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Pregnancy

Pregnancy is an amazing and incredible journey for a mama-to-be and her partner. A healthy pregnancy is often associated with feelings of energy, vitality and strength. Learn here how to have the healthiest pregnancy for you and your baby!

Pregnancy

M Y S T O R Y

{My speech from the 2018 Moms TO Wine Fest)

Hi Everyone. My name is Dr Aliya Visram and I am a chiropractor and acupuncturist.

I want begin by telling you a STORY.  A story of a mother who had it all. A wonderful husband, two beautiful children – a newborn and a spunky toddler, a supportive family, tons of friends,  a successful career helping others, and what seemed like the most positive outlook on life.


But what people didn’t see was that this woman, who appeared to have her shit together, killing it in life,  seemingly happy and in bliss, was on the inside, crumbling.  She was barely hanging on, hoping that someone, somewhere could hear her own thoughts and save her from her feelings of despair.

You see, she felt like there was no way she could tell a soul about what she was thinking or feeling.  In her mind, her job was to help and support others, be a role model, give hope and sprinkle positivity to everyone she met. So she kept trying to live her “instagram-worthy” life…but behind closed doors she cried herself to sleep, fearful of the thoughts she kept having, feeling fragmented and empty.  She couldn’t bring herself to get out of bed each morning, let alone nurse her baby and care for her toddler.


This woman was me.    

You see, my “realstagram” life was an entirely different story.  Realstagram was that my husband was suffering from a serious concussion leaving him bedridden and completely estranged from mine and our children’s lives.  Our marriage was hanging by a thread. During this time, our son was born leaving me to care for a newborn and a toddler completely alone. Four months before my son was born, my father who was my best friend had died, leaving my family in utter shock.  To add insult to injury, during this time, I was diagnosed with pneumonia,  which left my immune system completely depleted.

I woke up each day feeling more and more isolated.

I don’t know whether it was the exhaustion, grief, postpartum depression, or a combination of those things.  And in a lot of ways, I don’t think a label was necessary.  I was struggling. My awareness of myself and my needs dropped away and I was falling deeper and deeper into darkness

On January 18 2017, I hit bottom.  I got into my car at 2 am with my car keys in hand.  Willing myself to put the key in the ignition and drive my car as far as I could until I found a bridge.  The rest of my plan was a foggy memory. It must have been divine guidance that woke my husband up, urging him outside in minus 30 degree weather pulling me from behind the wheel before I could leave the driveway. 

This was and is the lowest point of my entire life.


This is a story I’ve held close and haven’t shared publicly. Until today. This is my story back from being energetically bankrupt.  And it’s become a story that gives me strength instead of feeling shame or judgement. I wanted to share it with you not to depress you but rather to give you hope and to empower you.   

During that time, under the weight of all of that distress, both my nervous system and immune system were fried.  I was constantly on edge, rageful and irritable. I started to avoid social situations and isolated myself from my friends and family. 

The medical system had offered me some options to help me cope and feel better. But I felt that there was more out there that I could explore.  I thankfully found a counsellor that I deeply connected with and she introduced me to the concept of “self care”.   Of course,  I had heard of “self care” before….you know, tips like getting a massage, or going to the spa or doing yoga.


But true  “self care” was foreign to me.  And for the first time I was able to truly understand what it meant to care for myself.  At the most basic level, self care meant the ability to get myself fed, dressed and washed, and to generally function in the world. Self care didn’t have to cost money and you didn’t have to wear fancy yoga leggings to do it.  It was the path I took to nourish myself, rebuild my depleted energy stores so that I could weather and heal from the storm of stress. It  didn’t miraculously remove the pain but it gave me a way to navigate the journey through it.

Learning self care was like building my own LIFEBOAT, plank by plank. Sure I would still be rocked by waves of stress and pain, but in my lifeboat I felt secure, safe and stable.


We joke that in early motherhood, taking a shower every day, eating a nourishing meal or going to the bathroom by oneself are luxuries.  But the act of showering and eating is basic human self preservation. Why do we make them optional during those early days when they are so essential? They are not selfish things or self-indulgences, they are ways to become your healthiest, happiest  best self.

During my darkest times, my self care was non-existent.  I was not taking care of myself, running on fumes. And if I was operating on empty – who was filling up my kids?  Think of self care as the oxygen masks on a plane in the case of an emergency. For the safety of all those in your care, you must ensure your mask is on and fitted first before you can attend to any of those in your care.  

As I started my journey back to myself, reclaiming my health and well being, I started to realize I wasn’t alone in feeling deprived of my self-love and self-compassion.  

