Heal Diastasis Recti with these 3 important techniques

What is Diastasis Recti?

Diastasis Recti and pelvic floor health seem to be buzz words in my niche lately. But you may be asking yourself “What is Diastasis Recti and why is it important?”

Diastasis Recti (aka DR) is the separation of the abdominal muscles at the midline (the center of the abdomen). Many postpartum women experience this “gap” after having children. However, diastasis recti is not caused from pregnancy.

photo of diastasis recti

The root problem of DR is excessive intra-abdominal pressure, which is common in the later stages of pregnancy – particularly second and subsequent pregnancies. Intra-abdominal pressure can also effect the pelvic floor and lead to other abdominal and pelvic floor issues such as hernia and prolapse.

For these reasons, it is imperative to approach diastasis recti with an integrated program that teaches you how to re-align, re-connect, and then strengthen the entire core. The sole focus should not be on ‘closing the gap’ using isolated exercises or by avoiding specific exercises.photo of how to improve your alignment

Alignment

There are multiple layers of muscle tissue that make up the abdomen. Rectus abdominis, the most superficial muscle layer (closest to the skin) is known as the ‘six pack’ muscle and is connected down the midline (linea alba) by connective tissue. When this connective tissue is stretched and weakened it leaves the abdomen unstable and unsupported. The other abdominal muscle layers; the interior and exterior obliques, and the deepest layer, transverse abdominis are now compromised and left weakened, which in turn effects the pelvic floor muscles as well.

In order to counteract this weakened and unsupportive state, we need to focus on realignment. I’m talking about full body alignment – starting at the feet and stacking your body up to align properly. This allows for optimal body function.

Connect

It’s important to reconnect with your body postpartum. Many times we want to ignore our abdomen because it looks and feels different. When healing diastasis recti, we need to learn to engage our abdominal muscles again. This takes time, patience, and constant practice. It’s easier to accomplish with the right techniques and breath patterns.

Strengthen

Once we have learned proper alignment and re-connected with our muscles, its time to strengthen. And I’m not talking about crunches and sit-ups. Full body strengthening will help support that alignment you’ve been working so hard on. You’ll also experience pain relief as well as confidence.


I have found that the MuTu System takes into consideration all of the above and more. Their approach is wholistic and supportive of nutrition, alignment, breath, specific muscle engagement as well as synergistic muscle movement. The 12 week program is gentle enough to start soon after childbirth (or even decades after childbirth) and allows you to move at your own pace into more intense strengthening exercises that will encourage the narrowing of diastasis recti and support proper alignment.

To learn more about diastasis recti, the MuTu System, and ‘what your doctor didn’t tell you’ click here 

photo of MuTu System online training program designed for moms

 

Challenge Motherhood in 3 simple steps

How do you challenge motherhood?

Do you feel stuck in a rut? Tired of the constant repetition of cooking, cleaning, laundry, chasing the kids, wiping butts, bathing the kids, running errands with the kids, and the never ending and daunting tasks on your ‘To Do’ list? Feeling overwhelmed and moody? This, as it seems, is motherhood.
When did motherhood become such a chore? Why is there a struggle to create a happy and healthy home for your family and when did the squeals of laughter and soft pitter patter of feet on the floor begin to annoy and frustrate you?  Are you ready to be light hearted again? To dance and sing and laugh naturally? Want to genuinely smile and love life again?
I challenge you to ‘Challenge Motherhood’. Find out who you have become and how you can improve. Think about what you want to revamp – your mood, mindset, energy? There is always something to learn and something to cultivate. Motherhood lends to a life set on replay, if allowed. But take the time to set goals and create challenges for specific things in your life, and you’ll find that you can break up the monotony. You can learn and grow and have fun again.

Finding Joy

I recently decided that I needed an attitude adjustment. Life has been hard and it became difficult for me to
 find joy in the little things because I was always so stressed about what wasn’t getting done. I wasn’t able to truly laugh and have fun with my family because I allowed my mind to wander to more stressful things.
I’m training for a 5k road race in November. On my training runs, I’m able to clear my head. After each run, I feel a sense of joy and accomplishment because I’m one step closer to my goal. It makes me a happier person when I set realistic expectations of myself and make a little bit of progress day by day. This is why I create my ‘To Do’ lists, however, I tend to stare at those lists and obsess over crossing out each item. Whatever doesn’t get crossed out gets put on the list for the next day until I, hopefully, can accomplish it and cross it out. It brings me great joy to put a line through my daily chore. Except, lately, my ‘To Do’ list hasn’t been bringing me joy.

Challenge Accepted

Challenge Motherhood. Because motherhood is so much more than cooking and cleaning and playing chauffeur. Motherhood is laughter and love. It’s the season to make memories to treasure for a lifetime. Motherhood is inspiring awe and wonder and cherishing the little things.

