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Pregnancy

Pregnancy

Prenatal Yoga: Is It Safe Late In Pregnancy?

Many pregnant women often ask me about the different ways they can keep active during the later stages of their pregnancy.  It is quite common for their regular exercise routines – running, cross-fit training or resistance training – to become increasingly painful and uncomfortable in their the 3rd trimester.

Never fear mama…Yoga is here!

 

Yoga is a great way to keep active during all stages of pregnancy, but especially in the later stages of pregnancy.  While previous exercise routines focused on strength building and high impact cardio exercise like running, yoga focuses on stretching, relaxation and breathing which can help through the last stages of pregnancy and prepare the body for labour and childbirth.

However, there are a few precautions you should take when you are pregnant – even in a yoga class!

Remember every pregnant woman’s favourite hormone – relaxin?  Relaxin is the hormone released to help “relax” and open the pelvis, giving your baby the space it needs to descend into the pelvic inlet and pass through the birth canal.  What you may not know is that relaxin also affects other joints in your body, and can create hyper mobility (or looseness around joints that should be stable).   You may notice that getting into certain postures or poses may be easier than before pregnancy and that your flexibility has increased. These effects however can result in injury due to the instability or looseness of your joints.  Pushing yourself too far can cause you to damage a joint or over-stretch a ligament or muscle.  You may not even feel the result of this damage until well after baby is born and after the relaxin has left your body.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind during your next prenatal yoga class:

  • Tell the instructor how far along you are in your pregnancy and if you have been experiencing any joint or muscle pain or discomfort.
  • Avoid any poses that put your head below your waist this includes downward dog in the later stages of pregnancy (try the posture against a wall instead of on the floor).  It’s a good alternative and gives you the openness in your chest and shoulders that this pose encourages.
  • Focus on standing poses with both feet planted at a hip width distance apart for stability.
  • Take advantage of savasana (or dead body pose) in side-lying position as an opportunity to connect with yourself and your baby.
  • Avoid the straight arm plank.  The plank position puts too much pressure on the connective tissue that keeps your abdominal muscles together (particularly if you have Diastasis Recti – abdominal separation).  Try side planks instead!

And most importantly, enjoy a few moments of relaxation and practice your breathing!  Only a few short months left!

Om, Mama.

Read my Q&A expert column and get amazing mama and baby advice & resources at BabyPost.com.

For more information on prenatal yoga, visit torontoyogamamas.com 

(Original post at 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)

Health + Wellness

Q&A: What should be on your pre-conception to do list?

Q. My partner and I are thinking about having a baby. What are the best natural steps to prepare my body for pregnancy? Should I start taking vitamins now? Can I continue to exercise?

A. Congratulations! Deciding to have a baby is an exciting time and being prepared is key.  Creating healthy habits during this “preconception period” helps minimize complications during pregnancy and delivery and gives baby the best possible start.

Now is the time to visit with your health care practitioner and schedule your preconception care. Talking about things like diet, lifestyle, medications and family history are important to prevent any future problems or difficulties for mom and baby.

Nutritionally preparing your body before trying to conceive is an ideal way to ensure you’re pregnancy-ready.  Dr. Sapna Flower, a naturopathic doctor at Restore Integrative Health, suggests taking a prenatal vitamin with at least 1 mg of folic acid (and if you’re 35 years or older, supplementing with 5 mg of folic acid) approximately 3 months before conception.

Up to 70% of fetal neural tube deformities can be prevented if sufficient levels of folic acid are taken during the earliest weeks of conception. Speaking with a naturopathic doctor about which supplements are well formulated and ways to naturally improve your chances of conceiving can help.

Lifestyle modifications, such as ceasing to smoke and avoiding alcohol are at the top of the list during the preconception period and beyond. Smoking has been shown to decrease fertility and increase the chances of having a low birthweight or premature baby. Excessive amounts of alcohol have been shown to interfere with the fetus’ ability to receive a healthy amount of oxygen needed for brain and organ development.

