What to expect when you're...... going to Mom and Baby Yoga! Jennifer Gelfand, DPT, CYT and our very own in house Mom and Baby guru, breaks down what yoga class with your little one is all about.
Is it possible to help a breech baby turn? This is a question we often hear from moms hoping to have a vaginal birth. Moxibustion treatment can be a great option for these women. Moxibustion is an adjunctive technique often used by acupuncturists in their treatments, and research has shown that a course of daily moxibustion over a specific acupuncture point on the baby toe is very successful at prompting a breech baby to turn.
Although being a new mom is an amazing experience, it’s not without its challenges. Emotional changes, changes to daily routine, and new physical demands often accompany motherhood, and the transition can be overwhelming. As an acupuncturist, many of my patients seek treatment during pregnancy and continue postpartum because acupuncture is a low-risk way to manage physical and emotional issues, and can dramatically improve a variety of afflictions.
We all experience aches and pains throughout our lifetimes. Often pain begins as a result of an injury or clear event. Occasionally it is difficult to pinpoint the cause of pain. Regardless of the scenario, it is common to try to ignore your pain and carry on with your life as usual. So, how do you know when you should take the next step and seek help from your physical therapist?
While birthing parents are typically excited for their babies to arrive, the final weeks of pregnancy can be exhausting, uncomfortable and emotional. You have a small person, or multiple people inside of you, just about ready to be born. It can take a toll on you and your partner as well. Here are some easy ways to help you enjoy those last few weeks.
Women’s health care is gaining steam in recognizing the unique needs of pregnant and postpartum women. Over the past 20 years, there has been an increase in understanding of how the pelvic diaphragm works and its important role in healthy bladder, bowel and reproductive habits. Most importantly, women and health care providers are bringing different forms of pelvic floor dysfunction into the conversation so that treatment is possible and successful.
Pelvic floor dysfunction and stress incontinence are often believed to be problems of new moms and older women, but this is a common misconception. Women and men of all ages, including children, can suffer from urinary incontinence and often don’t realize that they can seek treatment to reduce this issue.
The recent article by NPR, Flattening The 'Mummy Tummy' With 1 Exercise, 10 Minutes A Day, starts off with a sensational, grabbing title. A click bait title that we wouldn't expect from a trusted news source like NPR. But it certainly got your attention, especially if you recently had a baby and now are feeling a little weak around the core. And since this is NPR this should be safer than something random you pull off the internet, right? Well, yes and no.
When was your very first introduction to yoga and what drew you to it?
I started practicing yoga as a college student while pursuing my degree in Philosophy and Religion at Wheaton College in Massachusetts. As a college student, I found myself fascinated with Eastern Religion in particular. I also had many opportunities to study at a local Zen monastery, which is where I first practiced meditation and yoga. At first I liked meditation better than yoga, but over time things evened out.
How long have you been teaching and what certifications do you have?
I finished my 200-hour Vinyasa training in the Spring of 2013, and completed my Pre- and Post-Natal certifications that summer. After my son Cooper’s birth in the fall, I committed to teaching yoga full time, leaving behind my job as a preschool teacher for children with special needs. Since then, I have taken additional trainings in Baby and Me and Children’s Yoga.
What do you love most about teaching yoga?
I work with a lot of different kinds of people, my students range from 3 weeks to 75 years old- and yoga has something for everyone, regardless of age. It can be energizing or relaxing, stretching or strengthening. At different times in our lives, sometimes even our days, we need different aspects of the practice, and I really love being able to cater each practice to the needs of my students.
What exactly is Mom & Baby Yoga?
Mom & Baby Yoga is all about building connections. Connecting new moms with other moms is hugely important in those first months, not only for the emotional support and understanding, but also to ask questions and share ideas. Meanwhile, we sing songs, do exercises, and the bond with mothers and their new babies. And of course, it wouldn't be yoga without helping moms connect with themselves! Caring for one’s self is also crucial, and as we work with breathing, stretching, and gently re-toning muscles affected by pregnancy, Moms can do just that.
What can a new mommy expect from your classes?
I really like to give a lot of options in my classes, offering modifications to make things more nurturing, gentle, and comfortable for moms (regardless of their physical abilities), but also options to make things a little more challenging. I think one of the best things new Moms can do for themselves is to find ways to feel good about their bodies. Pregnancy and labor greatly impact the relationship women have with their bodies, and so I hope that all women who participate in my classes find a way to feel positive about that relationship. Part of that is nurturing and taking it easy when it's that kind of day, and pushing yourself when you feel up to it.
Why should a new mommy come to your Friday morning class?
I have always really liked the idea that these classes give women an opportunity to "find a tribe." Having a baby is hard work, and being in a room with other women who get it- like really, Get it- helps so much. Plus, the babies get to meet their first friends!! When I first had my son, I was surprised at how lonely life as a new mom could be. When I started going to Baby and Me classes, I found other women who could relate to that, which was really helpful. It was also a safe environment to ask questions, vent, and sometimes even laugh!
The reason I love working with my pregnant patients is that pregnancy is such a great time to build a wellness routine. It is also good to clarify exercise guidelines and to encourage women to check with their obstetricians in case there are special circumstances around their pregnancy that would affect their exercise tolerance.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists publishes recommendations that can be found here:
Exercise During Pregnancy
There is also a lot of misinformation out there regarding pregnancy and exercise, including kegels prenatally and post-partum. While these are important core muscles, it is important to remember that they need to be relaxed and flexible in order to birth a baby.
Many women will begin kegel exercises for the first time during pregnancy. Therefore, I recommend only 2 sets of 10 repetitions of "quick flicks". These are quick kegels that you do not hold...the pace is "tighten, relax...tighten, relax" and so on. Ten repetitions should only take 10 seconds!
Post-partum is a wonderful time to pick up kegels to restore normal pelvic floor muscle tone, increase circulation to the pelvis and to promote healing in the event of episiotomey or tearing. Return to "quick flicks", but increase to 5 sets of 10 repetitions. Then incorporate kegels that you hold for up to a count of 20 seconds-build up to 2 sets of 10 repetitions.
Please note that it is very important not to do a kegel to stop and start the flow of urine as an exercise! It can increase your risk of a urinary tract or kidney infection!
How do I do a kegel, you ask?
First, lying down or sitting in a relaxed position, imagine your pelvic floor muscles. These are the muscles you contract to stop the flow of urine or from passing gas. Trying not to tighten you abdominal or buttock muscles, gently contract your pelvic floor muscles. Imagine lifting up and in with the muscles, feeling them tighten and subsequently relax when you release them. As you do a kegel, begin with tightening gently to avoid using other muscles such as your abdominals. Gradually, work towards holding the kegel longer and contracting more forcefully.
- Nancy Charlebois PT, MT