Birth, fitness, pelvic health, postpartum, Pregnancy, Self Care

Why the 6-week Clearance Isn’t Enough

So you’ve had your 6-week postpartum check-up with your doctor, OB or midwife. They say ‘All is good, you can resume exercise’. You think ‘Awesome! I’m going to go out for a run tomorrow!’. Then tomorrow comes, you start running, and you feel like a bowling ball is bouncing inside your vagina, you leak, or worse you lose control of your bladder or bowels.

No one wants this. Why didn’t they warn you?

You’re not alone. The fact is, it takes a lot longer than 6 weeks for your pelvic floor, abs and uterine ligaments to return to normal. I am 5 months postpartum and still only feel maybe 90% normal. I can’t tell you why doctors and midwives don’t talk about this, but I’m hoping by reading this you’ll have a little bit more insight into postpartum exercise.

I talked about relaxin and pregnancy before, but did you know relaxin influences you for up to 3 months postpartum? And other hormonal changes will influence the laxity and strength of muscles, tendons and ligaments as long as you are breastfeeding?

True Story, Bro.

Let’s look at this logically though. Even if we take the scientific mumbo jumbo out. Your uterus was just huge (relatively speaking), then within the span of 6 weeks (or less) it shrank back down to the size of a pear. All of those ligaments, tendons and muscles that were holding that giant uterus up for 9 or so months have been stretched and loosened to accommodate it. They are going to take time to get back to where they were before. Here’s some perspective, if you had your leg in a cast for 9 months, then got the cast cut off, do you think you could go out and run a marathon 6 weeks later? Doubtful. Why do we treat all those very stressed ligaments inside our abdomen and pelvis any different? They’ve gone through massive changes and we need to respect that. We need to slowly and gently start adding exercises back in to allow those structures time to re-adapt back to their former glory.

Think of your pelvic floor like a trampoline. Now imagine a 400lb sumo wrestler sitting on that trampoline. That’s what your pelvic floor is like at the end of your pregnancy. Trying desperately just to keep everything up. Now imagine that sumo wrestler sitting there for a few months. How stretched would that trampoline be?

Ya, let that visual sink in for a moment.

We want that PF to bounce like trampoline, and be taught enough to resist the pressure of the organs it’s holding up (uterus, bladder, bowels) but flex with breath and impact. If you were trying to fix that stretched out trampoline, and someone kept jumping on it while you were working, it wouldn’t be very effective, would it? This is how it works with your PF and impact postpartum.

So what do I mean by ‘impact’?

I mean jumping, skipping, running, jogging, box jumps, jumping jacks, basically anything where there’s a period of time where both of your feet are off the floor, no matter how short the period of time is. Yes, even if it is a split second. Yes, even if you land gently.

Now, this isn’t to say you can never do these things again. This is definitely something you can work your way back to eventually. But you have to take your time, be careful and do it right. If you want your body to be functional well into old age, it’s important to take care of it now. If you want to have more children and want your body to support those pregnancies well, it’s important to respect this postpartum period and recover appropriately.

So the next question is how?

Well first, go see a Pelvic Health Physio (do I sound like a broken record yet?). Then work with a personal trainer who specializes in postpartum (like me, soon!) or purchase a program that is designed for postpartum women, like Birth2FitMum.

The most important thing, though, is to be mindful of your body. If things don’t feel right, don’t do them! Let go of your ego, and just be proud of where you are at currently. Just because you aren’t in the same place you were months ago, doesn’t mean you are broken, it’s all part of the journey! You grew a human! Go You!

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Birth, fitness, pelvic health, postpartum, Self Care

My Core & Floor – The Never Ending Saga

I am so thankful I was lucky enough to learn about diastasis recti (DR) and how it relates to pregnancy early on in my pregnancy. So many women I talked to had no idea what this is, how it develops and how it affects their lives going forward. Even some OB/GYNs are poorly informed on what DR is and what it means for their patients. One of my good friends was telling me about the coning in her belly while she was doing crunches in her 3rd trimester and how her OB just told her ‘oh that’s normal, don’t worry about it’ so she didn’t think anything of it and just pushed the coning down while she continued doing crunches! What her OB SHOULD have said was, this is DR, this is what it means, these are the exercise you should not be doing as they will aggravate it and make it worse.

