Bone density takes a dip during pregnancy and during nursing. However, it is rarely mentioned as an issue because studies show that by and large it returns to baseline when you are done nursing. But, because so many women eventually suffer from osteoperosis, I'd like to present the case that we should consider the importance of optimizing bone nutrition and health during this stage of life.
WHY BONE NUTRITION AND HEALTH MATTERS POSTPARTUM
1. Women are having babies later in life. That means less time to come back to baseline and regroup with regards to your health prior to the onset of perimenopause and menopause.
2. Women stop building more bone density by their early 20's at the latest.
3. Women often take hormonal birth control in their younger years and this may negatively impact bone health during the prime of their lives!
4. By 50 years of age, bone breakdown can begin to exceed bone repair.
5. The older you are when you get your period the more likely you are to get osteoperosis
SOME BASIC STATS
16% of women in their 40's have osteopenia (the stage before the diagnosis of osteoperosis)
14% of women 50-59 years old suffer from osteoperosis
22% of women 60-69 years old suffer from osteoperosis
39% of women 70-79 years old suffer from osteoperosis
70% of women 80 + years old suffer from osteoperosis.
SO WHAT CAN YOU EAT TO SUPPORT BONE HEALTH DURING THE POSTPARTUM PERIOD?
SALMON- 570 IU's of vitamin D (super necessary for bone health!)
CHIA SEEDS- 1 serving has 4 grams of protien and 18% of Calcium RDI in one serving!
White Beans 1 cup contains 13% of your calcium RDI!
Want some recipes?
If you are not a fish eater due to consistency, try grilling your salmon to get a more firm consistency. Not sure of a chia seed recipe or don't like the consistency? Email me for 3 ways to add chia seeds to your diet. If you don't like the consistency, try blending it first to make it less like tapioca. Personally I love ginger pear chia seed pudding for a snack (chopped ginger to taste, 1/2 diced pear, 3 TBS chia seeds and 1/2 cup vegetarian milk, cinnamon to taste and a dash of maple syrup if you want some extra sweetness)! White bean soup is just one option for beans! My kids like turning white beans into a dip like hummus and even a "cookie dough" dip! Get creative and try something new! If cooking and exploring food is not your forte and you really want to shift your health and wellness in the postpartum period, start thinking about a coach! Call today and we can talk about what you are looking for!
Happy Mother's Day to all of the caretakers of the world. Whether mother by birth or mother by your role as leader, mentor or caretaker, my gratitude and great love goes to you all. Right now during Covid-19, women all over the world are holding up so many. We hold up our children, parents, in-laws, neighbors and more. We have worried for our loved ones and for those we don't know. Covid-19 has called upon us all to stretch in ways we never imagined. But who is holding you up? Who holds up the one who holds up so many? Is a workout enough to check the box of selfcare? I would like to propose that we move beyond the response of "as good as can be expected."
I want you all to know that I am thinking of you and energetically stand here in my home holding up and sending energy of replenishment and gratitude to all of you. When so many define self care as hair care, massages, and brunch with extended family on Mother's Day, I can only imagine that it will be a challenge for many to redefine a successful Mother's Day. I invite you to consider the gift of giving yourself some time to quietly listen to your body. Covid-19 has presented as difficult for many who stay so busy that there is no time for quiet introspection. For many, sitting quietly and truly listening to our innermost goals, body signals and dreams can be daunting. My beloved caretakers of the world, the gift of Covid-19 can be that we finally take the time to reconnect with the purity and simplicity of what is important. Health, happiness, connectedness to family.
Many of us have considered ourselves healthy and partaking in self care if we exercise and eat relatively well. We often ignore or truly do not even notice some areas of dysfunction that may not yet impact our daily life. We might stay on the treadmill of overworking and overextending because it is what we all do. It is so hard for most of us to live in alignment with our innermost passion and sense of connectedness with self. Maybe in today's world it isn't even totally possible.
But FOR THIS MOTHER'S DAY, I invite you to take a moment and ground yourself in the idea that you have received an invitation to find happiness, connectedness and health in a simpler, more authentic journey. Slow down and listen to your body. Connect with your intuition and draw strength from the infinite energy of earth. This connectedness with yourself and with Earth can fill you when you need to draw on extra energy while supporting others. It will allow you to connect with your own body to truly hear the messages of what it needs. True self care is in listening to the messages of your body and responding to them to achieve long term health. At Newburyport Wellness we support this shift to inner wisdom and self action towards complete health. Mention this blog to receive 50% off a 12 session coaching package or a Complimentary Telehealth physical therapy consultation to begin the journey of self empowered healing! Happy Mother's Day! Offer expires 5.15.20. Email and your spot will be reserved. Only 10 spaces for 50% off available.
