Mastitis Remedy

This may be the shortest blog I ever write, but I need an easy place to reference those who are looking for this info because I share it all of the time.

My wonderful doula Brittany Pietrzak shared this remedy with me, and it was invaluable to me during my first breastfeeding journey. I was able to go from full-blown mastitis to resolution within 24 hours using this remedy, and then was able to fend off mastitis another time altogether after just the initial symptoms began. I’ve shared this with patients and BIRTHFIT moms with great success.

The remedy can be combined with other remedies that you try, but I strongly encourage you to do this exactly as stated.

Combine 1/2-2/3c of epsom salts in 2c water; boil this together and then soak a washcloth or rag in it. Use tongs to retrieve the rag and let it cool in the air until it's basically still too hot to comfortably handle, but won't cause scalding of the skin. Then place it on the breast (specifically in the area of inflammation or known clog), place an additional rag or cloth over top of that so that baby's face isn't touching the hot rag, and then nurse. Repeat this with every nursing session, and most cases of mastitis or clogged ducts are cleared up within 24 hours.

If you're not nursing, do this while pumping, or if the mastitis comes up with weaning, I would say do this 3-6 times per day while actively massaging the clog towards your armpit (thereby encouraging lymphatic drainage rather than encouraging it to come out your nipple).

I also strongly recommend that both you and your baby get adjusted if you have mastitis or clogs beginning, as this can help the healing process. The infrared sauna can also be beneficial for helping the healing process speed up as well!

Reflection: Two Years with a Flip Phone

Please note: I am not suggesting you get a flip phone. What you do is up to you; I’m just sharing my personal experience.

It’s hard to believe that it was over two years ago when I dropped my smart phone and the screen shattered. I’d been living on the edge and not using a phone cover for almost two years before that because I’d read about the increase in radiation exposure with the use of cases (more about that here, but the case essentially weakens the phone’s signal, so then it sends out a stronger signal). And somehow I hadn’t destroyed my phone until I was actually due for an upgrade.

But as the upgrade came about, I’d been doing a little bit of looking into what I wanted for my next phone. I liked the phone that I had, but was not excited about the idea of an “upgrade”. How much new tech did I really need?

I also had a really interesting experience while I was at the 2017 BIRTHFIT Summit. I checked my email on one of the breaks, and found that my landlord had reached out to inform me that the fire department was headed to my office because someone had smelled smoke in a neighboring suite. This was the exact situation that I had a smart phone for: “What if something happens and someone needs to get in touch with me? I need to be available,” I’d told myself. A fire at my office would obviously be an emergency. But I was in Venice, CA, and was in no way able to help in this potential emergency situation. And even if I was in Raleigh, what was I going to do? Grab a bucket and a hose myself? I started to question what the point of being connected all the time really was. (There was no fire and I never found out what the smoke smell came from.)

Plus, I was noticing (to my dismay) that my then three-almost-four year-old was very interested in what I was doing on my phone all the time. And my nearly one year-old wasn’t far off in that interest. Neither of them had had more “screen time” than my oldest watching an instructional youtube video here or there, and we cut our cable cord (not to be replaced by anything) in 2015. But the idea that they weren’t exposed to screens all day was laughable.

My husband doesn’t have social media, doesn’t work from his cell phone, and only occasionally plays a game (which I call “smash phone” because he doesn’t appear to be doing anything other than smashing on the screen, but apparently the Marvel characters are all battling each other and sometimes he wins). So the interest had to be coming from me. And that wasn’t surprising because I was spending A LOT of time on my phone.

From responding to texts, Slacks, and emails to doing quick updates to my BIRTHFIT NC schedule, logging into my chiropractic schedule, and getting things done for BIRTHFIT, I was on my phone a ton. Add onto that some mindless scrolling through social media and responding to messages and comments there, snapping photos or videos of the boys, and my phone basically never left my hand. I was no longer playing games like Angry Birds, Words with Friends, or Candy Crush, which had all had their moments of glory in the past, but I was still hooked to my wireless device.

I’d done the “Do Not Disturb” settings, turned off notifications, and even attempted to grey-wash my screen in an effort to decrease how much time I spent on it. All that happened was that I was compulsively checking my device to ensure that I hadn’t missed what was coming in and that I wasn’t getting notified about.

I regularly did tech-free weekends and felt wonderful afterward. But the return to smartphone Mondays was getting harder each time. Not because I was missing my tech-free weekends, but because the world doesn’t operate that way and coming back to tech-laden reality was harsh. I would boot up my phone and find a ton of notifications, messages, emails, etc. waiting for me that had come in over the weekend.

I also had been diagnosed with Lupus (you’ll notice flip phone is on the list of things that helped me heal in this blog), and was working to figure out ways to de-stress my life so as to promote more healing.

