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.


jennytc

Jenny Telfer Crum has been a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist for over a year at The WOMB and has mentored and trained under our very own Dr. Sinead Dufour. 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.

mom and baby support group

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.

caesareanscar

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.

newborn

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.

breastfeeding positioningandlatching

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

Why I Don’t Hate Crunches, CrossFit and Bootcamps for Moms

Exercise after Pregnancy

As a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist working at a pre and post-natal centred clinic (The WOMB – Milton), I see multiple clients a week navigating through the fourth trimester of pregnancy – the first 3 months AFTER birth (we also see clients throughout pregnancy - I wrote a blog about exercise in pregnancy here). The fourth trimester is a HUGE time of change.  You, as a new mom, are learning how to be a Mom – navigating how to eat, sleep and nourish yourself and your new baby (or babies!). During this time, your body is undergoing a huge amount of change as well – your organs are repositioning themselves after giving up most of their space to Baby for 9 months, your abdominal wall is re-tensioning and you may be healing from some stretching or stitches in the abdomen (from a caesarean birth) or pelvic floor (from a vaginal birth). You might have some leaking (incontinence) or maybe some back or pelvic pain. Plus, now you are constantly juggling a floppy newborn Baby – standing, carrying, feeding in seated or lying down (or somewhere in between!), picking up toys, food, disregarded soothers, car seats, strollers, and all on 2-3 hours of sleep…. Phewf! You and your body are going through a lot! Fortunately, the reality is that our bodies are strong, reliable and so dynamic! Here is what you can do to set yourself up for an optimal recovery AFTER Baby.

Phase 1: Week 1-3: Adjusting to Motherhood and Getting Back to Basics

Focus #1 – Baby
Focus #2 – Get some sleep yourself!
Focus #3 – Breathe.

During pregnancy Moms tend to breathe up into the chest because Baby is in the way, preventing full, deep breaths. Your body has learned this pattern over a matter of months and may automatically continue breathing this way unless you give it a little conscious thought. When we are using our diaphragm to breathe our abdomen rises and our ribs move out to the side and our chest is the last thing to move. This breath pattern, called “

”, naturally helps the pelvic floor to function optimally and get back on board after Baby.

I often suggest Moms try to fit this in as they feed – this is something you usually do multiple times a day and once Baby is set up you can concentrate on your breath. This is a bonus because this can also be a little mini-meditation and some quiet time to regroup.

Focus #4 – Posture

During pregnancy your weight distribution changed through the pelvis and legs as Baby grew. After pregnancy your body may be used to standing as if you were still pregnant – this is typically with the ribs back and your tailbone tucked under you. Check out an easy way to set up a

after baby is born.

Yes, for most new Moms this will feel like you are leaning forward or sticking your booty out like Beyoncé. This is just because your body is used to being shifted back so it thinks being stacking ribs over pelvis is forward. If you keep your weight in the middle of your feet and look in a mirror as you set up your posture like in the video then you will see that you are indeed upright – if your weight is over the toes then yes, you may be leaning too far forward.

Phase 2: Week 4-6+: Returning to Activity

Around this time you might be starting to feel like you are getting into the groove at home, might be going a little stir crazy and/or want to do some exercise. (Or you might still be adjusting to new life with Baby – in which case take your time in Phase 1, no rush!). You might have your appointment with your OB or midwife where they might give you the go ahead to return to activity… with little instruction after that. Does this mean you can jump back in to running, Bootcamp, Body Bump, CrossFit, HITT, 21 Day Fix, etc?

The short answer is, it depends.

Did your OB or midwife look at your birth region (abdomen or pelvis) at your appointment? Maybe. Did they test for strength, relaxation or activation patterns of the ab muscles and pelvic floor? Probably not. Imagine you injure your bicep. Your Doctor’s job is to tell you that you have an injury, stitch you up if needed, make sure you don’t have an injection, maybe give you some meds and refer you to an expert if needed. It is your Physiotherapist’s job to assess the biceps functionally (does it work so you can lift things?) and give you some stretching and strengthening to do to help you recover. This is what Pelvic Health Physios (like me!) do for your abs and pelvic floor (and back and hips, too). We take a look to see if you have Rectus Diastasis (AKA abdominal separation AKA Mummy Tummy), we help address any incontinence (bladder or bowel leaking) issues and ensure you don’t have any prolapse (abdominal organ shifts). We also help educate you about why your might have pain with sexual activity and what you can do about it (and there is a lot we can do about it!) and help you get back to whatever form of activity you want to get back to – whether that is walking, yoga, power lifting, boxing, Crossfit, pole dancing... etc! This might be something you can get back to quickly or it might be something we will work up to as your body continues to change and recover - it really changes person-to-person.

