What I Wasn’t Expecting: Emotional Adjustment for New Moms

Few experiences in life are as transformative as that of becoming a mother. From a very young age, many women have certain plans and expectations for building their families and what motherhood will look like. Added to that are the societal images of the new mother as a blissful, nurturing being who easily makes room for a new baby in her life. Medical providers tend to focus most of the attention on the physical changes of pregnancy and the act of giving birth with little room left to consider postpartum emotional adjustment.

When our only cultural messages and personal expectations about motherhood are filled with joy and ease, the stress and fatigue of new motherhood can feel all the more confusing. The truth is, women often experience an emotional rollercoaster ranging from wonderful to terrible and everything in between.

The desperation of holding a crying baby during yet another sleepless night or heaving your wounded body through the day is counterbalanced by the utter contentment of cradling a sleeping baby on your chest or the joy of witnessing the first genuine smile your baby bestows. Despite the obvious challenge of navigating these emotional ups and downs, new moms are sent home from the hospital with very little in the way of emotional support.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to support your emotional health after having a baby. Here are three ideas:

o Laugh.

There is a reason why the adage “Laughter is the best medicine,” has remained so popular. Laughing releases endorphins, promotes a sense of well-being, relaxes us, and reduces pain. Maybe your baby is having a particularly fussy day. She’s teething or gassy or tired. When it starts to feel overwhelming, turn to humor. Whether it’s a rerun of your favorite comedy on- line, reading jokes, or a recording of your favorite comedian, having something at the ready that will make you laugh is priceless on a rough day.

o Soothe.

On some days, laughter will feel like an unattainable goal. You might be craving a feeling of being nurtured instead. At those times, listen to your instincts and find a way to soothe yourself. Options include taking a warm bath, listening to calming music, using a face mask, applying lotion, curling up in a warm blanket, drinking tea, and reading a book or magazine. Be that warm maternal presence for yourself just as you are for your baby.

o Get fresh air.

Spending time outdoors provides more access to oxygen, with a multitude of benefits for our lungs, brains, and digestive systems. You might experience a boost in energy, mood, and concentration. In addition to those physical advantages is the emotional impact of a change of scenery. This can be especially helpful when the house itself is causing you stress, whether it’s from the pile of laundry waiting to be folded or the baby announcements you still have not gotten around to mailing. So put baby in a stroller and go outside! 

By Amber Parker, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist 

HELPING MOMS HEAL THEIR

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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.

 

 

The Internal Struggle of a Working Mom

I’d be lying to you if I said that going back to work after having my baby was easy. It was HORRIBLE. The last couple weeks of my leave, I counted down the days until my maternity leave was over. The very last week, I cried every night while I was rocking her to sleep. I was so frustrated. Why couldn’t I just stay home? Well, that easy answer was…we don’t have the money for me to stay home! I tried thinking of every possible thing we could cut. The sacrifices we could make, but it still wouldn’t be enough.

Acceptance finally set in. I was so fortunate to have my sister-in-law who offered to keep my child for me. I didn’t have to send her to daycare like most moms, not that there is anything wrong with daycare. Part of me wished I wanted the “break” like some moms do. It would have made my life easier! I took twelve weeks of maternity leave, six weeks paid, six weeks unpaid, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I am a 4th grade teacher and my students were thrilled to have me back! Their response helped ease my anxiety, even though my heart longed to be holding my sweet girl in my arms instead.

I don’t think there is much of a way to prepare yourself. You could start leaving baby periodically in increments, but the whole first day is a long one. The whole first week was a long one…ugh! Other moms told me to try and break up the calendar to look forward to the next holiday or long weekend. This does really help to get you through. The weekends are pure joy, and they will sustain you from week to week.

For me, one of the hardest things about leaving my baby was thinking of all of the first year development I might miss. What if she crawls and I’m not there? What if she takes her first steps without me? What if she says her first word and I’m not there to hear it? These thoughts about drove me crazy. It is hard to try not to think about all of the things you might miss. Eventually, you learn to put those thoughts out of your mind.

My biggest lesson would be to not be too proud to ask for help. I was fortunate, I did not suffer from postpartum blues after my baby was born. I did, however get extreme anxiety about going back to work. I cried over everything. I was a total mess and really needed to go see my family doctor. Finally, after many gentle nudges from my fabulous co-workers and friends, (mommies as well who had all been there), I got something to help ease my mind, my anxiety, and my heart. I wish I hadn’t waited so long. I had made myself and everyone else miserable. I am now more relaxed, much more at ease with the role of a working mom.  Please don’t be too proud to get help if you need it!

