Tag Archive for: self-care

The PERILS of PREGNANCY and How MASASAGE can HELP!

Congratulations! You are having a baby. Welcoming a new member into your family is exciting and joyous for everyone involved. But the excitement is not without its anxiety, and sometimes even fear of what is to come.

The stages of pregnancy present unique developmental changes for your baby as well as unique physical and emotional changes form you too. Understanding these changes – and where massage fits in – can help you feel supported, nurtured, and empowered as you enjoy a healthy pregnancy.

 

The First Trimester, 0-13 weeks:

Perhaps you have missed your period, or you’ve been tracking your cycle, or undergoing IVF transfers. You may have peed on a stick or had a blood test. And it is confirmed. Two pink lines. hCG. You have a baby on board!

In the first trimester, for 0 to 13 weeks gestation, there will be tremendous changes on your hormones, which can cause headaches, fatigue, and mood swings.  You will experience constipation and frequent urination as the uterus presses on the bladder. Breasts can feel heavy, swollen and tender. Cravings or distaste for certain foods in common, as well as “morning sickness” and nausea. While the first trimester is elevated risk time for miscarriage, there is no evidence to suggest that massage causes miscarriage. However, your pregnancy massage specialist may request medical consent prior to treatment if you have had more than two consecutive miscarriages.

Massage in the First Trimester:

Massage in the first trimester has a focus on relaxation to aid circulation and support physical changes. Care is taken, especially is mum is experiencing nausea. Treatment can be performed either prone (with mum lying face down on her tummy) with appropriate pillow supports, or if preferred mum can lie on her side. It is recommended to receive treatment every four weeks.

Second Trimester, 14 – 26 weeks:

You have made it through the first trimester, morning sickness is resolved and now you can bask in the pregnancy glow, reclining on a banana lounge, mocktail in hand! Hmmm, not quite.

During the second trimester, body aches become more common. Most women experience back, abdomen, groin, or thigh pain due to hormones causing tendons and ligaments to relax.  Postural changes are common as the body tries to accommodate the growing foetus, causing a strain on the lower and upper back. It is also common for the ankles, fingers, and face to swell.

Massage in the Second Trimester:

A specialised pregnancy massage treatment may focus on hip and lower back pain, due to the onset of Relaxin. Hip pain may be the result of postural changes and tight glute muscles. Pelvic instability may be alleviated by massaging the adductor. Massage treatment often includes abdominal massage to support postural changes and bring balance to the body. It is recommended to receive treatment every four weeks.

Third Trimester, 27-40 weeks:

The countdown is on! You are hot and sweaty, exhausted and you can’t seem to get to sleep, and uncomfortable, just incredibly uncomfortable. And you want this baby out!

During the third trimester, you may have difficulty in sleeping, due to comfort levels, foetal movement, or muscle cramps. Breast tenderness may continue as the breasts prepare for milk production. The baby may put extra pressure on your bladder, causing frequent urination. You may experience heartburn as baby your organs rearrange to accommodate the baby, and swelling may occur at your ankles, fingers, and face.

Massage in the Third Trimester:

The focus of massage during the third trimester is comfort. A specialist pregnancy massage helps alleviate stress on strained muscles in the back, hips, and shoulders. Gentle massage over the abdomen can promote connection with mother and baby and enhance relaxation.  By 36 weeks, massage treatments can be scheduled weekly. Massage can also focus on the low back and glutes to provide relief for pelvic, hip and ligament pain.

Fourth Trimester, 0-12 weeks Postpartum:

The fourth trimester is the fist twelve weeks following the birth of your baby. It is a time of immense physical and emotional changes as you adjust to the demands of motherhood and as baby gets used to life in the outside world. Sleep-deprivation and exhaustion are common as personal self-care often goes out the window as you struggle to find balance between looking after yourself and your baby. Your body is still recovering from pregnancy and labour. It can be a challenging time to adjust to this new role.

Massage in the Fourth Trimester:

Massage during the fourth trimester can even enable a quicker recovery from pregnancy and childbirth. It can also improve the health and wellbeing of mum. And we all know that if you look after mum, you look after the whole family. Massage can assist with labour recovery and alleviate physical and mental exhaustion. It can reduce stress, and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Massage may also focus on rebalancing postural changes, provide relief from breastfeeding posture, reducing general pain, and aid the repair of scar tissue from a cesarean birth.

What’s Next?

Massage serves a specific role at each stage of pregnancy and postpartum. It is not surprising then that a relaxed and well-supported mum will experience reduced feelings of anxiety and depression, increased feelings of relaxation and a sense of control when it is time to give birth.

Are you ready to make massage a part of your pregnancy journey? Click here.

Nurturing the Fourth Trimester

I had a very special visitor in the clinic last week. A two week old baby girl (and her mamma of course).

