Bellybuttonboutique's Blog

goings on in the world of pregnancy and the time thereafter

Chrissy Fink – Health Coach and Certified Fitness Instructor

Chrissy Fink is a wife and mother of two children.  Six (6) years ago, in the midst of having children, she started to look and feel “not well”.  She discovered that she was not only 40 lbs overweight, but also had high cholesterol.  This lead her to study and research health and nutrition with a vengeance.  She was able to change her lifestyle in ways that she could live with.  Chrissy also got her entire family into a healthier way of living and has forever kissed high cholesterol and those 40 lbs goodbye!  She is now an AFAA Certified Fitness Instructor and teaches group fitness at AFC in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania.  Her passion is helping people reach their goals and change their lifestyles for a happier self.  On a side note, her picture here does zero justice.  Chrissy has an amazing body and an amazing personality!  She was more than happy to share some of her most effective tips with fellow mommies.

1.  Low fat, low carb, South Beach, Jenny Craig, its all so confusing.  What are the first steps for clean eating?  What advice to you have for new moms just starting out?

1st. Cook at home when ever possible… this way you know what’s in your food! Buy the best quality food/ ingredients  you can afford!  You want your food to be healthy and taste really good… Don’t be afraid of healthy fats.. you will see me repeat this! It is very important for so many reasons! Your plates should look like this…Pile of cooked or raw veggies, Lean protein (size of fist), and some healthy complex carbs I.E. Whole Grain Pasta, Quinoa, Millet, whole grain Couscous.   (Please don’t be afraid of good carbs as well.. You need Energy to burn Energy!!)

2.  Its important to keep your calories up when you are nursing, yet you want to lose weight.  What are the best foods in order to balance that?

Your body does need some extra calories during this very special time.  You will need energy to make your milk.. If you are eating a similar meal like I described in the first question and sticking to healthy snacks that I go over in question 3  w/ good fats, your body will use that energy without gaining.  Sleep in also a must  when we talk about weight loss… So moms, new and old, you need to make sure that you are getting your rest in order for those growth hormones to kick in!

Also, get that baby in the stroller and GET MOVING!

3.  Moms are always on the run.  What are some great snacks that are good for storing in your purse or at your desk at work?

I love this question!! Purse, car or  small bag cooler… Seeds & nuts, apples (any fruit), Greek yogurt (or any low sugar yogurt w/good bacteria),  chopped veggies ( w/ some dressing or hummus)…We can’t absorb some of the nutrients from some veggies without some fat.   Healthy fat will help you feel satisfied!! Just be sure to portion out handfuls of nuts and seeds so you don’t overdo.. great to pair with fruit!

4.  What are the worst foods that one can eat?

Hydrogenated oils and High Fructose Corn Syrup!!

5.  Vitamins and supplements, what are the basics that one should know when just starting out?

Vitamin D~3 at least 1000 mg, Calcium and Magnesium w/ at least 1000 mg of Calcium.  Get one that has both, take 2 times a day for that total amount.  The body can only absorb 500 mg of calcium at at time… If it’s good multi[vitamin] and has these numbers in them that’s great!  [Vitamin] Bs are very important also a good B~Complex will work!

6.  What is your typical eating pattern and daily meal look like?

Breakfast (within a hour of waking):

Oatmeal or Greek yogurt w/a heaping teaspoon on almond or cashew butter. (Vitamins and herbs) Glass of water. Sometimes a smoothie

** Workout**

Snack/ lunch: I try having this as my biggest meal of the day!

Hummus and veggies, Big salad : seeds, chopped veggies, mixed greens and spinach and dried berries , chicken that’s grilled little feta with fresh squeezed lemon and a drizzle of cold press olive oil with sea salt and pepper … Our very favorite dressing!!! I add lemon to every salad!!! Yummy

Snack: If  I didn’t have a big lunch… Pesto, Hummus or gazpacho w/pita, rye crisps or veggies , fruit in season

Dinner:

Could be a home made soup w/a grain bread or garlic bread or I make traditional meals.. Pasta dishes, Pot roast. We love my lunch salad with some warm yummy seasoned steak or fish on top and I add any chilled grain in there to keep us full!

