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In the Hips

In the Hips

We all know the importance of staying fit during pregnancy. Your OB or midwife will tell you to eat right, get moderate exercise, and of course drink lots of water. While walking, spinning class, or even prenatal yoga are great ways to maintain prenatal health, one of the best ways to actually prepare your body for birth is through dance.

I grew up attending the prestigious Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Pre-professional program. During these rigorous classes was the first time I learned how to connect with my body and control it. As a dancer you must be in tune with the music and the rhythm of the movement. And after having three children of my own, and supporting women as a birth doula, I believe the same can be said for birth.

Though no two births are exactly the same, there are some commonalities that most women experience: the undeniable change during transition where you have laser-like focus, the moment where you are ready to call it quits and wish someone else could deliver this baby, and if you allow it, the natural ‘figure 8’ like movement that your hips tend to make.

Each of my births took place in different locations (a traditional hospital, birthing center, and tub in my bedroom) but one thing was always consistent, making that swaying hip motion. Maybe it was because of my dance training or maybe it was some innate primal instinct we all possess, either way I knew it felt good.

A few months ago, the connection between birth and dance became so vividly clear that I knew I needed to share what I had learned with other mamas-to-be. Nancey Rosensweig, a certified nurse midwife based in upstate NY, who also happens to be an ex-professional dancer, echoed my sentiments by saying, “Surrendering to the natural movement of dance can be one of the best ways to prepare for labor.”

So I created Ready To POP Prenatal Dance as a safe, fun, and beneficial way for women to exercise during pregnancy and beyond. It incorporates simple ballet techniques for balance, hip-opening steps for stamina, and yoga postures for breath connections, all to music that makes you want to move and groove. As I tell all of my doula clients, “The sassy movements that got you pregnant are the same movements that will get you out of being pregnant.” *wink wink*

During pregnancy, dance helps your body maintain flexibility while toning your muscles. Throughout labor it can help move your baby into position and ease the pain of contractions. As a post-natal workout it can allow a new mommy a much needed hour out of the house and support a faster recovery.

As with any form of exercise, it’s important to work at your own pace and not over extend your ligaments, which are already loosened during pregnancy. Always consult your doctor before beginning any new routine and choose something that you really enjoy, which will help you stick to it.

Here are 3 simple dance moves to stay fit.

Demi-Plié

How to Move: Start with your legs apart and your feet turned out into second position like in ballet. You can do this in the center of a room or with one hand holding onto a wall or a sturdy chair. Make sure your hips are square and facing forward. Your back should be straight and your core muscles should be engaged to maintain that posture. Now bend your knees stopping half way down, keeping your heels on the floor. Do this for 4 counts bending your knees to plié down, then for 4 counts straightening your legs. With each plié exhale, then inhale as you come up.

How it Helps: Labor is a tiring process. You use every part of your body when it comes times to push. This move allows you to stay in control while strengthening your legs and abdominal muscles. It also does wonders for your butt.

Rock it Out

How to Move: Standing in second position again, slightly bend your knees. Push your right hip out and straighten your legs. Bend your knees again and bring both hips back to center. Push your left hip out and straighten your legs. Now do that back and forth to the beat “1, 2, 1, 2” or to a song like Katy Perry’s “Roar” which is one of my favs.

How it Helps: This kind of hip-opening movement can also relieve lower back pressure during contractions and help align your baby into a proper birthing position.

Pump it Up

How to Move: Put both hands over your head like you are pushing up the ceiling. Do that twice. Now push both hands down on either side of your body towards the floor, twice. So the motion is up, up, down, down. Now as you pump up, slightly bend your right knee twice in front of you. As you push down, bend your left knee twice.

How it Helps: Aerobic exercise can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and gestational diabetes during pregnancy. It can also increase stamina for before, during, and after labor.

My Ready To Pop Playlist

Timber- Ke$ha & Pit Bull

Applause – Lady Gaga

Gone, Gone, Gone – Phillip Phillips

Treasure – Bruno Mars

Royals – Lorde

Can’t Hold Us – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Roar – Katy Perry

Wings – Little Mix

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

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