Meet Emily, social worker & therapist

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Name: Emily Claire Blackmoon

Workshop: Trimester 3 Stream: Creating a Postpartum Mood Support plan

Why did you become a social worker?
It was a two-fold experience: As a child, I had an eating disorder and very low-self esteem. I was supported by amazing therapists, who helped me realize my own strengths and potential. As an adult, I wanted to explore my Indigeneity further, and support others in the First Nations, Metis and Inuit community in Toronto. Being an Indigenous social worker and a therapist helped me to connect with my ancestry and culture, and also helped me to explore how colonization informs both the trauma and the incredible resilience of so many Indigenous peoples.


What interests you about the process of bringing a child into the world?
I have had the honour of working with many young parents, Elders and community members who have come to exemplify how having a happy, safe and supported pregnancy is reproductive justice and triumph over colonialism. Every Indigenous child born is a cause for celebration, and our parents must be honoured and supported for having gone through the ceremony of conception, pregnancy and birth. 

If participants only learn one thing from your workshop, what should it be?
That they're mental health is important, that they can do this, and that perfection in parenting is a myth (I guess that's three things!).

What’s your favourite self-care ritual?
Snuggling with my partner, drumming, eating sushi, seeing my own therapist and taking pictures of my dog Luna, cause she's hilarious. 

What excites you most about presenting at 4 Trimesters Conference?
The opportunity to meet with parents at the various stages of conception, pregnancy, birth and postpartum, and a chance to hear more about their experiences!


TO JOIN EMILY FOR HER WORKSHOP AT THIS MONTH'S CONFERENCE, REGISTER HERE.

Meet Corina, doula and childbirth educator

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NAME: CORINA TUDOR

WORKSHOP: TRIMESTER 2 STREAM: COPING STRATEGIES FOR LABOUR

Why did you become a doula?

It feels like a perfect fit and it fulfils me. In another lifetime I was sort of a scientist and became a full time yoga teacher when I couldn’t find a job in my field. Then I specialized in prenatal yoga and one day someone asked me to be their doula. After that experience I was in love - doula work combines my love of scientific research with holistic and mindful practices. That’s literally my life - science and mindfulness! I can’t imagine doing anything else now.

What is your favourite snack or drink when you go to a birth?

Almonds! I eat them slowly and mindfully and they provide me with energy and soothe my belly. They're not too heavy or sweet and I can pair them with a piece of fruit or veggies if I have time. They're also odourless and super easy to eat - I popped some in my mouth in between contractions. I have yet to have client with a nut allergy but my back-up snack are these amazing power balls I make for births (and keep a jar in my freezer at all times) - they usually have nut butter but they're just as delicious with seed butter. 


If participants only learn one thing from your workshop, what should it be?

Find what works for you! It takes patience and practice, but it's so very worth it. Once you figure out what works for you, by practising it you get into a groove, finding out your own rhythm and rituals so that when it's time to use these skills they're easier to access (as opposed to practising them once and dusting them off for labour!). It's also a great opportunity to pick a doula and childbirth educator's brain!


What excites you most about presenting at 4 Trimesters’ conference?

Building and fostering connection! I think when people come together there is the potential for magical things to happen. 4 Trimesters conference is the prefect platform for that - it has a little bit of something for everyone, regardless of where they are in their perinatal journey, and it also promotes connection amongst presenters and participants! 

TO JOIN CORINA FOR HER WORKSHOP AT THIS Month'S CONFERENCE, REGISTER HERE.

The Partner Track

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There really wasn't a focus on couples at last year's conference, but of the partners who came, we were told that they felt better prepared and more confident after attending our workshops. Some were even a bit surprised that they enjoyed the day as much as they did. These “expectant partners” also asked that at future conferences we have specialized workshops, or even a whole stream for partners. DONE!

