Top Tips For Nutrition For Moms While Breastfeeding

BY UMA M SRIDHAR MS, RD, CDE

Contact@MyNutritionConsult.com

www.MyNutritionConsult.com

 

Determining what and how to eat properly after the baby comes can be difficult! We asked a nutritionist and registered dietician with over 13 years experience working with pre and post natal women for her top tips below! 

  • Breastfeeding requires more calories (up to 400 more calories per day), protein, vitamins, and minerals than you needed before pregnancy. The exact number of calories you need is determined by how much you are nursing. The more you nurse, the higher your calorie needs.
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet will give your body what it needs and it will help you to produce quality breast milk for your baby.
  • Consume a wide variety of food from all the food groups.
  • Extra calories should be from nutritious foods, such as lean meats, low-fat or nonfat dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and whole grain breads and cereals.
  • If you feel that your baby is bothered by a certain food that you eat, stop eating that food for at least 3 days and try it again when your baby is older.
  • Drink approximately 12 (8-fluid ounce) caffeine-free beverages per day, according to thirst.
  • Drinking a beverage each time you nurse your baby can help you get the fluids you need.

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The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your physician or licensed health care provider. You should consult your physician or licensed health care provider before engaging in any exercise activity described in this article to determine if it is right for your needs.

Top Tips For Nutrition For Moms (And Breastfeeding)

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Nutrition During Breastfeeding

 

Determining what and how to eat properly after the baby comes can be difficult! We asked a nutritionist and registered dietician with over 13 years experience working with pre and post natal women for her top tips below! 

 

WELLNESS, MEDITATION, EXERCISE AND COMMUNITY FOR MOMS

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The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your physician or licensed health care provider. You should consult your physician or licensed health care provider before engaging in any exercise activity described in this article to determine if it is right for your needs.

Pelvic Floor Exercises: the What, the Why, and the How.

By Dr Shari Maletsky-Smith

Pregnancy and delivery can negatively affect pelvic floor muscle strength causing symptoms of urinary incontinence.  The prevalence has been noted to be at least 1/3 of all postpartum women in the first three months after delivery, significantly higher after vaginal delivery compared to cesarean section.[i] 

Pelvic floor muscle weakness causes bladder-neck and urethral mobility, leading to urethral sphincter incompetence. When a pregnant woman coughs, sneezes, or laughs, her intra-abdominal pressure increases, and this pressure is then transmitted to the bladder. When pressure inside the bladder is greater than urethral closure pressure, combined with weakness of the urethral sphincter, stress urinary incontinence is the result.[ii] 

Pelvic floor muscle exercises (PFEs) practiced during pregnancy and the postpartum period may increase pelvic floor muscle strength and have been shown to prevent deterioration of urinary symptoms and quality of life during and after pregnancy.

What are pelvic floor exercises (PFEs) or “Kegels”?

Kegel exercises aim to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which support the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum. The series of exercises are meant to strengthen muscles known as the levator ani, a group of three muscles that form a hammock or sling at the base of the pelvis connecting the pubic bone, the tail bone and the two ischial tuberosities.

Why are they called “Kegels”?

Dr. Arnold Kegel (1894-1981) was a gynecologist who noted that women’s pelvic floor muscles were weakened by childbirth. Dr. Kegel observed how PFEs affected thousands of women to thereby demonstrate that the pelvic floor muscles could be exercised – just like any other muscle in the body.

After 18 years of research, he published ‘A Nonsurgical Method of Increasing the Tone of Sphincters and their Supporting Structures’ in 1942. The paper noted that diligent patients usually began to notice symptomatic relief from urinary incontinence after 2 to 4 weeks of performing these exercises.[iii]

Why should I take the time to do PFEs?

Strengthening pelvic floor muscles before and after delivery has been shown to decrease the risk of postpartum urinary incontinence[iv] and continuing to do Kegel exercises regularly after giving birth also improves the muscle tone of your vagina, potentially making sex more enjoyable.

How to perform Kegel exercises:

It has been shown that pelvic floor muscle training is most effective when an experienced clinician teaches patients how to perform the exercises properly. But often there is a lack of resources to appropriately teach patients these exercises, given there is no standardized treatment regimen identified.  So here are the basics for in-home training:

Target the precise muscles. To identify your pelvic floor muscles, try and stop urination midstream. If you are able to stop the flow of urine, then you have isolated the correct muscles.  In the future, you shouldn’t perform these exercises during urination – this is just a test to help you identify the correct muscles.

Perfect your technique. Tighten those same muscles, hold the contraction for about five seconds, and then relax. Do it 4-5 times in one sitting. Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for about 10 seconds each time, with 10 seconds between contractions. 

Focus. For best results, focus on tightening only the pelvic floor muscles. Be careful not to flex other muscles in your abdomen, thighs, or gluts. Avoid holding your breath and instead, breathe freely during the exercises.

Repeat. Your goal is to complete at least three sets of ten daily for maximum benefits.[v]

 

The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your physician or licensed health care provider. You should consult your physician or licensed health care provider before engaging in any exercise activity described in this article to determine if it is right for your needs.

 

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[i] Thom DH1, Rortveit G. Prevalence of postpartum urinary incontinence: a systematic review. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2010 Dec;89(12):1511-22.

[ii] Sangsawang B, Sangsawang N. Stress urinary incontinence in pregnant women: a review of prevalence, pathophysiology, and treatment. International Urogynecology Journal. 2013;24(6):901-912.

[iii] https://www.intimina.com/blog/dr-kegel/.  Accessed May 8, 2017.

[iv] Harvey MA. Pelvic floor exercises during and after pregnancy: a systematic review of their role in preventing pelvic floor dysfunction.  J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2003 Jun;25(6):487-98.

[v] http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/kegel-exercises/art-20045283.  Kegel exercises: A how-to guide for women.  Accessed May 8, 2017.

Want To Lose Weight Faster? Exercise With Your Friends!

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1. You'll Work Harder. 

If you're finding it tough to get motivation working out by yourself, you're not alone. Working out in groups actually leads to better workouts! A study in the journal Obesity showed better results for participants who exercised in social setting with people they perceived to be in good shape.  So find the fittest friend you have and start planning some workouts today immediately! 

