Articles in Category: Parenting

Gratitude for the Gift of Life

A Blessingway Start

Kuepfer Tammy Maternity 2015 Apr 12 18 Edit WEB 2

Life is full of gifts. Receiving life in the form of a child, is one of the most beautiful of them. I have four of these gifts in my life and with each one, I’ve learned something along the way. And for each of these lessons, whether challenging or easy, I am grateful. 

My first son taught me about the unknown. Standing at the threshold of a new life I pondered: How do I give birth “the right way”? Is my relationship with my partner ready to be “ruffled” by a new soul in the house? When will my child arrive? Will I be a good mother? In the end, his gift to me was that of fulfillment – I was finally a parent. 

My second child, I will admit to you, was brought into the family so our first wouldn’t be an only child. I couldn’t help but worry that if something happened to us, our first would be left alone. We couldn’t do that to him. So, my second taught me “family”. He taught me that “special time” was time together – not time individually. We were a unit bigger than just me, my partner and a child. We were a pride, a gaggle, a herd. BUT I also learned that looking after two children is challenging (to say the least!) and can’t be done alone. You will sacrifice your whole being if you don’t have any supports or resources in place. You will need your circle of support to remind you that even in those moments when you believe with all your heart that “I wasn’t meant to be a mother”, they will be there to tell you, “Ya, I felt that way too!” 

michkeith

With the arrival of our third son, I relaxed finally into parenthood. My first two could play together and I could sit back with my newborn on my chest and just watch and spectate the beauty of their interactions and glory in different personalities and passions. I saw myself no longer as someone “trying” to be a mother, trying to meet someone else’s standards, to do it in a blogger, Baby Center kind of way. Instead I stopped caring what anyone else thought and listened to my own intuition and what was right for me. 

Having a fourth child just solidified that belief that intuition is the success to my parenthood. I know my children best (despite what google or someone in the grocery store says), I know their ins and outs and I know that I don’t need to force anything for them to grow, love and develop. I have said on many occasions that I wish everyone could have their 3rd or 4th baby first, to have the confidence in their heart to listen to their own wisdom and to relax into the process. So I’m writing this blog so that you can have a sample or starting point at which to begin to understand who you are as you become or grow into being a mother - a place to begin to listen to your own inner voice called intuition.

History has shown that in these beautiful times of planning, gestating and anticipating new life, people turn to things that have deeper, greater and more enduring meaning. As mothers and mothers-to-be, we stand at a threshold of unknown - searching books, sites and asking other mothers about “what to expect” physically, mentally and spiritually. Will I know how to do this? To birth, to be a good parent… Who will I be? What will the “new me” be like? 

prenatal yoga picture

What you need to know first is that allowing the spirit of “who you will become” after your child’s arrival, is a gift – probably one of the most important for yourself. Opening your heart to the unknown and allowing the process of life to unfold in front of you can be both challenging and rewarding. With a baby coming, there is so much to worry about, so much to prepare, so much to buy and have ready, so much to know! Have you ever sat back and considered what YOU need to be a mother? Write it down. Move toward it. Have you sat in a quiet room, by yourself and listened to your inner voice and just followed it? Try it. Practice it. It will be courageous of you to see what happens when you follow your own advice. 

While you await the gift of your child, another way to receive for yourself and open to your new self is by celebrating the woman-you-are-to-become through a Blessingway or Mother Blessing. Traditionally, a Blessingway (in the tradition of the Navajo) or Mother Blessing (a north American term) is a birth ritual or ceremony that celebrates a woman’s passage into motherhood. The ceremony acknowledges the changes a woman is going through in the months leading up to her baby’s arrival, and the greater impact of birth and early parenthood on her, as a person. In a close circle of women, the mother-to-be is nurtured in storytelling, adornment, gifts, blessings and food. Bead bracelets can be made, which the mother-to-be will carry with her into birth as a reminder of the strength and support her circle of women sends with her. The group can hold a red string ceremony to connect each with the other as women, and when the announcement arrives that baby is earth-side, the red string around the participant’s wrist or ankle is cut and released free. From all of this, the mother-to-be comes away with a strong sense of belonging, support and confidence that she will need as she nears the birth of her baby and after her baby is born. 