How we’re defining “partner” for the sake of the conference has a degree of flexibility. (Hey, I’ve been a sole parent myself from the moment I peed on the stick, so I get that your main-squeeze on your baby-growing journey may not be someone your married to or at all romantically involved with.) Your “partner” might be a close and supportive friend or sib who’s going to be part of your proverbial “village” or one of your own parents (my personal go-to is always my mum).

I called this new 5th workshop stream “The Swing Stream” because all the workshops could be applicable to partners, but I also threw the introduction to solids workshop in there because I knew it wouldn’t be of interest to all parents in the postpartum year (if your babe is, say, really tiny still, or coming up on 12 months). What I have learned is that people like choice, so we’ve got four more workshops than last year, and you should go where you think you’d be happiest! You certainly don’t have to attend all of the same workshops as your significant other just because you come to the conference together.


So, non-birth parents, if I may be so bold, here’s what I had in mind for you for October 27:

If you have a partner who is pregnant (or you and your partner are planning a pregnancy), you might choose these workshops for the day:

  • Session A - 10:15 to 11:15 am: Supporting the Pregnant/Postpartum Person You Love panel discussion. We came up with this one just for you!

  • Session B - 11:30 to 12:30: Coping Strategies for Labour with Corina

  • Session C - 1:45 to 2:45pm: What is Attachment? with me, Jae, or The Art & Science of Infant Sleep with Ruth, or Creating a Healthy Home for A Healthy Baby with Emma

  • Session D - 3 to 4pm: Parenthood Awakening with Yashar, or Labour Support & Birth Preferences with me and Corina

If you have a new baby in your life, but you’re not the birth parent you might want to go to:

  • Session A: 10:15 - 11:15 am: Supporting the Pregnant/Postpartum Person You Love panel discussion. This sesh is just for you!

  • Session B - 11:30 to 12:30: Play with your Baby with Dima, or Superfood Babies with Esther

  • Session C - 1:45 to 2:45pm: What is Attachment? with me, Jae, or The Art & Science of Infant Sleep with Ruth, or Creating a Healthy Home for A Healthy Baby with Emma

  • Session D - 3 to 4pm: Parenthood Awakening with Yashar, or Pleasure After Kids with Tynan, or Babywearing Basics with Jennifer

Whatever you chose to learn about on October 27, I’m glad that the birthing person in your life has you taking a co-creative role in parenting because (you’ll have to excuse me as I get a bit sentimental here), that’s not conventionally been a given for dads in our society.


For special pricing on “couples” tickets, get yourself over to our registration page before September 28 and get $30 off an already great deal!

(As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, “couples” are not two pregnant or parenting friends because our goal is to encourage shared workload between birthing and non-gestational parents.)

Meet Melanie, perinatal physiotherapist

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Name: Melanie Stevens Sutherland

Workshop: Trimester 2 Stream: Birth and your Pelvic Floor 

Why did you become a perinatal physiotherapist?
Despite being a physiotherapist for years, I was absolutely awed of the capabilities of the human body through my own experience of pregnancy. I was also disappointed at the lack of physical and emotional care I was offered postnatally. As I struggled through my own recovery I knew I could do better for others and ultimately shifted my business model to support parents, through services and excellent practitioners, from conception to recovery.

How did you choose your care team for your birth?
I am a cervical cancer survivor, and as such was sent to the high risk program at Sunnybrook hospital for the birth of my daughter. My daughter ended up failing to thrive in the end stages of my pregnancy and I developed preeclampsia which resulted in an emergency induction. When I was pregnant with my son, although I was not treated as high risk, because of my history we decided to go with a hospital birth and an OB-GYN again. I would have loved to have experienced other birthing professionals, but was very lucky to have two excellent doctors who were very caring and did a wonderful job guiding us through what at the time felt overwhelming and scary, and was ultimately most comfortable with our choice for our situation.

What was your most useful gadget/tool/item for parenting?
I’m not sure there was one gadget that was really the be all and end all for me. If anything I think I learned through my first pregnancy that I required a lot less than I believed I needed pre-baby. The one thing I’ve used consistently with both my kids has been a carrier. It is functional, and I love how close I feel to my kids when using it.