2.  Your Workout Won't Feel Like a workout

We've all been there, watching the seconds tick by on a treadmill waiting for our workout to be over.  Well, when you work out with a friend that just won't happen! The old saying "time flies when you're having fun", applies to exercising with your besties.   Whether it's going for a run, taking a spin class side by side, or turning on your favorite yoga video in the basement, trust me when I say your workout will go by faster and easier when you have a friend right next to you. 

3.  You're Able to Be Social Without Killing Your Diet

All too often we feel stressed for time. How do I go to work, take care of my family, exercise, eat right and still have a social life? The answer is as easy as it seems, find ways to combine as many of those activities as you can!  All too often social events revolve around eating, drinking and that isn't always the best thing if you're trying to lose weight. That's why exercising with your friends is the way to go. You can do something that is good for both of you, and get fit at the same time.  Make social hour your fitness hour as often as you can.  

 

 

3 Holistic Ways to Ease New Mom Anxiety

 

By Lena Franklin, LCSW

Stepping into motherhood after the baby has arrived is a time of profound life transformation. But beyond the idealism of living happily ever after in motherhood bliss exists the demands of a new parental role spanning multiple domains including physical, mental, emotional and psychological. Postpartum women are at high risk for mood disorders since this is a time when the baby is completely dependent on them and self-care outlets diminish significantly. The mother’s purpose becomes identified with nurturing this new life and, simultaneously, the body is attempting to balance out hormonally. Decreased estrogen can adversely affect the mental health status of new moms, as estrogen works to balance mood states, keeping anxiety at bay.

So how do moms tap into their internal resources to ease postpartum anxiety? Mindful yogic tools offer a way to tap into healing from the inside out. By no means do these techniques completely replace the need for anti-anxiety meds, as some new moms are in need of mood stabilizers to obtain a level of homeostasis, but the following mind/body skills can become anxiety reducing resources of a lifetime. The power of anxiety reduction exists within. Here’s how to tap in:

1.) Create a Compassionate Mantra

Mantra is translated as “sacred utterance” and is used as a meditative affirmation during meditation. Postpartum moms are perpetually exhausted, under slept and self-doubting. Our thoughts are received by the cellular body and our cells are indeed listening! New moms need to remember that they’ve just been through one of the most miraculous experiences - bringing life into this world - so creating a compassionate mantra can help to affirm a mom’s innate female power. Taking just 10 minutes per day to repeat this mantra can significantly shift the internal landscape. Perhaps the mantra is “I am powerful” or “I am light” but the words need to resonate with you, momma. This mantra is reprogramming the subconscious mind and hijacking the body’s automatic stress response.

2.) Alternative Nostril Breathing

Practicing the Nadi Shodhana (or alternative nostril breathing) eases the nervous system and balances moods and emotions. Sitting in a comfortable position with the spine upright and the heart space open. Empty the air from your lungs and bring the right pointer finger to the right nostril. Plug up the right nostril and breath in deeply and slowly in through the left. Pause at the top of the breath and bring the left pointer finger to plug up the left nostril, then exhale fully out of the right. Inhale through the right nostril and bring the right pointer finger up to plug up the right nostril. Exhale fully, deeply and slowly out of the left. Inhale through the left nostril and bring the left pointer finger up to plug up the left nostril. Repeat this breathing rhythm for 10-15 rounds. Just a few minutes of alternative nostril breathing can reset the mind and body when constricted with anxiety.

 

3.) Release Idealism

 

One of the ways we perpetuate our own suffering, anxiety and depression is to wish this moment were different than it actually is. There’s a pervasive myth that says after the baby arrives into this world, mothers will walk into the sunset with their family, embarking on a journey of cloud 9 bliss. In reality, it’s not uncommon for new moms to feel lost, alone and confused about who they are in the world. It’s important for these postpartum realities to be acknowledged. Is motherhood beautiful and transformative? Yes. Are there intensely dark moments at times? Absolutely. As a mindfulness-based psychotherapist, I work with many new moms. A phrase of positive self-talk I offer them when anxiety or an uncomfortable emotion arises is, “Can I host this?” Meaning, can we simply host this emotion internally, breathing into it, without immediately denying its existence. When we attach ourselves to an idealized life, we’re setting ourselves up for failure - every time. Acknowledging that having a newborn is both amazing and a struggle is truly an example of the miraculous non-dual nature of life itself.

Mindful, body-centered techniques can become a mom’s best friend, especially after the baby arrives, creating optimal conditions for managing the ebb and flow of inner and outer life.

 

3 Reasons To Try Out Food Logging

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Keeping track of everything you eat might seem like a drag  but there's 3 solid reasons to start tracking your food and dropping the pounds.

 It starts with knowing your intake.

I often compare food logging to keeping a financial budget.  You wouldn’t show up to target, throw a bunch of stuff in the cart without checking tags and just hope you have enough money once reaching the register. So why do that to your own body with food? Without tracking foods and calories you have no true sense of how much you’re eating and if you’re in a healthy range.  Chances are you’re consuming more than you think and sabotaging your weight loss!

It's not as hard as you think.

We are all creatures of habit and tend to eat the same foods over and over again.  Once you learn the caloric content of some of your staples the tracking will become second nature.  Many restaurants and all packages require calorie information making this task even easier than you think!

You'll be able to look back on the log for years to come.

 Can you remember what you ate two weeks ago Tuesday  for lunch? Unless you pack the same lunch everyday, chances are you’ll have to stop and rack your brain for a moment! If you kept a detailed food log you’ll always be able to look back on what you ate and use it to help you meet your weight loss goals. Are you getting enough fruits and veggies on average? Is your sugar content too high? With a food log you’ll be able to answer those questions and begin tweaking your diet to the recommended  daily allowances.

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The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your physician or licensed health care provider. You should consult your physician or licensed health care provider before engaging in any exercise activity described in this article to determine if it is right for your needs.

5 Ways To Stay Motivated In December


As a personal trainer going on 12 years, I've found the winter is the most difficult time for people to consistently exercise.  Finding ways to stay active during December can be a challenge, but it's key for keeping your weight and stress levels down during the Holiday season. Below are some of my top recommendations for staying motivated in the month of December. 


