Birth Like A Badass Part 2: Speak Up For Yourself!

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Contributed by Ashley Brichter who is a Childbirth Educator, Lactation Counselor, Postpartum Doula and Mom of Two

If you haven’t heard Serena William’s birth story, her daughter was born via unplanned c-section, and the morning after Serena nearly died due to a blood clot. Luckily, she suspected a the clot when she began feeling short of breath, and immediately pressed her doctors to give her a CT and heparin drip (a blood thinner). She knew her body and advocated for herself and saved her own life.

You would not expect in our first world nation that you would have to advocate for yourself in this way, but we know, among other things, the gender bias in health care is real and women are at a proven disadvantage when it comes to our healthcare system. Women commonly face being misdiagnosed or undiagnosed with it comes to gynecological issues. When doctors cannot pinpoint the cause of a woman’s pain, it often goes untreated and unquestioned. Black women are even more at risk of negligence. A recent NPR / ProPublica report showed Black women are 12 times more likely than white women to die during childbirth regardless of socioeconomic status.

It is an unfortunate reality that childbirth is not always on your side. It is always responsible to arm yourself with information, work with trusted providers, and consider a doula, but ultimately you should never trust anyone more than yourself. It’s so important to listen to your body and your intuition and to find the courage to speak up.

We’re passionate about making you the best advocate you can be during your labor and birth process which is why we’ve teamed up with Ashley Brichter of Managing Overwhelming Moments. Learn more with Ashley during her Childbirth Prep Weekend + Breastfeeding and Newborn Care at FPC.

The upcoming Sept 28-30th class is perfect for parents expecting in December and January.

To Plank or Not to Plank?

The Myth:

It's safe to hold planks during pregnancy. 

 
 

 

Why this myth exists

Women are often told by their care providers that it's safe to continue doing whatever workout they did before pregnancy.  For many women their pre-pregnancy workout included planks, pushups, planks holds, etc.  And if you aren't well versed in the topic of Diastasis Recti, it's not an exercise that you would necessarily think of as a contraindication so many women continue doing them without realizing the damaging they may be causing to their core. 

FPC's answer

Pregnancy and early postpartum is the time to train our bodies with the utmost attention to detail.  For us, that means fully integrating the inner core unit, aka what we call Pump & Kegel, (Learn all about it in our upcoming workshop here!) in EVERY single movement from the moment we find out we are pregnant...if not before!  

We perform what we call "moving planks" at FPC in order to fully integrate the inner core unit and protect the linea alba (the connective tissue connecting the two halves of our 6-pack abs together), from any additional outward pressure or strain.  Holding a plank potentially increases that outward pressure that we are trying to avoid.  When it can no longer sustain the pressure, it can stretch beyond what’s considered “normal” during pregnancy, causing what's called a diastasis recti.  

At FPC, we teach that you use your breath, with a properly engaged pump & kegel, to move in and out of a plank position.  This is the way to safely modify your planks during pregnancy and early postpartum.

 

* If you aren't able to maintain the core integration, if you feel outward pressure on the abdominal wall (pushing out) or if you ever see coning or doming through the abs, you should eliminate this exercise completely.  It's best to perform moving plank work under the watchful eye of a qualified trainer or specialist.  

 


Join us for our Pump & Kegel workshop on Wednesday, Sept 26 6:30-8Pm to make sure you are properly protecting your core during your workouts and every day movements from a potential diastasis recti.   

Birth Like A Badass Part 1: Grunt That Baby Down

Photo by Tim Bish on Unsplash

Contributed by Ashley Brichter who is a Childbirth Educator, Lactation Counselor, Postpartum Doula and Mom of Two

I’m late to the party here, but we really can’t talk about childbirth these days without calling upon Serena Williams. The thing is, I referenced Serena Williams in my birthing preparation classes long before she had a baby. I referenced her because as long as she has been in the public eye, she has been modeling how to use our bodies well! In my classes, preparing for birth is all about learning to use your body well. If you watch Serena Williams play, you know we exhale with effort. That GRUNT makes her so powerful! Since suffering with health complications after giving birth to her daughter, Serena Williams fortunately and unfortunately taught us another childbirth-relevant lesson: you are your own best advocate!


When Pushing, Exhale with Effort or Grunt That Baby Down!