What excites you most about presenting at 4 Trimesters’ conference?
The prospect of sharing education on pelvic floor is very exciting. Many people are not comfortable talking about their pelvic floor let alone becoming acquainted with it but it is such an integral system for almost everything we do. In North America, we are quite far behind in this area, and we need to start getting comfortable with these discussions.

To join Melanie for her workshop at this October's conference, register here.

What's new?

If you attended 4 Trimesters' conference in 2017, you know that we collected a lot of feedback by way of evaluation forms, both on the individual workshops, and the day itself.

I'm so glad we did, because it gave us the opportunity to hear how much you loved the event, and also a bunch of things to improve on. I'll be sharing quotes from the positive words we got over social media in the next couple months, and in the meantime, tell you about what changes have been made to better suit everyone's needs.

But first, let me announce the five winners of the eval-submitting draws (please keep your eye out for an email from me with a code):

  • Amy Packwood

  • Freda Langelo

  • Katherine Meisner

  • Jay Wall

  • Leticia Davolli


And now, for a rundown on all the improvements that have been made for this year:


The Space

The number one complaint from the conference last year was that a few of the rooms were squishy, and the open workshop areas made it hard to hear. So, as much as I loved being at the Centre for Social Innovation in the Annex, we have found a new home this time at the gorgeous Artscape Youngplace building, slightly west and south from our former venue. The workshop rooms are spread out in the building though, so we'll have more volunteers to usher people around without a hitch. (Note, the venue is still accessible, with both stairs and elevators running between the lower level and the second floor.)

 4 Trimesters new home for the 2018 conference.

4 Trimesters new home for the 2018 conference.

 

The Presenters

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It was not lost on me that our team of presenters, as skilled and multi-disciplined as they were, were an overwhelmingly white group. This was not ethnically representative of our participant base, or that of young families in Toronto as a whole, and representation such a big part of inclusion. Inclusion being central to the 4 Trimesters mission, I made even more of a point for the 2018 conference to connect with perinatal practitioners of colour. I'm very grateful to the folks who responded to my call for applications, and of our new presenters this year, 50% are BIPOC. Still not as representative as I'd like it to be, but moving in a direction better aligned with our values.
Also, some presenters where not as familiar with addressing families with the most inclusive language, so I have been sharing this fantastic piece of Tynan's on gender-neutral birth terms all over the place.

 

Further emphasis on Community Building

We have extended the whole conference by an hour, and the in-house lunch break by a bit so you don't have to feel so rushed or cut your conversations over good food short, and we have some fun plans in the works to help you get to know your fellow attendees and hopefully carry on social connections beyond conference day.

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Encouraging partners to attend

This year we are offering special pricing for pregnant and recently-birthed folks who want to bring their partners, or maybe even better to say, for partners who would also like to take an active role in learning about parenting on this day. You can take workshops together, or divide and conquer your individual learning needs! Some of the workshops I imagine will be especially popular with partners are Parenthood Awakening, Food Prep, Green at Home, Coping Techniques for Labour, The Art & Science of Infant Sleep, Babywearing Basics, Attachment & Fostering Connection, Pleasure after Kids, Superfood Babies, and of course, the panel discussion at the start of the day on Supporting the Pregnant/Postpartum Person you Love.

How you define partner is flexible - for example, if you are a sole parent, bringing one of your parents or a dedicated friend would be fantastic! Non-romantic co-parents, same deal! These tickets are not, however, available for two pregnant or parenting friends, as the intention is to support couples in sharing the parenting work (and joy!) load. "Couples" tickets come with one swag bag per couple.

 

Can you tell how excited I am for October 27? I hope you are too. Tickets have just been released. Be sure to get yours soon for early bird pricing, and to have first pick on workshop choices.

Music to Sweat to

  Sweaty... and happier.

Sweaty... and happier.

