The Serious Injury No One is Talking About: Diastasis Recti

by Nicole Nexon, MSPT

This post made possible by the generous support of Chunkabuns

 

____________________

Sometimes I feel like exercise has become a dirty word in the mommy sphere. I can understand that.

We get this message that we need to do everything – work, raise babies, maintain perfect households, create Pinterest worthy projects, not burn dinner… and erase any shred of evidence that our bodies have created life. Society settled on the idea that skinny = perfect and the backlash from that led to a movement of pride in our bodies. Which somehow turned in to “ real woman have curves “ and all kinds of craziness about skinny girls and curvy girls and…

It’s out of control.

And what has been missed in all of this is the truth of the matter – it’s not about skinny. It’s not about having curves or not having curves. It’s not about “mummy tummies” or thigh gap or muffin tops.

It’s about being healthy.

And not “healthy” in a way that has been co-opted by people meaning “stop eating junk food you fatty!” Healthy in way that allows people to live their lives in a manner they choose. Healthy in a way that allows you to lift babies and chase toddlers and carry laundry wherever you need to carry your laundry. Healthy in a way that makes you feel confident, that lets you sleep well and go about your life.

What happens when you’re injured…and you don’t even know it?

When I was pregnant with my second daughter, I began to feel a pretty distinct pain by my belly button. It was so specific that I was fairly certain I was developing an umbilical hernia. I brought it up with my midwife and was told it wasn’t a hernia. I was developing a diastasis recti – a split between the muscles and muscular tissue that runs down the center of the abdomen. The pressure inside from an expanding uterus/baby was just too much for the abdominal tissue to handle so the tissue and muscles were separating.

With my first pregnancy, I worked in an outpatient clinic that was less physically demanding. With this second pregnancy, my current position required a lot of physical lifting as a physical therapist in a subacute center for patients who were not sick enough for the hospital, not well enough to go home. I already had work restrictions due to the physical requirements of my job; working with those restrictions AND dealing with a developing case of Diastasis Recti made the restrictions even more difficult.

It was in this position that I recognized a growing group of people in need of support, awareness, and healing of Diastasis Recti: new moms.

Here were these women, trying to juggle new responsibilities, healing from the changes their bodies went through during pregnancy and subsequent post-partum recovery and there was little to no support or even awareness about the problems that Diastasis Recti presented.

Diastasis Recti can affect your body in some pretty drastic ways.

  • -Incontinence
  • -Irregular bowel movements,
  • -Lower back pain, spinal or hip injuries due to your abdominal muscle’s inability to support your body when you’re lifting or bending
  • -Pain during sexual intercourse
  • -Increased chance of sciatica or disc issues
  • -Increased chance of umbilical hernia
  • -Postural instability due to poor strength of the abdominal muscles

The effects are numerous.

Now it was MY body that was going to need to be supported.

My body that was going to need help carrying a car seat. A baby. My toddler. The laundry.

My body that was going to be more prone to injury- that would need me to completely rethink how I went about my day. I worked out through my pregnancy because I knew what was ahead of me. I knew my core was going to be compromised. I wanted to achieve a VBAC and I knew I would need endurance (among other things) to prevent a repeated OR experience. I went back to my books and read studies on exercise efficacy. I reviewed exercise programs for pregnant women, post partum women, and people who had just had abdominal or back surgery. I had a plan, and I HAD to be as physically strong as I could when I returned from maternity leave so I could perform my job effectively.

I ended up with a VBAC, a baby girl, and a three-finger diastasis.

*when I say “three-finger diastasis” I am describing how many fingers I can horizontally fit across the tissue separation. To find this, lay on the floor with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift up your head slightly and contract your abdomen muscles gently. Find your belly button and make the “scout symbol” with your fingers…see how many you can fit in there. i.e. 1 finger, 3 fingers, etc. Check the same line down by your pelvis, and again up towards your ribs. Different points along your abdominal muscles may be different fingers of separation.

 


I feel blessed that my passion and my education allowed me to understand what my body needs to function well and heal from my condition. I am grateful for my colleagues and friends with whom I can discuss ideas or count on to help me with the hands-on techniques I can’t perform on myself. I know I am lucky to have access to the information that I have.

