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postnatal

Health + Wellness

5 Easy Exercises for Busy Moms

Guys!  It’s the beginning of the month and I’ve decided that this month I’m going to focus on being more active on a daily basis.  It’s super hard to juggle mommy-ing, work, household chores, errands, etc.  The to-do lists are endless!

But this month, I’m making myself a priority and taking an hour each day to do something active for me.  Not only will this help me physically, but it will definitely help me mentally as well.

To do this, I reached out to my friend, fellow mom and fitness expert Lara Marq.   Lara is a mom of 2 and specializes in pre and post natal fitness.  We sat down to discuss what it means to get back into working out regularly post-baby and she put together this amazing 5 exercise workout for me!

The beauty of this routine is that it literally takes less than an 30 minutes to complete and requires no gym equipment!  She based on my needs as a mom, cleared of any pelvic floor dysfunction and/or abdominal separation.  It also has a modified version for anyone getting back into working out after baby.  Check out the video below!

** Remember to always check with your health care practitioner before starting any new exercise routine, especially post-baby**

Babies + Kids

Babywearing 101: The benefits of carrying your baby!

Recently I attended the Canadian Babywearing School (CBS) Educators course in Milton, Ontario. As a pediatric chiropractor, I am often asked about how to correctly wear a baby in a carrier or wrap, as well as addressing any concerns from parents about positioning and comfort.

Personally, I wore both Rosie and William when they were teeny tiny! William still loves to be worn and often drifts into a pleasant slumber when we are out and about as he nestles into his wrap.

Here are a few FAQ’s I often receive about carrying your baby!

Q. What exactly does it mean to baby wear?

The term “baby wearing” has been used to describe the ancient and recently revived custom of carrying infants in cloth carriers on a parent’s body. Although it has been gaining popularity in western society, many cultures around the world have been using this method of baby transport for centuries.

PS It should actually be called baby carrying instead of the commonly used term baby wearing (we try not to think of babies as accessories lol!)

Q. What are some of the benefits of babywearing or baby carrying?

There are numerous benefits both parent and infant:

  • It’s been shown that infants who are carried are generally calmer because all of their primal/survival needs are met. Their caregiver can be seen, heard, smelled, touched and provide feeding if needed.
  • “Skin to skin” contact is maintained and a strong bond between baby and parent is established.
  • Constant motion and rhythm has a balancing and soothing effect on infants resulting in less crying and fussing overall.
  • Carrying baby offers parents practicality and freedom to multi-task while attending to their little one – a more “hands-free” approach. Many moms master the art of babywearng and breastfeeding at the same time!
  • From a chiropractic perspective, it is also a safer, back saving alternative to lugging around a heavy, bulky car seat.

Q. How do I safely wear my baby?

There are correct and incorrect ways to wear your baby and certain safety precautions must be considered.

Each carrier, wrap or sling should have an instruction booklet – read these carefully before using with baby.

Here are a few more guidelines and safety basics:

  • Check your sling, carrier or wrap for wear and tear before every use. Look for ripped seams, torn straps and damaged hardware.
  • Keep baby’s face in view and baby’s head close enough for you to kiss. Remember – “Visable and Kissable”
  • Always keep slings and carriers snug
  • Keep baby’s chin off of their chest to maintain a clear airway
  • Make sure baby’s legs aren’t bunched up against their stomach
  • Support baby’s back and keep their tummy and chest against yours
  • Do not wear baby while cooking or working with sharp or hot objects
  • Do not ride a bicycle while wearing baby

Remember to keep your baby visible and kissable at all times.

Q. What should I consider when buying a sling, carrier or wrap?

For parents who choose to baby wear, there are many factors to consider when deciding what type of carrier to use. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Choose a model that has detailed, easy-to-understand instructions. Keep them for future use.
  • It’s always great to try a product before buying. There are some great shops that specialize in baby wearing and offer one on one help – see below for recommendations.
  • Check with the retailer or manufacturer to make sure the carrier or sling meets all safety requirements and standards.

Here are a few more resources:

  1. Carry Me Close Babywearers is a Toronto-based non-profit organization committed to offering advice on babywearing. They have a meetings once a month in Toronto. Find them here.
  2. Health Canada has a babywearing resource page offering safe guidelines.
  3. Little Zen One is a great little shop in Toronto’s East End that offers 1-on-1 consultations to help you find the right carrier.

Remember like any skill, baby wearing can take a bit of practice but the benefits for baby and caregiver are amazing!

Questions about baby wearing or infant development? Feel free to contact me!

xo

Dr Aliya

 

Health + Wellness

3 Easy Stretches for Moms

Feeling a bit stiff and tight as a new mom?