Not long after the 4 Trimesters conference last fall, I decided to join a gym. It wasn't just because so much of my work involves sitting with my laptop, or the fact that I wanted to be sure I could continue to lift my kid with ease as she grows. A big part was about doing some cardio, working up a sweat, and releasing some endorphins for my mental health. I was taking B vitamins, vitamin D, magnesium and EFAs all to support my mental health, and I really needed to add movement as a priority in a way that I hadn't in many years.

The gym I go to isn't fancy, but it's easy to get to in the mornings right after I drop my kid off at daycare, and then it's an easy walk home. I like to put on some music that's fun to move to, get on an elliptical machine, and watch whatever home reno show is on HGTV (I don't have a TV at home and grew up without cable, so this part is pretty fun to me). Afterwards, I use a few weight machines and hightail it outta there to go home, have a shower, and get on with my day. I've made it simple enough that I've gone 2 to 4 times each week since last November. If it were more complicated, more social, or more expensive, I wouldn't go. I'm sorry it took me so long to figure it out, but I'm here now!

You can't please everyone when comes to music, of course, but if you're good with Beyoncé, MIA, Rihanna and some Arcade Fire, the following 75+ songs may just become your Sweat Soundtrack, too. It took me a while to build this playlist (and weed out the songs where men are calling women "bitches") so that you don't have to! 

Afterlife - Arcade Fire
Alright - Jamiroquai
Baby Boy - Beyoncé
Bad Girls - MIA
Bird Flu - MIA
Body Work (feat. Tegan & Sara) - Morgan Page
Bonbon - Era Istrefi
Bounce - Iggy Azalea
Bring the Noize - MIA
Bulletproof - La Roux
Can't Feel My Face - The Weeknd
Can't Stop The Feeling! - Justin Timberlake
Check On It (feat. Slim Thug) - Beyoncé 
Colors - Verité
Confess to Me (feat. Jessie Ware) - Disclosure
Countdown - Beyoncé
Cool For The Summer - Demi Lovato
Crazy In Love - Beyoncé
Creature Comfort - Arcade Fire
Crown of Age - The Ettes
Dancing Underwater - Brave Shores
Déja-vu - Beyoncé
Disco Dicks 5000 - Maylee Todd
Disparate Youth - Santigold
Diva - Beyoncé 
Drunk In Love (feat Jay Z) - Beyoncé
Dynabeat - Jain
Electric Blue - Arcade Fire
Electric Love - BORNS
Everything Now - Arcade Fire
Feel It Still - Portugal, The Man
Future Soup (feat Patrick Baker) - Autograf
Freakum Dress - Beyoncé
Get Lucky (feat Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers) - Daft Punk
Get Some - Lykke Li
Gold - Kiiara
Golden - Jill Scott
Good Mistake - Mr Little Jeans
Greedy - Ariana Grande
Green Light - Beyoncé
Happy Idiot - TV on the Radio
Hideaway - Kiesza
Hot In Herre - Nelly
Hung Up - Madonna
I'm In Love With My Life - Phases
Jump - Madonna
Jump - Rihanna
Makeba - Jain
Make Me Proud (feat Nicki Minaj) - Drake
Midnight City - M83
Moth to the Flame - Chairlift
Ocean Drive - Duke Dumont
O.N.E. - Yeasayer
Our Eyes - Lucy Rose
Our Own House - MisterWives
Paper Planes - MIA
Pizza Guy - Touch Sensitive
Plot Twist (feat. Kyle) - Marc E. Bassy
Pour It Up - Rihanna
P.O.W.A. - MIA
Pump Up The Jam - Technotronic
Reflektor - Arcade Fire
Right Action - Franz Ferdinand
Ring the Alarm - Beyoncé
Rock Your Body - Justin Timberlake
Rude Boy - Rihanna
S&M - Rihanna
7/11 - Beyoncé
Take Me Out - Franz Ferdinand
The Trouble with Us - Marcus Marr & Chet Faker
Tightrope (feat Big Boi) - Janelle Monae
Too Good (feat. Rihanna) - Drake
20 Dollar - MIA
U Can't Touch This - MC Hammer (I'm a child of the '80s, I'm not sorry)
Upgrade U - Beyoncé
Work - Iggy Azalea
Work (feat Drake) - Rihanna
You Da One - Rihanna

... but tell me, what else you got? I'm always looking to add songs to my playlist!

