12 Tips for Breastfeeding Success

12 tips for breastfeeding success

Before having my first baby, I was clueless as to how breastfeeding actually worked. I had seen my friends breastfeed, and gotten a few pointers during my prenatal class, but the mystery remained absolute, and was only to be revealed in real-time when baby finally arrived…

Many surprises ensued!

Day 1: Wow, these guys really have practiced their technique in the womb. Already so strong! (Aww 🙂 )
Week 1: Wait a second.. this hurts..
Month 1: Really, again?
And so on.

I didn’t realize to what extent breastfeeding is something you learn, that it takes time to “master”, and that there really are tools to help us get by.

Here are 12 tips that helped me along my breastfeeding journeys.

12 tips for breastfeeding success

 

#1: IT MAY HURT AT FIRST, POSSIBLY ALOT

In the beginning weeks, both of my breastfeeding experiences were very painful. I know that it is usually said that it is not supposed to hurt if baby is properly latched on etc., but in my experience, baby and I had a learning curve we had to get through together, that meant a few days/weeks of discomfort and sometimes lots of pain. But I believed we would get through it, and I put myself in the mindset that it was “normal” to experience this for a certain amount of time. (That said, a lactation consultant can be of great help in case there are latching problems or other, etc.)

12 tips for breastfeeding success - giggling

 

#2: GET COMFY

Make sure your entire body is supported. Use as many cushions as you need to support your back, body and arms.

12 tips for breastfeeding success - giggling

Then see how it feels to relax the entire body, even the neck, face and jaw. (I know that’s hard to do when breastfeeding hurts!) A relaxed body can help to relax the mind, which in turn will be a factor in producing the milk production hormones.

I used a breastfeeding pillow like this:

12 tips for breastfeeding success - giggling

but there are also breastfeeding pillows that give height all around your arm, (which is where I was often lacking and compensating by raising my shoulder, thus tensing my muscles.)

Here are 10 more (fun!) tips for good posture

 

#3: WATER

Drinking plenty of water is one of the most important parts of breastfeeding success. Aim for at least 10 glasses of water a day.

12 tips for breastfeeding success - drinking water

 

#4: A GIGGLE 🙂

*For low milk supply

Not that you really feel like it in the first weeks if breastfeeding is painful and exhausting, but if you can find a way to get a giggle, it can truly help with let-down reflex and augmenting milk supply as it helps to relax mama and release oxytocin, the hormone leading to milk let-down and production. I discovered this by chance the second time around because of baby herself 🙂 She gets so excited when it’s time to feed, starts sending me cute glances and grinning, which in turn makes me giggle.. which makes her giggle, which makes me giggle and so on. I actually found myself having a laugh more than once and without fail this brings upon a full let-down.

If baby’s not there to make you giggle, there are always bloopers (my favorite)or whatever gets you smiling. (these comics about parenting also helped me out!)

http://www.todaysparent.com/family/parenting/8-things-youve-probably-never-done-unless-youre-a-parent/

12 tips for breastfeeding success - giggling

 

#5: AIR OUT THE BOOBS

*For sore nipples and plugged milk ducts

This is also a point I mention in my “postnatal survival guide” for new moms.

It’s a pretty simple one to understand, but as much as I can, I go, well, “boob commando.” I had problems with plugged milk ducts and soar nipples the first time around and found that « airing out my boobs » was a great help. So when the second time came around, I didn’t hesitate. Not the « chic-est » of all looks, but well worth it :).

 

 

#6: NO TIGHT BRAS

*For clogged milk ducts

Ouch, I made this mistake after my first baby, when I started to go back to yoga classes. This unfortunately brought upon plugged milk ducts for me, which was so painful and took quite a while to finally get rid of.

12 tips for breastfeeding success - giggling

 

#7: EXPRESSED MILK AFTER A FEED

*For sore nipples

It is a well-known tip, but lightly coating the nipple with breast milk after feeding baby helps to relieve soreness and can prevent chapping.

 

#8: VISUALIZATION

*For low milk supply

If ever you’re having trouble with milk production, visualization can be a very useful tool.

Close your eyes, and imagine rivers and streams, see them in your mind’s eye. Then imagine that you are in these rivers, being immersed in the water or that the streams are actually flowing through you! I know, this sounds a bit “mystical” :),  but this visualization helped me out almost every time when my milk was having trouble coming in.

12 tips for breastfeeding success - giggling

 

#9: PARTNER SUPPORT

Your partner can help out by sending over some encouraging words, pillows and glasses of water.

12 tips for breastfeeding success - partner helping

 

#10: KELLYMOM

You most likely know of KellyMom already. What an unbelievable resource. A nurturing presence, KellyMom has comforted me so many times during both of my postnatal phases, especially in regards to breastfeeding by helping me feel that I was doing a great job and that I can do this thing.

I love you!

12 tips for breastfeeding success - kellymom

 

#11: LACTATION HERBAL TEA

Lactation herbal tea helps to promote milk production and is also a tasty way to drink more liquids. Many brands exist, I used Mother’s Milk.

12 tips for breastfeeding success - giggling

 

#12: IN TIME, YOU WILL BOTH BECOME PROS

We will both become pros! It may take a couple of weeks or even months, but baby will soon be a champ, and you too. You’re doing an amazing job!

12 tips for breastfeeding success - giggling

Please feel free to add your suggestions in the comment section below.


aboutbw2Hi! I’m Myriam, a former dancer turned yoga teacher based in Montreal. I’m also mama to two unbearably beautiful little ones, ages 1 and 4. 🙂 I believe in the virtues of bringing breath and body awareness as well as humor and loving-kindness to new mamas, and mamas-to-be! Read more→


More from 10ThingsYogaMama:

10 Postnatal Exercises To Help You Return To Yoga (And To Feeling Like You Again!)

10 Postnatal Yoga Exercises

Yoga Music for Labor – 10 Songs I Prepared (But Never Got To Use!)

This post contains affiliate links.

Although I had planned on it, I didn’t actually get around to listening to music during my 2 labors, even if I had prepared some for both occasions. The first time around, the labor was so intense from the get-go with contractions every 1-3 minutes, that I didn’t even think of the idea of having music playing. All I needed and wanted was silence, and the reassuring presences of my midwife and partner around me.

And my second labor went so fast that by the time we made it to the birthing center, my baby girl was already in my arms within a few minutes.. bliss. 🙂

But I would have loved to experience the soothing effects of music while laboring.

Relaxation during labor can help to lessen the sensations of pain, as well as create a climate of safety and trust, which in turn helps the body and mind to relax and let go.

It is even recommended to try dancing during labor. I did not get around to that one. LOL. But if you are able to, dancing, alone or with your partner during labor, can help us connect to the joyous nature of pregnancy and birth, create mobility in the body and help to relieve stress and anxiety by releasing endorphins into the body (the powerful pain-relieving and pleasure-enhancing hormone that our bodies produce during labor to help mediate the pain of contractions).

Here are 10 pieces of music that I would have liked to have included into my labors. There are no words, just sounds and melodies.

Note: Some of these are also pieces that I love to use while teaching or practicing yoga.

 

#1: Bija: Soothing Music and Mantras

One of my classics! For yoga practice, as well as for moments of relaxation. (Sample)

 

#2: Spiegel im Spiegel for violin and piano

This is one of my all-time favorite pieces, it is just so, so gentle. I love to use it for Savasana. It is a bit nostalgic though, so I don’t know how I would’ve actually enjoyed it during labor, but it was top of the list! (Sample)

 

 

#3: Shivaratri: Mantra for Yoga Class

I find this piece so appeasing, as it brings me calm and focus, and a feeling of release. (Sample)

 

 

#4: Childbirth Music (2)

From this series are very beautiful piano pieces that I simply enjoy. (Sample)

 

#5: Calm Pregnancy Music Academy

This piece has piano and water sounds which I’m not usually a fan of, but that managed to soothe me. (Sample)

 

#6: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSXc-a_AH2k

This is a funny one to include, but it’s the music from this birth affirmations video by Indigo Midwifery that I mention in a few posts, which I used during my second pregnancy in preparation for labor and that was so helpful for me. And you’ll find beautiful birth affirmations too! (Sample)

 

#7: Serene Morning

This is another funny and random one that I’m almost embarrassed to include: it’s the alarm tone from my phone called “Serene Morning”. I found it so soothing to hear every morning during my second pregnancy, and it somehow made me feel so calm, that even though it only lasts 23 seconds, I actually prepared the link in loop mode and kept the page open days in advance before my second delivery, ready to play when the time came. Again, it all went so fast that I didn’t get the chance to use it, but would have loved to! (The link provided here is actually a version that is already looped for 10 minutes 🙂 ) (Sample)

 

#8: Anti Stress Music for Labor, Delivery & Baby

Gentle piano, with some ocean wave sounds – again, not usually my thing, but in this case works for me 🙂 (Sample)

 

#9: Eternal OM

This is another one of my favorites for yoga class, especially for Savasana. It is about an hour of an ongoing om, calms and centers the mind. I think it would have been a nice tool to help me remain focused during labor. (Sample)

 

#10: Heart Sutra

I just love this piece. You may well be familiar with music by Wah! from yoga classes, she has so much beautiful music to discover. This song actually does soften my heart 🙂 Without a doubt my favorite piece by her. (Sample)

 

I would love to know if you got a chance to listen to your favorite music during labor, and if it was helpful for you or if you have any other recommendations. Please feel free to comment below!


aboutbw2Hi! I’m Myriam, a former dancer turned yoga teacher based in Montreal. I’m also mama to two unbearably beautiful little ones, ages 1 and 4. 🙂 I believe in the virtues of bringing breath and body awareness as well as humor and loving-kindness to new mamas, and mamas-to-be! Read more→


More from 10ThingsYogaMama:

10 Late-Pregnancy Yoga-Inspired Exercises

Find some comfort and prepare the body and mind for birth with these prenatal yoga exercises.


Sunflower Seed Veggie Pâté in 4 Easy Steps

One of my all-time favorite recipes! An awesome and healthy snack for both prenatal and postnatal mamas. LOVE THIS!


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using these links. Your price doesn’t change but this commission helps support this site. Thank you!

12 Birth Affirmations That Gave Me Strength

Because sometimes words, spoken or thought, have the power to carry us through one contraction after another, and even childbirth itself, positive birth affirmations truly can play an inspiring and invaluable role during labor and delivery.

After my first labor, I realized the importance that encouraging words had played in helping me to cope and stay focused during birth. Bringing me “into” myself, they allowed me to let go of tension and fear, and to just let the amazing birthing process occur…

..What wonder!..

When it was time to prepare for my second labor, I remembered and noted the words and phrases that had made a difference for me during my first labor, and I also sat down to find some other words that seemed meaningful and might help me get by, this second time around.