I cherish every moment with my child. Those kisses and snuggles when I leave, and those sweet little arms that go up when I return from work to hold her. They keep me going and give me my purpose. I would still give anything to stay at home, but I now don’t dread work like I did. I depart, I teach, and I leave as soon as possible to get back to where my heart belongs. You, too can do this mama! It will be hard. There will be tears. There will be struggles, but you will figure out your groove and make the best of your situation. I promise!

 

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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.

5 Ways To Improve Your Self Confidence After Having A Baby

When you are pregnant, your body changes in every way imaginable. This can be an amazing and beautiful experience. It also is a time where everyone see starts to feel comfortable commenting on your body. This can have a huge impact on both your feelings of confidence, and your feelings of identity!

“You look ready to pop”

“Are there twins in there?”

“You must be due soon!”

All of this focus on your body can make a mother start to loose her feelings of confidence. The body you once knew, looks and feels completely different. After you give birth, your body changes yet again. I remember looking down at my deflated stomach, and being able to fully lose my hand in the space that once held my daughter. The body that I once recognized, no longer looked like mine.

When the dust settles and you are starting to get accustomed to your new life with your baby, you may also find that you don’t recognize your body, and are not feeling like your old self.

Many women report that they feel a lack of confidence in their body after having a baby. If this is you, it is important to know that these feelings are normal! Your body has just gone through a huge physical change! You have birthed a HUMAN BEING! This is a huge deal both physically and emotionally. You are also now pouring your heart and soul into caring for this tiny human, which often leaves mothers feeling like they have limited time to care for themselves.

If you are feeling a lack of confidence after having a baby, there are a few things that you can do to help yourself gain confidence, and start feeling like the hero that you are!

 

1. Remind Yourself What Your Body Has Done!

When I was feeling discouraged and not like myself, I always found it helpful to remind myself what my body had been through! My body held on to my baby during 9 months of pregnancy, and 4 of those months was spent on bed rest. My body birthed this human being. My body survived many sleepless nights, and day-long breastfeeding sessions.

Your body created a HUMAN BEING! What an empowering thought! This is amazing. Give yourself grace, and practice self-compassion. You are powerful and you are strong.

Write down these affirmations somewhere where you can be reminded of them daily.

2. Get Yourself Ready.

In the first few months of my daughter’s life, I did my hair and makeup (and showered) only a handful of times. Most days I would wear oversized pregnancy clothes, and have spit up in my hair. I was already feeling a lack of confidence, and it only made me feel worse when I didn’t do anything with myself. I learned that even if I just put on real clothes, or did my hair, I would feel much more confident.

Put your baby in their little baby chair or rocking chair, and give yourself at least 10 minutes to get ready! You’ll be amazed at the difference this can make in your confidence.

3. Find The Facts!

Let’s be real. If you have had a baby, you know that the first couple weeks after you have a baby (sometimes much longer than this) you are a hormonal mess (or was this just me?). Thoughts like “I’m not good enough”, “I won’t be able to handle motherhood”, or “I’ll never look like I used too”, often sneak up into our minds. When I am talking with people about negative thoughts, we often refer to these thoughts as ANTS.

These thoughts pop into our minds without warning, and can be very hurtful. The important thing to remind yourself is: thoughts are not facts! Just because we think something, does not mean that it is true.

Instead of believing these ANTS, find the truth in these difficult thoughts. For every ANT that you have, try finding three truths to disprove it. If you cannot think of them yourself, talk to a loved one about the thought and allow them to help you see the facts. Therapists often recommend this practice, as it is a great way to help you find confidence, and destroy ANTS.

Related "Adjusting to Motherhood: Supporting Emotional Health Through Physical Health" 

4. Exercise!

It can be so hard to find time to exercise when your children are young, but it is such an important part of building confidence and feeling great about yourself!  Whether that is doing some quick exercises at home, or going for a walk with the stroller, or going to a gym that has a daycare. Research has shown that regular exercise has an amazing impact on increasing confidence, and increasing your overall happiness and well-being!

After my daughter was born, I found that one thing that really helped me was to get out of the house to exercise. When she was first born, I would take her for walks around my house to get her to nap, and while she napped I would listen to podcasts and audiobooks, which helped me feel like I was still using my brain for things unrelated to babies. Now that she is a bit older, I love taking her to the daycare at my gym. This gives me an hour to myself (sometimes I just shower and go to the steam room).  I find that even this little amount of time, allows me to recharge, and helps me feel more confident!

