Hey!! I’m Ashley and am the mom of 3 littles aged 6, 5, and 3. We had a miscarriage in July last summer and were absolutely devastated.
The pregnancy shocked us as we never knew we wanted 4 kids. Luckily for us, this baby opened our eyes to the love we did had for another child in our hearts. Shortly after we lost our sweet Ashton (named after myself and hubby Tony) we found out that he/she handpicked a sibling for us and we were pregnant yet again.
This pregnancy has been the biggest rollercoaster of my life. From Hyperemesis Gravidarum (extreme morning sickness all day long), migraines, a mini stroke attack, severe anemia requiring 5 iron infusions, gestational diabetes, and all of the other “normal” pregnancy symptoms… on top of tending to the demands of three small children… to the extreme joy of carrying a perfectly healthy baby girl.
Why I’m Glad I Didn’t Say Goodbye
Recently a photo of a little girl hugging her mom before separating from her so her sibling could be born went viral.
The comments I read on this photo varied in opinion from those empathizing with this mother to those thankful for not having had this experience. Nonetheless, there is something to learn from the feelings that come with viewing the photo.
This is where I am going to give you my opinion. I do realize you have not specifically requested it, but in continuing to read this blog, you are agreeing to hear – or shall I say “read” – me out.
It was when I was pregnant with our second son that the idea was presented to me by my doula to have our oldest attend the birth. I have to admit, at that point I had never even considered it. She had very valid reasons on why this can be beneficial, and encouraged me to read Carol Phillips’ Hands of Love: Seven Steps to the Miracle of Birth. After doing so I knew this was the right decision for me and hoped my husband, Kyle, would agree. He was hesitant at first but also read the book and listened to my feelings and needs in having Terryn present. He agreed and we gave Terryn the option to attend. Terryn is a very inquisitive soul and at the age of 3, agreed to join us. We arranged for Kyle’s sister Kirsten to be his support person. When the time came, Terryn joined us at the hospital. This birth was moving along very nicely, but not necessarily at the pace a 3 year old would hope for, so Kirsten took Terryn and brought him back when we knew delivery was near. We used verbiage that was factual and supportive. Anatomy was (and should be) called what it is. We let him know I would be doing hard work and may make noises he has not heard from me before. Terryn sat on Kyle’s lap by my right shoulder while I delivered Canon Gregory Boland into the water at the hospital. Terryn was quiet and still and in awe. He wasn’t scared and in fact, he didn’t cry until the nurses took Canon from me to bathe him. Who knew that at 3 years old, his instinct that baby should be with mom was spot on?
Here is my point: you have options. Because a practice is common does not mean it is normal and certainly does not mean it needs to be your normal. If you are feeling scared, uneasy, guilty, worried, etc. with a practice, then maybe it is best to question what your need is and whether you want to set a new standard or follow an existing one.
Dr. Phillips points out how beneficial it is for siblings to be involved in the birth process and that it can help with sibling bonding and the older sibling not being confused or feeling replaced. This can have a great impact on the foundation of family for them. It also teaches children that birth is normal and not a fearful event.
We have had “the older siblings” at the births of our next two sons as well and I am forever thankful we did.
My hope in you reading this is obviously to consider this for your family but most importantly, taking the driver’s seat of your pre and postpartum experience. There are ALWAYS options and if something does not feel comfortable to you, explore what you are truly feeling and what you need.
These are photos of our boys supporting me during labor and watching Maclin arrive. The woman with the camera is my sister. She got an amazing photo of when only Maclin’s head had been delivered and Kyle captured the boys’ faces at the same time!
Erica Boland, DC
www.birthfitwisconsin.com : @emomdc : www.birthfit.com
This final post in the three part blog series will help you bring everything together and allow you to move forward with training.
With a strong core, you will be able to effectively and efficiently transfer load. Obviously when I mention “strong core” I am not talking about a six pack. As good as that may look, it screams dysfunction. Sit-ups and crunches should be banned in all 50 states. Yes, I am serious. When I say strong, I am talking about moving with activation of your diaphragm, pelvic floor, and all abdominal and lumbar musculature with proper movement patterns as mentioned in Part 1 and 2 of this series. During pregnancy, I work with women to train for the “big event.” This means assessing women in movements she is frequently doing and making sure they are being done well. Any movement that exacerbates an already present diastasis needs to be avoided. This applies to both pregnancy and postpartum. For any of you that have already trained for any event, you know that great training leads to better recovery. Birth is the biggest athletic event of a woman’s life, and – trust me – you will appreciate a quicker recovery.
While the exercises demonstrated in the functional progression video seem simple, I guarantee you will find the challenge in actually performing these clean movements; especially as you are just starting. It is crucial to focus on the movement itself and not how many repetitions or sets you are getting in. Once this foundation is solid, resistance and weight can be added to the extremities. (Watch for videos coming soon.)
Focused core work should be done on a regular basis and I recommend adding at least one of the functional progression steps into each warm-up as well as spending 2-3 days per week moving through the entire progression. This may be body weight only or with resistance and or added weight.