Here are some of the encouraging, empowering, or just plain and simple words that I thought or heard during my two labors, and that gave me strength.

#1: THIS PAIN IS SO POWERFUL, BUT I CAN HANDLE IT

Telling myself that I could handle it… helped me to handle it! Kind of like an auto-suggestion to convince myself of my capacities, I find this affirmation is similar to one I discovered recently, the: “You can do anything for 1 minute” birth affirmation…  so true! I was unfortunately unaware of this one before the time came, as I am sure it could have come in handy. 🙂

12 Positive Birth Affirmations

 

#2: I ACCEPT THIS PAIN TO WELCOME MY BABY INTO THE WORLD

Giving meaning to the pain helped me to make sense out of the intensity of the contractions, which could at times seem overwhelming. For example, as we drove to the birthing center, my contractions were getting to be quite strong. At one point, we passed by my son’s daycare, which led me to see his beautiful face in my mind, and say to myself : “This is what this is for”.

12 Positive Birth Affirmations

 

#3: ONE CONTRACTION AT A TIME, AND AT THE END OF ALL THIS, I’LL HAVE MY LITTLE PEANUT

This phrase was emailed to me by my friend in the week preceding my second delivery. It somehow stuck in my head, and made so much sense during my labor, and was the one phrase that helped me through the few contractions while my partner ran downstairs to drop our son off with the neighbors.

12 Positive Birth Affirmations

 

On an uber cute note, here is the most adorable post with dozens of variations on the theme of the cutiepie nicknames we give to our little balls of treasure love..worth the read! 😉

www.littleheartsbooks.com/2012/10/19/300-nicknames-for-your-babykins-doodlebug-snugglebunny/

 

#4: ” … “

Sometimes silence, with no words or thoughts is what we need to create that deep connection with what is occurring now, in the present moment, and in the case of childbirth, to the infinitely wonderous event that is taking place, as our body labors and opens to give birth to our baby.

You can even ask those around you to encourage you to stay in your “bubble”.

12 Positive Birth Affirmations

 

 

#5: I AM DOING A FANTASTIC JOB

Labor can feel like an Olympic Marathon. We need encouragements! I never imagined they could be so welcome until the surge of strength I experienced when support staff cheered me on.

..can be replaced that with “Wonderful” or “Amazing”, or whatever fits for you..

These encouragements can also come from your partner, or the people accompanying you.

12 Positive Birth Affirmations

 

#6: HERE COMES ANOTHER WAVE, I CAN RIDE IT.

Being aware of the passing nature of the contraction helped me cope with one at a time. Knowing that although so intense, these waves rise and fall, they come and go, they rise and fall, they come and go..

12 Positive Birth Affirmations

 

#7: EVERYTHING IS GOING WELL

During my first labor, the contractions felt so powerful and painful, and I realized after some time, that I was scared..that it could not be “normal” that it hurt this much. When I was finally told by my midwife that I was doing a good job and that everything was going well, this changed my frame of mind. And I know that my body heard the message. I started to labor more freely, more intuitively, and with more trust!

12 Positive Birth Affirmations

 

#8: YES

I mention this story a few times in other posts,  as it was a truly pivotal moment during my first labor. Simply resumed, during my first labor, the ongoing pain of the contractions was such that I began me to greet every new surge with a “No.. no, no no…” At this point, my midwife gently proposed “See if you can say yes, instead”. Although not what I felt like saying, I did, and my body received the message and began “opening” and letting go, and labor progressed.

12 Positive Birth Affirmations

 

#9: MY PELVIS IS RELEASING AND OPENING

..my pelvis is releasing and opening to let my baby come through the passage.. These words, so simply in tune and anchored in the present moment and physical body, again, were some of the words that made such sense as I experienced childbirth.

 

12 Positive Birth Affirmations

 

#10: I CAN BREATHE THROUGH THIS CONTRACTION

It sometimes felt like I just couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to cope with another contraction. Knowing, being confident that I could breathe through one more, and again one more, was a powerful coping mechanism for me. I practiced these belly breathing exercises throughout pregnancy in preparation for labor.

 

12 Positive Birth Affirmations

 

#11: I RELAX AND RELEASE MY BODY, AS BEST I CAN

Something prenatal yoga helps with so much, the ability to relax and release what we can, even with feelings of pain within the body. It is often also said during labor, relaxed jaw, relaxed cervix. (Relaxing the region of the mouth actually has the effect of relaxing the rest of the body).

12 Positive Birth Affirmations

 

#12: I AM SO CONNECTED TO LIFE RIGHT NOW

This may sound unbelievable, but I remember the pain of labor with fondness, as something blissful,  as it was preparing me to meet with my babies. The incredible list of labor hormones has something to do with this, of course ;), as the sensations going through my body in such in an intense way, was like being directly plugged into life itself.

12 Positive Birth Affirmations

 

 

If you have a planned c-section, or are interested in birth affirmations for any birth, I found these ones posted by Beautiful In His Time  and made by Kaya Edwards, birth doula very beautiful and soothing.

personal birth aff

 

heart1

 

Are you wondering about birth preparation?

I’ve put together a Birth Preparation eBook with the resources and exercises that were the most useful in both of my birthing experiences in helping me to prepare for labor in view of natural childbirth. (Note: this is a pay what you want e-book, which means you choose your price)

INCLUDES:
• 25 Ways to Prepare for Labor Physically and Mentally
• Pain Management Techniques
• Relaxation Exercises
• Mental Preparation Tips

+ ADDED SECTIONS:

• 5 Breathing Exercises
• 6 Kegel Exercises
• Perineum Massage 10-step Guide
• Good Posture 10 Tips Checklist
• 11 Printable Birth Affirmations
• Sample Week Schedule
• Birth Ritual Ideas

 


aboutbw2 Hi! I’m Myriam, a former dancer turned yoga teacher based in Montreal. I’m also mama to two unbearably beautiful little ones, ages 1 and 4. 🙂 I believe in the virtues of bringing breath and body awareness as well as humor and loving-kindness to new mamas, and mamas-to-be! Read more→


11 Natural Ways To Manage Pregnancy-Induced Eczema

I suffered from pregnancy-induced eczema during both of my pregnancies. It was a painful and maddening experience, with flare-ups so intense it was hard to think about anything else, and even sleep. I remember crying out of frustration on more than one occasion, not knowing what to do about the relentless urges to scratch and scratch some more. 🙁 This is probably what I found the most difficult about both of my pregnancies.

During these weeks of my life, I did a lot reading, and I tried many different tips and options looking for natural ways to manage pregnancy-induced eczema.

I had flare-ups on my hands, belly and legs. Not everything I tried was successful, as finding solutions to eczema is indeed such a personal journey, but here is the list of things that did help me to find some peace, appease the flares-ups, and allow me to enjoy the beautiful life growing in my belly!

Yay!

If you are presently experiencing pregnancy-induced eczema, I send you my sincere love. Please know that this too shall pass. Now that I’ve had my baby, the flare-ups have once again subsided, if this can be of any encouragement. 🙂

11 Natural Ways To Manage Pregnancy-Induced Eczema

 

11 Natural Ways To Manage Pregnancy-Induced Eczema

#1: WATER!

This is probably the number one tip I would recommend for pregnancy eczema. Staying hydrated can calm flare-ups by helping to maintain proper functioning of our body, and it promotes overall well-being. Water also helps us to absorb nutrients, which in turn make their way to baby. So as a mama-to-be, it can be very calming to know that we’re also taking care of our baby.

Aim to drink 8-10 glasses of water each day. One of my tricks was to keep the water jug out at all times, in view and ready for a pour!

Aim to drink 8-10 glasses of water each day

Note: Mineral water was particularly helpful for me, which I included as part of my daily habits. The minerals in the water have been shown to participate in the reduction of flare-ups.

 

#2: KEEP THE AREA DRY

This is definitely one that goes both ways. Some recommend keeping the eczema-prone skin fully and continually moisturized, while others recommend the opposite. In my experience, it was very helpful to keep the eczema-prone areas dry, as bone. I had eczema on my hands, so I wore cotton-lined gloves for all household tasks (not just the dishes, but cleaning, so as not to get the skin damp with cloth),  and made sure to properly dry my hands after washing them.

Keep the eczema-prone areas dry (I wore gloves for all household chores)

 

#3: RUB INSTEAD OF SCRATCHING

This was a very helpful tip for me. When you really must give the area a scratch, try “scratching” your eczema with your finger pads or with a cloth instead of your nails, so more like a rub. This helps to avoid making the rash worse, or bleed, thus preventing the “itch-scratch” cycle to go on, which can in return actually allow for the skin to heal (thus making the eczema not as bad!).

Rub instead of scratching, with finger pads or a cloth

 

 

#4: E-CREAM

This cream saved my sanity! I discovered it by chance in a natural products store and it ended up being a savior for me. I had been looking for non-chemical, non-cortisone creams, safe for pregnancy, and had tried so many different ones. The worker there had me try some, it was green (!)  and so soothing.. I couldn’t quite believe it, but this actually turned out to be a bit of a miracle cream for me, as it did not fail to help me find some peace in moments of extremely itchy eczema. I still use it now, for my son’s winter cheeks:) I feel such gratitude for this cream as it has been such a friend. (where to find)

My loved E-Cream

#5: WEAR GENTLE LOOSE COTTONS

I felt like the Princess and the Pea, but I was able to tell when my clothes were not made of 100% cotton (!). It’s as if the fibers “stuck out” and into my skin, and started an itch. When I realized this, my wardrobe dramatically down-sized to but a few precious articles: loose baggy pyjama-type pants, and a few loose white cotton tops..,   which I wore in rotation for the last weeks of my pregnancy.  (Bless my guy for finding me lovely in the same clothes every day!).

Wear gentle loose cottons

 

#6: BELLY BREATHING

Deep belly breathing calms the nervous system and helps to relieve tension in the mind and body, which can in turn begin to appease the itching sensations of eczema. Find a moment during the day to sit or lay, or to take a pause from what you are doing to practice belly breathing. Here are 4 belly breathing exercises you can begin with.

Belly Breathing

Note: I find that in bed when waking up is a great time to practice breathing exercises, and a gentle way to start the day. 🙂

Note 2:This is also a wonderful tool in preparation for birth.

Note 3: Bring your attention to the breath to practice breath awareness meditation at the same time.

 

#7: OMEGA-3’S

Recommended to me by a naturopath, taking Omega-3’s (or fish oils) may help by reducing an inflammatory substance in the body that plays a role in eczema flare-ups. It has to be taken for at least 3 months to notice the effects though! So this one may not be for you if you’re already nearing your due date, but if not, this can be worth the try. It was nothing dramatic in my case, but I did notice a change in the feel of my skin, as if it felt “healthier” and a bit less sensitive.

