Articles in Category: General

Everything You Need to Know About Endometriosis:

One of the leading causes of period pain and infertility that you’ve NEVER heard of!

March is world wide Endometriosis Awareness Month. At The WOMB, we would like to bring attention to it because it affects an estimated 176 million women worldwide, and some women don’t even know they have it!

Period Pain Republish

Endometriosis is a gynecological condition that causes uterine tissue to grow outside of the uterus. The most common symptoms are significant period pain and infertility. It’s a condition I’m really passionate about treating because I don’t like anything standing in the way of your fertility AND I have it and it kind of sucks!  

How do you know if you have endometriosis? 
The trouble with endometriosis is that the diagnostic method is the same as the treatment method: laparoscopic surgery. Surgery is the standard way to visualize the uterine tissue growths, aka “endometriomas”, and to remove these growths. However, I prefer to diagnose and treat endometriosis based on symptoms alone. You may have endometriosis if you experience the following:

• Chronic period pains in your back, pelvis, and/or legs 
• Pain before and after your period 
• Period pain that developed in your 20s 
• Pain during sex and/or going to the bathroom 
• Ovulatory pain 
• Heavy periods or mid-cycle bleeding 
• A family member with endometriosis (in fact you’re 7x more likely to have it if your mother or sister has it). My mom had it, so I always knew it was coming for me! 

endometriosis womb diagram

What’s the best way to treat endometriosis? 
Sadly, there is no known cure for endometriosis besides menopause. The recommended western treatment is laparoscopic surgery and suppressive hormones, but the endometriomas will grow back eventually. It’s unfortunately not the best solution; it’s a race against the clock.

Luckily, there’s tons of support at The WOMB for endometriosis. Naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, pelvic health physiotherapy, and osteopathy have all proven to help manage endometriosis and improve your quality of life with the condition! 

Here are some of the therapies that can change your life with endo:
Naturopathic medicine: herbs and supplements for the prevention and management of endometriosis
Acupuncture: pain relief, heavy bleeding reduction, cycle regulation 
Pelvic health physiotherapy: decrease pelvic floor tension and muscle spasms
Osteopathy: reduce adhesions and scar formation 

Diet and lifestyle changes also make all the difference. Many of my patients have experienced reduced pain on a gluten and dairy free diet, and all of my patients feel better with daily exercise. I love exercising, but I have to admit I do love some gluten every now and then! Foundations of health like adequate sleep and stress management also play a role in the severity of endometriosis. I notice my pain is much worse when I’m stressed and going to bed too late.  Your overall physical and mental health always matter. 

acupuncture fertility

Now let’s get to the good stuff. My favourite three recommendations for endometriosis!

My Top 3 EASY Endometriosis Tips: Tried and true by Dr. Caleigh

1. N-Acetyl-Cysteine: It’s just an amino acid. Women with endometriosis treated with NAC showed a statistically significant reduction in the growth of endometriomas compared to placebo, leading to early cancellation of surgery! 

2. The “end-endo-pain” trail mix: All you need is dark chocolate, almonds, and walnuts. The combination is the ultimate anti-inflammatory and antioxidant snack (and it’s super tasty too!) 

3. Castor oil: When applied over the uterus, it can increase blood flow and activate your parasympathetic nervous system (your resting and relaxing nerves) to calm uterine and bowel spasms. Massage a tablespoon over your uterus before bedtime. 


Endometriosis can be an isolating condition, but you are not alone. I am with you and so are 175 million other brave women all over the world! If the symptoms I’ve listed above resonate with you, book an appointment with me to start getting to the bottom of your pain. You are your biggest advocate; spread the word about endometriosis so that all women can receive better care and timely diagnosis! 

CALEIGH 1 002Dr. Caleigh Sumner is a Naturopathic Doctor at The WOMB in Burlington. Caleigh’s passion for naturopathic medicine was born from her parents' struggle with infertility. After many long years, her parents sought the support of a naturopathic doctor and were finally able to have three healthy children. Unsurprisingly, she was raised to appreciate the value of naturopathic medicine and her practice has a large focus in fertility support. When not at the WOMB, you’ll find Caleigh teaching and practicing yoga, playing with her favourite dog Winston, going to concerts, and staying out of the kitchen!


Porpora, M. G., Brunelli, R., Costa, G., Imperiale, L., Krasnowska, E. K., Lundeberg, T., ... & Parasassi, T. (2013). A promise in the treatment of endometriosis: an observational cohort study on ovarian endometrioma reduction by N-acetylcysteine. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013.

Goodman, L. R., & Franasiak, J. M. (2018). Efforts to redefine endometriosis prevalence in low risk patients. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology. Lund, I., & Lundeberg, T. (2016). Is acupuncture effective in the treatment of pain in endometriosis?. Journal of pain research, 9, 157.

