Jones, Catherine and Rose Ann Hudson. Eating for Pregnancy: Your Essential Month-by-Month Nutrition Guide and Cookbook. 3rd ed. New York: De Capo Press, 2019.
Recipes in the early months include ingredients targeted to ease the difficulties of nausea, too, which can be helpful when the thought of deciding what to eat feels much harder than it should. In addition to this middle recipe section, the book includes introductory chapters on prenatal nutrition as well as a discussion of eating, breastfeeding, and postpartum weight loss.
There is much to appreciate about what Jones and Hudson offer in this weighty book. When we found out we were having our first child, it inspired us to take a serious look at our eating habits and learn more about optimal nutrition and how we could make that more of a priority for our family. I love that the recipe section includes easy to read labeling for those looking for gluten-free meals or vegan meals or several other dietary concerns.
Though this newest edition advertises itself as "completely revised and updated," the discussion of alcohol and breastfeeding could use an evidence-based update. And, in the discussion of the difficulties of life after baby, more talk of reaching out for professional help if possible would make this book even more comprehensive. I do note, however, that having a chapter on postpartum mental health in this nutrition book was unexpected and much appreciated!
If you are a reader who has a history of disordered eating or struggles with body image, I would caution against the opening and closing sections of the book. With its emphasis on calorie discussion and "ideal" weight gain, the early chapters may be less rather than more helpful for some readers. Similarly, the discussion of dieting in the later chapters, while gentle, still uses a lot of the mainstream language common in diet culture and may be triggering for some readers.
If you'd like a helping hand exploring new recipes and emphasizing whole food habits as you gestate your sweet babe, the thoughtful month-by-month layout of this book may work well for you. But, please be gentle to yourself and understanding of your own relationship with food as you approach the opening and closing sections of the book.
Looking for more evidence-based info as you prepare for birth and baby? Nested Mama offers a full range of classes including childbirth education, breastfeeding, infant sleep education, and planning for postpartum.
Schedule your free chat to learn how Nested Mama's virtual doula support can help you find ease in pregnancy and postpartum.
Real talk time. One of the hardest aspects for me as I move through pregnancy and postpartum comes from my changing body.
While I deeply respect and understand the work my body does during the childbearing year, I'm also a person who struggles with transition. And, the constant transitions of my body are hard on me both physically and mentally.
After finding out I was expecting baby #4, I vowed to be even more intentional this go-round in how I prepared my body for the work of carrying this baby and giving birth.
Then first trimester exhaustion plus the work of keeping up with my trio of kiddos, homeschooling, and business hit me like a truck - survival became the name of the game.
As I emerged (finally) from the fog of that rough trimester, I found myself with energy again (yay!) and the desire to put it to good use. Looking around at the options for prenatal fitness, I knew that in this incredibly busy season that found me solo parenting and juggling all the things while also growing this baby, I would be squeezing anything into the nooks and crannies of my days.
Perhaps even more importantly, I needed a program that would help me turn my focus away from the noise and the numbers of my changing body and instead toward meeting my needs for support with understanding and gentleness toward myself.
A chance recommendation in a local parenting group led me to find my way to MommaStrong. Immediately, I was drawn to the message of MommaStrong, a message that eschewed the narratives of "transformation" so popular in the fitness industry writ large for one of function, strength, and treating yourself with kindness as you navigate the tricky seasons of growing and raising tiny humans.
The first video I clicked on discussed the way in which our culture has normalized incontinence after birth - a normalization that does not equal the health or wellness for those who deal with this issue. As a postpartum doula, I found myself nodding and yelling "yes!" at that video, pretty much sold at that point.
I signed up early in the second trimester and have been "showing up" regularly to my mat now for several months. Below are some of the many reasons MommaStrong has been such an important part of this pregnancy.
As a professional who works with families before and after baby, I love being able to refer clients to this fabulous resource. And, MommaStrong has a specific section dedicated to clinicians, so if you are a doula or birth professional, check this out!
So far I've seen the benefits of MommaStrong, but I'm excited to see how it impacts life after baby - I'll be sure to follow up with a blog on that in the coming months.
Are you considering adding a new little one to your family, but you still have a nursling?
Are you wondering about breastfeeding while pregnant, weaning in pregnancy, or tandem nursing?
Unless you have a friend or family member who has nursed during and perhaps through a pregnancy, you may not be familiar with options and resources for nursing while pregnant.
Here are a collection of FAQs and resources you may find helpful.