The lack of self care that was happening amongst my friends and patients was rampant.   In fact, less than 15% of mothers state that they eat a nourishing meal and/or have a decent night sleep (more than 6 hours) on a regular basis.  This means that more than 85% of us are deprived, depleted, fatigued and not operating as the best versions of ourselves.

This is called SuperWoman Syndrome and it’s an epidemic. 

From Moms to MomBosses to Household Managers – women have 20 different roles in life and are empowered to do whatever we want. 

However, at the same time, women are stressed. More stressed than any other generation of women before us and this stress can manifest itself as anxiety, depression, thyroid disorders, pain and other conditions.  As a generation of women we are suffering from Super Woman Syndrome and we don’t have the self care tools to navigate through it.

 It’s about meeting yourself where you are and thinking about small things you can do to take care of yourself better. Those small steps and micro moments can be surprisingly transformative.

Those small steps that I took in taking care of myself helped cultivate a shift in my well-being and in my thinking.  Over the years, my passion for self care grew and so did the desire to share and empower others with tools and strategies to reclaim their own health and well-being.  

Self care will mean different things to different people at different times in their life. 

But there are a few things that I started with that may help some of you – I call them my Self Care Basics:

1. Eliminate negative self talk, shame and guilt.

A lot of us are brought up to believe that we need to be better or do better.  It’s time to accept yourself as exactly how you are right now. You might think loving yourself sounds self-indulgent.  It’s not narcissism or self centeredness – it’s being kind and compassionate to yourself.

2. Check in with your body

Checking in with your body and doing a quick body scan every day is super powerful tool.  It gives you very clear information, and takes less than 20 seconds. Here’s what you need to do:  Sit still with your feet on the ground. Eyes closed. Notice your body and pay attention to your breath.  How do you feel? How is your energy? What is your posture like? Are you clenching your jaw? Do you have any pain, discomfort or tension?  How do you feel emotionally? Don’t judge, just notice. If you feel pain, it’s a warning from your body. A lot of self care is about noticing things.  

3. Do Something for your Body

Take 2-3 hours per week to do something for your body.  This will help manage your stress levels. Do something that not only brings you passion, but something that lowers cortisol (the stress hormone).  If your exercise is high intensity – it still keeps cortisol elevated. Things like  yoga, or taichi, a walk in nature or even a gentle swim or float will help decrease cortisol. You can do this in small moments.

4. Nourish Yourself.  

Virginia Woolf said “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”  

Feeding yourself well is a very simple way to show yourself some love and care everyday.  If you do one thing from this talk, I hope it will be to cook yourself a meal that nourishes your body.  EAting well helps you stay mentally well. Sure, an anti-inflammatory diet, semi-plant based with lowered gluten and dairy and more healthy fats is ideal.  But eat what makes you feel good and what your body needs at that moment. Make mealtimes sacred by making it a no device, no screen time zone. 

5. Find your tribe. Your tribe isn’t exactly the same thing as your friends, although there may be some crossover.  Your tribe provides self care because it gives you a sense of belonging, which is an essential human need.  It can be a yoga class, or your pottery class or mama group – it’s the ability to feel open and honest and vulnerable amongst a group of people.  Make the effort to meet your tribe regularly and really listen. Be connected to your tribe and they will anchor you.
Let’s be clear, our stress isn’t going anywhere.  A 2015 study found that 9 out of 10 women reported feeling stressed, with half reporting that they were stressed every day.  When the going gets tough it’s common to drop self care from our list of to-do’s to make space and time for other things.  But self care needs to be at the top of your list and an active part of your life.  


It isn’t selfish – it’s not about me first, it’s about me as well.  


Engaging in self care gives you the chance to be your very best version of you, the opportunity to be the person you aspire to be for yourself and everyone around you and the strength to continue to kick down barriers and blow past challenges.   THank you so much for coming to hear my story.  I hope I’ve inspired you with some tools to take care of yourself – physically, emotionally, energetically. 

While much of this is common sense, it can be hard to implement. Go slowly and go gently.

And remember, we’re all in it together.   

Pregnancy

MY TOP PREGNANCY MUST HAVE’S

Let’s face it, while being pregnant is amazing (ahem…), it’s also super overwhelming.   The advice, the do’s, the don’ts and let’s not forget about allllll the stuff.

Some you ABSOLUTELY need….and some you actually don’t. At all.

It’s a long 9 months, or 40 weeks or 3 trimesters and I’ve put together a list of pregnancy essentials that will help get you through, smooth sailing…kinda.

