Pregnancy is a great motivator for many women to improve their health and lifestyle. As a Fit 4 Two® participant we know you're already convinced exercise is good for you and baby and many of you are trying to make healthier food choices more often. New parents baby-proof the house and research oodles of baby products for health and efficiency. What many parents are unaware of, is in their attempt to have a clean and safe place for baby, they might actually be increasing the environmental toxins in their home. Meet Nellie's All Natural.
Nellie's Safety AND Performance
According to The David Suzuki Organization "Canadians spend more than $275 million on household cleaning products in a year. We buy these products to fight germs, streaks, stains and odours to keep our homes sparkling clean. Cleaning is supposed to be about maintaining a healthy home, yet some common household cleaning products contain chemicals that can harm human health and the environment."
Since having my own baby, I've tried several kinds of "natural" cleaners and been underwhelmed with their performance, but I was willing to compromise. I figured having no chemicals or perfumes in my household cleaning products was the priority. Having the whitest whites was not something I was going to stress about. A few times, I even attempted to make my own, but it ended up being more work than was worth it. When I found out they were a Canadian company (North Vancouver!), I was definitely curious to try out Nellie's All Natural products.
Nellie's All-Natural Laundry Products
I tried Nellie's Laundry Soda and was quite pleased with the results. My family`s clothes looked and smelled clean, but not perfumy. Ironically, I got a mossy green stain on my knee taking the above photo, but I treated it with the lemongrass WOW stick before throwing it in the wash and got the stain right out.
Nellie's also make a vegetable-based baby laundry soap which has an oxygen brightener built right in. It is designed to be gentle on baby's skin, yet effective on protein (read poop) stains. The all natural lamby dryer balls help reduce drying time significantly. For me, it cut down the drying time by about 15 minutes, which helped to get one of my most unfavourite chores done much sooner. I also feel better about reusing the dryer balls vs using disposable dryer sheets. If you like lavender, you'll love their scented dryer ball.
Nellie`s All-Natural Cleaners
I also tried three of their household cleaners in the bathroom. While some chemical cleaners will make your eyes water and take your breath away, the natural lemongrass scent in Nellie's was subtle, pleasant and left my bathroom shiny and clean. What else could you want in a cleaner?
Nellie's products are non-toxic, biodegradable and not tested on animals. For more info click here. After trying several Nellie's All Naturals, I know you don't have to compromise safety for performance.
Fit 4 Two® Client Special
Stop by the Nellie's All-Natural booth at the Vancouver Home and Design show Oct 27-30. Purchase the show bundle pictured below for $100 and get an extra 50 wash soda for FREE when you mention Fit 4 Two®.
*this post was sponsored by Nellie`s All Natural, but all opinions are my own.
During pregnancy and when we are easing back into fitness, it is advised that we focus on muscular 'endurance'. Generally speaking, this is 2-3 sets of 10-16 repetitions. But...there is more to it then that.
Think of the 10-16 reps as a window and ask yourself these questions as you go along:
Am I breathing well?
How is my form?
Do I have any joint-associated pain?
How many more could I do well?
You want to stop on this side of your edge. In other words, your last rep should meet all of the above criteria. This is not the time to push through for one more rep. The last thing a mom-to-be or a new mom needs is an injury....especially a preventable one.
You'll sometimes hear a Fit 4 Two instructor say things like "Zero to four more." or "How many more can you do well?" or "Muscle fatigue is normal. Joint and back pain is not normal." You might notice that we look around the room as much as we count reps. We are looking for good form and healthy breathing. These are some of the ways that we keep you safe and help you to get to know your body.
On a related note...if you find that you can do 3 sets of 16 reps no problem...your resistance is likely too low. To be frank....you are wasting your time. It is probably time to increase your resistance. Moms need muscles.
I had my baby 8 weeks ago, I feel great, when can I start running again?
Running is a great exercise because it is accessible and free. It is also high impact and high intensity so we need a solid base before easing into running.
What I like to see before a new mom begins easing back into a walk-run program
1. Infant feeding is established
2. Mom is getting enough rest that she can enjoy running
3. Mom is pain and injury free
4. Mom has an assessment by a women’s health physiotherapist who will assess mom’s:
The women's health physio can then make recommendations about if, when and how to ease into a walk-run program.
It may seem like a pain to make an appointment and go see a physio but I often see new moms who feel great, don’t have DR, feel good about their pelvic floor….go back to running but then end up with injuries due to misalignment and instabilities….or pelvic floor issues they didn’t know that they had.
Invest in yourself and honour your amazing body. Here are some women's health physiotherapy clinics you might consider in Vancouver BC. If you live elsewhere, talk to your doctor or midwife about a referral.
An Update from Fit 4 Two® Founder and Director, Melanie Osmack. June 2016.
I have been educating myself and others on diastasis recti since 2002. I go out of my way to read everything I can get my hands on, connect with researchers and pick the brains of women’s health physiotherapists. I head the local medical library twice a year in search of new research.