Sillem, M., Juhasz-Böss, I., Klausmeier, I., Mechsner, S., Siedentopf, F., & Solomayer, E. (2016). Osteopathy for endometriosis and chronic pelvic pain–a pilot study. Geburtshilfe und Frauenheilkunde, 76(9), 960.

Pregnancy-related Pelvic Girdle Pain:

Embrace the Evidence and Move beyond Biomechanics

Originally published in the Journal of Yoga and Physiotherapy
Volume 3 Issue 5 - January 2018

Sinéad Dufour, Assistant Clinical Professor, School of Rehabilitation Science, McMaster University, CanadaSubmission: January 17, 2018; Published: January 24, 2018*Corresponding author: Sinéad Dufour PT PhD, Assistant Clinical Professor, School of Rehabilitation Science, Director of Pelvic Health, The Worldof My Baby (WOMB), McMaster University, Canada, Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

back pain pregnancy


Imagine you are 32 weeks pregnant with your first child and you start to have pain in the low back and pubic area when you change position, sit or stand for longer periods. The painmakes it very difficult for you to function and you worry about whether you can continue to work and manage your household.You are also concerned about the upcoming birth of your baby and whether you will be able to care for your baby, an often seemingly overwhelming task without having to deal with pain. Now imagine you have seen your health care provider and havebeen told that your pelvis is separating because of the “pregnancy hormones” and that you need to put up with this until after you have your baby, as “it will probably get better afterwards”. Imagine you are also told, to be careful because “your pelvis is unstable”. These are common words of advice or explanations pregnant women with pelvic girdle pain (PGP) receive from their healthcare providers, including physiotherapists. These words are not substantiated and do more harm than good.

Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) is defined as a specific type of low backpain that can occur with or without additional low back pain [1].Pregnancy-related PGP is a specific category of PGP impacting women in the perinatal period and differs in its etiology as it is related to pregnancy and associated biopsychosocial influences.It represents a prevalent condition with an incidence as high as 46-58% [2]. The cause of pregnancy-related PGP is complex and multifactorial [1,3]. Evidence has shown an alteration in motorcontrol in pregnant women [3] and more recently, central pain mechanisms have been considered and implicated [4-7]. As such,to appropriately address the complexity of pregnancy-related PGP, physiotherapists and others must both acknowledge and part with common yet unsubstantiated beliefs surrounding the concept of “pelvic instability” [8]. Instead, current advances in pain science support the notion that pregnancy-related PGP represents sensitization of the structures of the pelvis [4-7].Thus, attention must move away from biomechanics and engage the multiple underlying mechanisms such as the stress system (HPA axis) and associated coping, inflammatory load, status (HPA axis) and associated coping, inflammatory load, status of the gut microbiome and sleep quality to name a few [5-9]. Despite the evidence supporting the need for a biopsychosocialperspective, recent research demonstrates that when it comes to pregnancy-related PGP, physiotherapists continue to preferentially use a biomechanical approach [9,10]. Guidance for an evolved evidence-informed approach is available from the the most recent published CPGs for pregnancy related PGP [4]. From an assessment perspective, Clinton et al. [4] indicate the use patient reported outcomes as an important way to capture the various assessment domains relevant to pregnancy-related PGP[4]. Specifically, among other scales, the Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS) is recommended [4]. The PCS has three subscales:- rumination, magnification, and helplessness and has been utilized in various populations, including the antepartum population [11,12]. Using an outcome measure like the PCS is important to aid physiotherapists and others in assessing the mental processing that is associated with pregnancy-related PGP. The significance of patients’ beliefs and perceptions about their pain and their pain experience has been well demonstrated across a wide spectrum of orthopedic conditions including in the antepartum population [13]. Perception of pain has also been linked to the development of persistence [14-16], an important consideration for pregnancy-related PGP.

preg relaxation

From a management perspective, it has been shown that pregnant women’s expectations of care are not met and that their knowledge about how to manage the condition is lacking [17]. Further, a recent qualitative study elucidated women’s experience of care for pregnancy-related PGP highlighting the importance of perceived hope and self-efficacy [18]. Thus cognitive care strategies that focus on pain neurophysiologyand stress response education [4,6], mindfulness-based stress reduction [19], and tailored exercise [3,4,6] are advocated.

Science has evolved and to clearly guide practice well beyond a biomechanical approach where pregnancy-related PGP is concerned. Physiotherapists well-positioned to educate PGP is concerned. Physiotherapists well-positioned to educate and empower women so they understand how to interpret and respond to the pain they are experiencing. Knowledge translation efforts to support the provision of evidence-informed care herein are needed.