Smoothies: my magic formula

Remember in the 1980s and 90s when smoothies were usually just yogurt and fruit with a squirt of honey? I sure do. Over the past couple decades though, foodies and nutritionistas have stepped up the smoothie game in such a major way that if you told me there were five billion dairy-free blender-breakfast recipes to be found on the internet, I wouldn't be surprised.

I know it's not really smoothie weather, but I crave them all year round (except when I was pregnant, and I generally couldn't handle more nutritious things). This time of year, to reduce the cold hit on my GI tract, I usually have it after my warm lemon water in the morning, or as a mid-afternoon when I'm not as sensitive.

But what makes a smoothie satisfying and balanced? Simple, but with room for a nutritional boost? I'd like to share with you my go-to smoothie formula that's a hit every time.
I start with filtered tap water + raw nuts and seeds as a base because it's both healthier and more ecological than a packaged non-dairy milk.

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2 cups filtered water
1/4 raw nuts (cashews, almonds, or even pecans!) - preferably soaked overnight and rinsed, though I often forget to do this myself!
2 cups frozen fruit (I like to do one cup of two different fruits)
1 frozen banana
3 tbsp raw seeds (this is a good opportunity to do your seed cycling!)
1 tbsp coconut butter (see this post on how to make your own at home)
1 heaping scoop of a really great whey-free protein powder (my fave is Genuine Health's vanilla fermented vegan proteins + because it tastes like cake batter!)

You have the option to throw in some nutritional boost, but I'd limit it to two for the sake of not overwhelming your drink:

  • a good handful of organic baby spinach, kale, or romaine leaves
  • fresh juice from a lemon or lime
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (fine for anyone) or 1 tsp - 1 tbsp MCT coconut oil (depending on your tolerance)
  • 2 tsp. high quality omega-3 oil,  like NutraVege plant-based oil (safe and even generally recommended in pregnancy and lactation)
  • 1 scoop Genuine Health organic fermented gut superfoods+
  • 1 tsp high-quality spirulina or chlorella (not to be introduced in pregnancy if you didn't use them regularly before)
  • 1 tsp adaptogen powder like gelatinized maca or ashwaganda (okay for breastfeeding, not for pregnancy - see this post for more helpful info)

Some of my favourite combos are:

  • almonds, organic blueberries and strawberries with orange-cranberry NutraVege oil, and maca
  • cashews, mango and pineapple with spinach, lime, coconut oil 

Makes two satisfying 2-cup servings.

If this kind of delicious-nutritious recipe is your jam, you can find many more in my cookbooks, Get It Ripe and Ripe from around Here.

Treating a cold or flu when you're pregnant or breastfeeding: Village Voices

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We all have our go-tos when it comes to self-care when we're sick. But it can be hard to know if your approaches are safe when you're feeding someone else via a placenta or your breasts, especially when as a general rule, supplement bottles tell you to avoid or "consult your health care practitioner if you're pregnant or breastfeeding" (which is sometimes a legitimate warning, but might just be there for legal reasons). Some of our conference presenters weigh in on what's safe.

"Lavender essential oil is the perfect antiviral for warding off cold and flu viruses during pregnancy! Many essential oils are far too potent to smell during pregnancy, but not lavender! Chemically speaking, it's one of the most gentle EOs. When you smell it's sweet floral scent, molecules from the oil go into your respiratory system and fight off viruses. Put it on a scarf or lava bead necklace for optimal effect. 

