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blueberries are a great food for pregnancy

10 Most Nutritious Foods For Pregnancy and Postpartum

We are so excited to feature a post today detailing the 10 Most Nutritious Foods for Pregnancy & Postpartum from our resident pregnancy exercise and nutrition expert, Katie Dudley. We believe that part of preparing for a healthy, natural birth is preparing our bodies with optimal nutrition. Katie’s list is something every pregnant woman should read.

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During our first few visits to our care provider, we often receive a long list of foods to avoid, but we rarely discuss the foods that we SHOULD consume to support a more safe and comfortable pregnancy. In preparation for baby we hear even less about what we should eat once baby has arrived and our body is healing to provide nourishment for our breastfeeding child. The following is a list of foods that help to combat many of the common pregnancy symptoms and well as provide you with better care for postpartum healing. Incorporating these foods on a regular basis will help to crowd out the less nutritious foods that may contribute to common ailments in pregnancy and postpartum.

Bananas

Photo credit: Billy Wilson Photography / Foter / CC BY-NC
Photo credit: Billy Wilson Photography / Foter / CC BY-NC

Bananas contain a variety of vitamins and minerals that are perfect for many common pregnancy symptoms. Early on in pregnancy, bananas are a great source for alleviating nausea and morning sickness. They travel well, so keeping a banana on hand in your purse or bag is easy. This can come in handy for any muscle cramps and also regulating blood sugar during the day. Bananas are a great prebiotic food that aid in digestion and nutrient absorption for baby’s development. Another digestive benefit is they can help mom with symptoms of constipation and diarrhea that can occur throughout pregnancy. Later on in pregnancy, many of the nutrients found in bananas assist in reducing swelling and high blood pressure.

Berries

blueberries are a great food for pregnancy
Photo credit: maira.gall / Foter / CC BY-ND

Another excellent prebiotic food that promotes healthy digestion and nutrient absorption, berries are among the highest foods in antioxidants. Berries are considered superfoods as one of the best anti-inflammatory foods you can consume. They contain a high amount of fiber for regularity and satiety, but are low in sugars, helping keep mom’s blood sugar stable. They are the fruit of choice for mom’s who at a higher risk for gestational diabetes. High in vitamin C, berries give your immune system a boost to keep mom and baby well. Even better, they are a great natural source of folate, which your body can readily convert for baby’s development.

Bone Broth

Bone broth is excellent for pregnancy
Photo credit: looseends / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Bone broth can be an excellent source of protein and fat to enhance mom’s immune function and provides essential amino acids for growing baby. Essential minerals that aid in brain and nerve functioning are also found in fresh bone broth. With its rich nutritional content, bone broth is great way to reduce symptoms of morning sickness. This is particularly helpful when it is difficult to get foods in. The vitamins and minerals in homemade broth make a perfect food for both pregnancy and postpartum as they aid in the growth of nails, skin, hair and connective tissues. This serves as an important function as they help mom’s body grow with baby as well as recover once baby is here. These same nutrients also condition the digestive tract and keep things working smoothly.

Dark Chocolate (Real)

Dark chocolate can be excellent food for pregnancy
Photo credit: Chocolate Reviews / Foter / CC BY-ND

Yes! Dark Chocolate. Real dark chocolate (not the processed, sugary kind) has some of the highest levels of antioxidants of any foods. It is higher than berries, red wine, and high quality dark chocolate (70% or more cacoa) made from raw cacao, is quite the nutritious food and is a perfect option for those sweet pregnancy cravings. A surprising source of fiber, dark chocolate can even contribute to good digestion. High in minerals like iron, magnesium, cooper, zinc, selenium, potassium, and manganese cacao keeps mom energized for baby’s growth and development. The varieties of minerals also improve circulation and lower blood pressure. Quality dark chocolate can also be a nutritious pick me up for mom with a small amount of natural caffeine. With less caffeine than a cup of coffee, be aware of consuming this late at night and when breastfeeding.

