Bellybuttonboutique's Blog

goings on in the world of pregnancy and the time thereafter

Moody Mamas After My Own Heart

I learned about Moody Mamas October of 2008.  I was in LA at the Mom 2B Tradeshow looking for products for my lovely online boutique when I saw their swanky little booth.  The company was started by two young women (never been married, never had kids).  Quite unusual, but also very special.  Their clothing was unique because it was so soft and luxurious to touch.  Being that I rarely sell clothing, I wasn’t really looking for clothing, but when I saw the Playful Mama Poncho had to add the store.

Playful Mama Poncho

It was so soft and comfortable that I knew that women would LOVE it.  Last week I had a chat with Elise Rosemarin, Co-founder of Moody Mamas.  She says, “Not your average nursing cover-up, this piece provides fashion and function.  Unlike other nursing cover-ups that look like shower curtains or are obviously for nursing, this poncho is cute and versatile.  This poncho is double sided, so if you would rather use it as an on-the-go blankie for your baby, flip the poncho inside out and it has a soft velour lining that you could use to cover your baby!  Best of all, this nursing poncho is perfect for the on-the-go mama all because when you are done using it, you can stuff the poncho inside one of its pockets and it will form a ball that is small enough to fit in your diaper bag!”.  What I love about the poncho is that you can wear it long after pregnancy, after nursing, when you want to throw on a sweatshirt, but want to be a little more chic about it.

The rest of their clothing is just to die for.  If I were pregnant right now, I would live in most of their pieces and look fabulous and feel comfortable.  I would love to carry more Moody Mamas products and will in the future as I honestly believe that so many of their items are MUST HAVES!

Another thing that makes the Moody Mamas so special was their ability to attract designer and Project Runway winner Christian Siriano to create “Fierce Mamas”, a collection for Moody Mamas.  Very cutting edge, very stylish.  Like I said, these ladies are special.  I’m pleased to say that they will have a lower-priced collection debuting at Target (yes, they target whom Liz Lange designed maternity for) , next week (April15th).  I feel honored to have partnered with them from the beginning and hope to have a long lasting one into the future.

Me, Christian and Marta Abrams, co-founder of Moody Mamas

April 8, 2010 Posted by | Bellybuttonboutique, karla trotman, pregnancy | , , | Leave a comment

10 Questions About Bed Rest

One in four pregnant women are placed on bed rest annually.  That is approximately 700,000 women.  Its a measure that doctors prescribe when they feel that the baby and/or mother is at risk for complications during the pregnancy.  It can be a sudden and sometimes devastating turn of events in an otherwise healthy pregnancy term.  For BellyButtonBoutique owner Karla Trotman, bed rest meant 2 weeks in the hospital on 24-hour monitoring where should could only leave the bed to use the restroom and to shower.  Some women must spend their entire pregnancy in bed.  Darline Turner-Lee is the founder of Moms On Bedrest & Beyond.  She took the time out of her busy schedule to give us an in depth look at the emotional and physical side of a pregnancy prescribed to bed rest.

1.  Why would a pregnant woman have to be on bed rest?

Pregnant women are prescribed Bedrest when they are at risk for going into preterm labor (defined as labor before 37 weeks of pregnancy). Common causes of preterm labor that would require a woman to be placed on bed rest include incompetent cervix (cervix dilating and shrinking in preparation for delivery before it’s time for delivery), placenta previa (placenta presenting first at the opening of the birth canal) Uncontrolled Gestational Diabetes, uncontrolled hypertension/pre-Eclampsia/Eclampsia, poor fetal growth, A multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets, etc..), vaginal bleeding, premature rupture of membranes (early water breaking) history of pregnancy loss.

2.  Are there different types of bed rest?

The bed rest prescription varies depending on the situation. Sometimes a woman will be asked to stay close to home, not drive and not do any heavy lifting or strenuous activities, yet she can work on a computer and putter around her home. Some women will be on “house arrest” where they have to stay at home, either in bed or on the sofa, keeping their feet up and not doing any vigorous activity, getting up only to go to the bathroom and are only allowed to shower once daily. Then there is strict bed rest when a woman has to remain in bed and get up only to go to the bathroom (No Showering!), and very strict bed rest where she has to remain in bed on her left side and use a bedside commode.