  1. Take the time today and every day to recognize that you are enough. You are not defined by your ‘To Do’ list or how clean your house is. The kids won’t always make those messes and the clothes will always need to be washed.
  2. Now is the time to step outside and explore with the kids. Learn something new about them and in return, you’ll learn something new about yourself.
  3. Schedule time in your day to dance. Dancing and singing allows you to express yourself. Have a dance party with the kids before breakfast or when you start to feel stressed.

Share with others how you Challenge Motherhood. Keep yourself accountable by adding your goals and new habits into your daily planner. Share on social media using #challengemotherhood to inspire other mothers.

 

 

pregnancy loss. Our story.

October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month. I wrote my story as part of my healing process and thought I would share it with the hope that it will help someone else during their grieving process. I wrote this about 2 weeks after my loss. This is our story.

 

It’s hard. I cry everyday. Although now I feel like I can move forward and begin the healing process. Losing a loved one is hard, but losing a child seems to be the hardest. This isn’t my first, I experienced a miscarriage at 13 weeks gestation with my third pregnancy. This, was my fifth pregnancy. I heard the heart beat loud and strong several times. We were so excited to see our family growing again, and I was already making sure things were in order for our postpartum experience. But at 19 weeks, the ultrasound showed no movement and no fluttering heartbeat. 

I think I was numb at first. And it felt like I was expecting to hear this awful news. I guess I really was, or I should say that I wasn’t surprised. I had an ominous feeling walking into the ultrasound that day – I actually felt it for a few weeks. (It’s the same intuitive feeling I had when I miscarried my third pregnancy, and the same feeling I had before my son was diagnosed with hydrocephalus). So I whispered several prayers that morning – for peace, comfort, guidance, and as always, for a healthy baby and good news. My prayers were answered in a way. It definitely wasn’t the answer that I wanted. I wanted a living baby to hold, to smell, to snuggle, to kiss, to mother. But I do have peace and comfort knowing that this baby was loved dearly by many already, and whatever the cause, at least the babe was safe in my womb, never to experience heart ache, pain, or suffering – only love.

I made the heart wrenching phone call to my husband. I could barely form the words as tears streamed down my face. I’m so lucky to have him as my partner in life. He’s weathered many storms with me and is always unwavering, stoic and calm. He came home early from work to grieve with the kids and I. Explaining this to them has not been easy. We’re open with them about life and death and we have a firm foundation in Jesus, Christ, which has made these transitions easier it seems. My 7 year old understood and accepted it. She and I wept for several minutes as she embraced me so tightly. She’s such a trooper. But, how do you explain this to a five year old boy who continues to ask to kiss and talk to the baby and was so hopeful for a baby brother? We did our best. It wasn’t until after I birthed the baby that he truly understood though. Our youngest didn’t quite understand that I was pregnant, so its been an easy transition for her.

I had to wait a week. It was such an emotional week, filled with anxiety and uncertainty. The risk of infection increases as each day passes and there is a greater risk for hemorrhage at this late stage of miscarriage. I didn’t know what to expect or where to go. I choose to birth out of hospital under the care and guidance of a licensed midwife. My birth team was extremely helpful during this time, however, this was out of their scope of practice. So I called around to a few local OB providers, my midwives and their staff called around too and we couldn’t get the answers and help we were needing. Everyone simply recommended that I head to the ER once I experienced abdominal pain or bleeding. So, I waited. I was told that at 20 weeks I could walk into the hospital Obstetrics Emergency Care Center for help, regardless of pain or bleeding. It just so happened that at the 20 week mark, I began experiencing light cramping as well as a slightly elevated temperature (which turned out to be of no concern, I was probably overheated from the afternoon sun and just a little paranoid about infection, because my temperature was normal at the hospital).

After dropping our three kids off at a very dear friends house, my husband and I headed to the hospital on a Thursday evening, still not fully knowing what to expect. The doctor and nurse gave me two choices, to stay and get induced that night, or leave and come back another day – either way, I would be birthing the baby. My anxiety immediately deflated and my pride beamed. The first thing I thought was ‘I know labor and birth. I can do that. That’s no big deal.’ But then the doctor started talking about induction with meds and the various pain medicine that they can give me, and my anxiety returned, tears streamed down my face. I tried to explain to them that I have no fear about an unmedicated birth, but medical intervention scares me. I started thinking about all of the herbal and homeopathic remedies that could help promote induction and thought about going home to start those and coming back another day. But then, if I ended up needed medical intervention, how would they effect each other? I took a deep breath, prayed silently, and looked at my husband. After a few minutes of discussion, we decided to stay for induction. The doctor and nurse explained what could happen – so that I felt better prepared and aware of what my body would experience, both emotional and physical.

