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

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. 

My breastfeeding experience

My breastfeeding experience

It's world breastfeeding week! I started a little backwards and shared my updated post on pumping. But here is my (updated) whole experience to date. I think I could write a hundred posts on breastfeeding, so just beware, this is a little long!

Breastfeeding is hard. It can be isolating. Only you can feed the baby, unless you're also using bottles. But then you have to pump too. If you want to breastfeed, my best advice is just don't give up! Get the support you need, have tough conversations with whoever in your life isn't supporting you and tell them what's what!

Estelle's breastfeeding story: I wasn't able to breastfeed Estelle right away. With the c-section and her being taken to the NICU, I started pumping first. Over the course of her stay, we both learned how to breastfeed. I worked with the hospital lactation consultants (LC). We started using the nipple shield when she was still in the NICU. It's just a little piece of plastic, shaped like a nipple, with 3 holes at the end. The LC told us it would help her little mouth draw out my nipple and help her latch. In order to leave the NICU, we had to prove that we could feed Estelle and she could gain weight. She was being fed through a tube, and we would try to breastfeed, then we tried a bottle which Estelle loved. She would suck so hard and not breathe! We'd have to pace her a lot. When we left the NICU we were doing a combination of bottle and breastfeeding, but breastfeeding was so much harder for her. She would latch and do a little, but it was too tiring for her. 

It took several weeks for us to transition to mostly breastfeeding and away from needing a little bottle at each feeding. I was proud of myself then for sticking with it. I was happy to be breastfeeding, but I was always using the shield. The nipple shield was an extra step. I started to get more comfortable taking Estelle places by myself, going out to lunch and seeing friends.  Using the shield made it harder to nurse in public when Estelle was really upset because it would take longer. 

I believe it's crucial to have a supportive partner when you're breastfeeding. Your partner has to keep you fed, make sure you have water by you when you're nursing. Anselm encouraged me so much. He was a champ (still is) at cleaning bottles and pumping supplies when she was in the NICU. We were waking up every 3 hours to pump, and at first we were cleaning the pumping parts after each time. Then a very wise neighbor gave us GOLD advice, to put the cups in the fridge between uses, and clean every 12 hours. That made things SO MUCH easier, and we both got more sleep and functioned a little better on that crazy schedule. 

Breastfeeding #2

I am a breastfeeding advocate. I know it's not easy for everyone. I guess maybe I've had it towards the easier end? I'm not sure. I've had my challenges. It's hard work. It definitely could be easy to give up, if one doesn't have the right support system. I had support from my husband and his sisters, and our Bradley instructor. I joined Facebook groups: La Leche League & Breastfeed Chicago. I read the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. My work has also been very supportive, my boss and coworkers giving me time and encouragement. Even if it was just encouragement to keep going, keep trying, and wisdom about how to make it easier. 

I hardly had to use my freezer stash I built up from when Estelle was in the NICU and my milk came in so well. We used it all up by the end of her journey though when she stopped nursing, we put it in with cow's milk to help transition her. 

I wish milk sharing was more of a thing. I know it's becoming more prevalent. I came upon an Instagram account, @oneounceatatime, a woman who makes over a gallon of milk a day. I’m not sure how old her children are, but she keeps pumping and storing her breast milk, and donates loads of it. Sounds like a superhero to me!

Breastfeeding Loretta will be in my next post

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