1. Vleeming A, Albert HB, Ostgaard HC, Sturesson B, Stuge B (2008)European guidelines for the diagnosis and Treatment of pelvic girdlepain. Eur Spine J 17(6): 794-819.
2. Rost CCM, Jacqueline J, Kaiser A, Verhagen AP, Koes BW (2004) Pelvicpain during pregnancy. a descriptive study of Signs and symptoms of 870 patients in primary care. Spine 29(22): 2567-2572.
3. Stuge B (2012) Pelvic girdle pain: examination, treatment, and thedevelopment and implementation of the European guidelines. Journal of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Women’s Health111: 5-12.
4. Clinton S, Newell A, Downey P, Ferreira K (2016) Pelvic girdle painin the antepartum population: Physical therapy clinical practiceguidelines linked to the international classification of functioning,disability, and health. section on women’s health and the orthopaedicsection of the American physical therapy association.
5. Bergström C, Persson M, Mogren I (2016) Sick leave and healthcareutilisation in women reporting pregnancy related low back pain and/or pelvic girdle pain at 14 months postpartum. Chiro& Man Ther 24: 7.
6. Smith MC, Ramirez LO, Clarke G, John FC, Higgins MF, et al. (2017)Stress reduction therapy improves symptoms of pregnancy-relatedpelvic girdle pain and reduces salivary cortisol. Irish Pain SocietyAnnual Research Conference, Aug 26th, Galway, Ireland.
7. Felice VD, Moloney RD, Cryan JF, Dinan TG, O’Mahony SM (2015) Visceralpain and psychiatric disorders. Mod Trends Pharmacopsychiatry 30:103-119.
8. O’Sullivan PB, Beales DJ (2007) Diagnosis and classification of pelvic girdle pain disorders – Part 1: A mechanism based approach within a biopsychosocial framework. Man Ther12(2): 86-97.
9. Shoskes DA, Wang H, Polackwich AS, Tucky B, Altemus J, et al. (2016) Analysis of gut microbiome reveals significant differences between men with chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome and controls. J Urol 196(2): 435-441.
10. Vandyken C, Hilton S (2012) The Puzzle of pelvic pain: a rehabilitation framework for balancing tissue dysfunction and central sensitization - a review of treatment considerations. J Wom Health Phys Ther 36(1): 44-54.
11. Dufour S, Daniel S (2018) Understanding clinical decisio making: pregnany-realted pelvic girdle pain. J Wom Health Phys Ther IP.
12. Bergbom S, Boersma K, Overmeer T, Linton SJ (2011) Relationship among pain catastrophizing, depressed mood, and outcomes across physical therapy treatments. Phys Ther 91(5): 754-764.
13. Grotle M, Garratt AM, Krogstad Jenssen H, Stuge B (2012) Reliability and construct validity of self- report questionnaires for patients with pelvic girdle pain. Phys Ther 92(1): 111-123.
14. Vøllestad NK, Stuge B (2009) Prognostic factors for recovery from postpartum pelvic girdle pain. Eur Spine J 18(5): 718-726.
15. Noren L, Ostgaard S, Johansson G, Ostgaard HC (2002) Lumbar back and posterior pelvic pain during pregnancy: a 3-year follow-up. Eur Spine J 11(3): 267-271.
16. Ostgaard HC, Zentherstrong G, Roos Hansson E (1997) Back pain in relation to pregnancy: a six-year follow up. Spine 22(24): 2945-2950.
17. Crichton M, Wellock V (2008) Pain, disability and symphysis pubis dysfunction: women talking. Evidence Based Midwifery 6(1): 9-17.
18. Stuge B, BerglandA (2011) Evidence and individualization: Important elements in treatment for women with postpartum pelvic girdle pain. Physiother Theory Pract 27(8): 557-565.
19. Crisp CD, Hastings Tolsma M, Jonscher KR (2016) Midfulness-based stress reduction for military wome27: 557-565.n with chronic pelvic pain. Mil Med 181(9): 982-989.

Sex After Baby: What everyone wants to know, but sometimes is afraid to ask!

Nelia DeAmaral, Registered Psychotherapist and Coach for Women, & Jenny Telfer-Crum, Pelvic Health Physiotherapist


Six weeks after you give birth, you will visit with your care provider. Maybe your care provider gives you a thumbs up to resume “normal activities” (including sex). Maybe your care provider checked that everything was healed, or maybe not. Were you or are you ready? Do you feel an obligation to become ready because your partner wants to be intimate again? Most women aren’t and if you are still finding yourself “not ready” a few months later, you are not alone. Partners often are given the impression that once the body is mostly healed, that sex can resume. 

Let’s talk about what sex after baby is really like. This topic comes up over and over in our sessions with new moms, who are almost afraid to ask, but really want to know how to deal with this change in their relationship. Mostly everyone wants to know if they are normal, if things will be okay, and how to stay connected to their partner during this change. 

If you aren’t quite ready, that’s okay. If you are looking for ways to return to intimacy after baby, we’ve listed that too! There are good reasons for how you feel. Below are some factors that might influence when you return to sexual activity with your partner, and some strategies for when and how you return to these activities.