***As always, consult your medical provider for any questions about your specific situation.
How does nursing impact ability to conceive?
The hormones at work in breastfeeding can delay the return of the breastfeeding parent's fertility, so it depends on many individual factors as far as when and if one can conceive while breastfeeding. While some experience the return of fertility with in a few months of giving birth while breastfeeding, others may not until fully weaning. Because ovulation can occur before the onset of the first menses, some breastfeeding parents may conceive without every noting the return of their cycle, while others may experience anovulatory cycles before a full return of fertility. If you wish to understand and chart your cycle, a fertility doula is a great first resource as you navigate this time.
If your nights are still interrupted but you want to begin tracking your basal body temperature, check out my favorite piece of fertility tech - Tempdrop! This little wonder makes it possible to chart your temperature amidst night wakings, feedings, or any other reason for interrupted sleep. *
Is it safe to nurse during pregnancy?
Nursing releases oxytocin, which is the same hormone that causes uterine contractions. However, research suggests that this level of oxytocin, similar to that released during orgasm, does not pose an increased risk for miscarriage or preterm labor. There are certain situations of pregnancy or complications where you may be advised to wean, and these should be discussed with your medical provider.
Will I be able to provide for my nursling while pregnant or will my supply be impacted?
Whether or not you need to supplement with donor milk or formula will depend on your unique situation as well as little one's age and stage. For babies under a year, breastmilk or formula should still be the primary form of nutrition - and diapers and weight gain are the indicators of sufficient intake. (Always consult your medical provider if you have concerns about baby's intake.) Older babies may gradually transition to more solid food intake, and older nurslings may choose to nurse more or less frequently depending on changes in supply and taste. Kellymom notes that while a decrease in supply by the midpoint of pregnancy is typical, some notice a lessening of supply (and perhaps increased demand from their nursling) as early as the first month of pregnancy.
What are the challenges of nursing while pregnant?
While the experiences of breastfeeding while pregnant may vary to person to person, some challenges you may note include feeling touched out or aversions to nursing. You may also experience sensitivity and pain with nursing during different points in the pregnancy. If your nursling is a toddler, you may be successful setting loving limits around your nursing times that allow you to sustain this relationship during pregnancy.
What about colostrum - will my baby still get enough?
While pregnant, your body will switch from mature milk to the production of colostrum. This colostrum production continues until hormonal changes from the delivery of the placenta in the third stage of labor triggers a shift into transitional and then mature milk. After the new baby is born, you may want to make sure to feed the new baby first to insure he or she gets those good antibodies. And, your older nursling may experience some laxative effects from the colostrum, as well.
What is tandem nursing and how does that work?
If you choose to nurse an older sibling through pregnancy, tandem nursing - nursing two at the same time - is an option. A great resource on this topic - even for those just starting to think about nursing and pregnancy - is La Leche League's Adventures in Tandem Nursing. Full of evidence-based information as well as the personal stories of breastfeeding parents who have nursed through pregnancy and beyond - this book is thorough and truly helpful.
As far as what tandem nursing looks like for your little family, know that there is no right or wrong. For some, setting limits with the older sibling as far as when and how long he or she can nurse works to help the breastfeeding parent not become overwhelmed. For others, the opportunity to nurse both at the same time allows for more rest as opposed to nursing the new baby and worrying about what the toddler could be doing.
If you do find yourself needing to set limits for your older child, making sure to communicate your wishes, offering other options for comfort (snuggling, reading a book, having a snack or a drink), and being empathetic to any big feels can be so helpful. Here, making sure to have a solid postpartum plan to support you as you navigate these early days with sibling interaction can also be truly important.
*When you purchase a Tempdrop through my affiliate link, you recieve a 10% discount and I receive a small commission that helps keep the Nested Mama blog up and running. A win-win!
Investing in Childbirth Education
Schedule your free chat to learn how Nested Mama's private childbirth classes can prepare you for the journey ahead!
Pregnancy can be such a busy time - appointments with your provider, researching baby gear, baby showers, planning your leave from work, finding a daycare provider, reading ALL the pregnancy books, turning your house into a home for baby, and so on.
The thought of adding one. more. thing. can be overwhelming - I know I've been there.
There are also financial concerns to balance - anticipating the bill from the hospital, making adjustments for maternity or paternity leave, buying ALL the baby things, and so on.
Given the time and financial pressures of this moment, perhaps it seems like investing in childbirth education - especially outside the hospital classes - is something that can't quite fit.