Cultured Foods

Yogurt and other fermented foods are excellent during pregnancy
Photo credit: roboppy / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Found in cultures around the world throughout history, cultured and fermented foods like real yogurt (read ingredients), sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, kefir, pickled vegetables, coconut yogurt, organic buttermilk, organic sour cream and probiotics are a healthy way to incorporate healthy bacteria into mom’s system. A balance of bacteria in the body is necessary for many bodily functions like making B vitamins, good digestion, nutrient absorption, immune function and mood. The bacterial flora in mom’s body is especially important for the baby as he passes through the birth canal and takes on the flora from mom. This is also true during breastfeeding. Recent studies have even shown that the bacteria are also found in the placenta and may help prevent preterm births. There is current evidence that if mom and baby have a healthy balance of flora, there is also less chance of colic, thrush, digestive upsets, and allergies. Consuming cultured foods is particularly beneficial to moms that have GBS, have been on antibiotics or have a history of taking them.

Eggs

Eggs are packed with nutrients necessary during pregnancy
Photo credit: cobalt123 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

This nutrient dense, superfood will keep mom satiated and energized throughout the day. Eggs are an excellent whole foods source of protein during pregnancy and postpartum. Eating a sufficient amount of protein in a balanced diet protects mom from various health concerns like gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. High quality eggs are also a source of healthy fats, that are important in baby’s brain development as well as help to lower mom’s risk of postpartum depression. In addition to healthy fats and protein, pregnant and nursing moms can get many of their essential vitamins and minerals from eggs like iron, calcium, and vitamins A, D, E and K. These vitamins and minerals are important in supporting a healthy pregnancy as well as postpartum healing and recovery.

Green Vegetables

Leafy greens are an excellent source of nutrition during pregnancy
Photo credit: jirfy / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Dark leafy green vegetables are the ultimate superfoods full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants perfect for mom and baby. With a recommended 9-11 servings of vegetables and fruit a day, incorporating several servings of greens provides an excellent source of natural folate for baby’s development that your body can easily convert. They are full of fiber to keep mom full and her digestive system running smoothly. Nutrient dense dark greens like kale, spinach, broccoli, swiss chard, and arugula are a non-dairy source of calcium and full of immune boosting minerals. These help to prevent many pregnancy related complications like pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and anemia. Incorporating green vegetables throughout the day keeps moms energy levels stable without raising her blood sugar. If you have difficulty getting greens in at multiple meals, add them to a smoothie, mix them in a stir fry, add them to eggs, or have a side salad.

Healthy Fats

Avocado and other sources of healthy fat are excellent for pregnancy
Photo credit: mikemennonno / Foter / CC BY-NC

Healthy fats play an essential role in baby’s growth and development. They are particularly important in eye and brain development or as Dr. Sears would say, “Growing a little fathead”. Ours brains consist of almost sixty percent fat and it is important that enough fat is provided for proper brain function. According to several studies from the Harvard School of Public Health, they found that pregnant women who eat a diet rich in healthy fats reduce their chances of allergies and developmental delays. Consuming a variety of healthy fats is crucial for mom and baby throughout pregnancy and postpartum. During pregnancy they will help mom to stabilize her blood sugar, improve digestion, and regulate blood pressure. With less sleep and a more demanding schedule, moms need all the help they can get. Eating various healthy fats like a moderate amount of cold water fish, avocados, flaxseed, flax oil, chia seed, olive oil, coconut oil, organic grassed meat, and nuts assist mom in absorbing the nutrients her body needs for sustained energy as well as postpartum healing.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a great nutritional source for pregnant women.
Photo credit: Foter / CC BY-SA

Mushrooms are often overlooked for their nutritional benefits, but they are actually packed with essential vitamins and minerals. In fact, they are one of the few food sources of Vitamin D. This comes in handy during those winter months when it is more difficult to get appropriate levels of vitamin D from being outdoors. In combination with the antioxidants, D can boost mom’s immune system as well, keeping risk of infections lower. Sufficient levels of vitamin D will also support baby’s bone and teeth development. Recent research has been shown that proper levels of vitamin D in women reduce chances of postpartum depression. With an abundance of B vitamins, mushrooms can alleviate symptoms of morning sickness and increase mom’s energy levels. Mushrooms are also an iron rich food, helping with the increased blood volume during pregnancy.