3.  What are the emotional effects of bed rest on a woman?

Bed rest is very emotionally draining. Remember, a woman is placed on bed rest to protect both her health and the health of her baby. So many people chide a woman on bed rest with, “Girl, I wish I could lie around all day! Relax and enjoy it! Take advantage!”

Bed Rest View

But it’s pretty hard to relax when you know that you may be losing your baby. So many women on bed rest have had a difficult time getting pregnant and have often lost other pregnancies. In another example, a woman with very high blood pressure that is being refractory to treatment is often very worried that she may have a stroke or other life threatening complication where she could die or be very much impaired. There is a lot of anxiety and guilt because women often feel it’s their fault that the complications are happening. Often it’s no one’s fault, just something that happens. This is often not a fun time but one that is very stressful-the opposite of what is desired.

4.  What are some things that women on bed rest can do enhance their mood?

I always advise women on bed rest to stay cheerful. Listen to music, read good books, watch favorite movies. This is a great time to journal or to start a scrapbook for your little one. Gather lots of family info and photos and put it together for the baby.

Mostly, get as much interaction as possible. There are lots of great online forums women can join and chat with other women on bed rest. This seems to be one of the best ways women pass time, share hopes and fears and support one another.

5.  On your website you mention how exercise is very important while one is on bed rest.  Can you elaborate?

Pregnancy is a state of volume overload, meaning that there is more blood in a woman’s circulation and more fluid in her body. The added strain on the circulatory system puts pregnant women at risk for developing blood clots, mostly in the legs as they are the furthest from the heart. These clots can cause inflammation in the blood vessels where they develop and infection. If these blood clots dislodge (embolize) they can travel to the heart, lungs or brain and be fatal. These dangers are compounded in women on bed rest because not only do they have the additional fluid volume of pregnancy, they are immobile. (Ever notice that your feet swell on a long ride?? Same thing! Women on bed rest are at increased risk of developing blood clots in their legs and at increased risk of embolism that could result in a heart attack, pulmonary embolism or stroke.

While it seems crazy, women on bed rest must exercise. Since they cannot walk around, they have to move their limbs and contract their muscles to keep the blood circulating to avoid the aforementioned complications. Also, keeping their muscles active and toned will enable them to regain their physical function once they are able to be up and about.

6.  How can family members support loved ones on bed rest?

Take care of the household duties so that she is not worrying about them; help with children, pets, community obligations. Stop by and clean her house or bring a meal. Offer to run errands or to take her children out for a day of fun (remember, they have lost the mommy that they know as well!) Mostly, visit. Being at home alone on bed rest can be very isolating. We have all experienced times when left to our own devices we think up all kinds of crazy scenarios. Unfortunately, some of the scenarios a woman on bed rest may be imagining may not be too far fetched. Visit her, sit with her, listen to her, and don’t dismiss her worries and fears. If you don’t know what to say, just listen and acknowledge her feelings. Throw her a party or a shower. Anything that will lift her spirits and keep her calm is good.

7.  What are the top 3 items a woman should have by her side during this time?

I actually came up with 4 things:

  1. A telephone
  2. The TV Remote
  3. A laptop computer
  4. A cooler or small fridge with snacks and drinks.

8.  On your website you offer services to help moms on bed rest in the Austin, Texas area.  Have you thought about partnering or franchising in other cities?

I would love to have a Mama on Bedrest & Beyond in every major city in the country! We really don’t do enough to support women and families and when a woman is not able to fulfill her regular obligations, it really impacts the family. The mission of Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond is to support high risk pregnant women and their families during a very difficult time by maintaining as much “normalcy” as possible.