As you already know from the title of the blog, I switched to a flip phone. The Verizon sales person was not impressed and kept trying to get me to get a new smart phone, but I told him I’d only leave happy if I had a dumb phone in my hand. They had one available, so I didn’t even do any comparison on what my options were. My husband was incredibly supportive. I’m joking. He literally told me that he thought I’d die. If that doesn’t tell you how badly I was attached to my phone, I’m not sure what will.

Good news: he was wrong. I didn’t die from lack of smart phone. But the ol’ flip phone has created a lot of commonly-asked questions, a lot of very strange looks, and several “What IS that?!” responses when I pull out my phone. Several people have said that they simply couldn’t do it, but lots have expressed interest or wantingness to make the switch back, but are unsure about some of the details. So I asked on social media what questions you have, and figured I would answer those and at least some of the other questions I’ve gotten in the past two years as concisely as possible. (If you’re new to my writing, “concise” is a big challenge for me.)

So without further ado, I’ll share with you the FAQ on switching to a flip phone and how it’s been for me personally.

  1. Are you crazy?

    1. Possibly.

    2. In all seriousness, it’s a decision that has gotten a strange amount of backlash. Kind of like deciding not to find out the sex of your baby when you’re pregnant - people seem to take that personally. And some people have legitimately been affronted that I would not be using a smart phone, as if it was somehow inconvenient for them.

    3. A lot of people assume that I’ve “held out” and never had a smart phone, but I got my first smart phone (a Blackberry) in 2009 when I was in chiropractic college and have since had several Androids and one iPhone. So rather than never being exposed to a smart phone, I had one for nearly a decade and then reverted.

  2. What about GPS?

    1. Aside from #1, this is actually probably the most common question I get. It depends. Sometimes, I print off directions ahead of time if the route is long or complex and completely unfamiliar to me. But usually, I just look up the directions on my computer ahead of time and commit them to memory or jot them on my hand. I also have to pay attention more. Like a lot more. And yes, I have two kids who are often in the car with me.

    2. I feel like it’s worth mentioning that I don’t have GPS in my car. Akin to my phone, my car is about as bare bones as it comes. When I traded in my old car, I wanted a stick shift, which meant my options were limited. I didn’t intentionally get a “dumb” car, but a car with no power locks, power windows, or Bluetooth capabilities was about $4K less expensive than a car with those things. I opted to save some dough. I think it’s also worth mentioning that a flip phone is a lot cheaper than smart phone, if saving money is your thing.

  3. How do you use instagram?

    1. I have a fairly consistent presence on Instagram, which can only be run from a mobile device or tablet; it can be viewed from a web browser, but not uploaded to. I have an iPad. Once again, it’s a less-optimized version of this option: my iPad doesn’t have cellular connectivity, but operates only on WiFi.

    2. I do have a hot spot that I use sparingly because there have been a few instances when i actually needed to be connected, but it doesn’t run as quickly and isn’t reliable for GPS, so I use that sparingly (mainly for travel - more on that later).

  4. Can you get emojis?

    1. (I’m surprised by how often this question comes up!) Some. On my phone (I have the LG Exalt), I can send and receive faces, and can receive some other emojis, but not all. I sometimes respond and say that the emoji didn’t show up, but other times I just leave it. I figure if it’s important enough to communicate, an emoji likely wouldn’t suffice.

  5. What about group messages?

    1. Yep! MMS capabilities are on most flip phones, which allows you to be part of group messages - I think? Honestly, I don’t know the tech reasons, but I can be part of group messages.

  6. What about in an emergency?

    1. Most emergencies really just require a phone call. But let’s say I get super lost and am unsafe. In that case, I would probably turn on my hot spot and use my iPad. But if that’s not an option, my phone actually has 4G connectivity capabilities, though I’m not sure why. I could actually set up my email on it, and even search the internet. I’ve never used this because it is comical to have to scroll down with the arrow keys to navigate, and it’s not worth it to me. But in an emergency, it would be there. Not all flip phones have that, though.

  7. How do you work?

    1. On a computer most of the time. It actually didn’t make any sense for me to try to respond (at least with any sort of depth) to emails that I was getting related to BIRTHFIT, BIRTHFIT NC, or TriangleCRC. (Since switching, I’ve added another business venture in being a Beautycounter consultant, but again, it makes more sense to check on my clients or orders from a computer rather than tap them out on my phone.)

    2. The schedule of work, somehow after two years, is still not worked out exactly. It kind of depends from day to day. But typically I end up getting immersed in work for a bit of time, and then leave it completely. The “leaving it behind” part is something that I had a REALLY hard time with for a VERY long time. But I’ve gotten better at it since it’s just simply not a possibility for me any longer.