Let’s start by setting some normal expectations for sex after baby. Your first several times being intimate again, will likely require lots of talking, adjusting, and flexibility. It will be a time of “figuring out” and “experimenting” - not hanging from the chandeliers (but it’s okay if it is!). So NO PRESSURE! You will likely need to slow everything down. Your body will feel different and it will be your first time being sexual with this new body & your first time being sexual as a mother! It’s important to take the pressure away that this will be amazing sex, or the sex you had before (at least initially).Your body has been through a major change, and your first few times of being intimate can feel awkward and different. Most partners are very happy to be supportive as you explore these new sensations and experiences.

It is common if…..

1. You feel Pain or Fear of pain or Tension in the pelvic area: 

Your 6 week “go ahead” just means is that your tissues have the integrity needed to withstand the friction and stretching that occurs with intercourse. But vaginal tissues are sensitive after birth REGARDLESS of whether baby is born vaginally or by caesarean birth, whether you have stitches or not.

Imagine you pulled your bicep muscles in your arm lifting something – our first instinct is to bend the arm and hold it close to us. This is a guarding response to keep up safe and prevent further injury when our tissues are fragile and stretched. We rest the muscles for a couple of days, and without even thinking about it we will rub our arm where it hurts – this provides our tissues with normal sensory input (touch, friction, pressure) and helps us check in as to where any tenderness is and how it is changing. Then over the next week or two we will gradually start using our arm again to lift things, testing out how much we can lift. Within a couple of weeks you are pain free, doing your usual activities.

At the perineum and vagina, the same healing process occurs. First our muscles tighten in a guarding response to being stretched or torn (and in the case of caesarean births, tighten in response to neighbouring muscles being impacted). However, at the pelvic floor and perineum, we often don’t get the same normal input we do at other parts of our body. We aren’t often touching or rubbing this area apart from toileting, and women often don’t consciously relax the pelvic floor over time. So what we can have are tight and sensitive tissues around the entrance to the vagina.

Learning to relax your pelvic area again.

Fortunately, most women do very well with pelvic floor corrective exercises focusing on “reverse kegels”, which is teaching the pelvic floor how to RELAX appropriately. Gentle touch in this area can also help desensitize these tissues and bridge the gap between recovering from birth to returning to intercourse. Our Pelvic Health Physiotherapists can help identify where any tension or sensitivity is harboured in your muscles and how to work towards recovery. Research has shown that child birth, even with tissue trauma like an episiotomy, is not linked with long term impacts on sexual function.

How to talk to your partner: Talk to your partner about the worry, and keep talking even during sex. Notice when you tense up, practice relaxing with your breath, and ask for what you need (eg. slow down, pause, or stop for today). 

Remove the pressure for penetration right away. Many women find it helpful to use lubricant, or have touch without penetration for arousal or even orgasm. Try a different position such as a position of power (ie. woman on top) to control rate and depth of penetration.

Some women experience physical and emotional trauma during birth, and despite their efforts, their body doesn’t feel safe letting go. A couple of sessions with a counsellor can help you sort through feelings of self-blame & anxiety. The WOMB offers specialized support for healing from a difficult birth.

2. You feel too exhausted to have sex

This doesn’t mean you don’t love your partner or that your relationship is doomed.

It can be difficult to feel the desire to be intimate, when you are in the most exhausted state of your life! Early parenthood is a time of choosing between your various survival needs. Your frequency of sex will likely decrease because that’s what happens when we are exhausted! 

Give yourself time. It is normal for babies to have erratic schedules. Sometimes more sleep isn’t an option, but studies show that meditation and relaxation can have similar benefits to more sleep. Try these simple, and short meditations for moms and meditation for sleep. Many partners experience feeling loved through intimacy. What other ways do you and your partner feel loved? Maybe something you each already do without words or touch? 

3. You feel too stressed to have sex

The stress of being a new/new again mother is tremendous. You mind is busy and you might feel like you are constantly “on call” and ready to respond to your baby. Sexual arousal is governed by our parasympathetic nervous system, aka “rest and digest” system. When we are stressed, the increase in cortisol (stress hormone) decreases oxytocin (aka hormone of love). Stress also increases tension in the pelvic floor muscles - which can loop back up to tissue sensitivity. 

Focusing on bringing down your overall stress levels might make a little more space for feelings of intimacy. Either way, it will help you cope with the challenges of mothering with greater compassion and presence. Simple awareness practices can help you see yourself with more compassion, which is a proven way to calm down the fight or flight. Try this meditation for stress and anxiety. You can do it anytime. It’s quick and you can even do it while you feed baby. 

4. You feel touched out or too “called on” as an introverted mom

Being a mom, especially if you are an introvert, can leave you feeling like you have no time to be alone and recharge, which can be extremely draining. Some women don’t feel the need or desire to be touched especially because holding baby increases our oxytocin levels on it’s own, so you don’t feel you need to get that affection from your partner. 