DR is the separation of the abdominal muscles to accommodate the growing uterus, and it happens to up to 66% of women when pregnant. In order to heal this separation, you first need to reconnect with your deep core muscles, the transverse abdominus (TA) and your pelvic floor (PF) and re-learn how to engage them appropriately.

I had a DR at the end of my pregnancy, even though I worked to prevent it. Looking back now, I think poor posture was to blame, but we all know hindsight is 20/20. At birth my separation was about 2 1/2 finger widths at the widest. I was lucky in that simply following my training program, Birth2FitMum, I was able to heal it within 6 weeks. However, once I began seeing my pelvic health physiotherapist (PHP) I realized that it was probably my over-active TA that helped more than I realized. The problem was, even though my TA healed my DR quickly, they further delayed the healing of my poor stretched out PF.

See, the core muscles work in symphony, and when one component is over or under-active, it throws the whole system out of whack. Julie Wiebe does an excellent job of explaining this in her video here. I love her model of the piston system of the core muscles. I experienced the issues she discussed in this video. I was tensing my PF in hopes of counteracting my strong abs. Before visiting my PHP I found Julie’s program The Pelvic Floor Piston: Foundation for Fitness extremely helpful. I’ve since learned through visiting my PHP that I hold a lot of my tension in my core, through holding in my abs and PF and taking short small breaths (because you can’t really hold your diaphragm taught and stay alive!). I’ve been learning how to allow my abs and PF to relax and how to take bigger breaths, and it’s still a work in progress 2 months later. It seems once I get one issue sorted out, another pops up, and after visiting my family doctor today, it seems I am on my way to the pelvic floor clinic in my city.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to get in for another 3+ months. In the meantime, I will continue doing my exercises prescribed by my PHP, the pelvic floor piston exercises, as well as a few other exercise I’ve found help me personally connect with my PF and breath. One of my favourites that I’ve been doing since I was pregnant is just sitting in a squat. And no, I don’t mean those awful hover squats like you’re trying not to sit on a public toilet. More like you’re squatting in the forest having a pee. I relax, and it really helps me feel my breath through my pelvic floor. If you are having a hard time understanding how your breath and your PF are connected, try this. I also like to flow through cat-cow poses while controlling my breath and PF contractions. I think the reason these exercises work for me is because it takes my TA out of the equation, because they always want to kick in and take over.

I’m hoping I can re-learn how to use my core effectively before it comes time to work on nugget #2, and I think I am on the right track. However, some days I just feel like I am missing a piece of the puzzle, and I’m hoping the pelvic floor clinic can help me with that. I encourage you, if you feel like something just ‘isn’t right’ to go to your doctor, or find a PHP near you to help you sort things out. Don’t be discouraged if it takes time, and multiple tries to figure out what’s going on and how to fix it. You don’t have to just deal with a dysfunctional body because you had a baby!

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While I am in the process of obtaining my PT certification with prenatal/postpartum specialization, I’m not quite there yet. Even then, I won’t be able to help everyone, but I don’t want that to hold you back from reaching your goals. My lovely friend Lorraine Scapens over at Pregnancy Exercise has most generously offered to give my readers a 10% discount on her programs that I used when pregnant and still use postpartum; Fit2BirthMum & Birth2FitMum as well as her other programs Super Fit Mum & No More Mummy Tummy Challenge. Simply enter the discount code ‘HMHB‘ at checkout to get your 10% off!

pelvic health, postpartum, Self Care

Strength Training and the Pelvic Floor

This week I finally kicked my own ass into gear and started gathering practice hours to prepare myself for my practical exam to finally get my Personal Training Specialist certification from CanFitPro. I sent out a plea on Facebook for anyone who would be willing to submit themselves to a session with me. I was thankful to have 4 wonderful ladies step up and come join me in my little home gym!

One thing that came up over and over again was the pelvic floor. I just always seem to find ways to work it into the conversation! I think it is because I was so blown away by the knowledge I have gained since become pregnant and giving birth that I just feel the need to share it with the world!

Did you know you can have pelvic floor dysfunction without having a baby?

Did you know you can induce stress urinary incontinence (SUI) through weightlifting?

Did you know most women don’t know how to properly connect with their pelvic floor?

Did you know a pelvic health physical therapist can help with all of these things?

Did you know that I think every single woman who has given birth should see a pelvic health physical therapist? (I hope you know this, from reading previous posts!)

It felt so good this week to share my knowledge of the pelvic floor with some lovely women, even though none of them had given birth, and some of them never plan to. The information was so well received by all of them! I think maybe they can feel my passion shining through.