I want other women to have this valuable access to connections and resources that are out there for those recovering from Diastasis Recti.

I want women to know that sometimes “mummy tummy” can actually be caused by a medical condition.

I want women to know that the media are not medical professionals and there is a wide range of “normal” when it comes to our bodies.

I want other mothers to know that exercise and eating well are available to them.

I want women to know there are safe exercise routines that WON’T injure a body healing from Diastasis Recti. That recovering doesn’t need to be a series of scary, out-of-reach experiences. They don’t need to spend hours in the gym (Though you certainly can, if you enjoy it!).

Recovering means that you can take a walk, be it pushing a stroller or wearing a baby. You can do squats in your living room, jumping jacks, and eventually pushups and planks. (But until you’ve healed from your diastasis, it is best to do modified planks so that you don’t further separate your diastasis or have your abdominal muscles work against you or push on that separation while you’re healing!)

I feel sad when I hear people say “I can’t workout because…”

I feel sad because they are being taught that only the big efforts count.

That’s not true.

I work with people for whom sitting at the edge of their bed is enormous effort, and standing requires assistance of others. When you see the enormous joy on a person’s face brought by these small yet enormous victories, you begin to understand the true beauty of the movement our bodies are capable of. What may seem like a small victory may be an enormous triumph-a giant step towards hope and healing.

Misguided emphasis on skinny and perfect or the fear of never being _____ enough WILL STOP US in our tracks.

Enough.

You are enough.

It’s ok to start small.

It’s ok to fail.

It’s ok to not be perfect.

It’s ok to be YOU.

It’s not about meeting someone else’s standards.

It’s about taking care of yourself, teaching your family that our bodies are a great gift and we should treat them well. It’s about understanding that you are worthy of the time and energy it will take to begin, to HEAL, and to build healthy habits that facilitate that healing and well being.

Let’s get moving, because moving not only transforms your body, but it transforms your mind, no matter what size jeans you wear.

Some Exercises to Get You  Started:

Some Other Tips to Start Healing:

  • Sitting with the best possible posture: (Pull your belly button in towards your spine. Keep breathing while doing this. Pull your shoulder blades onto your back. Keep breathing!)
  • Kegels/pelvic floor exercises (contracting the pelvic floor muscles-the ones you use to stop your pee, if that makes sense!).
  • Standing on one foot while brushing your teeth while pulling your belly button in towards your spine.
  • Stretching before you get out of bed.
  • Taking a walk or parking further from the store.
  • You can climb your stairs.
  • Swim.
  • Dance.
  • Work out with a DVD program or take a class.
  • If pregnant, getting an abdominal/belly support band to help support your abdomen and relieve pain you may be experiencing.
  • If in post partum recovery, gently binding your belly to help pull the muscles together and support you in those first few weeks of initial birth recovery.

starting pt image

arms image

leg image

plank image

Where am I now? I’m down to a one finger split at my belly button. I am confidently back to work full time with no restrictions. I’m still doing pelvic floor exercises and modifying my workouts to protect and strengthen my abdominal muscles so I don’t re-injure or reinforce the Diastasis Recti. I’m teaching my daughters that exercise and eating well are ways to treat your body with respect, to give it what it needs so when you need your body to work for you, it will. I’m teaching them that strong is beautiful, that healthy allows you to follow your dreams, that food is a tool and a pleasure and size is just another physical trait that varies from person to person.

Final thought… can we all agree to stop using the words “mummy tummy” ? Please? Your tummy is awesome, mommy. Growing a human is beautiful. A body that shows the results of growing a human is also beautiful!

For more information on Diastasis Recti click here.