1.   Start a challenge

There's a reason shows like The Biggest Loser were so effective and one of them is competition! Find some co-workers, friends or family members and develop a friendly step challenge for the month of December.  Get everyone to chip in a few dollars towards a grand prize winner and you'll be surprised how hard everyone works. 

2.  Find a fit workout buddy

There will be times you don't feel like getting out of bed for a walk or heading to the gym in the cold, but if you have a friend waiting you don't have much of a choice. Find someone who's at a similar fitness level or even a little bit more advanced to push you when you need it.  Make sure your schedules match up and create a plan to get together a few times a week.

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3.  Schedule your workouts ahead of time

Treat your workouts like you would any other appointment. Write them down in your planner or phone in advance and don't budge the days and times for other events.  Remember your health is just as important as anything else you have going on and your workouts should be treated as top priority!

4. Create a rewards system

Maybe there's a new pair of boots you've been eyeing or a restaurant you've been dying to try. Set a goal for December of how many times you'd like to get to the gym, and when you hit that goal you're allowed to treat yourself.   Hold yourself accountable to meeting that goal in order to earn your reward!

5.  Pay in advance

If you're financially committed to a workout class or training session you feel a higher level of responsibility to show up.   Find a Winter series of bootcamp classes or hire a personal trainer to ensure you keep moving all season long.
 

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The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your physician or licensed health care provider. You should consult your physician or licensed health care provider before engaging in any exercise activity described in this article to determine if it is right for your needs.

Top Stretches for Pregnancy and Postpartum

Tight shoulders, sore lower back, round ligament pain....sound familiar?

If muscles aches are a constant feeling in your body during pregnancy or after delivery, these stretches are for you! Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds and start feeling muscle relief in a few minutes a day! 

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Pregnancy and Postpartum:

Chest Opener- Start in the seated position. Bring your legs in however is comfortable for you.  Place both hands behind you, open up your chest and look towards the ceiling. 

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Seated V-stretch-Start in the seated position with your legs extended out in front.  Bring your legs as wide as you feel comfortable and slowly reach down the middle and hold. 

 

 

 

Side V-stretch- Start in the seated position with your legs extended out in front.  Bring your legs as wide as you feel comfortable and slowly reach to the right and hold. Repeat on opposite side. 

 

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Butterfly Stretch-Start in the seated position with your knees bent and your feet flat against each other.  Bringing your feet in towards your body as far as you feel comfortable. Place your hands on your feet and for a deeper stretch, gently push down with your elbows on your lower legs until you feel a stretch on your inner thighs and hip flexors. 

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Postpartum: 

Cat-Cow-- Begin on all fours on your hands and knees.  Your stomach muscles are engaged, and your arms remain locked.  Take a deep inhale as you round your back up towards the ceiling, exhale as you drop your hips under towards the floor, looking straight ahead. 

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Supine Spinal Twist-Lay back on the mat with your knees bent and your feet flat. Your arms are extended out to a T.  Drop your hips and knees down to the right, and your head down towards the left and hold. Repeat on opposite side. 

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Crossover Glute StretchLay back on the mat with your knees bent and your feet flat. Cross your right ankle over your left knee, and hug your left leg in towards your chest and continue to hold. Repeat on opposite sides. 

 

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The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your physician or licensed health care provider. You should consult your physician or licensed health care provider before engaging in any exercise activity described in this article to determine if it is right for your needs.

You Cannot Pour From an Empty Cup

By Hannah Davis-Bennet

Pre and Post Natal Doula

 

I really dislike the concept of self care in some respects because as women, we have to care for everyone else, our partners, our babies, other members of the family. We are expected to nurture everyone and then we are asked to do the same for ourselves. I used to feel like that wasn't a  really fair deal. However, I have come to recognise that it is vital that we embrace the simple things we can do to take care of ourselves and have learnt the hard way that we cannot pour from an empty cup!

The topic I want to most uncover here is REST.

I dont believe we value it enough and I don't think modern western women get this concept!

There are a couple of aspects we can look at. There is sleep and a deep state of rest, body, mind, emotions. Then there is doing restful things to nurture our wellbeing.

That state of deep rest is highly beneficial for recuperation postnatally, and indeed in the ensuing fun times of parenting at all stages. Sleep is the time our bodies regenerate and heal on a cellular level and we process things. Sleep is healing. Sleep is crucial for a baby's development and so my golden rule has always been, that whenever possible, sleep when baby is sleeping.

Some ways to ensure you get maximum benefit from this deep state of rest (and I unpack these individually a lot deeper in my blog) are:

•      Prepare a routine before you sleep, a calming, familiar ritual before bed.

•      Drink a herbal tea such as chamomile or lavender,  or a warm milk and honey

•      Use an app to play white noise, or waves crashing, or rain pattering on the roof, both as a soothing sleep sound, and as a way to cut out other noise that may distract you.

•      Set an alarm half an hour before bed to ensure you are reminded to come off screens, this is when you can brush teeth, prepare bed and maybe read or do some yoga like stretches before you get into bed. I dim the lights, and put my oil on diffuser and then we have a last little chat before lights out and we drift off.

The second important aspect is really making mindful living, and restful living a part of who you are, and how you live. A restful lifestyle. This doesn't mean we don't have busy patches, nor can we avoid all stressors, but if we have made rest a priority, its far easier to deal with said stressors.

Some of the things you can do to contribute to this, are:

•      Outsourcing some of your work, whether at home or if you run a business, you can get people to do your canva, or your social media management so you can bond with kids and do housework etc OR get a cleaner for a couple hours a week or fortnight to whip through whole house so its clean, neat and fresh and you can do other important things you value.

I could wax lyrical about this, but I won't here! I can't stress enough the benefits of outsourcing certain things, freeing up time for what you do/love best.

•      Drink water (set an alarm) so your body has all it needs to function. We really do need to drink more water! In a nutshell, It flushes toxins out and helps gives us energy!