Here are my top pregnancy essentials:

  1. An EXERCISE BALL

I tell all of my patients to get one of these balls and keep it handy through pregnancy and beyond.

Sitting on the ball is amazing for posture and to help ease back and pelvic discomfort.   I also suggest a few key ball exercises to help keep your pelvis open and pain free. The ball is also a great tool to help get you through contractions at any stage. And trust me, you’ll definitely use it with your newborn. Endless middle of the night baby bouncing and it actually works!

Tip: Make sure you get a ball that is 65 cm or bigger and preferably latex free.  Find them at Wal-Mart, Winners, Homesense or any sporting goods store.

  1. BELLY OIL or LOTION

Let’s talk stretch marks.

A growing belly and tightening skin often damages the collagen fibers that give skin its supple elasticity resulting in those dreaded stretch marks. But even if you don’t get any stretch marks (lucky you!) – you may feel some amount of tightness, itchiness and occasional burning around your belly. Using a good quality belly butter certainly does help!

My favourite belly butter for both of my pregnancies was Joyous Health’s Belly Bump Butter. I spend a few quick moments after every shower or bath rubbing it into my belly. I also loved using Bio-oil post baby #2. It really helped reduce the signs of marks.

Tip: Find a lotion, butter or oil that is mildly fragrant or unscented. Your nose is a pretty sensitive thing when you are pregnant and some smells can be a bit overpowering.

 

  1. A GOOD QUALITY PILLOW

As both a chiropractor and two time mama– I can’t stress the importance of getting a good quality pillow for sleep during pregnancy. The earlier you start using one, the better. I treat a lot of mamas in my practice whose aches and pains can be prevented by using a good quality pillow in the right set up from the first trimester. Ideally, you want to position the pillow between your knees, lower legs and ankles. You also want a bit of support (think a wedge) under your growing belly. And don’t forget about your neck – it’s just as important!

Tip: You may need to try a few different variations on your pillow set up. Trial and error is key and don’t give up! You’ll find a good position with some practice!

 

  1. ALL OF THE SNACKS.

Ok so growing a human being inside of you is hard and makes you super hungry. But then you eat a bite and you’re full (thank you baby who has compressed your stomach). One hour later, you’re hungry…again. And so the cycle continues.

The most helpful thing for me was snacking. Think smaller meals, more frequently. Anything from an apple with PB to yogurt with granola to a hard boiled egg… I kept my snack game tight and it helped. It also helped me be less hangry. Because let’s face it there is nothing worse than a hangry pregnant woman.

Tip: Try incorporating some protein in each of your snacks. It will help keep you fuller for longer!

 

  1. A GOOD PAIR OF MATERNITY JEANS

Ok, so you’re retaining more water and your belly is starting to get a bit bigger and let’s be honest, the energy you spend getting yourself into your favourite pair of jeans is equivalent to doing a one hour spin class. Girl, it’s time to pack away your fave skinny jeans and spring for a pair of – dare I say – maternity jeans.

But don’t worry, maternity jeans have come a long, long way and there are so many flattering styles available now. Frumpy, boxy, shapeless stretchy “pants” are a thing of the past!

My favourite pair of maternity jeans are my Paige Denim Verdugo Distressed Ultra Skinny Maternity Jeans.

Tip: Check out Mom’s Buy and Sell Groups or ask friends who’ve been pregnant before – chances are someone has a great pair of J Brands they are willing to get rid off which helps ease the strain on your wallet.

  1. A GOOD READ

Let’s be real, in pregnancy there is A LOT of waiting. Waiting for doctors, waiting for ultrasounds, waiting for blood tests and ultimately, waiting for the baby. Take a chill pill and read a good book, or several of them. It helps take your mind off things and will keep you distracted while you wait.

I remember plowing through several goodies – basically the Stieg Larrson collection (sooo good!)

Tip: Audio books are an amazing way to listen to your favourite novels anywhere anytime!

Listen mama, the next 9 months is going to be filled some serious, unbelievable changes – some are amazing and exciting and others are well, not so amazing. Luckily, there are tons of great resources, products, services and advice that will help make your pregnancy as smooth as possible.

Feel free to add anything else mama…:)

 

xo

Dr Aliya

Pregnancy

The Art of Breastfeeding?

Here’s the thing about breastfeeding ….it is NOT EASY.

I know it’s supposed to be something a woman is designed to do – natural, instinctive, enjoyable.  Mama and baby in this warm cocoon-like bubble – you gazing down at this little beautiful being who is happily gulping down this magical milk freely flowing.