7.  Should you not eat after a certain time of the day?

3 Hours before bedtime, But if you can have your dinner and not eat again until the AM even better.. you have to make sure you had enough dinner to get you through, you can work up to this… Your body has time to digest and them burn fat and cleanse itself.

8.  Which foods do you suggest for maximum impact for weight loss?

Whole grains, organic veggies (when possible), fruit, lean protein’s ( local, wild, free range, organic when possible).  You will not gain weight on whole foods!!  It’s the processed foods that get us!!

9.  How can one kill their sugar craving?

We naturally crave sweet flavors.. Usually at 3 pm! My tips would be make sure your meals are satisfying and vary in flavors (ex. sweet veggies) as well and not to get to the point of starving!  Craving means the body needs some energy.  Your don’t want highs and lows during the day.. you need to stay even. Once you start to balance your meals and still need to have something sweet: Fruit, good piece of dark chocolate (70% or more) helps without the sugary processed food which cause us to gain!

10.  What is the one major piece of advice do you have for women struggling with weight loss?

Adding veggies to your  home cooked food!!!  Cook your own food!! Season with lots of herbs to bring out flavors and always add love!

If you would like a personal consultation with Chrissy, you can check out her website: http://www.healthyfitgirl.com/ for a free consultation.  She would love to help you!

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February 23, 2010 Posted by | Bellybuttonboutique, karla trotman, pregnancy | , , , , | 5 Comments

What is a Doula?

10 Questions with Doula Jennifer Mossholder, certified doula and owner of Before, During & After Doula Services, LLC.


1. What is a doula?

A doula is a professional trained in childbirth who provides emotional, physical and informational support to the woman who is expecting, in labor or has recently given birth. The doula’s role is to help women have a safe, memorable and empowering birthing experience.

2. Have they increased in popularity lately?

Our popularity has increased since the 1990’s. Many of the reasons can be attributed to families taking more of an interest in their healthcare and educating themselves about choices in birth.

3. What services are offered?

The range of services every doula offers and provides are wide-ranging. Some doulas are strictly “labor and birth doulas” and some only perform postpartum work. There are even doulas who specialize in antepartum (pre-birth) care!

4. What are the costs associated with a doula?

Doulas typically ask for either a deposit for a due date or a retainer fee to work against if they are performing pre or post birth work. Doulas also spend many hours with clients. They are also typically women who have had children, some of them are still young children. Costs doulas build into a contract may reflect travel expenses (gas, tolls, etc.) or childcare or other related expenses to keep their practices running. (Anything from business cards to training!) Doulas also spend many hours with clients. This is one of the main reasons why families work with doulas; the continuity of care.

5. At what point in your pregnancy should you look for a doula?

Some doulas have specific preferences for scheduling purposes and for the ability to build a solid relationship with the family. Birth is a very intimate and emotional experience. You may have a better outcome if you and your doula have worked together for a couple of months versus calling a doula the week before you are “due”. This is not to say you cannot call a doula close to your birth, it is just recommended for relationship building, and the ability to get on a doula’s calendar, that you try to call no later than your fifth or sixth month.

6. What certifications should a doula have?

Most doulas go through certification programs. There are several agencies for doulas to choose from and the type of programming (antepartum, labor and birth and postpartum). Does a doula need to be certified to be a doula? No. Is it a good idea that your doula is or was certified at some point? Yes. Some doulas do go through the rigorous certification programs but once the certification lapses, they chose not to recertify. If your doula keeps up with current medical trends and is working on a steady basis, this is more than enough than a recertification process.

7. What is the difference between a doula and a midwife?

A midwife (in most states) is either an RN (nurse) who becomes a CNM (certified nurse midwife) via college education. CNMs are permitted to deliver (or “catch”) your baby in a birthing center or at a hospital.

A midwife could also be a CPM (certified practical midwife); these midwives all go through rigorous training and apprenticeship but are generally restricted to homebirths.

There are also DEM (direct entry midwives) who are midwives who typically are doulas who have attended a significant number of births. This type of midwife has very little regulation and are only “recognized” in a handful of states.

A doula can be layperson or a nurse or a midwife, but when they are working or hired with the intent of being there for doula support, they do NOT deliver or catch babies.

Doulas provide mental, physical and emotional support. They are restricted by their certifying agencies and sometimes by personal codes, as to how much they do. Most doula contracts state they do not perform ANY medical tasks; such as pulse taking, temperature checks, cervical dilation checks, blood pressure monitoring.