bumppilatesIn general it is wise to start at a lower intensity and build up – for some this may start with short walks outside and build up to jogging, for others this may mean doing modified WODs with lighter weights. Your body is still adjusting to life with Baby on the outside, you might be allocating more body energy to breastfeeding, your hormones are still fluctuating and you are probably running on less sleep than before. Be patient with yourself – “know your limit, play within it”, is a great phrase to remember during the third trimester. My job as a Pelvic Physio is to help you know what your limit is.

What about sit ups, planks, Russian twists?

Again, it depends. When working well, the inner core (diaphragm, abs and pelvic floor) work to support our outer core (“6 pack” rectus abdominus, the twisting obliques, back muscles, glutes [bum muscles]) through all our movements and tasks. If your inner core is working well then sure, do all of these activities! How do you know when your inner core is working well? In general, your abdomen will automatically flatten not bulge when you do movement (this is not clenching), you will have no leaking, no pressure or heaviness in the pelvis, and no pain. However, you can definitely still have suboptimal inner core function without these symptoms that might creep in over time. One study has shown that women can develop incontinence 5-7 years after birth. Personally, my inner core coordination was off and I didn’t realize until I started running over 5km and then had hip pain. This resolved once I saw a Pelvic Health PT and did some simple rebalancing exercises.

What about CrossFit or HITT?

These forms of exercises are awesome for full body workouts - we definitely want to build you up to returning to these exercises we just have to ensure you’re working from the inside out. Learning how the inner core supports you through these exercises and how to brace for heavy lifts properly will help to prevent any issues from arising from your sport, and usually results in improved PBs (personal best) as well.

Overall, most people can return to their preferred form of exercise safely after birth as long as the inner core is serving you well. How much rehab you will need to build you up to these activities varies from person to person. As Pelvic Health Physios, we help you reconnect with your pelvic floor and inner core muscles to ensure everything is ship shape to support your through lifting and chasing after your kids as well as any other sports or exercises you want to pursue.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to set up an appointment to meet with us at The WOMB or check out our Mummy Tummy workshop.

jennytc

Jenny Telfer Crum is a pelvic health physiotherapist at The WOMB. She specializes in preparing the body for birth and then helping women return to exercise after pregnancy and has taken advanced courses to help high intensity weekend warriors return to their training of choice.

The WOMB offers Mummy Tummy Workshops, Pfilates classes (pelvic floor pilates), Momma & Baby Core classes and when you’re ready Mommy Bootcamp.

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.

nikkibergen

 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

Exercise During Pregnancy

When & What? Advice from a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist

A common question I get as a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist is: “What kind of exercises are safe to do during pregnancy?”. The short answer is that most forms of exercise are safe and advocated. Maintaining fitness, preventing health issues such as gestational diabetes and preparing the body for an optimal birth and recovery are a few of the reasons why regular exercise is important. Of the different types of exercises, “core exercise” is often a hot topic for pregnant women. Although your deep core muscles do assist in breathing and pushing efforts during birth, your uterus does most of the work so you don’t need abs of steel to to have a smooth birth (another blog to come on this topic). Engaging in different types of exercise will keep you well in pregnancy and beyond.

pregnancy pool

Safety: When shouldn’t I exercise during pregnancy?
In rare circumstances there may be reasons to more drastically modify standard exercise recommendations or avoid exercise all together. If there is an underlying condition involving the uterus, placenta or your overall state of health, your primary care provider will typically indicate when this is the case. Refer to this link for more information.

What kind of exercise should I be doing?
General exercise guidelines still apply during pregnancy – cardio for lung and heart health 30 minutes, 5 times a week; muscle strengthening 3 times a week; and stretching daily. There is also a lot of new research outlining the importance of daily mindfulness to counteract the chemical stress response that most of us have in our busy lives. Try a 15 minute guided body scan (lots on YouTube), meditation, prayer or gratitude journaling.

Some women find during the first trimester symptoms of morning sickness limit them from doing strenuous activity. Be patient with yourself and give your body some time. Starting with a gentle walk for 15 mins 2x/day just to get the blood pumping and muscles moving is still beneficial. The same principles apply if you are new to exercise – start slow and gentle and progress as you are able.