*You are strong, and Chunkabuns knows it. Check out their “Mom Strong” Tee-shirts (and matching “Strong Like Mommy” shirts for baby! ♥♥♥) and other clothing options for mom and baby at www.chunkabuns.com

 _____________________

nicole nexon image
Nicole Nexon is a mother of two, working full time as a physical therapist. Nicole has her master’s degree in Physical Therapy, and has been working for 9 years in both the inpatient and outpatient fields of physical therapy. She is a complete nerd when it comes to the human body and wants to encourage others to take the opportunity to treat their bodies well at whatever stage of life they are in. She is also a Beachbody coach and has found it to be a great platform to spread her mission of health and wellness. In her spare time, Nicole enjoys traveling and snowboarding. You can follow her at www.facebook.com/nicolerosenex )
Share

Bipolar Parenting- The Fear My Children Would Be Better Off Motherless

by Joni Edelman

In 2005, my oldest sons were five and seven years old. On a summer afternoon I found them in a hurricane of kicks and slaps, a disagreement over legos or hot wheels. I raised my voice, yelling, STOP. Unfazed by my clenched fists, my volume, the anger in my eyes and in my scowl, their fighting continued. My rage reached boiling. I scanned the room. My eyes landed on a wooden chair near the door and brought it down on the hardwood floor in a crash, splinters flying, the flooring scratched. The fighting stopped and their expressions told a story of terror.

I remember those faces — still. It’s been 10 years.

***

In the summer of 1983 my best friend ever in the entire universe came to my house for a sleepover. My house was the best house for sleepovers. We had Twinkies and microwave popcorn, fruit roll-ups and A&W Root Beer — and all the things 9 year old’s dreams are made of. The cabinets were organized alphabetically; Twinkies by the Triscuits, popcorn by the Pasta-roni.

I had a daisy comforter and three decorative pillows, my own TV, and eight Cabbage Patch dolls. My mom would sometimes be gone all night — which only added to the allure.

Me and my best friend forever ate the popcorn, and everything else, and watched whatever was on TV (which wasn’t much). And went to sleep.

When we woke up Saturday morning, the house was quiet, and I had a new stepfather. Steve worked construction and smelled like stale cigarettes and tequila and freshly milled 2X4s. He yelled a lot. I didn’t like him. He had three pesky, filthy children, who I also didn’t like.

Friday night, my mom and Steve went to Vegas. And Saturday morning I had a new family. The next week, in the middle of a school day, my mom picked me up. From school we went to Steve’s house, which was dirty, remotely located, and surrounded by flooded groves of walnut trees and fields of cotton. I didn’t like it either.

I never saw my school — or my desk full of Hello Kitty pencils — again.

This may seem like odd behavior, because it is, but it wasn’t for me. Sudden changes in locale, housing, men, stepsiblings, schools, all typical. I loathed it. I was accustomed to it.

***

Ten years later I was living on my own and helping my sixth stepfather raise my 4-year-old sister. My mom was living in some remote city in Northern California, with the addict who would ostensibly become my seventh stepfather. I was in college, married, pregnant, terrified.

In early adulthood the bipolar disorder that was my genetic destiny was pushed around — shuffled from doctor to doctor, city to city, misdiagnosis to misdiagnosis. Deeply distressed, consumed by sadness, it was just “postpartum depression.” If I had manic energy, it was “drive” or “passion” or “dedication.” Snap decisions, irresponsible, risky, promiscuous, it was just “life learning.” I never finished anything I started, something always got in the way. It was never Bipolar Disorder.

It was always Bipolar Disorder.

I wanted children, a family — stability to heal my wounds. And I knew the truth, I was very sick. I wanted desperately to be anyone but my mother, but, always suppressed, always explained away, I was exactly like my mother. All night sewing marathons, consuming obsession with fitness, organization, church, gardening, decor, 17 kinds of crafts. My magical thinking, my invincibility. The rage. The waves of crippling depression.

I had three children who were pushed aside, when I was sad, or busy, which was a lot of the time. I yelled. I cried. I retreated. I apologized. I did it all again — an infinite loop of dysfunction.

I wanted to be the best mother. The opposite of my mother. I wanted to do it all, and well. But  I wasn’t doing it well. I was doing what I could. But sometimes what you can do isn’t enough.

There was always fear, the fear of the unspoken truth, the elephant in the room — in my life, all around me —  as much as I didn’t want to be my mother, I was. I ignored it, ultimately medicating the long troughs of depression, celebrating the months of boundless energy, denying the dysfunctional behavior;  the out of control spending, the risk taking, the defiance, the promiscuity, the rage.