•      Read a book or a fave magazine, try a gardening, home décor or wellbeing one over a trashy gossipy one, then you may learn something or be inspired to do something creative

•      Speaking of creative, do a project or learn a hobby, It can be cathartic and deeply restful to paint, garden, knit, make something.....

•      Have a bath, with essential oils and epsom salts; not only is this detoxing, its also relaxing to smell the fragrant oils and to soak your troubles or aches away. Some herbs can help heal you post birth too.

•      Pamper yourself – a hair mask, face mask or nails done once a week goes a long way to making you feel “normal” not just a crazy hot mess mum endlessly changing nappies!

•      Go for a walk but not on phone, just looking around and enjoying nature while bub is on you in a sling or in the pram.

We think these things are not restful, but they are actually so good for us. As long as we are present, focusing on what we have, and what we are capable of doing within own limitations, we can make self care a huge part of our every day life and be so much happier and healthier for it.

Maybe, looking at the above points, write a list and choose 1-2 things you could change in your life to make it more restful and nurturing of yourself.

 

 

What Your Obgyn Wants You to Know About Exercise

 As a board certified OB-GYN I have noticed more discussion taking place around exercising and pregnancy and below are my recommendations for women who are pregnant. 

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) offers a FAQS page on Exercise During Pregnancy that is a great reference for women and I highly recommend reading! 

During pregnancy, the top goal of exercising is to maintain the woman's cardiovascular and muscle health.  Being inactive for 9 months is bad for anyone.  Also, there is some emerging data that obesity breeds obesity, meaning that women who are overweight are more likely to have overweight children.  Exercise is of course one key in helping to prevent the obesity epidemic we have in this country.

When my patients ask about exercising during pregnancy, I typically advise them that they can continue to do any activity  they like, just keeping in mind safety- no contact sports, no extreme sports. I usually encourage women to maintain their level of fitness, but not to significantly increase their intensity during pregnancy. For example- I wouldn't encourage a person who is a couch potato to start training for a marathon. Many myths say women shouldn't lift anything or bend over during pregnancy, but I don’t believe there is any reason to believe that these things would cause harm to the pregnancy itself.  There is, however, a higher risk of the women hurting herself.   This is because pregnancy hormones can increase laxity of the ligaments, raising injury risk, especially with all the postural changes of pregnancy.  If you have a high risk pregnancy this advice does not apply and you should speak to your individual medical care professional about exercise.

After the baby is born and once cleared for exercise in the first 2-6 weeks, as a patient becomes more mobile, I encourage women to move.  I think there is a tendency for people to encourage bed-rest during recovery from both vaginal deliveries and c-sections.  Simple things like going for a walk are great for both preventing too much de-conditioning as you recover from delivery, and I think really helps mentally and  emotionally.  Walking is also something women can do with their babies, so finding time to do this does not require childcare.

After that time frame, I believe women can begin light aerobic activities and/ or light strength training, gradually working into their normal workout routine.  I don't think there is a true time frame for any of this- I generally encourage a women to listen to her body and if she feels overly sore or tired then she should back off the intensity and then try again in a few days to ease back into things.  One thing that women are always concerned about is causing their c-section to not heal.  This is highly unlikely. They will be more sore if they over do things, but their incisions should not fall apart.

While pregnant and in the postpartum time frame, ACOG recommends that if at any point you have worsening symptoms or you experience anything on the list below you should stop exercising and reach out to your medical professional.  

·       Bleeding from the vagina 

·       Feeling dizzy or faint

·       Shortness of breath before starting exercise

·       Chest pain

·       Headache 

·       Muscle weakness

·       Calf pain or swelling

·       Regular, painful contractions of the uterus

·       Fluid leaking from the vagina

 

 

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The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your physician or licensed health care provider. You should consult your physician or licensed health care provider before engaging in any exercise activity described in this article to determine if it is right for your needs.

Hypnosis For my Second Pregnancy

By Caitlyn Doenges

My decision to try Hypnobabies came after having complications with my epidural with my first and then having a pretty long and difficult recovery. I knew I wanted to try something different the next time; I wasn't sure what, but knew it needed to be different. Even before becoming pregnant with baby number two, I was interested in hypnosis for childbirth because I have a friend who did it with her first, who was born six weeks before my first and I was in awe of how she could have done that! It was one of those things that if I hadn’t known someone personally who had done it, I’m not sure I would have had the courage to even try myself.

Hypnobabies hypnosis for Childbirth is a complete program for medical hypnosis that can be done through in person classes or home study. There are other hypnosis courses one can take for natural delivery, but I found this program to be best for me. I borrowed the home study from my friend which includes CD's with daily hypnosis tracks and a study guide/workbook with weekly classes to read through. Another resource I used was the Hypnobabies support group on Facebook which was a wonderful community of hypnomoms, hypnodoulas, course instructors and the founder of Hypnobabies herself, Kerry Tuschhoff. This online community was a huge help for any and all questions or concerns I had throughout the program and my pregnancy and everyone was always so encouraging and supportive.

The daily affirmations and hypnosis tracks really helped me have such a positive outlook on my pregnancy. I had a very positive, healthy pregnancy and I attribute it to learning the language, relaxation and hypnosis techniques taught by Hypnobabies. It really showed me how powerful your mind can be and helped to control emotions, doubts and fears that crept in about childbirth.


I also felt that it absolutely helped with delivery. Throughout the course, you learn cues and are given tools to prepare for birth. I used all of the cues early on in my birthing time and could already begin to tell that my subconscious really did take in everything I was learning throughout the course. I listened to the tracks with headphones for the first few hours then played them out loud in the delivery room which helped create a nice environment for everyone in the room.

I would absolutely recommend this to a newly pregnant woman and am excited to share my experience and talk with other moms who may be interested in this route. The positivity during the pregnancy plus the ability to birth naturally without any drugs was amazing. I still can't really believe I did it!

Pelvic Floor and Core Exercises For Post Delivery

MATRIARC EXERCISES

 

These exercises should be performed only after being cleared for exercise by your health care professional

 

 

MATRIARC PRACTICE EXERCISES

These exercises are here to help you build your core and pelvic floor strength after having a baby.

Once cleared for exercise, start by completing 10 daily repetitions of the beginner exercises below.  Once you feel comfortable with the beginner exercises you can move to the intermediate and advanced exercises! 

