I found out I was expecting in late December 2020. I was thrilled and also terrified. Not because of normal expecting worries, but about a whole new slew of worries associated with Covid. After three different appointments with my OBGYN, endless research, feedback from friends, family and other doctors I decided to get the vaccine after my first trimester at 14 weeks. Terrified and relieved, I cried on my way home from both inoculations. I had my husband drive me both times, fearful of side effects. Thankfully, I felt well, I think fear was making me sick. After the first shot my arm was sore and I felt a bit tired, but I’m tired a lot because I’m pregnant, so it’s hard to differentiate. After the second dose, my doctor recommended I hold ice on my arm 10 minutes before my shot. I did, and felt fine till 12 hours later. From hours 12-24 I had some arm soreness and a mild headache, which felt like if a bee was buzzing near my head the whole time (weird description I know).
According to a recently published article from CNN, research from the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology supports that both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are effective in pregnant and lactating women, who can then pass protective antibodies to newborns.
“Nearly all the moms were getting a pretty decent level of antibodies to their babies,” said Alter, who added that additional research is needed to understand how long those protective antibodies last in newborns.
What exciting and relieving news for expectant mothers during the pandemic! For a full article around this topic, visit the GTM website.
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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.
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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
We recently had the opportunity to partner with Roma van der Walt, Owner of Chitta Wellness, a personal and group training program that provides transformative tools to achieve your ideal body. Read our Q&A below to learn about her impressive journey, and how you can be on your way to living your healthiest lifestyle.
Q: What has your experience been in fitness and wellness, and what inspired you to start Chitta Wellness?
A: My own experience in fitness has been as an athlete from a very young age. I started with horseback riding and track and field before I went to elementary school, by the end of fourth grade, I was competing and by 6th grade I took up the Modern Pentathlon. Modern Pentathlon is a beautiful sport because it combines some very technical sports like fencing, shooting and show jumping (horses) with very linear sports like swimming and running. I think being a multi-sport athlete is what I still use in my work with Chitta Wellness to make sure people don’t get bored in their training. You would be surprised how many non runners I was able to start running a bit and now they love it and send me photos from their holiday running trails. Just as one example.
I started Chitta Wellness because after almost a decade of sitting at a desk, I realized that it wasn’t for me and it was actually making me sicker. I developed anxiety and back issues. Now that I make my own schedule and work with people, I’m much happier and much more efficient when I do work on the computer.
I want to help people be happy and healthy and make wellness and fitness an integral part of their life, especially parents because children learn from experience from a very young age.
Q: Talk about the “three Ps” Chitta Wellness focuses on. What do each of these mean and what can someone expect to learn in each of these focus areas?
A: The three p’s are pre-conception, prenatal and postpartum fitness. Each of these phases is a special one in a woman’s and in a couple’s life. When a couple decides to conceive, there’s often a moment of “OH!”, our life is about to change. Parents strive to be healthier whether it’s the woman carrying the child or her partner. During pregnancy, the general advice from the medical field is limited to not doing too much but women aren’t sick, they are “just” pregnant and working out has proven to be very beneficial to both the mother and the baby. I think my son really liked it when I ran with him in utero. Postpartum is usually when parents run into a whole new set of problems. Personal time and fitness are a rare commodity and have to be juggled with childcare, so offering them workouts 1:1 and in groups that are at convenient times or where they can bring their children has always been something that I offer. Babies and children are welcome in my workouts and you would be surprised how well it works out (pun intended).
Q: Some people thrive with 1:1 training and others in group training. Does Chitta offer both? What kind of atmosphere is best for beginners?
A: Chitta Wellness offers both. Beginners are usually most comfortable 1:1 I have found, especially if they are pregnant or postpartum and then eventually they merge in to a group setting or they choose to work out with their partners. I love working with couples. It’s almost like therapy, just more fun. In my groups, I don’t discourage talking. I try to bop in and out of the workout and partner exercises without interrupting the flow of conversation too much. It’s cathartic, people want to exchange themselves and I have learned a LOT about child rearing, body issues during and post pregnancy and there’s alway a point in every workout where someone either cries or laughs and then gets uplifted by their peers. There’s nothing more beautiful for me than to see people come together that way!
Q: What are some key takeaways you hope to leave your customers with after a class or session?
A: Inclusivity, fun and wanting to come back. I don’t tolerate unfriendly behavior of participants towards each other. We are all busy and stressed and rather than taking that out on someone else (or me) I expect people to discuss it and maybe we can all help find a solution. I also hope to see all genders, ages, colors and denominations in my workouts because again, it teaches me and everyone else a ton to hear diverse viewpoints and it gives so much food for thought. Inclusivity in an age of social media and often upsetting global news day-to-day, that discourse is something we don’t get in too many areas of our lives. Or we simply don’t meet people outside of our immediate circle. In a workout we’re all exposed and have to face some insecurities so it’s very real. Ultimately what I have noticed and people in my workouts, is that most of us really strive for the same values in life for ourselves and our families. So for me, that’s incredibly reassuring to see.
To learn more about Chitta Wellness, visit their website!
Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell
As I get closer to delivery (only five more weeks), my husband and I were advised by my OB to review a series of questions and “what if” scenarios. I found a detailed check list on The Bump, which provided a great starter template. But you have to keep in mind; plans don’t always go the way you envision. So, play out a few different scenarios so you are not surprised, or caught off guard!
Here are some interesting things they brought up that I didn’t really think about:
Do you want the lights bright or dimmed?
Do you want interns present from the birth?
How do you prefer to spend your first stage of labor (i.e., in a bath tub, walking around, with music or in silence)?