Omega-3’s (or fish oils)

 

#8: YOGA

Prenatal Yoga

Note: Sweat can be a contributing factor to flare-ups, so wash and dry the skin if you break a sweat.

 

#9: VISUALIZATION / RELAXATION

This exercise can help to calm the nervous system, which can in turn help to soothe inflammation.

Find a comfortable position, lying down in a reclined position or on your left side:

Visualization

1. Close the eyes
2. Practice 1-3 minutes of belly breathing
3. Take a moment to relax the entire body: head and face, shoulders and arms, torso, hips, legs and feet (and toes 🙂 )
4. Then bring your attention to the places where you feel the burning or itching sensations, for example, the hands
5. Imagine that the hands are softening, almost melting, following the breath:

Inhale to the “Hands”
Exhale imagine them “Melting”

Inhale, “Hands”
Exhale, “Melting”

6. Repeat for 5-10 breaths
7. Repeat this visualization with the other flare-up areas.

 

#10: CONSIDER CHANGING DETERGENTS

Commercial laundry detergents can be harsh on the skin or allergen, which can participate in the flares-ups. Look for natural, dye-free laundry detergents instead, which can also benefit the entire family.

Look for natural, dye-free laundry detergents

 

#11: EPSOM SALT BATH

My grandmother is from England (as are Epsom salts), and she has always recommended Epsom salt baths to me for a variety of ailments such as soar feet, cold symptoms and to get the circulation going. I’ve grown to love Epsom salts dearly, I guess it kind of feels like I’m being taken care of by my grandmother when I use them. 🙂 In any case, Epsom salt baths, rich in magnesium, can be soothing, and help to reduce dryness or flaking. These baths also promote relaxation.. which may also be why I found them so helpful in appeasing the flare-ups.

Epsom salt bath

Note: Some recommend to avoid soaking, so see how this fares for you. To be taken with a grain of salt 😉

 

These may already be things that you have tried out, in which case, I wish I could have helped more! If not, I do hope these tips are helpful and allow you to find some peace.

I would love to hear of which tips were helpful for you! Please feel free to share in the comment section below.

In the meantime, I wish you a wonderful time with your growing belly! xo

heart1


aboutbw2Hi! I’m Myriam, a former dancer turned yoga teacher based in Montreal. I’m also mama to two unbearably beautiful little ones, ages 1 and 4. 🙂 I believe in the virtues of bringing breath and body awareness as well as humor and loving-kindness to new mamas, and mamas-to-be! Read more→


This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase using them. Your price doesn’t change but this commission goes to supporting this site (and to getting more E-Cream). Thank you!

MY LOVED E-CREAM!

Made by Skin Essence, some of the ingredients include: Gotu Kola extract, White Kaolin Clay and Blue Chamomile Oil, all organic. It takes 2-3 minutes for it to start working.

I used it in the morning and night, but also at any other time of the day when the flare-ups were just too intense. I had a jar that I carried around with me everywhere, lol.

I went to the extent of contacting the company with my enthusiasm, and they are extending a 15% discount to 10ThingsYogaMama readers.

Find it here
You can use promo code YOGAMAMA for 15% discount:

This is what it really looks like 🙂

Use promo code “YOGAMAMA”

As mentioned, I also use this cream on my son’s winter cheeks, and it can be used as a sunblock, and even a diaper rash cream. I have also offered this cream as a present to some of the cherished women in my life. One might say this cream made an impact on my life.

I love this cream. I love this cream!!!

I know that the same thing doesn’t work for everybody, but if this does end up helping you, I am so happy to have spread the good word. (And I would love to hear if it was helpful for you!)

 

I wish you all the best on your journey, and mostly, some peace.




 

25 Ways To Prepare For Labor (Physically and Mentally) – Part 2

*Adjust your price in the “Amount” box.

Labor is a mysterious and profound experience, usually ranging somewhere on the “marathon” scale from hours to days in length (although some labors will actually end up being quite short. I know of a couple who named their daughter “Octavia”, as labor lasted 8… minutes !).

In general however, preparing for labor, means preparing for a sort of marathon by building physical and mental endurance, and by giving ourselves resources and tools, almost like a toolbox, that we can come back to when the time comes, to help us cope with the intense and awe-inspiring event that is childbirth.

As our bodies progress through the birthing experience, much of our rational brain “turns off”, and some of the most important tools available to us become:

1. BREATHING
2. MOVEMENT
3. BODY AWARENESS

I’ve rounded up what ended up being the 25 most useful resources in both of my birthing experiences in helping me to develop this awareness in preparation for labor.

Often times, the welcomed side-effect of these exercises is to make pregnancy a bit more “comfortable”, too !

*There are many proven techniques that you can also look into and study, such as HypnoBirthing, Lamaze, The Bradley Method, Bonapace Method and Alexander Technique to name a few. Also, having a doula at your side can play an important role when it comes to pain management.
* As always, please consult with a licensed physician before beginning any new exercise program. The exercises and suggestions provided here are in no way intended as a substitute for medical consultation.

(.. continued from Part 1)

#13: WALKING

Why:
– Without a doubt, walking is one of the best ways to build physical and mental stamina in preparation for labor.
Activates circulation.
Tones the muscles.
– Can help to reduce swelling in the legs.
– Allows us to breathe fresh air, oxygenating the muscles.
– Helps relieve stress and anxiety.
Energizes the body and mind.
– Can encourage the progression of labor.

Walking in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

How to:
– If you have no contraindications from your doctor or midwife, you can aim for a 10-60 minute (or 2 to 6 km) walk every day (or just about), all the way until the end of pregnancy.
– Find a pace that is suitable for you.
– If you’re not used to walking, start with shorter walks, gradually lengthening over time.
Here are 10 exercises you can do while walking, for maintaining a healthy posture.
For tension relief, this is a simple meditation exercise, called a “walking meditation.”
Useful tips to add steps to your day include: parking the car further away, wearing comfortable shoes, taking the stairs rather than the elevator, etc.

 

#14: PRACTICE SAYING “YES”

Why:
– This personal point ended up being one the more useful tools in my mental preparation.
During my first labor, I started to become tired of the pain and continuous flow of contractions which had been coming on every 1-3 minutes for about 12 hours, and I began to lose my capacity to deal.
– When a new contraction, or « wave » would come in, I started to say “No no no no ….”
at which point my midwife made her way to my side and gently proposed: “See if you can say yes, instead”.. (so this was obviously not what I felt like saying 🙂 , but I did it), and low and behold my body started to let go, and I entered the pushing phase not long after.
Saying « yes », the word, seemed to send a yes message of receptivity, release and opening to my body, even if not on a conscious level.
– I was then more able to allow the contractions to happen, instead of pushing them away.

Saying yes preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

How to:
During your daily routine or while exercising, see how it feels to welcome the sensations that arise in your body with a “yes” as best you can, creating a feeling of release, even surrender to that which is occurring in your body at that time.
– This can also be used during labor, allowing the contractions to happen without looking to avoid, change or push them away, simply, « yesingly » letting them happen.

 

#15: REST

Why:
– Resting the body, especially during late-pregnancy, is just as important as activating and mobilizing it.
Restores energy
– A rested body will have more energy for labor.
A self-care practice, where mama takes care of mama, vital during pregnancy, and motherhood 🙂 .

Rest in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

How to:
– When possible, find a moment during the day to lay your body down.
– The most comfortable positions in late-pregnancy will likely be on your left side, or in a reclined position. (Use as many pillows as needed to prop your knee(s), head, etc.)
– As you rest your body, imagine that you are “recharging your batteries”, a wonderful image that can help give meaning and peacefulness to your rest.

 

#16: KEGELS

Why:
Tone the pelvic floor muscles.
Create elasticity in the tissues and muscles of the pelvic floor.
– Promote pelvic floor awareness.
Teach us to relax and release the perineum. When baby makes their way through the birth canal, the pelvic floor muscles and tissues are stretched. Relaxing these muscles as best we can will help to create the space and release for baby’s passage (into our arms!).
A way to stay in tune with our body during labor.

– Can help prevent incontinence.
– Part of postnatal rehabilitation.

Kegels in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

 

How to:
Here are 6 Kegel exercises you can practice throughout pregnancy to develop this awareness and tone.
– As you practice relaxing the pelvic floor, (Kegel Exercise #6), try incorporating the following imagery, specifically in preparation for birth:

As you breathe, close the eyes and imagine that on each exhale, you are breathing gently “downwards” towards your vagina, as a way to become aware of this part of your body and to learn how to relax and release it. You can even say to yourself: “I am preparing the passage for my baby.”

Note: Do not practice pushing!

 

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#17: WHAT IS A CONTRACTION?

Why:
– Learning what a contraction does, can help to “work with” it.

What is a contraction - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

How:
(in layman’s terms:)
– The uterus is an incredibly strong muscular organ that can expand during pregnancy from around the size of a closed fist to become large enough to hold a full term baby.
– A contraction is an awe-inspiring co-action of the uterus:

While the top of the uterus tightens and thickens,
the bottom (or cervix) relaxes and stretches
to help baby through into the birth canal for delivery.

– Contractions start in response to the release of oxytocin (“love” hormone produced by our brain).
– Isn’t it just so amazing? I am eternally in awe of the human body.
– From there, encouraging this action through words or thoughts, may help us feel like we can work with our body.
– Here are some example phrases that can help to visualize this action:

Each contraction helps soften and open my cervix
for the passage of my baby.

I abandon myself to this contraction.
Each contraction is helping my baby get closer to my arms.

– For more information on the fascinating cocktail of hormones we produce during childbirth, here is a clear and beautifully written overview of Labor Hormones by Mama Glow.

 

#18: SQUAT

Why:
Hip openers, squats help to prepare the pelvis for birth.
Build (lots of!) endurance, making us stronger for labor.
Bring tone and elasticity to the pelvic floor, promoting perineum health. Try adding Kegels to your squats for optimal benefits.
Grounding, rooting effect.
– Natural way to induce labor.
– During labor, they “shorten” the birth canal by up to 30%, and help baby descend deeper into the pelvis.

How to:
– Here are 2 squats that you can practice throughout pregnancy in preparation for birth.

Squat in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

SQUAT #1. This first squat focuses on hip opening and pelvic floor toning (and is also birthing position)

– Feet about shoulder width apart, toes pointing outward.
– Knees bend (in alignment with the toes) to bring bum towards the ground.
– Elbows press into the inner legs, hands in prayer position, or stretched out on floor in front of you.
– Hold for 20-60 seconds, breath steady and full.
Renowned midwife Ina May Gaskin suggests doing 300 squats a day.. that’s a lot! But I believe the idea is to add squats into your day, whenever you can! For example while cleaning, bending down to pick something up, playing with your children, etc.