One eye opening moment I had was watching this video by YouTube Vlogger Meg Squats. She and a fellow powerlifting friend discuss their issues with stress urinary incontinence and how it related to their weightlifting. I had never thought about the pelvic floor in this context, but it totally makes sense. The anatomy of the female core has the opportunity for weakness if the pelvic floor isn’t adequately engaged, thanks to the vagina. The vagina is essentially a hole in your core, and when you are exerting the levels of intra-abdominal pressure required for powerlifting, if you’re not functionally engaging your pelvic floor, it becomes a point of weakness, leaving women vulnerable to SUI or worse, prolapse.

I brought this up with the ladies I trained who are into power lifting or lifting heavy and they were blown away by the idea. I feel like every trainer who trains women needs to at least take the pelvic floor into consideration, especially when they start introducing concepts like using intra-abdominal pressure to brace for lifts. They were also surprised when they tried to engage their pelvic floor, they felt like they had no idea what they were doing! Which is a very common occurrence. I thought I was a champion at Kegels until I visited my pelvic floor physio postpartum and she helped me see that I was clenching so many unnecessary muscles when I thought I was only engaging my PF.

When I left my physio after my final (so far) visit, I took a handful of her business cards and have been handing them out to my post-partum mom friends like candy! We had a mom’s get together the other day, and I wasn’t surprised to learn that every single one of us had some form of pelvic floor dysfunction. And we are all fit, healthy women who were avid athletes and hit the gym regularly before we had our babies!

We need to talk about this more, ladies. Rather than ‘just wait until you pee every time you sneeze’ how about we say ‘have you made an appointment with a pelvic health physio yet?’

nutrition, Uncategorized

Nutrition Schmootrition

Let me preface this by saying that I am NOT a dietitian or nutritionist. These are just ideas that have worked well for me and should you choose to implement them, that is up to you. In my previous post I mention that I think that nutrition is the most important thing to worry about postpartum when it comes to your mood, energy and general well being. Well a lot of moms ask how? How can I eat and feed my family nutritiously? I usually hear things like its too much work, it’s too expensive, I don’t have time. Well I’ll share strategies I use to help myself keep on track.

  1. Be Boring
    Sounds boring right? Well it is. But I bet if you look at your daily meals, you’re probably eating the same things over and over again. You might switch it up every month or so, then eat the same meal for another month. For example, lately I’ve been eating oatmeal for breakfast, greek yogurt with nuts and berries for meal 2, a large smoothie with lots of greens for meal 3 and whatever I have meal planned for dinner. Occasionally I’ll switch out meal 2 or 3 for leftovers from a dinner earlier in the week, but rarely do I actually make a completely different meal.
  2. Pay Attention to How you Feel
    Not everyone is the same when it comes to nutrition. Some people can eat bread daily and feel great and energised, but if I do it makes me feel bloated and sluggish. For some people this is dairy or beans or cabbage. Take a few days or a week or so and make a food diary, whether it’s on paper or using an app like MyFitnessPal, keep track. Then pay close attention to how you feel. Did you struggle to get out of bed this morning, and ate pizza last night? Do you feel gross and bloated in the evening after a bowl of pasta? Are you crampy and uncomfortable after eating baked beans? These are the things you need to think about. The last time hubs and I ordered pizza delivery, I was a miserable bitch the next day, and let’s just say his digestion wasn’t in peak form. Needless to say we’re a lot less likely to order pizza again.
  3. Find Something you Love
    If I tell you to eat oatmeal every day, but you hate oatmeal. You might do it once, or twice, but then you’ll gradually stop until you can’t remember the last time you ate oatmeal. You have to find healthy foods that you enjoy. If you love salad, find a way to make a quick easy salad. If you love chicken wraps, make chicken wraps!
  4. Cook Your Own Food
    Now this is a hard one to get into if you don’t already. I love cooking. It’s like meditation for me, but I can see how some people hate it. I think a lot of what people hate about it is they have no idea what they’re doing! Finding good recipes is key. This is why I love Pinterest. Whenever I feel like I’m in a rut or I want a new idea I go there. There are tonnes of healthy, quick & easy recipes on there for you to choose from!
  5. Choose Real Food
    Your best bet for healthy food is to buy things that don’t require an ingredients list. Like fruits, veggies & meats. There will always be times when you need packaged foods, and I’m not saying they’re all bad. But pay close attention, some greek yogurts are loaded with sugar, or frozen fruits can be sweetened. I personally love frozen veggies. I cannot be bothered to cut up and steam veggies most days at dinner, but dumping a bunch of frozen beans in a bowl and tossing them in the microwave is totally my style.
  6. Choose Healthier Options
    Almost all packaged foods out there have healthier versions available. However, do not be tricked by the ‘low fat’ movement! Most ‘low-fat’ or ‘fat-free’ products are loaded with sugar so they don’t taste like cardboard. You have to read labels. In the ingredients, they are listed based on quantity, so if sugar is the first or second ingredient, then the product is most sugar. Try to find foods with whole ingredients and little fillers or added sugar. Don’t be fooled by hidden sugar like ‘fruit juice concentrate’ or ‘evaporated cane juice’. Sugar is sugar is sugar. Unless it is in the actual whole fresh fruit or veg, with accompanying fibre and nutrients, it’s just sugar.
  7. Meal Plan
    When my husband and I started meal planning we cut our grocery bill by probably 25-50%. How many times do you go grocery shopping because ‘there’s nothing to eat’ yet your fridge is full? This was us. Until we started meal planning! Now at the end of the week, we are down to bare bones, we go and stock up only what we need. Here is the Meal Plan Template I developed and we use weekly. It’s simple, easy to follow and helps you develop your grocery list for the week.
  8. Make Your Unhealthy Favourites Healthy
    This is one of my favourite things. I love being able to make something healthy and delicious! Now, it doesn’t always work, but don’t get discouraged. Keep trying! My favourite recipes that I’ve made healthier are lasagna with eggplant instead of pasta, meatloaf with oatmeal and lean ground beef, shepherds pie with cauliflower instead of potatoes. Honestly, 75% of my ‘healthy’ meals are made from lean ground beef, but you could substitute ground chicken or turkey if you prefer!