      1. To give you an idea: it’s Monday right now, and I’ve done about 3 hours of some type of work so far this morning. This includes responding to emails and messages, making a few edits for the BIRTHFIT Blog, creating some content for my Instagram channel, setting up a few meetings, checking on Beautycounter orders, and writing this blog. I’ll take a break and workout and play with the boys, and then do about another hour of work for BIRTHFIT, and then we’ll eat lunch and the boys will lay down for a nap, at which point I’ll get on a BIRTHFIT meeting. I’ll continue to work through nap time, take a short break when the boys wake up to hang with them, and then I’ll wrap up things around 5pm. I go offline at 5 usually, but depending on what’s going on, will sometimes check things after that. My friends or family can still call/text, but I won’t do anything work-related. If I do check in before signing off for the night, I won’t create anything new, but will respond if necessary. I often use the “snooze” function of Gmail so that I have all of my emails to be responded to when I’ve set aside time to do so. I have a hard rule of not checking anything after 7pm.

      2. Tomorrow will be completely different because I see patients 8-12 and have a staff meeting until 1. I am almost always home for the boys’ nap and read/lay down with them, so I don’t usually start any emails/meetings/other online things until around 2:!5. I typically will do a quick post or check to social media before I leave for work in the morning, but don’t usually check anything until the afternoon. Again, each day varies.

      3. The other thing is that over the course of the past two years, I’ve essentially trained people to expect not to hear from me on my off-hours. So if you reach out to me at 8pm, you’re not going to hear back until the next day. The rapid response times of our current society don’t seem to be speeding up anything but the aging process and rates of stress, in my opinion. Putting a little bit of space between a question and an answer is sometimes frustrating, but usually results in less rash decision making on my part.

  8. What about photos and videos?

    1. My LG Exalt has one of the nicest cameras of a flip phone - it’s 5MP. Granted, it’s nothing like the portrait mode on your iPhone and the lens of the camera broke off during one of the 10,000 times I’ve dropped it and it doesn’t take the most beautiful pictures because there’s definitely some dirt in there now. BUT, it takes pics and videos. And the fuzzy photos of yesteryear tell me that I don’t need an absolutely clear photo to capture an absolutely clear memory.

    2. I do take photos and videos with my iPad, but I honestly don’t take as many photos as I used to.

    3. I don’t own a camera.

    4. I get professional photos (headshots and also family photos) done at least once per year by my friend and incredibly talented photographer Amanda.

  9. What about quick questions or looking things up?

    1. I have found that I used to look up pointless things and not retain any of the information. I’d be talking with friends and want to find out some trivial fact, so one of us would grab our smart phones and look it up. No one would remember the fact at a later date (because we didn’t need to - we could just look it up again). So now I look things up less often and find myself retaining more fun facts that I actually want to know.

  10. Do you have to type out each letter?

    1. T9, baby! If you’re not familiar or don’t remember T9, it was the early predictive texting. So if I want to type out “car”, then I would tap 2-2-7 because the letters could spell “car” or “cap” or “bar” or whatever instead of having to type out 2-2-2 for “C” and then pause and then tap 2 for “A” and then tap 7-7-7 for “R”. I have no idea if this makes any sense, but if you’re not using T9, on a flip phone, then texting is a lot slower. T9 speeds things up a lot and also allows me to type without looking at my phone, which is a nice side effect because I can feel the keys instead of having to stare at them.

  11. What are the hardest parts?

    1. Travel is a bit tricky. This is when I usually use my hot spot. Most airports have WiFi, so I can use my iPad to get an Uber or a Lyft, but the signal is usually really weak outside of the airport, so I’ll have to use my hot spot. But once I’m in the ride share, I don’t actually need to stay connected (though I may want to for extra safety precautions) and it’ll still work just fine. The next time I connect, it tells me how much the ride cost and allows me to tip or review.

    2. I wish I had my calendar available to me. I get a daily email of my Google Calendar for the day, but I don’t always have it right at my fingertips. It used to be possible to text your Google Calendar for an update, but you can’t do this anymore (probably because most everyone else in the world has an app on their phone for the calendar). I submitted a request, but don’t expect that to become possible anytime soon. There is a calendar on my phone, but it’s not synched with my Google Calendar, which is where I keep track of all of my happenings. I tried carrying around a paper calendar for a while, but it got to be too much of a pain to mark things on multiple calendars, and I ended up not using it. Plus, one that was small enough to carry around conveniently wasn’t big enough to keep track of everything.

    3. Notes/reminders aren’t always the easiest things to keep track of. So if a thought pops into my head and I need to remember it, I have to seriously stop myself and commit it to memory. This doesn’t always work. I have a voice memo recorder on my phone, but it’s a bit of a PITA to rename the file, so I don’t use it often unless I really need to. The same goes for writing out an actual note on my phone.

    4. If I’m going to an event where I want to have photos or be able to post to social media during the event, then I’ll need to take my hot spot, iPad, and still have my cell phone available. So I end up with a lot of gadgets when I could just have one.

    5. Link sharing is a bit more difficult. If someone texts me an interesting link or podcast, I may respond back and ask them to email it to me. It’s not much of a hassle, but it is another step and I’m the one who decided to get more inconvenient; not them. To avoid that, I usually will just forward that message to my email and open it on my computer. I think this is one of those MMS things: I can send a text to my email address.

