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August 3, 2010 > Classes for New and Expecting Moms

Classes for New and Expecting Moms

Prenatal Yoga Helps Expecting Moms Master Challenges

Challenges and questions are natural when it comes to pregnancy, giving birth and welcoming a new baby into your family.

Exercise may be good for you, but it's certainly different when you're pregnant. Giving birth to one new bundle of joy is one thing. Twins or triplets? You may have some extra questions and concerns.

For a good place to get answers and support, Washington Hospital's Maternal/Child Education Department offers all the classes and services necessary to help make pregnancy, breastfeeding and parenting a little easier.

Classes range from childbirth preparation and CPR for family and friends to infant massage and signing for babies, all taught by highly qualified, certified instructors.

"We're very excited to offer two new classes: Prenatal Yoga and Mastering Multiples," says Karen Smith, R.N., coordinator of the hospital's Maternal/Child Education Department.

Stretch your pregnancy fitness level

Exercise isn't as simple as it was pre-pregnancy, and because of all the physical changes that take place during pregnancy, it's important to take care when exercising.

The center of gravity shifts and the hormone relaxin causes the ligaments between the pelvic bones to soften and the joints to loosen in preparation for baby's arrival, making exercise routines not designed for pregnant women less than ideal and possibly unsafe.

Prenatal Yoga, currently offered on Tuesdays from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., is a great way for expecting moms to stay fit and flexible on the road to delivery, Smith says.

"It makes delivery easier when your muscles are toned and you feel more energetic," Smith says.

Plus, Smith says, many women may not feel as comfortable in a co-ed exercise yoga class at the gym or community recreation center.

"This is a great way to meet other expecting moms in a supportive environment," she adds.

But before beginning any exercise routine, Smith says it's essential to understand the basics, which is why the department offers a mandatory introductory class.

"Our introductory class teaches women things like how to take their heart rate and why they need to exercise differently during pregnancy; plus, it answers questions like, 'Why does my back ache?'" Smith explains. "New people join the yoga class all the time and this way everyone is on the same page and get the most out of each class session."

Confident moms

Moms expecting more than one bundle of joy can expect special challenges. Smith says the Mastering Multiples class, which is designed for moms expecting twins, triplets and beyond, helps them with issues from delivery to breastfeeding. (This class is scheduled by request. Call (510) 791-3423 for an appointment.)

"Mastering Multiplies has gotten off to a great start," Smith says. "We are getting a lot of requests for sign-ups."

Lately, her department has also been excited to see many return clients-and their babies.

"Because we've had a lot of second pregnancies, we're now beginning to see clients for a second time," she says. "Our moms are much more confident after taking classes and sharing with other moms-but sometimes they just come in because they want a weight check and to show off their babies. It's nice to see returnees because it feels like we're doing a good job."

Get to know your hospital

To familiarize expecting moms and their families with the Birthing Center, Washington Hospital offers free tours. One-hour tours are offered Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays starting at 9:45 and 10:45 a.m.

Enrollment for the tour is required. Tours may be scheduled by calling (510) 791-3423 two to three months before the expected due date. (Space is limited and each tour is capped at 20 people, including children. Siblings three years and older are welcome.)

Sign up for classes

For complete times, dates, locations, cost and additional information about Prenatal Yoga, Mastering Multiples and other classes and services, call (510) 791-3423 or visit, click on "Services" and select "Childbirth & Family Services" from the list of programs.

Washington Hospital also offers comprehensive breastfeeding support services, including a Latch Clinic, Beyond Newborn Clinic, Back to Work Breastfeeding and Prenatal Breastfeeding. In addition to these classes and clinics, the program's internationally board certified lactation consultants offer support to breast-feeding and back-to-work moms with low-cost private visits by appointment and a free advice line.

New free Saturday latch clinic

In an effort to improve access and convenience for new moms, the Latch Clinic's hours have been extended to include a free drop-in clinic from 1 to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. (Private consultations are also available by appointment from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.)

To find out more about classes or clinics, schedule a private visit or access the advice line, call (510) 494-7013 Monday through Friday.

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