Umm, I hate to burst this idyllic bubble…that is definitely not how things usually go down. If you are a first time soon-to-be-mama, I’m sorry but I’m going to be real and honest – you’ll thank me later. If you are a second time mama – can I get a knowing head-nod and an “Amen, sister!”?

There is a steep learning curve to breastfeeding. It’s generally not an easy start and it take a bit of time to get the hang of it. I want you to know, you are not alone.

It’s okay to not enjoy it at first. It’s okay to cry and feel overwhelmed. And it’s totally okay to feel hopeless and want to give up. I know and I understand.

Here’s my story.

My first baby, Rose was born and immediately latched to my breast.   She was the baby you see in those breastfeeding videos. She climbed up my belly where she was placed seconds after being born and found her way to my breast where she latched on and continued to feed for the next 25 minutes.   We had a good start and I am thankful for that. However after the first 4 weeks of breastfeeding, I decided it was time to start pumping. I was heading back to work in a few short weeks and was determined to build up my supply of frozen breastmilk.

Enter pumping.

Breast pumping sucked and I found it cumbersome to use my electric pump and get enough milk.  Gradually my supply started to increase, but I couldn’t keep the pumping consistent. Long story short, before long I ended up with a few episodes of blocked ducts, and eventually mastitis. It was extremely painful and I felt like I couldn’t continue to breastfeed my baby. However with help from lactation consultants, my family doctor and a dose of antibiotics we got back on track and never looked back.

Breastfeeding has a steep learning curve. You are not alone.

Second baby. I’ve done this whole breastfeeding thing before, so this will be a piece of cake, right? Nope. Will and I had a tough time from Day 1. We had to work on his latch, he needed bodywork for his tight neck muscles (including chiropractic, craniosacral therapy, massage), I had to take herbs to increase my supply, we had to work hard on positioning, the list of issues went on. I felt defeated and completely overwhelmed. Why was this so hard? Shouldn’t I know this already? Again, we got help in the form of lactation consults (Taya Griffin), various other health practitioners, a naturopathic doctor and loads of patience. Eventually, we got the hang of breastfeeding together but we also supplemented William with some formula and I don’t regret it for a second. He needed it and I needed the peace of mind.

Two different babies. Two different feeding experiences. But in the end, we got through it. And you will too!

Do I have any advice? Not really because each mama’s experiences will be different and each baby is different.

However, I do have a few things that may help you on your feeding journey:

  1. Remember, you are not alone. Talk to people about what you are feeling – your partner, your best friends, your mom or dad, the lady in line at the grocery store. Honestly, it really does help to talk about the challenges.  La Leche League has weekly breastfeeding meetings that offer support.
  2. Get help. It’s okay to need help with this, whatever your feeding goals may be.  Lactation consultants are basically breastfeeding gurus.  But also talk to your midwives, doctors, chiropractors, other health care practitioners.
  3. “This too shall pass” It’s a phrase that I used to hear so much as a new mama and think to myself “What the heck are they talking about?!? This sucks right now!” But honestly, it does get better. I promise, mama.

Recently, Joy McCarthy, Taya Griffin and myself collaborated and co-authored an article on Natural Solutions for Breastfeeding Challenges.   I am so proud of this piece and I really hope that it helps other mamas out there!

xo

Dr Aliya

Pregnancy

Things I wish I had known before my first baby!

Yup – that’s me! 2 years and 8 months ago. Almost 40 weeks pregnant with my first baby and not quite sure what to expect after the baby was born.

I did what most pregnant women do. I listened intently to the advice and stories of all the other moms around me – my mom, my mother-in-law, my grandmas, aunts, friends and even random women in the grocery store. Everyone had a story or some tidbit of advice they wanted to share.

I also tried to read every book and article related to pregnancy in a last ditch effort to prepare myself for what was to come.

Looking back now, it was super overwhelming and just a bit over the top. Ha! That sounds like me.

Inevitably, by the time my 2nd pregnancy rolled around, the “overachiever” in me was too exhausted by my crazy toddler to even pick up a book. And honestly, I felt I didn’t have to. I had mentally compiled a list of all the things I wish I had known the first time I was pregnant and ready to give birth to a tiny human.

I call it my list of “Wish I Had Known’s”.

Here are a few things “I wish I had known” before having our first baby:

  1. Expect the Unexpected…for life

“My pregnancy, labour and delivery went exactly the way I had planned” said no mom EVER. Be prepared to just “go with the flow”. Sounds cliché I know, but it has become my mantra. Letting go of plans was the absolute hardest thing I had to do from labour and delivery to my baby’s sleep and feed schedules to handling my toddler’s meltdowns.