One of the most common complaints new mamas have is pain and stiffness in the shoulder, neck and upper back areas and it’s not surprising.  Moms spend most of their day carrying, rocking, bending, lifting, feeding, nursing and rocking again.  These movements lead to some really tight muscles, stiff joints and inevitably some postural changes….think “hunchback”!   New mom posture is so common that I’ve coined the term “Momsture” (get it, get it…).  (It’s being copyrighted as we speak!)

Don’t worry mama, your posture or momsture is not a lost cause!

I have three easy peasy stretches to help loosen up those muscles leaving you feeling awesome…and only a tad sleep deprived! (I’m sorry but these stretches won’t have your baby sleeping through the night…if only, eh?)  Watch my video below to see what these look like and try them today!

You’ll be feeling better soon!

 

Here’s a recap of the stretches in this video:

  1. Chest opener against the wall
  2. Towel stretch
  3. Neck stretch with arms behind back

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

Health + Wellness

Mother’s Wrist: A common “new mama” pain!

You’re a new mom to a gorgeous little babe!  Yay!

But you’ve started to notice your body is slowly deteriorating….oh no….  You thought the hard part was over (eg. giving birth)?  And despite all of your “war wounds” – tearing, abdominal separation, weakened pelvic floor muscles, cracked/sore nipples….you’ve now noticed an intense pain in your wrists, hands and thumbs!  Things get super sore when you pick up your beautiful beaming babe…ouchy!  Feels like your body is broken!  Sound familiar?

If so, don’t panic yet!

The wrist/hand/thumb pain you are describing sounds like a condition called De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis or as its commonly called, “mother’s wrist” or “mommy thumb”. De Quervain’s results from irritation and inflammation of the tendons that run from the base of the thumb to the wrist and forearm. As the tendons become more inflamed they rub against the “tunnel” that encloses them causing pain along the thumb side of the wrist.

Although anyone can develop De Quervain’s, it is most common in new moms (and a few new dads too). The repetition of lifting a baby numerous times during the day adds undue stress to a fatigued wrist.

In 2009, a study from the University of Colorado found that women were four times more likely to develop De Quervain’s than men.  In addition, some women experience symptoms during pregnancy as a result of fluid retention and hormonal changes causing the tissues around the tendons to swell and become inflamed.

Research has suggested that between 25-50% of new moms develop de Quervain’s during their baby’s first few months. Early recognition and treatment is key. If you are experiencing wrist or thumb pain, see your chiropractor as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment options.

Unfortunately, mommy thumb seldom resolves on its own, however there are a few things you can do to get a grip on the pain.

01 / Use a different lifting technique – “the scoop”. One of the most important things you can do to prevent further injury is to modify your lifting technique. Instead of picking up your baby under his arms using primarily the thumb and index finger (in an “L” shape), try “the scoop” technique. Keep the palm of your hand up and try scooping him up by lifting under his bottom with one hand (keeping your thumb and index finger glued together) and supporting the back of his head with the other hand.

02/ Check breastfeeding position. Many women report that breastfeeding can irritate an already painful wrist, particularly during breast compressions (to help milk flow). Supporting or cradling baby’s head puts a strain on the wrist. Use a pillow to support the weight of the baby’s head so it isn’t resting in your hand.

03/ Rest & Ice. Ok so maybe resting your wrist is out of the question if you have a new baby. However, when your partner or a friend/relative is at home with you, hand over the baby and rest your wrist. This will allow some healing to occur. Icing frequently to decrease inflammation is also helpful.

04/ Try using a splint. A splint or brace that prevents the thumb and wrist from moving will help decrease swelling and discomfort. Wearing the brace consistently is important and many moms see an improvement in just a couple of weeks.

05/ Rehabilitative Exercises/Stretches.  Stretching your wrist muscles and gently massaging the area may help.  In addition, your chiropractor can help provide some key strengthening exercises that can help increase the strength in your muscles.  See my video below for some quick easy stretches and exercises that can help!

06/ Avoid texting.  Put your smartphone down and slowly back away.  Texting is a sure fire way to re-aggravate an already sore wrist and thumb.

07/ Consult with a health practitioner. A chiropractor can definitely help guide your treatment and recovery. Acupuncture has been shown to help!  Often this condition takes some time to get better, so be patient with yourself and your body.

A few easy stretches and exercises that will help!

Hang in there mama!  As your baby becomes a bit more mobile, your wrist pain will likely decrease.  This may bring a whole host of other issues – but that’s for another day!