But don't forget: never consume essential oils by mouth regardless of what the big EO companies tell you. Herbs are safe for consumption but essential oils are far too strong and in some cases can even kill you if taken internally Many oils are safe in skin care, though with proper dilution (no more than 15 drops per 15ml of any vegetable oil). When in doubt, consult a well trained aromatherapist, especially during pregnancy (not just a EO company rep!)."
- Tynan Rhea, doula, sex educator and aromatherapist
 

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"When I'm sick, I take extra care with what I eat. I make sure to avoid dairy and sugar, which are mucous-forming and inflammatory. I like a vegetable-rich miso soup, or my Sweet Potato Soup with a bit of extra cayenne. Dairy-free pesto that's nice and garlicy on pasta or a gluten-free wrap with roasted roots is both nourishing and delish.

I make a tea of fresh chopped ginger, a cinnamon stick and a couple clove buds, then I pour in a generous splash of organic apple cider. Or lemon balm tea, because it's calming and anti-viral, maybe with some elderberries added for immune-boosting, and a squeeze of lemon.

Finally, but most importantly, I do whatever I can to give myself a decent amount of time to rest. Sickness is often the way our body tells us to sloooooow down."

- Jae Steele, holistic nutritionist, and trained midwife


"Pregnancy can be hard at times, and even harder when you come down with a cold or flu. These herbs are safe to take when pregnant or lactating, and will hopefully get you feeling better quickly!

  • Probiotics: Your biggest immune system is in your digestive system, so I encourage all my pregnant patients to take a probiotic, like Genuine Health's Advanced Gut Health formula
  • Echinacea: This simple tincture is effective at boosting your immune system and fighting off infections. Start taking at the onset of an illness, and discontinue once better. 
  • Nettle: One of my all time favourite herbs. Nettle is rich in minerals, which provides a lot of nourishment, something all pregnant mamas need, especially those that are unwell. 
  • Garlic, Onions and Ginger: Add them to your cooking! A perfect base for soup, stews, rice dishes and stir fries. 
  • Honey: This liquid gold has amazing antibacterial properties. Add it to a tea, stir some into your morning oats, or take it off the spoon. It helps to soothe sore throats and fight infections.'

- Rachel Schwartzman, naturopathic doctor and doula

 

"I love acupuncture in these situations! It is completely safe in pregnancy and while breastfeeding (as long as you find someone qualified and experienced in pregnancy). Acupuncture can help to boost the immune system to fight off the infection more quickly as well as helping with any annoying cold and flu symptoms. For example, a few simple points can very quickly drain congested sinuses and relieve sinus headache. My husband always knows I have a cold coming on when I'm walking around the house with tiny acu needles stuck in my face!"
- Michelle Kapler, acupuncturist
 

"When it comes to colds and flus, regular whole body movement is your first line of defence. As an osteopath I view the body through a mechanical lens - how are things aligned, and how are they moving? Not only bones and muscles, but fascia and fluids too. For a healthy immune system, lymphatic fluid has to move freely to fight off invaders. There’s no pump; it relies on muscle contractions to help it circulate.

Since there are large clusters of lymph nodes in your armpits and groin, the swing of your arms and legs while walking is the perfect stimulation. Active breathing gets your diaphragm (a major muscle!) and intercostal (between the rib) muscles working too. More oxygen, better waste product elimination, plus more power if you need to cough.

Here’s an easy way to practice active breathing:

  • Tie a stretchy band or pair of tights around your ribcage at mid-lower chest level.
  • Stand in alignment with feet pelvis width and hips over your heels with butt untucked. Or sit with weight on your sit bones. Allow the front of your ribcage to relax down.
  • Breathe in, expanding the sides and back of your ribcage into the resistance of the band. Pause, then exhale fully.
  • Continue for 5 – 10 breaths. If you feel dizzy or faint stop – you’re overdoing it!

For best results, repeat frequently throughout the day. It's simple, but effective."
- Janet Walker, manual osteopathic practitioner

So what about you? How do you care for yourself when you're sick?
Please share with us in the comments.