I was privileged to have mamma trust me to provide her with specialist pregnancy massage during her first pregnancy two and half years ago and was honored that mamma returned for regular treatment throughout the duration of her second pregnancy. In fact, mamma even got her last pregnancy massage with me while she was in the early stages of labour at 38w and 3 days! (Luckily I didn’t have to step in as a birth attendant, and this mammas second child was born later in the afternoon) But I digress…

I was excited to have such a new visitor in the clinic. Mamma has been experiencing neck and shoulder stiffness from lifting, carrying, and nursing her infant. It is a common pain to be expected when you are caring for an infant, but by no means should a mamma “have to” put up with it. Mamma was optimistic that baby would be asleep during the treatment, and I suggested we “go with the flow”. If baby gave us half an hour for a treatment, great! Then we’d look at getting to 45 minutes and then the full hour. Just seeing how baby goes with being in a new environment I accommodated mum and baby as best I could. Through most of the treatment, baby wanted to be close to mum. I treated mum while she lay on her side and nursed her baby. Mum was able to relax, baby was able to feed, and I was able to treat the neck and shoulders with ease. Mamma even came back the following week, with her little baby in the carrier. This time, baby decided to sleep (with the help of a little white noise) and mamma was able to enjoy an hour long luxurious treatment, melting into the table and fully relaxing.

Some of the benefits of postpartum massage include:

  • Labour recovery, physical and mental exhaustion
  • Alleviating stress, anxiety and depression
  • Rebalancing postural changes and reducing pain
  • Aiding the repair of scar tissue from surgery due to cesarean birth
  • Providing relief from breastfeeding posture and mammary changes

In a postnatal massage, things don’t often go to plan. Mum may not be able to lie on her tummy for various reasons, such as discomfort from abdominal stitches following a cesarean, or soreness in the breasts. Or baby may decide that they want to cluster feed. The massage treatment can be performed side-lying so mum and baby can cuddle.

At By the Bay Therapies, we are passionate about empowering women to achieve exceptional health during pregnancy, and into motherhood. Are you ready to book your next treatment? Click here!

Looking at Life Through The Shit Tube

The other morning, I woke up looking at life through the Shit Tube. Allow me to explain…

I woke up, and it was cold “Winter is the worst”
Next up, breakfast “Ugh. Oatmeal again. Why is being healthy boring?”
Then, I attempted to get ready for work while wrangling a toddler. “Why can’t you just sit still so I can get you dressed and ready to go.”
When finally get in the car we are faced with traffic and road works on every street. “Who was the genius that thought doing all these road works at the same time was a great idea?”

When I finally got to work, I was fuming – nay seething with rage. It was 9am and I was in a foul mood.

And that’s when I realized.

I was looking at life through the Shit Tube. I was zoning in on all the mildly inconvenient and annoying things about my day rather than expanding my view and focusing on the positive.

Now this was a concept that was first introduced to me by my amazing business coach Elicia, so I cannot take all the credit for this description of the way we can look at life. It was one of the many business lessons I learned that can transfer to everyday life.

If we are always looking at life through a single lens and focused in on the negative, then everything will seem, well quite frankly – Shit.

If we remove the Shit Tube, and instead look at the world through eyes of Love, then life just might seem a bit different.
Instead of cold morning being the worst, I am grateful for warm clothes to keep me cozy.
Instead of despising oatmeal, I am grateful for nourishing food to fuel my body.
Instead of stressing of getting out the door, I am grateful for a healthy family.
Instead of road raging, I am grateful for the ability to travel.

With eyes of Love, I can see the positive. I can be thankful for the things that I have in my life.

When life gets you down, or feels monotonous or like you’re in a rut or if everything seems Shit, stop looking at life through the Shit Tube and put on your Love Glasses. I promise life will be a lot easier.

The 3 Ways Doulas Nurture Families

When I told people I was pregnant, one of the questions they asked was whether I was going through the public or private system. I explained that I was going public and that I had a doula.

The next question I got asked was “What’s a doula?”

Jake Peralta from NBC’s Brooklyn Nine Nine describes a doula as a “Vaginal Gandalf”. The term is funny, and true.  The role of a doula is to provide practical and emotional support for the mother and father and to guide and coach them through the process of childbirth and parenthood.

I know that my pregnancy and parenthood journey would not be the same without the support from Beth McDonald from Popbellies Doula Services. In this blog, I share my experience and the ways that Beth supported my pregnancy and transition to motherhood

The Pregnancy:

During my pregnancy, Beth helped Tim and I to manage our expectations and understand more about the process of childbirth. Beth has an incredible amount if knowledge. And we really needed the support. Yes, we had done a childbirth preparation course, but this was months earlier and we had forgotten a lot of the things we were taught about the stages of labour, the hospital system and how to advocate for the type of care we wanted to receive. Beth helped us to feel more confident is saying “No” should a situation arise in hospital that did not sit right with us. Beth helped us develop of birth preferences. And in the lead up to my induction, she provided us both with a bit of TLC. For me this was in the form of a spicy, decadent hot chocolate to sip on to support a natural induction.