I hear you. I do.
But, birth matters. Not just birth in general, but YOUR birth matters. You matter.
We often emphasize the importance of a healthy baby, but I maintain there is room for valuing a healthy and happy birthing parent in that equation, too.
As a childbirth educator who offers classes outside the hospital environment, I can share with you all the options and choices - the full birth buffet - rather than a menu limited by policy or staff preference.
As a childbirth educator who is also a doula, I believe in the importance of nonjudgmental support, and I carry this with me into the space and community of my classroom. There is room for your hopes and your fears in my classroom as well as your birth choices, whatever those may be.
Childbirth education shouldn't just tell you about birth, it should prepare you with a confident knowledge of labor and birth. It should support you as you craft a full toolbox particular to your desires to meet birth's challenging moments. And, it should inspire you with a fire to advocate for what is right for you.
And, birth is just the beginning. As a breastfeeding educator and sleep educator, I offer a series of classes to prepare you for life after baby and strengthen your partnership ahead of time to meet the ebb and flow of life with your new little one.
If you're feeling ready to invest in your birth with more classes, I give you a big high five. Come check out the full range of classes offered by Nested Mama, including group classes, webinars, and private classes to meet your busy schedule needs.
My reaction: I love reading books that gather and work through the research, and Nichols certainly does that in this book. She also nicely includes highlighted statements and summary sections, so if you are more interested in her conclusions than how she gets there, you can get a nice handle on the material in a short amount of time. I especially enjoyed Chapter 4 where Nichols works through recommendations on lunch meat, alcohol and more. I also appreciated the balanced approach she takes when she notes that first-trimester nausea may make a diet overhaul unrealistic, but that it is something you can work toward as you feel able. And, she also shares that eating "real food" doesn't have to be all or nothing. As with so much in pregnancy and parenting, having the information you need to make the best choices for your family - even if those choices include small-scale changes in prenatal nutrition rather than following her advice to the letter - is what truly matters.
Some quotes of note:
"Part of listening to your body is recognizing when your food choices don't leave you feeling well and making a mindful choice to opt for a more nutritionally balanced option the next time you eat. Your body deserves nourishing foods and you deserve to enjoy your food. There is a place for these two things to coexist" (27).
"Calorie and macronutrient needs vary widely and there fore there's not a single meal plan that will work for all women" (82).
"When you ignore your hunger cues, you tend to ignore your fullness cues as well" (26).
Real Food for Pregnancy gives you all the research with practical ways to apply it to your eating during pregnancy. While some nutrition books can load you with pressure, this one incorporates mindfulness and emphasizes that we are all different, making plenty of room for you to take what you need from the book without feeling completely overwhelmed. I'd recommend this book to anyone looking to trouble shoot their pregnancy nutrition or make changes preconception.
Looking for more evidence-based info as you prepare for birth and baby? Nested Mama offers a full range of classes including childbirth education, breastfeeding, infant sleep education, and planning for postpartum.
I am so jazzed to share this collaboration with fellow Doulas of Iowa City members Emma Benson and Allison Carfizzi. Read all of our tips for surviving and enjoying the holidays while expecting over on the Doulas of Iowa City blog.
Are you in need of relief for back, hip, or pelvic pain in your pregnancy? Want to keep your pelvis aligned for optimal fetal positioning? Check out this list of highly recommended chiropractors who offer prenatal chiropractic care in the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids area.
At Robinson Family Wellness we believe Chiropractic is a more proactive, conservative approach to health & wellness. As a chiropractor my main focus is to support patients in reaching their optimal health by allowing the body to reach its full functioning potential. By using very specific low force adjustments I have helped and continue to help many families overcome many obstacles. I love to serve families through all walks of life, particularly focusing on mothers and children. Having a passion for growing families, I chose to continue my education and next summer will officially become a Board Certified Pediatric Chiropractor. In our office we do everything we can to accommodate our patients and families, we even have a private nursing & play space complete with a comfy rocking chair, changing table and a scale for moms to do weighted feeds. We look forward to continued growth in the local community, empowering families to be well and live well.
We offer concerned parents who feel like something is missing in their birth team, a different path that allows them to achieve their best birth possible. Pregnancy can be one the most exciting times in a woman’s life. It can also be one of the most uncomfortable. A properly aligned pelvis and nervous system will help create an optimal environment for your baby to grow. Dr. Mike is certified in the Webster Technique that helps to reduce nerve interference and restore pelvic balance. Chiropractic care can also aid in a smoother labor and delivery.
