We recently had the opportunity to partner with CEO & President of Spirituality for Kids (SFK), Michal Berg, whose nonprofit organization is helping serve children, parents, and professionals all around the world. Learn more about her organization and journey through our Q&A below.
Q: What are you doing differently, or how have you adjusted your program to adapt in the COVID-19 world?
A: SFK courses were always available as online self-paced courses. When quarantine started, many parents that otherwise didn’t feel they had the time, enrolled in the kids’ online courses and our parenting course. We offered a significant discount for all our programs between 35%-75% besides our ongoing scholarship program, where we provide financial assistance to anyone who requires it. We also launched a FREE Daily Tune-In inspirational email and a weekly Family Activity to help parents and caregivers navigate these trying times.
Q: SFK offers online courses for both children and parents to do in their home, which is crucial in today’s environment. What are some courses children and parents can sign-up for, and what can they expect to learn in those courses?
A: Our award-winning online Spiritual Social-Emotional Education Program includes two learning levels: Winning in the Game of Life™ and Exploring the Journey of Life™ are suitable for children 8-12 years old. Children learn how to manage their emotions, boost their confidence, ignite their compassion, and understand cause and effect, the power of their words, among many other concepts through engaging videos and characters, fun activities, art projects, and journaling.
Our Parenting course, Parenting the soul, takes parents on a personal journey to discover their parenting manual within and offers insights and easy, practical tools on how to best support their children while practicing self-love and self-care. You can learn more about our courses at https://courses.sfk.org/.
Q: What things as a mother to 5 children (hold for applause) have you learned that you have carried over to your SFK work?
A: One of the greatest lessons I learned as a parent to many children is that it is not all up to me. Each child is so different – how they experience life, how they react to situations, what they believe about themselves, and their level of consciousness. And my primary role is to love and support them, to my best ability, on their unique journey. Their successes are not mine, as well as their failures. As parents, we tend to take everything personally, learning to set ourselves free from that mindset, not only makes our lives more peaceful but also giving the necessary space for our children to be and evolve.
Q: For those families who already have busy schedules and are unable to attend courses, how can they still give back and support SFK? (hint: DONATE)
A: SFK is a 501(c)3 educational non for profit organization with an international reach with our outreach initiatives in more than 21 countries outside the US and scholarships. You can help by donating at https://sfk.org/donate/.
We recently had the opportunity to partner with the Founder of Body Conceptions, Mahri Relin, whose dedication and hard work is helping women through her dance-inspired cardio workouts. Learn more about her technique and journey through our Q&A below.
Q: What inspired you to create Body Conceptions?
A: I was a dancer and performer for many years in NYC before I discovered dance fitness. I had never seriously considered fitness as a career before then, but the combination of dance and fitness together felt incredible to me. And it made me a stronger dancer than ever before!
Once I got more immersed in this form of exercise, my early experiences in studios watching women struggle with fitness in the times that mattered the most were incredibly impactful to me. Pregnant women in classes around me had no idea how to modify their workouts appropriately. And frankly, many of us working in studios had no idea how to really help them. I felt lots of empathy for women in this position in addition to great responsibility to help them, so I decided to get myself certified in pre and postnatal fitness. I developed my own business because I wanted the freedom to pursue my passion to help women in my own way. And I made pre/postnatal support a big part of our company mission. This has expanded to fertility support, and I am also interested in finding out as much as possible about the changes that occur for women during perimenopause so that we can support aging as well.
I am proud to say that the Body Conceptions method has proven to be a very safe but also challenging and effective method for women with a broad range of goals, not just pregnancy. I am constantly exploring the science behind fitness for women and also seeking the best way to keep our clients engaged and challenged while they train with us — which can be many, many years! We have created a method that combines cardio with full-body sculpting in a format that has constantly changing exercises and music to keep our clients on their toes. I am proud about the results we have seen, and I also love what it has done for my body. And most importantly, our work has connected us with the most wonderful community of clients and wellness practitioners with whom we collaborate. I am so grateful that I chose to follow this career path after dance.
Q: What does the dance-inspired fitness routine provide over the more traditional workouts (machines, weights, etc.)?