Breathing is hands-down the most important coping strategy for labor and delivery. Being well oxygenated will allow your muscles—especially your uterus—to function properly. The best part of deep breathing as a coping strategy is that it is always available to you! Here’s how to use your breathe for pushing specifically.

When you feel an urge to push (it will feel like rectal pressure because the baby’s final descent is very much like sh*%ing out a coconut), take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale with an open mouth as you push down into your pelvic floor muscles (finding a bulging sensation in your vagina). You can think about moving a french press from the top of your belly down to your feet with your exhale. You can make that exhale a grunt, Serena Williams style or you pretend you’re blowing out birthday candles across the room. The key is to make your exhale longer than your inhale and to NOT hold your breath. Holding your breath (a commonly taught and hospital-approved pushing technique) will deprive your uterus and baby of oxygen. Maternal oxygen can prevent non-reassuring fetal heart rate patterns. Always exhale on exertion. You want to give yourself permission to make some noise, just like you’re on a tennis court! FWIW, cuing into your pelvic floor muscles and coordinating exertion with your breath before labor can help prevent tearing!


Looking for Childbirth Education? Learn more with Ashley during her Childbirth Prep Weekend + Breastfeeding and Newborn Care at FPC.

The upcoming Sept 28-30th class is perfect for parents expecting in December and January.

How Doulas Work for You

 
 By Jennifer Mayer, Founder Baby Caravan

By Jennifer Mayer, Founder Baby Caravan

 

While doulas are becoming a more common addition to an expectant families birth or postpartum plan, many still aren’t quite sure what a doula actually does. Below is a brief overview of the ways Birth and Postpartum Doulas help the families they work with.


Birth Doulas

We recommend families start interviewing Birth Doulas during the second trimester of pregnancy. It can take a few weeks to line up interviews to find the perfect doula fit. Once hired, your doula is available to you for any questions you may have over email, phone or text. You can also expect:

Pre-birth: during the third trimester, your doula will schedule prenatal meetings. These are valuable sessions to help plan for the day of birth. Your doula will review any childbirth education classes you may have taken and answer any questions you might have. She’ll also help you make a few logistical plans for the day of birth. We never know exactly how labor will unfold, however having a few different plans for how labor may start can be particularly helpful.

Your doula will also help you practice different comfort measures for labor. This may be a combination of movements, breathing techniques, guided imagery, hypnosis, massage techniques and more. She’ll help your partner be prepared for when labor starts, with some guidance on helping you during early labor when contractions are mild.

 

Day of: on the day of your birth your doula will be on call and ready to meet you when you need support. She can meet you either at your home or hospital, whichever works best depending on how your labor is progressing. Your doula is your guide- she’ll help you manage contractions by coaching you through breathing and comfort techniques. She’ll encourage you every step of the way. For your partner, she’ll help normalize the experience and be a reassuring presence.

At the hospital, your doula will help you settle in and be as comfortable as possible. She’ll help you dialog with medical staff and make sure you have all the information you need to make decisions should they arise. If an epidural is requested, doulas have lots of techniques to help clients rest in different positions to help facilitate the baby’s decent into the birth canal.

Every step of the way during your labor, your doula is there for you and your partner, whether it’s gathering supplies, getting you a drink of water, or offering a massage.  

Following the birth of your baby, your doula will help you with the first latch, get you settled in with a high protein snack, take some family photos if you’d like, and help you be as comfortable as possible for those early bonding hours.

Postpartum: after you’re settled in at home, your Birth Doula will return within the first one to two weeks after the birth to have a postpartum check in session. This is a wonderful time to recap the birth experience together. This is also a good time to trouble shoot any lactation, newborn care or postpartum healing questions that may have come up. Your doula will be able to direct you to community resources if they’re needed.

 


Postpartum Doulas

Preparing for the postpartum period, aka “the fourth trimester” is incredibly important for the whole family unit. You’ll never regret setting yourself up with help so you can rest and focus on feeding your baby during those early weeks and months.

Postpartum Doulas are available to assist families either during the day or overnight. Daytime doulas spend a lot of their time focusing on guidance and education for the new family. This might include assisting with breastfeeding and latching, teaching newborn care such as bathing, swaddling, and soothing techniques.  

In addition to baby care, the postpartum doula can also run errands, prepare meals, tidy up the home, and attend to things that help the day move forward for the household. Your postpartum doula is your guide- she’ll help you develop and strengthen your parenting confidence so that when she’s not there, you feel secure with your baby.