It might sound counter intuitive to building intimacy, but sometimes you might just need some time alone. You’ll be surprised how much even 20 minutes can help you feel like yourself again. Time alone is especially helpful if you can step away and allow your partner to parent in their own way and you have specific and set times when you can expect a break. Read more about ways your partner can support you in the article A Mind-Reading Guide for New Fathers.

5. You don’t really like your partner right now or you feel like he’s a roommate

The demands of the early months of parenting can leave you both feeling a little disconnected or unusually irritated with each other. Virtually everyone goes through this. Know that you are not alone. Find small ways to connect that are doable for both of you. Many couples find that a couple of sessions with a counsellor or coach can help get them on track with communication and bonding. The WOMB offers sessions for couples. 

7. You don’t feel connected to your body, don’t love your body or wonder how your partner will love your body again: Who’s body is this anyway? 

Maybe you feel like your body has gone from being yours to providing a function for your baby, whether it’s feeding or caring for baby in other ways. It’s ok not to love your body. Try making friends with your body. Treat it as you would a tired, hardworking friend. Be compassionate with yourself. Many clients describe the relationship to this new body as an acquaintance or even a distant “facebook friend”. Talk to other women. It will help you realize that “bouncing back” is a myth.

Some women find themselves hiding their bodies from their partners for fear of judgement. Talk to your partner about this. Honesty is a true form of intimacy. What if this stage was a chance to be loved when you aren’t perfect? Imagine allowing your partner to love you, just as you are right now? Intimacy is more profound when we allow ourselves to be seen in our imperfection. For more on embracing imperfection look up the work of Brene Brown, a renowned researcher on whole-hearted living.

8. Mood Changes

This is a complex interplay of the physical, social and psychological factors listed above. You will feel good again! Medication given to help aid in post partum depression (SSRIs) can also dampen arousal and desire. It’s normal to feel sad, anxious and not like yourself. If you find that you are feeling this way more often than not, seeking support can make all the difference. Even just feeling normal and being understood goes a long way. 

Here are some quotes from fellow mothers in the Emerging Mothers Group in response to the question, “What would you tell your daughter at this stage of mothering if she felt as you do”?

“This experience makes you part of a community of women”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself”

“You are right where you need to be at this stage”

“You have done something amazing - a miracle. Give yourself time.”

“Let in your partner’s hugs. You don’t have to hide”

We hope this article was helpful. So much can be done to make this transition easier for women and families. Feel free to contact us to talk more or to book a time.


Nelia DeAmaral, RP

Registered Psychotherapist and Coach for Women

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Jenny Telfer-Crum, PT

Pelvic Health Physiotherapist

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Counting Butterflies: The Beginning of my Postpartum Journey Towards Hope and Change


I sat on a cardboard box in the middle of our new living room. Beside me was the portable crib my newborn daughter slept in. Her tiny mouth curled slightly to one side; she was in deep slumber. I sighed in relief, beckoning a feeling of satisfaction to mark this moment. But instead, a feeling of overwhelm took its place.

I scanned across the room at the sea of boxes that harbored all of our possessions- remnants of my old life. I wanted to be a ‘good mom’ and get some unpacking done while my daughter slept. Wasn’t that what all the ‘good moms’ did— work while their child slept? Wouldn’t that help me maximize bonding time with my daughter? I had to be more present with her today and less stressed, and that would help my milk supply- wouldn’t it?  

My body ached and my head spun with self-judgement. I knew I had so much work to do, but what I truly wanted to do was curl into my bed and wake up when my husband got home.  In that moment, a wave of reality settled in: I was a new mom. In a new house. In a new town. In the middle of nowhere, all alone. Sitting on a box containing the only passageway back to my old self. 

And I panicked.

My secret had revealed itself: This was my new life, and I wasn't sure I wanted it. My secret rose from a place so deep, I barely recognized it was my own.   This revelation took my breath away; leaving streams of tears in its place. 

Through blurry-soaked eyes, an object in the flower garden caught my attention. Wiping a stream of tears away, I saw that it was a butterfly; it was so beautiful it looked as though it was from a different world. And there it was, in my garden. My elegant guest.  I ran to grab my phone to take a picture, and as I returned, two more landed on the flowering purple bush.  

When Isabella woke from her nap, I scooped her up and fled to the garden to count more. We counted 23 butterflies in the garden that day. And the next day we counted 33.  That summer, as we nested into our new home and lives, I would stop and count butterflies along the way.  On my hardest days, I would find moments of joy, sometimes fleeting seconds, counting butterflies in the garden- and these moments gave me hope. 