WOMBMoms

Chances are you have attended or have heard of a “baby shower”. This type of celebration is a wonderful chance to rain baby presents upon the family so they are prepared with the materials they may need for their child. A Mother Blessing can be another option or in addition to a Baby Shower. Celebrate and recognize the mother-to-be as she transforms and transitions. You don’t have to follow any set agenda or order. Mother Blessings can vary in proceedings and rituals, so choose what you would like to do in yours. You can make it as “North American” or “Granola” as you like. Receiving your gift of love, belonging and support will give you the confidence to listen to your inner voice and be the mother you were meant to be – one who can also teach your children to live the life of gratitude for their gifts and inner voice too.

AngieStenback3If you have any questions about blessingways or Mother Blessings, or would like to host one, The WOMB has space in Milton or Burlington for rent. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., cofounder of The WOMB and Doula can also help you facilitate the right ceremony for you.

5 myths to debunk that will help you go back to work and still breastfeed

It would be so nice if we could continue to stay home with our little ones, but for most of us, going back to work is a reality.

For many mothers in Canada, we are lucky to have one year of maternity leave before returning to work. But for some, they need to go back sooner and for those who do get the full year, they would like to continue their breastfeeding relationship. Many ask, “Do I need to wean just because I’m going back to work?” The answer is no. It is hard enough to be separated from your baby, so being able to breastfeed when you are together benefits both of you emotionally and physically. 

Here are my top 5 myths about breastfeeding and going back to work after the one-year maternity leave.

1. I need to stop breastfeeding when I go back to work.

Absolutely not! Yes, it may be a bit challenging at first to juggle getting back into the swing of things with working and continuing to breastfeed, but it is just an adjustment. Going back to work is an adjustment in itself anyway. The benefit of continuing to breastfeed, is that you can still renew that closeness and one-on-one time with your baby when you are home - which makes the adjustment of going back to work easier for both of you. 

A side bonus is that many children who will go to a daycare setting when mom returns back to work, will come in contact with new and unexpected viruses and germs. When you breastfeed, you pass on valuable antibodies to your baby through your breastmilk. So, although it is inevitable that your little one may get sick, they will most likely recover sooner or not get as ill if you continue to breastfeed. 

2. I will need to pump when you go back to work. 

Many women have a love-hate relationship with their pump and many haven’t pumped for months. They often wonder “When will I find time in my day to pump? Where will I pump and where will I store the milk?” Of course, this is always an option and you can speak with your employer about setting up a room for you to pump and for you to store your milk (it’s their legal obligation to do so) but you don’t need to pump. Many mothers will simply hand express a bit while away if they feel too full and just breastfeed when they are with their baby. Sure, the first few days when you go back to work may be tough and you may be a bit uncomfortable and leak a little. No problem, bring an extra shirt just in case, learn how to hand express and by the end of the week your body will adjust and you will be fine!

3. I need to start giving whole milk or formula when I’m away from my baby 

Many day cares are very accommodating with what you give decide to give your baby. If you have decided to introduce whole milk into your baby’s diet, then they can definitely provide that to your little one. But many families decide not to do whole milk or dairy and know that baby can get their fat and vitamins from food sources. There are many other options. Speak with your daycare provider about what will work. If you have decided to pump and provide that milk to your baby, you can do that. Working with a naturopathic doctor will also help you decide on alternative forms of milk such as almond, cashew, coconut, or rice milk to name a few. You can also just do water during the day and baby can just continue to breastfeed when you are together. 

4. My baby has never taken a bottle so I will need to introduce one.

This is not necessary at all. If you are going back after a year maternity leave, most one-year-olds will take a sippy or open cup. In fact, many day cares don’t want to have to deal with bottles and will encourage your little one to use a cup. Even if they never had, you’d be surprised how quickly our little ones pick things up when they are surrounded by their peers in daycare who are all doing the same thing.

5. I will need to wean breast feeds before I go back to work.

Not really. Just enjoy the time you have with your baby. By the time your baby is a year old, the number of feeds has usually decreased and on average, your baby may feed 4 times during a 24-hour period. Remember, when you go back to work you may feel full for a few days but your body will quickly adjust. And your baby will also quickly realize when they are without you that they cannot feed from you so they will find another option while you are away. 