8. What happens at a hospital when you have a doula?

Many families use hospitals for birth. This is generally why families hire a doula. Some families are not comfortable birthing at home or at a birth center, but they do want to have as a non-interventionalist labor and birth as possible. Giving birth at a hospital but having a doula is a good choice. There, doulas will guide you through hospital protocols and procedures, provide education and guidance, and help you achieve a non-medicated labor and birth. Some moms do get medication or epidurals even with doula support. A good doula will respect your decision and is still able to offer support during the pushing phase and your first breastfeeding session.

9. Why would a woman choose to have a doula?

Not only should a woman choose to have a doula, the family should choose too! It is a team effort to support mom while she is in labor. Doula and dad or partner can trade off massage, acupressure, hand holding, brow mopping and the like. A long labor can be draining on the dad or partner too and having a support person, like a doula, can be invaluable. Not only do doulas share the physical and emotional workload of a birth, they support the family as a whole; explaining procedures the hospital is suggesting, listing options the family may want to consider, “translating doctor-ese” and being a strong advocate for what the family wants.

10. What additional services do doulas offer?

Doulas can offer childbirth education classes, belly casting, expectant/new family support circles, Blessingways, help writing birth wish lists/birth plans – almost any pregnancy related concern a doula can meet or direct to appropriate and trusted resources.

Jennifer Mossholder founded and runs Before, During & After Doula Service, LLC in the Philadelphia Suburbs. She has been in business since 2003. Jennifer specializes in Small Group and Private Childbirth Instruction, Birth Plan Preparation, Labor and Birth Doula Services and Postpartum Care. She has personally experienced fertility treatments, both natural and medicated, multiple births and postpartum depression. Her memberships include: Associate Member of PALM; Pennsylvania Association of Licensed Midwives.

February 15, 2010 Posted by | Bellybuttonboutique, karla trotman, pregnancy | , | 5 Comments

10 Questions About Belly Casting with Doula Jennifer Mossholder

1.  Why do women get belly casts done during pregnancy?

A lot of women chose belly casting to preserve a moment in time that won’t be repeated again.  Even if they were to get a cast done of another pregnancy, the cast they chose to get on that day at that hour represents a moment frozen in time.  It is really a beautiful reminder, post-pregnancy, to look at.

2.  How did you get into belly casting?

A doula I worked with was very artistic and used to handle all the belly casting.  She passed away and I felt the need to carry on the art.  It is great to have an arts and crafts project to work on for myself, but I love to work with the shapes and curves.  It is almost sacred to work on these casts for “my moms”.

3.  What area(s) of the body are typically cast?

That is entirely up to the client.  People have had just their bellies done – some have had from their shoulder to their thigh done.  The bigger the cast, the more challenging the work for me.  I am always up for a challenge!  It is important for the mom to realize some areas (like wrapping around shoulders and thighs) are more difficult and delicate and may not “work” in the final process.

4.   What exactly is the process?

I sit down with each mom prior to casting, ask what they envision and work with their budget.  After I have a good idea of what they want we proceed with the actual casting.  I ask that they use Vaseline to cover all the parts of their body I am going to cast so it comes off easily in the end.  If they want the cast to dip on the lower belly or thigh areas I really recommend shaving those areas as some hair may get pulled off.  When applying the Vaseline, I tell them to pay special attention to their navel and nipples.

5.   Is the process uncomfortable?

It is messy but not uncomfortable.  I used medical grade gauze with the plaster already in it so it is much stronger than the kits you can buy on line.

6.   How long does it take?

I work very quickly since the plaster dries in about 10 to 15 minutes and starts to separate from the skin.  I precut all the strips of plastered gauze.  The better the mom holds still and the better prepared I am makes for a faster casting process.  The clean up is the long part.

7.   What chemicals or materials are used on the body?

Aside from Vaseline or another petroleum based topical and the plaster nothing else is used.  If the mom has concerns about the dust from the dry gauze being inhaled she can wear a surgical mask, but this option has never been utilized by my clients.