I have a passion for treating women during the motherhood transition! From preconception to prenatal to postpartum, mothers will receive the absolute best in holistic care. My approach includes chiropractic care with the Activator instrument, which is very gentle, while also utilizing the Webster technique for pregnancy. Additionally, I treat many women with acupuncture for infertility, nausea, pain, inducing labor, and postpartum depression. Being a mother of twins myself, I know how difficult this season of life can be! It’s truly an honor to care for mothers.
My goal is to make moms as comfortable as humanly possibly during pregnancy. I'm certified in the wonderful Webster Technique to relieve tension on the uterus, which gives baby the room they need to grow and develop without restriction. However, all the certifications in the world don't hold a candle to experiencing pregnancy, loss, birth, and postpartum myself. Being a mom helps me treat other moms because I've been there. I've had horrible morning sickness, and the dreaded "lightning crotch." I've wrongly blamed myself for miscarriage. I've rebuilt strength after giving birth. I've cared for a baby with terrible reflux. I adjust moms and babies to help their body's function at 100% and reach their full health potential, but I'm also attentive to their needs nutritionally, mentally, and emotionally. I want moms to feel cared for because they deserve it.
At Awaken Family Chiropractic, we understand that optimal health for a pregnant woman is crucial, as her health and well-being affects the health and well-being of her baby. Ensuring proper nervous system function is vital to the development of the baby, as well as to the health and comfort of the mom. Chiropractic care during pregnancy offers a number of benefits for mom and baby, and I am certified in Webster Technique . Chiropractic adjustments can help alleviate the aches and discomfort that often come along with pregnancy. Expecting women under regular care have reported shorter labor times, less birth interventions, more energy, improved sleep and more. Adjustments while pregnant are safe and gentle for mom and baby. Our goal is to help moms experience the best pregnancy, labor and delivery that they can!
I enjoy working with pregnant women because of the huge effects chiropractic has on the woman and her baby. This, and caring for babies and children, is the reason I completed my Diplomate in Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics through the International Chiropractic Association in 2005. Chiropractic helps women stay more comfortable during their pregnancies, which allows them to stay active and be at their best during pregnancy. For pregnant women who already have children, it helps keep them active so they aren’t slowed down by pain and unable to engage with their family the way that they desire. I use a combination of chiropractic and soft tissue release, including Webster’s, to allow for optimal position of the pelvis and to balance the supporting ligaments so there’s no constraint preventing the baby from getting into optimal position for birth. By removing interference in the nerves that are exiting the spine, it allows optimal communication to the uterus so there are coordinated contractions to drive the birth process. I also think it’s important to coach pregnant women in regards to nutrition and lifestyle. The investments a woman makes in her body during pregnancy will positively effect her and the baby!
Moms choose me as their Chiropractor because I help them achieve the healthiest and most comfortable pregnancy and birth. They bring their whole families to me to achieve and maintain optimal health so that their children may grow and develop to their optimal potential.
I have been in chiropractic since 1996. I have been a doctor of chiropractic since 2010. I have extensive post graduate training in pediatric and prenatal chiropractic. I am also a member of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association. I have been certified in the Webster Technique through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association since 2008. I re-certified in 2017 and in 2018 became an examiner for other doctors to receive their Webster certification. In addition to my extensive prenatal and pediatric chiropractic training, as of 2016 I am also a birth doula, so I have extensive knowledge on how to care for women physically and emotionally through out pregnancy and birth. As well as extensive experience adjusting newborns, adjusting 100's in my career, some of my doula clients only hours old.
Moving through Pregnancy and Postpartum: interview with Kelli Marie Rice, professor of kinesiology
Our bodies change in incredible ways as we move through the months of pregnancy and the childbearing year. Wondering how you can nourish your body and find balance amid such rapid change? Today, I'm so pleased to share an interview with Kelli Marie Rice who is a professor of kinesiology at Coe College and an expert in wellness and fitness. Kelli is also a mother of two. She graciously shared with me about moving through pregnancy and postpartum from both her academic and practical experience.
Before we talk about physical movement through pregnancy and postpartum, I'd love it if you'd share a little bit about how your background drives your passion and expertise in this area.
The next chapter in my life took me from Central College in Pella, Iowa, to the University of Iowa and Mercy Hospital in Iowa City. I started pursuing my M.A. in Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity, while also working as an exercise physiologist at Mercy Hospital.