Do keep in mind, when you and baby are together your feeding patterns may change. Many babies do what we call “reverse cycling” in which they tend to feed a lot overnight. This is usually temporary when you first return to work. Often its even your baby’s way of just staying close to you as they will miss you when you are gone. But again, your baby will quickly learn the routine. And on weekends, you can resume your regular feeding patterns. On Monday you may feel a bit full again, but your body will once again adjust! Our bodies are just so cool that way! 

Anita Arora is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant at The WOMB. Anita’s aim is to help mothers reach their feeding goals in a non-judgmental, accepting and natural approach. Anita sees women both in clinic and in the comfort of their homes to assist them with any and all feeding issues. Anita runs a Breastfeeding Café Drop In Group every month, and leads workshops for parents-to-be and mothers returning to work on a regular basis. Her next Breastfeeding and Back to Work workshop is Thursday November 2, 2017 at 10:30am at The WOMB. 

 

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.

Sincerely, 

Nelia DeAmaral, RP

Registered Psychotherapist and Coach for Women

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

647-456-2229

 

Jenny Telfer-Crum, PT

Pelvic Health Physiotherapist

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

 

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

butterflies

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

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 countingbutterflies.com.

 

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”

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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

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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!

Grandmas have vaginas too!

"My Mom/Aunt/sister has had two/three/thirteen kids and also has leaking/pain so I thought this was normal”.

incontinence lisa gillispieAs a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist at the WOMB, I work primarily with women during and after their pregnancies to help decrease back, hip and pelvic pain, treat incontinence (bladder or bowel leaking), prevent pelvic organ prolapse (uterus, bladder or bowel moving into the vaginal canal) or sexual dysfunction like dyspareunia (pain with intercourse). I cannot tell you how many times clients have said to me, “well, my Mom/Aunt/sister has had two/three/thirteen kids and also has leaking/pain so I thought this was normal”. A phrase I use all the time is it is common, but not normal’.

It is NOT normal to have leaking when you laugh, cough, sneeze or jump

It is NOT normal to have to run to the bathroom because you get the sudden urge to go NOW

It is NOT normal to wake up at night to pee until after menopause, at which time only 1x/night is expected

It is NOT normal to feel like something is falling out or pushing down on your vagina at the end of the day or with activity (or at any time!)

It is NOT normal to have pain with sexual activity (unless, of course, you choose to incorporate pain into your sexual activity in which case this is normal for you)

core

These statements ring true regardless of how many children you have had and what your age is. Why? Because all of these activities have to do with your pelvic floor and inner core functioning. Your pelvic floor is a series of muscles, and muscles can be trained at any age and any stage of life. They work to support your organs, keep your back and hips moving well, stop you from leaking and react during sexual activity.

Fortunately pre and post natal Pelvic Health Physio is growing in popularity – MDs/OBGYNs/midwives are starting to refer clients who have symptoms and the public is more aware of their options for optimizing their health both preventively and when treating any issues. But I feel a gap is being missed when it comes to the Mother’s Mother.

Grandma’s have vaginas too and they have been through a lot!

Unfortunately, women tend to believe that leaking/pain/falling out feelings are normal after kids or as they age and often don’t report their symptoms to their doctor. That’s because Pelvic Health Physio is relatively new to healthcare (compared to say dentists, which have been around since we realized we could pull teeth out when they hurt). Leaking, pain and pressure symptoms can really impact someone’s quality of life – not wanting to do certain activities in case you have an accident, not wear certain clothes in case the pad shows, not feeling sexually attractive because it hurts to have sex, or what if there is a leak!? If they do report it to their doctor, it used to be that surgery was the golden ticket, however pelvic surgeries haven’t been as successful as anticipated and can have some really unpleasant side effects.

organ prolapse
Fortunately, as I mentioned before, all of these symptoms have to do with pelvic floor muscle functioning, and muscles can be trained! Pelvic floor physio is advised as first line treatment (so BEFORE surgery) for urinary incontinence (Journal of OBGYNs Canada Guidelines) and as successful conservative management of pelvic prolapse (Cochrane review 2011). Just like the more squats you do the easier it is to get out of a chair, or the more your practice the piano the easier it is to perform more complex pieces, the more strengthening and coordination exercises you do for your pelvic floor the easier it’ll be to perform – whether this be by holding in pee, supporting your organs as you lift or having pain free sex. My job as a Pelvic Health Physio is to teach you how to do these exercises and incorporate them into your day-to-day activities.