    6. I still spend a lot of time on technology. Getting rid of my phone didn’t stop the fact that I create a lot of online content, work for a company remotely, and have a ton of communication to do for my work. It’s a lot less and feels less addictive, but I still do quite a bit on tech throughout the day.

  12. What are the best parts?

    1. I find myself experiencing things more. I went to a concert and was so disappointed by all of the blue screens and grateful that I was actually witnessing the show.

    2. It’s easier to disconnect. I can just leave my iPad and then social media isn’t an option. My phone allows me to stay in touch with people while still allowing me to disconnect from things that aren’t necessary 24/7.

    3. It’s really gratifying to flip my phone closed.

    4. I get to use speed dial. I love speed dial.

    5. It’s usually a conversation starter. By disconnecting, it actually allows me to connect with random people who want to ask about my phone. If I was on a smart phone at the airport, the person next to me would have no reason to start up a conversation and we’d both just stay buried in our technological realities.

Other notes and random thoughts: I still place my phone on airplane mode before bed so that I limit the amount of EMF in my bedroom but still have my alarm available. I have timer notifications set for my Instagram so that it warns me that I’ve been on for 45 minutes in a day, and I usually cut it off after that. I have Siempo on my desktop to help me speed up my time on Facebook and limit distractions while working. I get iMessage notifications on my iPad, but no other notifications. I do allow badge notifications for Slack so that when I’m on my iPad (which is how I take patient notes), I will see a message come from my front desk if I need to, but it doesn’t have a little number to indicate how many messages I have, nor do I allow those for my email.

Ultimately, this has been a great shift for me. My phone is still working despite the camera lens being broken, so even though it’s been over two years, I’m not “upgrading”. I have spent a little bit of time looking into a few other flip phones because supposedly one of them can connect to Google Calendar, but I didn’t verify that yet and the camera was only 2MP, so the trade-off for me wasn’t really worth it because I do like being able to snap a pic of the boys on occasion. I’m still debating on that one, but regardless, I plan for another two years with a flip phone whenever this one craps out.

If you made it all the way here and still have questions about life with a flip phone, leave them in the comments below and I’ll answer (you know, when I’ve batched time to do so!).

About that Lupus Thing

I've had several questions about how I reversed Lupus. I also was diagnosed with a second autoimmune condition called Sjogren's Syndrome, but since no one knows what that is, I rarely talked about it. But that's also no longer present. I was diagnosed with these autoimmune conditions in January 2017 and discovered that I had reversed them in March of 2019.

I don't have a great answer, so it's taken me a while to put fingers to keys to even attempt to respond to these questions. (As much as I've tried to respond here succinctly, this may take you a while to read!)

Several things played into my healing, and I'm just going to share them now in case you find them helpful; because whether it's autoimmunity, core function, chronic pain, bunions, eyesight, doubt, or any form of limiting belief, you CAN change.

The hardest part is wanting to change those things more than wanting to have them. And while on the surface, it seems pretty straightforward that no one *wants* any of the aforementioned things, they're sometimes easier to just deal with than to accept the responsibility of making changes towards an alternative.

I am writing this as my "how to" for those who've asked. So there's an assumption that you're looking to improve something if you are reading this. You may have more answers than I do and be more enlightened than I am, and as such, these may not be helpful to you.

And the thing is, this is what worked for *me*, so I have no idea if it would work for you. I make no promises. And I also have no interest or expertise in answering questions for or about your personal situation. So while I'd love to hear what changes you're making in your life, I do not have the capacity to take on responsibility for those changes, and am as such not going to get on the phone or grab coffee with any/everyone looking to make changes. It simply isn't sustainable for me and I honestly wouldn't be much help. (The exception is that if you'd like to set up a BIRTHFIT Basics Consult with me to discuss these things as they relate to the Motherhood Transition for you personally, then let's do it.)

This was my SELF work: Self with a capital S.

Okay, here goes. These are things I do or did that I know are part of the process of my healing. Some of these might not make sense, but I don't want this to turn into a novella, so you're getting a list. ;-)

  • I follow the Autoimmune Protocol Diet. Strictly. And slowly reintroduce foods while tuning in for feedback from my body.

  • I practice Kundalini yoga.

  • I followed BIRTHFIT Postpartum Programming - three full times after I gave birth to my youngest.

  • I meditate (for at least a moment) every single day.

  • I take cold showers (or at least finish with a cold rinse) every time I shower.

  • I get adjusted regularly.

  • I get acupuncture regularly.

  • I get massage occasionally.

  • I choose my personal care products wisely.

  • I get energy work done.

  • I say no when I want to.

  • I say yes when I want to.

  • I abstain from alcohol for prolonged periods of time.

  • I say thank you and mean it.

  • I cry.

  • I set boundaries - for myself, my kids, my friends, my loved ones, and even strangers.

  • I enforce the boundaries I've set, especially when it's uncomfortable.