I was able to sleep for the 5 hours after the Cervidil was placed. And I awoke to the nurse coming to check on me around 6am. I was only experiencing mild cramping. Luckily, that’s all I ever felt during this labor and there were no complications. I birthed my baby, en caul, at 7:30am on Friday, September 1, 2017. It was silent and quick. We were unable to determine the sex at this stage of development, although I’m pretty sure the baby was a boy. We decided on the name Kyrie Conrad Sexton. Kyrie is greek and means ‘Lord, have mercy’ and Conrad is my maiden name which means ‘brave counsel.’

My husband had to leave to get our other three kids, so I was able to spend some quiet time alone, just me, God, and my baby. I saw how intricately developed he already was. Everything was formed just perfectly. Psalms 139 was on my heart “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”  And I wept.

I feel at peace. I have closure. I am healing. There will always be a place in my heart for both of my heavenly babies. I will always remember them.

Motherhood is raw and real. There are so many ups and downs on this journey. It’s important to me to be present, optimistic, and accepting. Right now I’m mourning. And it’s okay. I’ll stay here as long as I need to. I’m trying to be optimistic, but it’s hard. I already had so many hopes and dreams for this little one and our family. I have no choice but to accept this and continue to be present for my husband and children who need me and love me unconditionally. God is on my side and walking with me every step of the way. I don’t have to bear the weight of this alone, and that is comforting. I know others are supporting us and we all mourn together.

Lavender

I’ve been using essential oils (eo’s) for years. They are amazing little bottles packed with powerful healing benefits that can be beneficial for the entire family. I use them just as frequently as I use the super powers of breastmilk, bone broth, and coconut oil.

I was first introduced to essential oils when I went to massage school in 2010. I attended a short, 5 hour class designed to introduce aromatherapy to us in order to spark an interest to learn more in our own time. I was amazed at the purity and power that a single drop of plant essence could have on the human body. And yes, it did intrigue me to learn more, so I started looking into different oils and how I could use them for myself and my family and future clients.

My first bottle of essential oil was bought from the local health food store. Lavender. I like to think of lavender as a “gate-way” herb or essential oil – Everyone has heard about lavender, it’s the most commonly asked for essential oil during a massage treatment simply because its well known that lavender helps with relaxation. Lavender is also a great go-to oil for reducing inflammation and pain. It holds antibacterial and antiviral properties too, so its my first pick when healing minor cuts, scrapes, and bruises. It can even help reduce congestion from allergies, colds, and viruses!

I love my essential oils and I want to share them with everyone. I think my new tagline should be ‘there’s an oil for that’ but maybe that’s already taken? Anyways, for all of you natural minded ‘crunchy’ mamas, do your research and add Essential Oils to your First Aide Arsenal. You won’t regret it. *As a side note, eo’s are not only for ‘crunchy mamas’ as they are unbiased and can be used by anyone.

 

 

If you’re interested in learning more about how to integrate essential oils into your life, please ask me, I love to share which products I like best and how I use them.

**These statements are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any illness, disease, or abnormal function of the human body.

 

5 Reasons to get a Massage during Pregnancy

Ah, Massage! The lovely idea of taking a break: relaxing, unwinding, and letting all of the tension and stress of the day, the week, or the month just melt away. It’s a grand idea, right? Most of us won’t need any other reason to get a massage, but if you’re on the fence to pamper yourself during pregnancy, here are a few reasons why you should book that massage session now.

  1. Massage is known for helping one to de-stress, so it’s no surprise that massage helps to decrease stress levels. But did you know that it can also improve your mood? Because it has a positive effect on all of our “happy” hormones (like endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin), massage can help to reduce anxiety and feelings of depression.
  2. Massage therapy can reduce the risk of pregnancy complications. It has also been shown to decrease the risk of preterm labor, low birth weight, as well as lower cortisol levels.
  3. Experiencing growing pains and pregnancy discomforts – especially at your back, hips, and legs? Massage brings relief! It can also reduce swelling, joint pain, sciatic nerve pain, and headaches.
  4. The reduction in pain and the increase in kinesthetic awareness (how you sense your body) that massage creates can help you prepare for labor and birth. In fact, studies have shown that pregnant mothers who received massage therapy during pregnancy and labor experienced less pain, less need for medications, and shorter labors. Who doesn’t want that?!?
  5.  And last, but certainly not least, getting a massage regularly during pregnancy can train you for beneficial self-care habits to create as a mother. Only a mother knows the enormous amounts of love and craziness that we will experience during our journey through motherhood (for the rest of our lives). Having a good routine in place to help us wind down and restore our energy can only better our overall well being (and keep us sane).

So take the next few minutes to schedule your next massage, and the next one too, since you want to create a habit. Just as a side note – when seeking out a massage therapist, find someone who is certified in pregnancy massage. This will ensure that you get the luxury treatment that you so much deserve.

If you want to check out the research articles, click here