My Master’s thesis was my first significant look into this fused interest of mine: movement, mothering, and gender. It is titled “Chasing the Kids, Does it Count?” It was a qualitative study that quantified ‘chasing the kids’ through the use of continuous monitoring (accelerometry), the Kaiser Physical Activity Survey, & interviews with all 66 participants. The results were compared with national physical activity guidelines to determine whether or not chasing the kids provided enough movement for moms to achieve health outcomes. The findings indicated that for this sample of moms (ages 35+ with kids 5 & under) chasing the kids, while exhausting, was not enough to meet the national guidelines for physical activity; however, women who planned physical activity (with or without their kids) were adequate in meeting these guidelines. I also found it interesting that the perceived ‘most vigorous movement of the day’ almost always involved chasing the kids, while the qualitative data debunked that. In short, chasing the kids is not nearly as vigorous or continuous as it feels, and moms generally aren’t moving enough by simply chasing their kids around; however, by holding space for planned times of movement, moms can absolutely be successful in meeting national physical activity guidelines.
I transitioned to an online Adjunct Instructor position with the University of Dubuque as I moved to San Francisco for the opportunity to launch my wellness consulting firm, which was established for the purpose of working alongside a Bulgarian Atomic Physicist on his latest invention, the TAO WellShell. After TAO launched & took Best of CES in Las Vegas, I moved back to Iowa City, got married & began teaching at Coe College.
I am entering my 4th year in the Coe College kinesiology department, while continuing to teach online in my 7th year with the University of Dubuque (13th year of teaching overall). Outside of teaching, I am living out my passion for uplifting mamas to love themselves. I support and encourage them by moving with them in ways that empower us, whether that is through leading hikes or by teaching a babywearing dance and fun family fitness class at Anytime Fitness in Coralville. Being a mom is hard work, but with a supportive tribe and feel-good movement/strength, we can truly maximize every ounce of our awesome selves.
I love how you point out the importance of support and community as well as movement to a mom's well-being. Your family-oriented classes seem to embody that fusion! How has your knowledge and experience of physical movement and wellness informed your journey into motherhood? And, how has your journey into motherhood shaped informed or shaped the knowledge you bring to your teaching?
My knowledge in these areas began with pregnancy and birth preparation. I planned for our home births much like I would train an athlete. I incorporated feel-good movement (walking, prenatal Kundalini yoga with Gurmukh, dance), squatting while Hypnobirthing for 60-75 minutes every day, and I performed a variety of abdominal exercises to prevent diastasis recti. I also adjusted my diet to support the demands of pregnancy and altered my vitamin supplementation. I journaled through 3 books with each pregnancy: Waiting in Wonder, Sacred Pregnancy, & Love Letters to Baby. Both of my babies were born in a birth tub at home: 8 lb 15 oz Delaney in a 4 hour labor, and 8 lb 7 oz Garrett in a 3.25 hour labor, 22 months later.
Moving on from birth, I incorporated babywearing, breastfeeding, and many other aspects of Attachment Parenting into our lifestyle. I conducted my own secondary research before making decisions about parenting and lifestyle choices, just as I would read a nutrition label or investigate an essential oil in our adult lives. My husband and I did what worked for us, in terms of maintaining balance in our lives, despite what may seem popular, common, or pushed by others. In addition to placenta encapsulation, movement and socialization were key components in my postpartum life. I remind myself that to offer whole lives to our children in a sustainable manner, we must be whole mamas. For me, this means maintaining balance among physical, emotional, social, intellectual, spiritual, environmental, financial, and occupational dimensions of wellness. Many of these areas can overlap! For example, babywearing hiking with friends: physical, social, environmental, and arguably emotional, intellectual and spiritual; plus even financial since it’s a great free activity! I try to incorporate every dimension of wellness into every day, for both myself and our kids.
Pregnancy and especially the postpartum period is both empowering and humbling. Not only does it challenge our bodies and shift our hormones and sleep patterns, but these tiny humans change our hearts in ways only a mama can describe. In addition to compassion and lifting up other mamas, a key way motherhood has altered my views is through the need for slowness. At least a decade ago, I met with author Carl Honore to discuss his book In Praise of Slowness. The greatest single thing I do as a mom that fosters the overall wellness of myself and my kids is embracing a lifestyle of slowness. We admire insects. We touch trees. We catch tadpoles and gently hold baby toads. We go to yoga classes for each of my babies (2 years and 4 months). We read nearly 1200 books before my daughter turned 1. I plan 10 minutes for us to get our shoes on and leave the house, just so we don’t have to rush. I find when I am slow and present, everyone is gentle and happy.