9.  Why did you start your business?

I had 2 high risk pregnancies and had no local support. I am originally from the Northeast and my husband is from the east as well. We are the only ones here in Texas. When I had problems with my pregnancies, both my mom and mother in law were trying to figure out how they could come and support me. With my first pregnancy, they were both still working and could not spare what could have been weeks away to care for me. Home health Agencies in the area cater only to the elderly or those with injuries or severe debilitation. When I called, I was told that pregnancy, even a high risk pregnancy, would not be covered. Luckily for me I did not end up on bed rest (my daughter was born early and I worked with my OB to avoid bed rest with my son because I had no local support), but I knew that I could not be the only person who lived far from family and had high risk pregnancies. So I decided to fill the gap.

10.  What is the one thing that readers should take away regarding bed rest?

Bed rest is anything but restful and is often very stressful. When a woman is placed on bed rest, she worries about her own health, the health of the baby and how she will meet her obligations. Anything that friends and family members can do to minimize her stress, to keep her spirits up and to keep her life on an even keel will be greatly appreciated.

Darline Turner-Lee is the founder of Mamas On Bedrest & Beyond, a subsidiary of Next Step Fitness, Inc*. She brings nearly 17 years of experience as a physician assistant, ACSM Certified Clinical Exercise Specialist and perinatal fitness instructor to the business along with extensive personal experience. Turner-Lee was pregnant every year between 2001 and 2006 with the exception of 2003. She has has 4 conceptions, 2 miscarriages, 2 high risk pregnancies and 2cesarean births.She has the unique perspective as a clinician and as a high risk and older mom (who gave birth at 37 and 40 respectively) which enables her to meet the unique needs-both physical and emotional-of high risk pregnant women. Turner-Lee’s vision for Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond is to change the way that clinicians, friends and loved ones care for high risk pregnant women.

March 23, 2010 Posted by | Bellybuttonboutique, complications, karla trotman, parenthood, pregnancy, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Nanny Caddy – Your Diaper Bag With Wings

Yesterday, I spent 3 grueling hours at the Please Touch Museum with my husband and two boys.  That place can  give even Ghandi an anxiety attack.  There are children running everywhere.  Its an amazing space with tons of interaction for children, but what it lacks in security oftentimes leaves me panicking whenever my children dart away from me.  In the transportation area, my eldest runs around a ramp towards the bathroom with me sprinting behind.  When I catch up to him I notice a vending machine that looks, well attractive to the eye.

At first I thought it was ice cream, but when I got closer, I noticed that it was a machine filled with all of the things that I had shoved in my purse.  There were diapers, wipes, snacks, wet ones, anti-bacterial gel, all readily available for purchase.  In addition, I saw nursing covers, pacifiers and sippy cups.  This amazing machine was called the Nanny Caddy®.  Mom invented and strategically placed at hectic places, such as the Please Touch Museum, when leaving a diaper in the car could cause a major meltdown for both mom and child.

March 15, 2010 Posted by | Bellybuttonboutique, karla trotman, parenthood | | 1 Comment

The 9 Deadliest Mommy Sins

Inspired by Rich Santos from Marie Claire’s article (, I decided to create a list of The 9 Deadliest Mommy Sins (because a 10th one was too hard to think of)…

Image: Maggie Smith /

1. Friend Abandonment – You get married and have had a child or two and realize, I haven’t talked to my girlfriends in 3 years.  Most friends that have traveled down the same road of love/marriage/baby carriage will understand.  The ones that are single will not.  In their minds you have moved off to Pleasantville, USA, never to be heard of again.  To them you are only as good as the last happy hour you attended.  So before you send that Snapfish link of 175 bathtub shots of your kids, you might want to start with a simple phone call.

2.  Email Forwards – Sending someone an email forward is not keeping in contact.  Even if its “National Girlfriend’s Day” or a long poem about how “Good Friends Like You are Hard To Find”.  Nothing is more annoying than receiving a flurry of email forwards (blind copied at that) about how special you are and never receiving one piece of personalized correspondence.  Send a text, a note card with 9 words on it or even a 30 second phone call that says, “I’m at the park with the kids and I don’t have much time, but wanted to let you know that I miss you and we should put a date on the calendar”.