I would like to say that my healing and growth during my emergence into motherhood simply came from counting butterflies that summer (there is something magical, and comforting, in the notion that growth can occur so simply). But my growth into the resilient wife, mother, and woman I am today also took courage, strength, and support. My resiliency has become my travel-companion along my life-long journey of growth... but to this day, I still stop and enjoy counting butterflies along the way.


Michelle Brans, MACP is a published Author, Teacher, and Child & Family Psychotherapist specializing in Motherhood and Holistic-Integrative Child and Family Mental Wellness.  She is the Founder and Clinical Director of Counting Butterflies, which is guided by The Butterfly Prescription to Mental Wellness ® to nurture the transformation and resilience of children and families, by fostering a deep connection to ones' self, others, and the natural world around them. She holds a Masters in Counselling Psychology, and has received training and certifications in: Emotion-Focused Couples & Family Therapy; Mindfulness & Compassion-Based Therapy; Marriage, Family, and Cultural Systems; Attachment & Developmental-Based Care; Holistic-Integrative Wellness; Ecopsychology and Nature-Guided Therapy; and Women's Wellness. She lives with her husband, daughter, and animal-family on their ever growing Green-Care Farm & Homestead in rural Ontario, Canada. Visit her and her team at


Michelle and her team are honored to have partnered with The WOMB to offer Therapy & Support for new Mothers on their journey towards wellness through the Wellmama Home Session Program. We are currently working on an exciting Online Parent Education & Therapeutic Group for Emerging Motherhood. 

Michelle will be sharing more of her story, and other stories of Motherhood, over the coming months.  Inspired to sit with Michelle and share your own story of hope and change during Motherhood for her program? Connect with Michelle at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..counting-butterflies



Feeling stuck on the worry treadmill?

Find your “anxiety antidote”

woman widearms

A lot of my work with women revolves around the powerless, and sometimes overwhelming experience of feeling anxious. My clients worry about making mistakes, they worry about being good moms, good employees, they worry about their health….they worry about missing out….they worry. Women often feel robbed of the ability to enjoy the moment, despite a deep longing to feel joy.

There is a difference between worry and anxiety…and we can move back and forth between them.

I want to tell you that you deserve to feel happy. You deserve to feel good enough. You deserve to be free of the debilitating anxiety that comes from constant second guessing, and self-criticism. Your children and family deserve to have a mother who doesn’t carry the world on her shoulders. You are so worthy, my loves…. so worthy.
How is worry and anxiety affecting your life? What would your family notice if tomorrow morning, your worry brain took a rest….what would be different?

I help clients find their personal anxiety antidote. I don’t suggest that you just try some generic relaxation or meditation or even just “think positively”. There is a reason that anxiety is there. Anxiety happens when something inside of us is asking for attention. Something inside is asking to be heard, seen and addressed. Sometimes we think we know what it is, so we solve the first thing that comes to mind, but we still feel anxious. I call this the anxiety treadmill! How the heck do you get off without making yourself crazy?
I want to tell you my approach to anxiety. I treat it as a super power. We use this obsessive focus and intense drive to create good feelings!  Did you know that Nasa often prefers to hire anxious people? They are great people, with lots of focus-power. But imagine if they could never turn off that ability? What a terribly stressful existence.

Finding your antidote….

Just for now, try not to “get rid of” the thoughts and feelings. Let’s set out the welcome mat, offer it a cup of tea and an open space. Let’s explore, “What is needed here?

Is there something in your life that you just can’t seem to let go of, even though you have tried? Something that your partner or family think you “make a big deal of”? A situation that you can’t seem to find clarity about, but it’s robbing you of joy in the moment?

Ask yourself a few questions to help identify your antidote:

  • Looking for exceptions to the problem. Getting away from all or nothing thinking: When is the “problem” less bad? What are you doing at these times and who are you with? What are you receiving or giving during these times that seems to help? How might this help you with your current situation?
  • Seeking help: Who can help you with this problem? What has stopped you from reaching out? How easy would it be to reach out?
  • Identifying your harmful self-talk: What belief about yourself is fueling your worry about this situation? For example, what are you telling yourself this means about you as a person that you are having this challenge? Is this absolutely true? What’s more true about you?
  • Giving yourself credit: Even if this situation isn’t perfect, and you are learning, what do you appreciate about how you are handling this? List at least 3, and for extra points ask your partner or friend what they see you doing well.
  • Surrendering control: Are you trying to make the situation perfect? … Trying to meet a standard that seems impossible (even if it is your ideal)? If so, acceptance might be your antidote. Ask yourself, what’s good about this situation? How might I see it 10 years from now?

Send me your thoughts! I would love to hear how these questions open up some new options or perspectives for you!