  • I drink celery juice most mornings.

  • I connect with my husband as often as possible - hugs, sex, talking, playing.

  • I detoxed from "shoulds".

  • I did the True Cellular Detox twice.

  • I dry brush.

  • I look at myself in the mirror.

  • I touch my body.

  • I read this book.

  • I got micronutrient testing done and followed the recommendations provided.

  • I never owned my diagnosis; it never owned me.

  • I occasionally intermittent fast.

  • I follow my cycle when planning activities, workouts, and even food.

  • I reach out to people when they cross my mind.

  • I play.

  • I wear blue light blockers at night.

  • I watch the sun rise and set.

  • I go outside and put my bare feet on the ground to start each day - even in snow.

  • I smudge.

  • I walk around naked.

  • I get in the infrared sauna multiple times per week.

  • I test the energy of things.

  • I question assumptions (both mine and others’).

  • I use a flip phone.

  • I put my phone on airplane mode and turn the WiFi in our house off by automatic timer every night.

  • I prioritize sleep.

  • I rely on my people.

  • I practice honesty, even if it hurts.

  • I breathe intentionally.

I'm sure there are other things that I did and do. And the things that I did that didn't work were definitely also part of the process. But that's the list that I came up with fairly easily.

Doesn't seem too challenging, right?

(I'm kidding.)

Keeping up with LEGITIMATELY taking care of myself was a hell of a task. But I knew my life depended on it, and I wasn't willing to compromise. Besides, who would I be compromising with?

But all of those things were actually not what healed me. They set the stage. I actually feel pretty confident that I know what truly healed me, and it was so much more challenging than keeping in regular practice with the above list, which has been a challenge.

I questioned my gratitude. I had been intentionally practicing gratitude for all I had, all I could do, all that I loved, etc. But I realized that if I lost it all - and I mean ALL of it: my family, my house, my intelligence, my body, my EVERYTHING - and just had me; a me I maybe wouldn't recognize, but the physical house for my soul regardless of appearance or action or ability: could I still be grateful? Could I still wake in the morning, take a breath, and be grateful for my life?

For a very long time, I wouldn't have been. And not because I was depressed or faulty in some way; just because I didn't realize how absolutely precious and amazing and incredible my LIFE was; not the things or people in it, not what I could do or accomplish, but just the miracle of LIVING. What a gift that truly is.

And now that I recognize it, I'm here for it all. The tragedy, the majesty, and the mundane. I am PSYCHED about it all. My excitement for this life beyond is anything I've previously experienced. I wake up and show up each day - even the really frickin hard days - with an enthusiasm for being here in the same way I show up at the BIRTHFIT Summit with enthusiasm. I wish I could tell you how to get it, but I can't.

And I don't even know if I'll keep it forever. But I can tell you that my gratitude and excitement for life are without a doubt the things that turned my body from one that was fighting against itself to one that supports its own systems.

I know that with some (ha, by "some" I suppose I actually mean copious amounts) of self-awareness and internal navigation, you can find that excitement and enthusiasm if you'd like to.

If you wouldn't like to, there's no shame in that. I needed to find it for my own well-being. And I'm so glad I did.

I cried and laughed and felt the weight of every emotion of the two years and two months of a diagnosis of autoimmunity in the moments after I opened the email with my test results that read "negative". And I wish for more people to experience that rush, that surge of human experience in its fullest; one that isn't at the edge of a cliff or the end of an accomplishment: simply in realizing that LIFE is happening and anything is possible.

We're reaching novella status, so I'll cut it off here. I am grateful that you read this. Thank you, friend.

In love and gratitude and pure joie de vivre,

Lindsay

Photo by Amanda Ditzel, Raleigh Birth Photography

Photo by Amanda Ditzel, Raleigh Birth Photography

The Story of BIRTHFIT NC

Facebook has a section for the story of a company, so I offered the story of BIRTHFIT NC in order to help others recognize what it is that we offer here! 

Mumma - Headshots 2018-1 (1).jpg
BIRTHFIT is a movement. It’s about expecting and postpartum moms taking charge of their bodies and their decisions, and supporting one another’s journeys.

BIRTHFIT started in 2011 as a blog, and has grown exponentially as the need for more support throughout the journey into motherhood has finally been realized.

BIRTHFIT NC began offering classes with the first BIRTHFIT “affiliates” in 2014 and is now an oasis for women in the Motherhood Transition. Connecting women in Raleigh to available resources and serving these women as they traverse from preconception all the way through postpartum, BIRTHFIT NC offers prenatal fitness training, childbirth education, personal training and consultations, group postpartum rehabilitation, and postpartum fitness training. With offerings or referrals for all aspects of support from preconception through postpartum, women can find community, connection, and education through fitness, nutrition, chiropractic, and mindset.

Postpartum Chiropractic Care

This blog was originally published on trianglecrc.com. I am sharing it here because chiropractic is one of the BIRTHFIT four pillars and is crucial in healing postpartum! 