Do you have a burning question related to baby-growing that you'd like to ask a bunch of experts all at once? Ask away! Or you'd like to do so more anonymously, send it in an email with "Village Voices" in the subject line.

 

Getting a break as a new parent: Village Voices

There's a new thing going here on the 4 Trimesters blog: Village Voices

Here's how it'll go:
It starts with you: my hope is that you will pose questions in the comments (or on our Facebook or Instagram page).
Then, past and future 4T presenters will answer them. It's like an advice column, but you get answers from experts from a variety of disciplines all at once, so you can pick and choose what resonates with you. Fun, right? I hope so!

  When you've been doing some version of this day in, and day out, you need to switch it up every once in a while.

When you've been doing some version of this day in, and day out, you need to switch it up every once in a while.

This week I thought we'd address self-care in new parenthood. It can be a real challenge to get some breathing room when you are the primary caregiver for a tiny new human who is pretty helpless, and pretty attached to you. But it can be vitally recharging.

"Our time to ourselves as new parents comes in moments, rather than hours or days. The more adept we can become at dropping fully into those moments of quietude, the more opportunities we find for meaningful self-care. Your breath is a great place to start, and it's always right there whenever you need it. Taking even 10 deep, rich breaths can change everything. Feel each inhalation nourishing every cell in your body. Let every exhalation clear your mind and cleanse you deeply. If you're having difficulty keeping your thoughts with your breath, anchor your mind with a simple phrase or mantra - "let (on the inhale)/go (on the exhale)", OM or a word like "peace" or "love" work well."

- Rhondda Smiley, doula and yoga instructor, mother of one.
 
"My favourite way to get a break in the early days was to take a really hot shower. My baby was colicky and cried all the time. I would hand her to my husband or my mother for 20 minutes and step into the shower. The water made it so I couldn't hear anything except what was right in front of me. I would take deep, warm breaths and close my eyes. Sometimes I would even take a cup of herbal tea in with me."

- Michelle Kapler, acupuncturist and mother of one.

 

"Because I am a sole parent, and because of the relationship I have with my mum, she came and lived with me for the first postpartum month. Together we learned how to put my kid in a stretchy wrap and buckle carrier, so if I needed extra sleep, my mum would take my kid off my hands after a nursing session. Fortunately she and I are about the same size, so she was even able to use one of my babywearing coats and walk my kid around the neighbourhood till she fell asleep. In this time I would have an eye mask on and ear plugs in so I wouldn't be disturbed when they re-entered the house, and if I didn't wake before I was needed, my mum would just get me up for the next nursing sesh. I'm not sure I would have survived/thrived without that help (if it's not something you have access to though, a postpartum doula and/or some committed friends can really save you!).

It was also nice to do something completely un-baby-related with anyone visiting like play Qwirkle and get filled in on their non-baby life. The most enjoyable easy/fun novel I read during that time (because I was too sensitive to read anything heavy) was It's Not Me, It's You. As my kiddo got older, and bedtimes became more challenging, a wee bowl of Coconut Bliss became my nightly reward for getting her to sleep."

- Jae Steele, postpartum doula, babywearing educator and nutritionist, mama of one.

 

"Masturbate!  If you've been advised  against sex for the first 6 weeks postpartum, that doesn't mean no vulva stimulation. If you feel a tingle of desire for some pleasure, self-pleasure when you have a moment here or there (or locked in the washroom...) is a great way to take a moment for yourself. This is definitely not going to be for everyone, though. If you had a traumatic birth experience, or are feeling devastated by a plummeting disinterest in sex, go slow. Maybe try taking a moment to touch your body somewhere, by yourself, that wants to be touched. Aching feet? Give'm a squeeze. Or try putting some body lotion over certain parts of your body and focus on what feels good about the lotion or how it smells. Developing a new relationship with the body doesn't happen overnight and sometimes take many many small steps first."