If this approach speaks to you, drop by for a session or 2. Many clients find that this allows them to experience an anxiety “re-set”. They gain a deeper understanding of where the worry is coming from, get some tools, and off they go. Simple…yes, brave…yes…empowering…yah baby! Lets talk! Do it for yourself, for your children, for your partner, for your family. You deserve it! xoxo



Nelia has been coaching women during life changes & challenges for over 20 years. Her unique approach helps you approach life challenges with greater clarity, confidence & compassion. Integrate body, mind and spirit through various tools ranging from mindfulness practices, mind-body awareness, and concrete solution-focused coaching. Nelia is also an advanced Birthing from Within Mentor, Certified Doula with CAPPA Canada and a published author (Bearing Witness, Joyful Birth, Lamaze: Giving Birth With Confidence& Sage Magazine). She is also a trainer offering professional development locally & internationally on utilizing mindfulness-based strategies to help facilitate change. Book a session with Nelia!

Struggling with Infertility

By Nikki Bergen, Creator of The Belle Method, and friend of The WOMB

An inspirational trainer and creative educator with a passion for encouraging women to lead happier, healthier lives, Nikki Bergen is one of Canada’s most sought after health and fitness experts. This is her story about her struggles with infertility.


 This might be the most personal I’ve ever gotten online. See, I’m supposed to be the one inspiring others with health and wellness – sharing pictures of perfect kale smoothies and video tips on how to get strong flat abs. I never imagined I’d be posting Instagram selfies in pre-surgery hospital scrubs and a video interview with a psychologist about my very real struggles with infertility.

But here we are.

The fact is, no matter how much acupuncture you do, or how pristine your paleo/gluten/dairy-free organic diet is, or how many Naturopath recommended supplements you take – infertility still happens. Miscarriages still happen.

There should be NO shame in this. But it still exists. Women often don’t openly share their struggles precisely because of this outrageous notion that they’ve done something wrong to deserve it – that they are somehow inadequate. Shame around this topic breeds silence, and silence is so, so isolating for the 1 in 8 couples experiencing infertility.

The fact is, women’s bodies bear the double burden of invasive medical interventions and society’s judgement when it comes to miscarriages and infertility, regardless of the cause. I’m sharing my story to let other women know they are not alone. We are stronger together. There is no more room for shame in this conversation of infertility.

Here's part 1 of my conversation with Dr. Stacy Thomas .

BelleMethod TAG

Visual Development in Infants

What can my baby really see?

Parents often ask "What can my baby see?". The truth is, we are not born with eagle eyes. In fact, we are all born with our eyes slightly out of focus. Through a process called emmetropization, our eyes strive to become perfectly focussed over the first few years of life (of course, this process often goes astray and even infants and toddlers can end up needing glasses!). Babies also need to learn how to coordinate their eyes together and how to interpret visual cues from the wonderful and interesting world around them.

babyglasses2Here is a brief guide on what you can expect from your child's visual system in the first year of life!

Birth to 3 months
Your baby can only focus about 8-10 inches from their face. So don't go making googly eyes at your baby from across the room! High contrast objects are the most interesting at this stage so be sure to your show baby objects with lots of contrasting colours and shapes. Your baby may be especially drawn to stripes!
Your baby is still figuring out how to coordinate their two eyes together so don't be surprised if once in a while they look cross eyed. This should correct itself within the first few months after birth. However, if your baby's eyes look misaligned constantly or very frequently, a visit to your eye doctor is warranted.

3 to 6 months
Hand-eye coordination is starting to develop. By 3 months, your baby should be able to follow a moving object and reach for an interesting toy. By 5 months, it is believed that infants have developed colour vision similar to an adult. Visual acuity is rapidly developing and by six months your baby should be better at seeing objects and faces from a distance. Six months is also the perfect time for your baby to have their first eye exam! Don't worry, the optometrist will not be asking your baby "Which is better '1' or '2'?". The doctor will check to make sure your baby's eyes are aligned properly, that there are no significant refractive errors and that the eyes are healthy. A problem with any of the above could prevent your baby's visual system from developing normally.

7 to 12 months
Your baby is becoming mobile which further helps to develop hand-eye-body coordination. Depth perception is developed and your baby is becoming better at judging distances. Your baby can also firmly grasp and throw objects. Another important milestone is the pincer grasp which involves fine motor control and careful hand-eye coordination. Give your baby some cheerios to practice!

Your baby's visual system undergoes rapid developments and changes in the first year; much like your baby is quickly learning, growing and changing. Cherish every moment you have staring into your baby's big, beautiful eyes, even if it's in the middle of the night.

Dr. Kelly Gallagher, OD
Optometry On Bronte

Choosing the Right Prenatal Vitamin

vitamins during pregnancyPregnancy is an exciting, but often overwhelming time for new moms like you. There is so much to learn about your changing body, growing baby, birth and labour, not to mention preparing for parenthood. It is also a time where moms are more conscious about making healthy food choices to be strong and healthy to support the new life growing within. One of the most crucial parts of having a healthy baby and body during pregnancy is making sure you are getting the most out of your prenatal multivitamin.

