Written by Heather Rule, Prenatal Acupuncturist at Yoga Mamas
Expecting a baby is both exciting, confusing, and sometimes just plain uncomfortable as many changes start to take place within the body. One of the most effective treatment options to help with these changes is Acupuncture! By using Acupuncture throughout the various stages of pregnancy (and later in postpartum), many women are able to relieve common symptoms and discomforts associated with pregnancy, as well as prepare their body for an easier labour and faster recovery once the baby is born. Our latest blog by our Prenatal Acupuncturist, Heather Rule R.Ac, will tell you exactly how.
1. Relief of Nausea and Early Pregnancy Symptoms
The first trimester can be both an exciting and challenging time as the body and mind adjust to the new life growing inside. These first months of a pregnancy are characterized by nausea, and fatigue, as well as anxiety as the pregnancy establishes itself. Luckily acupuncture is great at treating these early symptoms, with many people experiencing immediate relief from nausea while still lying on the treatment table and leaving their appointment with an appetite!
2. Reduces Aches and Pain
With a few acupuncture treatments you have now made it though your first trimester with minimal nausea, you’ve got energy, and your pregnancy is secure. Now you are beginning to experience back pain, hip pain, sciatica, and carpal tunnel syndrome. No problem! Acupuncture is great at treating the many aches and pains of pregnancy with lasting results and cumulative benefits from one treatment to the next. By working with nervous pathways and muscles, acupuncture can help you body find its new normal and support the changes your body is experiencing while drastically reducing pain.
3. Help Prepare You and Your Baby for Labour
In the third trimester we begin to prepare the body for labour. From week 37, treatments are focused on helping your baby to descend in your pelvis, optimize baby’s position for ease of delivery, and soften the cervix. At this time I also like to offer instruction to partners on simple acupressure techniques they can do for you to manage pain and help the progress of labour. Research suggests that regular labour prep acupuncture as well as acupressure during labour can help to significantly reduce labour times, reduce the need for medical labour interventions, and reduce incidence of medical inductions.
4. Postpartum Prep
As part of my prenatal treatments I like to offer simple postpartum advice you can use during the week or so after the arrival of your little one to tide you over until your first postpartum visit to the wellness centre. This advice includes instruction on a gentle technique called Mother Warming that helps reduce postpartum blood loss, helps the uterus contract back to its pre pregnancy size, and helps to build milk supply. I also often offer some simple nutritional counselling for must-have postpartum foods to aid in postpartum recovery and lactation. Stay tuned for the Acupuncture for Postpartum recovery blog post next week.
5. Mind/Body Connection
Finally, Acupuncture works with the emotions to optimize vitality and health overall. This can be especially beneficial during pregnancy, specifically leading up to birth, by recognizing the connection between emotional tension and physical tension. If you want to know what I mean, try this: think of something stressful that happened to you this week, now pay attention to where you feel that stress in your body. Are you clenching your jaw? Are your shoulders up around your ears? Are you making little fists? Labour is a process that requires us to open up, let go, and definitely not clench. By working to resolve stress and promote relaxation we help the body to soften and open which is a definite benefit during labour.
Written by Lamiya Zaidi, Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist at Yoga Mamas
With all of the excitement surrounding the arrival of your newborn, it's easy to forget the changes that have occurred in your body-particularly when it comes to the pelvic floor muscles, as this is often an area that is affected the most. Once you consider this, recovery and returning to your normal activities may seem daunting, however a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist can do wonders through implementation of specific exercises so that you can recuperate naturally and enjoy life as a Mama!
Here are my top 5 reasons to visit a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist after you've had your baby:
1. Recover Safely
Many women have the desire to get back to their regular physical activity after having a baby as soon as possible without knowing how to safely do so. Without proper education and support from a healthcare professional, early return to physical activity can make recovery slower, harder and in some cases, cause further problems. A Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist can help guide and empower you to return safely to physical activity by making recommendations on what activities are most appropriate, modifying activities you enjoy, using soft tissue techniques and more to help you reach your goals pain free!
2. Prevent Leakage
You may have heard that incontinence is very common during and after childbirth, but this is not normal and can be avoided. Incontinence indicates an issue with the pelvic floor muscles, and their inability to support our pelvic bladder. A Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist can assess the strength of those muscles and develop a plan of action to repair or prevent this from occurring
3. Repair Abdominal Separation
The medical term for this is Diastasis Recti. During pregnancy, as the baby and belly grow, there can be a split in the connective tissue holding your abdominal muscles together. In postpartum, a separation leads to core weakness, low back and hip pain, and incontinence. A Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist can assess the degree of separation, and provide you with education and a plan to prevent and repair any separation.
4. Prevent Pain
Due to the stress your body has undergone during delivery, it's common to experience discomfort during intercourse, however this too can be avoided! A Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist is able to reduce scar tissue formation and loosen tight muscles to prevent further complication and potential pain during intercourse.
5. Provide Support
The pelvic floor muscles may become weakened during pregnancy or childbirth, leading to a condition called Pelvic Organ Prolapse. This occurs when the structures designed to keep organs in place are weakened or stretched and as a result are displaced. Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy can reduce the symptoms caused by Prolapse and improve pelvic floor support through individualized treatment plans and education.
In celebration of #mindfulmarch, we sat down with teacher and meditation expert from New Age Teacher, Nicole Vetere to discuss the importance of meditation, her love of being a teacher and ways in which you can incorporate some of her techniques for you and your little ones.