 

Beginner Exercises

 

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Bridge- Pushing through your feet, begin to raise your hips up as high as you feel comfortable. Pause at the top, squeeze your glutes, and lower your hips back down one vertebra at a time into the mat. Continue slow and controlled focusing on your glutes, hamstrings and lower back as you lift.

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Supine Reverse Marching- Lay back on the mat with your legs at table top.  Bring your right foot down to tap the mat and return to table top position. Bring your left foot down to tap the mat and return to table top position.  Continue at your own pace, alternating legs.  Focusing on your lower abdominal region as you move. Pulling your navel down towards your spine, strengthening your stomach as you breathe.

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Opposite Arm and Leg Reaches- Begin on all fours on your hands and knees.  Your stomach muscles are engaged, and your arms remain locked. Reach out with your right arm and your left leg, getting your body into a straight line as best you can. Return your hands and knee to the mat, and reach out with your left arm and your right leg, getting your body into a straight line as best you can.  

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Standing Sumo Squats- Start in the standing position with your feet wider than shoulder width, and your toes pointed slightly out.  Keeping your shoulders back and your stomach tight, bend your knees as you lower down into a squat position and return back to the top.  Focusing on your inner thighs, keep your heals flat into the mat as you breathe. 

 

 

 

Intermediate Exercises

 

 

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Bent Knee Extensions- Lay back on your mat with your left leg extended down on the ground and your right leg at table top.  Bring both your hands to your right knee, and pick your left leg up off the ground.  Begin to trade your legs back and forth, extending all the way through your heals, lengthening your body and flattening your stomach.  

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Supine Dead Bug Crunch- Lay back on your mat with both your legs at table top.  Extend your arms up toward the ceiling.  Reach back with your right arm and out with your left leg. Pause, and return to center. Reach back with your left arm and out with your right leg. Pause, and return to center. Continue slow and controlled at your own pace working on muscle coordination and core strength.

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Superman Lifts- Begin by laying flat on your stomach with your arms all the way out in front. Turn your palms in to face each other, thumbs up. Raise your arms and legs off the mat, pause and return back down to the mat with control. Continue at your own pace as you breathe, working on strength and muscular endurance down the whole back of your body.

Standing Oblique crunches- Start in the standing position with your feet shoulder width apart.  Place both your hands behind your head, being careful not to pull on your head or neck.  Begin to dip towards the right, tighten your stomach ,and pull back up to starting position. Dip towards the left, tighten your stomach and pull back up to starting position.  Continue slow and controlled, going at your own place as you breathe. 

 

ADVANCED EXERCISES

 

Standing High Lunge- Start in the standing position with your feet shoulder width apart.  Keeping your toes and hips in line, step forward with your right foot and lean towards your right knee in a lunge position.  Keeping your stomach engaged, raise your arms to the ceiling and hold. Your weight should be evenly distributing between your two legs, your stomach remaining nice and tight.

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Opposite Knee to Elbow Taps- Start in the standing position with your feet shoulder width apart. Bring your right elbow towards your left knee, while keeping your stomach nice and tight. Return to starting position. Bring your left elbow towards your right knee while keeping your stomach nice and tight. Continue at your own pace, alternating sides as you breathe. 

Supine Single Straight Leg Extension- Begin by laying flat on the mat with your legs extended. Bring your right leg up straight towards the ceiling. Place your hands on your right knee. Pick your left leg up off the mat and begin trading your straight legs back and forth.  Trying to stop your bottom foot right before it hits the mat, focusing on your lower abdominal region as you breathe.

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Side Plank Hold- Start on your right side body, with your hips stacked in a straight line. Come up on to your right elbow, slowly lift your hips off the mat and hold. Putting the focus towards your hip, taking it off your shoulder as you breathe. 

 

The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your physician or licensed health care provider. You should consult your physician or licensed health care provider before engaging in any exercise activity described in this article to determine if it is right for your needs.

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Using MyPlate to Guide Your Way at Mealtime

Hawley Poinsett, MS, RDN, LD

 

Losing that baby weight can be a struggle for so many people.  During pregnancy there is so much focus on adequate weight gain for both the baby and the mother and after your precious baby is born the pressure is quickly shifted to losing weight.  This can lead to a lot of disordered thinking about food.  There are plenty of crash diets recommended out there in order to lose weight but many of them are not sustainable long-term and may even be inadequate in nutrients.  They certainly don’t teach you how to make healthy choices that are also enjoyable.  As a registered dietitian, I often use the USDA’s MyPlate to guide people to healthy eating.  I love this simple tool because it is an easy visual to remember that you can carry in your memory bank to the grocery store, restaurants, and to your kitchen and table every day.  I love it because you can use it as a guide while still having the freedom to choose a variety of foods that you enjoy.  The basic premise of MyPlate is on balance. 

Half of your plate should be made up of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Aim for as much variety in color here as possible.  The pigments that give produce it’s color are actually those vitamins and minerals that make fruits and vegetables a great part of a healthy diet.  Anytime you have an edible seed or peel, be sure to eat it as it provides many nutrients including fiber.

One quarter of your plate should include a lean protein source.  Four ounces of lean beef, pork, chicken or fish fits perfectly here, giving you 30g of protein.  Research shows that 30g of protein turns on your body’s ability to build muscle, balances your blood sugar, keeps you full longer, helps you to lose more weight while maintaining more muscle mass, and can keep you feeling satisfied longer leading to less snacking on unhealthy foods.

One quarter of your plate should include whole grains or starchy vegetables like peas, corn and potatoes.  Try whole grain versions of your every day favorites like brown vs. white rice or whole grain vs. enriched pasta, bread or tortillas.  Foods like oatmeal, cereal, quinoa, beans and lentils also fit here.  Shoot for at least 3g of fiber on the food label.

Pair your colorful plate with an 8-ounce glass of low-fat dairy and you have a complete meal packed with the nutrients your body needs.  Dairy is high in protein and 8 other vitamins and minerals, like calcium.  Studies show that including dairy as part of a weight-loss program can be beneficial.  If you are lactose intolerant, try lactose-free milk or fortified soymilk.  Most times cows milk can be slowly added back in to test your lactose threshold level.  Foods like yogurt, kefir, and low-fat cheese can also be a good choice.

