World Breastfeeding Week 2017

It’s World Breastfeeding Week and I’ve really been blown away by all of the amazing collaborations, articles, events and general awesomeness surrounding this week and bringing awareness to Breastfeeding. Here are some of my favorite things from the week.

Facebook LIVE party for supporting moms and a HUGE Giveaway with Sarah Wells Bags! I loved how real Sarah is when she shares her journey of exclusively pumping for her first daughter and how it inspired her breastpump bags (be sure to check out the newest gorgeous floral design she just released for WBW!) as well as my chat with Sarah Wells at the end of this week’s podcast episode!

sarah wells bags

Awesome article about why this week matters!

Around 2,000 women came together to breastfeed their babies in the Philippines to promote the health benefits of breast milk. If you want to attend a Latch On event, you can find one near you!

This free WBW nursing guide including a Survival Guide for the first two weeks of breastfeeding.

This kickstarter to bring breastfeeding awareness around the country – you have to see the RV and their clever #putaboobonit campaign!

Some of my favorite episodes that talk about breastfeeding struggles: one, two, three.

 

Lower Back Pain During Pregnancy

Lower Back Pain during Early Pregnancy & Beyond

This guest post was written by Dr. Heather Allen. Dr. Allen received her Master of Physical Therapy from the University of Texas at El Paso in 2001 and graduated with her Doctor of Physical Therapy from A.T. Still University in 2009. She is a licensed physical therapist in Texas. Dr. Allen has a varied clinical background with experience in neurological rehabilitation, cardiovascular rehabilitation, and women’s health. Dr. Allen’s current focus is teaching in academia.

It is estimated that at least 80% of the general population will experience low back pain at some point in their life. It is extremely common for a woman to experience low back pain during her pregnancy. This is due to the changes that occur to a woman’s body during pregnancy. First, our center of gravity is altered due to the weight and location of the baby, especially during the third trimester. Secondly, our body produces more Relaxin (a hormone that allows our joints and ligaments to loosen in preparation for childbirth). Thirdly, our abdominal muscles are stretched due to the growing baby and these muscles are unable to provide normal stability. Finally, our movement patterns are altered with all activities of daily living.

Treatment Options for Lower back Pain

Treatment options are limited during pregnancy since it is best to err on the side of caution. Most pain medications are contraindicated during pregnancy. The general rule of thumb regarding treatment modalities is to avoid any modality other than heat or ice near the baby. A recent study by Keskin et al. (2012) indicated that TENS was more effective than exercise and acetaminophen for pregnancy related low back. Therefore, a TENS unit may be a possible treatment option. This is one that we have used and love!

Whether you are pregnant or not, correct body mechanics are very important. If you are picking up a small light object from the floor, you should use a golfer’s lift technique (how a pro golfer picks up a golf ball from the ground). If you are picking up something heavier such as a toddler, you need to squat down and keep the object close to you. It is important to lift with your legs, not your back. If you are carrying an object, you should keep it close to your body. It is important to sit in a chair that has good lumbar support. After sitting for more than 30 minutes, you should stand up and walk around the room. Our bodies are meant to move, and if we stay in static positions for too long, it will make our low back pain worse.

babymoon retreat

Sleeping During Pregnancy

Towards the end of pregnancy, it is very difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position. After 20 weeks, a woman should no longer sleep on her back or stomach. This can be a challenge for women who normally sleep in these positions. When you are sleeping on your side, you can put pillows between your knees and a pillow behind your low back. Some people also find it comfortable to hug a pillow(s) in this position.

Exercises for lower back pain in pregnancy

There are a variety of exercises that can be helpful throughout pregnancy. Walking is a great way to exercise throughout your pregnancy. Swimming and water aerobics put minimal stress on your low back. Standing back extensions can be very helpful to maintain our lumbar extension. It is important to perform core exercises such as pelvic tilts in standing or sitting. You can perform alternating arm and leg lifts in quadruped. It can also be helpful to trade in your desk chair and recliner for a birth ball. We love this one!

Our core consists of our low back muscles, abdominal muscles, and pelvic floor muscles. As previously mentioned, our abdominal muscles are severely affected by pregnancy. Many pregnant females experience diastatsis recti (vertical separation of the abdominal muscles). The pelvic floor is an often-forgotten component of the core. One purpose of the pelvic floor is to support the internal organs above it, and thus it is crucial to strengthen this muscle group during pregnancy with Kegel exercises. Likewise, strong pelvic floor muscles can assist during delivery.