For 20 years.

***

When I was 40, I met my psychiatrist, a diminutive man, who drinks lattes and eats Sun Chips during my appointments. The man who mixed a complicated cocktail of psychiatric medications, and finally leveled my moods. The man that rose my depression, and stole my mania, and bridged the gap between crippling sadness and dangerous madness. The man who changed it all.

Despite the bridge, my moods still shift from time to time. Lately they’ve been low, I’ve planned my death seven different ways. And so we adjust my dosages. Three months ago they were high, high enough that I didn’t want to sleep. But I continued to swallow the usual pills, and the extra pills he prescribed to force the sleep I hate, to shut me down. We move my meds up and down, in spite of the sometimes crippling side effects. In the name of sanity. In the name of trying to be a safe place for my five children.

Bipolar Parenting, Joni Edelman

I’m still scared. I’m scared that the 10 years I lived in denial hurt my children, irreparably.  I’m scared that they will grow up and write something like this, recounting a childhood of fear and dysfunction. I’m scared that the cocktail that keeps me alive may stop working — that the depths of depression will take hold, and I won’t be able to shake it. And I will die. And leave them motherless.

I’m scared that they might be better off motherless.

I’m scared that one of them will have this cursed gift. I’m scared they will blame me, like I blamed her. I’m scared that someday I’ll be her, and not even know.

Every night I brush my teeth and I swallow five pills and I hope that I can be better, that I am better.

___________________________

IMG_0670 I’m Joni. I’m lucky enough to have 5 amazing kids (19, 16, 15, 4 and 2), one fantastic husband, an awesome sister and a yarn addiction. When I’m not raising up people I’m a freelance writer, RN, and the momma behind mommabare. Love is my religion. I like cake and crafty crap. And yoga. In that order. 
You can follow Joni on Instagram here and on Twitter here.
Share

More Than Mommy Exhaustion: How I recovered my energy and health

by Carrie Saum

Mommy exhaustion.

I know you’ve felt it. Too many nights waking up with your tiny baby, fussy toddler, or insomniac older children. Feeding on demand, pumping around the clock, midnight and 2am boob snacks that stretch to 4am. School projects, sleep regressions, a few minutes of Me Time between 11:31-11:57 pm after all the dishes are done, lunches are made, and housework is sort of caught up.

You pour another cup of coffee at noon, after reheating your first cup approximately six times in the microwave. You try an energy drink mix that your friend is selling. And still. You are so worn out, you can barely string five words together to create a coherent thought.

You resolve to take walks, get outside, or try that pilates DVD you’ve had for ages. You feel good about your choice, but you are wiped out for the rest of the afternoon, trying to recover your shaking muscles and push through the exhaustion until you can climb into bed.

You resolve to eat better, cut out the junk and convenience foods, and maybe that will help you feel more energetic, too. After a few weeks, you see a marginal improvement, but it’s not enough of a pay-off for the sacrifice you are making.

And let’s not even talk about the weight gain.

You wonder if maybe you’re missing something but chalk it up to this season in life where sleep is scarce, demands are abundant, and time for self-care is at a high premium. Of course you’re depleted. Who wouldn’t be?

A few months ago, I brought up my debilitating exhaustion to my doctor. Being a mom herself, she’s familiar with all that goes along with it. She encouraged me to see if there might be an underlying problem in addition to this season of life. She told me about a blood panel called The Boston Heart. The Boston Heart tests multiple vitamins, nutrients, and hormones using a fast blood test. Many insurance plans cover it 100%, even if you have high deductibles. I checked into my insurance coverage, and sure enough, it was covered. No money out of my pocket to get some information about unidentified issues I might have which would paint a bigger picture of my health, instead of just chalking it up to parenthood.

When my results came back, I was shocked. Even though my thyroid was in surprisingly good shape, (which I thought was the culprit), my niacin levels were incredibly low. And you know what happens when your body doesn’t have enough niacin? Your muscles shake when you exert them. Daily tasks wear you out. Do you know what makes it worse? Not getting enough sleep, too much stress, and eating processed foods.