Hopefully these tips will help you get on the right track to eating better! I know since I started paying closer attention to my own nutrition it has been like night and day with the way I feel and how I interact with my family, and I hope you have the same experience!

motherhood, Self Care

5 Tips to Feel Awesome and be a Better Mom

You’re a new mom. Maybe this is your first baby, maybe it’s your second, third or twelfth.

You drag yourself out of bed every morning, way too early. You’re cranky and irritable. The fatigue is getting to you. You snap at your husband and feel like everyone and everything is out to annoy you.

You feel like you’re in the trenches and you’re just trying to make it through the day, everyday, bedtime can’t come soon enough. Once it does, it’s all you have to muster up something to eat before crashing on the couch, or going straight to bed yourself.

Does this sound like you?

It was me too. We’ve all been there. In a rut, don’t know why we feel so awful, even when we have a decent night’s sleep (well, relatively compared to those newborn days).

Well I’m here to tell you there are things you can do to help. And they’re not hard, you just have to do them and be consistent.

  1. Walk
    You’re home with the baby, you’re tired, he’s cranky. It’s the middle of the afternoon and bedtime seems lightyears away. Get dressed (because who are we kidding, I don’t get dressed unless I’m leaving the house), pack the baby in the stroller, grab the dog if you’re feeling extra ambitious, and get out and walk. Around the block, to the store, grab a coffee, maybe run a few easy errands to make it feel like your accomplishing something. Just walk, it doesn’t matter how long, but the more you do it, the longer you’ll find yourself going, and the better you will feel after each outing.
  2. Drink Water
    This one is especially important if you’re breastfeeding. If you feel hungry, even though you just ate, you’re probably thirsty. Try your best to keep water bottles around the house and full. Drink while you feed the baby or during his naps. Studies show that even 1-2% decrease in hydration can lower your mood, make you feel frustrated more easily, decrease your attention span and increase headaches. Sound familiar? You’re probably dehydrated.
  1. Sleep
    I know, I know. You’re laughing at me right now. But seriously. Try your best to get as much sleep as you can. If that means laying down with the little ones at nap time, do it. The laundry can wait. Studies show that people who are sleep deprived feel more angry, sad, stressed and mentally exhausted. Again, Sound Familiar?
    One problem moms typically say impacts their sleep is they can’t fall back to sleep after being up with babe. One strategy that has worked for me is laying in bed, eyes closed then thinking of 5 things I can see, 5 things I can hear, 5 things I can smell, 5 things I can feel, then 4 things, then 3 things. If you aren’t asleep by 1, then start again, although I’ve never made it past 3.
  1. Take Time for Yourself
    Even if it’s a 10 minute shower, allot time to yourself with no responsibilities. Hand the baby off to Dad, turn on some music, relax and pretend you’re not in charge of anyone for yourself, for a set period of time, every day. If you have the chance, maybe make this the opportunity for your walk. If your partner works, when they get home, give them and the kids a chance to spend some one-on-one time together and take off, even if it’s just for a quick jaunt around the block. The key to this is to shut off your mind the best you can. Don’t worry about what needs to get done, what errands need to be run, and most of all don’t worry how hubs is surviving with the kids without you. He can do it, I promise!
  2. Eat Well