Why should you continue to work through this progression and what will this help? Other than the obvious benefits listed in the previous blogs, it will be helping you literally all of the time. To prove this to you all you need to do is answer one question for me: How often do you breathe? Okay, point proven. Really though, it is that important. Yes, I could go on about the benefits of strength training and the benefits of hiking or biking or even running and how your core function is DIRECTLY related to each of these, but I will not. I will not because when it comes to core health, it does not matter what form of activity you choose. You need this stability to walk to your car. Hell, you need this stability to sit at your desk all day.
As chiropractors, my husband and I work with all levels of athletes (females and males), from amateurs to world champions. It can be humbling when the weights are taken away to perfect these basic movements. But time and time again, we see the benefit. Performance gains are made faster and injuries are reduced. Gaining this stability and strength can help to reach performance levels that may even be beyond what our athletes expected. And truly, we are all athletes; the variation is to what degree we utilize our athletic capability. Again, birth is the biggest athletic event of a woman’s life! Improving “performance gains” in birth means improved labor outcomes and “reduced injury” translates to faster healing postpartum!
Your body is incredibly intelligent and you will move from point A to point B if needed. The question is whether you are both effective and efficient. If you are moving with compensation (or birthing with compensation) instead of function you are setting yourself up for injury. You may not see the side effects of compensation immediately, but I guarantee you will eventually. The side effects show up in numerous ways: shoulder injuries, knee injuries, low back pain, neck pain, pelvic floor dysfunction, DIASTASIS!
Compensations, also known as poor movement patterns, lead to what I call “energy leaks.” This is a forced (instead of smooth) transfer of load, taking more energy and causing decreased performance. If you are healing a diastasis postpartum, know that leaving this untreated is not without further issues. DRA not only causes troubles for mom but can potentially affect future pregnancies, including positioning of baby and labor. When we apply this idea of forced transfer of load instead of smooth transfer of load, we’re talking about physically transferring the load (weight) of your baby from internal to external.
Please look at the big picture. Your body moves as a whole unit. Train it that way. Whether you want to move heavy weight, run a mile, walk up a flight of stairs to work, or give birth, you need your entire core to be stable! An injury will cause you to realize how much your core is needed in EVERY. SINGLE. MOVEMENT. As you return to or start activity, this is work you should continue to improve for the rest of your life. Implement these changes. Pay attention to the form you are perfecting during your core work and make sure it is as clean when you deadlift that weight from the ground. It is going to take being mindful to make this habitual, but you will reap the rewards.
Ideally, you won’t know the full extent of these rewards because ideally, years from now you will still be implementing these functional movements and making time for this habit instead of worrying about bathroom stops on your one hour drive, peeing your pants at the bottom of a snatch, and last but not least, your “gap” will be filled.
Share this information with others. Be part of this paradigm shift by exposing others to information that can truly be life changing.
Remember, postpartum lasts a lifetime and movement is life. Do not settle or own dysfunction because you are female, age X and/or have had children. You deserve a quality life and this is certainly going to help you achieve that!
QUICK TIPS REFERENCE LIST
Top 3 Exercises for Pregnancy:
Top 3 Exercises for Postpartum:
Avoid: (During pregnancy and postpartum)
Poor Posture & Prolonged Sitting
ANY exercise that aggravates DRA (this may include, but not limited to, planks, push-ups, and pullups)
Please, if you have any questions at all, then I encourage you to set-up a phone consultation with me, or we can schedule a consultation in person at Coulee Health. I’m super eager to discuss all things pelvic floor and core related. And, I’m even more motivated to help you get moving again. After all, MOVEMENT IS LIFE!
-Dr. Erica Boland, DC
Mother of 4
“Can I be BirthFIT?”
This is a question I recently received from a patient that is a few years, instead of few months postpartum. The answer to that question is, “YES!”
Ideally, women start preparing to be BirthFIT before conception and pregnancy by staying active, eating healthy, hydrating and working on mindfulness and emotional well being. The postpartum series is targeted at women 2 weeks-6 months postpartum. This is simply because this is also the ideal time to heal your body and mind after birth. However, there is no time limit on when that can occur! The fitness portion of the postpartum series emphasizes the strength and improvement of the core. This includes the diaphragm, all abdominal musculature and the pelvic floor. Your core is your powerhouse and proper function sets you up for proper movement patterns and easier transition into or back to fitness. It is never too late to address this!
As women there are many things thought of as some sort of “right of passage” coming with giving birth and aging. This is absurd! Below is a list of just a few issues that are “common but not normal” (and certainly not a badge of honor as a woman) that may develop with improper core function (and can be helped).
Diastasis of rectus abdominis (a split in centerline of abdomen)
Decreased diaphragm breathing
Stress or urge urinary/bowel incontinence
Abdominal trigger points/pain
Frequent or recurring injury during exercise due to decreased activation of the core in unison
As stated previously, it is NEVER too late to become BirthFIT! Do not accept these issues as something normal to deal with. Seek assessment from your local chiropractor and contact your local BirthFIT affiliate!
Please watch for corresponding video to come on Coulee Health’s Facebook page.
Follow Dr. Erica on Twitter and Instagram: @EMomDC