Overnight doulas are typically hired so new parents can get as much sleep as possible. For moms who are breastfeeding, the postpartum doula can provide support during nighttime feedings if needed. Although mom will need to wake to breastfeed, the doula handles all the diaper changes, swaddling and soothing so mom can get some much needed rest in between feeds. She can also make you a middle of the night snack, and have breakfast ready for you in the morning.

Postpartum doulas typically work with families anywhere from the first 2-3 weeks following the birth, all the way up to the first 5-6 months depending on the family’s needs. We recommend families interview postpartum doulas in the third trimester of pregnancy, though many clients hire postpartum help after the baby is born.

 

What’s the difference between a Baby Nurse and Postpartum Doula?

 

We are often asked what’s the difference between a baby nurse (also called a night nanny, or night nurse) and a postpartum doula. This is a great question, as the services offered are quite different.

A baby nurse is hired to care exclusively for the baby, while a postpartum doula provides care for the entire family. For example, a baby nurse is in charge of feeding, bathing, and diapering the newborn during her time with a family. A postpartum doula on the other hand, “mothers” the mother, so the parents take care of the newborn, while the doula takes care of the parents. If the parents need a break, a nap or shower, the doula is more than happy to care for the baby.

A baby nurse typically lives with a family for a duration of time, while a postpartum doula comes for her shift and doesn’t live with the family. Depending on sleeping arrangements this can be a big consideration for some families. Postpartum doulas have additional training in breastfeeding support. Depending on a family’s feeding preferences, this can be particularly helpful in those early weeks when breastfeeding is getting established.

 

If you’d like to learn more about birth and postpartum doula services, or have questions about your particular situation, feel free to reach out to Baby Caravan: info@babycaravan.com.

 


 

About Baby Caravan

Baby Caravan provides holistic support for families, from pregnancy through returning to work postpartum. Founded in 2014, Baby Caravan’s mission is to provide families in New York City with exceptional birth and postpartum knowledge, guidance and resources through our network of professional Birth & Postpartum Doulas. We connect families with vetted doulas, to best meet their needs during this special, yet challenging time. In addition to doula services, Baby Caravan coaches moms returning to work following maternity leave to help smooth the transition back to work.  

 

Are you prepared to push? (An interview with Chantal Traub)

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We interviewed Chantal Traub, our educator for the upcoming "Prepare to Push" workshop to find out what inspires her and find out, what are the most important things she wishes all women knew for their births?


 

FPC: What inspired you to get into this work and how long have you been doing it?

Chantal: I was teaching prenatal yoga in the late 90's when some of my students invited me to attend their births. To deepen my knowledge and to better serve these women, I studied and became certified as both a childbirth educator and a doula.

While attending hundreds of births, I noticed that women were often under-prepared to push. I realized that was due in part to a lack of understanding of and limited preparation for optimal pushing. I became passionate about helping my clients Prepare + to Push effectively.

I've been assisting births full time since 2003. The work in itself is rewarding. I meet people from all over the world and their strengths and vulnerabilities that come out during the labor process move and inspire me.

 

FPC: What is the one piece of information about pushing that you wish more women knew?

 

Chantal: To release and let go of the pelvic floor muscles and let the baby OUT.

 

FPC: In your opinion, what should a women be doing during pregnancy to “prepare to push”?

 

Chantal: The pelvic floor is designed to stretch significantly during the pushing stage, but factors such as your activity, lifestyle, posture, and mindset can substantially affect this potential. Our nutrition affects our energy and our muscle strength and stretch. Making positive changes towards eating well during pregnancy for birth, postpartum and beyond helps both mom and baby. It is important to build body awareness, strength and stamina and stretch and lengthen the muscles that attach to the pelvic floor.

 

FPC: What kind of support system should a woman have in place to help with the pushing stage?

 

Chantal: The Provider – the OB or midwife that you choose plays a big part in protecting your pelvic floor.

The Partner or support Person can encourage, reassure, cheer and re-energize the mother. They can also help her calm and focus.

 

FPC: Is there anything you’d like to add?

 

Chantal:

  • It is valuable to invest in the preparation for childbirth and postpartum.

  • Self awareness can transform the nature of the experience.

