! 

First let me start off by sharing my most recent labor experience (this is Carolina by the way, FPC co-founder and now mother of three).

I had anticipated going into labor early the whole pregnancy given that it was my third even though both my previous babies came on their due dates (or a few hours after their due date). I started feeling increasingly uncomfortable three days before the actual due date and I thought for sure that I was in early labor. So, I walked in to my OBGyn and demanded to be checked. And, nothing had changed since the last appointment. I walked right back to the studio and took another Signature class. Same thing happened the day after and then the day after that we were at my due date. I decided to take the day off and my husband and I arranged for the nanny to take the big kids all day while we stayed in, watched Netflix (Casino!) and carbo-loaded. 

Fast forward tp 3:30am and I woke up with some pretty strong contractions. FUN FACT: According to a doula talk I just went to, most women go into labor in the middle of the night because that is when your cortisol levels are at their lowest, allowing for the oxytocin to be released which in turn bring on the contractions. My husband being nervous he would have to deliver the baby at home (my second baby came 20 minutes after we got to the hospital) called an Uber right away and we were off to NYU. 

At the hospital I was put in a bed in triage right away and the resident doctor checked my dilation which was at 3-4cm and progressing quickly with some contractions being two minutes long and only about 1.5 minutes apart. They admitted me and gave me a birthing suite. Within an hour I was 7cm dilated and I was fairly certain I was going to give birth at any time. Not true! Even though my contractions were stronger and longer than ever I would not progress more than 7cm during the next two hours. We tried many different positions, meditating, breathing but nothing worked. My doctor checked me again and realized the baby was posterior and advised me to lay still on my right side with a peanut birthing ball between my legs to allow my pelvis to keep opening up. I could not bear the pain of not being able to move during the contractions and yelled for an epidural. It was the best decision I made during my whole labor! It allowed me to get some rest while baby got a chance to spin around in the birth canal. Not even two hours later I felt the pressure and knew it was time to go. 

My doctor just made it in as I began pushing and this is pretty much when the story ends because I pushed once, and then on the second push he was completely out and our family had another baby boy to love! 

No tearing, no stitches, no bruising and I am forever grateful for all the hard work I put in during my pregnancy to keep my core and pelvic floor in shape with the help of the #pumpandkegel. 

Now I want to hear all your stories! Email them to info@fpc-nyc.com and we will share them monthly right here on our blog. 

Much love,

Carolina 

 

The Best (at home) Post Pregnancy Exercises

Calling all new mamas!  

Use this 7 move workout that we put together with Coveteur on the days you can't make it to our Postpartum Rehab or Signature classes.  

Be sure to activate that "belly pump & kegel" with every exertion.  Regaining strength postpartum, is all about that inner core unit!  

 

 

 

 

 

Article By: Curranne Labercane

Photography: Alec Kugler

Outfit By: Outdoor Voices

A Workout & Panel with Thriving Mompreneurs

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ON APRIL 7TH, COME WORKOUT WITH THRIVING MOMPRENEURS ATTACKING BODIES AND MINDS @ FPC NYC!

WHAT:         Thriving Mompreneurs - REGISTER HERE
WHEN:        Saturday, April 7th from  noon – 2pm
WHERE:      Fit Pregnancy Club – 552 Broadway, NYC

RSVP:          HERE  (limited to 25)

 

Event brought to you by Bathwater Kids

Never doubt the power of a successful woman and mom!
Join us for a 30 minute workout followed by an honest conversation about founding, owning and operating a business while being a mom!

Expert Entrepreneurial Panel
Joanie Johnson, Co-Founder and Host FPC
Rebecca (Wallach) Gordon, VP Marketing Indie Lee
 Freya Zaheer – President, Sakara Life
Melissa Fensterstock, Founder/CEO, Landsdowne Labs
Moderated by Michael B. Fensterstock, CEO Bathwater Kids

Thank you to our sponsors:
Insomnia Cookies, Redvanly (Shopping Raffle), Hint Water, Suja Juice, Banza, Emmy’s Organics, Pregnancy Tea, Bombas, Justin’s

Understanding Your DIAPHRAGM and Pelvic floor

FPC's foundation of "Pump & Kegel" is the secret to a stronger, easier pregnancy.  It's a foundational body system that enables us to move and breathe the way nature intended.  We are all born as fully functional movers and breathers but stress, body consciousness, poor posture, desk jobs, lack of activity, etc continue to move us farther away from it.  I always say, once you re-program this system, you will NOT go back to being a dysfunctional mover again.  Our bodies WANT to move this way.  

That being said, just because it's "natural" doesn't mean it's easy.  I love the video that our friend, Lindsey Vestal, M.S. OTR/L from The Functional Pelvis shared this week.  It gives you a few more images to help understand what the diaphragm and pelvic floor are doing and how they work together to strengthen and support you. 

Check it out below!  

 
 

Save the Date!  

Lindsey will be presenting a Pelvic Floor workshop on April 18th as part of the Wednesday night series at FPC! Mark your calendar and stay tuned for the sign up details next week!