5. Build Your Confidence By Setting Small Realistic Goals.

Another mistake I made when my daughter was first born was to expect that I could do everything I used to do. I would set huge daily goals for myself, and would be so discouraged every night when none of those goals were completed.

Rather than setting big goals, focus on setting small realistic goals. For example, instead of thinking that you can clean the whole house, perhaps set a goal to vacuum and do the dishes. Building success by meeting small goals will help you feel more confident and in control of your life! Once again, practice self-compassion if you cannot meet these goals, and realize that at the end of the day if your baby is fed, loved, and safe you have done what you needed to do!  

Related: "Pelvic Floor and Core Exercise For Post Delivery"

Take Home Message:

When you have a baby, everything changes… Many mothers struggle with feeling confident and don’t feel like themselves!

 

Jess is a mom, therapist, and the writer behind Jessica Grace Blog. She knows first hand how difficult motherhood can be. Her experience as both a therapist and a mom has made her passionate about supporting and empowering all women, to help them live their best life. On her blog, she talks about topics related to mental health, giving practical tips that are based off of the latest research.

 

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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.

Adjusting to Motherhood: Supporting Emotional Health Through Physical Health


By Amber Parker, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist

When caring for a newborn, many moms enter a self-sacrificing mode that focuses on baby’s needs first.We often do not realize how important it is to also make sure our needs are being met. Prioritizing our own well-being is a valuable way to take care of our baby, because a more stable and healthier mother can be more responsive to her baby’s needs.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to support yourself after having a baby. As a psychologist, I help moms improve their emotional health. However, the mind and body are connected and deficits in one area will inevitably affect the other. The following are specific physical self-care actions that will also support your emotional well-being as a new mom:


Making Sure You Drink Enough Water Each Day


There is a reason why many hospitals give new moms those large containers of water to sip throughout their stays. Dehydration can have a serious impact, both physically and mentally. When we are dehydrated, our brains can function less effectively. It is harder to concentrate and complete tasks. Our memory may be negatively impacted. Dehydration can even lower your mood. Drinking water is a simple way to support your postpartum adjustment and make sure you have the cognitive and emotional resources to cope. So, keep a water bottle nearby at all times. Some water bottles come with dials to track how much you are drinking. You can also use an app on your phone or keep a tally on a chalkboard, dry erase board, or calendar. When you reach your full amount for the day, you also experience the psychological benefit of achieving a goal and the positive emotions that arise. How much water is enough? Current recommendations are 72 ounces for adult women, 80 ounces for pregnant women, and 104 ounces for breastfeeding women [Source: Healthline].

 


Maintaining Blood Sugar Levels By Eating Regularly


Glucose provides fuel for our brain, so we need food in order to function at our best. Did you know that every decision you make, large or small, depletes the level of glucose in your brain?
As a result, keeping our blood sugar at a steady level has cognitive benefits, but it is also important for regulating our moods. The popularity of the term “hangry” demonstrates the link
people have observed between their mood and their level of hunger. Low blood sugar can lead
to anger, anxiety, depression, and other negative mood states. Manage your blood sugar by
eating on a regular schedule. As a new mom, you will want to keep it simple. There is no need to
cook fancy recipes or spend hours preparing food. Keep healthy snacks on hand. If your partner
is looking for a way to help, ask him or her to prepare snacks for you. If you can afford it, buy
pre-sliced vegetables or other pre-packaged snacks to save yourself the prep time. Aim for
things that you can eat with one hand (assuming you will probably be holding a baby with the
other). Try to incorporate protein and fiber. Avoid simple carbohydrates (such as sugar-filled
treats) that can make your blood sugar spike.

 

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Sleeping

The one piece of self-care advice that is frequently offered to new moms is “sleep when the
baby is sleeping.” There is a reason why this statement continues to be shared after hundreds of
generations. Adequate sleep provides a foundation for optimal functioning, affecting both our
general sense of well-being and our cognitive abilities. When we are sleep-deprived, we are
quicker to become irritated and less patient with life’s little bumps. As a new mom caring for a
baby with ever-changing moods and constant demands, having the ability to tolerate discomfort
and mishaps is a tremendous asset. Sleep is a direct way to enhance that ability. Do try to take
naps as a new mom. At times you may have to let the laundry wait or leave the dirty bottles in a
pile so that you can sleep instead. Practice making your own need for a sleep a greater priority
than having a clean house or completing some other household task.
These simple strategies provide a way to nurture your physical self after the birth of your baby, with clear benefits for your mood and emotional state as well.