Exercising regularly will also ensure a healthy and happy pregnancy. An exercise plan will help to lower your risk of pregnancy related conditions such as gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. Eating a balanced diet and maintaining an active lifestyle will benefit your body before, during and after pregnancy.

Here are a few other “to-do’s” on your pre-conception list:

Do avoid toxic substances or infectious substances at home and at work.

Things like pesticides, solvents, mercury, lead or radiation.

Do learn your family history. 

Identifying genetic diseases in your family history before pregnancy gives your health provider a chance to talk with you about any possible risks and may refer you for genetic counseling or testing.

Do make sure your body is balanced and healthy. 

A body free of aches and pains will function optimally.  Seeking the care of a chiropractor or massage therapist will keep your body in check.

Do address any questions or concerns you have with your health care provider. 

This is an exciting time for you and it is important to be prepared and informed!

Find my Q&A Expert column and other amazing pregnancy and baby advice at BabyPost.com

(Original post at babypost.com)

 

Pregnancy

Q&A: Should I get a Midwife or a Doula?

Q. I’m pregnant with my first baby and a friend of mine suggested I hire a doula for labour and delivery. What exactly is the difference between a midwife and a doula?

A.  Although a midwife and a doula may seem very similar in their approach toward childbirth, their roles differ quite significantly.

In Canada, midwives are trained and licensed medical professionals providing care to women during pregnancy, labour and delivery.

Doulas are not health care providers, but instead offer guidance as well as physical and emotional support to the mother and her partner during the pre and post-natal periods as well as during childbirth. She provides physical support to the labouring mother including gentle massage, guided breathing and positional support. A doula often provides education and information to the couple so that they can make informed choices in their birthing experience.

Here are few things your midwife will do:

  • Run prenatal tests and monitor your health and the baby’s health during pregnancy, birth and post-partum period
  • Prescribe maternal health related supplements or medications
  • Perform physical examinations
  • Consult with an obstetrician (OB) if a medical complication comes up which is out of the midwifery scope
  • Do their best to help you experience a comfortable birth

Here are a few things your doula will do:

  • Give you information about medical examinations and procedures (but cannot perform these procedures)
  • Establish a pre-natal relationship with you and help you figure out your “birth plan”
  • Help keep you and your partner feeling calm and supported during labour
  • Use a variety of tools and techniques to help you manage the intense physical sensations of labour and birth
  • Ensure you feel comfortable and confident communicating your needs to your health care provider
  • Provide any post-partum help and support

Although doulas do not provide medical care, research has shown that having a doula present throughout birth decreases the likelihood of using medical interventions such as instrument-assisted births (forceps, vacuum extraction) and c-section births. Furthermore, women who use doulas report having more positive feelings about their childbirth experience.

Research shows that having a doula present throughout birth decreases the likelihood of using medical interventions.

Many women often choose to have a midwife and a doula supporting them through labour and childbirth providing a perfect complement of knowledge, care and comfort for the mama-to-be.

Recently I became a Doula after taking the DONA International Doula Course at The Toronto Yoga Mamas.  A few weeks ago, I attended my first birth and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life!  If you have any questions about doulas or my role as a doula, please feel free to send me a message at hello@draliya.ca.

Find my Q&A expert column and other great mama and baby advice & resources at babypost.com.

(Original post at babypost.com)

(Photo by babypost.com)

 

 

Pregnancy

3 Awesome Exercises for Pregnancy!

A few weeks ago, I had the absolute pleasure of visiting the lovely Joy McCarthy of Joyous Health at her office in Toronto.   Joy is a holistic nutritionist and author of Joyous Health: Eat & Live Well without Dieting {her book is amazing}!  She’s also a glowing mama-to-be and an awesome patient of mine.

We put together a video for her blog of three amazing pregnancy exercises mamas can do at home. Performing these exercises daily will help maintain mobility and strength in your spine and pelvis during pregnancy and help prepare your body for labour and delivery {in addition to seeing a chiropractor, of course!}.