Yes, vaginal tissues change as we age. Decreased estrogen during and after menopause thins and dries vaginal tissues. This can contribute to or worsen any leaking/pain/falling out symptoms you may have. Topical estrogen from your doctor and/or natural vaginal moisturizers (ie Mae by Damiva) can help to reduce these symptoms. Combine this with Pelvic Floor Physio to ensure your muscles are strong, flexible and coordinated, and we have a pretty great anti-aging system for your vagina!

Checking in with your Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist around when you have kids is great – we can help your body through it’s natural changes and ‘nip’ any problems ‘in the bud’. But it’s never too late to discover how to help your body help itself, whether you are post menopausal, have already had a pelvic surgery, have had no kids or 7 kids. If you are reading this as a new mom, don’t forget about your Mom/Aunt/sister who mentioned they had pain/leaking/falling out issues too. Feel free to send them this link or reach out to me personally if you have any questions.


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Jenny Telfer Crum is a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist at The WOMB specializing in return to exercise and normal function after birth. Jenny holds an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Human Kinetics from the University of Guelph and a Masters of Science in Physiotherapy from McMaster University. She became interested in Pelvic Health after experiencing chronic hip pain that did not resolve through traditional orthopedic physiotherapy treatment but resolved quickly after seeing a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist. Set up your pelvic health physiotherapy appointment today!

I've got a baby now, and you're suggesting I take care of ME? Are you joking?

A student's experience at The WOMB

Jasleen Gakhal is a 3rd year nursing student at Ryerson University. She spent 4 months at The WOMB this year, learning what it means to be a mother, how to recover from birth, and how to care for the health of our newborns and babies. What she found is that mothers have very little time or energy left to give to themselves after having a baby. So she compiled the must knows for moms - keep it simple, keep it doable. 

Being exposed primarily to Western Medicine in her three years thus far at Ryerson, Jasleen's eyes were opened wide to the possibilities and the success of body work, restoring the body from the inside out, and the support and allies mothers need in order to transition into their new mother role. This is Jasleen's experience - what she gleaned from the experts of The WOMB and what she would want to share with new mothers.

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Pelvic Health Physiotherapy Tidbits
• Every time you go from a sitting/lying position to a standing/ upright position while you are pregnant, and postpartum, use the "sexy senior" or "rolling pin technique". This prevents future diastasis recti or "mummy tummy" from occurring.
• Caster oil can become your best friend, if you have had a caesarian birth. Using the pads of your thumb, and using an up/down simple motion across your caesarian scar will help the scar tissue heal quicker and more safely.
• While having a bowel movement, it’s ideal to be in a squatting position (the squatty potty can help!) rather than in a sitting down position. This helps with ease and assists in the passage of stool. Also, if you are having trouble voiding, turn/ twist your body towards your right side – this helps “squeeze” your colon/ intestines and helps with the bowel movement.
• Nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress management are all key in determining health. They all equally contribute to your overall health and they each need individual attention.

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Naturopathic Medicine Tidbits
Probiotics can be very important. It is important to have a good balance of good and bad bacteria in your system - especially if you have had a caesarian birth. During a vaginal birth your baby is exposed to the natural flora and bacteria, which your vagina possesses. This promotes healthy gut flora and disgestion for your newborn. So if you've given birth by caesarean, supplementing yourself and your child with probiotics can cover for that loss.
• If you do plan on vaccinating your child, chose a time when your child is in optimal health. Moreover, a time when everyone in the household is in optimal health. It is not vital for you to follow the "regular" regime of the vaccinations schedule. It is possible to split up vaccinations, instead of doing them all at the same time. For example, if your baby needs 4 vaccinations, it is possible to get them 2 at one time and then the other 2, two weeks later. When introducing new strands of viruses to your baby, the last thing we want is your baby to be fighting something else along the way.

