by thebirthhour | May 28, 2018 | Blog, Motherhood, Postpartum, Pregnancy
How I got started with Young Living
I honestly never take on things like this (The Birth Hour keeps me plenty busy!) but the YL team that I had the opportunity to join (and that you can join too!) is so fun & full of knowledge that I couldn’t resist joining them after watching so many friends move up through the ranks all while having a blast!
I’ve been actively using the oils in my daily life so much (especially during my pregnancy) that it only made sense to get on board and start sharing my experience. And to be totally frank, working solo on the podcast was getting a little isolating and I am loving having a group of friends both online and locally to share mutual goals with.
I’m a terrible salesperson and had no desire to become one but through our team’s free mentorship program I learned that it’s really all about sharing rather than selling. That I could do! I was using the essential oils and products so much throughout the day that I simply started sharing more of my day with friends in my daily life and on Instagram.
The other cool thing is that you don’t have to pay anything up front or keep any stock of products, all you are doing is sharing your referral link and helping people get their starter kit so they can experience all of the most popular oils while also getting their own access to the wholesale prices of 24% off everything Young Living makes!
My first new members were my friends and family that would come over to my house and ask what that amazing smell was or where I got the awesome hand soap in the bathroom etc. Everything I had learned in the mentorship was pretty spot on—the people that love you and already trust your taste will be interested in the things your are using and loving! I was hooked!
With a Young Living business you can:
- Get your products paid for
- Be your own boss and have more time with your family
- Work alongside an amazing community of women leaders and entrepreneurs
- Earn an income that is a direct result of your own efforts
- Grow real wealth and residual income through the well established business model of network marketing (I know this is the part people struggle with and I did too but I haven’t experienced anything sketchy or salesy since joining!)
Our team has all the resources and tools you need to start growing your very own Young Living Essential Oil business including graphics and photos free for you to use, pre-made oils classes for you to teach, ebooks, ongoing trainings and education, and best of all, a vast community of support and friendship. Honestly, my favorite part—it’s truly so much fun to work alongside these women and celebrate each others successes no matter how big or small!
The Business Opportunity with Young Living
If you have you fallen in love with Essential Oils and now you want to share with others, Young Living allows you to turn that passion into a real income! Our team’s primary mission is to give you the tools and education you need to succeed.
We equip each of our new members with resources and tools including an online mentorship, and tons of guidance. The beauty of a Young Living business is that it’s designed to foster a community of support. That means that when you decide to grow your business with Young Living and enroll as a brand partner, you get free and unlimited access to all of our team resources and community support groups and anyone that you enroll will get the same!
What makes Young Living different than other MLMs?
OK, yes I was turned off by the idea of joining a network marketing or multi level marketing business because of all of the horror stories I’d heard. At the same time, I had friends in my real life that were seeing huge successes with their Young Living Businesses! A couple of people on my upline showed me their actual paychecks so at least I knew the money was real right off the bat. Even though I trusted them, I wanted to make sure and do some research of my own.
So the big concern with MLMs is that they are a scam or a pyramid scheme, right? Since the only startup cost was to get my $165 starter kit, which I already had (and loved!), I wasn’t too worried about being scammed. I already knew the products were high quality and worked for me and my family, so again I wasn’t worried about scamming people with crappy products!
In order to earn full commissions you do need to be on the Essential Rewards program spending but I was already doing that, because, again, I loved the products and loved all of the perks of this monthly autoship program (free stuff, points back, etc!). We were switching out conventional products for non-toxic, plant based products in our home and loving the changes we were seeing so this was also a no brainer for me. We started getting our cleaning products, supplements, shampoo, etc. all from Young Living. Plus, how many startup businesses can you think of that can get off the ground spending only around $50 to $100/month?!
Ok, so the pyramid scheme thing. All MLMs are designed in a way that when you look at your team it does resemble a pyramid and Young Living is no different. However, I don’t view this as a scheme because our team is all working together to help one another succeed. One thing unique to Young Living is that they allow you to strategically place your members in different areas of your organization so your upline can actually help YOUR team grow by placing people that enroll with them into your team. So, when those above you are doing well, it actually helps your business and of course every person who joins your team also helps those above you.