So grab a fitness ball and watch our video here!  Also check out Joy’s website at joyoushealth.com for loads of other amazing recipes and neat health and wellness tips!

 

{image by joyoushealth.com}

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pregnancy

Reflexology helps during pregnancy!

Recently, our clinic office manager, Aislinn completed her certification in Reflexology. In the past, I’ve often thought of Reflexology as an adjunctive technique to massage therapy. However, it’s so much more than that and is an amazing source of relaxation during pregnancy!

Thanks to Ais, here are some reflexology basics!

Q. What is reflexology?  How does it work?

Reflexology is an ancient holistic healing art that naturally stimulates every gland and organ in the body. By applying pressure to reflexes in the feet, tension is released, circulation is improved, and the body is assisted in regaining its state of harmony and balance.  It is theorized that it works because applying acupressure to the skin and peripheral nerve endings sends calming signals to the central nervous system, which in turn reduces tension in the body and engages the parasympathetic (rest and relaxation) response. When the body is relaxed, all body systems can function more optimally.

Q. What conditions can reflexology treat?

While reflexology does not claim to cure any specific illnesses or conditions, it can be used in conjunction with other health therapies as part of a holistic approach to wellness. Reflexology itself is a holistic therapy and as such all the body systems are treated in a reflexology session. Energy blockages throughout the body are addressed – areas that are tender or have significant uric acid crystal build up can be paid extra attention. Having said that, reflexology is a hugely beneficial therapy for a multitude of conditions from fibromyalgia to anxiety disorders. Studies have shown that relaxed states promote natural pain management – reflexology aids in achieving a state of relaxation and in turn this supports the body in self-healing and the release of tension and pain. Because reflexology increases blood and lymph circulation in the body it can also be useful treating acute and chronic conditions such as sinus congestion and digestion issues. It is also used frequently by women struggling with infertility.

Q. Is it safe during pregnancy?  How does it help mamas-to-be?

Yes, reflexology treatments are considered safe during pregnancy. Adjustments are made in the treatment for pregnant women. They include the use of lighter pressure and modified body positioning during the treatment, especially late in pregnancy, to promote comfort and safety. Reflexology can be a welcome experience for moms-to-be as it encourages them to relax and connect with themselves thereby inducing a feeling of overall wellness.

Q. Can babies receive reflexology treatments?  What conditions does it help treat for little ones?

Yes! Babies can receive reflexology. Reduced pressure and shorter treatment lengths are best for tiny feet. Because reflexology is a soothing treatment it can be used for a variety of situations, such as; teething, colic, and constipation, to name a few. It can also be incorporated into the nap and bedtime routines of babies and toddlers as a natural means to aid in their relaxation.

Q. What can I expect during a treatment?

Clients report feelings of deep relaxation and contentment during and after the treatment. Many drift in and out of sleep while their feet are being worked on and end the treatment feeling refreshed and renewed. I have also been told that this relaxation carries on throughout the day and that sleeping patterns are improved after receiving a treatment. Reflexology should not be painful or uncomfortable, even though there may be tender areas in the foot  – these areas are addressed with gentle pressure within the clients comfort zone. The practitioner may suggest a treatment schedule and/or may recommend other complimentary therapies based on findings from the initial treatment.

 

For specifics on what you can expect from one of Aislinn’s treatments or to book a treatment, please visit www.solesmith.ca

 

 

 

Pregnancy

Your baby bump – a new way of sleeping?

“Sleep now, because you won’t have a chance when the baby comes!”

Ever heard that line from a friend or relative? I know many soon to be mamas want those restful 8 or more hours of zzz’s but can’t seem to get comfortable! Who knew that your tiny baby could cause such big sleeping problems?

The general advice found on many pregnancy blogs and websites suggests that lying on your stomach or back is not recommended and that lying on your left side is an ideal sleep position. Armed with this information and the fear of harming baby, many women restrict their sleeping to their left side only. No wonder they are uncomfortable and struggle to find restful sleep!