Link to Mother's Day meditation: youtu.be/Akhhw9hd8gQ
Pregnancy is a time of unprecedented body change requiring new physical demands and nutritional needs. There are emotional fluctuations and more! Quite often during pregnancy we meet other expectant women in classes and when out and about. Women often rely on acupuncture, massage, physical therapy, chiropractic care and more to manage discomfort and optimize the health of their body during this time. Many women are torn between taking their doula or partner to the hospital and worried about negotiating everchanging hospital guidelines due to Covid 19. Often we plan on family coming to stay with us when we first come home. Now during the time of Coronavirus the pregnant woman is forced to rethink our entire web of support.
For many of us, the experience of living during the pandemic has been a roller coaster inciting a variety of evolving emotions and responses. Now, instead of being a sprint we have transitioned to a marathon and instead of trying to persevere this alone, we need to redefine the plan. Did you know that there are many practitioners who have successfully transitioned to telehealth sessions? I am so excited to say that as a hands on physical therapist, I have found the transition to telehealth to be amazingly transformative and empowering for my clients. For as long as I have had my practice, I have pushed to empower women to listen to their body and now more than ever my clients and I work together to remap patterns of muscle activation in order to achieve their goals. But, how do you redefine your web of wellness when social distancing is a must?
Redefining Your Web Of Support During Coronavirus
1. Start by contacting one trusted professional and ask them if they know of any other health professionals who are offering telehealth services. The professional you are reaching out to knows you and can recommend someone that matches your needs better than a blind recommendation. You may not need their services now, but keep their info handy!
2. If you ask friends or post on social media be sure to ask people what they like about the recommended professional. Who is great for your friend may not be the best match for you!
3. If you are not sure you need the service or if they can even help you with telehealth, call them! Ask questions and get to know them a bit over the phone!
4. If you are planning social distancing from extended family when your baby is born, don't forget that family CAN help from afar.... They can read books, do a virtual art project, or have a virtual dance party with older children to give you some breathing room with your new baby. Maybe they can still make you food and drop it off or set up a delivery from your favorite nourishing restaurant.
5. Most importantly, don't forget that you are NOT alone. Asking for help feels strange to many of us, but it is so important to ask because there are many people in your life looking for ways to help!
6. JOIN THE THRIVING THROUGHOUT PREGNANCY AND BEYOND PROGRAM STARTING MAY 5TH!
With all of the beautiful pics that flood our minds when we think of pregnant women, not once do I imagine the face of excruciating pain getting up from a chair or the ever so painful attempt to roll over in bed. However, 31% of pregnant women report symptoms associated with Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD). Reports indicate those numbers could be even higher due to lack of reporting.
Signs of SPD:
Could My Pain Be Something Else?
Yes, pain in this area can be caused by round ligament pain (stretching of the uterine ligaments that occurs during pregnancy), urinary tract infection, nerve impingement and more.
What Causes and Exacerbates SPD?
What Can I Do To Manage My Pain
NOW IS THE TIME
Now is the time to allow your inner strength and power to shine. In a time when it can feel like we are in control of nothing, remember that you have control over the most important thing of all, YOU. What can you do to harness your strongest inner self?
1. Add as many herbs, onions, mushrooms, garlic, ginger and tumeric to your meals as possible! Antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory foods will boost your immunity!
2. Walk away from stress eating. Fuel yourself from the inside with good food! Think brain-body connection. If you are feeling IBS symptoms from stress, you need to double down on the commitment to eating well to promote digestive health.
3. Breathe! Sit outside, lay on your floor, sit comfortably in a chair and breathe deep! NOT a belly breath. A full torso breath. Not sure if you've got it? Email me and I will send you a link to my breathing video. email@example.com
4. Move. If you don't have time without kids. Have a dance party with them, play Silly Simon Says. If you can get out for a walk- Do it!
5. If you are a list person like me, ONLY put 2-3 reasonable and measurable things on your "must accomplish list" and if you don't get to the rest, take true joy in getting those 2-3 things done.