  1. The first 12 weeks are going to be HARD

This is one of the single most important things every mom should know. The first 12 weeks or fourth trimester (as it’s often called) is super duper tough. It calls for survival mode. Recruit help as often as you need and just keep your head down to get through it. It gets better, promise.

  1. You will not sleep (soundly)…again

Even if your baby is a “sleeper”, you still will not sleep soundly every again. You will worry constantly. Is your baby still breathing? Is your baby too hot? Is your baby too cold? Do they have enough blankets? Did they wet the bed? Are they home from that party? Etc.

  1. Your Post Pregnancy Body WILL be different than your Pre-Pregnancy Body

And that’s more than okay. It’s amazing! It will forever be your reminder of the truly remarkable, life-changing thing that you did.   You will have a few more stretch marks, there may be some weakness or a scar, but look at what you’ve created! Be easy and kind to yourself and to your body. It’s recovering and healing and it will feel different and may not be what you had expected (see number 1 above). But it’s still yours to love.

  1. Motherhood may make you feel more vulnerable than ever before, but you are NOT alone

Many, many women feel isolated after childbirth. You question your identity, your ability as a mother, your body. Your sense of confidence is shaken by the challenges that come with a new baby and it may leave you feeling raw, emotional, and vulnerable. You are not alone. At some point, almost every single mother goes through this and please know that the transition to becoming a parent isn’t an easy one for anyone, no matter what instagram portrays! Talking to someone will help. I promise.

  1. Girl, trust yourself!

We all have natural maternal instincts. Trust your gut! It may take a bit of fine tuning and honing but they’re there and they will help you figure out what’s right for your baby.

 

Honestly, I wish I had known half of these things before my first baby was born. But that’s how life unfolds. You learn those key life lessons from experience not from Chapter 4 of a pregnancy book. You’ll get there mama!!

 

xo

Dr Aliya

 

Pregnancy

Chiropractic Care in Pregnancy: Q & A

My friend, mommy blogger and soon-to-be-mama Jessica Glaze popped into The Toronto Yoga Mamas studio last week. Jessica is mama to Carter and Monroe and is expecting her third little one in the next couple of weeks! She’s definitely got a glow on but she knows that being a mom to 2 let alone 3 babes isn’t an easy feat! We did a chiropractic treatment on her to get her feeling good and ready for baby #3.

In light of her visit, I thought I would answer some frequently asked questions about receiving chiropractic care during pregnancy that I receive from many of my pregnant or soon-to-be pregnant mamas.

Q. What are the benefits of receiving chiropractic care during my pregnancy?

Pre-existing and often unnoticed imbalances in the pelvis and spine become stressed during pregnancy.  In addition, the weight of a growing uterus has a tendency to change a woman’s biomechanics, shifting the center of gravity and putting pressure on joints of the hips, pelvis and lower back. These things make everyday activity increasingly difficult for a pregnant woman.

Chiropractic care throughout pregnancy can relieve and even prevent the common discomforts experienced in pregnancy.  Specific adjustments (such as the Webster technique) eliminate the causes of stress in the spine.

Here are some specific benefits of receiving prenatal chiropractic care:

  • Decreasing back and pelvic discomfort and pain
  • Increasing the ease in which the body adapts to the natural changes related to pregnancy
  • Aligning the pelvis and lumbar spine allows for optimal baby positioning and growth
  • Shorter labour and delivery times after pelvis and spine are in correct alignment
  • Reported greater ease and comfort during birthing, reduced need for pain relief medication and medical intervention (forceps, vacuum) during childbirth

Q. Is chiropractic safe during pregnancy?

Chiropractic care is absolutely safe through all trimesters of pregnancy as early as the first month and does not harm the growing fetus in any way. Special pregnancy pillows, wedges and supports are used during treatment to ensure you are comfortable and relaxed.

jessica glaze 2

 

Q. Will the treatment be painful?

Not at all! Prenatal chiropractic care involves the Webster Technique.

The Webster Technique is a gentle yet specific chiropractic adjustment designed to help ease the symptoms of an unbalanced pelvis and misaligned spine.  The goal of treatment is to reduce the effects of sacral subluxation and SI Joint dysfunction.  In so doing, the biomechanical function of the pelvis is improved. In addition, we will spend some time releasing tight muscles and ligaments in the areas of the body that are holding tension. You will walk away feeling like a new person!

Q. Can chiropractic help turn breech babies?

Using the Webster Technique, a chiropractor may gently open up and align the pelvis as well as release any tension in the ligaments of the uterus, allowing baby space or room to move into the proper head down position naturally. If the baby is in correct position, the technique also helps to maintain that ideal positioning leading up to delivery.