What about Kegels?
A “kegel” is a sustained and repeated pelvic floor activation named after the OBGYN who started advocating for them in the 1940s (Dr. Arnold Kegel). Yes, we want our pelvic floor muscles to be strong but we also need them to be flexible; they need to be able to relax, and to be coordinated with our muscles. As a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist, I can help you set up an inner core program incorporating pelvic floor muscle training that will support you through your pregnancy, during exercise, throughout labour and into your recovery post partum. 

What about Yoga?
Prenatal yoga can help with flexibility and relaxation during pregnancy and also has the added benefit of meeting other Moms-to-be for you to connect with during pregnancy and into motherhood. Yoga is a great compliment to your strength and cardio program. Note that hot yoga is not recommended during pregnancy as the increases in core temperature can impact fetal development.

prenatal yoga

High Impact Exercise: What about Running? Crossfit? HIIT? Power Lifting?
In the media there tends to be an all-or-nothing approach to pregnancy – either all you do is yoga or you continue to power lift until the day you birth your baby. If you were performing high intensity or high impact exercises before pregnancy it is typically safe to continue these, but the intensity will taper down during pregnancy. Here are some things to remember:

You must acknowledge that your body will change during pregnancy and it is wise to honour these changes. There are a number of physical adjustments that affect your posture, breathing and your muscles' ability to generate power as the length of muscles change and the relationship of structures adjusts. Good form when executing high-impact exercise is always very important and simply put is more difficult to do when pregnant. Unfortunately, most trainers do not have the adequate knowledge to guide women through these high impact exercises in a safe and appropriate manner. Sit ups, curl ups, toes to bar, V sits, boat pose, Russia twists and double leg lowers are examples of traditional core exercises that increase abdominal pressure and overrecruit our external core which can contribute to rectus diastasis or “Mummy Tummy”. To prevent pelvic floor issues and abdominal wall issues, you are best to touch base with a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist who can appropriately guide you through the exercise program you desire.

pregnant running

Don’t forget that pregnancy is a time for maintaining your strength and endurance then tapering the intensity as your needs change. The goal is not to develop fitness at this time through max lifts or personal bests, so an adjustment in your approach to exercise and fitness is important. During pregnancy you should be able to talk throughout your workout, recover quickly and modify your movements easily.

I hear I am supposed to listen to my body – what am I listening for!?

  • Pain – of any kind, especially in the back or pelvis.
  • A feeling pressure or heaviness in the pelvis
  • Loss of control of urine – leaking with lifting, running, coughing, sneezing, laughing
  • A “tenting” or “coning” through the front of the abdomen with any movement
  • A tendency to to hold your breath to perform a movement
  • Development of hemorrhoids or varicose veins

These events signal there is a muscle and pressure imbalance through the body that needs to be addressed. Again, as a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist I can help you connect with these imbalances and educate you as to how to manage them going forward.

Take Home Message: Exercise is Medicine in Pregnancy and Beyond!
Exercise during pregnancy is safe for most women and should be fun, engaging and rewarding – physically and emotionally! You can start at a low intensity and build your way up, or continue with the work you were already doing and make modifications along the way. At the WOMB we have workshops, fitness classes and our Pelvic Health Physiotherapy team ready to support you through your pregnancy and into motherhood. 

jennytc

 

Jenny Telfer Crum is a Registered Pelvic Health Physiotherapist at The WOMB. She has a special interest in helping women exercise safely during pregnancy, prepare for labour and return to their exercise intensity of choice after birth while honouring their body along the way.

 

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.

chirobaby2.1

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:

Mei 1

• 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. 

Top 5 Tips for Sleep Survival after Halloween

Halloween is a fun and exciting holiday for children, but the late night trick-or-treating, massive amounts of sugar, and excitement can throw a wrench into even the best sleeper’s patterns.

Not to mention that we have the fall daylight savings time change on the very same night!

For new parents, you may be surprised at how busy the evening is around your neighbourhood and how hard it is to maintain bedtime with dogs and doorbells.

If your children are older, managing the excitement, the candy and encouraging sleep all in the same night can be challenging but there is hope.

No matter how old your child is, these tips can help you and your child survive Halloween highs and hopefully avoid early morning struggles.

TrickOrTreat2

1. Be Prepared
Try to avoid letting your child become over-tired or overstimulated before bedtime on Halloween night. This is especially true if you have small children. The sights and sounds of Halloween are new and exciting, so consider starting your Halloween rituals early. If you are on good terms with your neighbors, consider pre-arranging an early time for your child’s Halloween experience. This ensures that they can show off their cool costumes before dark (what a great way to be seen!).