We all grow together and supporting each other is definitely the vibe I saw immediately once I joined our private team groups on Facebook. It’s actually pretty remarkable how supportive those groups are and how inspiring the members are. It’s so rare to come across a big online community of women with ZERO cattiness or mommy wars behavior. Of course I can’t speak for every Young Living team out there but the team I joined has become a group of lifelong friendships.
So how much are people actually earning with a Young Living Business?
How much you earn in your Young Living business is entirely up to you. Some members are content to earn a few extra hundred dollars a month, while others are looking to earn six-figure incomes and beyond. Again, my favorite part is that when those above and below you succeed, you succeed too! It’s definitely a team effort and you never feel like a salesperson out there alone.
Below you’ll see the average monthly income earned by the nearly 1.75 million Young Living members worldwide. Last updated in 2018. Our team is all about helping you reach your goals, however big.
I’m currently a Gold leader with Young Living and I’ve been doing the business for 3 years.
by thebirthhour | May 15, 2018 | Blog, Motherhood
Thanks to Bestow, a life insurance company, for sponsoring this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Before having kids I never thought about life insurance because it’s one of those things that just isn’t on your radar until you hear some horrible story about a devastated family or you start having those mom panic moments when you’re in a close call on the highway. You know the ones I’m talking about!
Kids change everything about how we plan for the future and we start to consider important things like buying a house or saving for college but for some reason life insurance still seems to take a back seat even though it’s so important. I think this is because it is so complicated! Many of us may have a group life insurance plan through our employer but that might not be sufficient (read more here). And for me, I became a stay-at-home-mom and all of a sudden, only my husband was covered with life insurance which I was not okay with. I contribute to our family not only as the main caretaker for our kids but also with The Birth Hour as a significant portion of our income.
Life insurance is one of those things that we all know we should have but many of us don’t actually take the steps needed to get on board! I was so excited to learn about Bestow because they are a young start-up that has made it their mission to take the guesswork and annoying aspects of getting life insurance out of the equation.
You can get signed up in about 3 minutes online and there are no phone interviews, physicals or lab tests involved. Bestow has modernized the process by allowing you to sign up for life insurance coverage, if approved, from your phone or computer. (No invasive medical exams or pushy sales agents).
Lucky me, the first place that they launched is Texas so I signed up right away! They will be rolling out in other states in the near future and you can sign up to be notified on their website. Bestow allows people to not only get protection for their family but also help other families who don’t have coverage.
Some quick facts that make Bestow unique are:
- They use an easy online questionnaire and health databases rather than medical exams to determine your medical history allowing you to get coverage in minutes instead of weeks.
- It’s affordable. Being young and healthy is definitely to your advantage when it comes to life insurance. I was able to get VERY affordable coverage for a small monthly fee that gives me so much peace of mind for the future of my family.
- They are able to avoid a lot of overhead by using technology, and the cost savings is passed to the consumer. You can get a plan for as little as $2.50/month for the most basic policy, price goes up depending on coverage and term length. Max coverage is up to $500,000 for 20 years and even that is still very reasonably priced!
- Instead of commissioned agents they use licensed customer care representatives so even though it’s all online, it’s not impersonal. If you have questions, you can get them easily answered. AKA: it’s a better experience.
- They are backed by two huge insurance companies that are both A+ rated which means that you are getting the same quality life insurance policy as the biggest carriers, without having to deal with all of that bureaucracy.
This isn’t the most exciting part of having babies but it is so important and I feel really passionate about sharing it with you! You can learn more here and listen to my chat with their founder at the end of this podcast episode (Ep. 240) as well. I also love this article about buying life insurance while pregnant, where Bestow addresses some misconceptions!
by thebirthhour | Apr 29, 2018 | Blog, Motherhood, Pregnancy
Why I’m Sharing Essential Oils
Once I realized how much I was using essential oils in my daily life, it really just made sense to share them with you guys. I really want to help more mamas find all of the amazing ways to incorporate oils into their every day that I’ve grown to love over the last few years. I share more info at the bottom of this page about joining YoungLiving as a “member” which basically just means you purchase a starter kit (which is the perfect intro to all of their oils!) and then you get wholesale prices! Here’s some more info on how we use essential oils with our family and why I now only use Young Living (after many years of buying the random bottles at the grocery store).
