I love it when research confirms what I already know and am doing.
Shelley Wilkinson and H. D. McIntyre started a program in Australia called “Healthy Start To Pregnancy” in Australia. Their premise was that women given information and tangible guidance at the beginning of and during pregnancy will have better outcomes.
The researchers compared 182 “Usual Care” women, i.e. women who received routine prenatal care from the Maternity Hospital to 178 women who enrolled in the Healthy Start to Pregnancy Program, a low intensity, behavior modification program. The program consisted of (2) one hour prenatal workshops (one at the start of the program and one midway through) presenting information on healthy nutrition, exercise , information on smoking cessation, information on appropriate weight gain and Breastfeeding education . The women who participated in the program were also given written information to which they could refer. The researchers found that approximately half of the study women completed the study. The researchers found that significantly more women in the study met the prenatal guidelines for consumption of fruits and vegetables and for exercise than women not in the study. The study women were also more likely to be in range for appropriate weight gain. There was not a significant difference between women who quit smoking or intended to breast feed between the study and non-intervention groups.
I believe that studies of this nature are important and highlight some really important habits that we here in the United States need to notice. While most (but not all!) women in the United States have access to good quality prenatal care, just as it was shown here, medical prenatal care alone is not enough to ensure healthy prenatal outcomes. Women need tangible information and as this study shows, having access to support and guidance further enhances outcomes. Many obstetrical offices offer birthing classes and breastfeeding basics. But classes targeted specifically to prenatal nutrition and exercise have significant impact on compliance and on outcomes.
One thing that the researchers noted and I have seen in my practice as well, programs have to be easily accessible so women can participate. Hospital based programs, while often good aren’t always the best venues. Many women get their prenatal care at offices that may be close to work but would prefer to exercise closer to home for example. Other women may only have access to public transportation so they will make the trek to see their health care providers but not necessarily for a fitness or nutrition class. And when I was teaching prenatal fitness, having childcare was a must-especially at morning classes. Now add the twist of women on bed rest and we now need to integrate technology so that ALL mamas can reap the benefits of these proven behavior strategies.
We’re getting there. As awareness of the necessity of behavior modification during pregnancy (and during many other phases of a woman’s life) rises, my hope is that the US medical community will recognize the great benefit of such programs on health and promote more of these programs. As you all know, I am “Pro Action”, working to maintain rather than fix once broken. I believe that if in the US we can adopt a more “Pro-Action” stance, especially as it pertains to pregnancy and prenatal care, we can improve outcomes as well as improve women’s overall pregnancy experiences.
In my quest to be ever balanced, I have filmed a short stretch/strength series for an upper body workout. Enjoy!
Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway is one of my mentors and someone that I look up to in the world of obstetrics and maternal fetal health. An OB/GYN turned patient advocate and medical expert for obstetrical legal matters in the state of Florida, Dr Linda’s blog is always one that I read promptly upon receiving it in my inbox. Today she had a fun, lighthearted post, 10 Fun Things to do While Pregnant. This is a bit of a departure for Dr. Linda because normally her posts are hard hitting, factual commentaries on issues in high risk obstetrics and maternal fetal health. It was fun to see a lighter side to her.
As I read through the suggestions, I thought, “these are good, but not all of them are possible for Mamas on Bedrest“. Passing the time is one of the most difficult things for Mamas on Bedrest, and one of the most common complaints that I hear from Mamas. So, following the lead of my mentor, I present 10 fun things Mamas on Bedrest can do while on bed rest.
1. Start a Baby Journal. While being on bed rest may be a drag, chronicle the experience so that later, perhaps much later, you can share the experience with the little love that you are now carrying. Looking at pictures of me pregnant is one of my children’s favorite things and my son is thrilled that he is in my belly in Bedrest Fitness. You can create either a paper journal/scrapbook or, with today’s technology, you can create a digital photo album, blog or video blog. What a wonderful way to remember such a special time!
2. Speaking of Fitness…Yes, Mamas on Bedrest need to move! Move you say? Seriously? Yes. Bed rest is known to cause muscle atrophy along with loss of strength and bone loss. You should be stretching at regular intervals and Bedrest Fitness is a great way to get you going. Additionally, we have several youtube videos (Search under Mamasonbedrest)available to help you along the way.
3. Have a Party! Now this may seem utterly ridiculous, but why not?? What a perfect way to gather your friends and spend some quality time together. You can have a theme or simply make it a get together. At a time when you are spending an inordinate amount of time on your own, a party may be just what you need to keep your spirits up. The social interaction will do you good and many friends and loved ones are at a loss for how to help, yet they really do want to help you. Take this time to give some concrete ways in which friends, family and loved ones can help and support you. You may be surprised and touched at how much they “show up!” (And what a pleasant surprise it always is!)
4. Stay Connected. The isolation of being on bed rest can be maddening. Again, technology to the rescue! We have a budding facebook page where mamas can share their experiences, exchange tips and get advice from one another on how to navigate this thing called bed rest. And I do chime in from time to time to keep things fluid. Another website forum that I highly recommend is Keepemcookin.com. My friend Angela has created a wonderful, vibrant community of mamas on bed rest sharing their experiences.
5. Educate yourself. On bed rest you have nothing but time. Why not learn something new? My friend Ingrid got certified as an infant sleep coach and stress management coach while on bed rest. In July, I took my re-certification examination for my physician assistant certification. I studied for that national examination for 8 weeks prior to sitting for the exam (I was not on bed rest, just saying…). If you are a professional for which you have to have continuing education units to stay current, no time like bedrest to catch up on your units! It’s also a good time to learn a new language, a new hobby or new skill. If there is something you’ve been dying to learn, here is a great chunk of time in which to do it.
6. Educate Your Baby. Several studiesshow that babies are actually taking in and processing information while in the womb. Babies love music in particular and music has been shown to be a positive stimulant for brain development. Babiesalso love voices. You, your partner or even older siblings can take turns reading stories to the baby (ies). It’s a great way to involve other family members in your experience and a great way for them to begin bonding with baby.
7. Volunteer. What?? But I can’t go anywhere! May I remind you that we are in an election year. If you are politically minded, you can volunteer to make phone calls, stuff envelopes or even write letters on behalf of your favorite political candidate. If you are not politically minded, you can volunteer on behalf of your favorite charity; The March of Dimes, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, The American Diabetes Association, Susan G. Komen…The possibilities are endless. Volunteer as little or as much as you feel comfortable. Believe me, these organizations will be happy to have you and will gladly send you things to work on or have someone stop by with materials.
8. Start a Book Club. Remember all those books you promised yourself you’d read? No time like the present! And reading so much more fun when done with others!
9. Set up a Trust or College Fund. College costs are skyrocketing and it seems like without planning and concerted effort, a college education may be out of reach for may babies of Mamas on Bedrest. Get a jump on saving for your child’s future by setting up a trust or college fund today. Now I will warn you, this can be a lengthy endeavor, so having the time while on bed rest to get many of your papers, trustees and such in order is a boon. However, you may not be able to finalize the trusts or funds until your baby is born and has a social security number. But believe me, having everything else in order will make the process so much easier! Besides, once your precious little one is born, you’ll have precious little time for gathering the necessary documents.
10. Look Forward to Your Future. You have a new baby on the way. Surely you have some hopes, dreams or goals you’d like to fulfill-personal, family or aspirations for your little one. Write them down and begin brainstorming how you will make changes in the future as a result of having your baby or in honor of having your baby. It’s a great time to “begin life anew” with a new life coming!
How are you passing your bed rest time? Please share your comments and tips with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.