A women’s health physical therapist can be an excellent resource for treatment of low back pain during pregnancy. Likewise, physical therapists are trained to provide customized exercise programs, posture analysis, and body mechanic training. A physical therapist can also determine if a maternity support belt would be of benefit to you.

Sources: Keskin, E.A., Onur, O., Kiskin, H.L., Gumus, I.I., Kafali, H., & Turhan, N. 2012. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation improves low back pain during pregnancy. Gynecologic & Obstetric Investigation, 74, 76-83.

Amazon Prime Day – Best Deals for Baby, Kids + Mom

Amazon Prime Day – Best Baby, Kid and Mom Deals

Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial – First of all make sure you are signed up for Prime! Here’s a free way to try it out!

Baby Deals

Amazon has an entire section of baby deals going live throughout the day! Some favorites are this tiny fold-up travel stroller, this carseat carrier for travel, these ear protectors, this outdoor shaded play yard, and this baby carrier!

Honestly there are SO many baby deals it’s too much to list plus new things are popping up quickly while other things are selling out so just head over to the baby section and search for what you need!

Kid Deals

I’m getting these star projector night lights for my kids that are more than half off! (almost sold out!)

Organic cotton toddler pillow (68% off!)

Kindle for Kids Bundle (20% off)

Camera Drone that you can control with your phone! (extra 20% off at checkout)

Mom + Home Deals

Kindle Paperwhite ($30 off) This is the lowest price I’ve seen on this and would make a great Christmas gift. My hubby loves his – all other readers hurt his eyes after a while but this one is great!

Echo Show + Security Camera bundle ($75 off) – Can also double as baby monitor!

I really wish I still worked at an office and needed a lunchbox because this one is SO cute!

Ridiculously comfortable sandals that you can even get away with wearing to work or date night!

Kindle Unlimited (40% off)  – Access to thousands of books and many titles come with “Kindle Unlimited With Narration” so you can also listen via the Audible app. Even better, it’s smart enough to let you seamlessly switch between reading and listening, which is so awesome for kids just starting to read!

Smart Lock ($50 off) – Gamer changer for people who have babysitters, house sitters or AirBnb their home.

Tile Key & Wallet Locator (20% off) – This has been a lifesaver for our family (ok mainly just my husband!). He uses it almost every day.

Pelvic Floor Health and Resources for Pregnant & New Moms

This guest post was written by Alina Horrocks who holds a Doctor of Physical Therapy.

I am a mother of 3. I am also a physical therapist. My background is mostly acute (hospital) care. I’ve shifted from working full-time as a PT, to being a stay at home mom. When I became fully immersed in the “mom world” and was meeting other fairly new mothers, I was surprised at how many of these women were having pelvic floor issues (mainly incontinence).

In my experience as an OB/GYN patient, none of my providers really took any time to explain the importance strengthening the pelvic floor or the correct way to do it. In talking to several friends, that has been their experience as well. Many ended up seeing a Women’s Health specialist PT for incontinence issues postpartum, and they were very surprised at what they didn’t know about their own body and how simple the treatments are.

Women’s Health & Physical Therapy

Having had the advantage of going to PT school, I at least knew a little about my pelvic floor and the Women’s Health specialty within the world of physical therapy. It is a fairly new but growing specialty. But even in school, the amount of curriculum dedicated to Women’s Health and/or pelvic floor issues was minimal. I’ve had to really do a lot of my own research and take some extra courses to learn more.

A systematic review published in 2014 found that “PFMT (pelvic floor muscle training) during pregnancy and after delivery can prevent and treat UI (Urinary Incontinence)”. This research shows the benefit of exercising the pelvic floor, but the problem is that our current healthcare culture doesn’t promote much preventative education in this arena.

What I want all mothers and mothers-to-be to know

I think many women just accept the fact that some urine leakage after having a baby is expected. Many women do experience this, yes….BUT that doesn’t have to be the case. Urine leakage is a dysfunction of the pelvic floor and there is treatment available!

There are physical therapists that specialize in Women’s Health that can help with all kinds of things (urinary and bowel incontinence, breast cancer, lymphedema, pelvic girdle pain, pediatric pelvic health, male incontinence and pelvic health, sexual dysfunction, pregnancy and postpartum, to name a few…). However, you may have to seek them out. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has a Section on Women’s Health (SOWH) where you can look up therapists who’ve been specially trained and certified – look for someone with a WCS after their name (Women’s Health Clinical Specialist). For more info, go here.