A: That’s a great question. Dance can mean lots of different things for different people. For me, it symbolizes freedom and a deep artistic connection to my body. That comes from music in a very big way for me, which is why I take so much time (and pleasure!) creating my playlists. When I’m working with clients, I’m paying so much attention to them and what their bodies need, but I’m simultaneously responding to the music in a way that connects our physical energy with the music’s energy. It’s amazing how much more intensity you can put into workouts when you feel like the music takes you there!
I definitely want to acknowledge that there’s a lot of fear around the word, “dance.” So many people back away when I say that word and tell me with their fingers wagging that they don’t have rhythm and aren’t coordinated. I tell them immediately not to be afraid! We have specifically designed the “dance” components to be simple (think jumping jacks to a beat), and we use dance principles in our approach to the movement — but we won’t be asking people to do crazy or complicated things if they don’t move that way. Dance-based workouts like ours help our clients connect better with their core, coordinate their whole body more effectively, and achieve the longer and leaner physique of a dancer. I want to add that if you ARE a dancer, we’ve got you covered as well. We have plenty of fun, complicated dances we can use for the cardio to get your brain working and your heart pumping!
Q: Motivation is a key factor in getting to the gym. How do you motivate women to join and power through a session?
A: As I mentioned earlier, music is a huge factor for me in helping my clients connect deeply with their exercise experience. I like to ask my clients to give me songs or artists they love so that I can incorporate their favorite music into the workout. I also spend several hours finding the best new music each week that works for exercise. If the music is good, people don’t even realize they’re working so hard!
In addition to music, we also place a big emphasis on identifying our clients’ goals and acknowledging that these goals can change through time. I personally get a huge amount of joy from these workouts, and I see joy in my clients as well. We don’t focus as a company on the unrealistic goal of getting a perfect “beach body.” Instead, we want to give our clients an opportunity to improve their strength and coordination, get their mind off stress, strengthen during their pregnancy or heal from labor, and connect with their bodies in a new way – all of which helps them achieve the best physical version of themselves as a byproduct. These are motivating and joyful goals that keep people coming back each week and working with us for many years.
Q: How do you adapt your sessions towards people’s individual fitness goals and busy schedules?
A: Personalization is actually one of the most important elements of our workouts. Our workout has improvisation built into it, which allows us to change our direction easily and respond in the moment to the needs of our clients. It’s definitely structured as a specific method, but the flexibility empowers our instructors to make a wide range of choices depending on what’s needed in the moment. I think all personal training should be highly personalized, but the stakes become even higher when we we work with prenatal or postpartum women who require deep attention and sometimes a sudden change in direction during their sessions. And this isn’t just a pregnancy issue. Once, I showed up to train a client and only learned in that moment that she had fallen down her stairs. We had to avoid any jumping, protect her ribs that had been bruised, and could only move her shoulder in one direction. I managed to get her through the session gently and without pain, and she felt so much less stressed after getting her blood flowing – I was grateful that she had chosen to work out despite her accident!
Flexibility of scheduling is also a big factor in personal training. We address this by working with a range of trainers who have flexibility in their schedules when they begin working with us. We do get very busy and have more difficulty at times accommodating everyone’s schedule requests, but we try to hire trainers at a rate that accommodates our demands. We take lots of time finding the right people and training them as thoroughly as possible, so I have to admit that this can all be a tricky dance. But we do our best!!
Q: Tell us about some of the special offerings at Body Conceptions (i.e., pre & post natal training, special occasions, private training). What can women expect to takeaway from these offerings?
A: As specialists in pre and postnatal exercise, we are prepared to work with clients during and after their pregnancies. We are highly connected with practitioners and services in the area who can help our clients if anything comes up that we don’t address or that falls outside of our expertise. A pregnant client working with us can expect that we know the primary principles of prenatal exercise while having lots of experience working with a wide range of pregnancies. Every pregnancy is different, so we are highly attentive to the daily/weekly needs of each person and adjust accordingly.
In addition to pre and postnatal fitness, we have worked hard to understand as much as we can about the fertility process. We work with fertility centers in the area to understand how they view exercise so that we can be as consistent as possible in our approach if our clients are seeking fertility treatments. (And we are always trying to learn as much as we can about current research on fertility and exercise as possible!)