Onions & Garlic

Garlic and onions are a fantastic source of healthy nutrition for pregnancy.
Photo credit: Ruby’s Feast / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Part of the allium family, not only do they help our meals taste great, but onions and garlic are some of nature’s greatest medicines. They both are excellent anti inflammatory foods as well as support your immune system and balanced cholesterol. Rich in antioxidants, garlic and onions protect moms from various health conditions during pregnancy like pre-eclampsia and high blood pressure by promoting healthy circulation. By increasing circulation, these properties reduce pregnancy related swelling. Raw garlic also contains antibacterial and antimicrobial properties which may assist in keeping illness and infections away. This can be beneficial for pregnant and breastfeeding moms avoiding unnecessary medications. Check out our free pregnancy nutritional e-book for more information and ideas for recipes.


Katie Dudley, nutritional and exercise expert for Birth Boot Camp Childbirth Education.

Katie Dudley, HHC, CPT, CES, PES is passionate about natural health and wellness. She enjoys educating and empowering others to take control of their own health.  She believes women can have an amazing pregnancy and birth. Katie earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from the University of Georgia with a focus in Child and Family Development and Educational Psychology. Following her love of fitness and nutrition, a trainer since 2005, she is a Certified Corrective Exercise and Performance Enhancement Specialist and a Board Certified Holistic Health Coach. Katie currently has a private Holistic Health Coaching Practice, Cornerstone Integrative Fitness and Wellness, where she works with women and families all over the country. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her family.

Read more from Katie!

Exercises for a great pregnancy and birth.

Foam rolling for pregnancy.

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Foam Rolling For Pregnancy

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Today we are pleased to share a guest post from our resident fitness and nutrition expert, Katie Dudley. Katie has created a program for our online and in-person childbirth education classes that is second to none. In fact, there is nothing that even comes close in depth and uncompromising quality when it comes to pregnancy health and nutrition. One element that she felt was imperative to our program was the practice of foam rolling or myofascial release. Here she explains how this practice, when properly done, can be helpful and effective. In your childbirth class you will receive much more in-depth instruction each week. Enjoy and have an amazing pregnancy!

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Throughout the course of pregnancy, a woman’s body goes through a vast amount of physical changes to accommodate for baby’s growth. As the body progresses during pregnancy the added weight and pressure of the physical changes may exacerbate preexisting muscle imbalances or create new ones. This growth places an abnormal amount of weight on a woman’s frame often causing a rotation of the pelvis and slight curvature in a women’s lower back (lordosis). Lordosis, a malpositioned pelvis, knee pain, hip pain, leg cramps, and back pain can all be caused by muscle tension and imbalances creating discomfort in mom-to-be.

The tension and imbalances are often a result of sitting for long periods, poor nutrition, stress, altered movement patterns, dehydration, and bad posture. Most of these symptoms are preventable and for a more comfortable pregnancy and better birthing process, we should be proactive in addressing them. Along with balanced daily nutrition, consistent pregnancy exercise and flexibility work, one of my favorite methods for alleviating pain and discomfort during pregnancy is through self myofascial release.

Self myofascial release or “foam rolling” is a convenient and inexpensive form of self massage. It is administered by using body weight and a high density foam roller to address knots and adhesions in our muscle tissues. From chronic positions like sitting or altered movement patterns (created by our daily physical habits), our tissues can become matted down and unable to contract and be activated properly. For example, when people sit at a computer or in the car all day, certain muscles, such as the glutes, become mashed down making it difficult for them to be activated correctly, thus placing more work on the lower back and hips. When this happens it alters our biomechanics, putting emphasis on the wrong muscles and joints to move our bodies. This is even more noticeable during pregnancy. By placing pressure on these trigger points and the surrounding tissues using a foam roller, we can help release the tension. This allows for greater blood flow and better muscle activation which relieves discomfort.