The Webster Technique has been found to have an 82% success rate in clinical studies for breech babies (JMPT July/August 2002).

 Q. I’m pregnant! When can I start receiving chiropractic care?

Congratulations!

You can start receiving care as soon as you would like! There isn’t a specific set time to begin care. However, in my experience, the earlier – the better!

Including chiropractic care early on in your prenatal care and wellness routine will only help keep you feeling amazing throughout your pregnancy! Many mamas that are under my care during their pregnancies (and beyond!) report significant improvements in their sleep, quality of life and overall health and general wellness.

 

Dr. Visram is incredible! Her enthusiasm and warmth makes you comfortable instantly. It was my first time going to a chiro and I went due to back pain for pregnancy. I went from hardly being able to sit at my desk to being totally pain free! She takes extra time with each patient to make sure that you are comfortable and at ease. She is a great source of information for pregnancy related health and wellness!” – J.V

“I’ve been seeing Dr. Aliya throughout the third trimester of my pregnancy. I have avoided back aches and discomfort by seeing her once a week. I actually never thought in a million years I would feel this good in my final weeks. I’m so grateful to Dr. Aliya for her wisdom, caring nature and knowledge. My baby is in a good position too, and I’m sure that’s because of having regular treatments. – J. M

 

 

 

 

Pregnancy

5 Tips to Reduce Pregnancy Related Back Pain

Hi Guys!

So I had the opportunity to be interviewed by CTV news this past week about one of my passions – prenatal care!  As it happens, this month is also Pregnancy month for the Ontario Chiropractic Association.

I love helping mamas-to-be to feel their very best during their pregnancy :)

Check out the video below for 5 easy tips to reduce pregnancy related back pain.

http://toronto.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1036715

 

 

 

 

Pregnancy

My Top 4 Maternity Must-Have’s

 

Many mamas don’t realize this at first, but being pregnant is an amazing time to, well, SHOP!

There are so many things a little baby needs especially if you are expecting your first – onsies and sleepers, cribs and gliders and so, so much more!

But wait….what about YOU?

With a growing belly, comes the need for maternity clothes! Yay!   And that’s not all….there are a few key items that every mama needs at her fingertips during her pregnancy to help make the next 9 months smooth sailing….somewhat.

Here are just a few of my favourite maternity must-haves:

 1) Joyous Health’s Belly Bump Butta (BBB)

Let’s talk pregnancy stretch marks.

A growing belly and tightening skin often damages the collagen fibers that give skin its supple elasticity resulting in those dreaded stretch marks. But even if you don’t get any stretch marks (lucky you!) – you may feel some amount of tightness, itchiness and occasional burning around your belly. Using a good quality belly butter certainly does help!

My must have belly butter is Joyous Health’s Belly Bump Butta. I spend a few quick moments after every shower or bath rubbing it into my belly.

I love this particular belly butter more than any others on the market because it doesn’t have a super overwhelming scent. My 2nd pregnancy gave me some super weird scent aversions but Joy’s belly butter has a really light grapefruit citrus scent, which isn’t overpowering at all and in fact is a bit refreshing. It also goes on super smooth and doesn’t leave a greasy residue.

Plus, Joy donates 10% of each Belly Bump Butter sold to organizations helping mamas-to-be in developing countries have safer births. Bonus!

2) The Honest Leaf’s Nourish Tea

During this pregnancy, I’ve become a pretty big loose leaf tea fanatic.

Maybe it’s because I’ve limited my caffeine intake and I’m looking for something hot to drink or because my body is just craving the nourishment of a yummy, organic tea.

In any case, I was recently introduced to The Honest Leaf – a line of loose leaf wellness teas created by nutritionist, Shelby Kroach. Her tea combinations are wonderful and my fave during pregnancy is the Nourish Tea.

It’s a smooth blend of organic rosehips, elderberries, calendula and green roobios among other nourishing ingredients and you can literally taste the healthy goodness in each sip. Also, I found it helped stave off the nausea associated with morning sickness! YAY!

3) My Awesome Pair of Paige Maternity Jeans

Ok, so you’re retaining more water and your belly is starting to get a bit bigger and let’s be honest, the energy you spend getting yourself into your favourite pair of jeans is equivalent to doing a one hour spin class. Girl, it’s time to pack away your fave skinny jeans and spring for a pair of – dare I say – maternity jeans.

But don’t worry, maternity jeans have come a long, long way and there are so many flattering styles available now. Frumpy, boxy, shapeless stretchy “pants” are a thing of the past!