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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 Energy Boosting Snacks For Moms

Sarah Walker, RNP, ROHP

www.sarahwalker.ca

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Being a new mom is tough. Your brain is overloaded with new information, and your
entire life is upside down. Sleep, attention, and energy all suffer. The best way to
counteract ‘mom brain’ is by keeping your blood sugar consistent and giving
yourself a slow burn of energy that will last all day. Here are a few one-handed
snacks you can keep in the fridge to grab as needed throughout the day (or night!)


Pre-Cut Veggies In A Container With Hummus Or Yogurt Dip


Fiber is super important in the quest to keep your energy up. It keeps you full for
longer and helps counteract big peaks in blood sugar. Pair fibrous veggies like
peppers, snap peas, cucumbers, carrots, and celery with a dip containing protein
and fat for a snack that will stick with you. Hummus is a fantastic dip with lots of
healthy fats and protein, or try using Greek yogurt with your favorite dip mix.


Nuts And Trail Mixes


Nuts are a fantastic grab-and- go snack. They have healthy fat (it’s what keeps you
full for a long time!), protein, and carbohydrates. They can be high in calories as
well, so the prepackaged bags are great for portion control. Trail mix is a great
snack as well. Adding dried fruit, seeds, and even a bit of chocolate to your nuts
really rounds out the snack and adds some needed vitamins and minerals. Again, be
mindful of portion control, as it is really easy to mindlessly eat the entire bag of trail
mix.


Yogurt With Fruit And Granola


This snack isn’t necessarily one-handed, but it will do you a world of good. It’s a
fantastic quick breakfast too, and you can make tons of different flavor
combinations. You won’t get bored of this one!


Baked Oatmeal


Baked oatmeal with chocolate chips and raspberries was my absolute favorite quick
food after I had my kids. It is super easy to make a big batch and freeze. I would
make enough for 2 weeks and store it in my freezer, and then heat up one serving
whenever I was starving (which was always). Oats are amazing for postpartum
moms, especially those who are breastfeeding. Oats are galactagogues, which
means they promote milk production. Add warm chocolate chips and tart-sweet
berries and you have a healing, nourishing snack perfect for a new mom.

 


Related Moms Matter Nutrients Matter


Energy Bites

Energy bites or balls are made on a base of chopped dates and nuts, with different flavorings
added in. Rolled into balls or pressed into bars, these are the perfect things to pop in
your mouth as you’re feeding a baby, or working through a mountain of laundry.
They have fiber, iron, and lots of good fats and protein. These bars are especially
great if you’re constipated after delivery, they will solve that problem quite quickly.
Don’t eat too many at a time though, or you could end up with the opposite problem.
You can make them yourself fairly easily, or buy them from many health food stores
or larger grocery stores.


If I can offer one more tip, it would be to drink water!

Every time you sit down, takea drink. When you’re feeding your baby, drink a glass of water yourself. When youwake up in the morning, fill up a big tumbler and drink it all day. Your body justwent through a big change; it needs hydration to help it heal.


Make eating easy on yourself. I always advocate making as many things yourself as
you can, but you just had a baby. Buy the pre-cut fruit and veggies, the hummus, and
the energy bites. When someone asks you how they can help, ask them to make you
some baked oatmeal or cut up your veggies for you. The easier you make it, the
better you will eat, and the better you eat, the better you will feel. Being a new mom
is hard, but having a plan in place will make it so much easier.

 

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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.

Weight Loss Tips For Real People

Losing weight as a mom can be a difficult task, and there's so much information available to you it can get confusing. After reading through 100's of articles, and using our own expertise, we choose 10 tips for effective weight loss you can start implementing today. 

1. Eat Breakfast

It can be tempting to skip breakfast first thing in the morning, but studies have shown a healthy breakfast decreases overeating later in the day and provides energy to function efficiently. Skipping breakfast leads to exhaustion and higher overall calorie consumption, hurting your weight loss goals. 

Some of our favorite breakfasts are eggs, greek yogurt, fruit, oatmeal, whole grain toast with almond butter, and nutritional bars. 