Performing a pelvic floor contraction

Think about pulling the whole area from your pubic bone to your tail bone “up and in”. Another description I’ve heard is to “stop the flow of urine”, but actually I think a more accurate description is to “stop the passing of gas”. The contraction needs to include the muscles around the vagina as well as around the anus. You should not be holding your breath or contracting the abs. If you have difficulty doing this or are unsure if you are doing this correctly, you may want to seek out a Women’s Health specialist.

high risk pregnancy

Exercise your pelvic floor

  • Quick flicks – contract your pelvic floor as hard as you can.
  • Sustained contraction – contract your pelvic floor and hold the tension starting for 5 seconds and working up to 10+ seconds.
  • Elevator – contract and lift up your pelvic floor little by little, like you’re going up floor by floor in an elevator. When you get to the top, or your maximal contraction, don’t just completely release the tension. Instead, control and let down the contraction little by little (or floor by floor) until you are completely relaxed.

You can perform these exercises sitting, standing, or lying down. Like any exercise, start small and build up. I recommend 2-3 sets of 5-15 reps of these exercises a day. Perform these consistently, maybe there is something already in your daily routine where you could incorporate your pelvic floor exercises. For example, when you brush your teeth, take a shower, cool down from a workout, nurse your baby, or watch commercials during your favorite TV show. Practice these both during pregnancy and after.

Co-Contractions

Once you are confident you are correctly contracting the pelvic floor, try doing it while pulling your belly button into the spine (contracting the transverse abdominis). Also, try contracting your pelvic floor while walking or going up and down steps.

Find a Physical Therapist

Try doing these simple exercises on your own and if more help is needed or other issues arise, a physical therapist can really help. Most states these days don’t require a prescription from a doctor to see a physical therapist so you can go directly to a specialist for an evaluation.

Our bodies go through so much during pregnancy! And we give so much to be mothers! My hope is that we can create more awareness in our communities on ways women and mothers can take care of themselves and also to let them know there are people to help.

This guest post was written by Alina Horrocks. Alina graduated from Texas Woman’s University in Houston, TX with a Doctor of Physical Therapy in 2010. She has worked primarily in the hospital setting, helping inpatients regain and improve functional mobility. She welcomed her third child last year and is now using her professional and personal experience to help other moms take care of their bodies during pregnancy and beyond.

Don’t Forget Dads After Pregnancy Loss

This guest post was written by Sasha Ruscheinski to share about her and her husband’s experience with miscarriage. The rainbow dad tee can be found here

When my son, Lincoln, was 15 months old, my husband and I decided to try for our second child. We had no idea the journey we were about to go on. Within eight months, we had lost three pregnancies. The first was a missed miscarriage at 10 weeks, the second was an ectopic at 6 weeks and the third was another missed miscarriage at 6 weeks. It was excruciating and has forever changed me. I had been very lucky in my life and had never really experienced a loss. I am married to the only person I have ever dated, so I had never even experienced a lost love before. There were many nights where I would lay in bed and just sob. It felt as though my heart was going to burst through my chest. Losing those babies really took a toll on me. Being able to talk freely about my feelings really helped during the grieving process. I had friends texting me daily to see how I was doing, I was sent flowers on the due dates of the babies we lost and was given a beautiful necklace by my closest friends. Even hugs from friends and family always lasted a little longer. The support I received was amazing and really helped me get through it. When a woman miscarries the support is usually given to her, but what about dad?rainbow dad

I know the saying goes “when a woman becomes pregnant she becomes a mother, when man holds his child he becomes a father”. Yeah, that may be the case for some, but I know that the instant we got a positive pregnancy test my husband started dreaming about our child. He started to envision our life with this new family member. I know that our losses crushed him. He never saw them coming. With the first baby we lost, I had had a feeling that something wasn’t right, but my husband always kept telling me that everything would be okay. It was at our first ultrasound, on his birthday, that we found out the baby hadn’t made it past seven weeks. I will never forget that look on my husband’s face when the tech told us. It was pure anguish, yet the first thing he did was grab me. Men carry such a heavy burden when you miscarry. They are grieving the loss of their child, but they also have a partner that needs major support.