My favourite pair of maternity jeans are my Paige Denim Verdugo Distressed Ultra Skinny Maternity Jeans.

I actually bought these from a close mama friend who wore them during her pregnancy and sold me on how great they look on anyone. I didn’t believe her until I tried them on. She wasn’t joking. These jeans are super soft, super comfortable, super stretchy and will make your legs and butt look amazing! I could sleep in these jeans!

Mamas, invest a few bucks in some good quality jeans for your pregnancy – you won’t be sorry I promise!

4) Boppy Total Pregnancy Pillow*

As both a chiropractor and a 2nd time mama-to-be – I can’t stress the importance of getting a good quality pillow for sleep during pregnancy. The earlier you start using one, the better. I treat a lot of mamas in my practice whose aches and pains can be prevented by using a good quality pillow in the right set up from the first trimester. Ideally, you want to position the pillow between your knees, lower legs and ankles. You also want a bit of support (think a wedge) under your growing belly.

My Boppy pillow is my husband stand-in most nights! This particular pregnancy pillow comes in three parts – head and neck support, belly support and hip/leg/ankle support.- that all velcro together. It’s handy because if you don’t want to use one part – it is easy to detach and remove.

(*I’m not sure if you can get the Boppy in Canada anymore.  I’ve heard the Snoogle is a good alternative)

Listen mama, the next 9 months is going to be filled some serious, unbelievable changes – some are amazing and exciting and others are well, not so amazing. Luckily, there are tons of great resources, products, services and advice that will help make your pregnancy as smooth as possible.

xo

Dr Aliya

Pregnancy

The Ups and Downs of My 2nd Pregnancy

Pregnancy number 2? No problem…..right!?!

I mean, we’ve done this before. We know what to expect. The morning sickness. The weight gain. The sleepless nights. The raging hormones.

We got this. This will be a cake walk, right?

Ummm….not so much. Not for me, anyway. My 2nd pregnancy was anything but a cake walk.

I wish I could tell you that I had the best time being pregnant the second time around. That I loved every single minute of it. That I relished my pregnant belly and all of the lovely, beautiful emotions that came with growing a tiny human inside.

The truth is, I wasn’t the glowing, lovely, smiling pregnant lady that you see on the street caressing her baby belly and looking absolutely radiant.

I felt like crap and I struggled with my 2nd pregnancy every step of the way. And to be honest, there wasn’t one real reason why.

Maybe it was because right from the first trimester, I was already dealing with some pretty intense emotions surrounding my father’s diminishing health.

I felt I was unable to feel elated and happy about a new baby when my father was dying. Nothing about the situation was easy and my exponentially increasing hormones made dealing with grief incredibly difficult.   I was an emotional train wreck, barely holding it together for my family and for my toddler.

My toddler. She was a whole other story. Try chasing after a 2.5 year old…..pregnant. It’s not pretty. I know my mamas with 2 babes can agree – nothing about being pregnant and having another kid to care for is rainbows and sunshine.

All you want to do is — LIE. DOWN.

Plus, they aren’t old enough to understand that you just can’t piggyback them all the way to the park, which leads to a bunch of whining and inevitably a tantrum. And I’m sorry – you actually can’t manage to get your butt down that kiddie slide in the park anymore….physically you just can’t (have you seen my butt lately? Think Kim Kardashian but more saggy)

Let’s add in the fact that in August, I got pneumonia. Yup. Walking pneumonia. How did I get pneumonia? I still have no idea.   Run down immune system, no sleep and high stress. A perfect storm which led my body to eventually break down.  And as my mamas know, when you’re pregnant and sick…it takes a while for your immune system to get back up and running again! A long while.

OK, so those were the downs.

Don’t get me wrong — there are some serious “ups”, too.

My 2nd pregnancy gave me the opportunity to appreciate all the little movements this little bean has had in my belly.

Second time around, there is no question – you know what you are feeling and every time, he/she moves or kicks…I feel like it’s a tiny miracle in my belly. Like a little blessing that kicks you to remind you how damn lucky you are.

Second time around, you get to share every little experience with your first little bean. Rosie’s eyes light up every single time she puts her tiny hands on my belly or feels a little movement. She kisses “her baby” every morning and every night and it gives me all the feels.

Second time around, your partner isn’t completely oblivious or in the dark as to what you need as a pregnant lady. They know that you aren’t crazy when you get weepy at a YouTube Dove commercial (seriously, those things are tear jerkers). Or that cleaning the house, top to bottom, is just a part of your nesting. Or that your ice cream craving is for real and they’d better get a Haagan Daaz in your hand, stat.