During delivery, how do you want to be positioned (i.e., stand, squat, lie on side, lean on partner)?
And here are some really important questions to ask yourself and consider:
Would you like labor augmentation? Do you even know what that is?
What kind of pain relief do you want to use? There are a lot of options.
What level of fetal monitoring do you want?
After delivery, what do you want to do with the umbilical cord and placenta?
What if you have to have a c-section. Read about options and recovery. You have decisions here too (i.e., want your partner there, want to see the baby come out via mirror)?
Print out your plan and keep it in your hospital bag. It’ll be a nice source of comfort.
**Fun fact: Lindsay had her baby only one week after writing this post! Good thing she had her birth plan (and this blog) all set. Written by our Founder & CEO, Lindsay Bell
Giving birth to your newborn child is one of life’s most precious things to experience (or so I’ve heard). That doesn’t go without saying that there are some not so precious things that occur during labor. To spare everyone of all the glorious details, let’s instead talk about how giving birth can be one of the most luxurious experiences of your life!
You’ve heard it here first; labor can be an experience where you feel like a queen, and it may leave you never wanting to leave that hospital room again.
In an article published by parents.com, they introduce some of the most luxurious birthing suites in the US. That’s right ladies, think spa treatments, 24-hour concierge service, and a private chef! It’s time to leave the roommate life behind, and experience a birthing experience as Amal Clooney would.
Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center Birthing suites are designed to look like the outdoors! Oh yeah, your food is delivered by a tuxedo-wearing “food ambassador.”
Rose Medical Center in Denver Birthing rooms have private bathrooms with Jacuzzi bathtubs, rocking chairs, and flat-screen TVs. To be totally low key, VIPs can enter one of the luxury suites, and be offered the services of a private chef.
Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles
If a three-room suite isn’t enough, mom can treat herself to an in-suite manicure, pedicure, or haircut. Celebs like Kourtney Kardashian, Rachel Zoe, and Victoria Beckham have given birth here, so start planning your totally casual celeb run-in now.
The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City
Enjoy your luxury suite overlooking Central Park and have your newborn wrapped in muslin cotton swaddling blankets. And no mom leaves without a postpartum massage!
The Women’s & Children’s Hospital at Centennial in Nashville
How about a 24/7 concierge service to handle your requests? From making sure your car gets an oil change to delivering food from Nashville-area restaurants – can we say VIP?
We provided the top five luxurious birthing suites. For the remaining five you can read the full article, here. Written by our Marketing & Social Media Coordinator, Taylor Bell
Maternity Mentors is a program designed to help parents navigate life’s greatest challenge through tailored sessions, e-communications, and classes to help mentor new parents.
We recently had the opportunity to talk to Millie Gillon, the face and creator behind Maternity Mentors. Read below to learn more about her and the impressive guidance offered by Maternity Mentors. Q: You mentioned you spent countless hours researching online boards, articles, mom’s groups, medical journals, etc. What resources helped you the most to answer your new mom questions?
A: CDC, American Medical Association, and combining information from countless blogs, boards, and articles around topics ranging from postpartum care, cloth diapers, to first foods, educational development, and beyond. I feel like I earned a PhD. in new parenthood from all of the research I did during late night nursing sessions.
Q: Why should moms turn to Maternity Mentors as a trusted resource? What sets you apart from an expecting mom’s network?
A: Maternity Mentors is an experienced resource that works 1 on 1 with expectant moms to deliver the best resource for all maternity issues. The mom’s network is composed of mainly mothers’ first hand accounts, whereas Maternity Mentors is a combination of experiential and clinical resources to help.
Q: Why is having a mentor during pregnancy so important? Does Maternity Mentors stay with the mom throughout the entire pregnancy? Can a mom turn to their mentor after the baby is born?
A: Most new parents are focused on the labor and delivery experience, but few focus on the intricacies of parenthood beyond countless ads focused on buying merchandise that they really do not need. A mother about to go into labor is vulnerable from experience. While there are plenty of resources she can turn to (friends, family), none are directly committed to new parents and the baby/babies. The mentorship experience is about focusing on the new parent(s), and baby’s wellbeing.
There are a lot of options for an expecting mother on how she would like her pregnancy to go. A lot can go as planned, but of course some people have to roll with the punches and figure it out along the way.
Birth transforms your life and body completely. Whom you select as your pregnancy caregiver makes all the difference in determining the satisfaction and safety of your pregnancy journey and birth experience.
Village Maternity believes the best birth for mom and baby comes from blending the unique strengths of midwives and doctors with the safety of a wonderful hospital partner.
The Village Maternity team firmly believe that true collaboration of midwives and doctors provides you with the safest and most satisfying birth experience. They approach your pregnancy with energy and enthusiasm and strive to help make your care with Village Maternity an amazing journey.
Village Maternity proudly collaborates with Metropolitan Hospital – a hidden gem for NYC families. Among Manhattan birth sites, Metropolitan has a long history of true midwifery care, including support for unmedicated birth with one of the lowest epidural rates. Metropolitan has one of the lowest cesarean section rates and the least overcrowding. Metropolitan physicians provide support for one of the highest rates of vaginal birth after cesarean section.
Village Maternity offers both Maternity Care (prenatal and postpartum) as well as Preconception Care. Not to mention 24/7 phone access. How reassuring to have your doctor a call away. They even have weekend and evening office hours. Village Maternity offices are conveniently based in midtown east.
Note: Village Maternity did not pay for this post. I met the doctors at Village Maternity and truly believe in their mission. For more information please visit their website.