In the same way we coordinate with fertility doctors, we also coordinate with PT’s who might be seeing clients of ours who have injuries (or perhaps any pelvic floor concerns connected with pregnancy/postpartum). We like to make sure our clients feel comfortable with us and know that we are aware of the direction their PT’s are going so that we can help them heal more effectively.
Outside of pregnancy, we have lots of other really fun, special offerings! Clients can get groups of friends together for special, private events like bridal parties, bachelorettes, and birthdays. We’ll help rent out spaces and create as special an experience as possible. Our venues have ranged from dance studios in the city to beaches or lawns in the Hamptons. We love working with these special groups, and we are specially excited to design a playlist full of our clients’ favorite tunes!
I am excited to say that we’ve helped our clients through a full range of transitions and events, from their weddings through pregnancies and the births of several children to awards ceremonies and college reunions. What makes all of these times special is that we help them achieve their goals while preparing for the things that mean the most to them, all while having fun! Being part of these big moments is what makes this work so meaningful to my trainers and to me. I didn’t imagine how fulfilling this career would become for me and feel so grateful to be here.
Looking to hire a babysitter or nanny in NYC? Bell Family Company provides fully vetted on-demand babysitting, including childcare for when a child is sick, full and part time nannies, baby nurses, temporary care and more! Learn why BFC is the best NY Childcare Agency servicing the tri-state area. BFC is the best in the business! Contact us today to hire a nanny in NYC or to book the best babysitters in NYC!
We recently teamed up with Kristin Louis, writer and researcher of all things parenthood on parentingwithkris.com. Over the years, Kristin has done A LOT of late-night Google searching trying to figure out how to be a better parent. Not all of the resources she found were useful; most consisted of the same things people read everywhere. So, she decided to compile a list of parenting resources that offer real, useful advice for raising children well through every age and stage. Read below for the advice she provided our Bell Family readers.
Becoming a parent is often one of the most rewarding and challenging decisions in a person’s life. Raising children is never easy, but it is undeniably fulfilling. From your child’s first steps to the day they get their driver’s license, watching them grow up is a beautiful journey unlike any other. There is no handbook for parenting — every child is a little different, and no two families are exactly alike. However, there are a few general suggestions that are applicable to most children. These essential parenting tips can help you guide your child through each stage of life.
During the baby years, your child needs an established routine — and according to Nanit, sticking to a specific bedtime routine is especially crucial. A daily routine will help you both sleep through the night, get your baby used to eating at the same times each day and help them feel more comfortable around other people with regular social outings. It will also make planning your week much simpler and less stressful.
As a new parent, getting into a routine will
make navigating this stage of life much easier — yes, life with a baby will
always be somewhat unpredictable, but a baby with a settled routine will be
much happier and healthier than a child whose day-to-day life is relatively
Toddlers are often strong-willed and mischievous. The phrases “the terrible twos” and “three-nager” can certainly worry parents! When your child is a toddler, it’s important to stick with consistent and effective disciplinary habits.
This is the stage when children begin to learn a sense of morality and distinguish right from wrong. They will often try to push boundaries to see how much they can get away with. As a parent, it’s important to teach them that these actions have consequences, without being too strict and harsh. Remember, it’s not about taking out your frustration or merely punishing your toddler — it’s also about helping them learn important lessons and showing them that we need to treat people the way we would want to be treated. It’s a balancing act.
Teenagers have a reputation for being rebellious — it’s a natural part of growing up. However, youthful recklessness can also lead to negative outcomes. As a parent, you may be concerned about your teen’s safety. You can take steps to safeguard your house by locking up the liquor and medicine cabinets. If you’re not particularly tech-savvy, you can hire a professional to set up parental controls and other security measures on your home computer.
Worried about where your teen is running off to at night? Installing motion-activated security cameras can give you peace of mind (hiring installers costs $1,473 on average in NYC). Yes, these actions may sound a bit extreme, but you can decide what is necessary to ensure your child’s safety (and your home’s security).
When your child gets older, they might leave for college, but they still need your love and advice. According to Grown and Flown, scheduling weekly phone calls will help you stay in touch while allowing your child to have their own space. As your child grows up and enters adulthood, you can cultivate a friendship based on mutual respect. And as they move through life and achieve their dreams, you can look back on their childhood with pride.