* Do not do this full squat if you have placenta previa or if your cervix is fragile or if it’s uncomfortable. Instead, try sitting on a chair or a yoga ball with legs straddled (feet flat on the floor, as in the yoga ball hip circles)
* During late-pregnancy it can be a good idea to place support under your bum, with a pillow, bolster or block so as not to put too much pressure on the pelvic floor
* If the heels don’t touch the ground, place a rolled blanket underneath them for support.

Squat in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

SQUAT #2. This second squat focuses on building leg strength and stamina in preparation for labor:

– Feet take a wider stance, toes still pointing outwards.
– Bend the knees, aligned with the toes, hands rest on thighs or a chair for support.
Add lateral movement:
Inhale: Right arm up and over
Exhale: Back to center
Repeat on the other side, 5-10 times each side.
– *If balance is unsteady, use a chair or counter top for support.

Take advantage of the lovely side stretch, filling the lungs with deep and joyous breaths!

 

#19: PREPARE ENCOURAGEMENT NOTES!

Why:
– During labor, hearing positive words can encourage the production of labor-enhancing hormones (oxytocin, the “love” hormone, and endorphins, our natural pain relievers).
– Can calm and reassure mama, creating a climate of trust. During my first labor, the pain was so powerful that I thought something was wrong. Being told that “everything was going well” helped me to understanding that this pain was normal, making me feel safe for both me and my baby. I was then able to let myself go with more trust to the process of labor.
– A way to connect with birth partner.
– An occasion for partner to look into birth partner preparation.

Encouragement notes in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

How to:
– Think of words that might inspire or encourage you.
– Here are some examples of the words that helped me during labor.

Note: You may end up not wanting to hear anything at all!

 

#20: Study and practice LABOR POSITIONS

Why:
– Though they may come to you naturally during labor, practicing various labor positions in advance can be a way to help them become more intuitive and natural, so that you won’t have to “think” about them during birth.
– As some positions require a partner, can be a way to connect with your partner in the weeks before baby’s arrival.

Labor positions in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally
Illustrations by Shanna Finger

How to:
– Above is an example of various labor positions.
– Some partner positions involve the use of acupressure points, which can greatly benefit the laboring mama!

Tip: During labor, walk and change positions as often as you can. It is usually recommended to try any given position for between 20 and 30 minutes to let it have its effect.

 

#21: DANCE!

Why:
– More of a for-fun point, but because that’s important too! 🙂
– Can help us connect to the joyous nature of pregnancy, and birth.
– Creates mobility in the body.
– Relieves stress and anxiety.
– Can help to relax mama. A relaxed mama will have more energy for labor.
– Can be used as a natural way to induce labor.
– Some women even use dancing as a coping mechanism during labor.
Releases endorphins into the body. – Endorphins are a powerful pain-relieving and pleasure-enhancing hormone that our bodies produce during labor to help mediate the pain of contractions.

Dancing mama - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

How to:
-Really up to you :), I’m personally a fan of Funk and Motown, it just gets me going :)!
– Try “dancing” with baby by placing your hands on your belly, and sharing the movement.

Note: Even if you feel like a whale, give it a try!

 

#22: VISUALIZATION

Why:
– This is a personal point that proved useful for me during my second pregnancy.
– My first birth was long-ish, 14 hours, with lots of pushing. I believe my body needed to figure out the way to opening and that a little bit of fear of the unknown made me avoid letting go to this “opening”.
– Furthermore, when labor began, my cervix was 0 effaced, 0 dilated, and posterior. (!)
– Because of this experience, when my second pregnancy came around, I was able to prepare mentally in a more concrete way. Along with acknowledging my fears during pregnancy, this visualization proved to be a very useful tool.

Visualization in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

How to:
Simply put, when I was about 37 or 38 weeks pregnant, I started to do some very specific visualization of my body “opening” up, once a day before going to bed.
I found images of the cervix, and what it looks like when it’s going through labor and opening (even just a drawing). – a head-on view was the most useful for me, as in this type of image (no pun intended):

Visualization in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

– I then imagined my own cervix as best I could doing the same thing.
And finally, I imagined breathing into this part of my body, visualizing it relaxing, stretching and opening, with each breath for between 5-10 minutes.
– The image of a flower opening is also often used to nourish this visualization, like in this example:

Visualization in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally
Crowning Rose (By “Gisela”; Artist and Copyright information unknown)

Note: With the ok from your doctor or midwife, Evening Primrose Oil, taken orally (35 weeks +) or directly inserted into the vagina (37 weeks +), can be used to help soften and “ripen” the cervix in the final days of pregnancy. I personally used 500mg capsules which I inserted as of 39 weeks of pregnancy, with positive results on cervical ripening!

 

#23: RELAXATION

Why:
Encourages the production of labor-enhancing hormones (oxytocin, the “love” hormone, and endorphins, our natural pain relievers) during childbirth.
– Helps to alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety. Stress and anxiety can tense up the body, which can in turn slow down the release of labor hormones.
– A relaxed mama will have more energy for labor.
– A relaxed body and mind can help lessen the sensation pain.
– Can help labor to progress by encouraging the body to “open up”.
Relaxation in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

 

How to:
Once a day, practice a relaxation technique, such as:
– If you do yoga, Savasana.
Total body relaxation (many guided relaxation videos exist online).
– Deep and slow belly breathing.
– During labor, promote relaxation for mama with:
– A calm, safe environment.
– Dim lights.
Music.

 

#24: MY POSITION, BABY’S POSITION!

Why:
– The way we sit and stand has a direct effect on baby’s positioning in the womb.
– Especially in 3rd trimester and in preparation for birth, it is recommended to maintain a forward-leaning or vertical stance, and to avoid “slouching” posture to promote optimal positioning for baby.
– Can have a positive effect on the outcome of labor.

Healthy posture in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally
Think of aligning earlobe + shoulder + hip articulation + ankle in a vertical line.

How to:
– Here are 10 (fun!) tips to maintain good posture during pregnancy.
– Once a day, practice a forward leaning pose, such as Downward Dog, or this Forward-Leaning Inversion by Spinning Babies.
– When sitting down to work or watch a movie, prop pillows behind your back to maintain an upright position. (you’ll look funny next normal, relaxed and non-pregnant people 🙂 )
– Avoid sitting cross-legged.
Sit on a birthing ball instead of a chair, as often as you can, especially in late-pregnancy. There are so many benefits to this, including, toning the postural muscles in the spine, toning and supporting the pelvic floor, mobility and opening of the pelvis in preparation for birth, to name but a few. You can practice hip circles and pelvis rocking while you’re at it as well!

 

#25: PRACTICE “HAVING” CONTRACTIONS.. !

Why:
– This exercise can help give a sense as to how long a contraction lasts, and what resources we can hone as coping mechanisms during this lapse of time.

Practice "having" contractions in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

How to:
Take a “sitting” position, with your back gently pressed against the wall, feet hip-width apart in front of you, knees aligned with the feet. You can place a cushion or yoga block in between the thighs to help maintain proper alignment of the knees.
– Hold this position for 60 to 90 seconds, the length of time a contraction lasts!
– During this time, in principle (!), your thighs should begin to feel a burn. 🙂
– While in this “discomfort”, observe which resources help you to find relaxation, calm and breath in your body and mind, using the various tools available to us, for example:

– Come back to breath awareness* using words, or mantras, to help guide you and keep you focused in the present moment.
Relax what doesn’t need to be “working”*, for example the shoulders, face and mouth.
Acknowledge what is there*, sensations, thoughts, emotions, without looking to push them away or avoid them.
Find movement in your position, try rocking the hips side-to-side or in circles.*

Say yes!
– Think of breathing “into” where you feel the heat (as in Hand On Belly Breath Exercise).
Vocalize.*
Breathing exercises.*

(*These points can be found in Part 1)

*Adjust your price in the “Amount” box.

 

I hope these tips are helpful!

I did not include proper hydration and a healthy diet, which are, of course, essential.

One of the healthy snacks I craved the most during pregnancy was this Sunflower Seed Veggie Pâte recipe. I really just couldn’t get enough! 😉

To remain properly hydrated, aim to drink 8-10 glasses of water a day.

If you have tips that were useful for you in preparing for birth, I would love to hear them and share with other mamas-to-be! Please feel free to  share them in the comment section below.

With all of my heart, I wish you a wonderful and joyous birth, and time discovering your new baby. xoxo


Here are some links to books and products that were helpful for me in preparation for birth. They are affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase using these links. Your price doesn’t change but this commission helps support this site. Thank you!

Evening Primrose Oil for cervical ripening:

Barlean’s Organic Oils Organic Evening Primrose Oil, 120 softgels/1300 mg ea. Bottle


Raspberry Leaf Tea can be taken as of 34 weeks, to strengthen and tone the uterine muscles in preparation for labor. This is the one that I used:

Traditional Medicinals Organic Raspberry Leaf Tea, 16 Tea Bags (Pack of 6)


Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body, and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond


The Birth Partner – Revised 4th Edition: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions

 


aboutbw2Hi! I’m Myriam, a former dancer turned yoga teacher based in Montreal. I’m also mama to two unbearably beautiful little ones, ages 1 and 4. 🙂 I believe in the virtues of bringing breath and body awareness as well as humor and loving-kindness to new mamas, and mamas-to-be! Read more→


More from 10ThingsYogaMama:

Birth Affirmations For Dad – 10 Things I Wanted To Hear During Labor

4-Ingredient Magical Chocolate-Blueberry Smoothie

I don’t know what it is, but there’s something magical about this smoothie. The flavors seem to blend perfectly, the quantities are just right, and it feels like a decadent treat, when in fact it’s a simple, healthy and nutritious smoothie!

I just recently discovered this one, so I don’t know how it fares on the “pregnant-mamas’-desires” scale, but for the postnatal mama, it is a welcome addition to any day; not only is it filling and delicious, but it gives a bit of a mood perk too! (chocolate!!!)

Whether it be a warm or a cool season, this smoothie is super for both.

So here it is… again, I know it looks like the simplest smoothie recipe ever, but there’s just something about this combo that works! (like magic 🙂 )

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 Banana
1 cup Frozen Blueberries
1 cup Vanilla Almond Milk
1 heaping tablespoon Cocoa Powder

4-Ingredient Perfect Chocolate Smoothie - Ingredients

PREPARATION:

Blend ingredients together for 30 seconds and serve.