You can also stay in touch by following my Instagram account: @overlandhomestead!
What do we use oils for?
For just about everything!! Whether you are looking for oils to help you sleep, for natural immune system support, for energy, for focus, for relaxation, for your kids, for natural alternatives to cleaning products, the list is endless!! And you will learn along the way, there aren’t hard set rules, but part of joining our oils team is that you get access to the most amazing resources & our private facebook community where literally any question you have will get answered.
Why Young Living?
Did you know that approximately 96% of essential oils are diluted or chemically manufactured?! This means that the essential oils sold in most stores (online and offline) are being diluted or manufactured using synthetic chemicals! Yes, even the ones at your health food store. When it comes to the health of me and my family, I go straight to a source I can trust to make a product that is 100% pure, undiluted, and intended for therapeutic use. Oils will not serve their purpose if they are not made from the actual plants that carry the properties that are so beneficial! YL has an unmatched Seed to Seal process to guarantee the purity & potency of every oil. Each batch of oils is rigorously tested in house for therapeutic viability & they are so confident in their products that you can actually visit the farms & participate in the harvest/distillation process. Many of their oils (designated with white labels) are so safe they can even be ingested! I definitely would not recommend any other brand for use essential oils during pregnancy or with children!
How do you use oils?
You can diffuse them (you get a diffuser in your starter kit!) which is great for making your house smell great, helping your babies or kids relax at night for bed, helping you breathe during seasonal changes or when your kids bring home crud from school & more. You can apply topically (some require a carrier oil like jojoba or coconut oil, you’ll learn all about that later!), you can make rollerball combos (my favorite thing!), creams, sprays, and just about anything!! I keep 3 of my favorite rollerballs in my purse at all times and use them every day throughout the day for relief from head/neck tension, emotional support and more! My kids are huge fans now too and it’s become an amazing tool in my mama tool box when one of them is having a meltdown, tummy ache, boo boo etc!
How will I learn how to use my kit?
You’ll get plenty of reading material with your kit and you’ll also get access to our exclusive facebook community full of amazing resources like how to use each oil in your kit, which oils to avoid around kids or while pregnant/nursing, and all of the dilution ratios for individual oils. We have classes, books, live facebook hangouts & search functionality that will help you navigate through any questions you might have. I use the search bar in our groups every single day to get questions answered because I’m always learning too and there is SO much knowledge there! It really does matter who you sign up with and the FB groups are a huge perk!
What should I get?
A premium starter kit, which comes with 12 of the most commonly used oils + your diffuser (I recommend the Desert Mist which has an amazing candlelight flicker). The premium starter kit is the best value & provides you with everything you need to get started. You’ll get over $400 worth of product for only $165.
Do you have to order more oils monthly or sell them?
Nope! Your kit can be a one time purchase, but along with it comes a wholesale membership, which just means that should you decide to purchase oils in the future, you would get a 24% discount! You will also get a personal referral link should you ever decide that you want to share them, but neither is required. Many people start sharing to cover the costs of their oils obsession and then an accidental business grows from there. Another thing I love about our team is that we are all about just sharing how we are using the oils ourselves and never pushy. We want new members to discover their love of oils organically just like we did so it’s always a positive experience.
To enroll with our team, ORDER HERE and make sure the number 15023809 appears in both the “Enroller” and “Sponsor ID” fields. Sign up as a Member, this does not mean you have to sell oils, it just means you are getting a starter kit & will therefore get 24% off retail prices. Next you can choose to set up your Essential Rewards monthly autoship. Being on Essential Rewards also means you’ll get points back, free products and bonus gifts! It’s fully customizable every month (you can skips months whenever) and basically feels like your birthday each month when the box arrives!
When you sign up as a member, I will invite you to our private groups on facebook, which is where you can learn everything you need to know about using your oils & connect with an amazing, inspiring community. If you are interested in selling the oils and sharing about the company, this is my newest passion! I want to be a part of helping you earn income to help support their families! You will get access to online courses, videos, FB groups, e-books and more to help you if that’s the direction you want to go! You can see the compensation plan here to get an idea of the possibilities and learn more about the business opportunity from my perspective here! And, of course I’m here to help you along the way!