Now all of this only works if you are using a standard 9-inch plate.  Many plates sold at stores today are much larger than this and using the salad plate can often be a benefit.  Try to eat every 5 hours.  If your meals are going to be spaced farther apart than that, then add a small balanced snack in between like 1oz nuts and a piece of fruit.  Have fun using MyPlate and be sure to honor yourself by listening to your body’s hunger and fullness cues!

 

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The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your physician or licensed health care provider. You should consult your physician or licensed health care provider before engaging in any exercise activity described in this article to determine if it is right for your needs.

Mommy Snacks to Pack in your Diaper Bag

By Amy Shapiro, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist

Being a healthy, on the go mom can seem like an impossible feat. Trust me, I know. But it doesn’t have to be difficult! On those day when you have too many things to do, and not enough time to eat, it is helpful to have healthy snacks on hand. If they can fit in a diaper bag, that’s even better! Below, I’ve listed some of my favorite snacks to pack in your diaper bag. These are healthy, filling, and easy to eat so you can take care of your baby while also taking care of yourself. Added bonus, once your child/children can eat solids, these snacks are all natural and safe for your troops too (allergies aside)!

 

1.     Chia Health Warrior Bar: If you need to keep your energy up during the day, these bars can be your go-to snack. They are small but mighty, coming in at just 100 calories!  Thanks to their main ingredient (chia!) they’ll keep you full for hours as long as you enjoy them with a glass of water (or iced coffee if that’s your thing!)

2.      RX Bars: Protein bars without any BS ingredients are hard to find, but that’s why I love RX Bars so much. They are made with simple ingredients, plainly listed on the front of each bar, and come in a variety of delicious flavors to form the perfect pick-me-up or meal substitute in a pinch.

3.     Hard Boiled Eggs: These little protein bombs are easy to carry around and SO good for you! You can make a ton of them at a time, so they are not only cost-effective, but also time efficient. And if cooking isn’t your thing, they can now be found at many fast food restaurants and corner delis for an even quicker fix!

4.     Fruit: I always have an apple or Clementine on hand, and on hot days I LOVE to snack on frozen grapes or cherries! An easy way to get some energy and cool off? Count me in.

5.     Individual packs of nuts: You can buy single servings of nuts like the ones from Emerald Nuts or from Trader Joes (already portioned) for a quick protein and heart healthy snack. Stuff some of these in your diaper bag before you leave the house to stave off cravings throughout the day.  Best part is that they won’t go bad, so if you find them a few weeks later, dig in!

6.     Babybel Cheese: If you want some on-the-go cheese made with 100% real milk, Babybel is the cheese to eat. Babybel cheese comes in snackable, easy to open wheels for easy access and portion control.

7.     Jerky: Jerky tends to be low in sugar and high in protein, which makes it the perfect snack for meat-loving, on the go moms. Keep an eye out for turkey jerky, which happens to be my personal favorite!

8.     Cut up veggies (or what I call ‘salad in a bag’): With a little preparation, you can have a healthy, wholesome snack that’s not only refreshing and low in calories, but filled with nutrients too.  Some of my summer favs: snap peas, peppers, cucumbers and radishes.

9.     Mary’s Gone Crackers: These delicious crackers are whole grain, organic, gluten free, and kosher! Plus, they have an amazing crunch and come in a bunch of delicious flavors. Remember, though, 8-13 crackers makes a serving! 

10.  Skinny Pop: Popcorn done right is one of the healthiest snacks out there, and skinny pop definitely does it right! Low fat and no artificial flavoring makes this a great snack to pack in your diaper bag. And their 100 calorie bags makes watching portions a no brainer too!

 

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The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your physician or licensed health care provider. You should consult your physician or licensed health care provider before engaging in any exercise activity described in this article to determine if it is right for your needs.

 

 

5 Tips to boost Energy and metabolism!

Being a mom is HARD and your energy is constantly being depleted.  We offer these easy tips for instant energy and improved metabolism in 5 minutes or less! 

Drink A Glass Of Water

Water gives you instant energy by fighting fatigue, jump starting your metabolism, keeping you full and fending off dehydration.  Drinking water is one the the easiest things you can do for energy, which is why we put it first on our list! When you feel a yawn coming on, fill up a glass and get to drinking.  

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Stretch

Stretching improves circulation of blood and oxygen throughout the body, giving you an instant boost. Stretching can also help you relax and release muscle tension, something most people could use more of! Need a guide? We love this stretches for pregnancy and postpartum

Deep Breathing

Sometimes something as easy as paying attention to your breathe can make a big difference on how you feel throughout the day.  Follow this a simple ONE MINUTE breathing exercise by Gaim for boosted energy and productivity during the day.  Deep breathing has been shown to reduce your stress levels 

Get Some Fresh Air 

Stepping outside even for a minute changes your perspective, and fresh air is found to improve energy better than cup of coffee! Studies show that exercising in nature is more effective for physical and mental wellbeing than staying indoors, so take some time outside of your house and feel the sunlight on your face. You'll have an opportunity to burn some calories and get some vitamin D. We guarantee you'll feel better almost immediately! 

 Cardio Workout 

It might seem counterintuitive to exercise when you're feeling tired, but a short workout that gets your heart rate up might be just what you need to feel more awake! Fitness Blender has a great 5 minute workout you can do anytime during the day.  Getting your heart rate up even for a couple minutes a day goes a long way towards keeping your weight down and strengthening your body.  

 

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The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your physician or licensed health care provider. You should consult your physician or licensed health care provider before engaging in any exercise activity described in this article to determine if it is right for your needs.

Advice For Moms- What I Couldn't Find Online

By Ashley Barron

I'm a big fan of lists. It helps me stay organized and focused on a task at hand. So, when I was preparing for my son to be born, I was able to find ample advice for the part of giving birth, but I seemed to find very little on what to do right AFTER the baby arrives. So, just three months after I gave birth, when an opportunity arose for me to provide advice for my friend before she was going to give birth, I took this into consideration and had quite a bit to tell her. The following is what I wrote for her and her husband, and I hope it helps you as much as it did them.