The Birth:

Due to COVID restrictions, Beth was unable to come into the hospital to physically support us during the birth, she was still involved every step of the way. From the moment my waters broke, to getting an epidural, to the time we made the decision to have a cesarean, Beth was there to help us work through the big decisions that come with childbirth. Tim says that the birth “did not go to plan”. My perspective is quite different. It is because of the support from Beth that I felt empowered with our decision making during the birth. Yes, I had planned on an active labour. I planned for massages and hot showers and heat packs. My labour was different to what I expected. And I believe that Beth’s support in helping me to advocate for myself and my birth helped me to feel good about the outcome of my birth experience.

The Post-Partum:

It is safe to say that describing post-partum as a roller coaster of emotions is a severe understatement. Nothing could have ever prepared for the emotions, physical pain from my abdominal surgery and sleep deprivation that comes with parenthood. I have Beth to thank for supporting me through some of the big emotions that come along with the transition of Matrescence. During this stage, Beth was able to provide practical support in the context of light cleaning duties, which as we all know, cleaning goes out the window when a little one arrives. But for me, I just needed someone to talk to. I called Beth at all hours when Remy just would not settle, and I was at my wits ends as to what to do and I just needed to sleep. The non-judgmental support of an impartial third party was so important for me as I let the freedom to truly express how I felt about the jarring transition to motherhood.

For my family, I know that I could not have had this done this pregnancy without the support of a doula. I would encourage all new and expanding families to engage with a doula for non-judgmental, emotional, and physical support. I truly feel that I would not have the positive experience of birth (despite it not going to “plan”) and motherhood if I did not have Beth with me every step of the way.

If you are pregnant and think that the care and support of a doula could help your family, I highly recommend Beth McDonald. For more information about Beth and how she can help your family, visit her website: http://popbellies.com.au/

The 6 Secrets to Better Sleep For Tired Mums

By Guest Blogger – Narelle King at Simply Happy

About to become a mum? How exciting! There are so many amazing new things that come with newborns. It comes with some pretty big challenges too, one of which is the rollercoaster of change to your sleep. Strap yourself in, it’s time to get prepared for changes to your sleep, and learn how to maximize your Zzzz’s in those first few months. 

It can be a huge adjustment to get your head around having little control over the amount of sleep you get each night. It’s something you can’t get around, and have to accept there are going to be some big changes. Newborns wake throughout the night, so you need to adjust to getting up throughout the night and having your sleep broken up. It takes a few months for your newborn to establish a day-night cycle. This can be the trickiest stage for new mums. You might be used to a daily routine, staying on top of your housework, meal prep, socializing or taking time out for you. Routines go out the window with newborns, but that doesn’t mean saying goodbye to self-care.

With a new baby, I found myself sacrificing sleep for more time. It was a quick-fix, but the lack of sleep created more problems than it solved. But why is sleep so important, and what can you do to maximise quality sleep as a new mum?

Why sleep is important

When you sleep, your body goes into recovery mode. A good night’s sleep leaves you revitalized and well prepared for the next day. It can help with mood regulation and maximizing social experiences. Good sleep even helps you consolidate memories and behaviours. If you skip out on good sleep, you’re not giving your brain the chance to put everything together from your day.

A lack of sleep has physical impacts beyond just low energy levels. It can raise your core body temperature, leading to physical problems like inflammation-related conditions, autoimmune disease and allergies. It can weaken your immune system, leaving you susceptible to bugs. Lack of sleep contributes negatively to mental wellbeing and anxiety. It makes overcoming the challenges of a newborn baby much harder. 

There’s no quick-fix for getting sleep as a new mum. But while your priorities have to change, your health and wellbeing is still an important priority. A little bit of quality sleep goes a long way during those first few months. Here’s some ways to do it:

Sleep in the day 

You might feel like you have a million things to do and they should get done when your baby is asleep. It’s very tempting to try and do chores, wash dishes, do laundry and clean floors when your baby is asleep. One thing I’ve learnt is to accept that your house might not be perfect, or you might have to put off some items on your to-do list. Sleep and self-care is more important! 

It’s OK to have some sleep when your baby does, because once they are up, you have to be up too. Broken sleep is better than none, and naps can help you catch up on some sleep. While the easiest and best sleep time is overnight, taking any window during the day to catch up on lost sleep will really help.  Early afternoon is a great time of the day when your body naturally wants to go to sleep.