I carry these values into my teaching, both at the gym and in the college courses I teach. I create a relaxed, come-as-you-are environment. Everyone deserves to have their body celebrated. Everyone should we warmly accepted exactly as they are. Everyone benefits from being supported and uplifted by others in whatever way is most comfortable for them. Everyone has a need for multidimensional wellness, balance. I also find the AP principle of connection prevents or solves the vast majority of conflicts and challenges. People love the way it feels to feel connected. As we are practicing this 24/7 with our children, why not extend that same love to the world around us? It’s pretty inspiring!
As far as incorporating physical movement into daily life - beyond "chasing the kids" - do you have any advice for pregnant or postpartum moms?
I do! Many moms feel selfish prioritizing things for themselves, while others find logistics (childcare, breastfeeding) or money to be obstacles that make physical activity particularly challenging. To overcome these obstacles, I encourage mamas to keep it simple, think outside of the box, and choose movement that is enjoyable and feels good.
Keep it simple:
While both are nice, you don’t need a gym membership to be active and you don’t need a personal trainer to see results; walking, body weight exercises, hiking and dancing are great physical activities that are free! Rather than waiting for the perfect plan to emerge, simply choose one way to move each day and listen to your body along the way!
Think outside of the box:
I am a big fan of setting up moms for success. It can be helpful to include our kids in workouts so we aren’t relying on good naps or things that may be out of our control. I love babywearing workouts as a way to accomplish this! In addition to making a workout more likely, babywearing workouts are a sweet way to bond with Baby. Hiking, dancing, walking and even things like squats are great options that can be compatible with babywearing. For mamas with older children, movement can be as simple as putting on music and dancing together! Games, such as tag, soccer or racing to a tree can be fun ways to move as a family. Playing twister or bending our bodies into shapes and letters can be a creative way to stretch alongside our tiny helpers. Moms are some of the most creative people on Earth; we can use these mothering skills to turn essential self-care into magical memories with our tribe.
Choose fun, feel-good movement:
Keep in mind it takes 9 months to gain pregnancy weight; patience and consistency are critical components of pregnancy and postpartum fitness. Between physical body changes, hormonal shifts, changes in sleep patterns, and just figuring out our new role, now is the time to move only in ways that are enjoyable. Incorporating music or moving with friends can help make physical activity more enjoyable, as well! Set your sights on feel-good movement and celebrate your beautiful, strong, amazing self!
Thanks so much to Kelli for sharing her wisdom and experiences here on the Nested Mama blog!
Looking for a way to safely regain strength postpartum but not sure where to go? To answer this question and more, I’m thrilled to share an interview with Dr. Hannah Anderson, DC, CACCP of BIRTHFIT Cedar Rapids. As the BIRTHFIT Cedar Rapids Regional Director, Hannah shares about the movement that is BIRTHFIT and how it can benefit you to strengthen your body before and after birth.
Before we talk about BIRTHFIT Cedar Rapids, I'd love to know about your background. Have you always been interested in fitness or when did that passion develop?
Sure! I was always a B team athlete if that makes sense? I've never been competitive enough to go crazy, but I've always liked sports, movement, and play. As a chiropractor I look at how people move all day long. I have a specialty certification in pediatrics and pregnancy, and care for a lot of moms during and after pregnancy, watching how they change throughout the whole beautiful motherhood transition.
Like a lot of moms, I'm also a planner. When I was pregnant I wanted a plan for working out, and had heard of BIRTHFIT through the grapevine of other doctors I went to grad school with. I love how the online prenatal programming emphasized meeting your body where it's at today, and moving with intention. Before BIRTHFIT I did the classic "hop on the elliptical for 20 min just to say I worked out today". I wasn't working towards anything and it was hard to stay motivated by anything other than being able to tell someone I worked out, which wasn't very fulfilling. BIRTHFIT emphasizes training for birth. Whether you call yourself an athlete or not, as soon as you're pregnant, you're "in season" for birth. It's possibly the biggest athletic event of your life and you don't know if it'll be a 3 hour sprint or a 36 hour marathon.