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) released new guidelines last month regarding postpartum care.  As it turns out, we would serve women better by giving them more than one six week check-up after birth.  ACOG referenced an ongoing process of care instead of a single visit.

I couldn’t agree more, and this is a huge step in the right direction in terms of creating a better environment for mothers and families.  But there is still a lot of room for improvement.  Bringing a baby into the world is serious business: it’s both serious and a business.  And as someone in the business of helping families, I can tell you that there are two crucial things that I do for women as a chiropractor in the postpartum period (and we’re not even going to touch on chiropractic care for babies in this post).

BIRTHFIT Baby Michael

BIRTHFIT Baby Michael

PHYSICAL ADAPTATIONS POSTPARTUM

The first thing is that I help a woman’s body adapt from a physical standpoint.  It is my hope that we’re raising enough awareness through BIRTHFIT and other wonderful organizations to point out that SLOW IS FAST and a woman doesn’t need to be working out right after having a baby.  But she does need to be able to move from her bed to the bathroom, and doing so requires some amount of structural competency.  The biomechanical changes that happen during pregnancy are vast, and they occur over the length of a pregnancy.  But they don’t revert immediately after the placenta is birthed.  Instead, a woman’s body has to rediscover its center of gravity and stability after having lost a significant amount of weight and balance in a (relatively) short period of time.  As such, part of the continuity of care that’s required postpartum needs to be from a movement/biomechanical standpoint.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT POSTPARTUM

The second thing I do is hold space, which is something a postpartum woman needs.  In our office, follow up visits are all 15 minutes long.  But the first postpartum visit with one of our existing patients is double that in length.  This is for several reasons: we don’t want them to worry about being late if it’s one of their first outings with a new baby; they’ll likely need to nurse or change while in the office (and we want to check baby’s latch anyway!); and we need to allow ample time to just sit and talk with mom.  One of the exercises we do in the BIRTHFIT Postpartum Series is encourage women to share their birth story with someone who deserves to hear it.  Being fully clothed (though likely with excess bodily fluids about your person) in a place where people care about you and you are welcome to breastfeed or bottle feed without concern is a great place to share your story: the ins and outs, ups and downs, highs and lows.

In a postpartum chiropractic visit, we’ll re-establish a foundation of breath, determine when/how to introduce functional movement, and enhance the body’s biomechanics in order to better support a postpartum healing journey.  But we’ll also just listen.  Because caring for women postpartum is not just about checking boxes and showing up to appointments; it’s about caring for the soul that just guided a new being into our world.

xox

Dr. Mumma

Stress in the Motherhood Transition

Six years ago (with a mountain of student loan debt in tow, while starting my first business from scratch in an area where the number of people I knew could be counted on one hand), I would have told you that I wasn't stressed.  I didn't feel stressed out.  But realistically, I was in a constant state of stress.  The important part here is that the stressor was present, not how much stress I was (or in this case wasn't) feeling.  

I am currently the owner of two businesses and COO of another, a wife, and the mother of two boys, and still have a pretty big pile of student loans; I now recognize that I'm no stranger to stress.  While my blissful ignorance regarding stress a few years ago felt "fine", it likely was a contributing factor to my autoimmunity after my second child was born.  Our bodies cannot thrive under constant stress, and eventually something will give. 

But stressors flood the Motherhood Transition.  Pregnancy is a stressor.  Birth is a stressor.  Breastfeeding is a stressor.  Healing your body during the postpartum period is a stressor.  Add those stressors together with sources of chronic stress like finances, work, family, traffic, diet, environmental toxins, etc., and it's easy to see how a lot of women end up with some dysfunction of their physical body.  One of the most common dysfunctions of the physical body in our world today is autoimmunity. 

(SIDE NOTE: If you have been diagnosed with (or suspect that you have) an autoimmune condition (like Hashimoto's thyroiditis, lupus, diabetes, RA, MS, etc.) there is a docu-series that's going on this week that I recommend you watch regarding autoimmune diseases called Autoimmune Secrets.)

That doesn't mean you're doomed to autoimmunity (although statistics are certainly rising at an alarming rate!).  What it means is that you need to take an evaluative look at how your physical body is doing - whether you're planning a pregnancy, pregnant, nursing, or had kids 20 years ago. 

A simple exercise to complete is to jot down your stressors. 

  • What are your sources of stress? 
  • What of these can be eliminated? 
  • How many stressors do you have that are projections or completely fictitious? 

Grab a pen and start writing.  

Take a look at your list and be honest with yourself.  Yes, we can eliminate a lot of our stress simply by cutting out any excess, changing our diet to one that is anti-inflammatory in nature, and increasing our sleep/rest; but a lot of stressors are still going to be around.  So rather than stress about it (heh heh), give yourself tools to deal with stress. 

Not sure how?

Grab another piece of paper and aswer the following questions:

  • When do you feel amazing?  (Do that more.)
  • What foods don't settle well with your body?  (Eat those less.) 
  • When do you get time to clear your head?  (Repeat that daily.)