Where do you order your rollerballs, glass bottles & carrier oils?
You can find all of those goodies here!
A few more FAQs:
Do I have to sell oils?
Most people who join YL don’t do it to sell oils! You can learn more about the optional income potential with Young Living HERE. We have everything you need to get started including a free mentorship.
Are there any monthly, yearly, or hidden fees?
Nope! No tricks or gimmicks or automatic charges to your credit card whatsoever. Do be aware that in order to keep your membership with Young Living you will need to purchase at least $50 worth of products every 12 calendar months. If you don’t, you can always buy another Starter Kit to get your wholesale pass back but honestly spending $50/year will be no problem once you fall in love with your favorite oils! Your starter kit takes the place of this requirement for year one!
If I don’t like it can I return it?
Yes. You have 30 days to receive a full refund if you do not like your products.
Why should I buy from Young Living instead of other essential oils companies?
I can’t speak to the quality of other companies, but I can say that Young Living was the only company in my research of essential oil companies that could answer all of my questions about purity in a way that was satisfactory to me. So why I chose Young Living over the other brands? I’ve used a ton, including DoTerra, and in my opinion Young Living is by far the best therapeutic grade on the market. You can read more about it here (click through to explore!), but after trying so many different types, the quality, potency, everything just is so much better with YL. The first time I smelled their lemon and lavender oils from the starter kit I could immediately tell a difference from everything else I’d tried.
Additionally, Young Living is the only company that has their own farms (in the regions where the plants should be grown), could absolutely guarantee that no pesticides or herbicides were used in the growing of any of their oils (they use essential oils for pest control and they do all of the weeding by hand), has their own testing equipment (they do both in-house and 3rd party testing, and use many different testing methods not just GC/MS which only tests for certain chemicals, not whether those chemicals are synthetic or not), and only uses the first distillation of oils instead of adding chemicals to get more out of the plant.
Does Young Living only sell essential oils?
Young Living actually has an entire line of personal care products, supplements, meal replacements, energy drinks, and more! Almost every product incorporates essential oils (for example, frankincense is absolutely wonderful in facial products), but there’s a wide variety of products available.
My favorite products (outside of the essential oils offered through Young Living) are:
- Seedlings Baby Products (including diaper cream and linen spray)
- Thieves household cleaner
- Thieves Hand Purifier
- Nontoxic sunscreen!
- Nontoxic eye cream
- Thieves toothpaste (Dentra Ultra is my fave)
- Children’s toothpaste
- Savvy Minerals Makeup
- Ningxia Red (antioxidant super drink)
The list seriously goes on and on!
Join me today (be sure to use this link and that you see my member number 15023809 listed when you sign up so that you get access to me and all of our team resources (private groups, online classes, e-books, mentorships—all FREE!)
*Any suggestions made on this blog are very specific to Young Living essential oils and should not be used with oils from another source. Statements made on this website about Young Living Essential Oils have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products and information are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Anyone suffering from disease or injury should consult with a physician. If you are currently on medication, please do not stop.
by thebirthhour | Dec 8, 2017 | Blog, Motherhood, Postpartum
Adjusting to a new baby always comes with its challenges. Whether it’s your first or your fifth, you’re dealing with lack of sleep, hormone shifts, putting the needs of this new human before your own AND figuring out what your relationship with your partner looks like now that there’s another person in the picture. These are some of our favorite recommendations for new parents to ensure that everyone is practicing some self care while caring for their new bundle of joy.
Sleep is obviously the biggest hurdle so let’s tackle this one first.
- Hire a postpartum doula – this is an invaluable gift you can give to new parents that will help them get some extra zzz’s.
- Smart Nora – the last thing you need when you finally do get to lay your head down is to be woken up by your partner’s snoring. I’ve been truly AMAZED at how well the Smart Nora has worked to curb my husband’s snoring. It’s been priceless to not only get more sleep but also to not be annoyed at him for waking me up several times a night!