    I think this is the most important one. You have to fuel your body in order for it to run at peak performance. Choose nutrient-dense foods that give you the most bang-for-your-buck. We all know how difficult it is to find time to eat something when worrying about little ones, so make sure when you do have the chance to eat, it’s something of value. Try to eat something green every day. I love salads but I find them too time consuming to make and eat, so instead I usually whip up a smoothie with a handful or two of spinach or kale in it once a day. I’d like to say ‘eat clean’ because it’s what most people understand the best, however I don’t believe that there is one ‘clean eating’ definition. I think it varies from person to person and depends on how you feel. For example, I feel like garbage if I eat too much bread or wheat based carbs, so I limit those for myself. I would never recommend that for another, though, because they might do fine with bread but feel like crap when they eat cheese. So they key is to pay attention to your body, your mental state and your energy levels and see if certain foods affect them. The best way I can think of doing this is to keep a food diary, I find it easiest to use an app like MyFitnessPal or something similar, but if writing it down on paper works for you, do that!

Notice I didn’t put exercise on this list? I don’t think it’s 100% necessary. If you can’t manage to nail down these 5 things, you’re not going to benefit much from exercise, in fact it might make you feel worse. Exercise is a form of stress, and if your body isn’t equipped to handle that stress, you’re not doing yourself any good. If you can manage to these 5 things, I promise you’ll have more energy, feel happier and have more patience and compassion for your little ones.

Birth, motherhood

What do you mean you didn’t get an epidural?

 

I am at that age, 29 years old. The majority of my friends are trying to get pregnant, pregnant or just recently had a baby or two. So, as women do, we talk. A lot of the currently pregnant or recently pregnant women have asked me about my labour and delivery. I shared my story, as I did here, but they wanted to know how. So here are the ins and outs of how I managed an unmedicated birth.

Now I am not by any means suggesting I did it the ‘right’ way. Or that these strategies will work for you. It was just really important for ME to try my best to have an unmedicated birth, ideally at home. If you chose to schedule a c-section, or get an epidural the second the first contraction hits, or give birth in the forest with deer and bunnies, the more power to you! As long as it is what is right for you and your baby.

I remember my close friend getting pregnant a few years ago. Well before I had even considered the idea of having a baby. She was telling me all about how she was planning to have an unmedicated birth and all the preparation she was doing.

I thought she was absolutely insane.

I was fresh off a labour and delivery placement in nursing school and seeing what those women went through made me cringe at the thought of feeling aaaallllll of that.

Then I got pregnant and my perspective completely changed. All of a sudden it wasn’t about me, it was about this child, and what I felt would be best to bring him into this world. I did research, watched documentaries, found a midwife, fell in LOVE with Ina May Gaskin and watched Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin & The Farm Midwives over and over and even made my husband watch it too.

I think having the right mindset was key. You have to believe you can do it in order to be able to. I’ve been an athlete in one form or another my whole life so that was something I could relate to. I decided to approach labour like an athletic event, like a marathon or climbing a mountain. I tailored my workouts at the end to be like labour training. I’d do one minute on, one minute off of different exercises to prepare myself mentally for the work of continuous contractions every two minutes. I used positive self-talk and told myself over and over again that I can do this. One of the biggest things that I found helped me was doing some research on Hypnobirthing and watching relaxation videos.

When the time came for me to actually be in labour I was excited! I was not scared at all, I saw it as a goal for me to challenge, not as something I needed to survive. I felt every contraction as work towards my baby coming earthside. I knew the stronger the contractions the sooner I’d get to meet my baby, so as they got stronger and closer together, I got more energized and excited. I felt like I was working with my body, not against it. Allowing it to do the work it needed to do.