*Note: I recently replaced the blueberries with mixed berries, and the result was almost as good. 😉


aboutbw2Hi! I’m Myriam, a former dancer turned yoga teacher based in Montreal. I’m also mama to two unbearably beautiful little ones, ages 1 and 4. 🙂 I believe in the virtues of bringing breath and body awareness as well as humor and loving-kindness to new mamas, and mamas-to-be! Read more→


More from 10ThingsYogaMama:

10 Postnatal Exercises To Help You Return To Yoga (And to Feeling Like You Again!)



 

25 Ways To Prepare For Labor (Physically and Mentally) – Part 1

Labor is a mysterious and profound experience, usually ranging somewhere on the “marathon” scale from hours to days in length (although some labors will actually end up being quite short. I know of a couple who named their daughter “Octavia”, as labor lasted 8… minutes !).

In general however, preparing for labor, means preparing for a sort of marathon by building physical and mental endurance, and by giving ourselves resources and tools, almost like a toolbox, that we can come back to when the time comes, to help us cope with the intense and awe-inspiring event that is childbirth.

As our bodies progress through the birthing experience, much of our rational brain “turns off”, and some of the most important tools available to us become:

1. BREATHING
2. MOVEMENT
3. BODY AWARENESS

I’ve rounded up what ended up being the 25 most useful resources in both of my birthing experiences in helping me to develop this awareness in preparation for labor.

Often times, the welcomed side-effect of these exercises is to make pregnancy a bit more “comfortable”, too !

*There are many proven techniques that you can also look into and study, such as HypnoBirthing, Lamaze, The Bradley Method, Bonapace Method and Alexander Technique to name a few. Also, having a doula at your side can play an important role when it comes to pain management.
* As always, please consult with a licensed physician before beginning any new exercise program. The exercises and suggestions provided here are in no way intended as a substitute for medical consultation.

25 Ways To Prepare For Labor (Physically and Mentally) - Part 1

25 Ways To Prepare For Labor (Physically and Mentally) - Part 1

#1: BREATHING EXERCISES

Why:
– Without a doubt, abdominal breathing is probably the most important tool available to us during labor to help cope with the intensity and the waves of contractions.
Oxygenates the muscles, thus keeping them more relaxed.
– Helps to focus and anchor the mind.
Calms the nervous system.
– Can help reduce feelings of tension and stress.

Perineum Breathing in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally
Perineum Breathing

How to:
– Here are 4 breathing techniques to help develop abdominal breathing, that can be practiced throughout pregnancy, as well as during labor.

1. Hand on belly breath exercise
2. Ujjayi (or Ocean Breath)
3. “Elevator”, or 3-part breathing
4. Perineum breathing

Note: There is no right or wrong way to breathe. We learn these techniques, like guides, that we can adapt to our comfort and preference. The key is to feel the breath fluid and natural, and even “relaxed” when possible.

“Deep abdominal breathing is calming and reassuring. It’s impossible to feel fear or tension while breathing deeply, slowly, rhythmically.” – Childbirth Educator, Liza Janda

 

#2: YOGA BALL HIP CIRCLES

Why:
– Can help release tension in the pelvis, lower back and abdominal muscles.
– Bring mobility to the pelvis,
which can help ease labor and facilitate baby’s descent through the birth canal.
Develop a breath/movement connectionStaying connected to your breath while moving is one of the great lessons of yoga. It not only keeps us rooted in the present moment, but promotes focus and overall well-being.
– During labor, staying connected to the breath while moving can prove to be an essential tool in making the experience more manageable.

yogaball-hip-circles in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally
Yoga Ball Hip Circles

How to:
Abridged explanation:
– Sitting on a yoga ball, slowly and gently start to move the pelvis in a circular motion, side-front-other side-and back, drawing a circle in space with your hips and lower back, letting yourself go to more ample then more subtle circles.
Breath remains steady, full and connected to the circular motion.
– Circle in the other direction.
Feet are firmly rooted on the ground, and knees are about 90 degrees bent.
– Hands on the thighs with shoulders relaxed.

For a detailed explanation of Yoga Ball Hip Circles click here.

 

#3: PERINEUM “MASSAGE”

Why:
Can help to ready the body and mind for the very real sense of burning that may occur during the infamous “ring of fire”, especially for first-time moms.
May reduce or prevent tearing to the perineum during birth, as well as the need for an episiotomy.
– Promotes pelvic floor awareness.
– If your partner’s the one lending a hand, this can even become a daily moment to share in the final weeks before the arrival of your new baby.

Perineum Massage (10 Steps to Prepare the Perineum for Birth) - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally
Perineum Massage (10 Steps to Prepare the Perineum for Birth)

How to:
– Here is a detailed and illustrated 10-Step Guide to Perineum “Massage”.
Start around week 34 or 35, a few minutes a day.
*Note: Generally speaking, these are not what are referred to as “fun” to do. 😉

 

#4: VISIT AN OSTEOPATH

Why:
– The gentle work of an osteopath can help to find and recreate balance in the body, by “undoing” tensions that may have built up in the muscles, tissues and ligaments over time or simply during the pregnancy.
A mobile and aligned, or “balanced” pelvis can participate in easing labor by facilitating baby’s descent through the birth canal. (See more on “Balance”, one of the 3 Principles in Pregnancy by Spinning Babies.

Visit an osteopath in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

How to:
– Locate directories for osteopaths that treat pregnant women in your region.

 

#5: POSITIVE AFFIRMATION PHRASES

Why:
– Especially during my second pregnancy, I realized how important it is to nourish oneself with positive thoughts. Labor is a voyage into the unknown, and to be strong and prepared mentally, nourishing ourself with positivity can help to build this strength.

Positive Birth Affirmations in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

How to:
– I was so lucky to have found these beautiful positive affirmation phrases, that I listened to every night before going to bed in the final (long 🙂 ) weeks of my second pregnancy.

Truly beautiful and so full of light! (and the music is so soothing!):

Posted on youtube by Indigo Midwifery: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSXc-a_AH2k

Thank you to Indigo Midwifery for posting such a beautiful tool for mamas-to-be!

 

#6: THE “YOU MUST BE LIKE THE BEAST” ..!

Why:
– This yoga-inspired exercise helps us tune into our natural, spontaneous, even animal self, (the Beast 🙂 !) by bringing us to connect to our bodies and to the way it intuitively feels like moving. – Our bodies may choose various movements or positions intuitively during labor to help us cope with the waves of contractions. This exercise helps to nourish that intuition.
– A way to release tension in the body.
– Develops the breath/movement connection.
– Moving can help to make labor more manageable.
Baby gets used to mama’s movements.

25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally
The “You Must Be Like The Beast!”

How to:
Abridged explanation:
Integrate cat/cow and lateral movements of the spine until you aren’t doing specific or technical positions anymore, but simply letting your body move in space how it wishes to.
– Keep the breath flowing, and observe how breath and movement are connected.
Try ample and subtle movements, letting the body go to what it feels like doing. Make it your own thing, kind of like a dance.

If your body ends up doing this kind of a “Beast-like dance” during labor, it may be a way to cope with your contractions. In any case, it feels great 🙂 !

For a detailed description of the “You Must Be Like The Beast”..! click here.

 

 

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#7: PRACTICE MAKING SOUNDS – Vocal Toning

Why:
– There is a good chance we’ll use sounds during labor, as they can play an important part in pain management. –“Practicing” in advance helps us become familiar with our voice and range.
– Vocal toning helps focus the mind and promotes deep relaxation.
– Physiologically, the vocal cords are connected to the diaphragm (the beautiful umbrella-shaped muscle in our torso that expands the rib cage to let air fill the lungs), which is connected to the perineum. (see Perineum Breathing)
– Toning the vocal cords develops this connection.
– Using low vocalizations during labor can lessen the sensation of pain during contractions.

Vocal Toning in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally
Practice low “mmm”, “ah”, “hah” and “ooo” sounds, even if it feels a bit silly 🙂

How to:
– Find a comfortable position.
– Begin by practicing sighing sounds.
– Practice low humming, as well as low vowel sounds, such as “ah”, “hah”, “ooo”.
– Here is a video I discovered during my first pregnancy that helped me practice vocal toning in the perspective of childbirth:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xt8bWVecWEQ

(In this video, the woman demonstrating is lying flat on her back, I would recommend a supported “supine” position (like in the drawing above) for 3rd trimester comfort and to promote optimal circulation.)

*Note: You may look, sound or feel a bit silly doing this, but it’s worth it!

For more information on vocal toning, I found this article by Better Childbirth Outcomes to be very helpful.

 

#8: MEDITATION (through breath awareness)

Why:
– Strengthens our ability to focus and stabilize the mind.
Calms the nervous system.
– Builds inner calm and confidence.
– Brings the attention back to the present moment. –*Bringing the attention to the breath brings the attention back to the present moment, an indispensable tool for helping to remain rooted through emotions and sensations that arise during childbirth.
Elevates levels of endorphins. (endorphins are powerful and natural pain-relieving hormones produced by our bodies)
– Enhances levels of DHEA. (a hormone produced by the body with many benefits such as enhancing the immune system and balancing brain chemistry)
– Can help to regulate heart rate and blood pressure.

Meditation in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally
“Inhaling.. Exhaling..”

How to:
Many meditation techniques exist, this is a breath awareness meditation:

1. Find a comfortable position.
2. Close the eyes, and bring your awareness to your breathing.

Notice the movement of expansion in the body as you inhale, and of release in the body when you exhale. As best you can, stay present to both the inhale and the exhale. It can help to use words, or mantras, as guides, for example:

3. Inhale, say to yourself: “Inhaling”, or “Expansion”, or “Nourish”,

4. Exhale, saying to yourself: “Exhaling” or “Release”, or “Cleanse”.

When thoughts arise and grab your attention, observe them as you need to, (you can even name them, saying for example “thoughts”), then let them pass and follow the breath once more.

It is normal to have many thoughts arise. It may even seem like a continuous stream of the thoughts when you first begin. Meditation will help to make the lapse of time, or “space”, between thoughts become longer.

Observe how the thoughts are like clouds, they come and they go, and that your presence is like the blue and infinite sky behind them, immense and limitless.

We actually are limitless!

Between 5-15 minutes.

Note: If you don’t already have a special place to meditate, try… the bath! One of my favorites! 😉

 

#9: WELCOMING WHAT IS THERE (ie: fear!)

Why:
– Many women experience feelings of fear during pregnancy and labor. (fear of pain, fear of the unknown, etc.)
– This exercise is one of many to learn how to cope with feelings of fear.
– Builds the understanding that it is normal to experience these feelings.
Builds the confidence in ourself that we are prepared and have the tools necessary to deal with emotions that arise.
– As with meditation, this exercise helps us connect to the ever-present space that is in each of us, a safe place that is deeply rooted in the present moment (fear lives in the future!) that we can always come back to.
Calming effect, can help fear feel less “overpowering”.