- You can see in the picture below how it works, the box powers it and hides under the bed and then there’s a pillow insert that inflates when he starts snoring and it moves his head just enough to get him to stop.
- The egg looking thing on our night stand is the sensor that detects the snores and activates the pillow.
- Eye Mask – I was one of the first supporters when this mask launched on Kickstarter and I can’t say enough good things. It completely blacks out the room which is so great when you are trying to get your sleep in at odd times.
- Diffuser and essential oils (lavender, frankincense, roman chamomile and cedarwood are my faves). More on how we use oils here.
Nourishing your body with good food when you’re new parents is almost as important as sleep. Some great gift ideas are.
- Home cooked meals – easy meals that can be frozen and popped into an oven or crock pot are ideal.
- Take out gift cards. Or how about this Katz’ deli meal you can order on amazon?!
- Gift card to a meal prep service. Either one that makes complete meals or one that sends the ingredients and you make the meals like Blue Apron. My best friend’s husband loves to cook and got sick of eating meals people brought so this was a great option for them, especially when he was on paternity leave and had some extra time.
- Grocery shopping – either offer to do this for them and stock them up with some staples or gift them with a credit to a grocery delivery service in their area. Instacart is one many people use and Amazon Fresh is a newer one.
- Nursing snack station – Fill a basket with healthy and quick snacks for the nursing mom (trail mix, granola bars, jerky, nuts, etc).
- A great book that outlines specific meals that are nutritious and healing during the 4th trimester is this one!
- Monthly subscription for healthy snacks or fresh fruit.
- House cleaning service!!! (This is the #1 recommended by all parents I interviewed!).
- Dog Walking Service or doggy day camp gift cards.
- Take the older kids somewhere on the weekend and/or offer to do school drop off/pick-up for a week!
- Laundry Service.
- Cloth diaper service (obviously check with them first on this one!)
- Monthly subscription for flowers.
- Amazon prime membership (check to see if they have one first).
Here’s where you can have some fun and do some pampering for both parents. Almost all of these ideas came from new moms!
- At home massage visit or spa gift card. There are massage therapists that specialize in postpartum.
- Since they will be spending most of their time lounging around the house, a really nice robe or set of pj’s is a great gift especially since baby likely already has tons of sleepers, treat the parents instead!
- Nice sheets or a cozy blanket (maybe even one to commemorate baby)
- Herb baths – Mom shouldn’t be using any bubble baths or bath bombs right after baby but an herbal bath that’s specifically meant for postpartum is a great gift. I love this one for sitz baths and this one for full tub soaks.
- One mom suggested a special body wash or shampoo to motivate her to take showers and practice that basic form of self care! Try an organic option! I’m obsessed with making my own with essential oils too.
- High end face wash and moisturizer to help mom feel fresh and self indulgent at the beginning and end of each day.
- Diffuser and essential oils.
by thebirthhour | Aug 27, 2017 | Blog, Motherhood, Postpartum, Pregnancy
This guest post was written by Austyn Smith
The book “Taking Charge of your Fertility” by Toni Weschler provides deep insights into what happens in a woman’s body during a typical menstrual cycle. Learning about these changes in detail helps women become very in tune with their body’s physical signals of fertility (or lack thereof). In part one of this series, we discussed using Toni’s Fertility Awareness Method to help in troubleshooting infertility issues naturally, and ultimately achieving pregnancy. In part 2, we will discuss using this same method as a means for birth control.
Natural Birth Control After Baby
I have successfully used the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) for natural birth control for over four years, and have loved it. It entails charting your body temperature, your cervical mucus, and your cervical position as a means for noting your fertile and infertile times, and then planning intercourse accordingly. Although this method is not for everyone, it can be a great option for women who prefer not to use traditional birth control or have adverse reactions to it (myself). Using this method does require a bit of planning and consistency in order to be effective, so it is ideal for the organized or schedule-driven mama.
Plan on charting two full menstrual cycles before you begin using this method so that you can get a true understanding of charting, how it works, what it all means, and identifying your own body’s cues and signals of fertility. During each cycle you will be taking a daily basal body temperature (you need a special thermometer for tracking), recording cervical mucus, and cervical positioning (optional). A sample chart of a typical cycle is below.