When my midwife arrived in the middle of the night and checked me, she was so surprised to find I was already 7cm dilated, as I was still smiling and chatting in between contractions. I watched an entire season of friends and laughed and joked.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops and rainbows. Pushing was, let’s just say, not the funnest thing I’ve ever done. At first it was great, it felt like a relief to finally be able to push with the contractions. I felt like I was actively doing something to help my baby arrive.

That was until my pubic bone began to separate.

That’s where the real work, the mental grit, came into play. It was hard. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. This part of my labour was all a bit of a blur, but my husband tells me there was a lot of screaming and swearing and definitely a few F-bombs were dropped. This is where I think being a homebirth made the difference between me staying with my unmedicated plan, versus taking something for the pain. It simply wasn’t an option. I didn’t think about it, it wasn’t offered, it wasn’t an issue. It wasn’t until I was 2 1/2 hours into pushing and just physically and mentally exhausted that the idea of maybe trying to go to the hospital for some help was even brought up.

Once we got to the hospital, we tried to use the gas, but for whatever reason we couldn’t get it to work. And at that point, I wasn’t even having the same pain that I was having at home. Baby’s head had slipped past my pubic bone and we were in the home stretch, so we didn’t even worry about it.

I truly believe that the key’s to making it through were having a midwife and attempting a homebirth. I was so much more relaxed, I knew my midwife very well by the time it came to deliver so I was very comfortable around her. I went into it with the right mindset and a positive attitude. Even though women tried to discourage me with comments like ‘oh just you wait’ and ‘the pain is real’ I wasn’t phased. I knew I could do it, and I did.

motherhood, postpartum, Self Care

Pain, Weakness, Defeat – How I felt Postpartum

As mentioned in my Birth Story, I had what they call a ‘prolonged second stage’ which means I actively pushed my baby out for over 2 hours, just over 3 hours to be exact.

It was the most excruciating, difficult, empowering thing I have ever done in my life.

It was worth it.

Would I do it again?

Absolutely.

Would I try and do everything possible to avoid doing it again if I knew it was an option?

Definitely.

Would I have chosen a C-section over what I went through?

Unquestionably, NO.

I believe everyone gets the birth they need. I will admit I went into labour cocky. After all my baby was so far engaged my midwife had never seen a baby that low before. When she checked me in early labour, she said he was ‘right there’. I thought when it would come time to push it would be, 1, 2, 3 he’s out, break out the champagne.

Nope.

And what do you think all of that pushing did to my pelvic floor?

Well… It wreaked a little bit of havoc.

No one tells you what it feels like AFTER you give birth. Sure they say it’s like a period, they talk about the cramping, and the breastfeeding difficulties, and the sleeplessness. No one talks about the fact that you might feel like you’re sitting on a swollen baseball or like your organs are going to fall out or you can’t hold a full bladder anymore. Or that doing something simple like walking around the grocery store might cause you pain in a way you hadn’t even considered.

No one talks about that.

Because you have a baby! And he’s amazing, and adorable and the greatest thing that has ever happened to you! (truth) But the fact that you have a perfect, healthy baby doesn’t negate how you are feeling. I was so caught off guard by the pelvic pain and weakness. After all, I had worked really hard when I was pregnant (I thought) to ensure my pelvic floor was in tip-top shape! I thought I’d be a rockstar, pop this Nugget out, and be back to normal in a jiff.

Not the case.

By my 6 week check up with my midwife, I was still having pain, and feeling weak and while I was lucky enough to not have incontinence, I still didn’t have the same control I once did. Luckily, my midwife had a contact for a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist (PHP) in my city and I booked an appointment.

6 weeks later I finally got in to see Michelle. (She’s that busy)

I recently was telling my friends about my experience with Michelle. I used words like ‘magical’ and ‘tender’ and ‘professional’.

You have a really intimate relationship with your PHP when you’re done. She helps you with things you may not even discuss with your mother.

She gave me confidence to know what is and isn’t normal within the context of my own body. She helped me realize my version of a Kegel was not very effective and helped me perfect it. She also made me realize I hold a lot of my stress and tension in my core by bracing it way more often than is necessary, which was resulting in a lot of tightness in my PF. She helped me learn how to relax and release that tension so I could enjoy things I hadn’t been enjoying before. She even helped me work through the grief I was feeling over the fact that I had worked so hard to keep my core strong, and here I was, so weak that wearing my baby for a trip to the grocery store was causing me pain.