Magnesium, Omega 3, Vitamin D3, and my progesterone were also very low, all of which are easily depleted during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Hello, depression! So, no matter how much sleep, good food, or exercise I was getting, I still felt like crap because I was drawing from a dry well.

I began supplementing with food-grade vitamins immediately, on the recommendation from my doctor. My trusty pre-natal vitamins weren’t enough for my specific needs, and I sealed them up tight and put them in my refrigerator for future use. I strategized to get veggies in every meal, and keep seasonal fruit on hand for when the sugar cravings were too much. I added as many healthy, unadulterated fats as I could. I whipped up a salad dressing using hemp seed oil, which is full of Omega 3, and a little apple cider vinegar. Buttered coffee was always on hand. We stocked our refrigerator with grass-fed meats and veggies to lightly sauté or roast as the main course for all three meals.

OvereasyFriedEggSalad

My go-to meal for quick, easy nutrition: Two sunnyside up fried eggs over greens with hemp seed oil, ACV, and dried herbs. Perfection.

Oh, and I put a total moratorium on strenuous exercise, eating out, and plans with friends before noon and after 5pm on the days I wasn’t working. I also went to bed at 9:30. It meant less Me Time. It meant I often went to bed with dirty dishes in the sink, my floors unswept, and wore the same pair of jeans six times before washing. But it was only for a few weeks and it was vital for my recovery.

I found that watering and weeding my garden while my toddler played close by was enough exertion for me. I also found that I relaxed on a deeper level than I have in years because I gave myself permission to stop trying to do it all. I just did some, accepted what I was capable of in that time frame, and waited until I felt replenished to rejoin the world.

GardenPlay

We happily kept it low key in the community garden.

After the three week moratorium was over, (and believe me, it was hard saying no to things), I started slow. I worked hard to begin refilling my very limited well. Being gentle with my body and my psyche was my number one priority. This is how I came back to the world:

  • A walk in the park.
  • Running up and down the stairs to the basement doing laundry.
  • Vigorous weeding and replanting in my garden.
  • A pilates DVD, increasing by 5 minutes at time.
  • Doing something fun before doing work. On purpose.
  • Saying yes only if it felt 100% doable and okay.

These little things added up quickly. But I want to be clear: I stopped when I was tired. Not exhausted. Not beyond my limit. Not when I was shaking and close to dry heaving. Maybe that works for some people, but it doesn’t work in recovery mode.

Last week, I took a very long walk, pushing my two year old in a stroller the whole way up and down hills that would have had me shaking with exertion after 10 minutes a few months ago. I walked at a pace I felt comfortable with. I stopped and pushed my son on a swing and then stopped again a little later to get an iced decaf coffee at one of my favorite neighborhood places. As I pushed my son up the final, excruciatingly steep hill, I huffed and puffed but I did NOT slow down. My brain wanted to quit but my body was up for the challenge. I spent the rest of the afternoon working, cooking, and playing with my son. I’m not joking when I say that has never happened before on the days I worked out.

And later that week when we braved a trip to the beach, I chased my toddler all over the beach, splashed with him in the water, and played soccer on the hard packed sand without getting winded.

MommyandEHugPoint

Playing hard at the beach with my little boy, feeling super energetic, happy, and proudly rockin’ my bikini.

These bodies of ours are amazing. We are resilient. We are tough. But being exhausted all the time is not normal. Even for you, mama. Be gentle with that body. Be kind to your skin and your bones and your blood and your squishy places and your soul. And find what works for you to feel like yourself again.

 __________________________________________________________________________________

If you like this article, check out Peace In The Passing: Why My Early Miscarriage Was A Relief and her series on #TinyTriumphs over on Our Stable Table.


IMG_2895Carrie Saum brings a passion for wellness and over a decade of experience in health care to her clients. A certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, she empowers individuals and families to achieve health and balance through time-honored practices and health knowledge. Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical and service fields.
With background in paramedic medicine, Carrie spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. As an AWC, Carrie currently coaches her clients and their families about topics including nutrition, weight loss, and stress management. In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and the voice behind OurStableTable.com. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son.