Welcoming fear in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally
Greeting what is supposed to be a scary creature 🙂

How to:
– When emotions such as fear present themselves, begin by following the breath, using breath awareness. (exercise in #8).
– Then, try to “welcome” the feeling of fear as best you can, acknowledging it’s presence.
– You can even “greet” it, for example, “Hello fear, it’s ok, I see you are there, and that you are a part of what I’m feeling right now.” (but you are not me, nor are you all that I feel!).
– Also, speak about your fears with supportive people you trust.Simply expressing your feelings often has the effect of making them feel less overpowering.
Inform yourself about that which scares you.  “Knowing is half the battle” is especially true when it comes to fear. Fear definitely has a way of getting bigger when it’s left “in the dark”.
Practice techniques that calm the body and mind, such as breathing, meditation, relaxation or yoga.
– Use mantras, for example:

“Inhale courage,
Exhale fear and doubt”

Inhale courage,
Exhale that which does not serve me”
“Inhale I acknowledge my fear,
Exhale I let it go”

– If your feelings are overwhelming, don’t hesitate to seek help from a professional health care provider.

 

#10: STANDING SACRAL RELEASE by Spinning Babies

Why:
– This lesser-known exercise relieves tension in the pelvis and lower back, thus helping to create balance in the body in preparation for birth.
– Can improve fetal positioning and pelvic alignment, which can help to ease labor and to facilitate baby’s descent through the birth canal.
– Creates more comfort during pregnancy, by reducing heartburn and even snoring.
– A way to connect with your partner. – this exercise requires a partner, practicing with your partner can be a way to connect.

25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally
Standing Sacral Release

How to:
-“The Standing Sacral Release is a simple, highly-recommended technique done with a very light touch to release the fascia around the pelvis and the pelvic and respiratory diaphragms.” (Spinning Babies)

http://spinningbabies.com/learn-more/techniques/other-techniques/standing-sacral-release/

 

#11: RELAX WHAT DOESN’T NEED TO BE “WORKING”

Why:
– An excellent tool to use for helping to cope with contractions.
Trains in focusing the mind.
– Develops body awareness.
Relieves stress.
– Helps to calm the mind by bringing the attention back to the present moment.

Relax what doesn't need to be "working" in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

How to:
– You know how sometimes when you’re working hard on something, you realize at one point that you’re tensing up other parts of the body, say the forehead, jaw or shoulders, as if these parts of the body want to “work” with you? (Nice of them, but no thanks 😉 !)
– As you sit or stand, bring your attention to different parts of the body, for example, your mouth. Notice if there is any tension there, and try to relax your mouth. Move your attention to another part of the body, for example the shoulders and jaw, and see if there is any tension there. Then, try to relax them.
Breath remains full.
Closing the eyes can help to focus the mind and become more aware of the subtle sensations in the body.

Note: This is an excellent exercise to practice in moments that require extra or unexpected physical and mental efforts in your day-to-day life (ie: having to carry more bags than you thought while running errands, forgetting something in your home and having to go back up the stairs to get it (and being 8 1/2 months pregnant 🙂 ), being stuck in traffic, having a headache, dealing with your toddler’s tantrum, stubbing your finger, etc.). Each time an extra physical or mental effort presents itself, focus on the body, and attempt to release any tension in the body that doesn’t need to be there.

“Breathing, I find relaxation where I can.”

Contractions are indeed an extra physical and mental effort, and finding any source of relaxation in the body while having one can be an invaluable tool in dealing with the pain.

 

#12: PRENATAL YOGA

Why:
– Increases muscular strength and stamina in preparation for labor.
Reduces stress and anxiety.
– Can help you connect with your baby.
– Improves sleep and helps to make pregnancy more “comfortable”.
– A moment when mama takes care of mama (as well as baby 🙂 ).

Prenatal Yoga in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

How to:
– Find a school you love, this is also a lovely way to meet up with other mamas-to-be!
– There are also many quality videos online.
– You can also have a look at my 10 Late-Pregnancy Yoga-Inspired Exercises.

 

…Continued here in Part 2..

25 Ways To Prepare Yourself For Labor – Instant download e-book!

I’ve put together a Birth Preparation eBook with all of the points from this post, as well as the exercises that were the most useful in both of my birthing experiences in helping me to prepare for labor in view of natural childbirth. (Note: this is a pay what you want e-book, which means you choose your price)

INCLUDES:
• 25 Ways to Prepare for Labor Physically and Mentally
• Pain Management Techniques
• Relaxation Exercises
• Mental Preparation Tips

+ ADDED SECTIONS:

• 5 Breathing Exercises
• 6 Kegel Exercises
• Perineum Massage 10-step Guide
• Good Posture 10 Tips Checklist
• 11 Printable Birth Affirmations
• Sample Week Schedule
• Birth Ritual Ideas

 


aboutbw2Hi! I’m Myriam, a former dancer turned yoga teacher based in Montreal. I’m also mama to two unbearably beautiful little ones, ages 1 and 4. 🙂 I believe in the virtues of bringing breath and body awareness as well as humor and loving-kindness to new mamas, and mamas-to-be! Read more→


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For Part 2, click here





Birth Affirmations For Dad – 10 Things I Wanted To Hear During Labor

This is more of a for-fun post, but hopefully useful for some women too! 🙂

We never know how labor is going to go. It is truly an exciting, thrilling and awe-inspiring journey.

After my first labor, I realized the important role that encouraging words had played in by birthing experience. I am convinced that they helped my labor to progress and to go well overall. I had been laboring for about 12 hours, during which time I had been having ongoing contractions every 1 to 3 minutes, when at one point my midwife said to me “I wouldn’t be able to do what you’re doing”… (hmm.. I’m not too sure about this as she has 4 kids 🙂 !.. but I believe she was encouraging me, and helping me to connect to my inner strength by making me feel like a “tough guy”.) There was also the staff in the room who literally cheered me on as I was pushing, I felt so supported!

So when my second pregnancy came around, I prepared my partner, months in advance, he was warned:  there would be a list.

A list of things I wanted to hear during labor, and that he would have to say to me! 😉

Even if he didn’t think them, I essentially made him say them! Honestly, it was lovely to hear, and definitely made me feel, and know, that he was there for me. My second labor was so short however, that he only got a few of the phrases in, but these moments actually remain as truly beautiful memories from that labor.

Note: you may end up not wanting to hear anything at all! But at least he’ll be ready.

(If you’re feeling unsure about how to support someone during labor, here is a very useful article that gives excellent advice to untrained birth support people: https://www.bellybelly.com.au/birth/ten-tips-on-being-a-great-birth-support-person/)

Birth affirmations for dad:

#1: 

#2:

#3:

#4:

#5:

#6:

#7:

#8:

#9:

#10:

 

Are you wondering about birth preparation?

I’ve put together a Birth Preparation eBook with what ended up being the most useful resources in both of my birthing experiences in helping me to prepare for birth.

Over 140 pages of exercises and tips for birth preparation


aboutbw2Hi! I’m Myriam, a former dancer turned yoga teacher based in Montreal. I’m also mama to two unbearably beautiful little ones, ages 1 and 4. 🙂 I believe in the virtues of bringing breath and body awareness as well as humor and loving-kindness to new mamas, and mamas-to-be! Read more→


More from 10ThingsYogaMama:

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11 Natural Ways To Manage Pregnancy-Induced Eczema





10 Tips For Good (and Happy!) Posture During and After Pregnancy

Whether you just had your baby or are about to, you’ve probably never felt this tired in your life.

So thinking about having a good posture is most likely, well, so not on your list! 🙂

But good posture is not only essential for the health of the spine and for the proper functioning of the organs, it also has a direct effect on our outlook on life, usually bringing upon a more positive frame of mind.

For the prenatal mama, a healthy posture encourages baby’s optimal positioning in the womb, and can help mama find more comfort during pregnancy.

For the postpartum mama, a healthy posture can help to stabilize the structural imbalance that pregnancy and postnatal carrying / feeding baby may have created in the body, thus playing an important role in postnatal recovery.

Such a powerful tool!

This is what we often look like pregnant:
– increased spinal curvatures
– weight shifts forwards
– increased anterior pelvic tilt
Which can lead to:
– headaches
– upper back tension
– pain in the lower back and pubic area.

 

And this is what we often look like postnatal:
– increased posterior pelvic tilt
– slouched shoulders with forward “drooping” head
– right body/left body imbalance (due to holding  baby usually on the same side)
Which can lead to:
– upper and lower back pain
– weakened abdominal muscles
– shortened pelvic floor muscles

 

And this is what we’re aiming for:
– earlobe • shoulder • hip articulation • ankle – aligned in a vertical line
Which can lead to:
– eternal happiness… just checking to see if you’re paying attention 🙂

 

 

So, it’s not magic, and even though you most likely have just enough energy to think (let alone think of having good posture), here are 10 tips for finding your healthy posture.

 

Try these exercises while going for a walk, whether it be a pregnant or postnatal stroll, and once you’ve practiced them while walking, they can be applied to day-to-day life, sitting or standing.

 

#1: CREATE LENGTH IN THE SPINE (GET “TALLER”)

If you do yoga, you’ve probably heard this one before. It’s a fantastic cue.

Imagine that you are adding space in between the vertebrae. Start at the bottom of the spine, and gently make your way up the spine, feeling that you’re getting taller and taller until you make it all the way to the crown of the head.

This simple action may very well already breathe lightness into your face and body, and things may even seem a little less “heavy”, a morale-booster! (When our posture is slouchy, this actually weighs down onto the muscles of the spine as well as the organs in the torso, thus actually making us feel heavier)!

 

#2: “ELEVATOR” BREATHING

Once you’ve found your long spine, we add the breath.

Inspired by 3 part breathing, this breathing exercise will help to bring the breath down into the belly and have it fill the entire body.

Start the inhale breath in your belly, then let it travel up the torso like an elevator, filling the rib cage, sides of the body and finally the lungs. Exhale, come back down the “elevator”, emptying the lungs, ribs and belly.

Inhale: belly, rib cage, lungs fill up
Exhale: lungs, rib cage, belly empty out

Nourishing for the body, this is also an excellent breathing tool in preparation for birth.

*You can add Ujjayi breathing here if you like

 

#3: SHOULDERS OPEN, “HEART SHINE”!

Roll the shoulders a few times, front to back.

Then do one last shoulder roll, forward, up and back – from there, very gently and lightly let the shoulders release and deposit themselves “onto” the rib cage, as naturally as you can. You should feel the shoulders more “open”, or wider.

Keep this “opening” action in the shoulders, and bring your breath into the space between the shoulder blades. Ahh….

From there, imagine that your heart wants to shine outwards 🙂 ! Gentle rays or voluminous I’m-filling-the-room rays, going with whatever you feel today. Let your heart “fill up the space” that has been created in the body by opening the shoulders.