8.   What should one look for when trying to find someone to cast their belly?

Someone with experience.  Ask a lot of questions!  Ask if the artist about pricing so you are not surprised about hidden costs.  Be sure to ask if you are just getting an impression or if the person casting you is going to reinforce the plaster and deliver the cast back to you at a later date.  Thoroughly discuss design options and ideas, but in the end realize this is a fun process.  You can always decorate the cast yourself.  There are several images on the internet to get insipred by!

9.    What do you do with the cast once its complete?

Many clients hang the cast in the nursery (I advise against hanging it over the crib or changing table; some casts are very heavy due to size and may injure your baby if it falls off the wall.)  Some moms like to decorate the cast themselves with the new baby’s footprints or have a decoupage project.  The possibilities are endless.  The only limit is your imagination.

10.  Is there a process for preservation?

I seal all the casts with clear gesso but like a cast you would get if you broke an arm (before the fiberglass casts) they do have a shelf life.  Once you are done displaying the cast, I would recommend wrapping the cast in acid free paper and storing it in an air tight container (box or bag).  The basement or attic are bad choices unless they are finished portions of your home.  Extreme temperatures and humidity increases the risks of degradation.

Jennifer Mossholder has been a certified doula since 2003 and has extensive hospital and birth center experience.  She has encountered every situation from natural midwife births to OR Cesarean birth.  An Associate Member of PALM; Pennsylvania Association of Licensed Midwives, a Member of the American Pregnancy Association, Chapter Co-Leader of ICAN of Southeastern Pennsylvania and she serves on the Steering Committee at the Bryn Mawr Birth Center.  She is also a frequent contributor to CAPPA Quarterly and The Expectant Mothers’ Guide.

Jenn just celebrated her 100th birth in December 2009!  http://www.DOULAMOM.com

February 6, 2010 Posted by | Bellybuttonboutique, karla trotman, pregnancy, Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

Exercise and the Pregnant/Postpartum Woman

BellyButtonBoutique owner Karla Trotman met Althea Lawton-Thompson, mother of two and trainer recently and begged her to share some tips and answer questions regarding the pregnancy/postpartum and exercise.  Karla didn’t have to beg long, Althea graciously agreed.  She is pictured above…she knows of what she speaks!

1. Can women start and exercise regime after finding out she is pregnant?
For a healthy pregnant women that is already involved in an exercise program prior to getting pregnant, there is typically no restriction to continuing her program throughout the first and second trimester with a decrease in intensity and duration in the last trimester. For a non-exerciser, it is not typically recommended to start a new program during the first trimester because of hormonal changes that cause lethargy and nausea. Both symptoms will be aggravated by starting a fitness program. However, very light walking, Kegel exercises, or an easy flexibility program is not harmful if done in moderation.

2. What types of basic exercises should a pregnant woman do on a weekly basis?
This is a difficult question to answer, because there are a variety of levels of pregnant women. Runners and athletes will not have to make major adjustments to their current routines; however, they should lessen the intensity and duration of their workouts in the first trimester to allow for changes in energy.

For a healthy, non-athletic woman that is used to some physical activity, the following activities are helpful:
• Exercise walking
• Pelvic floor and core strengthening exercises
• Aquatic exercise (aerobics or deep water fitness)
• Floor or step aerobics
• Yoga (Avoid Bikram and Ashtanga styles in the later trimesters)

3. Is there a type of yoga that is better for pregnant women?
In the second and third trimesters, pregnant women need to be careful of particular positions. Inversions (head below the heart) and lying flat on the back should be avoided as they affect the blood flow through the body and to the growing fetus. Lying flat on the stomach is also dangerous to baby and uncomfortable to Mom. Gentle and therapeutic styles like Gentle Hatha, Anusara, and Kundalini Yoga are good options. Some facilities and studios offer Prenatal Yoga classes, which consider the special needs and limitations of pregnant women.

4. After a woman is cleared by her doctor, what exercises do you suggest a woman start out with?
(I’m answer this as though after the birth of the child)
Whatever exercise or fitness routine a woman was doing regularly prior to the birth of her baby, she can start on the LOWEST possible intensity level after clearance to exercise from her Ob/Gyn. Even if she feels strong during the first few sessions, caution should be taken not to overdo it with a full-length session. Half the time should be given to the program. An example would be a woman who used to take a 1-hour step aerobic class with two riser beneath her bench. Upon returning to the class for the first time, she should use the bench without any risers, keep her moves low impact and stop periodically throughout the routine. If the class is a full hour, she may want to stop after about 30 minutes and allow herself to cool down by walking slowly for about 5 minutes and then stretching for another 5 minutes. After 2-3 weeks, she’ll feel up to doing the whole class and eventually increasing her intensity to normal levels. Listening to the signals our body gives is always key to knowing how much to do.

