How to do all the mom things without neck and mid back pain

How to do all the mom things without neck and mid back pain

I think we focus a lot of attention on pregnancy and postpartum care in the pelvis and lower body. This makes sense, it's where the majority of change is happening. It's more common to have pain in the lower body, with walking or sleeping or movement in general. 

The upper body is super important though. A lot of changes in posture, especially bad ones, start in the neck and shoulders. During pregnancy, your boobs are growing which places extra stress on the muscles to hold your chest up. Then you have the baby, and there's lots of holding, carrying, and lifting. Nursing too, even with a boppy pillow, has a tendency to cause us to lean forward for long periods of time.

My favorite upper body exercises to get my patients started with are bodyweight exercises or with resistance bands. This does not apply to those of you who are already in a weight lifting routine. You go ahead and crossfit and be awesome (as long as you also aren't peeing yourself doing deadlifts, because that ain't right!)

A favorite routine of mine is called Ts, Ys, Is, and/or sometimes Ws are thrown in there too, because these are the letters a person will make, somewhat, with her arms when performing the exercises. These can be modified to almost any position, which is why they are some of my favorites. Options are:

1. while sitting on an exercise ball, with light weights, or a resistance band

2. leaning over the ball while kneeling (during pregnancy with a belly). This second position is slightly more challenging because of gravity on the weight of your arms

3. Standing with light weights or using a resistance band

Here is a video link from YouTube to give a demonstration over the ball. Again, this is easily modified with a pregnant belly

An excellent resource for exercises that are core, pelvic floor, and prolapse safe is FemFusion Fitness on YouTube, run by Dr. Bri PT, DPT. I love her videos and her story about advocating for herself when her healthcare providers brushed off her prolapse symptoms. (We won't hold it against Bri that she uses doTerra oils, spread that EO love! )

Here's a great video from Dr. Bri about chest opening and stretching

I’m currently in process of researching several pregnancy/postpartum fitness programs on the market. I have previously recommended Every Mother, and I loved working with them, and still think it is a great product, but now that my contract has ended I want to explore everything else! Stay tuned for that

Estelle's birth story #2

You should be able to tell your birth story. And you should write it down. Maybe especially if it's traumatic? Maybe always, but I guess I won't know until I have another one to compare to. I don't actually feel that my birth story is traumatic, but it certainly wasn't an amazing, everything I wanted birth. Serena Williams withdrew from the French Open earlier this week. Probably nothing to do with her birth, but it was big news that this is her first major back after having her little one, and that she was devastated by having to have a C-Section. She had blood clots and a PE, which is a waaaayyyy better reason IMO to have a cesarean than mine. Anyways...

Estelle is 7 weeks as I start this. 

We did a lot to prepare for birth in my opinion. Bradley classes (check) Birth plan (check) Review birth plan with birth helpers (check)

Estelle took this checklist and threw it out the window. Or maybe I did. 

We prepared and planned for a natural, non-medicated birth. We had many discussions in our Bradley classes and with each other about whether this was possible in a hospital setting. We'll come back to that. 

At my regularly scheduled 38 week appointment (Tuesday) I had a quick ultrasound to make sure she was head down and ready to come out. (This is my first point of contention with my decision making in my 20/20 hindsight) She was, but my OB was concerned about the amniotic fluid level. She sent me for an actual ultrasound, and the fluid level turned out fine, but then there were concerns about how small she was. They told me she was measuring in the 5th percentile. So basically, I was diagnosed with Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). The medical advice was to induce at 39 weeks, which would have been the following Monday. 

I wanted to give my presentation on Friday. So I was stubborn and put everything off until after. My doctor wanted me to have a non-stress test, and she gave me the option to go to the L&D floor on Saturday to have it done, instead of in the clinic during normal business hours. 

Estelle had decelerations of her heart rate during the NST. More evidence to induce. Like now. Don't leave the hospital. (This is second decision making point) Let's start your IV.

I got into a room, about 2:30pm, they started my IV, pitocin and I kept the electronic fetal monitoring on from the NST. I could move around though and I did. I labored for a while, before any other interventions happened. The EFM was not doing a good job of recording my contractions, and the strength. Anselm was timing them on his phone, and they were getting stronger. Eventually, (maybe around 10pm?) they wanted to break my water and use the internal monitor. We had delayed this basically as long as possible, we kept refusing and wanted to keep trying different positions. Then at some point,  they put water back in, and stopped the pitocin for a while to see if I would contract in my own. I was, and I was having strong contractions, but I eventually learned I had only gotten to 5 or so centimeters. I had been at 3 before starting the induction. I had requested the OB not tell me after the cervical exams, and only tell Anselm of my progress. We kept trying to change positions, and pitocin was eventually restarted, but by 2:30am I was ready meet her, and the OB team was really putting the pressure on for us to consider changing the method of delivery to a cesarean. Estelle's heart kept decelerating and not recovering well after contractions, so we decided it was time. 

The OB team got everything ready, and surgery started. Dr. Powell asked if she was going to have hair, and I said "Definitely!" Then I heard them say something about how much meconium there was. They got her cleaned off, Anselm got to see her first and cut her cord, then they brought her over to me to take some quick pictures and they whisked her away to the NICU. 

She had aspirated her meconium, pretty badly. She ended up spending 10 days in the NICU. 

Estelle is almost 9 weeks now as I'm finishing writing this. 

I'm going to write about my points of contention in my decision making in another post, long with my thoughts on recovering from a cesarean and our experience in the NICU.