If this “heart shine” idea doesn’t mean anything to you, just think of poking your boobs out a bit. 😉

* Avoid squeezing the shoulder blades together
* Helps remove stress in the shoulder area

 

#4: LIGHT UP THE ABS!

Activating the abdominal muscles will sustain and support the length in the spine that we are aiming for, and is essential in prenatal health and postnatal recovery.

To “light up the abs”, there are 2 actions to think of doing, simultaneously:

  1. Belly button (or baby if you’re pregnant) towards the spine
  2. Tips of the hips towards each other

Bring the belly button (or think “baby” when you’re pregnant) toward the center of the body, and at the same time, think of bringing the front tips of the hips towards each other.*

This will activate the transverse abdominal and “core” musculature, creating a kind of corset of support around the spine. It’s a lovely way to feel supported, uplifted, and even a bit “lighter”. (And it feels so good to finally feel the abs again when you’re a postnatal mama.)

*”Tips of the hips” is actually referring to the right and left Anterior Superior Iliac Spine, the pointy parts at the front of the pelvis that you can press with your fingers
*The breath should remain steady and full, even while activating the abs.

 

#5: BACK OF HEAD ALIGNED WITH BACK OF PELVIS

Bring your attention to the back body, imagining that you want to align vertically the back of the head with the back of the pelvis.

You can use your hands to begin with if needed, by placing one hand on the back of the head and one on the back of the pelvis. Let your head move a little bit forward, then a little bit back, until you “align” vertically your 2 hands as best you can.

Even just bringing our awareness to the relation back of head/back of pelvis is powerful tool for cultivating good posture.

If you’re pregnant, there’s a chance your bum is sticking out. Try reducing the sway in the lower back by slightly tucking the tailbone forward. (posterior tilt)

If you’re postnatal, there’s a chance your bum is tucked in. Try bringing a little bit more of the natural curve back into the lower back by slightly sticking the bum out (slightly!!). (anterior tilt)

*The base of the chin should be more or less parallel to the ground
*Keep a slight bend in the knees to avoid hyper-extension in the knees

*Relax the jaw

 

#6: KEGEL

A healthy and toned pelvic floor is vital for a sense of global well-being and for good posture. In yoga tradition, the pelvic floor is known as the “battery” of the body, source of vitality and life.

In regards to bettering our posture, engaging the pelvic floor will help to sustain the core musculature at the base of the torso.

If you’re not familiar with Kegels, here are 6 exercises to get you started. Then, while walking, think of gently adding Kegels to your stroll. Activate the perineum for a few a strides, then release for a few strides, repeating 5-10 times."

You may notice that adding Kegels to your walk helps to generate an “uplifted” feeling to your body, while continuing to tone the lower body. To sustain a good posture, a healthy and toned pelvic floor is essential.

*Breath should remain steady
*By creating connections with and strengthening the deep core muscles, incorporating movement to any Kegel work will help to integrate the pelvic floor exercises into the overall functionality of the body, this is what we’re aiming for!

 

#7: *SIGH*

Sighing releases tension and invites us to breathe deeply. A full breath oxygenates the body, nourishing and helping to strengthen the postural muscles surrounding the spine.

It’s also a great way to release tension in the body and mind.

 

#8: THE QUICK TROT FOOT MASSAGE 😉

While keeping the spine long, the shoulders open and the abs activated, try walking a little bit faster (think Olympic Speed Walk 🙂 ).

Notice how this change in pace may bring you to “feel” your legs a little bit more.

Then, press and root your feet into the ground with each step you take, almost as if to massage the ground with the soles of the feet as you walk, and again, notice how this also “lights up” the legs.

This very simple tool will help to create more circulation in the feet and legs, and throughout the entire body, as well as build tone in the leg muscles. Toned leg muscles will help to support the body in its standing posture.

*After a minute or two of “quick trot foot massaging”, take a pause to see the effect on the legs and on your posture
*If you’re pregnant, improving circulation can also help to reduce swelling in the legs and feet
*If you’re pregnant and your belly is heavy, this exercise may not be appropriate or comfortable, save it for a postnatal stroll with your baby!

 

#9: FOLLOW THE LEADER

This is a very interesting exercise. Essentially, we will let our walking be “lead” by different parts of the body.

Start with the feet. Imagine that your feet are “leading the way” for a few steps, noticing how it feels to you.

Then go to the hips.
Let the hips lead your walking.

Moving up towards the heart region
, imagine that your walk is being lead by your heart, or upper torso.

Then finally your nose
. Let your nose lead the way.

Then, all four! Imagine that your entire body is moving as one vertical plane.

There is probably one of these versions that will seem the most comfortable and familiar to you. (When you’re pregnant you may feel like it’s your belly that’s leading the way.)

See if you can apply this same “vertical plane” to your posture once you’re standing still.

While thinking of keeping the spine long and incorporating the previous exercises, this exercise can help to rectify subtle shifts in weight that the body reverts to during and after pregnancy to compensate for possible muscular or structural weaknesses. Make sure to apply the other tips when you try this one out.

*You may look a bit funny doing this exercise 🙂

 

#10: RELAX WHAT DOESN’T NEED TO BE “WORKING”

You might also recognize this cue from yoga classes, another wonderful tip for good posture, but also for finding focus and relieving stress in day-to-day life, as well as being an excellent tool for birth preparation.

What does it mean?

You know how sometimes when you’re working hard on something, you realize at one point that you’re tensing up other parts of the body, say the forehead, jaw or shoulders, as if these parts of the body want to “work” with you? (Nice of them, but no thanks 😉 !)

Bring your attention to the feet and legs, although we’re maintaining tone there, can the toes (for example) relax a bit more? Or maybe the hips?

Then see if the shoulders and jaw are relaxed.

And finally the facial muscles. Bring your gaze a bit further ahead of you and think of relaxing all the “skin” of your face.

*Helps to calm and focus the mind by bringing the attention back to the present moment
*Breath remains full

 

* These are all cues that can be applied to your yoga practice, just as yoga looks to create a feeling of space in the body, so does a good posture.

* These tips can be applied to the pregnant and postnatal mama. Even the ab work during pregnancy, in all gentleness, will help to maintain the health of the spine, promote deep breathing and will keep the abdominal muscles responsive and ready for pushing, come labor.

By aiming at feeling the spine long and our body properly aligned, we can most definitely feel the effects on the mind, possibly bringing upon a more positive, refreshed, or simply more awake outlook.

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aboutbw2Hi! I’m Myriam, a former dancer turned yoga teacher based in Montreal. I’m also mama to two unbearably beautiful little ones, ages 1 and 4. 🙂 I believe in the virtues of bringing breath and body awareness as well as humor and loving-kindness to new mamas, and mamas-to-be! Read more→


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10 Little Things That Helped Me Survive The First Weeks After Giving Birth


11 Natural Ways To Manage Pregnancy-Induced Eczema


25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

Birth Preparation eBook



Mama & Baby Yoga – 10 (Not Relaxing, But Fun!) Exercises

So let’s be honest 🙂 , mum & baby yoga, is not relaxing yoga! It can be cute yoga, or fun yoga… but it is not relaxing yoga! Nor is it likely to be the deep or fulfilling practice you may be used to when you’re on your own.

That being said, it is an excellent way to get some movement into your day, and a chance to add loads of cuteness fuel to the cuteness tank. And if you’re going to a class, it’s a great way to meet with other mamas. ( … “I’m up every hour”… “Me too!!!..”) Continue reading

Sunflower Seed Veggie Pâté in 4 Easy Steps


(If you’re not familiar with Veggie Pâté, it is somewhere between a paté and meatloaf, but made with veggies and sunflower seeds instead. It makes wonderful sandwiches and wraps, can be used in a salad or simply enjoyed on its own. A perfect snack during pregnancy and breastfeeding.)

There are a few things that I craved like mad during both my prenatal and postnatal phases, and one of them was Veggie Pâté.

I love Veggie Pâté. I really just can’t get enough. Seeing and tasting Veggie Pâté fills me with a feeling of warmth, an urge to write songs, or say.. an ode.. in fact..

Veggie Pâté
Savory love
I crave your tasty presence
I covet your tender essence
No other is above

Ughh… Ends up there would be good reasons for this deep love and endless craving! Veggie Pâté is a significant source of Protein, Iron, Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A and Vitamin C (as well as a source of Calcium, Vitamin B6, B12 and Magnesium) and therefore a wonderful way to help nourish the pregnant and postnatal mama. 🙂

As a result, I was very happy to be asked to come up with a recipe for our family breakfast restaurant. The result is a take on many recipes out there, but with a personal twist. That said, I think making Veggie Pâté is grounds for exploration.

*Note: This has also become a favorite with my baby girl!

Nourishing Mama! - DELICIOUS Veggie Pâté in 4 Easy Steps

(Prep time: 15 min, Cooking time: 1 hour)

INGREDIENTS :

VEGGIES :

• 2 small carrots (or 1 large)
• 2 small celery sticks (or 1 large)
• 1 medium potato
• 1 medium onion
• 2 cloves garlic

THE REST :

• 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
• 1 palm-full of roasted pumpkin seeds (optional)
• 1/2 cup flour
• 1/2 cup nutritional yeast-flakes (can be found in most natural foods stores)
• 1/2 canola oil
• 1 cup water
• 1 tablespoon sesame oil
• 1- 2 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce, to liking)
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
• 1 teaspoon dried parsley (or 1/4 cup fresh)
• 1/2 teaspoon thyme
• 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
• 1/4 teaspoon oregano
Any other spices you wish

PREPARATION:

(Preheat oven to 320 degrees Fahrenheit.)

#1: CHOP

Coarsely chop veggies.

potato-chop_246

#2: BLENDblender_159_with-heart

Blend chopped veggies in a food processor for 30-45 seconds, remove and pour into a large bowl.
Blend the rest of the ingredients in the food processor for 10-15 seconds (until sunflower seeds are broken up but not liquefied).
– Add to the veggie mixture and stir by hand until evenly mixed.

*If you just want to get on with business, it is absolutely fine to blend everything at the same time in the food processor! (approx 45 seconds)

 

#3: BAKE

Pour mixture into a greased loaf or baking pan and bake at 320 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 1 hour until brown on top.

 

#4: COOL

Let cool 1 hour before eating. Personally, I say it’s even better after a day or 2 in the fridge!

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aboutbw2Hi! I’m Myriam, a former dancer turned yoga teacher based in Montreal. I’m also the mother of a beautiful toddler son and brand new baby daughter (oh the love!). I believe deeply in the virtues of bringing breath and body awareness as well as humor and loving-kindness to new mamas, and mamas-to-be! Read more→


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6 Kegel Exercises (For Before and After Baby)

Kegel exercises, along with Perineum Massage, help to prepare the pelvic floor for birth, as well as aid in postnatal recovery.