1. What made you want to become a teacher?
My soul is what led me into teaching. Teaching has been a part of my imprint from the beginning of my arrival, and is definitely the gift I was given to deliver in the world. I feel grateful for always having a complete knowing that this is what I was meant to do. I can remember as far back as the age of 3 and my desire to become an educator. When my two brothers were unwilling participants, my stuffed animals would become the student body in my bedroom. I would line them up and teach away. In Grade 1, I remember finding class lists that my own teachers had disposed of, and I would scoop them up like it was Christmas! Every part time job from the age of 11 onwards had a connection to children so that I could gain the experience I needed to work with them in my future career. I babysat, coached, camp counselled – you name it. Now as I’m further into my practice, I realize I was meant to bring a whole other layer to education, and to be a lighthouse for mindfulness in the classroom. In essence, I was meant to teach what I wish my teacher had taught me®
2. How do you incorporate mindfulness into your teaching?
Mindfulness is incorporated into my teaching on a daily basis. As I express to the educators I am now sharing my philosophies with, mindfulness is not an add-on in the classroom, it’s simply a way of being, and it becomes second nature as it’s very much what individuals’ true nature desires anyhow. As soon as my students enter the classroom each morning, we begin our morning rituals, starting with our gratitude journals and shares. Our time of gratitude is followed by a morning mantra in unison. The positive affirmations we speak aloud, are written on our own individual mirrors with the intent of developing self-love and an acceptance of our own reflection. Our mornings also consist of learning a new yoga posture or sequence which we often connect to current curriculum or pedagogy. Our breathing ball then follows to help us to relax as we move into our morning meditation. Morning meditation is guided, sometimes thematic, and often with the help of “Meditations For Growing Minds” of course as we conclude our relaxation through meditation, we set an intention for the day, or re-energize our bodies with a bit of energy work. Before heading into our classroom subjects, we engage in a class discussion about our morning image that is projected as inspiration each day – the kids delve deep into thought and bring forth reflections that I could not dream up myself. Throughout the remainder of our day, mindfulness is incorporated into the classroom through books on topic, and conversations that spark from curriculum. My students also have access to a compassion corner in our room that contains a wide variety of mindfulness tools to help attain peace and relaxation. Right next to our mindfulness corner, you would find our yoga center, well equipped with a mat, and prompts for poses and sequences. We always end our day in community, where we share thoughts, insights, challenges, and successes. It’s a magical time of the day and one of pure connection. Mindfulness is truly weaved into every aspect of every school day and both student and teacher transformation is a sight to see.
3. What can people expect from your CD, "'Meditations for Growing Minds"?
From “Meditations For Growing Minds,” people can expect transformation, awakening, and growth. Yes, this is possible for our young minds as I witness it firsthand each day in the classroom. The guided tracks were originally created when I wanted to introduce meditation in the classroom but could not find resources that were child and youth centered. As a result, my tracks were birthed. The 10 individual mindful journeys were created with such intention, while using relatable settings and scenarios, and friendly, positive language; there are also very conscious messages embedded into each track. Growing Minds can expect to “hear” or “notice” something new with each listen, and develop self-love, self-acceptance, and even a new dialogue as they internalize and practise the affirmations that couple with the relaxation. I have observed Growing Minds simulate what they hear and see during a meditation, repeat affirmations aloud, and even incorporate the concepts into day to day experiences. Relaxation and a grounding pause in your day, are sure to accompany a session with “Meditations For Growing Minds” – just close your eyes, and relax your minds ;)
4. What does 'mindfulness' mean to you?
To me, mindfulness is truly about being present, in the moment, and aware of yourself and the world around you. Life can be so fast paced. Our youth are living in a very polarizing time. There is clear evidence of growing consciousness, but also of conflicting disconnect with an increase in technology, social media, and daily stressors. I feel passionate about equipping our Growing Minds with the capacity to truly connect with self and others, and to fully realize their true potential in the world. I wish to see children and youth identify their unique gifts they were born with in order to share them, and to help expand and transform our world. Stillness brings about this opportunity. Mindfulness is about self-love, self-actualization, growth, learning, connectedness, and gaining the tools to navigate through life’s ebbs and flows with ease, grace, and love.
5. How can parents incorporate more mindfulness into the lives of their children?
I think the best way for parents to incorporate mindfulness into the lives of their children is to practise themselves, what they wish to see for their children. Practise presence. Practise awareness. Own one’s mistakes and embrace one’s gifts. Growing Minds watch us, see us, and mimic our behaviours; therefore, making it imperative that we are mindful of what we are modelling. Mindfulness can be a beautiful way for families to connect in the home. Start small and develop your family traditions together. Meditation can be a wonderful tool to participate in together and can set the tone for the day upon waking, or help to decompress after a long day at school and work. A track may even be thrown on just before homework in order to improve clarity and concentration, and relaxing visualizations are a wonderful pairing with bedtime stories to prompt a good night’s sleep. When challenges arise in the home, look to tools such as mandalas, gratitude journals, children’s spirit cards, or affirmation kits, as an alternative to more aggressive solutions. Work together to turn the challenge into an opportunity for growth and learning as we are all on this journey together. Mindfulness can become a natural routine along with the other routines your family shares. Practice as a family and you will see the love and connection that ensues.