 

 

 

 

Share

#MyStoryMatters: Monica and Molly- Loss And Renewal

Trigger Warning This post talks about loss.

 

We all have a story to tell and each of our stories can be the change this world needs.

My story is long. It is full of life’s threads that have made me who I am today.

One day, one of those threads came undone.

It put my family on a path that would forever change our course.

IMG_8647

The author and her family today.

We were expecting our fourth child and second daughter, her nursery was not yet planned and her shower was a few weeks away. After all, she was the last one we had planned on having and I was not quite as particular about things anymore. At the time I was a full time nurse, we had just moved from Florida to Georgia and I had worked in Pediatrics at the hospital for 10 years, and did other jobs in nursing for 6 more years. So I was a confident pregnant momma not expecting anything to happen to this precious baby we were so thankful for.

It was Christmas time and I was 28 weeks along. Customarily we would never travel over Christmas because we liked the kids to wake up in their home on Christmas morning, but this year we decided to go back to Florida to see the family. Early morning Christmas Eve, sitting in my parent’s bathroom my cramps began. Then the pressure and bleeding started. I had never experienced any difficulties in past pregnancies, and because I was a nurse, I knew too much already. I was in labor.

I cried for God to stop it, I cried out for my husband who was still sleeping, and we were heading to the hospital while the house was quiet and still.

The particular thing about nurses is that you cannot tell us anything we don’t

already think we know. You also can’t argue with us. It’s a curse. (Much like a baby-wearing cloth diapering momma!) When the emergency room doctor told me I was not in labor, he quickly regretted it and sent us up to labor and delivery. Mommas know their bodies.

The ultrasound machine told us everything we needed to know. Molly’s tiny heart had stopped in transit to the unit. My world started to crash in at that very instant. I did a mental checklist over and over, but the results were the same. I could not think of how or why this would happen, I did everything “right”!

We delivered our beautiful little blonde headed baby girl about thirty minutes later and we held her and kissed her and told her to tell Jesus we said hello, and we held her some more. We knew she was serving our mighty God. Her life humbled me. Life’s fragility. Its beauty. Its cruelty. It’s really humbling.

Months later, I was researching stillbirths and I repeatedly came across studies done in other countries about harmful chemicals and how they permeate through our skin and they are found in breast milk and our blood. How these harmful chemicals can cause changes in DNA and can alter our hormones, which regulate every process in the human body and are especially imperative to the development of a fetus. I read how some harmful chemicals are changing the health of sperm, reproductive organs and how others are carcinogenic. I dug deeper, researching studies and reports. Calling experts in the field that would talk to me to help me understand this research I discovered.

I learned that in the United States there are 80,000 chemicals approved for use in our products but they only tested 200 of those chemicals for human safety. Those tests were done on men, not women or children. Then I found a cord blood study done by a physician on his own granddaughter’s umbilical cord blood, her daddy was also a physician. This study concluded that there were many hazardous chemicals in cord blood and it was one of hundreds of studies that proved this. Our babies are losing a battle they don’t have the choice to fight.

That was it for me. I knew I needed to let everyone who would listen know that they had to start taking charge of their own bodies and know what was going not only in them, but on them as well. After all, we all know our skin is the largest organ, but many people do not realize that if the skin’s pH is altered, the harmful chemicals will go through that skin-blood barrier. Harmful household chemicals and pesticides are found in breast milk, our urine, and blood.

I got a huge black trash bag out of the garage and began throwing away everything under our kitchen sink, our laundry room cabinet, and our bathroom cabinets that was not “natural.” I began researching the products I had left, and most of them followed the conventional items into the trash. The word “natural” is so misused in today’s marketing. We did slowly add items back into the home, using resources like EWG.org and other fantastic websites and research that help decipher all of this crazy information. It was so overwhelming, baby steps with this stuff was really the way to go. I made several of my own products in the beginning of my quest until I could find a safe alternative to the store bought items.