Listen mamas, you don’t have to feel like a glorious pregnant goddess all the time. You are allowed to feel crappy and you are allowed to feel “ugh” about your pregnancy. It’s not all shiny happy pregnant women all the time. I’m here to tell you – it’s OK. Feel your feels and allow yourself space to just be….whatever.

Soon you’ll have that tiny little bean in your arms…..

…..that’s when the real fun begins.

 

xo

Dr Aliya

Pregnancy

Surviving Morning Sickness!

You’re pregnant! YAY!

You are glowing, feeling amazing and couldn’t be happier. Everything around you is sunshine and smiley faces.

Enter morning sickness. (aka all day and all night sickness)

Suddenly, you feel a little less glowy and smiley. And you’re spending most of your day wrapped around the toilet. Ugh.

Up to 85% of pregnant women experience some degree of nausea and vomiting related to their pregnancy.

Symptoms of morning sickness usually begin around weeks 4-6 after conception and continue until the second trimester. However, it is not uncommon to feel some degree of nausea throughout your entire pregnancy.

Why does it happen?

Your pregnant body is undergoing a ton of physiological changes. Remember, you are creating a tiny human and your hormones are going crazy – elevating exponentially. Nausea and vomiting is one of the by-products of that change. In addition, some theorize that morning sickness is the body’s way of self-regulating itself and potentially nature’s way of protecting the body from substances that could be harmful for baby.

Here are a few tried and true ways I’ve used to conquer the queasies:

  • First, nausea is often worse on an empty stomach especially after taking some pretty potent prenatal vitamins. Eat small, frequent meals through the day and make sure you take your vitamins with some food in the morning.   In addition, consistent, light snacking will prevent your blood sugar levels from dropping drastically and preventing nausea.

 

  • Eating the right foods is important to help stave off nausea but also to help keep your tiny human nourished. Incorporate protein and fats into each meal. I found that I was more sick if I didn’t have enough healthy fats in my daily diet (eg. add some avocado to your meal, or add coconut oil or coconut milk to your morning smoothies).

 

  • Get some shut-eye! It may seem totally unrelated, but getting some extra sleep can make a huge difference to how you are feeling. Fatigue makes nausea worse! Going to bed a bit earlier or squeezing in a nap here and there will definitely help.

 

  • Ginger works wonders for nausea. Drinking enough fluids, especially when vomiting is super important since dehydration is one of the most serious consequences of morning sickness. However, many women, myself included, find that water doesn’t sit well with nausea. Ginger tea has been my saving grace! Try adding some grated fresh ginger to a cup of boiling water.

 

  • Vitamin B6 is a terrific tummy soother! Find it naturally in foods like bananas, currants, salmon, sweet potatoes, turkey, sunflower seeds and walnuts.   (Check with your health care practitioner to see if you are getting enough of this vitamin)

 

  • Acupuncture and acupressure is amazing at easing morning sickness especially for women who experience nausea symptoms through their second and third trimesters.

Hang in there mama… soon you will have a cute tiny human in your arms and your morning sickness days will be totally forgotten!

(If your symptoms persist and are worsening – it’s always a good idea to see your health practitioner)

PS.  One of my favourite new apps for pregnancy nutrition is Nourished Babe.  The app contains a wealth of knowledge and expert guidance from dieticians, pediatrician Dr Dina and moi!  Check it out here or download it from the App Store!

xo  Dr Aliya

 

 

 

 

 

Pregnancy

My 5 Favourite Yoga Poses To Do in Pregnancy

You’re pregnant!  Yay!

But…you’re also achy.  Your body is stiff.   And you still want to keep active?  Give YOGA a go!

If you haven’t already heard, the benefits of prenatal yoga are endless.  From keeping your body moving to strengthening the back and pelvis to practicing some amazing breathing techniques….the list goes on and on.

While pregnant with my daughter, Rosie, prenatal yoga was one of the only things that kept me from going crazy in those last few weeks before her arrival!  It provided me a sense of inner calmness and helped reduce the swelling in my ankles…it was a win-win.

I’m often asked by mamas-to-be if there are any particular yoga poses I suggest they do more than others.  And while all prenatal yoga poses are amazingly beneficial – I do have some personal favourites.  In this video, I share with you my 5 favourite prenatal yoga poses!

 

1. Cat-Cow Pose

2. Child’s Pose

3. Reclined Cobbler’s Pose

4. Deep Squat Pose

5. Legs Up the Wall Pose

These poses are so helpful at any stage in pregnancy.  They keep the pelvis and hips aligned and increase mobility and strength.   Give them a try today mama!