As a reminder, there are three phases of a typical menstrual cycle: the pre-ovulatory infertile phase, the fertile phase, and the post-ovulatory infertile (luteal) phase. I recommend re-reading FAM part 1 to review the basics of the signs of fertile and infertile phases, before continuing on. I also highly recommend reading the book in detail before trying this method in order to get a clear picture of the procedures in detail. At any rate, here is an overview.
Phase One: Pre-Ovulatory Infertile Phase Rules
The first phase of a cycle begins on the first day of bleeding during your period. During this phase, there are two rules to follow.
First five days rule
You are only “safe” to have intercourse during the first 5 days of a menstrual cycle if you have had an obvious temperature shift 12-16 days prior.
Having this shift means that ovulation has indeed occurred and the bleeding you are experiencing is not ovulation spotting or implantation bleeding. Remember sperm can live for up to five days in a fertile environment, so any time after these first five days consider yourself potentially fertile, even if you are still bleeding. You may consider yourself “safe” beyond the first five days if you then keep the second rule.
Dry Day Rule
Before you ovulate, you are safe on the evening of every dry day—meaning you do not have any cervical discharge during the course of the entire day. If you have been dry and then have intercourse, the next day you must be careful since semen may mask cervical discharge. If at the end of a day after intercourse you have been dry all day, consider yourself safe once again (remember, sperm cannot survive in a dry environment).
Phase Two: Fertile Phase
Ideally, you are only having unprotected sex when you know for sure you are in your infertile phase. If you do decide to have sex during your fertile phase, you will need to use a barrier of some type (like condoms—we are huge fans of these), or explore other areas of arousal and climax without penetration. A woman’s egg once released survives only 24-48 hours. However, if the uterine environment is right, sperm can survive for several days, so there is a range on either side of ovulation day where you must consider yourself potentially fertile. To err on the side of caution, assume most women have an 8-10 day range of fertility. As a basic review, the signs of fertility include:
- Cervical mucus changes from dry to sticky, then creamy, then eggwhite (extremely fertile), to sticky or dry, and finally menstruation.
- Cervical positioning changes from firm, low, and closed to soft, high, open, and wet and then closed and low again.
- Basal Body Temperature Shifts: a spike of several tenths of a degree which remains high for 3 consecutive days will indicate that ovulation has occurred. Remember you need a special thermometer for tracking.
- Ovulatory Pain: Some women experience cramping in the lower abdomen on one side indicating ovulation is occurring.
Phase Three: Post-Ovulatory Infertile Phase
During this phase remember the Temperature Shift Rule.
Temperature Shift Rule
You are “safe” the evening of the third consecutive day your temperature is above the coverline.
Review how to chart temperatures and calculate coverline here. Essentially, the first day there has been a temperature rise by 2/10 of a degree, and has stayed elevated for 3 consecutive days, you can be sure you have ovulated. Highlight the previous 6 temperatures, and identify the highest of those. Draw your coverline on the chart that is one degree higher than the highest of those temperatures.
You are considered infertile at 6pm on the third consecutive night your basal body temperature is above the coverline. If your temperature is on or below the coverline during those 3 days, you must start over once your temperatures are back above the line. Remember, sex is still okay, only you must use a barrier method.
There are a few exceptions to these rules that will throw your body off a little bit—being sick, traveling, breastfeeding, or sleeping poorly for instance. So definitely review the book in detail before trying out this method.
Monitoring and charting fertility signs not only helps women understand their fertility in a very detailed manner, but can also serve as a diagnostic tool for infertility, as well as a means of natural birth control. It can be a great alternative for women who do not want added hormones, surgery, or the pressure of remembering to take a pill for birth control. I have found great success in using the Fertility Awareness Method both to prevent pregnancy, and to achieve pregnancy when I want to conceive. You may find a copy of Toni Weschler’s book here, and more information and community resources about using the Fertility Awareness Method at Taking Charge of your Fertility or ovagraph.com.
by thebirthhour | Jul 7, 2017 | Blog, Motherhood, Postpartum, Pregnancy
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.
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.
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.