2.  Prepare Healthy Snacks To Munch On Throughout The Day

If you get caught hungry with no food around, it easy to grab whatever is closest and looks tasty. Impulse eating tends to be less nutritious and higher in calories. Keeping around small snack bags of healthy foods in your refrigerator, purse, car or diaper bag helps prepare you for when hunger strikes. 

Some of our favorite snacks are apple slices, plain almonds, cut up veggies with hummus, greek yogurt, plain popcorn, hard boiled eggs and bananas. 



3. Eat A Low Carbohydrate Dinner

Carbohydrates are your energy source and should be consumed early in the day.  It's harder to burn off carbohydrates after dinner, and whatever you don't burn off will be stored for later as excess body fat.  Try to consume your bread, rice, pasta at breakfast or lunch and aim for a protein and vegetable based dinner. 

Some of our favorite dinners low carb dinners can be found here. Delish, Country Living, and Taste Of Home

4. Don't Eat After Dinner

I know this is a tough one, but I'll repeat the same sentiment as above. Food is energy and you don't need energy late at night.  Whatever you don't burn off, will be stored for later.  Snacking after dinner will make it extremely difficult to lose weight, so try and stick to water or decaf coffee once you finish your meal. 

Related

 How To Avoid Late Night Snacking

5. Get Some Cardiovascular Exercise Every Day

This can seem pretty intimidating but it doesn't mean you need to spend hours slaving away in the gym. Even 15 minutes a day can make a big difference when trying to lose weight. The key is to get your heart rate up and keep your metabolism functioning at a high level.  There are many equipment free cardiovascular workouts online you can try, or get outside and walk! 

Here are some equipment free workouts under 20 minutes you can do at home! 

10 minute cardio burn with Fitness Blender

5 minute cardio burn with Fitness Blender

15 minute body weight workout with Self

15 minute cardio workout with Popsugar

6. Strength Train At Least 2x Per Week

Many women will avoid strength training because they don't want to "bulk up", or they don't know exactly what they should be doing. Strength training will make you stronger, leaner and help you burn more calories even when you're resting.  I have found strength training is a key recipe for weight loss and keeping weight off. Below are 5 top moves you can do at home if you're not already strength training. 

  • Pushups. This exercise targets your chest, triceps and shoulders. You can start by using a wall, and then build up to you performing a pushup on your knees or toes on the ground. Aim for 2 sets of 10-15 repetitions
  • Squats.  This exercise targets your quads, hamstrings and glutes.  Aim for 2 sets of 10-15 repetitions. 
  • Lateral Arm Circles. This exercise targets your shoulders.  Arm for 2 sets of 30 seconds. 
  • Sumo Squats. This exercise targets your inner thighs.  Bring your feet wider than shoulder width and point your toes slightly outside.  Aim for 2 sets of 10-15 reps. 
  • Core Work. We have included our favorite 5 minute core workout here

7. Keep A Journal

Tracking your progress in an app or journal helps hold you accountable and keeps you on track. People tend to have "calorie amnesia" meaning they concisely eat more calories than they think they are.  My clients have the most success with a weekly weigh-in, and writing down their daily exercise and using a calorie tracking app like myfitnesspal. Even if you don't want to write down everything you eat and drink, make some notes about your weight loss goals and what seems to be working best (or not working) as you you continue down the healthy path. 



 

8. Drink More Water

Drinking water is the simplest way to stay full, keep your body functioning smoothly and aid in the weight loss journey.  We sometimes confuse hunger for thirst, so make sure to drink a glass of water before every meal and keep a water bottle with you at all times. If you're not a fan of plain water try adding lemons, or drink naturally flavored seltzer water if you like the bubbles. 

9. Eat At Home As Often As You Can 

Restaurant and fast food almost always has higher sodium, sugar, fat and calories than meals prepared at home.  Not to mention it will save you big bucks in the long run! 

When you do eat out, check the menus ahead of time and look for the healthier option available. Since we know eating out is going to happen, we have included a list of the healthiest fast food items here. 

10. Slow Weight Loss Stays Off Longer 

It's temping to look for quick weight loss fads, but in reality that weight rarely stays off. We all know someone who last 20 pounds quickly on a liquid diet, but chances are they gained it all back and then some.  Studies have shown weight loss of .5-1 pound a week is realistic, healthy and provides better long term results. 

 

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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.