Parenting is always an adventure, and some days you’ll feel like your family is on an emotional rollercoaster. No parent ever has all of the answers, but understanding your child’s changing needs through every phase of life will help you raise them with confidence and compassion.
Looking to hire a babysitter or nanny in NYC? Bell Family Company provides fully vetted on-demand babysitting, including childcare for when a child is sick, full and part time nannies, baby nurses, temporary care and more! Learn why BFC is the best NY Childcare Agency servicing the tri-state area. BFC is the best in the business! Contact us today to hire a nanny in NYC or to book the best babysitters in NYC!
I have a confession. I’m one of those maniacally organized people who, in spite of a demanding job and two little ones, cannot sleep when the house hasn’t been returned to order. My house is organized. There. I admit it. My containers match, I fastidiously use a label maker and you know what, I love a good surface wipe. But, even though my house is pretty organized most of the time, I still get that urge to turn the place upside down and go all Container Store on it every April. Why?! Trust me, I do not need another single thing to do. And, every year when I’m knee deep in a pile of stuff while both of my kids nap (I know what’s WRONG with me) I think – WHY?! Why do I feel compelled, driven even, to participate in full blown spring cleaning whenever the tulips pop?
Turns out there are strong cultural roots pulling us towards trashing our homes only to immediately set them right again when the sun starts shining. This practice is shared around the world, supported by biology and part of deep rooted American traditions. In the Jewish faith the house is rigorously cleaned in anticipation of Passover and Christian faiths suggest various cleaning rituals starting on lent and throughout the days leading up to Easter. Iranian New Year, Nowruz, falls on the first day of spring and dictates a thorough house cleaning too. For the agnostic among us, longer, sunnier days mean less melatonin fogging our brains, and less melatonin means more available energy. And for the history buffs, during the long winter frontier families’ homes would become covered with soot from the fires used for cooking and heat.
When the weather was finally warm enough to open the windows these homes got a through scrub down to remove that soot layer.
Now that I’m convinced spring cleaning isn’t just me killing time I don’t have, I’m going to break down how you can make it happen this spring in spite of all of the other things demanding your time and attention (because you know you want to…).
Set Your Goals Pick one or two priority areas that need your attention the most and define your goals for the space. For example, if you chose your entryway, your goal might be getting out the door in the morning faster. If you’ve chosen your kids toy room, maybe your goal is to bring older toys to light again. By defining your goal you will automatically align your actions with your desired end result.
Out, Sort, Distribute – Repeat Pull everything out of the space you’ve chosen and set it out so you can see as much of it as possible. Sort your belongings into 3 piles, Keep, Donate, Lives Elsewhere. Organize the Keep pile in a way that supports your goal. Ferry the Lives Elsewhere stuff to its rightful home and drop those donations off early in the season so those who need them most can take advantage of your generosity.
Keep It Simple If you have a bunch of time on your hands, sure, go full on Marie Kondo, but if you have limited time and competing priorities what sparks joy for you might be getting that one cabinet in order so you don’t have sippy cups raining down upon you every time you open it. And you know what? That totally counts. Keep it simple and do what works for you.
Our team of expert, skilled and savvy GYST Assistants had a few things to say on the topic too. GYST Assistants are excellent spring cleaning partners and even better than doing it yourself is delegating to an expert. GYST Assistants will help you set up organizational systems that are efficient, effective and easy to maintain and Bell Family Company families enjoy exclusive access to GYST Assistants on a project basis. Give us a call at (917) 912-9206 or say [email protected] to learn more. Our goal is to set our clients free to focus on what matters most.
About GYST GYST sources, selects, educates and retains top personal and executive assistants and offers clients a flexible, high level assistant experience in a program optimized for long term success. Learn more at www.gystplease.com.
A special thanks to Brooke Stone, Founder and CEO of GYST, who shared her exploration of spring cleaning, organization tips and advice from GYST Assistants.
We recently partnered up with Carly Snyder, M.D., who specializes in comprehensive reproductive health care and makes it her mission to help moms feel empowered and achieve life balance. Read below for our Q&A to learn more about Carly and her wonderful work with women’s health.
Q: What is your approach to help mothers optimize the body and mind pre- and post-birth? Are there certain services you provide that you find most beneficial for new moms?
