Exercise for Health

Listen to the podcast “Exercise — Before, During, and After Pregnancy”
pregnant_exerciseWhat if I told you that by doing just one thing, you could become a rich person?  Let’s say I told you that by doing this one thing, doing it well, and doing it every day, you’d be a rich person within a short time. I would again emphasize that it takes only one thing to achieve that rich-person status. You’d probably want to know how such a simple thing would work. I’d explain that this one thing is a catalyst—a substance that increases the rate of a reaction. Maybe you’re already wondering how to achieve great wealth using this one thing—and only one thing, this catalyst—to accelerate your desired outcome.

OK, honestly, I don’t have the remotest idea what one thing will make you a rich person or even just a bit wealthier than you are now. But I do know the one thing that will make you healthier!


As famed American fitness and nutrition icon Jack LaLanne said, “Yes, exercise is the catalyst. That’s what makes everything happen: your digestion, your elimination, your sex life, your skin, hair, everything depends on circulation. And how do you increase circulation?”


Certainly, we can do a number of things to improve our appearance and all of our bodily functions: eating better foods, getting better sleep, and many other good habits. But if you’re looking for a catalyst—something that will accelerate the change—exercise is the one thing you need. That’s true even whether you’re preconception (planning a pregnancy), pregnant, or postpartum (recovering from pregnancy). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that healthy women engage in 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity during and after pregnancy. And, women who are already involved in vigorous-intensity aerobic activity can continue to do so, with a physician’s guidance.

By the way, if you’re looking to be a rich person, you might try exercise to achieve that, too! Certainly, no one would trade wealth for health, but the two are not entirely unrelated. Many studies (such as this one) show that exercise improves cognitive function. I don’t think it’s a far leap between a better, clearer brain and a bigger bank account.

What other one thing can you name that brings about such diverse improvements? I’ve never heard anyone put the cure for improving her skin and hair into the same sentence with how to improve her sex life. Yet because exercise is such a good catalyst, it improves all bodily functions, and has also been shown to improve mood disorders.

Do just this one thing—exercise. Do it well, do it every day, and within a short time you’ll be a healthier person. Yes, continue doing all of the good stuff you’re doing to promote your good health, but if it’s going more slowly than you’d like, try using the catalyst—the one thing—that will accelerate your outcome: exercise
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“Doorknob” Approach to Prenatal Care Leaves Patients Cold

Listen to the podcast “Breastfeeding Support Before and After Birth”
When I think about prenatal care, I think about urine samples. I think of the blood pressure cuffs, and the kaklack, kaklack, kaklack of listening to the baby’s heartbeat. I think of the doctor’s hand on the doorknob.

Some years ago, a good friend of mine who had just returned from a prenatal visit started asking me some questions. Working as I was as a labor/delivery nurse, I was happy to provide some answers, but after several questions, I asked my friend: “Did you ask the doctor any of those questions?”

“Oh, I tried, “she responded. “But he had his hand on the doorknob. He always has his hand on the doorknob.” He was out the door before she had a chance to ask any of the questions she had.

It was only a few days later that her doctor came into the labor and delivery coffee room. Chatting with several of us nurses, he mentioned that he had taken care of 40 prenatal patients at his office that day. Another nurse called him out on his claim. “Those 40 women didn’t get actual care,” she said. “They just filed by.” Ah yes, I realized. He had his hand on the doorknob.

As far as I can tell, obstetricians rarely (if ever) assess the adequacy of their patients’ breasts during the prenatal period, although this is generally considered to be a good step for breastfeeding preparation. Few (if any) even initiate a conversation about breastfeeding.

This is in spite of the World Health Organization’s longstanding recommendation for health care providers to address several aspects of breastfeeding with women before their 32nd week of pregnancy. Know About Breastfeeding
Do you know of any woman who has had such a detailed discussion with her obstetrician? I don’t.

Did your doctor talk about these topics with you? I bet not.

Wonder why breastfeeding rates in the U.S. are so low? I bet it’s at least partly due to a failure to make breastfeeding counseling part of prenatal care.

As Terry Goodkind asserts, “Knowledge is a weapon. I intend to be formidably armed.” Unfortunately, many women approach their first breastfeeding experience armed with little more than a book and a computer (or, these days, a smartphone!). That’s not enough.

If pregnant women aren’t being given information about breastfeeding, they must initiate the conversation. If the conversation isn’t satisfactory, they need to continue asking questions. Women will find themselves either lost or bullied in breastfeeding and infant care unless they are formidably armed with knowledge.

Prenatal care aims to ensure the optimal environment for the baby’s growth and his mother’s well-being. Growth starts in an optimal place: his mother’s uterus. After he is born, the optimal environment for his growth and her well-being is at the breast. “Professional” care that does not address that is about as helpful as the doorknob in the provider’s hand.
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Stop the Biting: Top Tips for Breastfeeding Moms

Barnett 13 mo b cropSometimes, babies who are getting their teeth bite. It doesn’t actually happen while your baby is nursing–the motion of baby’s mouth when biting is different and incompatible with the motion of nursing. Rather, it tends to happen when the baby is put to the breast for a feeding, or at the end. Whenever it happens, it hurts! If your baby bites, try these strategies: 

1) Watch for a baby who is “reaching” when latching on. If your baby is straining his neck and reaching to get a deep latch, it’s a big clue that he is headed for slipping down on the nipple later. Slipping sets him up for biting.

2) Watch for “changing gears.” After your baby has suckled happily with long, slow, rhythmic sucks to get all the milk he wants, he will begin to make faster jaw motions that are not rhythmic, and do not compress the nipple and areola. This is a sign that he is nearly finished, which can be a clue that biting may follow.

3) Watch for signs of satiety, including distractions. Older babies are naturally more social and more curious about their surroundings. If you baby starts moving his neck and turning his face (often taking your nipple with him!) he may bite without meaning to.

4) Be alert for signs of baby’s mouth slipping onto the nipple. That tends to be a place babies bite. Slip a finger into the corner of his mouth to break any suction, and remove him from the breast right away.

5) Offer a teething ring when the baby bites. He may be biting because he has teething discomfort, so help him to find the right thing to bite on–a chilled teething ring or something similar, not you!

6) Try not to scold him when he bites. Sure, it’s natural to react, but mothers who respond with “NO!” can find themselves in a bad predicament if the baby interprets this as “no nursing.” Some babies refuse to nurse for many days afterwards, which can be hard on baby and mom! Instead, have the teething ring and different words ready. Offer the teething ring and say, “Bite this, not Mommy.”

7) Offer positive and negative feedback appropriately. Break the suction and let him know he should not bite Mommy. Offer an extra hug or nuzzle when the baby takes the teething ring.

8) If he does bite, push his head towards your breast for a second or two. His nose will become occluded, and he will open his mouth; quickly remove him. Although it seems intuitive to pull the baby away, it doesn’t help him to release the nipple, which only worsens the biting problem. If you try this approach the first time he bites, you may find that he quickly realizes that he shouldn’t bite. This strategy doesn’t work as well after the baby has gotten into the habit of biting. Also, don’t use this approach if the baby has a stuffy nose or any breathing difficult.

9) Be consistent with your approach. Babies are smart. They soon get the idea of what the boundaries are. 

10) Be positive. Although biting can be a challenge, breastfeeding is good for you and your baby. 
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