Let’s just say, after I finished my last session, the first thing I did the next day was send her flowers and a Thank You note.

I truly believe every single woman should see a PHP after she gives birth. Regardless if it is vaginal or C-section, uncomplicated or complex, easy or traumatic. See a PHP!

What most women don’t realize is that during pregnancy your core all but shuts down. It get stretched so much that it is really difficult to connect with those muscles and keep them toned. A PHP will help you reconnect, and become more functional and I promise you, it will help you in every movement you make.

Uncategorized

Squat it Like it’s Hot!

I told you I’d share my love for the squat – Are you ready?

The Squat.

The Quintessential, if-you-only-do-one-exercise-ever movement, most functional, most beneficial exercise of all time.

You wanna build that booty?

Squat.

You wanna burn tonnes of calories?

Squat.

You wanna get baby into a good position for delivery?

Squat.

You wanna prime your pelvis for delivery?

Squat!

The best thing about squatting is there are so many variations. Bodyweight squat, Front Squat, Back Squat, Split Squat, Deep Squat, Plie Squat, Sumo Squat… And on and on and on…

However, the squat isn’t necessarily intuitive anymore. Most of us don’t live functional lives anymore. We spend the majority of our time in chairs, couches & cars, not walking, squatting and moving!

Think of the last time you have to pick something up off the floor, like your baby or a basket of laundry. How did you get down there to grab them? Did you squat? Or did you bend over at the hips, with a rounded spine, and groan as you stood up because it hurt your back. You always hear ‘lift with your knees’. What they really mean is, squat! Maybe not all the way down to the floor for everything, but bending your knees and hips to get lower to lift something is squatting!

It’s really what our bodies were designed to do. Next time you see a toddler playing, pay attention to how much they squat, and how much time they spend comfortably in the squatting position. Squatting is instinctive! No one teaches toddlers how to squat, they just do it! It’s natural when you spend so much time on the floor.

So how does squatting benefit you in pregnancy? It’s well known in the midwife community that squatting opens the pelvic canal. Think about it, if you were a cave woman in the forest, how would you give birth? Probably squatting. Squatting during pregnancy (when you know that baby is head down – NOT breach or transverse) can help baby descend into the pelvis prior to labor, aiding in dilation and shortening the length of labor. I know when I was 37 weeks pregnant, my midwife couldn’t even palpate Nugget’s head because he was already so well engaged!

The other benefit of squatting is the deep squat, like your peeing in the forest, is on of the best stretches for your pelvic floor! I know what you’re thinking, why do I want to stretch my pelvic floor? Won’t that make it looser? Who wants a floppy pelvic floor! No one! But the pelvic floor is a set of muscles. Think about your biceps, if they are tight, and you can’t extend your elbow, how useful is that arm? How strong is your bicep? Not very. In order for muscles to be strong and functional they have to be able to move through their full range of motion effectively! And if your pelvic floor isn’t functioning well, you are going to have issues like incontinence and pain.

I know a lot of women have told you, oh it’s normal to pee yourself when you sneeze or cough when you’re pregnant or postpartum. Let me tell you, it is NOT! It is COMMON, but it is NOT normal! Do you think we evolved to lose function of our body after reproducing? I don’t think so. I will get more into pelvic health in later posts, but all I have to say about this is if you are having issues with pelvic pain, incontinence, or having trouble having sex after having a baby, there is help! Please find yourself a local Pelvic Health Physiotherapist, I am telling you, they are supremely helpful! I will share my story of working with a PHP with you guys as well!

So if I could leave you with one tiny little thing from this, it would be, you guessed it, Squat!

And it doesn’t even have to be ‘exercise’ just incorporate it into your daily movement! Every time you pick up a dirty sock, your toddler, the laundry basket, squat instead of bending over!

Your butt and your back will thank you for it 🙂

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Birth Story – How Nugget Came into this World

I was dreaming that my water broke, with this odd sensation of fluid flowing from me, then I woke and it took me a second to realize I wasn’t dreaming at all, my water had actually broke!

It was 4:30am January 21, 2016, exactly one week before baby’s due date. I was very thankful I had placed a soaker pad under the sheets a few days before! I woke hubs and told him the news, he jumped out of bed and I reminded him we weren’t in a rush and to get back in. The first call I made was to my mom, she answered the phone screaming, and was so excited to hear things were happening. The next call was to the midwife. She was very calming and reassuring, and suggested hubs and I go back to sleep in preparation for little one’s arrival. We both laid in bed and nodded on and off, but we were so excited we couldn’t sleep. We got up and went about our day. I was full of energy, we cleaned the whole house, I made cookies!