When choosing your prenatal look for the following 3 criteria:
1. Adequate Nutrient Levels: AKA how much of each nutrient is found in the daily dose.
2. Excellent Absorbability: Different forms of vitamins are better absorbed than others. This is especially important for moms with digestive issues or food sensitivities, who may have difficulty breaking down and absorbing nutrients. Read below for which forms are best.
3. Few Fillers & Additives: Found under “non-medicinal ingredients”. Choose a prenatal with as few additives as possible to prevent passing on these harmful ingredients to baby.

Vitamin A
Vitamin A is important for the immune system, skin health and development of vision, however, high levels of vitamin A (over 10, 000IU) are known to be harmful during pregnancy. Choose a multi with low or moderate amounts of Vitamin A. Synthetic vitamin A is very poorly absorbed, so look for animal (retinol) or vegetable (beta-carotene) based sources. If you were or are a smoker, beta carotene supplements are best avoided entirely as they can increase a smoker’s risk for lung cancer.

Folic Acid vs. Activated Folate
Folic acid/folate is one of the most important parts of a prenatal multi to prevent neural tube defects (NTD). Since adding this to all prenatal vitamins, there has been a large decline in NTDs. However, over 50% of our population has a defect, ranging from mild to severe, in the MTHFR gene, which is responsible for activating folic acid into it useable form of methylfolate. When this gene isn’t working at its best, folic acid cannot be activated and used by the body. Methylfolate is essential for methylation – a process used to promote detoxification, produce neurotransmitters and hormones, create energy, repair cells, etc. MTFHR defects are common in women with recurrent miscarriages and infertility and are linked to mood disorders, pre-eclampsia, Autism, Down Syndrome, heavy metal toxicity and cardiovascular disease. Testing for the MTFHR gene is an option, but another great choice is to always opt for activated folate (5-methyltetrahydrofolate) when choosing a prenatal.

B Vitamins
Our B-vitamins are essential in methylation, much like methylfolate, and assist in development of baby’s nervous system while supporting your own energy and stress levels during pregnancy. Choosing activated forms of B12 (methylcobalamin) and B6 (pyridoxal-5’-phosphate) ensures your body absorbs and uses these B vitamins effectively.

Vitamin D
D3 (cholecalciferol) is your best-absorbed form of vitamin D and is an important part of a prenatal multi for Canadian women. It is difficult to get enough of this important nutrient through the sun during Canadian winters, so ensuring your prenatal has at least 1000 IU will protect you and baby. Building adequate vitamin D stores before breastfeeding is also important, as we know breast milk is commonly deficient.

Calcium & Magnesium
These minerals are important for bone, teeth, musle and nervous system development. Citrate, malate and glycinate forms are better absorbed than carbonates, sulphates or oxides.

Constipation is a common complaint in pregnancy, and iron supplementation can make constipation worse. If this is true for you, choosing an iron glycinate or heme iron tends to cause less digestive upset and is better absorbed.

Still feeling overwhelmed about choosing your multi? Use this easy chart to compare common brands, or consult with one of the Naturopathic Doctors at The WOMB to help choose which is best for you and your baby.

Prenatal Comparison Chart

What the heck is the hype about Kombucha?

Kombucha 72981pp w751 h494Kombucha is a fermented tea with its origins in Asia over 2000 years ago. It is only recently gaining popularity in North America. Kombucha is made by adding black tea and sugar to a SCOBY or "Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Fission Yeast." The SCOBY is similar to the Mother found in vinegar. The SCOBY proceeds to ferment the caffeine and sugar into a fermented beverage rich in B vitamins, probiotics, and glucaric acid, a compound which has been shown to have anti-cancer activity; as well as other beneficial compounds like antioxidants. 
Kombucha contains glucosamines, which increase hyalaouronic acid production in our joints. This leads to the building of more cartilage and as a result, people with arthritis have anecdotally noticed improved joint symptoms. 
Because of the probiotics and beneficial yeast present in kombucha, it leads to improved digestion, protecting against candida (a harmful yeast one excess), mental clarity and mood stability. Probiotics also support the immune system, and along with other antioxidant compounds found in kombucha, this beverage is believed to be very immune-supportive.
Kombucha is fairly simple to make and each batch causes a doubling of the SCOBY, so if you have a friend that makes kombucha, they likely have a SCOBY they can give you. The initial batch of tea takes roughly 10 days to brew based on moisture and heat conditions in your home, and some people choose to then do a second ferment where they bottle the kombucha with fruits or herbs to add a flavour to it. The second fermentation also results in carbonation similar to pop, making it an appealing beverage to children. 
Your local health or grocery store likely contains several kombucha flavours worth trying; or get adventurous and attend a kombucha workshop to learn how to make your own. (Coming up November 28th, 2015! Call us to reserve your spot!)
By Erica Robinson, Naturopathic Doctor at The WOMB

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