  • The only muscles to tighten during pushing are diaphragm and abdominal muscles – NOT legs or buttocks.

It is so important to keep the big picture in mind. No matter which way your baby comes, it is about your personal experience and the birth of your baby and when you hear your baby cry or see or touch your baby for the very first time, it is a huge moment and a very moving experience and it puts you on the other side of birth and at a new beginning in your life. Enjoy your baby!

 

 

 

The one thing you can do (beyond FPC) to change your birth outcome

We all have dreams of having the perfect birth experience.  Some of us write birth plans, others hire doulas, others send lots of easy birthing juju into the universe and hope for the best, but did you realize there is one major thing you can do to change your birth outcome? 

It's education.  Knowledge is power and FPC stands behind this 100%.  Imagine if our founders hadn't spent countless hours forming relationships with PT's and women's health specialists, and getting the best education and certifications to create the most comprehensive pre/postnatal workout there is?  There wouldn't be an FPC. We are confident we have you covered when it comes to having a strong pregnancy and complete postpartum recovery but we know there is more to your birth story than just empowering you physically.

You also need to empower your mind.

That's why we sought out the most comprehensive childbirth education class and best educator in all of NYC and asked her bring her course to FPC!  

Meet Ashley Brichter.

We are honored to present the first of many of her Childbirth Education courses at FPC starting Aug 3, 4, and 5th.  If you've been debating whether or not you need a course, this is your answer.  And in true FPC form, we want to give you everything in one easy swoop.  The 3-day weekend also includes breastfeeding and newborn care to set you up for complete success for those first few weeks postpartum.

Spots are limited.  Sign up ASAP!

 

And if you still don't believe us, read some of these testimonials! 

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New Workshop at FPC! Introducing Childbirth Basics for the Non-Pregnant!

Contributed by Ashley Brichter of Managing Overwhelming Moments

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From "do your kegels" to "get the epidural," everyone from the cashier at the grocery store to your boss will freely share their advice when you’re pregnant. It’s like pregnant women are wearing a sign that says, “Unsolicited advice welcome!” While most people have the best intentions, it can be reckless when the advice simply isn’t fact- or evidence-based. There is a very real lack of basic knowledge around the birth process.

With maternity care in the United States failing women, particularly women of color, I know that we need to do more—and do better. Why wait until we are pregnant or someone we know is pregnant to learn about how we are born? Birth is an amazing bodily process that we all should understand simply as humans. It’s truly fascinating (and useful!) to learn about.

Women in pregnancy and birth are their most powerful selves, yet pregnancy and childbirth is likely the most vulnerable a woman will ever feel. With all the advice and judgment out there, it’s hard for pregnant women to feel confident in their decisions and prepare themselves for the birth process, particularly for their first birth. Women deserve to have access to real, evidence-based information as early and as often as possible. That’s why I believe that everyone who works or spends time with a pregnant woman has the opportunity to provide life-changing support and resources.

Knowledge really is power. By educating yourself and sharing your knowledge with pregnant women, you can truly make a difference for mothers, their babies, and their families. It’s also an attractive way to show what you stand for and make yourself stand out in your business. I hope that making childbirth information accessible and applicable for all, we can begin to shift to a culture of better support for pregnant women in our country.

I’ll be teaching these professionals everything they need to know about the history of childbirth in the United States, and what women are up against navigating the medical system. They’ll learn all about the amazing process of birth, including the hormones and physiology at play in labor and delivery. I’ll also share incredible resources around best practices and providers so that practitioners can support and empower their pregnant clients.

Why is this so important? With the knowledge of physiological childbirth, the right birth team, and prenatal conditioning, women can dramatically increase their chance for a positive birth and postpartum experience.


And that’s where you come in. This upcoming workshop will be for yoga and fitness instructors, massage therapists, mental health professionals, acupuncturists, stylists, physical therapists, chiropractors—essentially everyone who works with pregnant women. These practitioners have the ability to positively impact a woman’s pregnancy and birth by providing her with evidence-based knowledge, resources, and support.

Do you have anyone in your tribe who you would like to have this information? This class is a totally new concept, and I’d love your help getting the word out. If you or anyone you know works with pregnant women, I’d really appreciate you sending them this post. You can also help spread the word by sharing this post on social media. 

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

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!  

Mother Matters Book Launch!