However Kegels are not for everyone. Some women have to ease up on or even avoid doing Kegels all together during pregnancy (and afterwards). Whether it be due to pelvic floor dysfunction or an over-toned perineum, telltale signs that Kegels may not be appropriate for you include pain in the pelvic area during exercise, sex, or when going to the bathroom, feeling chronic pain in your hips, lower back or pubic area, or if you already suspect prolapse. If you’re not sure, seek assessment from your doctor, midwife, osteopath or a pelvic health physiotherapist. (That said, you can still do Exercises #1 and #6)

Kegels exercise the perineum, or pelvic floor, which is made up of the musculature and tissues surrounding and including the space between the anus and the vagina up to the urethra.

Keeping this part of the body toned is essential in global well-being, and to support the abdominal organs and muscles. Kegels can also help prevent and heal incontinence during and after pregnancy.

In yoga tradition, the pelvic floor is known as the battery of the body, source of vitality of the being.

Here are 6 exercises for the health and maintenance of the perineum that you can do all throughout your pregnancy and within a few days after birth.

6 Kegel Exercises (For Before and After Baby)
6 Kegel Exercises (For Before and After Baby)

To do these exercises, find a comfortable position in which you can relax, preferably lying down on your back, or in a reclined position if you’re pregnant, with the back and head propped by a bolster or pillow.

#1: PERINEUM BREATHING

To begin, breathe deeply into the belly, imagining that your belly is a balloon or a lung; feel it expand as you inhale, and on the exhale, simply let the air out. 5 – 10 breaths.

Move this imagery towards your perineum, imagining that your perineum is also like a balloon or a lung, feel how it also ever so slightly expands as you inhale and how on the exhale, it returns gently back. 5 – 10 breaths.

Feeling the perineum “breathe”  is actually not just an impression. The perineum’s movements are connected to the diaphragm (the beautiful umbrella-shaped muscle in our torso that expands the rib cage to let air fill the lungs) so that when the diaphragm moves, so in fact does the perineum.

This technique will practice “Belly Breathing”, a wonderful tool in birth preparation and postnatal rehabilitation.

#2: BREATHING IN RELEASE, BREATHING OUT ACTIVATE.

As you continue to use perineum breathing, inhale let the perineum muscles relax and “expand”, exhale gently activate the muscles as if to hold in the urge to urinate and a bowel movement.

Inhale muscles release, exhale activate. Repeat 5-10 times.

kegel-in-and-up

When you activate the pelvic floor muscles, think of lifting them in and up. Keep the surrounding muscles like the buttocks, thighs and belly as relaxed as you can, even while you activate the pelvic floor.

 

#3: THE ISOLATION CHALLENGE

Using perineum breathing, inhale let the pelvic floor muscles relax and expand, exhale activate as best you can only your urethra. 3-5 repetitions.

Move the focus towards the vagina, followed by the anus, trying to isolate and contract only these muscles on the exhale. 3-5 repetitions.

Finally, contract all three at the same time. Inhale release, exhale contract. 3-5 repetitions.

You may already feel the pelvic floor muscles are “stronger” and toned, just with this one exercise.

 

#4: THE ELEVATOR

Sometimes called the elevator, this exercise will help to make connections with your core musculature (the abdominal musculature that supports us from the inside, our “center”, or core).

Using perineum breathing, inhale expand, exhale activate the pelvic floor muscles and maintain the contraction.

Maintain the contraction on the inhale, exhale move upward. Repeat for 5 breaths.

To release, gently let the muscles go at a slow, steady pace and take a moment to relax the pelvic floor muscles completely.

 

#5: QUICK REPETITIONS

Activate and release the pelvic floor muscles as fast as you can. 20-30 times.

 

#6: THE RELEASE

It is just as important to know how to relax the perineum as it is to strengthen it. Knowing how to relax and release the pelvic floor is important for vaginal birth, as well as for maintaining a healthy, toned perineum for life after birth.

After these exercises, take a moment to let the muscles go completely. Going back to perineum breathing, feel the movement of expansion on the inhale and of complete release on the exhale. 10 to 20 breaths.

rest_belly

Relaxing the jaw and mouth can help to release tension in the rest of the body ( a relaxation tool that can be used during labor as well )

 

Final Notes:

While practicing Kegels, isolate the muscles being used as best you can, and avoid tensing the buttocks, thighs and belly.

A toned pelvic floor will have a direct effect on maintaining a healthy posture.

Adding movement to your Kegel work will help to integrate the pelvic floor exercises into the overall functionality of the body, and connect to deep core muscles. Try incorporating Kegels into:

Prenatal yoga and postnatal yoga routine
Half bridge
– Yoga ball hip circles
– While walking
– Squats
– etc.

6 Kegel Exercises (For Before and After Baby)


aboutbw2Hi! I’m Myriam, a former dancer turned yoga teacher based in Montreal. I’m also mama to two unbearably beautiful little ones, ages 1 and 4. 🙂 I believe in the virtues of bringing breath and body awareness as well as humor and loving-kindness to new mamas, and mamas-to-be! Read more→


Affiliate links are provided on this site for your convenience. If you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links it will cost you the same but we will get a few pennies as a thank you for referring you!

Bolsters are an essential part of my at-home yoga practice. I use the cylindrical bolster by Halfmoon. Because of their length, they can support the entire upper body in reclined poses, offering optimal relaxation for Kegel practice.



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10 Best Gifts To Offer a New Mama

If you’re not sure what to offer a new mama you love, here are 10 simple gift ideas from the heart. Some are for baby, but most are for mum!

Top 10 Gifts For New Mamas.

If you're not sure what to offer a new mama you love, here are 10 simple gift ideas from the heart. Some are for baby, but most are for mum!

 

(The links aren’t sponsors, just personal favorites)

 

origami-mobile#1: ORIGAMI MOBILE

A hand-made origami mobile. I know, we can’t all offer this because it means making one!! But if you’re looking for something original to offer and you have artistic fairy fingers, this is one of the most beautiful things I have in my in my baby’s room. Delicate presence and calming, graceful movements, a true beauty. (my drawing kind of looks like spiders, but they’re stars and cranes !)

 

#2: THE “CALL ME AT ANY TIME, EVEN IF IT’S 3:00 AM”

This one came from a veteran mom, and was her gift to me when I first gave birth. She told me that no matter what I needed to talk about, 3amcallor if I was simply feeling exhausted or helpless, to call her at any time, even if it was 3:00 am! I never ended up using the offer, but it was extremely comforting to know that this option was there.

 

#3: THE 3-WEEK POSTNATAL CLEAN-UPstars

Twice I was offered this same (awe-some!) gift at around 3 weeks postnatal from the same friends: the “we’re coming over to clean your house” gift. Seriously, they just came in and cleaned. It may be an vacuumobvious one to some, or maybe sound a bit intrusive to others, but, although I felt like I just wanted my company to sit and relax (and that my house actually wasn’t doing too badly ;)! ), they decided to be the clean-dream-team anyways.. some vacuuming, some dusting, somefeather-duster wiping.. and it ended up giving a lovely fresh feeling to my home that was quite welcome :).

 

#4: COCONUT SOAP STAIN-REMOVER

It works like magic! A natural and extremely efficient way to get rid of coconut-soapstains (as long as they’ve not already been baked in – and excluding banana stains, which i have yet to conquer 🙂 ). Fantastic for cloth diapers, but also on all clothes, blankets, etc. I discovered this one by Savonnerie des Diligences*, but I imagine many versions exist and that you can surely find these in your local natural products store. One of my favorite things to offer to new mums now.

*Each soap from this company has its own quirky little story, fun stuff!

 

#5: LARS THE MUSICAL LION

204_lars-musical-lionThe cutest little guy. “Lars” the Musical Lion, is a musical plush toy by Happy Horse. He’s a gorgeous and colorful lion that, upon pulling his tail, melodically springs into song. (i believe he does Chopin’s Nocturne). Perfect for sweet moments before bed, or for keeping baby cheery (and occupied) while chan444_rabbit-twineging her diapers. I recently discovered the musical “Rabbit Twine” from the same series who’s pulled tail starts Somewhere Over The Rainbow. So, so cute. The musical choices are beautiful, the instrumentation chimes so delicately, the volume is just right, and there’s something kind of magical when the music starts, almost dreamy and wonderous.

 

#6: BUM CREAM BY DOUCE MOUSSE

This may very well be the perfect bum cream! 🙂 After trying so many different kinds, I found this one to be in a league of its own. Incredibly soft to the touch, all organic, this ointment-type cream by Douce Mousse has a very pleasant and subtle (again, all natural) perfume, and creates the perfect bum barrier. The texture is just right and works wonders at avoiding and healing rashes on baby’s bum, really! Highly recommended.

 

#7: SOAP!

soapI’m a fan of receiving soap as a gift. They say it’s good luck too! In any case, offering a soap to a new mama can help her to feel like she’s getting pampered too. I recently discovered this little soap company, Botanicum Cosmétique, lovely soaps, all natural, and the fragrance and flavor combos are great. My favorite so far is the Cinnamon, Lemon, Shea Butter bar, yummy 🙂

 

#8: CONGRATULATIONS FROM PASSERS-BYcongrats

Receiving a warm smile or “Congratulations” from passers-by has been one of the nicer gifts I’ve had offered over time, and has on many occasions lit up my day. In turn, now when I see a tiny bundle cuddled up in a stroller or carrier, I love to give a smile and if it fits a, “Congratulations”, hopefully giving back a bit of light in return.

 

#9: THE OLDER LADIES, THOSE EYES

old-lady-eyesOlder women looking at you with love and emotion, their eyes saying “I have been there, I know the love and intensity of these moments, you are blessed”… Kind of like hearing “Congratulations”, these looks, so soft, have also been ones that have carried me through the day and lit up my heart. One older lady recently said to me, when she saw me carrying my baby “You’re holding a Million Dollars in your arms”…

 

#10: THE ONESIEbaby-in-onesie2

For mum! Just kidding. Who doesn’t love a onesie. I’m an inveterate fan. LOVE onesies. Short-sleeved, long-sleeved, patterns or none. Baby just looks so comfy and cuddly. I have been known to string out the onesie phase as long as I possibly can.  (My 3-year-old son still wants to wear his Fireman one to bed :)).

baby-in-onesie1

 

 

 

 

*Note: Chocolate is not on this list, but should be considered as an essential part of any postpartum rehabilitation 🙂 !

10 Best Gifts To Offer a New Mama #5: LARS THE MUSICAL LION


aboutbw2Hi! I’m Myriam, a former dancer turned yoga teacher based in Montreal. I’m also the mother of a beautiful toddler son and brand new baby daughter (oh the love!). I believe deeply in the virtues of bringing breath and body awareness as well as humor and loving-kindness to new mamas, and mamas-to-be! Read more→


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