Sleep during the day doesn’t come naturally to all of us. Make sure your bedroom is set up for sleep – blocking out light with heavy drapes helps, as does making it quiet and comfortable.  Eye masks and ear plugs are a cheap way to block out light and loud background noise. Keep your phone off, or at least out of arm’s reach, so you’re not tempted to distract yourself from sleep.

Establish a night ritual for yourself

Create your own sleep ritual. It can be hard to turn on and off sleep to fit your newborns schedule. While your sleep ritual may have to be flexible, it’s still a great way to get your body ready to rest. One or two hours before you plan to go to bed, start by turning off your phone and TV and dimming the lights. Do relaxing activities away from screens like having a bath, reading a book or listening to calming music.

You can build cues that your body associates with sleep. This can be an activity, music, lighting or a relaxing scent. Use the power of essential oils to create a relaxing atmosphere. It’s also a way to begin to associate the relaxing scent with bedtime. When you smell lavender, your body will subconsciously begin to wind down. You’ll be off to sleep in no time!

Watch what you eat and drink

Your food intake can make a big difference to your sleep. Maintaining a healthy diet can seem like a huge challenge as a new mum, but there are little things you can do to improve your health. Try not to substitute sleep with food. When you can, take the opportunity to get that quality energy from sleep. Food can’t replace that energy.

A big challenge is to watch your sugar intake. If you tend to rely on sugar hits to get you through the day, start replacing your sugary snacks with more energy-efficient snacks like nuts, yoghurt and whole foods. This is particularly important in the afternoon and evening. You don’t want a sugar-high stopping you from getting to sleep!

Stop having caffeine after 12. Caffeine can make your mind more active when it’s time to switch off. When the productive part of your day is over, give your body a rest and leave the caffeine for another time.

Ask for help

If you love to be as organized and efficient as I do, this step can be hard. I know asking, or accepting, help from others may feel challenging. You don’t have to go through the big changes of new motherhood alone, there are plenty of people to help you with the adjustment. Whether that’s family, friends or outside help, it can free up some time for you to take care of yourself. If your body is screaming out for sleep, but you can’t find the opportunity to rest, someone else might be able to free up that opportunity for you. I’m sure they’d love to help. 

Practice Nidra yoga

Nidra Yoga is a sleep-based, conscious guided meditation. Don’t let the word yoga put you off! There are no yoga poses or physical exertion. You’re lying in a comfortable position and covered with a blanket. Your body sleeps while your mind is awake taking in the guided instructions. It’s complete REST for both your mind and body. You get all the benefits of meditation, as well as sleep. 

Yoga Nidra encourages rest by using breathing, triggering the relaxation response. Your nervous system is calmed and your thoughts slowed down. The hormone serotonin is released to help you feel more relaxed. Practicing Yoga Nidra for just 20-minutes is the equivalent rest of an extra 2 hours of sleep. Getting to sleep and staying asleep is also improved with a regular Yoga Nidra practice. It can be a great tool to have as a new mum, and can be used any time when you have a few minutes to yourself!

Try Yin Yoga

Yoga is known to be a relaxing, healthy and spiritual practice that can improve flexibility and strength. As a new mum, it can be a way to take time for yourself and reconnect with yourself. Yin Yoga is a quiet practice that slows down movement and focuses on a spiritual connection with your mind and body. Instead of flowing through active movements, Yin Yoga involves holding deep poses for longer periods of time. A pose may last a minute or two, or even up to 5 minutes.

By slowing down your mind and body during Yin Yoga, you are gifting your body with gratitude and relaxation. Yin Yoga releases stress, worry and unease. This can have lasting benefits with your mental wellbeing, well beyond the end of the practice. 

Yin Yoga is also physical. By holding deep strengths, your body’s tissues lengthen and release, leaving your muscles feeling as though they have been relaxed or massaged. This practice can improve your range of motion and help strengthen and heal reoccurring injuries. The deep breathing you’ll learn during the practice is also a powerful trigger for the parasympathetic nervous system. This is connected to a number of benefits including improved blood pressure, digestion, sleep and immune function. What better tool to have as a new mum?

About the Author

Narelle King is our guest blogger. Narelle is a mum to two children, wellness coach and Yin & Nidra Yoga instructor for Simply Happy. She helps mums to implement routines to save them time so they can start to use tools like Yin & Nidra Yoga to help them rest and heal from constantly living in stress mode. 

Why not try the SimplyHappy online yoga studio? It’s an easy way to access restorative yoga nidra and yin yoga practices, and connect with other new mums! The online studie is flexible, so you can connect and practice when it suits YOU.

For more inforation about how Narelle can help you in your motherhood journey, check out her website https://simplyhappy.com.au/