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Breastfeeding Tidbits
• Did you know your baby does not latch onto your nipple with their mouth or lips? They actually use their tongue to curl around your breast and this is how they draw milk from the breast.
• If babies are not getting enough milk, they tend to fall asleep at your breast because they are using more energy than they are gaining.
• Breastfeeding does not have to be painful! When it does become painful this should be an indicator that something is wrong.
• Putting breast milk or colostrum on your nipple can help keep them from drying and cracking and it can help draw your baby to your nipple (milk is sweet and smells good!).
• You can actually feed your baby if you get sick! This can help your infant build antibodies.
• A helpful indicator to measure whether your infant is getting enough breast milk in the first few weeks of life is to look at the number of wet diapers they create. For example for the first 5 days of life, your newborn should make as many diapers as they are old (I.e. 4 day old should make 4 wet diapers).
• If you would like to exclusively breastfeed your child in the first 6 months of life, try to stay away from pacifiers or fake nipples. This is because a baby can become accustomed to the size of the pacifier nipple, which can make it more difficult to latch onto your breast later.

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For more information on getting support and care for yourself and your newborn, call us or make an appointment today!

Chiropractic and Ear Infections:

What We Offer Makes a Difference

Many parents bring their children into our office asking us to treat their ear infections. My first response is that the purpose of chiropractic care is not the treatment of conditions or diseases; rather, it is the restoration of normal body function.

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Chiropractors work with the nervous system via gentle spinal adjustments. We reduce stress related interference to the nervous system, thereby enhancing all overall body function. I further explain that all systems of the body—muscular, glandular, respiratory, circulatory, digestive, eliminatory, hormonal and immunological— depend on the optimal function of the nervous system. With chiropractic, we focus on nerve system function to enhance all the body’s systems.

Because many parents are unaware of the variety of options available for the treatment of ear infections, I continue, “As a parent, you have some choices to make. You can either treat the ear infection, or not—that’s your right as a parent. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a watch-and-wait approach, because the evidence-based research about antibiotics is showing that not only are they ineffective at treating ear infections, but they will actually lead to repeated ear infections in your child.

As a parent, you can choose to treat or not to treat. If you do choose to treat, you again have some options. You can treat the ear infections allopathically (the typical medical/ drug route) or naturally. If you choose to go the usual route to a pediatrician, she may take a watch-and- wait approach.

More likely, she will prescribe an antibiotic. If, however, you would prefer to treat the ear infections more naturally, there are several options for you to consider. A naturopath will explore herbs and nutrition; a homeopath will assess your child for a specific remedy; an acupuncturist will work with specific meridian points for healing.

It is so important that you as a parent realize you have choices, and the right to make these choices for your family.

Regardless of the choices you make, the chiropractic approach will improve your child’s inherent ability to function. Doesn’t it make sense to have your child function at an optimal level for healing no matter how (or if) you choose to treat? We will assess your child’s spine, make the necessary adjustments to improve nerve system function and offer lifestyle suggestions to reduce nerve system stress for your child. We will also support any decision you make in your choice to treat the infection or not. This is your right as a parent, and we stand behind informed choice.

…………………
Modified excerpt from: Chiropractic and Ear Infections: What We Offer Makes a Difference by ICPA Member, Jeanne Ohm, DC. Read the full article in Pathways Issue 23: www.pathwaystofamilywellness.org

The WOMB offers Chiropractic care with paediatric specialists, Dr. Diane Meyer and Dr. Minal Gandhi. To set up an appointment go online or call us today.

What you need to know about Postnatal Doulas

There is a big difference between a Postnatal Doula, and a Night Nurse or a Mother's Helper

The incredible treasure that people don’t know about…and it’s at the WOMB!

Imagine, after a long and tiring process of trying to conceive, finding out you have finally been blessed with what you were praying for…and then some…you are pregnant with twins. As you move through that first trimester you start to process the awesome reality of what is happening to you. As you start to notice some of the difficulties managing your new circumstances with the babies contained within your womb, you wonder how you are going to manage once these two precious humans enter the world? An exciting and daunting prospect!

This was me. Although I was more excited than anything else, I did wonder how I would be able to enjoy those early days of motherhood. How might I manage to cherish the blessings that had been bestowed on me when I felt like I did not know a thing about being a mother, and I was in for double duty?