5. If a woman has a diastasis, what types of exercises should she NOT do when trying to get back into shape?
Because the back muscles are already working harder than normal to compensate for weaker abdominal muscles, caution should be taken with exercises that work the lower and mid back through hyperextensions. Good exercises to help improve diastasis include mat-based series 1 Pilates exercises, Kegel/pelvic floor exercises, and traditional crunches and reverse crunches.

6. Are there exercises that you can do while holding the baby?
There are many great exercises that can be done with the baby in your hands. Holding the baby with both hands while standing, women can work their biceps with curls, and the front of the shoulders with straight arm raises. Lying flat on the back with baby in both hands, women can strengthen their chest, shoulders and triceps by pushing the baby straight up at chest level and slowly returning the baby to rest lightly on the chest. In this same position, the long muscles of the latissimus dorsi (wings in the back) and the front of the shoulder can be strengthened by lifting the baby from resting on the pelvis into the air above the chest, and then slowly returning the baby to the pelvis. Moms can strengthen their thighs, legs and buttocks by hugging Baby to their chest and completing walking lunges across the room.

7. For moms that “wear” their baby. Are there some fitness tips that you can provide?
I loved fitness walking, nature hiking, and doing the elliptical machine with my baby strapped to my back. He looked around, played with my hair, and I got stronger. When Baby is small, it’s okay to strap her/him to the chest, but it is best to move them to the back when they get heavier to redistribute their weight over your hips and legs instead of straining the lower back and knees.

8. What are the benefits of working out before and after pregnancy?
There are SO many benefits to exercise before, during and after pregnancy. Feel-good endorphins are flowing through the body during exercise putting you in a great mood. More oxygenated blood is flowing through to the baby during a cardiovascular routine when pregnant. Strong pelvic floor muscles and control over them helps with vaginal deliveries and quick recovery after birth. Yoga and meditative classes help with breathing and mental control during delivery. Most exercise programs assist with core strength and recovery after birth. Looking and feeling strong and fit also boost our confidence and self-esteem.

9. Yoga or Pilates – Which is best for prenatal women? Which is best postnatal?
Fantastic question. Yoga is my choice for women prenatally, but there are many exercises that are done seated and standing in Pilates that can also be beneficial. Pilates is my choice for postnatal women that want to improve the strength and look of their core; however, Yoga influences so much more than just the physical look and feel of the body. It enhances mental function and breathing, and would definitely be a program to continue well after birth.

10. What is the most effective exercise for women wanting to rid themselves the postnatal tummy?
Pilates combined with a cardiovascular routine and healthy eating regimen. Period.

Althea Lawton-Thompson is the owner of Aerobics, Yoga & More Fitness Studios in Atlanta, GA and the Founder of the Association of Diverse Fitness Professionals Inc (a 501c3 agency). For almost 15 years, Althea has worked with various hospitals and wellness centers creating fitness programs for special populations like prenatal women, obese youth and those suffering from debilitating diseases. She created a post-natal program for Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, a youth obesity fitness program for Johns Hopkins Hospital, and a variety of wellness programs for Kaiser Permanente in Atlanta. She has spent years working with clients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, and Fibromyalgia. Her company provides health education classes for clients including AT&T and GA State and County Government. As a faculty member of the American Council on Exercise, she traveled throughout the US and Caribbean offering continuing education courses to fitness professionals, and her humorous and light-hearted approach on issues of health, wellness and life make her a favorite speaker. Her internationally popular fitness video series, Altheatized, and published articles have been included in magazines like Best Body, Essence, Parenting, and Oxygen. In 2009, she was the cover story for Our Town Magazine and had a 2-page feature article in Upscale Magazine. Althea has been married for 14 years and has two very active sons. Visit her on http://www.Altheatized.com

February 1, 2010 Posted by | Bellybuttonboutique, karla trotman, parenthood, pregnancy | , , , , , , | Leave a comment