6. Don't give up on your health goals! Stay focused on your goals. If you were on the fence about whether you had the time or energy, recognize that the time IS now. If we are individually strong, we are all stronger. If we are home with our little ones lead by example. This is a great time to teach healthy choices and self care.
Call today to set up a complimentary consultation for Telehealth Physical Therapy or Coaching For Chronic Pelvic or Back Pain! 9782386276
Winter Self Wellness Check- How Is Your Body Moving and What Can You Do To Help It Stay Injury Free?
If you could increase your ability to ward off future injury and maintain health by doing 3-5 exercises per week would you? If you could minimize your risk of giving up activities that you love in the future would you?
To most of us wellness means trying to eat well and exercise when we can. Many of us put our own health on hold to care for kids, work and tend to others in our lives. To be honest, there are times when our own self care needs must take a back seat for other priorities. However, it should not be the norm. All too often, if we have an ache or pain we wait for it to disappear. We hope that it goes away. If we have old injuries or have always had one leg that was much stronger than the other, we write them off as battle wounds or just the way we were born without giving thought to how these injuries and asymmetries may impact our future health.
There are some aches and pains that just are minor glitches in the system. Some are warning signs that something needs attention. This is particularly true with aches and pains that make a repeat appearance every so often. It is also the same for a chronic discomfort that isn’t quite bad enough to disrupt your day to day function. You may even avoid things because you know it causes pain. Doctors will even say it- “If it hurts, don’t do it.” But, where is the question, “Why?” Why should you give up something you love? And, if you can’t do one thing now, will it lead to being unable to do more things in the future?
Many of these injuries that lay far off in the future can be predicted by careful assessment. At Newburyport Wellness, LLC it is my mission to help individuals fully realize the power of understanding how their body works in order to harness the best of it for life. The goal is to understand your body’s strengths and weaknesses and to learn to listen to the signals it is giving you in order to optimize long term health! This fall I invite everyone to look at health and fitness in a new light.
Self Body Scan-
If you notice any asymmetries from the above list or you have a history of injuries, it would be great to make a call to Newburyport Wellness and talk things over. Immediately start to consider the following: how does your finding affect your day to day function? Do you always stand with you weight on one side? Try to become more aware of how your body is working around any of the issues you found. Now, you have to decide if these movement choices are out of habit or necessity? Does changing your posture change your pain? Can you change anything so that you are moving more symmetrically? The bottom line is awareness is key! If you take a moment to really think about how your body is moving and really tune in to how it feels you will be better able to identify when you need to seek help, before the symptoms are raging and function limiting. You are worth the few minutes of your day to tune into your body in a new way!
Long And Short Term Potential Effects Of Early Return To Moderate- Vigorous Exercise Postpartum Part 1
There is no shortage of messages that pushes women to rush back to high level workouts ASAP postpartum. The question is, what are the risks and benefits of choosing to do so? It seems as if the story is different depending on with whom you speak and with what website you find. Finding answers about what to do and when can be exhausting. Let's talk about the Risks and Benefits of High Intensity Exercise during the early postpartum months. This blog will outline the Risks and Benefits. Part 2 will go over some tips and guidelines.
When I had my first child 10 years ago it was standard to wait 6 weeks whether you had a c section or uncomplicated vaginal delivery, and you would be magically cleared to return to your previous workouts. Recently, I have read some articles that say you can return to exercise within a few days of delivery and others that recommend the 6 week waiting period or more! It is impossible to not be confused. The Continence Foundation of Australia recommends a slow progression of activity and full resumption of prior level of activity at 16 weeks postpartum. The ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) notes that there is a variance in what is an appropriate return to exercise based on the pregnancy and delivery, but does note that some can begin exercise within days of giving birth. It recommends exercises such as lifting weights, sit ups, push ups, yoga and pilates. It also recommends Kegels. The ACOG recommends women start with simple postpartum exercises (but doesn’t list a single one or any references) and suggests a progression to moderate and vigorous exercise. This makes it very difficult for women to make smart choices with regards to their postpartum return to exercise. The terminology- return to light exercise is vague and open to interpretation. How long should one take to progress to vigorous exercise? The timeline is variable based on several factors.