3.  Bragging – OK, so your baby is pulling up 5 weeks ahead of schedule.  Perhaps he can now eat with a fork and knife.  Save those Einsteinian stories for family members who ask.  Everyone doesn’t need to know that Junior potty-trained himself.  Especially if no one ever asked.

4.  Pretending – Motherhood is hard.  You don’t have to pretend to be a perfect Stepford wife.  Admit your struggles and pains.  It not only makes you more endearing, but you are more likely to find someone to either commiserate or help you find a solution to some of your issues.

5.  Keeping Up With the Joneses – Daycare costs thousands.  Those Gymboree classes cost more than my monthly membership at LA Fitness.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I can’t afford to buy much for myself these days.  But those who pretend to live a flamboyant lifestyle, but are secretively stressed finacially are only fooling themselves.  DON’T lease a Lexus SUV for 3 years if can’t afford it.  Your kids will destroy the car and you will have to pay more money when you turn it back in.  You don’t need Tom Ford sunglasses when your kids are going to bend the arms back on them and eventually break them.  Little Emma does not need a Burberry coat for preschool.  She needs a 529 savings account.  You are only rich when you live BELOW your means.

6.  Raising Wild Animals – If you are unable to control and properly discipline your children you are at risk for raising a wild animal.  These wild animals wind up going to school with my children.  My children try to mimic the same behavior at home and then I have to deal with it.  Teach your children, while they are young, to be respectful and kind.  Your job as a parent is to guide them and nurture them.  We are raising human beings, not jackals.

7.  Be The Overwhelmed Mom – Mommy needs a cocktail every once and a while…well, this mommy does.  So when I am feeling particularly overwhelmed, I ask for help.  I’m blessed in the fact that my husband can handle both of our children all day, if need be.  Some people are not in that position, but perhaps a mother’s helper can assist.  A mother’s helper is a 12 or 13-year old neighborhood child that can play with your kids (while you are still in the house) and help you out when you need a hand.  Every mom needs to have personal time.  Even if its just a moment in the bathroom without someone busting in asking, “Mommy, what are you doing?’.

8.  Avoid Having A Date Night – Do you still like your mate?  If you want to continue (or start) liking one another, you should really take time for just the two of you…and no, 10 minutes before you both pass out in bed doesn’t count.  Yes, we are in a recession, but there are tons of really inexpensive things that you can do together.  All relationships need to be nurtured.

9.  Lack A Spiritual Center – I’m sure this is controversial, but I will speak from personal experience.  If it had not been for God, I’m sure I would choked all of the people who annoyed me in life.  I have been a Christian since birth.  Went through the whole cycle of disbelief and doing things my own way and saw how it wreaked havoc on my life.  When I got up off of my face and had my encounter with God, there was only one way for me to live my life, which is how I and my entire family operate.  I don’t know what your beliefs are, if any, but I do know that without a spiritual compass of some sort you are directionless.

* Disclaimer, I am not an expert, just a mom with an opinion.  I’d love to hear yours – good, bad or indifferent.

March 4, 2010 Posted by | Bellybuttonboutique, karla trotman, parenthood, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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


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: for a free consultation.  She would love to help you!

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!

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

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

Pancakes Schmancakes

As a working mother of two children I really do try to do it all, which explains why I want to pass out with my clothes on every evening. I am blessed to have a husband that makes lunches and assists with the bedtime routine…The truest example of teamwork making the dream work. On Mondays, my grandmother watches the 21 month old. She made me feel absolutely horrible that I wasn’t making a full on breakfast for my boys. I thought that oatmeal was perfectly acceptable. It’s warm and yummy and takes no time to make. So recently she started making bacon at her home and BRINGING it to my house for my boys, both of whom love bacon, shoot who doesn’t, right? bacon
So this week, I decided that I was going to bust it out like a supermom and make my children a full, healthy breakfast of champions. I made pancakes with flour and made that little well for the wet ingredients. I used the giant mixer too. All before work. Then the three year old said, “I don’t want pancakes, I want bacon”.

January 26, 2010 Posted by | Bellybuttonboutique, karla trotman, parenthood | Leave a comment