2. Keep The Bedtime Routine
Once your children are done examining their spoils, you need to start the bedtime routine. Make sure that you turn off all the lights in the front of your house, cover your doorbell with a note saying “children sleeping, please do not ring bell,” and you may even want to put a bowl of candy out for the later trick-or-treaters. This will ensure that any kids out after dark can help themselves without disturbing your sleep routine.

3. Limit Sugar
If you are concerned about the amount of sugar that your child may consume, consider providing your neighbors with a fun healthier snack or even a small toy, so that the holiday is not all about candy. Make sure that you start your Hallowed Eve with an early meal before all the excitement starts. Focus on balanced choices so that your children have enough “fuel” to make it through the night.

halloween candy
4. Control the Chaos
If your child is interested in raiding their loot when they get home from trick or treating, here are two options that may help:
• Allow them to have all they want once you arrive home. Some parents find that keeping the treats from their children will only make them want it more. You can encourage them to eat some less sweet treats, such as chips and gum if it was offered.
• Try to save the sugary snacks and chocolate treats for the next day, and perhaps allow a set number of pieces on Halloween night.
• If you are opposed to your child consuming all of their candy, have some toys or special healthier treats on hand for them to ‘trade in’ their candy for something even better. In some areas, local dentist offices also do a “candy buy” and provide children with a special reward in exchange for their loot.
In the spirit of the holiday, you can even do your bedtime routine by flashlight, which would be fun and a little different for your children. Additionally, turning the overhead lights off in the house will encourage the release of melatonin in your children, which will help them to feel sleepy.

AndreaAndrea Strang is a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach, Sleep Consultant and Postpartum Doula with over 14 years of sleep consulting experience working with adults, babies, and children up to 6 years of age.

Hey Birth Partner! Why you don't need to be a Superhero...

So I’d like to get right to the point….Birth Partner, you are important!

Often times with all the excitement and preparation for labour and birth, the role of the birth partner is taken for granted. Society has placed unrealistic expectations on partners to be the hero for the day but without enough sleep, food and some simple items, it’s hard for partners to hold it together for the birth let alone help mom. But the birthing mom will notice if you aren’t meeting your own needs and this can make her more anxious. The more anxious she is the more pain she feels. So by looking after your own basic needs, mom can relax without worrying that you’re ok. You are not a superhero but a human being about to share in one of the most exhilarating yet exhausting times of your life. Here are some things that a birth partner can do to prepare and feel ready for the big day.

birthpartner1

Pack a bag – for a hospital birth bring a change of clothing, sweater, flip flops, bathing suit, mints, phone charger, lip balm for mom, and your toiletries. You’ll be staying more than 24 hours and you’ll want to freshen up too! Having fresh breath is so important when your face to face for so long! You’ll definitely feel like a hero if you casually pull lip balm out of your pocket when mom complains that her lips are dry.

Pillow for mom and a pillow for you – hospitals usually aren’t generous with pillows, so if you do get a chance to rest, it’ll be so much better with a pillow.

Eat and stay hydrated – I can’t count the number of times as a doula that I’ve looked over at a partner and begged them to take a break and eat something. I think that there can be some guilt when they can’t take discomfort away from mom so sacrificing eating can alleviate that feeling of guilt. However, this is the one discomfort that has purpose and that needs to be there for baby to be born, so feed yourselves!! Energy bars are a great item to bring and are easy to bring in any bag, so you’re not away from mom for a long amount of time. Every time mom has some water, so should you! Dehydration symptoms are pretty harsh and you need to be on your game. Hospitals are notoriously dry and coffee is also dehydrating so be good to yourself and balance everything with some H20.
and last but definitely not least….

birthpartner2

Emotions – you will be going through some crazy emotions that may take you by surprise. It’s ok, your feelings count too. Let yourself feel them and share them with your partner. Watching your partner birth your baby and then meeting your baby for the first time is an amazing, life changing experience – enjoy it… feel it… live it.

Sincerely,
The Doula

For more information on Doulas attend one of our Ask A Doula Nights or contact the WOMB at 905-842-2434…

DanielaSimone

Daniela Simone is a Certified Childbirth Doula and Postpartum Doula at The WOMB.  Daniela’s goal is to help women find their labour style, find strength in their choices and appreciate the amazing experience of giving birth in awareness. She loves being a wife to her supportive husband and mother to her two wonderful children.


Get in touch! Give us a call at 905.842.2434, or click here to send us an email.