Great ideas for stress relief include meditation, yoga (kundalini is my favorite!), journaling, grounding (spending time outside barefoot), or gardening.  These practices all have additional benefits as well! 

Stress isn't going to go away, so you might as well find ways to deal with it effectively. 

xox

Lindsay Mumma, DC

Training Smart Through Pregnancy

This article originally appeared on https://thebarbellphysio.com/training-smart-pregnancy/ on March 13, 2017. 

As a BIRTHFIT Regional Director, chiropractor, and mom, I am all for women exercising during pregnancy. I have reaped the benefits of exercise through two pregnancies and have seen plenty of patients experience the same benefits. A few of these benefits include decreased musculoskeletal complaints throughout pregnancy, improved body mechanics and posture, prevention of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, and stress reduction (1, 2, 3). In general, society seems to be catching on that pregnant women can and should be exercising during this time. Now it’s time to start exercising smarter.

The point of exercise during pregnancy is twofold: benefit mother and baby in the same way that non-pregnant humans benefit from exercise; and to prepare for labor, birth, and the postpartum period.

That second part is probably more important than the first, but it’s the one that’s being overlooked. Yes, there are a ton of benefits to exercising during pregnancy, but I’d like to encourage women to train FOR something rather than just train.

Below are some examples of changes that happen during pregnancy and how to train to accommodate for these changes.

 

POSTURAL CHANGES

What happens in the body: The postural changes that occur during pregnancy mean that more of the mother’s weight is shifted anteriorly; strengthening the posterior chain helps to offset these changes.


What Mom experiences: Common complaints associated with this include low back pain, knee pain, and a very obvious “pregnancy waddle”.

How to help: Strengthening exercises for the posterior chain include squatsgood mornings, and lunges. These exercises should be part of a woman’s regular routine. (Regular chiropractic care and physical therapy can also help women navigate the postural changes occurring in the body.)

 

ABDOMINAL EXPANSION

What happens in the body: The entire abdomen expands in order to accommodate for a growing fetus. This leads to stretching of the connective tissue between the abdominal musculature, typically resulting in a separation of the rectus abdominis muscle bellies (known as a diastasis rectus abdominis or diastasis recti).

What Mom experiences: Common complaints associated with this include low back pain and also a general feeling of weakness in the core. Weakness here can also impact the pelvic floor, as the core functions as a unit rather than in individual pieces.

How to help: Working on diaphragmatic breathing is one of the best things to do for the health of the abdomen. This includes breathing deep into the abdomen (all the way into the pelvic cavity) as well as expanding breath into the sides and back. Breathing effectively will allow a woman to create more appropriate intra-abdominal pressure according to the principles of Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (4). Using this breath as the base point of stability for all exercise is crucial throughout pregnancy and into the postpartum period. Avoiding movements that could aggravate a diastasis and decrease the overall function of the core such as sit-ups, toes-to-bar, v-ups, or L-sits should begin at the onset of pregnancy. Instead of hammering away at her abs during a workout, a pregnant woman can work on the Functional Progression (part 123, and 4, put together by Dr. Erica Boland based on DNS principles) that mimic a child’s first year of development (during which babies heal their own diastasis!).

 

MINDSET CHANGES

What happens in the body: As a woman prepares for labor, birth, postpartum, and the weight of bringing a child into the world, her mindset becomes an essential tool in preparation. Horror stories from well-meaning friends and family (and even strangers) about how scary birth can be plague women from the minute they announce their exciting news. As a woman becomes a mother, there is a ton of information to sift through and a lot of mental preparation to do. The stressors of pregnancy can add up quickly.

What Mom experiences: Increased stress during pregnancy negatively impacts the mother, but can also negatively impact the fetus for years to come (5). Knowing that doesn’t help a woman decrease her stress! Women frequently report feeling overwhelmed during pregnancy, while others report anxiety or depression.

How to help: Preparing the mind for pregnancy, labor, birth, and the postpartum period (including motherhood in general) is as important as physically training the body. Incorporating a daily mindfulness practice is essential in helping women alleviate stress during pregnancy (6). But it is also a necessary component in helping to prepare for the unknown of labor and birth. ACOG has updated its guidelines to state that active labor does not begin until a woman has reached 5-6cms of cervical dilation (7). This means that even moms who are preparing for an epidural or other coping mechanisms during labor are going to need to be prepared to get most of the work of laboring done outside of the hospital setting. Honing in on mindful practices can help a woman prepare to be in tune with her body throughout pregnancy and into the postpartum period. An easy way to do this is by starting or ending each day with 10 minutes of meditation. A woman can take that time to work on diaphragmatic breathing as an added bonus, and allow her mind to clear as she connects with her baby.