 
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We are excited to party with Dayna Kurtz, LMSW, CPT and celebrate the launch of her new book, Mother Matters.  We are all about self care at FPC and Dayna has written a book based on her experience as a therapist and mother.   If preserving your sanity post-birth is a priority for you, you DON'T want to miss this event.  Dayna is an unlimited source of knowledge!  

Spots are limited so sign up asap!

 (Babies welcome!)


About the book

Childcare. Eldercare. What About Mothercare?

Book reading/signing with author Dayna M. Kurtz, LMSW, CPT

The first year of childhood is filled with emotional and physical changes, setbacks, and successes, and not just for babies. Mothers face a whole new world of experiences as a parent. While there are hundreds of books about childcare, where are the resources on mothercare?
In her new book Mother Matters: A Holistic Guide to Being a Happy, Healthy Mom Dayna M. Kurtz, LMSW, CPT guides new and veteran mothers alike through the best practices to care for themselves while mothering their little one(s). Her goal is to help every mother do more than just survive the late nights and baby blues; she wants mothers to thrive!
Mother Matters covers common struggles that mothers encounter, along with better and lesser known research-based solutions to enable greater health and happiness, including how to:

• Get more sleep—really!
• Eat optimally for greater energy and faster healing after birth.
• Feel creative, competent, and relaxed.
• Avoid killing your partner, and even strengthen your co-parent relationship.
• Get the support you need!

Filled with real-life stories from mothers along with compassionate and practical advice from the author and other experts, Mother Matters will change the way we think of motherhood.

Why the "kegel" in Pump & Kegel is so Important

 
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Written by Dr. Erin Williams, DPT

The pelvic floor can be a confusing buzz word heard in the pregnant and postpartum world where most people know they should be doing something with it but are unsure what exactly! 

The pelvic floor are a group of muscles, fascia and connective tissue that act as a support system to the internal organs, and spans from the tailbone to the pubic bone.  During pregnancy the weight of the baby causes increased pressure and strain on the pelvic floor which is why it is so important to train and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy and postpartum much like one would strengthen the bicep muscle for increased arm strength. 

The labor and delivery process can cause injury and stretching to the pelvic fascia and muscles as well making it critical to give the pelvic floor extra attention after delivery and before resuming prior pre-pregnancy level of activity to avoid pelvic pain, pelvic organ prolapse, and urinary incontinence (ie. peeing while jumping, coughing etc.). A Physical Therapist who specializes in pelvic health can serve as a valuable practitioner with the correct assessment of ones pelvic floor and provide guidance with stretches and exercises specific to the individuals presentation. While many people are aware of a “Kegel” it is not alway advised especially if the pelvic floor has hypertension and requires relaxation and stretching exercises. 


Join us with Dr. Erin Williams, DPT, on Wednesday, March 21st starting at 5:30pm.

 Dr. Erin is be explaining what the pelvic floor is and how to engage it correctly. We will also talk about Diastasis Recti, how to reduce the muscle separation as well as safe exercise prescription while pregnant.  

 

 

Collard Green Burritos

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Contributed by FPC Instructor and Pre/Postnatal Health Coach, Carolyn Tallents

I know what you’re thinking...I can’t have margaritas and now you’re taking away my tortilla too? Just hear me out. If you’re like me and you have a weakness for Mexican food, you know it can be difficult to find a way to indulge on the regular without feeling like you’re having a burrito baby instead of a real one. However, with a few simple swaps you can make homemade burritos that not only taste good but pack a serious nutritious punch for you and your growing baby. Collard greens are high in folate which helps baby’s neural tube develop properly, black beans provide the iron necessary to fight anemia, avocado is a healthy fat that is great for hormone production, tomatoes and red peppers are high in antioxidants to help with cell repair, and brown rice contains fiber to keep your digestive track on track.