Conventional laundry detergent was the one product I could never feel fully comfortable with. I read studies about how polluting they are to our waterways and fish, and how certain chemicals in detergents are found in breast milk and blood. The ingredients mostly came from China where the ingredient integrity can be questionable and mostly synthetic ingredients are used…even when there is a safer raw option- because they are cheap. In America, where Procter and Gamble spends multi-millions in marketing and brainwashing people into thinking we need lots of foaming and bubbles and we have to have scent for our items to be clean, it’s no wonder we have limited options on the shelf that are safe.

I decided we had to do something. I knew too much to sit at the wayside, and all the research came at a great price. Molly’s Suds was born. It is a tribute to her and to all that her death allowed my eyes to be opened to. It is a promise of strict ingredient integrity and safer chemicals that truly clean.

074A5853

We began formulation in 2008 and had a shelf ready product in 2010. We sold our products in farmer’s markets, co-ops, mom groups and other smaller markets at first. I taught classes on ingredient integrity,what chemicals to avoid and why and basically spoke to anyone who would listen. It was awesome. Most people eat organic, but don’t give a second thought to what they clean their home in or wash their clothes with. It opened people’s eyes to become wise and to do their own research. That is still the goal today. Teaching our customers, moms, retailers, local groups, and even our friends and family about ingredients, about harmful chemicals, what is safe and what is not, and how they can find the research. I don’t judge people for what they use, I think we all are just doing what we feel is best for our families and ourselves. But empowering them with the knowledge and then letting them do what they want with it is half the battle!

074A5838

We continue to grow here at Molly’s Suds in St. Petersburg, FL. We love what we do, encouraging a workplace where our employees can feel like they are making a difference. Our children also know the hard work that goes into running a company and help out on their days off school. We are both humbled and excited about Molly’s Suds, the adventure we have been on, and how God has allowed good to come out of our tragedy.

 

Attachment-1

 

 

 

 


074A5702

 Monica Leonard, founder of Molly’s Suds, is an inspiring, mission-driven woman with a huge heart, passionate about continuously educating herself and consumers about the  harmful chemical dangers we come across in our daily lives, and how to steer clear of them as much as possible. Mother of four, and originally a pediatric nurse, Monica’s experiences, faith and compassion drove her to develop a line of truly safe household products. Molly’s Suds is a way for her stillborn daughter, Molly, to live on, teaching and motivating others to be wise and do their research before simply accepting and trusting major conventional brands on the shelves. Monica’s ongoing goal is to continuously and responsibly grow Molly’s Suds, cultivate eco-responsibility throughout all practices, and continue educating as many consumers as possible along the way.

Share

Heart to Heart Breast Talk

by Jessica Martin-Weber and Kerry Gilmartin

This post was made possible through the generous sponsorship of Bamboobies.

As breastfeeding supporters when it comes to talking about breast cancer it is easy for us to get caught up in talking about how breastfeeding can reduce a woman’s risk of breast cancer. It’s true that statistically speaking breastfeeding can lower your chance of breast cancer, but it isn’t a be all- end all type of prevention, just one piece. The reality is that breastfeeding your baby (or babies) doesn’t mean you get to dismiss the possibility of breast cancer forever, there is still a risk. The good news is that breastfeeding along with other measures can help reduce your risk and education and support can better support those that do develop breast cancer.

Related post: Reduced Risk Doesn’t Mean No Risk

My paternal grandmother is a survivor of breast cancer. A kind, giving woman with a gentle soul, early detection and aggressive treatment meant she lost her breasts but kept her life. I’m so grateful for the treatments available to fight this threatening disease, without them I wouldn’t have known my grandmother. I will never forget when I was young and she showed me her double mastectomy scars and told me her story. The impact of her experience taught me a lot but it was her gentle warning to take care of myself and to regularly check my own breasts that has continued to ring in my ears. Like my grandmother, I want to be here for my children for a long time still, I’m not about to bank on one risk reducing factor. Instead, I want to be informed and do everything I can to protect my health.