It was my sister who was the one who educated me on the existence of Postnatal Doulas, upon learning about my pregnancy she unequivocally said, “You need to get one”. At that point I was aware of the existence of a Birth Doula, however, I have never heard of a Postnatal Doula. In my sister’s enthusiastic words, she declared a few descriptors of a Postnatal Doula: “baby expert”; “helps get you on a rhythm as you transition”; “eliminates chaos”; “assist with family sleep”. I did not need to hear more…”sign me up”!

007 DuforFamily HRM 1My Postnatal Doula support did not disappoint!! In fact, my expectations were far exceeded. I can honestly say without a doubt is was the best money I have ever spent in my life. My husband and I used to joke that we had been so lucky to find an incredible treasure that no one knew about…our Postnatal Doula, a real-life Mary Poppins, who just made life better!

So, what did the support look like for us? Well, we started with having support 3 nights a week (for approximately 7 hours at a time) and this pared down to twice a week and then once a week until we were all managing really nicely on our own. At this point I changed my support to 1 day a week, (for approximately 4 hours) to assist me as we adjusted to other transitions as our children developed.

Now, I do want to clarify that there is a pretty big difference between a Postnatal Doula and a night nurse or a mommy’s helper. It is the role of the Postnatal Doula in particular that is golden, so let me elaborate.

A Postnatal Doula is an expert in postnatal family support and baby care. She understands the transitions parents and siblings make when adding a new baby or babies to the family. Here are some common supports our WOMB Postpartum Doulas provide:

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• Teach you how to soothe baby
• Provide assistance with food and hydration so you can care for baby
• Support your breastfeeding/feeding efforts and help you problem solve
• Help you and baby to sleep better at night
• Allow you time to nap by taking care of the daily household chores
• Help you keep the house organized so that you feel less stress
• Teach you about your amazing newborn and stand by you as you learn, reminding you that you are doing a great job!
• Help you look after your other children so that they feel engaged and can adjust to their new sibling AND so you have time to bond with your baby

I know what you’re thinking. “This really exists? There are people who can do this?” Yes, it does. Wonderful right? Here at the WOMB we have these amazing treasures and their goal is to support you through empowerment, so you have the tools and skills to be on your own and be the best mother possible.

I continue to be surprised, six years after my own experience with Postnatal Doulas, that people still do not know about this incredible resource. As one of the Pelvic Health Physiotherapists on the WOMB team I have an opportunity to see the value of all our Doulas have in our clients lives. There are many instances when my feeling is that a client of mine would benefit more from Postnatal Doula support than from the pelvic floor intervention that have sought me for. More people need to know about Postnatal Doula support. We are talking about an incredible treasure that should not be hidden…spread the word!

Sinéad Dufour PT PhD

Surviving Daylight Savings

Tips for an easier transition for your toddler/infant

Sunday, November 6, 2016: You're preparing for the End of Daylight Savings Time. It's time to move your clocks back one hour. For parents of young children, we may worry about the end result - early waking or a disrupted schedule.

Here are some tips to smooth the transition. Use one or a combination of these methods and your child’s sleep schedule should be back on track in just a few days to a week.

motherandbabysleepingNo matter what you decide to do, it will be much easier for you to adjust if you go to bed early on Saturday, November 5th.

Tip 1 – Cold Turkey: When the time changes, switch to the new time right away. Also switch meals, activities, and naps to the new time. Wake up times may be a bit off for a few days but they will adjust. If your child is fairly easy going, adjustment should be quick and painless with this method.

Tip 2 – Work Up To It: This is helpful for children that may be more sensitive to being overtired, to changes in schedules, or who tend to wake up early. Start 4 days before the time change by moving bedtime and wake up time 15 minutes later each day. You can take an even slower approach if you want to. At the new wake up time, make a big deal about morning, turning the lights on and exposing your child to the out-door light as much as possible.

Tip 3 – Fix It After: Wait until the day of the time change and adjust the child’s schedule over the following days. This method is good for children that tend to get overtired; however it can make for some early mornings and can take longer. Most children will naturally adjust to the new time within a week.
In the short term, the time change can cause us to feel a little off but most people adjust within 5 days on their own based on exposure to light in the daytime and dark at night.

AndreaAndrea Strang, is a Certified Child Sleep Consultant and Gentle Sleep Coach with The WOMB. Andrea provides personalized, custom sleep consultations and packages to parents who need guidance, love and support through the sleep challenges with their children. 


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