Ingredients to make 4 burritos:

  • 8 large Collard green leaves
  • 1 can Black beans
  • 1 Red pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 large Tomato (or two small)
  • 2 Chicken breasts or 2 pieces of wild salmon (optional)
  • 2 cups Brown rice or 1 cup quinoa for a vegetarian option
  • 1 Garlic clove
  • 1 tbs Chili powder
  • 2 tbs Cumin
  • Lime

Instructions:

  1. Begin to prepare brown rice or quinoa according to their packages

  2. Soak collard green leaves in water and lemon juice (optional), dry, cut off thick stems and shave off some of the thickness of the spine to make it easier to fold

  3. Saute onion, garlic and red pepper (and chicken if you’re using it) in coconut oil or olive oil (if you’re using salmon please see notes below)

  4. Add in chili powder, cumin and stir-fry until onion and pepper have softened

  5. Add black beans

  6. Turn off heat and stir add in cooked brown rice or quinoa

To prepare each burrito, lay two collard green leaves on a flat surface end to end with their stems overlapping. Spread ¼ of an avocado in the center, lay slices of tomato down, add ¼ of the mixture from the skillet and squeeze on some lime. For a spicier version, feel free to add spicy salsa, hot sauce or sriracha and if you’re a cheese lover, sprinkle on a bit of full-fat cheddar or pepper jack.

To roll the burrito, fold one of the longer edges of the collard greens over the mixture, then fold in the shorter sides, press down so the leaves will be as tight as possible and roll until the burrito is closed.

 

 

 

Pregnancy Self-Care Tips

 
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Being pregnant is hard both on your body and your mind. Here are our absolute favorite ways to decompress and indulge ourselves during pregnancy. Go ahead, treat yourself! #selfcare

Get a prenatal massage! Extra points if the massage table allows for you to lay face down (with the help of these strange looking pillows). Our favorite massage therapist in New York happens to be Janet, who is the owner of Maternal Massage and More. If you make it there, tell her we say hello! 

Weekly non-toxic, vegan, cruelty-free mani/pedis at Tenoverten. Always add an extra 15 minute foot massage to your pedicure to relieve swelling (which is super common in pregnancy). 

Order a weekly meal delivery service to make sure you are getting enough nutrients and don't have to stress over cooking. Our favorites include Sakara Life, Splendid Spoon and Urban Remedy. Just remember to add in snacks for the extra 300 calories you need while pregnant. 

Take a Signature class at FPC to get a healthy sweat on and prep your body for labor and postpartum recovery. We also begin and end each class with a short meditation and breathing practice which will help keep you sane and calm throughout your pregnancy and labor. 

Play model for a day and book a maternity photographer to snap pics of your gorgeous new body. If you are in the New York area our favorite happens to be Rob Fitch. He will make you feel totally comfortable and confident. 

Last but most important, pregnancy is a fantastic excuse to begin your practice of saying no to things. Don't feel like going to your cousin's sons 3rd birthday party? Just blame pregnancy. Would you like to go home at 3pm from work on Fridays? Say you have an OBGyn appointment. Not in the mood for a friend's 10pm going-away party? Just say no. 

Much love from us and as always, remember to #pumpandkegel 

 

 

 

 

The Importance of your Pelvic Floor

 
 

If you've taken class with us, you are familiar with the cue, "Pump & Kegel".  We remind you to fire this inner core unit constantly.  But why IS the pelvic floor so important? 

The muscles of your pelvic floor support your uterus, bladder and bowel.  They are important for sexual function AND work with the rest of the muscles of the core to stabilize and support the spine.  They also support the extra weight of the uterus and growing baby during pregnancy.  

Many of us don't realize that the pelvic floor, like our diaphragm, is part of our core.  Having a over active or under active pelvic floor negatively effects all the functions associated with breathing, digestion, eliminating toxins and moving through our every day lives.  It also helps neutralize intra-abdominal pressure, making us less susceptible to devleoping a Diastasis Recti (abdominal split).   Your pelvic floor should contract and release with every single diaphragmatic breath which is why we cue the contraction AND release in all our classes at FPC.

This function is so important, talk about it at the beginning of every class and we’ve also devoted an entire class to it.  Have you taken “Pump & Kegel” yet?  We offer it every Wednesday and Sunday at 9:30am. 

 
 

Meet Our Newest Instructor, Carolyn!

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Carolyn Tallents is the newest member to the FPC team and we couldn't be more excited!  She's coming to us with a TON of knowledge about pre/postnatal exercise and also happens to specialize in pre/postnatal nutrition so be sure to pick her brain with all your pregnancy food and exercise questions.  

Book a class with her ASAP!  Her arms series is guarenteed to give us all the "mama strong" arms we've always dreamed of.  