At a certain point in my pregnancy I couldn't run anymore, but I still wanted to be active. It felt wrong, and weird. However, I could lift a bunch of heavy stuff. So I would go to the gym with my big belly and nestle in with the big body builders (they got out of my way pretty fast). I did lifted and did conditioning that was modeled after contractions (work really hard for 90 seconds and rest!) and was in the gym until 39.5 weeks.
BIRTHFIT Postpartum programming was just as awesome and helpful, and an amazing reminder that healing takes time, and postpartum movement should be intentionally strengthening you for mom life and not just "losing weight". It's way bigger than that!
I love the idea of using your workout as training for birth and focusing on gaining back strength in the postpartum period. Overall, our culture sends us a much different message about pregnant, birthing, and postpartum bodies. Can you walk us through what we could expect from one of your classes? How do your classes encourage members to understand the importance of healing and the importance of, as you said, intentionally strengthening your body for this next stage of life?
Absolutely. We start every class with some breath work to engage our diaphragm, and wake up the core and pelvic floor. It's also time for a mini-mediation, or at least setting the intention to appreciate your awesome mom bod. Then we shift our focus to core strengthening, especially in a way that is safe for a postpartum body and helps moms heal diastasis recti (the abdominal split).
We do strength training based on functional movement patterns (i.e. stuff you have to do for the rest of your life: squatting, pushing, pulling, etc.). They're movements that make life easier, not vanity bicep curls. Then there's conditioning, again, movements tailored to the postpartum body, so not a lot of running or jumping, but still work.
We end with some mom chat time, words of wisdom, q&a, and homework before the next class - which might be as easy as buying yourself a coffee or making time for a relaxing bath!
It's very chill, and class sizes are limited so everyone gets individual attention. You're encouraged to move with the body you have today, not the body you wish you had. Generally, non-mobile babies are welcome, but a lot of moms love having that hour to themselves twice a week! I love babies (who doesen't!), but it's fun to be the one to turn the tables and take care of moms instead so they can keep going for everyone else.
That's fantastic that you use it as a space to encourage moms to practice self-care. I often think that's one of the hardest parts of the transition into motherhood - learning to take care of your needs, too. Has teaching BIRTHFIT shaped your own motherhood journey or are their lessons you've learned in motherhood that you bring to your classes?
It has. I (luckily) don't really know pregnancy/birth/postpartum without knowing about BIRTHFIT and having the positive influence of some bad ass women. Without it though, I could easily see myself having been that person completely frustrated and annoyed with the changes in my physical fitness after baby. I remember walking up hill for the first time outside. I wasn't even pushing the stroller, my husband was. I had to stop because my pelvic floor was so weak. I had a great birth, with no complications, and no tearing, and I was still taken back to ground zero because bringing a baby into this world is so transformative. Luckily with the whole BIRTHFIT community reinforcing the importance of a slow and steady recovery, I was able to appreciate it all (even in the midst of a colicky baby), instead of getting angry with myself.
I think a lot of moms don't understand the timeline of healing because society pushes us to jump back in at full speed after this huge life event. A lot of us either go back to work, or feel like we should be "back to normal" after 8-12 weeks, when physiologically, the tissue in our bodies takes on average 280 days to heal.... way longer than 12 weeks! I like to remind moms that they should have zero obligations other than feeding and snuggling that new baby for 2 weeks minimum. Exercise shouldn't even be on your mind the first 2 weeks, but some moms, especially ones that like to exercise, feel the pressure to lose baby weight like a celebrity. It's not reasonable and not necessary. It was hard for me to relax and just "be", instead of being the busy body, but it was a a great lesson to learn and to reinforce with other moms. If all you accomplish in a day is being with your child, nourishing yourselves, and enjoying it - that's enough. You're enough.
As a postpartum doula, I LOVE to hear other perinatal professionals sending that message to birthing and postpartum women. We are lucky to have you as a resource in our community, Hannah! Thank you so much for sharing a bit about you and the work you do with BIRTHFIT - I know so many women who could benefit from the encouragement you provide.
Want more info on pregnancy, postpartum, and parenting in the Corridor? Follow Nested Mama on Facebook and Instagram. Looking for more support on your journey into parenting? Learn about Nested Mama services here.
Looking for a way to stay active that is specifically tailored to the changing needs of a pregnant body? Prenatal yoga offer a chance to build strength and flexibility even as your body changes and your belly grows. And, prenatal yoga classes are an awesome chance to meet and bond with others who are expecting a little one.