1.     Stay at the hospital as long as you are able to.

2.     Soak up all the advice from the nurses that you can. They are a wealth of knowledge.

3.     Don’t be afraid to ask dumb questions while at the hospital. When you go home, you will miss this! Google just isn’t the same…

4.     It will take you longer than you expect to heal. Don’t try to rush back into things too soon. It will only delay your healing.

5.     In the first few days after baby arrives, REMEMBER TO EAT AND DRINK. As simple as it sounds, this can be hard to remember to do when you are so tired.

6.     Breastfeeding is really HARD… be sure to use a lactation consultant! She will become your new best friend.

7.     You will go through so many emotions in the days/weeks after giving birth. And no doubt about it, you WILL cry, but that is ok and totally normal.

8. Your spouse WILL think you are a crazy lady multiple times in the first few weeks. Your craziness will pass, but try to get some sleep to regain a bit of your sanity.

9. Use your support system and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

10. At some point, you will have to put your child down and walk away defeated. Take a moment, regroup and remember to breathe.

11. Text other mom friends for advice, or just to stay rational. No doubt they have been where you are right now. This is especially true when you are up in the middle of the night. Who knows, you might actually get a response!

12. The sleep deprivation is REAL. Sleep when you can and don’t try to overdo it with other non-essential activities.

13. Take turns with a fussy baby at night so one of you can relax or catch a few winks. Two overly tired parents are never a good thing.

14. In the first few days/weeks at home, find some small activity that calms and refreshes you which you can do daily for yourself.

15. Try to get outside in some capacity each day.

16. You will never understand how something so small can create so much laundry.

17. Dad, even though it may feel like your baby always wants Mom and what you do doesn’t matter, try to remember that you are doing a great job. There will come a day when all he/she wants is Dad!

18. Try to have a few moments each day without your baby where you and your spouse can spend some adult time together.

19. Finally, be sure to embrace the snuggles, sounds, and warmth of your newborn. He/she will change so unbelievably fast, before you know it he/she will be smiling, cooing and no longer a newborn!

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The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your physician or licensed health care provider. You should consult your physician or licensed health care provider before engaging in any exercise activity described in this article to determine if it is right for your needs.

 

A Working Mom’s Survival Guide

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By Beth D.

Whether you go back to work at 6 weeks, 12 weeks, or 1 year postpartum, the transition is hard. There’s guilt over leaving your baby. Or there’s guilt over perhaps not feeling as guilty as you think you should. There are new schedules, changes in routine, and adjustment to the “new norm.”

I should preface this article by saying that my job is slightly different than most. I am a public school teacher, which makes my “working mom” situation a little more manageable, in my opinion. I always have an end in sight, whether it’s a couple of weeks off around Christmas, or the Summer Break I’m eagerly awaiting at the moment (3 days, but who’s counting?). My day also goes by so quickly that I don’t have time to think about that aforementioned guilt factor.

I started back at work after my third child about a month ago. With each of my children, I got to take 12 weeks of maternity leave, slightly longer with my 2nd because he was born during the summer (again - 3 DAYS TO GO). Each time it’s just as hard, but I’ve learned a few things over the years that have made the transition back to work a little bit easier:

When in doubt, do it the night before.

Mornings with a baby are chaotic at best, so anything you can do the night before to prepare for the next day will help. Take a shower, prep bottles, make your lunch, lay out your clothes, pack the diaper bag… you get the gist. Spending a little extra time before you sink into the couch from exhaustion is well worth it!

The early bird gets the worm.

Sleep is precious to any mom, new or not, but getting up and getting ready before the kids wake up is definitely worth the 30 minutes. Playing peek-a-boo while you try to put on mascara is a good way to poke your eye out, and getting dressed with a baby hanging from your leg requires serious balance that I just don’t have at 6:30 in the morning.

Two words: crock pot.

I get home around 5:30, and even before I had older kids to cook for, I didn’t (and don’t!) much like waiting until 8:00 to eat dinner. The word “hangry” comes to mind, and that’s not a pleasant situation for anyone. However, I don’t want to spend my few hours before my kids go to bed stressing over the stove. Enter, the crock pot. Slow cooker meals are a weekly staple at our house. We also pick meals that can be partially prepped the night before - chopping, measuring, etc.

Splurge on the extra pump parts.

If you are nursing, you’ll be experiencing the joy of pumping at work. Also, the joy of eating lunch while hooked up to a whirring machine. Also, the joy of being walked in on by the custodian. But, I digress. If you get an extra few sets of bottles to pump into or shields to attach to your breast pump, you can avoid washing all those pieces each and every night. Most can be found on Amazon. Definitely well worth it!

Lower your expectations.

You are not going to be perfect - not at being a mom, not at your job - when you’re balancing both. I’ve come to the realization that I am not the super teacher that leads committees, applies for grant funding, and mentors new teachers. I am a good teacher that works hard and helps my students learn. I’ve also come to the realization that I am not the super mom that cooks organic, made from scratch meals and pinterests (that’s a verb now, right?) amazing ideas for every holiday. I am a good mom that loves my kids and often leaves the house with dirty breakfast dishes sitting in the sink.

When all is said and done, going back to work really comes down to time management. Do your best to make the most efficient use of what little free time you have. Try not to over complicate your life with non-essential commitments, and don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. And somewhere in the mix, make sure you find a little time for yourself.

 

Mindful Eating: A Meditation for Moms

By Lena Franklin, LCSW

I’m consistently hearing from my mom friends and clients that finding time to meditate is “impossible” when you’re experiencing pregnancy brain or immersed in the day-to-day rhythm of taking care of your kids. And forget getting on that meditation cushion when you have a newborn. The exhaustion is real. Modern neuroscience shows that meditation can be a transformative tool when managing stress ~ decreasing the stress hormone, cortisol, and increasing an overall capacity to shift into our parasympathetic (rest and digest) dominant nervous system. But as a mom, it can often feel that the fight with time is a never ending battle. A shift in mindset can transform the way moms meet life, moment-to-moment. Whether you’re stressed getting ready for the baby to arrive or completely and utterly exhausted from taking care of your newborn, Mindful Eating can become a way you shift into the power of presence.