The Variables That Impact Return To Exercise Include:
The Short & Long Term Benefits of Exercise Postpartum
There are 6 guidelines worldwide that discuss the benefits of postpartum exercise. Some benefits include:
The Short Term Risks of Early Return to High Impact Exercise
The Long Term Risks of Early Return to High Impact Exercise
Take Home Message
There are short and long term consequences for everything and you cannot prepare for them all. We each need to take into account the long and short term benefits and risks of each choice. There is no dispute that in most cases return to light exercise (walking, proper breathing technique) is beneficial postpartum. But, when and how to progress to moderate-vigorous exercise is more complicated.
A c-section is major abdominal surgery. There are protocols of rehabilitation for many major surgeries. Most orthopedic surgeries require physical therapy afterwards. No one would have an ACL reconstruction and wing it after surgery. Why aren’t women encouraged to seek out physical therapy post baby?
A look at C-sections from the outside in
Scar tissue healing is a process and to heal optimally, it is imperative to address it properly. When scar tissue forms it lays down in a haphazard fashion that is mechanically inefficient in distributing forces. Massage helps to organize the tissue to heal stronger. Post ACL surgery, patients are taught how to massage the scar tissue to promote healing and prevent the scar tissue from binding down to the tissue below. Often knee and ankle surgeries get the most attention for scar tissue management as they can bind to the bone below easily. But, what about abdominal scar tissue healing or binding to lower musccular levels and/or organs? For optimal healing the scar not only needs to heal externally, but also needs to organize properly internally to help transmit forces placed on the abdomen properly. All women post c-sections should be educated on scar tissue massage.
The breach of the abdominal wall can impact breathing, and disrupt the muscle patterns of activation that support and stabilize the body during movement. If a person post ACL surgery is not out running at 6 weeks, why can a woman post c section be lead to believe she can/should run and do sit ups at 6 weeks without a conversation and evaluation by a specialist? The abdominal musculature of all pregnant women becomes stretched and mechanically inefficient during pregnancy. Adding a c-section surgery can further the dysfunction of the abdominal wall. The inner core musculature is pain regulated, meaning the muscles can shut down with pain. While our body's are very resilient, not all abdominal muscles return to a totally optimal state of activation post pregnancy and c-section.
Women who have had a c-section often are glad for the lack of trauma to their pelvic floor. However, if you had bowel or bladder leaking during pregnancy, pelvic pain during pregnancy or you pushed for an extensive time during labor prior to your c section it can be assumed you are at increased risk of pelvic floor dysfunction post baby.
What Should Moms Post C Section do?
Minimally, moms should be shown how to massage the scar tissue to optimally heal the tissue superficially and reduce the risk of internal adhesions (which can continue to develop well past the scar healing externally).
Women should see a women's health PT to assess their inner core pressure management strategy post baby to ensure proper abdominal activation.
Core exercises should be started with your spine in a neutral position and be progressed according to your individual ability to activate your core muscles during exercise once medically cleared.
Moms should be taught proper lifting strategies for baby right away.
There are many variables that impact whether or not a woman is ready to return to high impact exercise postpartum. I have written about this before and I am writing about it again because it is the number 1 question and frustration that moms ask me about during their sessions. I wanted to take the time to outline the abagueties that plague this topic.
Variables in definition
It is important to consider previous injuries that might impact your return to fitness post baby. Previous knee/back/hip injuries, pelvic pain and more might impact your ability to optimally return to exercise. If you were a “flexible” (loose ligament) gal prior to baby, chances are you're going to want to take more time for your body to recover postpartum before engaging in high load exercises that stress ligaments. If you nurse, keep in mind, your ligaments will stay loose a bit longer. If you had any issues prior to delivery (incontinence, back pain, S-I joint pain, or any complication during labor (long labor, extensive pushing, tearing, c section) it is possible that your body has developed a compensatory movement pattern that might put you at risk for injury/dysfunction even if the symptoms have subsided. Even if you have no overt symptoms, it is important for long term health to make sure your body is onboard with optimal muscle activation patterns to lessen the risk of a faulty compensation strategy and future injury/dysfunction.
Listen to your body. Do you feel pain, pressure or pulling? Remember it is NOT “No pain no gain.” Start slow. Take into account your previous injuries and general make up. If you are a loose ligament gal, go slow and make sure your mechanics are spot on. I truly do recommend a quick screen (by a physical therapist ) to assess your baseline breathing strategy and pressure management strategy with exercise. A pelvic floor assessment is ideal, but if that feels like too much, seeing a female health Specialist and getting a primary assessment is great. You want to receive strategies to optimize the potential of a successful return to high impact exercise. It is so much better to go into postpartum fitness educated about your own body and how to best harness it’s strengths and protect it for your future than go in blind and think you can run your way past pelvic pain or incontinence. If you are eager to return to your HIIT class please consider a session at a facility like Newburyport Wellness, LLC. You want to make sure that your pressure management system is working to keep your spine stable and dissipate forces appropriately. You also want to make sure that your hips are on board to optimally control high impact landing. Your long term health is worth the small investment in time now.