Hometown? A tiny suburb outside of Boston, Ma called Norfolk

Current location? Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn

What is your background? A former corporate marketing director turned wellness junkie

What do you do when you don't teach at FPC? I work with pre & postnatal women on their nutrition, fitness and overall wellness  

What inspires you? Seeing the amazing things then body can do - especially while pregnant!

What can women except from your FPC Signature class? To be sore the next day

What do you want to be when you grow up? Great question! I’ll let you know when I’ve figured it out :)

What is your favorite 90s jam? I have to pick just one??? I’ll go with return of the Mack since it’s currently on my playlist 

Current favorite song? End game by Taylor swift and Ed Sheeran

If you could be any animal in the world, what would you be and why? I love elephants! There is a quiet strength about them that I admire. 

Tell us something that not a lot of people know about you. I used to be a die hard Backstreet Boys fan and was convinced I was going to marry Nick Carter 

FPC Mocktail of the moment

Are you sick of drinking water while you are out in the social scene?  This delicious mocktail recipe is easy enough for even the most amateur bartender to replicate!  

 

Cucumber Lime Spritzer

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Ingredients:

  • Can of club soda
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • A few slices of cucumber

Directions:

Mix and serve over ice. 

Debunking Myths Surrounding Prenatal Exercise #4

The Myth:

It's safe to hold planks during pregnancy. 

 
 

 

Why this myth exists

Women are often told by their care providers that it's safe to continue doing whatever workout they did before pregnancy.  For many women their pre-pregnancy workout included planks, pushups, planks holds, etc.  And if you aren't well versed in the topic of Diastasis Recti, it's not an exercise that you would necessarily think of as a contraindication so many women continue doing them without realizing the damaging they may be causing to their core. 

FPC's answer

Pregnancy and early postpartum is the time to train our bodies with the utmost attention to detail.  For us, that means fully integrating the inner core unit (aka Pump & Kegel) in EVERY single movement from the moment we find out we are pregnant...if not before!  

We perform what we call "moving planks" at FPC in order to fully integrate the inner core unit and protect the linea alba (the tendon connecting the two sides of our six-pack together), from any additional outward pressure or strain.  Holding a plank produces that outward pressure we are trying to avoid.  When it can no longer sustain the pressure, it can tear, causing what's called a diastasis recti.  

At FPC, we teach that you use your breath, with a properly engaged pump & kegel, to move in and out of your plank position.  This is the way to safely modify your planks during pregnancy and early postpartum.

 

* If you aren't able to maintain the core integration, if you feel outward pressure on the abdominal wall (pushing out) or if you ever see coning or doming through the abs, you should eliminate this exercise completely.  It's best to perform moving plank work under the watchful eye of a qualified trainer or specialist.  

 


Join us in our Pump & Kegel class on Wednesdays or Sundays at 9:30AM to make sure you are properly protecting your core during your workouts and every day movements from a potential diastasis recti.   

Our Top Five Neighborhood Dining Spots

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So you made it to FPC for your evening workout, now where do you go for dinner after? Don’t worry girl, we did all the research for you (with pleasure) and here are our top five picks.

Delicatessen. We recently discovered their vegan Brussels sprouts Caesar salad and now we are obsessed. They also have insane mac’n’cheese options as well as a wonderful selection of mocktails! 54 Prince Street.

Sant Ambroeus SoHo. Not going to lie but we totally come here mostly for the coolness factor. However, do you like real, quality Northern Italian food? Yes? Well, so do we! Last time we ordered the mushroom tagliatelle "Tagliatella Funghi" and a side of sautéed spinach (amazing source of iron and folic acid) and it was heaven on a plate. Reservations are highly recommended. 265 Lafayette Street. 

B&B (Burger & Barrel). We totally understand and respect that not everyone is vegetarian or vegan and if you are a carnivore we highly recommend a date night at Burger & Barrel, just a couple of short blocks from the studio. Come for a post-work class at FPC and then tell your hubby to meet you for a meal at this cozy spot after; he definitely won't mind. 25 W Houston Street

Mercer Kitchen. Great people (celebrity!) watching and Jean-Georges award winning food. 99 Prince Street. 

Antique Garage SoHo. Welcome to the Turkish food Mecca. Incredible ambiance and insanely delicious little mezzes (essentially Turkish tapas) that are ideal for sharing. Bring your best friend to class and then go here for a ladies’ night. Vegetarian and vegan friendly. 41 Mercer Street