After researching both the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – neither suggest any pattern or position for sleep. The general recommendation of many obstetricians is that sleep position in your first trimester has no impact on your health or your baby’s.

Later in pregnancy (2nd and 3rd trimesters), the cause for concern stems from the weight of the uterus and the size of the growing baby. This growth in the size and weight of the uterus can place pressure on the inferior vena cava (a large vein that returns blood from your lower body to your heart) when lying on your back for an extended period of time. The pressure on the inferior vena cava could interfere with the flow of blood and nutrients going to the placenta and thus to the baby. Lying on your left side may optimize blood flow.

Start off lying on your left side going to sleep, but if you wake up and catch yourself on your back or your right side, don’t worry. You can and should switch positions from time to time for your own comfort! Your body has a way of telling you when things aren’t quite right and when it’s time to change position. If you are feeling faint or light headed sleeping on your back during pregnancy, consult with your family doctor, midwife or ob/gyn.

Of course, there may be other reasons why the sleep you crave is constantly out of reach. Things like frequent trips to the bathroom, weird vivid dreams or discomforts like heartburn.

Here are a few tips I give mama’s that may help:

  • Cut back on caffeine
  • Nap during the day if you have a moment
  • Avoid heavy meals and limit liquids before bed
  • Do something relaxing before lights out (warm baths, a good book)
  • Enjoy some light exercise (walk around the block, yoga, quiet meditation)
  • Use pillows (between your knees and/or under your belly)

If you are still not able to get comfortable, get up and do a quiet activity for awhile and try again. Almost there Mama!

References
Farine, D, Seaward G. When it comes to Pregnant Women Sleeping, Is Left Right?. JOGC October 2007.

Pregnancy

Prenatal Chiropractic Care: The FAQs

I’m often asked by mamas in Toronto if chiropractic work can help during pregnancy and if so, how. The simple answer is YES! Find out how below.

Q. How can chiropractic help during pregnancy?

Pre-existing but often unnoticed imbalances in the 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.

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.

Q. Is chiropractic safe during any stage of 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.

Using the Webster Technique of specific gentle chiropractic analysis and adjustments, we can help rebalance the pelvis reducing any nerve irritation to the spine and generally help the body feel more at ease overall.

Chiropractic care has been proven to reduce labor times and has been shown to reduce the need for pain medication and medical intervention during childbirth.

Q. What exactly is the Webster Technique?

The Webster Technique is a specific chiropractic adjustment designed to help ease the symptoms of an unbalanced pelvis and misaligned spine.  The goal of the adjustment is to reduce the effects of sacral subluxation and SI Joint dysfunction.  In so doing, the biomechanical function of the pelvis is improved.

Q. Can chiropractic help baby positioning?  (eg. Breech presentation)

As a baby develops, a woman’s uterus enlarges to accommodate the rapid growth.  When the pelvis is in a balanced state, the ligaments connected to the uterus (specifically the round ligaments) maintain an equalized, supportive suspension for the uterus.

If the pelvis is out of balance or misaligned, these ligaments become twisted, causing a condition called “intrauterine constraint”.  This constraint limits the space available for the developing baby to move.

If there is intrauterine constraint as birth approaches, the baby is prevented from getting into the best possible position for birth.  Even if the baby is in the desirable head down position, often intrauterine constraint prevents the baby’s head from moving into the ideal presentation for delivery.  This may slow labor and add distress and pain to both mother and baby.

Using the Webster Technique, a chiropractor gently opens up the pelvis, allowing baby space or room to move into proper positioning. If the baby is in correct position, the technique also helps to maintain that ideal positioning leading up to delivery.

Reference

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

In my practice….
More and more mamas are realizing the health benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy. Mothers that receive care during pregnancy report improvements in overall health and general wellness throughout and even after their pregnancies. Many second or third time mamas that had not received care for their first delivery report an easier and faster birth under chiropractic care.