I pass what I learn onto our franchisees and instructors not just so we can keep you safe, but so we can empower you with research-based information. I take pride in the fact that Fit 4 Two® provides programs that are not just safe but also beneficial for women with diastasis recti.
In short, I am a self-professed diastasis recti nerd and I thought it was high time to share an update. What is diastasis recti?
Diastasis Recti (DR), often called abdominal separation, occurs when there is an over stretching of the fascia, the linea alba, that runs vertically between the right and left rectus abdominis muscles. It is often defined as a gap of 3cm+ and can occur anywhere between your pubic bone and your xiphoid process. This over stretching also causes the linea alba to lose tension.
What causes diastasis recti?
Diastasis recti is more common than we once thought. Current research indicates that a majority of pregnant women develop DR. It is caused by a combination of pregnancy hormones dedicated to softening connective tissue and increased intra-abdominal pressure.
Abdominal separation usually develops in the 3rd trimester when the growing uterus puts the most strain on the abdominal wall. Some women develop DR during the pushing stage of labour as well. I have seen it emerge in the second trimester among Fit 4 Two® participants who are petite in stature, short waisted, carrying multiples, had DR in a previous pregnancy or who are blessed with a bountiful belly sooner than later. DR is usually persistent postpartum so a post natal assessment is important.
Why does diastasis recti matter?
DR does not usually cause pain locally, but it often leads to back pain, pelvis pain, and pelvic floor dysfunction during and after pregnancy. Postpartum, it may affect the aesthetic of how a tummy looks. Some women with DR look ‘pregnant’ several months postpartum, have a belly button that looks like an extreme ‘outie’ or notice a severe coning shape when they do a curl up. In some cases, if the diastasis is at the umbilicus, it can make women more susceptible to a hernia. The good news is that it can usually be rehabilitated post partum.
Though there is no research proving that we can cause an abdominal separation, there is some that indicates we could worsen one once we have it. This is why we educate about DR at our Fit 4 Two® classes and either offer to assess for it or encourage moms-to-be and new moms to get assessed by their healthcare provider or a women’s health physiotherapist.
Typically, the person assessing you will ask you to lie on a mat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. If you are 16+ weeks pregnant, they will likely have you on an incline with your head above your heart so that you don’t get dizzy. As you raise your shoulders off the mat, they will use their fingers to feel for both sides of your rectus abdominis and measure the gap in between. Generally speaking, a gap of 3cm+ at the umbilicus or 1cm+ above or below the umbilicus, is considered a diastasis.
If you are being assessed postpartum, it will be more involved. They will also want to assess the tension of your linea alba, how your gap change or doesn’t change when you engage your deep core muscles before and during the curl up and so on.
If you are pregnant, and you DO NOT have DR
It is safe and beneficial to train your pelvic floor, transverses abdominals, erector spinae, rectus abdominals and obliques if you can do the exercise well, without pain, without breath holding and with good form. Avoid exercises that cause your tummy to bulge or your back to sway. If you aren’t sure about your form, ask a women’s health physiotherapist or a certified pre and postnatal fitness specialist to assess you while you do the exercise.
If you are 16+ weeks pregnant, supine (lying on your back) exercises should be done on an incline (head higher than your lower body). This is to avoid putting too much pressure on the vena cava which may cause dizziness.
As you enter into your third trimester, when developing DR is very common due the growing uterus putting strain on the abdominal wall, I recommend that you start exercising as though you have DR. As mentioned, we do not have research to prove that we can cause it through movement patterns, but it seems like a logical choice to avoid putting excess strain on an abdominal wall that is already enduring a lot of pressure. This is my current opinion and I look forward to seeing more research done in this area.
If you are carrying twins or multiples, I recommend that you begin exercising like you have DR by about 20 weeks of pregnancy. You may have already developed an abdominal separation by then anyways, but I feel it would be wise to avoid putting excess strain your your abdominal wall sooner than later.
If you are pregnant and you have DR
1. Avoid abdominal exercises that put strain on the rectus abdominis like abdominal curls, v-sits and front planks. You'll want to avoid other less obvious exercises that engage the rectus abdominis like push-ups and cable pulley tricep press downs. When in doubt, ask your physiotherapist or certified pre and postnatal fitness specialist for guidance.
2. Focus on pelvic floor and transverses abdominal exercises to prevent discomforts and prepare for postpartum recovery. Pelvic floor lifts (Kegels) and baby hugs are good choices.
3. Choose mindful movement strategies. Ex. When getting up out of bed, roll over onto your side and use your upper body muscles to bring yourself to sitting.
4. If you are not already seeing a women’s health physiotherapist, I recommend booking an appointment. Through a full assessment, they might find that there are treatable muscular imbalances contributing to the diastasis and related discomforts.
5. Register for a prenatal specific fitness program with instructors who are not just certified to teach fitness, but certified to work with pre AND postnatal women. At Fit 4 Two® all our prenatal classes are designed to support women who have DR and other prenatal related conditions.