Contractions had started around 6:30am but they were not painful and disorganized, My midwife would later tell me this was typical of early labor and that I wasn’t in true labor yet. Throughout the day I kept active, doing the stairs in hopes of getting things going. Around 4:30pm I was getting discouraged, the contractions were getting farther apart, though they seemed a little stronger. My midwife happened to call and check in at this time, I told her how I was feeling and she decided to come over and see how we were doing. She checked me and I was 3cm, did a membrane sweep and was able to stretch me to 5cm, and decided I was officially in active labour at around 5pm. She left and encouraged me to call her when things started getting more intense. Hubs and I decided to go relax and watch some movies, and the contractions slowed waaaay down, some even stretching to 30 minutes apart. This was extremely discouraging, I even cried a bit in fear that I would have to go to the hospital and get induced. I decided to try and sleep a bit and closed my eyes and then all of a sudden I was struck with the strongest, longest contraction yet, I had to moan through it and even swore a bit because it caught me so off guard.

That’s when things really started happening, the contractions all of a sudden picked up to 3-5 minutes apart and within 30 minutes I knew things were happening. I called my midwife around midnight and she decided to head over. When she arrived she checked me and said I was 7cm, transition had arrived! Although I didn’t have that breakdown that most women experience in transition, I felt energized! I was excited to know that our little boy would be arriving soon! Hubs filled the birth pool and I jumped in, and it was the greatest thing ever! Contractions picked up to about 2 minutes apart, we chatted, watched friends and laughed. It was all so relaxed and peaceful! Around 3:00 the contractions started feeling overwhelming and I decided to try and push, what a relief! I told the midwife and she was excited. I pushed for a little while in the tub, then she decided to get me out and check me because I wasn’t making as much progress as she would like. She found I wasn’t yet completely dilated and helped me along. I got back into the tub and pushed some more. About an hour into pushing I started experiencing excruciating pelvic pain, my midwife explained this was my pelvic bones (pubis symphysis) separating to allow baby through. This was the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life! I tried to push through it, but it was so, so painful. The midwife saw I still wasn’t making much progress so she got me back out of the tub to try some different positions. It seemed like forever. We tried every position you could think of; squatting, hands and knees, on my back, on my sides. Nothing seemed to make any difference.

At about 5 am, I was exhausted. I had been awake for basically 24 hours, save for a few short naps. My contractions slowed to 8 minutes apart and I was literally passing out from exhaustion between contractions. Every contraction was a nightmare and I cried through pushing. The midwives suggested we try one more push then if nothing changed we transfer to the hospital to try a vacuum and give me some gas for pain relief. I was so over pushing so I said screw one more push, let’s go now! We quickly packed everything up, I managed to walk myself up the stairs, to the door and out to car, pausing for a few contractions along the way.

The car ride was awful. The longest 10 minutes of my life.

I had 3 contractions in the car and something felt different but I was too tired to tell what. When we got to the hospital and were on our way to the labour ward, the midwives heard me pushing and knew something was different too! When we got to the room, I tried to pee but couldn’t, and just ended up pushing on the toilet! They got me into the bed, and I pushed again and there was little to no pelvic pain, and they found that the baby was crowning! Something had shifted in all of the movement between the house and the hospital and he managed to get past my pelvic bone! They encouraged me that we were almost there, and after another ½ hour of very careful pushing, he was here! He cried immediately (before he was even completely out!) and it was the most profound sense of relief I have ever felt. I remember the moment so vividly. Nugget crying and being placed on my chest, and all I could say was “I did it! I can’t believe I did it!” He was a perfect 8lbs 1oz, 21 ¼” with the cutest little brown birth mark on his left arm. He nursed right away and we cuddled for 2 hours! Everything went perfectly, no complications for me or our little man, and we were at home in our own beds, off to sleep 3 hours after he was born!

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I truely, strongly, 100% believe that being able to get up, move, and walk up those stairs and out to the car is what saved me. That amount of movement, plus pushing in odd positions was the key to get baby past my pubic bone and into this world. I am so thankful I chose to attempt a home birth and go as natural as I could because it saved me so many potential interventions!