Many of us do not have the time or resources to visit the chiropractor or massage therapist as much as we would like. Regular foam rolling can help achieve similar results in between visits. The foam roller is a great maintenance tool. Often times we try to stretch the pain and tension away, but without relaxing the trigger points, it is difficult to increase muscle extension of shortened, tight muscles. By applying the myofascial release technique, you will create better range of motion and strength through the proper length/tension relationship between joints. There will be less tug of war on your frame.

By reducing overall tension in your body through foam rolling and balanced nutrition, you may find benefits in many different areas:

-Greater strength and muscle activation

-Less fatigue and better energy

-Decreased aches and pains (lower back pain, sciatica)

-Relief from physical demands of pregnancy and new baby

-Increased blood flow

-Better sleep

Not only is foam rolling beneficial for mom, it’s great for dad too. Myofascial release is safe for most individuals. Those that should avoid foam rolling are individuals with neuropathy, sensitive skin conditions, and severe swelling. When rolling, you want to avoid joints, spine, neck, lower back, abdomen, chest, and varicose veins. Pregnant women should also avoid their inner thigh, belly, and inside of their calf muscle. Mom may need to modify foam rolling as she progresses in her pregnancy. She should only roll to her level of comfort and adjust where needed. Moms with diastasis recti may want to avoid any prone positions during foam rolling.

Foam rolling is a great addition before or after exercise and is complimented by stretching afterward. Fit it in when you can, on the living room floor watching TV or at night before bed. The more consistently it is administered, the better your results will be.

How to foam roll:

Using a high density foam roller, roll muscle groups like calves, peroneals, hamstrings, quads, glutes, hip flexors, lats, and upper back. Roll slowly, taking your time making sure to release tension. Allow the muscle to relax. Rolling should be tender, but not unbearable. Spend a few minutes on each area. You may use a lacrosse ball or tennis ball for smaller areas like your upper back.

1) Sit on foam roller or floor

2) Position foam roller on targeted muscle group

3) Support your body in a comfortable position with neutral spine

4) Slowly roll until you find a tender place, keeping body relaxed

5) Making sure to breathe, allow tension to release in surrounding tissues, about 30 seconds to 1 minute

6) Move on to other areas of the targeted muscle

As with any new exercise, consult your care provider first.

You can have an amazing birth- and pregnancy! Thoughtful and conscientious nutrition and exercise can help you along this path.

 


bbc_katie-dudley

Katie Dudley, HHC, CPT, CES, PES is passionate about natural health and wellness. She enjoys educating and empowering others to take control of their own health.  She believes women can have an amazing pregnancy and birth. Katie earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from the University of Georgia with a focus in Child and Family Development and Educational Psychology. Following her love of fitness and nutrition, a trainer since 2005, she is a Certified Corrective Exercise and Performance Enhancement Specialist and a Board Certified Holistic Health Coach. Katie currently has a private Holistic Health Coaching Practice, Cornerstone Integrative Fitness and Wellness, where she works with women and families all over the country. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her family.

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Dress That Bump- Easy Halloween Costumes For a Pregnant Belly

Happy Halloween all you lovely pregnant ladies! Need a quick idea for the party this weekend? Here are a few from our favorite women and fabulous Birth Boot Camp instructors.

D'Andra is an instructor in  Oklahoma. How clever and funny is this?!
D’Andra is an instructor in Oklahoma. How clever and funny is this?!

Too cute! Meet D’Andra, She teaches birth classes in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. An “Easy Button” costume. Love it!

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With just some paint and fake brick you can transform your preggo belly into a lovely nursery rhyme- Humpty Dumpty sitting on a wall. Adorable!

A pumpkin belly- classic!
A pumpkin belly- classic!

With a little paint and a round belly you are super festive and ready for Halloween! Easy as pie. This is Shazia and she teaches birth classes in Arlington, TX.