A: The changes that occur in life from conception through baby’s first year of life are astronomical, and the impact of these changes on a woman’s sense of self is similarly huge. I spend a lot of time talking to my patients while they are still pregnant about identity and ways to incorporate their new identity as a mom into their current self, rather than feeling as if they are losing part of themselves with the arrival of their baby. I also work with women a lot on ways to feel proud and to own their changing bodies.
We focus a lot on living in the moment with a woman’s partner during pregnancy and enjoying the time until baby comes as a couple, appreciating one another and strengthening the relationship and continuing to function as a couple once baby arrives in addition to acting as co-parents. Too often after having a baby, couples transition to being parents and intimacy goes out the window. It is imperative that a strong bond be nurtured during pregnancy and then be reinforced after baby’s birth by having date nights and baby-free conversations. Pre-planning these date nights in advance, setting up a schedule with baby sitters lined up on a regular basis, establishes that the relationship remains important even after baby has arrived.
My patients and I also work hard on communication, speaking up about how a woman feels in the moment and making her needs known. During pregnancy and especially after the birth of a baby, new moms can feel as if their needs are secondary to their babies, but it is incredibly important that women feel empowered to speak up for themselves and to talk about their feelings and their needs openly. We explore what barriers they may have to opening up with loved ones about their experiences and then how to surmount these barriers so that open communication can occur freely going forward.
Another area that I focus on with my patients is making a sleep schedule during pregnancy for once the baby arrives to ensure that mom continues to get adequate rest. Whether mom is breast or bottle feeding, it is imperative that she sleeps at least six hours a night and ideally that she has can have uninterrupted sleep of three or more hours at a time. Moms are already exhausted as a result of labor and delivery when they leave the hospital with a newborn, and our country has no established supports in place to help new moms, so we must pre-plan to ensure that mom does not have to face feeding a baby every 2-3 hours every night on her own from day one onwards. This is only possible if mom has supports in place in advance, be it her partner, a family member, a postpartum doula or a baby nurse. A plan must be set up before baby arrives because otherwise mom will take on the full responsibility, and then she will undoubtably become exhausted and this can steam roll into feelings of sadness and a sense of being overwhelmed very quickly.
I also spend a lot of time discussing what are ‘normal and expected’ levels of anxiety and tearfulness during and after pregnancy, and at what point symptoms can be considered more significant and would warrant treatment, perhaps with more intense therapy, or with medication or with an increase in dose of medication if a woman is already taking something. Pregnancy is inherently anxiety inducing, and so is having a newborn. It is expected that new parents will be scared at times and will feel overwhelmed. At the same time, it is also important that women are able to control their anxiety and not feel that their anxiety or moments of sadness are engulfing them or taking over their lives. Parenthood will forever be scary because we love our children more than anything but cannot protect them from the outside world. We need to be able to compartmentalize our fears rather than allow the fears to control us because living in such a state of terror is not good for us or for our children.
Q: Why is it so important for mothers to focus on their mental health throughout the child bearing process?
A: Mom deserves to enjoy her pregnancy and the postpartum period as much as possible and this is impossible while struggling with a Perinatal Mood and/or Anxiety Disorder (PMAD). Mom’s mental health is intimately connected to her baby’s physical and emotional health both during and after pregnancy. Research consistently demonstrates that mom’s emotional state impacts her growing fetus and that feeling consistently severely anxious and/or depressed during pregnancy can have negative implications for a baby in the short and long run. Similarly, having a postpartum mood disorder is hard not just for mom, but also for everyone in the family.
Q: Tell us about your radio show, MD for Moms. What can listeners expect to hear and learn from tuning in each week, and how can listeners tune in?