Not sure how to find the right class for you? Check out these awesome options we have for prenatal yoga classes in the Corridor! Click the links to find out studio info and read below to hear from the prenatal yoga instructors why they are passionate about what they do.
The goal of prenatal yoga is to help guide the body through pregnancy in a healthy and intentional way. Prenatal yoga helps prep your body for the act of labor but also helps keep your body comfortable as it changes in dramatic ways. We work on encouraging pelvic floor strength and intentional movement to maintain strength and mobility. As a facilitator I support all choices and birth preferences. I also provide information on various resources for pregnancy, delivery and postpartum life. I LOVE being able to part of the journeys of soon to be moms and am so honored to be part of this beautiful community in Iowa City.
I have been teaching yoga for many years and the reason why I specialized in prenatal yoga was how it tailors to the expecting mama. Most people know what yoga is, the physical postures, meditation and breath, which are all needed in labor and birth. However, prenatal yoga takes it a step further, the connection and relationship between mama and her baby(ies). Preparing for labor is physical but even more emotional, which is something mamas don't hear much about. In prenatal yoga I am able to teach and show mamas different poses they are able to utilize in labor and birth but also guide them through breath and meditation to listen to their own body and tune into baby, too. Another cool aspect of prenatal yoga is the community. Mamas come together each week, on a different journey in their pregnancy, but they are all expecting! They are able to ask one another questions, give advice in a safe space, from trusting mamas they have come to know each week.
At balance kids & family yoga we pride ourselves in creating a community of moms and soon-to-be moms who share resources, information, and experiences, while build a lasting support system for one another. Supporting mamas to be the healthiest and happiest version of themselves during this very special time in their lives is what I love most.
My combined prenatal & postnatal classes are designed to expertly guide mom-to-be through a gentle, modified yoga practice with your changing body in mind. Experience relief from aches and pains commonly associated with pregnancy, while building strength, flexibility and confidence in preparation for labor and delivery. This class is also great for the new mom to gently ease back into a practice or a fitness routine post delivery.
I believe that empowering women to trust their bodies and tap into their breath as they prepare mentally, physically, and spiritually for labor is so important, as these tools can translate equally well into preparation for parenthood as well as life skills that serve us on and off the mat. I truly hope that each and every woman leaves my studio feeling relaxed yet rejuvenated, stronger, and more confident, knowing that they are the perfect person for the job of becoming mama to their precious bundle. Just breathe mamas, you got this.
As a new mother, I found so much peace and community by attending prenatal and baby yoga classes in Iowa City (Sweet Feet Yoga). When I moved up to the Cedar Rapids metro, I found myself wanting to create the same environment and community around pregnancy, birth, and motherhood to support a family’s growth through the transition. Within the last year, I became certified as a prenatal and children’s yoga (3 months – 5 years) instructor through Dana Robinson at Sweet Feet Yoga. And today, I am now the owner/instructor of Sage Nest Yoga, where I teach Baby & Me, Tots, and Tykes yoga. In July 2018, I will begin teaching prenatal yoga on Wednesday evenings in Marion.
I love that our yoga practice builds community, gives us time to bond with our sweet babies, and allows us to be breathe and be active together!
My approach to prenatal and postnatal yoga weaves together ancient wisdom and modern women. My classes are designed to help mamas prepare for birth and beyond in body, mind and spirit. You can expect a practice focused on the breath with opportunities for meditation, pranayama, relaxation, alignment based movement and a sacred space to connect with other mamas. The season, weather, time of day and energy of the room are all integrated in my classes. My passion for supporting women in pregnancy and postpartum comes from my own motherhood journey. I hopes to help mamas feel empowered to make the best decisions for their individual needs and families. I completed my RYT200 at Hothouse Yoga in Iowa City and have since studied at Prajna Yoga in Santa Fe and completed my level 1 RPYT with Hannah Muse at the Mount Madonna Institute in Santa Cruz. My postnatal class is open to mamas up to two years postpartum. I ask kindly that babes only up to crawling join mama and after that for mamas to come solo.
Looking for more resources as you move through pregnancy and transition into life with baby? Nested Mama offers prenatal and postpartum doula support, childbirth education, breastfeeding education, eco baby consultations, and infant sleep education. Connect with Nested Mama on Facebook or Instagram to get more tips and insight into pregnancy and life with baby in the Corridor.
Johanna received a Ph.D. in English in 2014. Now a postpartum doula and educator of childbirth, breastfeeding, and infant sleep, she blogs about pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and parenting.