You were born breathing, but could your breathing strategy be working against you?
Task 1: When you are done reading this paragraph, close your eyes and sit or lay quietly. Imagine you are doing a squat. Can you imagine your hips and knees bending? Can you envision your glutes and quads turning on? Can you feel the drive from your feet up through your hips as you return to standing? Were you holding your breath or breathing throughout the motion? What was your torso doing?
Task 2: Can you imagine that you are doing a push up? Can you feel your chest and triceps working to control you downward and then power you up? Can you feel your core- your abdominals, back, and pelvic floor? What are those muscles doing? Were you breathing or holding your breath?
My guess is many of you could easily imagine the feeling in your legs with a squat and the feeling in your arms and chest with a push up. It is a bit more difficult to imagine how your breath and core contribute to the proper execution of basic functional and exercise movements. It is even more difficult for most people to key in to what your pelvic floor is doing.
The moral of the story:
Your core (abs, back muscles, pelvic floor muscles, fascial system (and more) are the epicenter of movement and yet we are often least connected with how it works to carry us successfully through day to day activity or how dysfunction in this system can effect the long term health of the remainder of your body. We often take breathing for granted and assume that breathing is a natural body function and that there is nothing to think about. However, it is easy for our body’s to activate a faulty breathing pattern to cover for weaknesses in other areas of our body. Breath dysfunction is NOT an issue isolated to adults. Children may have inefficient breathing and stability patterns too! Even though breath patterning is different when at rest versus sprinting, being aware of your breathing patterns and smaller muscle groups of the core is central to optimal physical health. Below I have listed just a few of the scenarios that may leave people at higher risk of breathing dysfunction. Remember that proper breathing patterns provide a dynamic yet stable platform for our body’s to work. And, inefficient breathing patterns may be impacting your function and long term health. Taking the time to re-establish a strong brain-body connection with your core and breath is invaluable!
Asthma: 26% of Americans have asthma. Even mild asthma can effect the way that people breathe from a young age. The importance of optimal breath patterning when at rest and with activity is critical for these individuals. Working to maintain optimal breath patterning participate at their highest level of activity with less overall strain. It will allow kids to better interact with peers and help to optimize core stability. 55% of women with asthma have been found to have urinary incontinence. This can effect quality of life and general happiness. The earlier young kids with respiratory dysfunction connect with their breathing and optimize pressure management the better.
Individuals with low tone: Muscle tone is not the same as muscle definition. Muscle tone is part of what helps us to hold our body in optimal posture. We all have muscle tone and there are low ends of normal and high ends of normal. Kids/adults with low tone might have slouched posture and really want to sit whenever they get the chance. Some signs of a low tone individual: you’ve had poor posture for as long as you can recall
Back pain: Some of the muscles of your deep core central breathing mechanism are pain inhibited. This means that if there is pain in that area, the muscle turns off. It doesn’t always turn back on efficiently when the pain dissipates. This can leave you at risk for additional injury. Proper breath is central to low back injury recovery and prevention.
Sports: This is the least recognized area of “breath centric” exercise importance in my opinion. Repeated ankle sprains can result in deactivation of the adductors (inner thigh muscles) and then core stability disruption can ensue due to the asymmetric pull of one adductor on the pubic bone or the disruption of specific patterns of muscle activation that act as key stabilizers of our body. This can leave athletes at risk of re-injury. Kids with mild asthma, low tone or generalized weakness status post growth spurt may develop sub-optimal breathing patterns that while developed to optimize a skill, is a poor substitution overall.
Incontinence: A little pee now. A lot of pee later or maybe even organ prolapse. Still so many women I meet, tell me they are just going to keep doing Kegels. We need to make this clear- Kegels are not the answer! The entire system of pressure management in the abdomen needs to work to avoid excessive pressure on your pelvic floor.
photos by John Hain
Is a mom of two, life long exercise enthusiast and women's health coach & physical therapist.