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Here is Shazia again in a couples pregnancy costume. Just a t-shirt and you are ready to party!

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Another painted pregnant belly.

This gorgeous pumpkin belly comes from instructor Melissa who teaches childbirth classes in Corvallis, Oregon.

And if you aren’t really showing but want to announce that lovely little growing person in your belly, isn’t this the CUTEST idea ever?!

 

A bun in the oven.
A bun in the oven.

Daniella teaches Birth Boot Camp childbirth preparation classes in Fort Worth, TX.

Have a wonderful Halloween!

 

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8 Things to Consider When Choosing Doula Certification

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There are a variety of doula certifications available for women venturing into the thrilling and rewarding work of supporting families at the time of birth. There are so many available that it can be hard to choose when you are new to the birth scene. We love this list of things to consider when choosing a doula certification. Written by our very own Birth Boot Camp DOULA trainer, Amanda Devereux, she simply knows what she is talking about. Not only is Amanda an experienced and successful doula, she, along with Maria Pokluda, helped form the stellar Birth Boot Camp DOULA program. Enjoy her words and if you have any questions, feel free to contact us. We would love to help!

8 things you should consider when choosing doula certification-

1. Will I learn how to support a woman during labor and birth?

Of course, a doula training should actually train you to do the work of a doula. One of the doula’s main jobs at the birth is hands-on, physical support and knowledge during the labor and birth of the baby. Online or distance courses simply can’t provide this in the same way an in-person training can.

2. Will I learn how to support a woman’s partner during labor and birth?

Birth support is more than just supporting the laboring woman. The doula should not be the center piece, the partner is her hero and champion; the doula is the partner’s life line!

3. What type of business support and training will I receive?

Having the skills of a doula is just part of this. Learning to be an entrepreneur is equally important. Will you learn interview skills? Will you be provided contracts? Will you gain networking tips? Will you be prepared to leave training and launch a successful business? The skills to support at birth will find little foothold if you lack the ability to implement them and let people know about the incredible service you offer.

Nancy Rebarchick (left) and Maria Pokluda, part of the Birth Boot Camp DOULA team, show off some of the beautiful materials we have created for our doulas.
Nancy Rebarchick (left) and Maria Pokluda, part of the Birth Boot Camp DOULA team, show off some of the beautiful materials we have created for our doulas.

4. How will this certifying body market me?

You pay a good chunk of money for training and certification. What do you get from this? Is your certifying body promoting you? Providing marketing materials? Anything else?

5.What type of lactation training is provided?

A doula typically helps with baby’s first latch and then with some breastfeeding support at a postpartum and often times in between. You should know what training is provided for this. You should be comfortable not only with providing support during this time but with knowing when to refer. Truly being able to help in the precious first days of breastfeeding will often require more than just personal breastfeeding experience or attendance at a La Leche League meeting.

6. Is the philosophy of the program congruent with my own ideas of birth work?

A certification agency should offer you something – a community- and this is most beneficial to you when the philosophy of the program is one that promotes your work and passion. Ideas relating to birth abound! Find an organization that you can truly get behind.

7. Am I comfortable with the Scope of Practice and Code of Ethics?

Do you find it limiting? Does it help you build your professional practice? Does it result in greater professionalism? Doulas are present for one of life’s great events. A doula who doesn’t understand how to practice in an ethical way or within her scope can cause heartache for the entire community.

8. What do I gain from re-certification?

Re-certification, in professional fields, is important to show that an individual is current in their area of expertise, is safe to practice and is maintaining their knowledge and standards as a professional. You should gain more than the maintenance of letters at the end of your name. Doula re-certification should offer you personal growth as well as continued business, education and/or marketing support.

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Amanda Devereux, Birth Boot Camp DOULA trainer


I am proud to say Birth Boot Camp DOULA offers all of this and more.  Learn to doula beyond “The Birth Partner.”  Whether you are an aspiring doula or an experienced doula, we offer you MORE.  Join us in 2015. 

