” Having a pump at work made it easier to not have to bring it in transit. And even having extra parts because there were times, I was like – Oh my god, I forgot the flange. So I’m freaking out. so having an extra pump and extra parts makes it easier ”
Deb Flashenberg, CD(DONA), LCCE, E-RYT 500, RPYT is the Director of the Prenatal Yoga Center
Deb is a graduate of the Boston Conservatory of Music with a degree in Musical Theater. She has spent most of her life performing and was introduced to yoga through a choreographer in 1997. After several years as a yoga student, she decided to continue her education and became certified as a Bikram Yoga instructor.
After being witness to several “typical” hospital births, Deb felt it was important to move beyond the yoga room and be present in the birthing room. In 2003, Deb attended her first birth as a DONA certified labor support doula and has attended about 100 births. Like many of us in the birthing field, we begin as a doula, become certified as a Childbirth Educator, which she did in 2006. Deb took her training further and in 2007 completed a Midwife Assistant Program with Ina May Gaskin and other midwives at The Farm Midwifery Center In Tennessee.
Deb is a regular contributor to various magazines and blogs such as NY Family Magazine, Midwifery Today, Doula International and in 2016 had the honor of being a presenter at the Yoga Journal Live NY Conference.
Deb’s most recent undertaking is her podcast, Yoga| Birth | Babies. where she interviews some of the birth business’s most influential speakers. Deb is the proud (and tired!) mother of her son Shay and daughter Sage.
She grew up in the 1970’s in Massachusetts and describes a pretty nice childhood. She spent a lot of time outside and had a fairly normal suburban upbringing. In 3rd grade she started performing which led the path of the rest of her life.
She started out in music and theater and is now owner of a yoga center. She never would have dreamed of working with moms and babies. She would never have described herself as maternal as she was all about performing and her career. Deb says that when she got very involved when yoga started to become more important to her than performing.
She witnessed her first birth and this was a turning point for her. This birth was a life changer for her. When the baby was born, everyone cleared out of the room. The baby was taken away and put under a heater and the nurse was taking care of paperwork. It struck Deb as odd and sad that no one was paying attention to the mother or her baby. This was a pivotal moment for her. She felt a burning desire to make a difference.
This experience had an impact on her first birth. She knew she wanted a midwife. She knew she wanted a birth center birth, however, the options available to her were not optimal. Her other option was a homebirth. She spent the time interviewing midwives, had an OB as a backup in the event of needing to be transferred. Deb had her team all put together.
She prepared for breastfeeding by taking a class and watching videos and yet was surprised because it was not so easy when it came to her turn. She thought this because the moms that she saw breastfeeding seemed to make it so easy. We talked about how, on the one hand this is good. On the other hand, she did not get to see any early struggles that some moms have..
Early struggles with breastfeeding her baby:
Deb says that she had too much stuff. Two pillows and other “props” made it feel overwhelming to think about going out of the house and breastfeed. Her baby was gaining well and she was not experiencing any pain. Finding positions to make it easy to be out of the house and confidently breastfeed was a big part of her early struggles.
He was very supportive of the whole process and let her know he had a lot of confidence in her ability to breastfeed. He never voiced concerned that the baby was not getting enough and never suggested the need to give formula. He even helped her when she had a clogged duct with massage and warm compresses. Having him believe in her and support her was very important to her.
Supportive people – Her “birth posse”
She recognizes that having been in the birth community for over 9 years, really was a blessing to her. She understands most first time mothers are not so well connected. Deb knew that she could go to other new mothers at the studio and get the support she needed. Even when it came time to pump, this was not so foreign to her. She recognizes all this support is the major reason her postpartum life went fairly smoothly.
She states that breastfeeding and pumping was a huge commitment. Once she got her period, her supply dropped and this concerned her. Her daughter self weaned at 14 months and while she was hoping to breastfeed her longer, her daughter was obviously done.
Tips for breastfeeding and breast pumping moms:
1. If at all possible, have several pumps. One at home and one at work. Having a pump at work was a real convenience to her.
2. Having an extra set of parts in case you should forget a flange, etc.
3. Being mindful of scheduling. Knowing that if you miss a feed with your baby and needing to pump instead.
4. Having a hand pump handy is also helpful.
5. Knowing hand expressing ( she had to hand express on a plane one time because she was really full)
New Motherhood and Breastfeeding – The REALITY
The lack of sleep. She really did not get it. She worked with new moms postpartum and they were tired. But, she did not really get it until it was her turn. Deb had a really long pushing stage with her first baby. This caused a lot of pelvic floor problems. She had no idea that this would feel so bad. Coming from a very physical/fit background, to feel so physically depleted, being so inactive – she just had no idea that it was going to be this way. This made her really sad.
She worked with a Physical Therapist and needed to be regimented to follow through with the exercises, even if it meant doing them at 3:00 am. Fitting in motherhood and being a working mom – this has been a struggle and a surprise.
77nd and Broadway – Her Prenatal Yoga Studio –
Deb shares the story of how she decided to specialize in offering a yoga studio just for pregnant and new moms. She took training and quickly opened up her first studio. Deb knew that she really wanted to build a community space so she could have workshops to help support the new mother. She knows how isolating it can be to have a new baby.
The most popular classes are the Baby Sign Language and the Infant CPR classes. The breastfeeding classes do not always fill, however, the breastfeeding support groups are packed to the gills. This highlights the fact that women feel that breastfeeding is going to be fairly easy, and yet just like Deb, quickly realize that they need help and support once they have their baby.
Deb also loves the Teacher Training – 85 hour yoga certification program. She loves offering this and teaching this class. Her center also offers childbirth classes, infant massage classes, the postnatal class, a postpartum depression class and so much more. We talked about how important it is to have a community center that offers groups that meets the needs and supports new mothers.
Yoga, Birth, Babies – Her Podcast
She enjoys the opportunity to talk to people in the birthing business and learn from them. We shared our love and joy of podcasting.
Yoga tips during pregnancy and postpartum
1. Find an instructor who has special training in teaching pregnant and new mothers. Our bodies and all that we are going through is very different than the woman who is not pregnant or postpartum.
2. She suggests that moms remember to have patience with your body. We need to honor the transitions your body has gone through.
3. C/sec moms should wait at least 6 weeks pp before beginning back to yoga.
4. For vaginal births – wait until the bleeding stops.
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