Recognizing Rainbow Dads

Our rainbow baby, Britton, was born on November 16th, 2016. It was one of the best days of my life. Since his birth, I have been drawn to all things rainbow and when I saw the Rainbow Dad shirts from Bryn, I knew I needed to get one for my husband for Father’s Day. When I first picked up the shirt, I looked at the beautiful rainbow and the words “rainbow dad” and I had this wave of emotion just hit me so hard. Even as I write this, my heart is tightening and I can feel tears coming. I had always just seen myself as a rainbow mom and Britton as my rainbow baby. I can honestly say that during our (I initially wrote “my”) miscarriages, I didn’t really give much support to my husband. Our losses completely consumed me, so I never stopped to think that maybe they consumed him as well. I think it is very easy to forget about dad; I know I did.

rainbow dad and mom

Mama BearTee from Loved by Hannah and Eli

This rainbow dad shirt made me stop and think. It made me ask my husband about what it was like for him when we lost our babies… a question I had never asked him before. My husband would be the first one to say that his main concern was me; he wanted to make sure that I was okay. He let me cry when I needed to, let me be angry when I needed to be and just sat there in silence with me when I needed it. I wish that I had been able to do that for him, since I know he suffered in silence. I wish I had sat down with him and let him fall apart the way he let me. I wish he was given the same amount of support that I was given. I know he is at a new place in his grieving process, but I know he needed me back then.

People come to me a lot for my advice when they are going through a miscarriage. My advice is always directed at the woman and making sure to give her support. Moving forward, I am going to make sure to remind them to not forget about the dad the way that I did. Dads need to be given the chance to fall apart as well and have someone there to comfort them. So often men want to be the fixers. They want to be the strong man and support their wife. I asked my husband what he would say to another man who lost a baby and his words were simple: it is okay for you to
grieve, too.

rainbow baby pregnancy announcement

The Birth Hour also makes Rainbow Kid and Rainbow Mom shirts if you want to match as a family!

Dealing with Anxiety Before, During and After Pregnancy

I never had anxiety before having kids and even after my kids were born it was mostly normal every day worry not full blown anxiety. Then, when my son was one year old, my best friend’s son was stillborn and full on anxiety kicked in. I was there with her when we found out he was gone and I was one of her go-to people of support in the dark days after her loss. I wanted to be there for her and was glad that she was opening up to me, but it didn’t come without it’s own affects on my mental and physical well-being. I began to have anxiety attacks that manifested in the form of what fell life labor contractions and would last for hours and sometimes days.

I went to therapy for the first time in my life and opened up about not just about the loss of my friend’s son and the affect on me but also issues that came up from my past. I highly recommend therapy to help with anxiety or at the very least talking to someone in your life rather than holding it in. Although, I never felt I needed pharmaceutical drugs, I know there are many people who do benefit from them. In this post I wanted to share some of the things that helped me through this dark time and continue to help me today as I deal with daily bouts of anxiety and occasional anxiety attacks.

using labor ball

Meditation

Initially I had a really hard time falling asleep as I tried to process what I had just been through and kept putting myself in my friend’s shoes knowing she was suffering and that for whatever I went through it was so much worse for her. I found that falling asleep to a guided meditation was very helpful to me and I ended up recommending it to my friend and she benefitting from it as well. I especially love Expectful if you are in the pregnancy or motherhood stage of life. I also discovered this special headband that makes falling asleep with headphones a bit more comfortable.

Mother’s Wort

This supplement continues to help me immensely with managing anxiety. If I start to feel a little anxious for no apparent reason, I squirt some in my mouth and I notice a real difference very quickly. Warning, it tastes gross but if you chase it with some water, the taste goes away quickly. This tincture, also has motherwort in it and was created by a midwife I know well to increase fertility so if you’re trying to conceive and anxious, I recommend it highly as well!

Exercise

The mental benefits of even a 30 minute walk are pretty amazing and if you want a more intense workout my favorite free resources are the 7 minute workout app or yoga videos on youtube. If you’re expecting, I’m a huge fan of Knocked Up Fitness which offers specific breathing techniques, yoga and workout routines for pregnant moms.

Sleep

Getting enough sleep when you’re dealing with anxiety is really important but it’s also often hard to turn your brain off in the evening. My friend loved a relaxation technique that can be found in the Yoga for Grief Relief that has lots of great resources she loved. Basically before going to sleep, while lying down you start at your feet and concentrate on each part of your body being totally relaxed. Repeat in your head, “my feet are completely relaxed,” and once they start to tingle you move up to your calves, thighs, pelvis, stomach, etc. until you’ve done your entire body. She said this exercise helped her not to lie down in bed and toss and turn thinking about everything.

For anxiety at bedtime, my friend also swears by this Eucalyptus spray that her mother-in-law who’s a L&D nurse recommended. It’s pricey but lasts for quite awhile with just one spray on the pillow each night.

sleep meditation

Specific Support Groups

My friend shared with me that social media groups help you feel less alone and crazy and the more specific the group is to your own experience, the better. For instance, there’s a FB group for pregnancy after loss specifically for moms of 3rd trimester losses. I imagine that regardless of what is causing anxiety for you, there’s a Facebook group or even local in-person support group that could help.