Click here for a Birth Boot Camp DOULA application.

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What Your Doctor Wants To Tell You About Birth, But Can’t

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Too often, medical doctors are portrayed as the bad guys in the birthing world. In truth, there is a lot we don’t see and which they really can’t talk about. We are excited to share this guest post today from Jessicca Moore, a family nurse practitioner and filmmaker in Petaluma, CA. Jessica is currently raising money to help finish a film all about medical personnel who birth at home. (There are more of them than you would think!) You can read more about her film, “Why Not Home?“, on their website. Her words are wise and incredibly helpful. Happy birthing!

If you’re planning a hospital birth in the US, you’re likely seeing an OB/GYN. Some of you are seeing a family doctor or a certified-nurse-midwife (CNM) who will attend you at the hospital.

Doctors and nurses are trained not to impose their own values and beliefs onto their patients. To the woman who says she doesn’t want to feel any pain during labor and wants an epidural as soon as possible, our training tells us to accept this as her choice and support her in it. To the woman who says she wants an unmedicated natural labor, our training tells us to accept and support this choice as equally valid.

Your provider is supposed to maintain some professional distance and remain unbiased toward her patients. Because of this, she likely won’t tell you about how difficult her recovery from her c-section was and how she couldn’t pick up her toddler for weeks.

She won’t tell you about the intense rush of emotion and joy that came over her when she gave birth to her daughter after a long 30 hour unmedicated vaginal birth. If she did, you might feel like you should do it the way she did, or do it differently, depending on her story.

In your 10-15 minute visits, it can be hard to delve deeply into all the possible risks and benefits of each decision, the research, and your personal values and preferences. Even if you did, the chances that that provider is going to be the one attending your birth are pretty slim.

So much of birth is out of your control. Once you’re in labor, things can go any number of ways.

If you want to have a natural birth, here are some things you can do to stack the deck in your favor.

  • Get prepared. There are lots of great childbirth preparation programs out there. Try a few and see what fits. Knowledge is power when it comes to birth.

  • Read birth stories. Positive ones. Listen to your friends who had great births. Focus on those. Your birth can be great too.

  • Get support. Hire a doula. Don’t think you can afford one? Call and talk to a few. You may be surprised. If you can’t get a doula, ask friend who has experienced birth and knows your plan to be there to support and advocate for you. Your partner will be having their own experience. Don’t rely on them to be everything for you.

  • Get informed. What is your hospital’s c-section rate? Trying for a VBAC? What’s the VBAC success rate at your hospital? Birth by the Numbers has a great site for getting this information. www.birthbythenumbers.org

  • Ask questions. Especially if something doesn’t feel quite right. Is the induction necessary? What if we wait 2 more days? It’s your body and your baby. You’re allowed to ask questions.

  • Take care. Rest. Eat well. Stay active. Try prenatal yoga. You’ll be that much better off entering labor if your body is strong and healthy.

Do all that, and then let go. Birth is big. Birth is beautiful. There’s no one right way to do it.

You are powerful. You are capable. You can do it.

If and when you need help, it will be there for you.

No one can tell you how it will go for you.

You and your baby are starting your journey together. You’ll have your own unique experience.

Your doctor may have seen hundreds or thousands of births, but they’ve never seen yours.

Nurture Nature Photography and Erin Wrightsman -c- 2013 erin@erinwrightsman.com  2013040920130409-RRL_0819 (1)

Jessicca Moore is a family nurse practitioner and filmmaker in Petaluma, CA where she lives with her husband, two children, and two sheep. She is currently in production on her first feature-length documentary, “Why Not Home?” The film follows hospital birth providers who chose to give birth at home. You can watch a trailer and get more information here: www.whynothome.com and support the project on kickstarter at bit.ly/whynothome through October 10th.

Follow the project on twitter and instagram @whynothome and facebook at facebook.com/whynothome

You can find Jessicca on twitter @jessicca_moore

(Photos by Erin Wrightsman, used with permission.)

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