A: MD for Moms is a show dedicated to helping women enjoy life more, to maximizing health and wellness and to improving women’s relationships with themselves and with others. For the last year and a half I have focused on what I call my “Mama Docs On Call” Series where I introduce my listeners to physicians who are also moms, like me, and they are on the show to provide information and support geared to moms and their families. We discuss topics ranging from women’s health and wellness issues to child-related concerns. It’s really a conversation between myself and a leader in a field of medicine, and listeners are invited to call in live with their questions throughout the show. For example, some recent shows included one with an OBGYN who answered every GYN question we all have but never remember or want to ask during our annual appointments, another show was with a pediatrician who is also a Lactation Consultant and we discussed breast feeding; another show was with an ER pediatrician who has taken on a special interest in keeping kids safe on-line, and we did a two part series on how to keep kids safe on social media… upcoming shows include a discussion on autoimmune diseases and fatigue, on childhood headaches, infertility, having a baby in the NICU, and so much more. The show is booked all the way through the new year and beyond – it is really exciting. Each week I post the upcoming show information on my blog as well as on social media. The shows air live on the BBM Global Network (on the internet), on TuneIn and iHeart Radio at 1pm ET every Wednesday or you can listen to it as a podcast. Just search for MD for Moms on iTunes podcasts and there are about 115 or so shows available for download.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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: [email protected] or @babycaravan on Instagram.
About Baby Caravan
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.
Written by our guest blog partner Jennifer Mayer, Founder Baby Caravan
Expecting moms and dads often need one common thing – support. The Parent Collective provides just that by helping to establish connections with other expecting parents through classes that minimize stress, and ultimately, make people feel like they are in this together.
We had the opportunity to partner with Jessica Hill, one of the Co-Founders of The Parent Collective, to learn a little bit more about her, her company, and what makes TPC so special. Q: What inspired or influenced you to create The Parent Collective?
A: I decided to start TPC back in 2016 after hearing from countless friends that they spent their early months and years with their baby feeling lonely and isolated. Because I was lucky enough to have my boys in the UK and benefit from the NCT, my experience was wildly different, and I wanted to give a similar feeling of support through education to others. Quite simply – I don’t know how I would have gotten through the early months of my first baby without my village of NCT moms who got me out of the house, listened to me vent when I was struggling, swap strategies for dealing with the latest feeding/sleeping/illness issues that crop up, and filled countless afternoons with conversation and companionship. Everyone needs that support and I hope that TPC will fill this need. Q: What are the variety of classes that you offer and what can parents expect to learn in each of them?
A: We offer a prenatal class series for expectant parents and after babies arrive, we offer CPR & First Aid classes, postpartum support groups as well as a wide range of workshops and online content developed in response to participant questions.
Our prenatal class, which is our core offering, is a 4-week series and in it, participants will discuss:
Session 1: What to expect in labor and delivery
Session 2: Relaxation techniques to help you through the early stages of labor, options for pain management and C-sections
Session 3: Breastfeeding and bottle-feeding information and advice, including latching on, pumping, milk storage, getting on a feeding schedule, and how to manage problems that may arise
Session 4: Newborn care
Q: How are your classes unique to the classes at my local hospital?
A: The Parent Collective offers a new style of prenatal class which is designed to provide evidence-based information, foster open, judgment-free discussion and establish friendships among couples living in close proximity and due at the same time. We see ourselves as an alternative to other childbirth education classes and hope that couples taking the series will develop a social network through participation, gather playmates for the little ones on the way and of course, provide that crucial support system that parents so need.
I am always banging on about how important it is to have friends with babies the same age as yours. I absolutely realize that it is hard to make friends as adults but with pregnancy as the common thread, it can sometimes be easier. Mom and dad friends at every stage of the parenthood journey are super helpful, but friends who have kids the same age as yours are essential. No one can fully appreciate the daily trials of a newborn like your friend who is also navigating life with a newborn. From spilling preciously pumped milk to dealing with an explosive poo in-transit. When you are in it, these feel like total disasters. However, these stories will not elicit a visceral “gasp!” from a new parent, but rather a breath of relief as you realize another real person has experienced something similar – like, yesterday.
Parents need this camaraderie so you can enjoy/survive the early days (and hopefully beyond) together. Our classes allow parents to solidify these relationships before babies arrive, so you don’t have to work so hard once they do. You can already be texting from the hospital about the terrible food and a love you never thought possible. Q: Who are some of the facilitators that women can expect to meet in your classes (background, experience, mission etc.)?