- Tynan Rhea, doula, sex educator and aromatherapist
 
"My number one suggestion is to get a good baby carrier/sling/wrap. Once you both get used to using it, baby will usually sleep happily and you’ll have both hands free to do whatever you want – text a friend, go for a walk, prepare some food, write the Great Canadian Novel.
Number two: hire a high school kid for a couple hours a day, a few days a week. You’re not going to leave the house, but you can leave the baby sleeping in a bassinet in the room with your “helper” while you do what you like (nap, prepare food, watch videos, etc.). If the baby wakes, your helper can try rocking and shushing, but bring baby to you if he/she doesn’t settle fast. Then while you nurse, the helper can do some other tasks – sweeping/cleaning or whatever would be helpful to you. It is not very expensive, and this can be counted as volunteer hours if you find a student who needs those to graduate."

- Teresa Pitman, lactation consultant, parenting expert, parent of four.
 

So what about you? How did you get (or are you getting) a break in the early days with your babe? Please share with us in the comments.

Have a burning question related to baby-growing that you'd like to ask a bunch of experts at once? Ask away! Or if you'd like to do so more anonymously, send it in an email.

Vital care for your pelvic floor

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For this post I interviewed Chana Ross, the clinical director of Vital Physiotherapy and Wellness. Her business was a sponsor for our first 4 Trimesters Conference, and she will be a speaker at our next conference on May 12, 2018. A warmer person, you will not meet. Just the kind of practitioner you want if you have to have someone zoning in on your most intimate areas ;)

How did you get into the field of pelvic floor physiotherapy?
I have three beautiful children. After my second I was experiencing pelvic pain. After visiting my doctor and being told that everything was “fine” I went searching for other answers. A friend of mine had recently become a pelvic physio and encouraged me to come to see her. It changed my life. I decided that I wanted to change other people’s lives the same way that my friend had changed mine!

What's the ideal time for people to come see a pelvic floor physio?
ANYTIME! I think any person who has ever had a baby should see a pelvic physio once. But, we encourage people to come BEFORE getting pregnant to ensure that you feel your best throughout the pregnancy, but that you also optimize your delivery and your recovery! We also see people years after having had their babies, through menopause, and people of all ages who have never been pregnant.
Its empowering to understand your pelvic floor muscles and what the muscles are doing. A pelvic assessment is usually an “Aha!” moment for most people.

Is there something you wish more people knew about their pelvic floors?
Most people assume that they will be coming to learn how to kegel. But your pelvic floor muscles (the muscles which sit at the bottom of your trunk and are responsible for holding up your organs, for keeping you continent, and for sexual function) are actually part of your "inner core system” and they work together with your breathing diaphragm, your inner abdominal muscles (your transversus abdominus) and your inner most back muscles (your multifidi). So, you never “just kegel”. You have to learn how to coordinate all four muscles. Actually, most people who we treat are almost in a perpetual kegel, they clench their pelvic floor muscles All. The. Time. We are usually training clients how to lengthen and let go!
You should see a pelvic physio if you are experiencing leaking of any kind or amount (even with a full bladder), any pain with sex, any low back, hip or pelvic pain, abdominal separation postpartum, and to prepare for labour and delivery!

You were 4 Trimesters' very first sponsor. What inspired you want to support this event?
Oh my goodness! So many reasons! As a pelvic physio and health clinic owner, it is my job to empower people! To teach them that they do not have to settle for the status quo. That they can expect more -- from their bodies, from the medical system, and from their "village." One of the best ways to do that is to educate them. That way people can make decisions about themselves and their families from a point of knowledge and understanding, not fear.
The other clear reason to participate, was to support a fellow mama as she in her work to empower and support other parents! It is our job as practitioners, parents, and humans is to lift each other up and work together towards our goals. When we heard about this amazing event it was more a question of how could we NOT participate?!

To get in touch with Chana and the rest of the Vital Wellness team click here, or to book an appointment, go straight to this page.
Vital is co-hosting an event on December 3 that you might want to check out, too!