What IS Mindful Eating exactly? Well, it’s an intimate attunement to tasting, smelling and feeling your food as you eat it. Think you do that already? Well, think again. The extent to which we can be present with our food is the extent to which we taste it and absorb its benefits. Have you ever downed a bag of chips or trail mix without registering even eating it? Even as a mindfulness-based psychotherapist and meditation teacher, I’ve been guilty as charged. When we’re not paying attention to what we’re putting in our bodies, we mindlessly ingest our food, often feeling dissatisfied with what we’ve just eaten. Through the art of Mindful Eating, we can shift into our embodied presence with gratitude and joy. Even a few moments of savoring our meal, tea or piece of chocolate can refuel the mind, heart and spirit in ways that allows you to journey on the path of motherhood with confidence, expanding your ability to enjoy one of the most fulfilling (but taxing!) experiences of a lifetime.

Here’s How:

1.) Timing

Commit to a daily Mindful Eating practice. Whether it’s when your baby is sleeping or for 5 minutes first thing in the morning, make this food or drink oriented meditation a nonnegotiable in your schedule ~ like brushing your teeth or taking a shower. Gandhi would often say, “our actions express our priorities,” so as mothers, when we prioritize ourselves, we also teach our families how to care for themselves. 5-10 minutes a day is all it takes to reconnect with sacred intention and the power of presence through Mindful Eating. Consider putting this meditation practice on your calendar as if you’re making a self-care appointment with yourself!

2.) Tasting

 Whether you’re sitting-down for a quiet moment with your morning oatmeal or savoring a piece of chocolate before bed, transition into focusing on your tastebuds. Remember, our senses are how we experience the world. If we’re unconsciously eating and drinking our way through life, we’re not authentically experiencing the richness that life offers. Through the art of Mindful Eating, we practice “single attention tasking” which is a mindfulness practice of doing one thing at a time. It’s a simple concept but not easy to do, as we’ve become conditioned to feed our babies while making to-do lists in our heads and scrolling on Facebook. Stop, pause and drop into the present moment experience. Take small bites and feel the piece of nourishment swirl around your mouth. Experience the emotions that emerge within from being awake to the food before you. Slowly, mindfully take in your food with untethered attention to taste. This is an emotional and energetic gift to yourself as a human…and powerful mother on this earth.

3.) Transforming

When we choose mindfulness, we transform ourselves and our families. As mothers, there’s a need to weave mindfulness practices into daily life, especially when it’s not feasible to sit in meditation for 30 minutes. Mindful Eating is a meditation utilizing the sensory experience of food to anchor our awareness in the present moment. When we train the mind to be present through meditation, we’re more easily able to release worry thoughts and anxieties about the future. As mothers, anxiety can often arise through fear and doubt of our ability to nurture and raise these beautiful beings we brought into this world. Parenthood is one of the greatest gifts and responsibilities humans receive. If we can make mindfulness a priority, we can transmit this presence to our children, planting seeds of peace, love and joy in their lives before they’re even born.

As a mindfulness-based therapist, I work with pregnant women who seek to cultivate homeostasis in mind, body and heart before their babies arrive ~ threading these practices into life, fostering equanimity that spans far beyond delivery. There are various meditations that can be done to promote sustained peaceful presence, even in the face of stress, worry and exhaustion. These mindfulness tools can be carried into motherhood, offering a safe refuge to return home to in the face of life’s chaos. The art of Mindful Eating holds the capacity to be your practice of awakening into motherhood with unbounded balance, joy and fulfillment. 

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The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your physician or licensed health care provider. You should consult your physician or licensed health care provider before engaging in any exercise activity described in this article to determine if it is right for your needs.

Why You and Your Partner Should Take Breastfeeding Classes

By Katie Peiffer

 

I have always, from day one, wanted to nurse. I've always known and understood the amazing benefits from breastmilk! I knew going into it that breastfeeding wasn't going to be easy, it was a full time job. I'm so lucky that my hospital at the time provided breastfeeding classes and that both me AND my partner attended.

My advice to new moms that are planning on nursing is to attend a breastfeeding class, and make sure you bring your partner. It is just as important for them to understand what breastfeeding entails, complications that can occur, and what a Mother needs - whether it's gallons of water, snacks, or just consistent support.

After a really hard, induced labor, our first born came and seemed to have latched on nicely. I did all the normal checks a new mom could do - lips flanged out, head in the right position, mouth opened wide enough etc. but something wasn't right. Within the first few hours of birth my nipples started to bleed, I knew it would be painful or uncomfortable at first, but as I kept nursing things just got worse. The bleeding didn't stop, Hannah was making a clicking sound which meant there was extra air being consumed which then lead to a super gassy, uncomfortable baby.

Both my husband and I knew right away that Hannah had a tongue tie. I was so thankful I was able to identify the issue. I had no idea about ties until I attended the class. An ENT snipped her tie in the hospital and we were sent home, told things would get better but they didn't. Every single time I nursed (which is literally all day and night with a newborn) it brought me to tears. It hurt so badly and I knew the problem hadn't been resolved. I was still bleeding. I met with a Lactation Consultant immediately and she informed me that not only did her tongue tie grow back, she also had lip ties! At 9 days old we took Hannah to a plastic surgeon to have her ties lasered off. It was a pretty painless procedure, the numbing was the most painful part.  Not only did resolving her tongue tie quickly help me to continue breastfeeding, it is also very important to address any type of tongue/lip tie early to prevent speech issues down the road.

The following months were tough. We had to do a lot of physical therapy to help Hannah understand that she could now stretch her tongue past her gums. I used a nipple shield for the first few months and was SO grateful the day I could throw out the shield and nurse my baby comfortably. It took A LOT of hard work and determination but we did it! I am thankful for all of the support I had from different Lactation Consultants, and even more thankful we attended the class so we knew how to handle this painful situation. Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, especially after the first month. Moms: reach out for help if you need it, advocate for yourself, and trust your gut if you feel something isn't right!  Breastfeeding is not easy, but for me it was worth it.