A: All of our facilitators are nurses and midwives who can offer our expectant parents an accurate picture of what to expect in the hospital. Most are also mothers who can provide that additional layer of support having experienced first-hand what a world-rocking experience having a baby can be. Here is the background of one of our facilitators as an example but you can view all of them here. Allegra Gatti Zemel, RN, IBCLC Allegra is a registered nurse, Internationally Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), and mother of three. She holds a BA in English from UC Berkeley in California as well as a BS in Nursing from Columbia University in New York City. Allegra has 13 years of experience in hospitals, classrooms, and in-home care and instruction around Maternal/Child Health and specifically breastfeeding. Allegra works to help each person feel equipped and ready for the wonder, transitions, and joy of a new baby with special attention to feeding and bonding. Q: Where are your locations and how can someone sign-up to learn more about The Parent Collective or join a class?
A: We currently host regular classes in Fairfield County, CT, Manhattan, Long Island, NY, Bergen County, NJ and we will very soon be launching in Westchester NY.
TPC will also soon be launching our prenatal series as a webinar. Watch this space!
To learn more, visit our website and sign-up for our newsletter, which offers information for expectant and new parents, as well as the opportunity to connect with parents who live local to you and have kids the same age. Jessica Hill, Co-Founder of The Parent Collective Written by Taylor Bell, Marketing & Social Media
What if I told you that you could reduce the amount of stress in your life by sipping a natural and truly healthy beverage? Have I got your attention?
Sweet Reason Beverage Company introduces a sparkling water with hemp CBD, so everyone can achieve an easier and more seamless lifestyle. Learn more about the awesome product below through our Q&A with the team. Q: A big part of Sweet Reason’s mission is to make life easier. To slow things down, relax, and pursue a life well-lived. How does your sparkling water help implement this lifestyle?
A: CBD helps calm and focus the mind. I find it takes the edge off of my anxiety, makes me more present and allows me to concentrate on the task at hand. To me, that is a life well-lived. Q: Tell us more about CBD: What is it? What are its benefits? And how is it used in Sweet Reason?
A: Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid that can either be extracted from the hemp or cannabis plant. There are over 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, so as the hemp plant and all of its extracts become legal (thank you, 2018 Farm Bill) you’ll see many other cannabinoids with a wide range of health benefits hit the market. CBD helps calm the mind, reduce random stress and ease discomfort. If that sounds vague to you, it is because companies that are making over-zealous health claims are getting in trouble with the FDA, so we like to encourage consumers to try CBD themselves. CBD affects everyone differently, and pure CBD is a safe to consume (see World Health Organization’s Critical Review of CBD in June 2018, which notes that CBD is, “generally well tolerated with a good safety profile”), so experiment and see how you feel. Sweet Reason is the perfect beverage for the CBD-curious, because it is delicious and at an approachable dosage (7mg). At Sweet Reason, we believe in creating beverages that are truly healthy (aka no sugar or sweeteners and simple ingredients), so that you don’t have to think twice about getting your daily dose of CBD. Q: Your packaging of Sweet Reason alone makes me want to buy it. Where and how can people go about getting Sweet Reason in their lives?
A: Sweet Reason is in over 150 stores in New York (check out the map on our website for where to find us), including Dean & Deluca, West Side Market and Westerly. And if you want it to come right to your doorstep, order online! We even have a subscription program for the people who want to drink it all day, everyday (like me). Q: What was the biggest inspiration for creating a product like Sweet Reason? How has it impacted your life for the better?
A: I started Sweet Reason because I couldn’t stop thinking about the future of cannabis beverages and how they will change our culture and social interactions, and challenge deeply held beliefs around cannabis. When I learned about CBD and discovered that it helped take the edge off of my anxiety, I couldn’t resist starting Sweet Reason. Sweet Reason has made my life better in so many ways (where do I begin?), but mostly because it allows me to share the health benefits of CBD with so many different people. Written by Taylor Bell, Marketing & Social Media
Are you ready to escape the winter blues and head for the sandy beaches? What if you could get to the sand stress-free and with one of the most trusted private aviation teams in the business? You’re in luck with our awesome partners at Wheels Up.
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With a Wheels Up Core Membership, you will receive guaranteed access to the members-only fleet of 90+ aircraft, including the exclusive King Air 350i and the Citation Excel/XLS—up to 365 days a year, with as little as 24 hours’ notice. Through the Charter Marketplace, you’ll also have unlimited access to a network of 1,000+ Wheels Up safety-vetted and verified aircraft, including many options that can be booked instantly, for travel to almost any destination worldwide.