 

6 Essentials for Your Postpartum Care Kit


Carrie Kinnison, Maternity Coach


Here’s the truth: most moms are so focused on the actual birth process and being
prepared to meet their new baby’s needs, that they never stop to consider what they
might need after birth.

Whether you are a first-time mom or a seasoned veteran, stocking a postpartum
care kit is one of the best ways you can prepare to be kind to yourself during your
recovery! There is a shift that occurs when we invest in ourselves like this, that
tells us we are strong, powerful, and worth believing in. This makes the birth
process itself easier and more enjoyable, and prepares us to mother from a more
centered place.

If you are early enough in your pregnancy, you might want to add some of these
items to your registry!


1. Booby Tubes by Earth Mama Angel Baby
Your breasts will dramatically change in the days following birth. Within 3-4 days
after birth, your baby’s suckling will trigger the flow of mature milk, which could
bring with it over-engorgement, swollen skin, and pain around the nipple area.
That is where Booby Tubes come in! These flexible organic cotton tubes filled
with flax seed are made to be heated up or cooled in the freezer.

When cold, they provide excellent relief for sore nipples, and are an ah-mazing
alternative to gel breast packs which can sweat through your clothes. And unlike
ice packs or gel packs, Booby Tubes remain flexible and malleable even when
cooled. If you do decide to freeze them, I recommend putting them inside a Ziploc
bag, so that they do not assume the odors of the freezer meals you've prepared
before baby! If you do use them cooled, it is best to warm them up and apply them

again afterward, so you are not blocking the flow of milk by staying too cool.
When warm, Booby Tubes help release milk and stimulate production.

But the best thing about Booby Tubes? They are one-size fits all, and can be
twisted and manipulated for any size woman. 


2. Peri Bottle
Childbirth changes things. Simple everyday activities like
sitting and walking are suddenly monumental tasks. Going
to the bathroom? Yea, you want to be prepared!
Toilet paper can further irritate sensitive skin after birth,
so you will want to make sure you have a peri bottle handy
instead.
A peri bottle is essentially a squirt bottle that you use as a
substitute for toilet paper after birth. As a tip, cold water
can sting sensitive skin so be sure to fill your peri bottle
with warm water each time you use the restroom.


3. Maxi Pads
During pregnancy, your blood volume increases by about
50%, and discharging that extra blood postpartum is
completely normal. Breastfeeding stimulates the release of
oxytocin that helps the uterus contract and expel this extra
blood, called lochia.
Your hospital will send you home with some pads to get
you through the first few days, but make sure you stock up
yourself as well.
The bleeding period can last up to 4 weeks, and will be
heavy at first, tapering off toward the end just like a
normal period. How many do you need? I’d recommend
having about 200 maxi pads on hand.


4. Tuck’s Pads/Witch Hazel Pads

After birth, your perineal muscles are going to be sore. Tuck’s pads provide
cooling relief to this stretch, irritated skin. To use Tuck’s, simply line your pad
with four or five pads. Just replace them again when you discard your pad. Your
hospital may offer you a package of these during your recovery stay.

5. Heating Pad

The small mini-contractions your uterus makes in the weeks following birth may
feel like subtle labor pains. To ease the discomfort, drape a cloth-covered heating
pad across your abdomen and set it to medium heat. Some moms will find relief
from heat on the lower back area as well. Figure out what works for you, but you
will definitely want to have a heating pad handy!

6. Nourishment: Water Bottle; Hand Held Snacks

If you’re experiencing cracked lips or dry, itchy skin, you are not alone mama!
Medication, breastfeeding, and hormonal shifts after delivery can all cause severe
postpartum dehydration. It is vital to have a few large water bottles—preferably
with a flexi-straw—hanging around. Your hospital nurses will probably send you
home with several.

It is recommended that moms in early weeks of postpartum drink at least 10 large
glasses of water daily. As long as you are sipping water continuously throughout
the day, you should be getting enough. If you’re not sure, just take a peek the next
time you use the restroom. Urine should be faint yellow to clear.

Now, let’s talk food! You’ll want to prepare some meals and snacks that are easy
to eat with one hand. That way, you don’t have to interrupt snuggle time to refuel.
Some yummy options include: egg & cheese English muffins, protein pancakes,

mini meatloaves, black bean burgers, and cut up fruit, veggies, and cheese. Pay
special attention to foods that pack a lot of calcium and iron!