 

TRAINING THE POSTERIOR CHAIN, THE FUNCTIONAL CORE, AND THE MIND ARE THREE WAYS THAT WOMEN CAN TRAIN SMARTER DURING PREGNANCY RATHER THAN JUST WORKING OUT WITH A BABY ON BOARD.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Lindsay Mumma is a chiropractor and the Regional Director for BIRTHFIT NC. She is a BIRTHFIT Senior Leadership Team member and authored the BIRTHFIT Trimester Series books. She owns Triangle Chiropractic and Rehabilitation Center in Raleigh, NC, where she works primarily with pregnant and postpartum women as well as athletes. She and her husband have two active boys.

 

References

  1. Clapp, James F., III, and Catherine Cram. Exercising Through Your Pregnancy. 2nd ed. Omaha: Addicus , Inc., 2012. Print.
  2. Hammer, R et al. Exercise During the Childbearing Year. J Perinat Educ. 2000 Winter; 9(1): 1–14. 28 Feb 17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1595006/
  3. Wang, C. et al. "A randomized clinical trial of exercise during pregnancy to prevent gestational diabetes mellitus and improve pregnancy outcome in overweight and obese pregnant women." Am J Obstet Gynecol. S0002-9378(17)30172-2.10. 1016/j.ajog.2017.01.037 (2017): n. pag. gov. 1 Feb. 2017. Web. 9 Feb. 2017. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28161306>.
  4. Kolar P, Sulc J, Kyncl M, Sanda J, Neuwirth J, Bokarius AV, Kriz J, Kobesova A.
    “Stabilizing function of the diaphragm: dynamic MRI and synchronized spirometric assessment”, J Appl Physiol. 2012;42(4):352-622
  5. Buss, C. et al. Maternal pregnancy-specific anxiety is associated with child executive function at 6–9 years age. Stress. 2011 Nov; 14(6): 665–676. 28 Feb 17. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3222921/>.
  6. Guardino, C. et al. Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial of Mindfulness Training for Stress Reduction during Pregnancy. Psychol Health. 2014; 29(3): 334–349. Published online 2013 Nov 1. 28 Feb 17. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4160533/>.
  7. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Committee on Obstetric Practice. Approaches to Limit Intervention During Labor and Birth. Number 687, February 2017. 28 Feb 17. <http://www.acog.org/Resources-And-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Obstetric-Practice/Approaches-to-Limit-Intervention-During-Labor-and-Birth>.

When Should I Start?

I often get asked if it is too soon or too late to be BIRTHFIT.  My answer is always the same: "Of course not!"

BIRTHFIT comprises four pillars: fitness, nutrition, chiropractic, and mindset.  Practice within each of those pillars makes for a pretty healthy lifestyle.  What better time to adopt a practice in these areas than before you decide to get pregnant?  And what mom doesn't need a little more mindfulness and self care in her life postpartum?  It's never too soon or too late to join the movement! 

Diastasis Rectus Abdominis

In an effort to produce some information regarding why those two recent NPR articles (A and B) are the exact opposite of what we’re attempting to convey to our audience and the women we work with, Dr. Mathews asked if I would help construct a response.  I started writing, but then realized I’d basically already completed this task.  Below you will find the Appendix from my first book, The First Trimester, which I dedicated to discussing diastasis.

Breath & Flow

The BIRTHFIT Postpartum Series Breath & Flow class is a brand new course that highlights the importance of (you guessed it) breathing and flowing through functional movements.  

So What's Different?

This class is similar to the traditional BIRTHFIT Postpartum Series, and can stand on its own as a postpartum rehabilitation course.  It does, however, set the tone for the BIRTHFIT Postpartum Series and as such can serve as an introduction prior to taking the BIRTHFIT Postpartum Series. 

The Breath & Flow course is appropriate for women who have had a baby in the last 4-12 weeks. (While appropriate for anyone beyond that point, the healing occurring during that time coincides with the content of the course.) 

There are no weights used.  While some external equipment is used, we do not focus on strength building during this course. 

Non-mobile babies are welcome.  This class is not a "mommy and me" class and isn't designed for children, but those babies who are not yet mobile are welcome to accompany their moms.  

Rather than the twice weekly for four weeks (like the traditional BIRTHFIT Postpartum Series), the Breath & Flow course meets weekly for 75-90 minutes.

If you'd like to join the next Breath & Flow course, register here!  

Big Feelings

Big Feelings

I posted on my Facebook account a few days ago that I couldn’t look worse than when yawning whilst ugly crying.  I posted it because I’d laughed at myself while doing so and thought it was a relatable thing since we all have big feelings sometimes and the yawning was very indicative of my current status as both an entrepreneur and a mom.

 

What surprised me was how many people reached out to me concerned about my crying.  My close friends called or texted to check in, which seemed normal, but I also had people I rarely speak to reach out.  I appreciated their genuine thoughtfulness and concern for my wellbeing.  But I hadn’t considered that sharing that I have feelings would be cause for alarm.

 

NEWSFLASH: we all feel things.  And if we allow ourselves to, we feel LOTS of things.