As a Core Member, you and up to 3 guests will be able to attend dozens of unique experiences and celebrity meet-and-greets around the country each year, in addition to the world-class Wheels Up signature event activations at the Super Bowl, The Masters, and Art Basel. And you’ll also receive over $35,000 worth of lifestyle and hospitality benefits.
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Wheels Up does not operate aircraft; FAA licensed and DOT registered air carriers participating in the program exercise full operational control of all flights offered by or arranged through Wheels Up. For on-demand flights and shuttle flights operated as scheduled service, Wheels Up acts solely as an agent for Wheels Up members and guests in arranging these flights on their behalf. For shuttle flights operated as Public Charter service, Wheels Up acts as principal in offering these flights subject to the DOT’s Public Charter rules contained in 14 CFR Part 380. All aircraft owned or leased by Wheels Up are leased to the operating air carrier and are operated exclusively by that air carrier.
We want to introduce you to our friends at Village Obstetrics™ and the wonderful support and care that they provide their patients. We partnered up with them for a Q&A to give our readers an opportunity to learn more about their impressive work. Q: A big part of Village Obstetrics™ mission is to follow a minimally invasive approach. Why is practicing this important to your mission, and what have you seen as benefits for your patients with this approach?
A: We see newly pregnant couples who are concerned about interventions meddling in the natural process of pregnancy and birth. And it’s true that the medical profession has become concerned about the high rate of unnecessary c-sections. So, our approach is one that respects the natural process but uses modern medicine and technology to check and see how the natural process is unfolding. If everything looks good, our job is to stay out of nature’s way, but if there’s a storm brewing our job is to figure out together with our mom what the best course of action is. Minimally invasive obstetrics is doing the least necessary to get the job done and it yields low rates of c-section with well-informed satisfied moms. Q: What are the benefits of unmedicated v medicated birth or c-section? Is there a time in the birthing process where its too late to get an epidural?
A: Birth has lots of variables – the size of the baby, the individual pain tolerance, the length of the labor, the strength of the contraction, head position and on and on. So, it’s fair to say that keeping an open mind is especially important as you approach birth. In general, for first time labor we have seen great benefits from trying to get as deep into labor as possible before getting medications for pain relief. At that stage if you want an unmedicated birth we see how much further you have to go and if its not too far, you typically will make it without medication. Alternatively, if you are at the end of what you can manage and you still have a long way to go, or if you plan on an epidural, that’s a great time to go ahead and get relief.
After you’ve already had a vaginal birth and you are in labor with the next baby, then you need to decide sooner if you want an epidural or not. Probably when your pain is still manageable but now starting to get your attention (say a 6 out of 10 on the pain scale) then it’s time to either get the epidural or commit to finishing it as an unmedicated delivery. The last part of labor could be very fast with second or third babies and there might not be enough time to get an epidural if you wait until pain is an 8 or more out of 10. With the first vaginal birth however, its almost never too late to get an epidural because the progress of labor is much slower usually. Many of our moms now also consider using Nitrous Oxide which is available at our hospital as an alternative to epidural or to maintain control until getting the epidural later. Q: New patients have lots of questions both pre- and post-birth. How do you help new moms and dads with the transition of becoming parents?
A: One great new addition to the information for new moms and dads is Dr. Worth’s new book, “The New Rules of Pregnancy: What to eat, do, think about, and let go of while your body is making a baby”. We are so proud of her! So many of the existing guide books are so packed full of information that they can be overwhelming and even scary. We needed an expert to sift through those big books and pull out the key information and present it in a format where you can take in a little information at a time while keeping it positive and with beautiful uplifting illustrations that provoke imagination and calm. Dr Worth made that happen and we hope you give it a read. Beyond that we intentionally structured our practice for only pregnancy and birth care. We unapologetically exclusively devote all our time and talents to this important field of obtetrics. Not doing gynecology and well woman care allows us the time to really get into questions and controversies in our office visits. We also hold our own free of charge birth class for our clients that we call our “Pregnancy Chit Chat” – it’s a group Q&A with their doctors. We also reply to our clients e-mails and we try and provide continuing community education speaking, blogging and posting whenever we are invited to by groups involved in pregnancy and birth care.
To learn more about Village Obstetrics,™ click here. Written by Taylor Bell, Marketing & Social Media