Estelle's birth story #1

Started 4/29/18

I don't know where the saying comes from, "if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans" but I think there's something to it. I'm not totally a type A personality, but the portion of me that is loves planning. 

If you haven't already seen on my other social medias, we welcomed our baby girl, Estelle, 2 weeks ago. She spent 10 days in the NICU but we've had her home with us since this past Wednesday. She's so sweet. 

I'll do a separate post on Estelle's birth story, but I was thinking about this sorta silly saying recently, and it's just helped me process everything that's happened in the whirlwind of the last two weeks. 

God certainly foiled my plans for Estelle's birth. I did however successfully finish my first clinical instructor experience, and my first major presentation at a professional conference. Estelle was born 2 days later :)

Last world breastfeeding week post!

Last world breastfeeding week post!
I need to unpack something. 

Over the last week, I’ve been sharing my experience for world breastfeeding week. 

My favorite celebrity, pelvic floor PT, shared an important post too. Validating moms who struggled or had trouble breastfeeding. It’s important and I don’t disagree. But I want to take it a step further. 

Let’s change the culture around how we support moms. Not just I see you. But, I see you and how can I help? Especially new moms. Moms learning to breastfeed. What would their journey look like if they had all the support? 
  • From their partners, who had the same goals as they do. 
  • From their families. No pesky comments “you’re still breastfeeding?” “The baby has to eat again??” 
  • From employers. Paid maternity leave with enough time to allow mothers to bond and heal and allows for time for her milk to come in, manage the breastfeeding learning curve, and support to pump when she returns to work. 
  • From insurance companies. Doulas covered. Lactation consultants covered. 
Breastfeeding has long term benefits for both mothers and babies! If we view breastfeeding as a preventative health issue, that changes the mindset and culture around it. This is a feminist issue, a racial issue, and inequality issue. Everyone should be able to get behind it. 

  • This is a way to reduce childhood obesity. 
  • It can help reduce depression and anxiety in mothers. The hormone oxytocin is thought to be largely responsible for this.
  • Each year of breastfeeding is associated with a 4.3% decrease in breast cancer risk. Women who breastfeed for 1–2 years over their lifetime have a 10–50% lower risk of high blood pressure, arthritis, high blood fats, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  • Fewer non-Hispanic black infants (74.0%) are ever breastfed compared with non-Hispanic white infants (86.6%) and Hispanic infants (82.9%).
  • Approximately 1 in 6 (17.2%) breastfed infants born in 2015 received formula supplementation within the first 2 days of life. How do you even know if you can do it at 2 days???

Now, of course there are some situations where mothers actually cannot breastfeed. Check out this other post from fellow WI pelvic floor PT and author of some of my favorite resources for the pregnant and postpartum person, Jen Torborg. Also, my rockstar-cancer survivor-cousin, underwent chemo while she was pregnant with her daughter, and was advised not to breastfeed because of this. But you know what? People rallied to get her donor milk! I've already expressed how milk sharing and donation should be more of a thing. 

LET's SUPPORT MOMS. Let's end "mom guilt". There is no mom guilt when someone has all the resources and support she needs! There is only an empowered mama!

Let’s shift our cultural mindset to preventative health behaviors...breastfeeding included. 
All this information and statistics are from either Kelly Mom or directly from the CDC.

Love this info? Then you may also like my guide on how to do a Mama Timeout & Reset. Check it out here

Loretta's Breastfeeding story

Loretta's Breastfeeding story
Loretta is 9.5 months old. So far breastfeeding with her has been even smoother than with Estelle. 

We had our golden hour at the birth center and Loretta latched right away. The only hiccup was she was a bit jaundiced, since I already had a scheduled doctor's appointment for 2 days after she was born. She did have to wear the bilirubin blanket. The worst part about that whole thing is the daily blood draws. But once my milk really came in over those initial days, she was back up to birth weight within 2 weeks. The birth center hosts a great breastfeeding support group and a lactation consultant is there every week (pre-covid) to help do weighted feeds, and positioning support. 

One thing that has been different is our sleeping situation. Estelle slept in a rock 'n play, before they were recalled, in our room, until she was probably 7months old. EEK. I know. I'm happy we were able to live and learn on that one. Then we transitioned her to a crib in her room. With Loretta, she slept in a bedside bassinet, until she reached the weight limits. We were not super prepared on what we were going to do for the next phase, so then she mostly slept in bed with us, and on our bed for naps. This phase had to end when she started to be pretty mobile, which was around 7 months. We then switched Estelle to a toddler bed, and moved the crib into our room. I'm really interested in doing a floor bed, and having the girls share it. There are lots of steps in between that though. We might have to switch the rooms in our current house, or maybe we can do it when we move. 

OK, so that was a tangent. But sleeping set up relates to breastfeeding because it was, and still is, easier to breastfeed with the baby in your room. Now I realize there are other reasons to not have the baby in your room, but breastfeeding is not one of them in my opinion. My favorite position to breastfeed in bed is side lying or laid back breastfeeding. I still do this, and Anselm will move Loretta back to her crib after she's fallen back asleep. 

When Estelle moved to her own room, I would hear her wake up on the monitor and go in her room, sit in the rocking chair to nurse her, lay her back down, go back in my bed. she didn't sleep through the night until she was almost a year, or honestly it probably coincided with weaning, so it was kind of a rough stretch there for a couple of months.

So there you have it. That's my breastfeeding experience, in 2 long posts. 

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