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

 

Health + Wellness

Post Baby Running – Do’s and Don’ts

As an avid runner for a better portion of my adult life, I was itching to get back to hitting the pavement post-baby. It was March and running season was just starting.  The weather was perfect for running outside and I couldn’t wait to go for a run with Rosie in tow!

Now if only I could find the perfect running stroller.

Thankfully, there are some amazing jogging strollers on the market today making it simple to take the little one along for the ride!

Finding a jogging stroller that’s right for you and your baby is the first step. Consider what type of terrain you will be running on—flat, smooth surfaces or hillier, more varied terrain? In either case, a three-wheeled stroller works best.

The front wheel should be fixed or lockable and the larger wheels generally make running smoother while giving you more control.

The safest strollers come with a wrist strap that is connected to the handlebar and should be used at all times especially downhill.

Other things to keep in mind include making sure the stroller has enough room for water bottles, blankets and baby gear and is it easy to store in your house or car. Things like quick-release wheels and one-step folding make going for a run less cumbersome.

For safety, it is recommended that babies have full head and neck control (approx 6 months old) before going along on runs with you.

Once you’ve found that perfect jogging stroller, here are a few tips to keep you running in top form:

  • Remember to push the stroller with alternate hands. Pushing with one hand, while pumping with the other arm will keep you as close to proper running form as possible.
  • Don’t forget to switch arms every so often to keep the movement balanced and the core engaged.
  • Avoid leaning into the stroller during a run, especially at the end when the body is fatigued. Try to maintain a neutral upright position with elbows slightly bent.
  • Keep your stride as natural as possible. Often running with a stroller in front of you may shorten or even alter your stride. Before purchasing a stroller, try taking it out for a spin first to make sure your gait isn’t compromised.
  • Don’t forget your post-run stretch to keep running injury free. Include stretches for the pectoralis (chest) muscle and the hip flexors, which tend tighten easily when jogging with a stroller.
  • Most importantly, enjoy this time bonding with baby and getting your running fix at the same time!

Happy Running, Mama!

 

Read my Q&A expert column and get amazing pregnancy, post-pregnancy and baby advice & resources atBabyPost.com.

(Original post at babypost.com)

(Photo credit babypost.com)

Health + Wellness

Q&A: Is tailbone pain after childbirth normal?

Q.  After delivering my baby a few weeks ago, I’ve been experiencing pain in and around my tailbone. Sitting for any length of time is extremely uncomfortable and transferring from a seated to standing position is difficult. Is it normal to feel pain in this area after childbirth? Is there anything I can do to help ease this pain?

A.  Pain in the tailbone region is referred to as coccydynia and childbirth is thought to be one of the most common causes of this condition.

The coccyx is the anatomical term used for tailbone, which is the bone at the very bottom of the spine, in the buttock region. Some of the pelvic floor muscles as well as the big butt muscle, called the gluteus maximus, have attachments to the coccyx. As well, there are numerous ligaments that connect the coccyx to the sacrum, which create strength and stability at the base of the spine.

Coccydynia occurs when there is damage to the coccyx itself and/or the surrounding structures. Childbirth can cause the muscles and ligaments around the coccyx to overstretch and become unstable, no longer supporting and stabilizing the lower spine, sacrum and coccyx. In addition, the tailbone itself can be damaged due to shear physical trauma of the baby traveling through the birth canal.

Coccyx or tail bone pain is very common post delivery.

Increased inflammation and tenderness of the soft tissues in the area leave many women feeling increased pain and discomfort when sitting, even for short periods of time. Some women find moving from sitting to standing difficult and performing everyday activities, such as driving, bending over and lifting can also be quite challenging. Other symptoms of coccydynia may include: back pain, shooting pain down the legs, increased pain when passing stools, and pain during sex.

In most cases, coccydynia does resolve after a few months depending on the extent of injury. Manual therapy such as chiropractic, acupuncture and exercises can help relieve pain and sensitivity, restore mobility, reduce inflammation and improve strength. Specific exercises can help to strengthen the core muscles and stabilize joints in the tailbone area.

Strengthening the core and stabilizing the pelvis helps to relieve pain

Here are few self-care tips you can try at home that may help ease pain and discomfort:

  • Sitting—there are specifically designed “donut” pillows or cushions that can reduce pain when sitting.  It may also help to sit on a hard surface rather than a soft cushion chair or sofa.
  •  Sleeping—many people with coccydynia find sleeping on their sides more comfortable with a pillow placed between the knees.
  • Avoid high impact activity—avoiding activities such as running and jumping can help improve healing.

Read my Q&A expert column and get amazing pregnancy, post-pregnancy and baby advice & resources at BabyPost.com.

(Original post at babypost.com)