Now, with these essentials in place, I encourage you to take the next step and
personalize your kit. Recovery can be a confusing time. You’ll want to supplement
your postpartum care kit with personalized items that remind you of who you are.
Some ideas to include are:
- Photos from a time you felt the most “you”
- Affirmation cards
- A list of songs that will lift you up
- A list of people who have agreed to offer emotional support

The postpartum period is a vital time of recovery, growth, and—most
significantly—redefinition for new moms. By preparing this special kit for
yourself, you’ll be setting yourself up to care for your new family in the most
balanced way possible. Congratulations, mama!

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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 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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How To Handle Holiday Stress

Lena Franklin, LCSW

Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapist & International Wellness Guide

 

The holiday season can prove to be a stress-ridden time for mommas everywhere. We can oh-so-easily get swept up in the frenetic pace of life ~ scurrying around buying gifts, decking the halls with lights and preparing holiday meals. The commercialization of Christmas and the holiday season has resulted in inevitable stress and anxiety about purchasing the ‘perfect’ gifts for our children rather than staying connected to the true light of the season. So how do we prepare for a merry, mindful holiday full of boundless meaning and minimal stress? Mindfulness offers us a portal through which we can reclaim the holiday season as a time to journey back home to what matters most ~ peace, light and lovingkindness. As a mindfulness-based psychotherapist, I often work with moms trying to doing it all, while painting the facade of effortlessness…and this becomes pervasive during the holidays.

Related "Holistic Ways To Easy New Mom Anxiety"

What’s the solution?

Mindfulness.

Here are 3 tips to BE a mindful mom this holiday season:

1.) Presence Not Perfection

Notice when perfectionism rears its head through your self-compassionate awareness. When we’re present with our minds, bodies and hearts, we can more easily detect the nuanced thoughts and feelings that creep up. Give yourself permission to practice what I call “the sacred no,” by declining party invites or even simplifying your holiday family plans. Doing what’s best for you, your family and your children will cultivate more zenergy (zen energy) than trying to please everyone around you. The media has painted an idealized picture of what the holiday season should look and feel like — this is an illusion that creates more stress and anxiety. Make presence a priority by pausing throughout your day and practicing self-inquiry by asking yourself, “How am I and what do I need in this moment?” This moment of self-awareness can transform how you interface with your day, naturally birthing more peace.

2.) Connect to YOUR Light

In the midst of frantically shopping for gifts, we are perpetually forgetful about the meaning of the season. Remember, we are all beings seeking love, meaning and connection. The holiday season proves to be a challenging time for our connection with self and others. For example, this core reality immediately escapes us when we’re triggered by our child who complained about a gift they got…or didn’t get. Cultivating connectedness is a moment-to-moment practice. I encourage my momma clients to use the experience of seeing lights (on a Christmas tree, candles, other decor, etc.) as a reminder to breath mindfully into the belly and align with the energy of love for all beings. Not only does this sacred pause hijack the automatic stress response that’s heightened this time of year but it also fosters an expansive sense of connectedness with the world.

Related "Why Moms Need Self Care"

3.) Mantra Meditation

The wisdom of wellness exists within you. The more effectively we can begin to manage our own energy and emotions, the more we can enjoy the holiday season and the less exhausted we’ll become. We’re so busy attending to what other people need and want during the holidays that we forget to check-in with ourselves. Make mantra meditations a non-negotiable during the holidays. For example, when your eyes flutter open in the morning, sit up in bed and begin mindfully breathing ~ paying attention to each inbreath and outbreath. In this moment, repeat a mantra (internal affirmation) such as “I am peace” or “I choose love”. You can even practice this throughout the day when you’re taking a bathroom break or while at work. Remember, you can only serve those who sit before you (your children, family and friends) at the depth you’ve met yourself. Refill your cup before you attempt to fill others’.

 

The greatest gift you can give yourself and your family is mindfulness this season. When we’re intentional about how we choose to meet life, our peace, joy and love naturally flow into the world.

 

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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.

 

 

7 Nutrition Tips For Breastfeeding Moms

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! 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Consume a wide variety of food from all the food groups.
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4. 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.

5. 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.

 

 

6. Drink approximately 12 (8-fluid ounce) caffeine-free beverages per day, according to thirst.

7. 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.

Foods All New Moms Need!

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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 postnatal women for her top tips below! 

You may also like "Pelvic Floor and Core Exercise for Post Delivery"

 

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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.

Quisque iaculis facilisis lacinia. Mauris euismod pellentesque tellus sit amet mollis.
— Pablo

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.

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.

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.
 

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.