If you are postpartum
Remember, even if you didn’t have DR in pregnancy, you may have developed it during the pushing stage of labour.
1. Avoid abdominal exercises that put strain on the rectus abdominis like abdominal curls, v-sits and front planks. You will want to avoid other less obvious exercises that engage the rectus abdominals like push-ups and cable pulley tricep press downs. When in doubt, ask your physiotherapist or certified pre and postnatal fitness specialist for guidance.
2. Focus on pelvic floor and transverses abdominal exercises. If you are not sure where to start, seek out a Fit 4 Two® Tummies 4 Mommies program or book a one-on-one session with a women’s health physiotherapist or a certified pre and postnatal fitness specialist.
3. Don’t cave under the pressure to ‘bounce back after baby’. It took 10 months for your body to grow an amazing human being. Give yourself time to restore your core and mindfully ease back into fitness. Do you want to set yourself back weeks or even months because you ignored your diastasis? I think not. Show your amazing body some love.
4. Choose mindful movement strategies. Ex. When getting up out of bed, roll over onto your side and use your upper body muscles to bring yourself to sitting.
5. If you are not already seeing a women’s health physiotherapist, I recommend booking an appointment. Through a full assessment, they might find that there are treatable muscular imbalances contributing to the diastasis and related discomforts. Wouldn’t you rather find that out sooner than later?
6. When you are ready, seek out a postnatal specific fitness program with instructors who are not just certified to teach fitness, but certified to work with pre AND postnatal women. At Fit 4 Two® we offer a postnatal core rehabilitation program called Tummies 4 Mommies® and all our multi-level postnatal fitness classes are designed to support women who are healing DR and other common perinatal conditions.
But I read on the Internet....
I love the Internet. It is an inspiring place where we can gather information and ideas. It gives us a platform for communication anytime, anywhere. It's one off my favourite things. Unfortunately, there is no 'accuracy police' making sure that everything posted as fact is based on actual evidence.
Posted by Dee Clarke, Fit 4 Two Vancouver Westside
About a week ago, I learned that May 4th has been declared World Maternal Mental Health day and the month of May has been declared Maternal Mental Health Month. Given this new information, I thought it was an interesting coincidence that I recently received this note from one of my clients:
"I just wanted to say thank you so much for your classes, they were very important to me. After <baby> was born my "baby blues" never went away. Around the time I started stroller fitness, I was having panic attacks all night and started medication for postpartum anxiety/depression. Your classes gave me something to be accountable to, and something healthy to commit to to help make myself heal.
The fitness and social aspect were both instrumental to the fact I feel great now. I just wanted to say thank you and tell you how important you and your class were to me. I will truly miss it."
According to the Pacific Postpartum Support Society, 1 in 6 mothers experiences postpartum depression and for some women, depression begins during pregnancy. At a time when so much of our attention is placed on caring for the baby, it’s important to put some of our focus back on the needs of the mom.
You are not alone. If YOU are a new mom: Many mothers get the baby blues in the first few days and weeks after childbirth. However, if you are struggling with anxiety, worry, stress, anger, guilt, or sadness that does not seem to be letting up, you may be experiencing postpartum depression. Talk to your doctor, midwife or community health nurse or get in touch with your local Postpartum Support Society. In BC we have www.postpartum.org and in Manitoba we have www.ppdmanitoba.ca If you live elsewhere in North America you can find a full listing of support groups at www.postpartumprogress.comMaternal mental health complications are common and treatable with the right help.
Depression doesn't always look the way you’d expect it to. Until I read her note, I had no idea, not even a clue, my client was dealing with depression. She was often one of the first to arrive to class, attended consistently, looked put together and always cheerful, with a "Bring it on!" attitude we fitness trainers love. I’m thankful she got the help she needed and that my classes were part of her recovery, although I was completely unaware of what she was going through at the time.
If a woman in your life is a new mom: Ask her how's she doing even if everything appears to be going well. If she tells you she is having difficulty, acknowledge her feelings. Let her know it can be better and that help is available. Encourage her to speak with her doctor or midwife or put her in touch with your local postpartum support groupMaternal Mental Health Care saves moms. Moms deserve all the support we can give them. Start the discussion. #AskHer #TellHer #MomsMatter
Tummy Time: Wanting to watch mom and look at the other babies will motivate your little one to spend more time on his tummy. Tummy time will strengthen his neck, shoulders and trunk muscles while preventing flattened head syndrome.
Visual Tracking: As baby watches you move from side to side or forward and backward he develops his ability to track objects and strengthen his vision.
Separation Anxiety: Many babies go through separation anxiety. Attending Fit 4 Two classes with your baby from a young age helps teach him that even when you are moving around the room, you are still there and you'll always come back.
Role Modeling: Children who see both parents being active are 5.8X more likely to be active themselves. It is never too early to begin being an active role model