So, aside from breastfeeding, what else can you do to lower your risk of breast cancer? And how can you raise your chances of surviving should you develop breast cancer? We’ve pulled together some simple, accessible tips to get you started. Awareness alone won’t change anything, education and action steps are required to make a difference.

 breastfeeding reduces but doesn't eliminate breast cancer risk

Keep A BreastBamboobies donates a portion of all online sales to the Keep A Breast Foundation to support their efforts in promoting awareness, self-checking and prevention of breast cancer.

 

Know the facts

Breast cancer is an extremely prevalent disease and it is crucial to know the facts, learn about prevention, and perform monthly exams.

  • Besides skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed among American women. It accounts for nearly 1 in 3 cases of cancers.
  • Today, about 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in their lifetime.
  • Only lung cancer accounts for more cancer deaths among American women.
  • The chance that a breast cancer patient will be alive five years after diagnosis is lower in women under 40. Statistics indicate that tumors diagnosed in younger women may be more aggressive and less responsive to treatment, making early detection key.

Aging, genetics, race, breast tissue, and menstrual periods are all factors that cannot be changed, however, leading a healthy lifestyle, avoiding common toxins that are linked to cancer, and making smart diet choices are all ways in which you can decrease your risk for breast cancer.

Being aware of what you put in as well as on your body are preventative tactics that you are in control of. Knowledge is key, read the labels of the products you buy and when possible avoid products containing, PARABENS, PHTHALATES, 1,4-DIOXANE, NITROSAMINES, HEAVY METALS. Also, make conscious decisions about cleaning supplies you use in your home. Avoid bleach and stick to these alternatives lemon, baking soda and vinegar when cleaning. Lastly, avoid plastic whenever possible as it can slowly leak chemicals into whatever it touches i.e plastic food storage containers, and plastic water bottles.

In young people, obesity and toxicity are the most prevalent reasons for excess estrogen making it crucial to maintain a healthy body weight. Make healthy choices when choosing the food you put into your body and learn about the fruits and vegetables that are part of the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15 lists. Avoiding pesticides and choosing certified organic produce, when possible, will reduce the likelihood that you will be exposed to dangerous chemicals and hormones.

Getting Started

Early detection is KEY making it extremely important to perform monthly exams, know your body and your breast. Becoming familiar with your breast will help you determine what is “normal” for your body. You can check yourself in 5 easy steps, beginning with a visual exam. When performing your exam, ask yourself these questions …

  • Do my breasts look the same?
  • Are my nipples the same shape?
  • Are there any indentions, bruises or bulges?
  • Is there any discharge coming from my nipples? Are the veins more noticeable on one breast than the other?

It is necessary to note that if you notice any changes you should visit your doctor right away.

*Keep in mind that lactating breasts are usually more dense and prone to lumps from milk than an empty breast. Breast self-exams are still beneficial, try to do them when your breasts are empty.

Check Yourself AppFor more information on how to perform your exam visit Keep a Breast Foundation and download the check yourself app or print out the check yourself card.

5 easy steps

Visit the Keep a Breast Foundation online store  https://shop.keep-a-breast.org/

 

 

 

Share

Dear Kathleen- on breastfeeding moms and nutrition

Daily, we receive hundreds of emails and messages from Leakies looking for help and information in their breastfeeding journey.  As so many seek support from us, we are so honored to have the support of Kathleen Huggins, IBCLC and author of The Nursing Mothers’ Companion.  Kathleen is jumping on board with The Leaky Boob to have a regular article answering Leaky questions every month.  The questions will be selected from the huge pool we get in every day to try and help cover the wide range of topics about which Leakies are asking.  These questions are from real moms and represent hundreds of requests for more information in the past two weeks.  Please understand that this is simply the professional opinion of one International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in an informal setting and is not intended to replace the care of a health care provider.  Kathleen is offering support and information, not diagnosing or prescribing treatment.  For your health and safety, please seek the care of a qualified physician and/or IBCLC.  Kathleen does have limited availability for phone or online consultations, see her website for more information.

 

Dear Kathleen,

Somebody recently mentioned breastfeeding moms having poor quality milk because they eat junk.  I am feeding my 6 week old but I don’t eat particularly healthy and I am worried now that my milk may not be as good as I first thought and she may be missing out on vital nutrients – I will of course start eating much healthier (every time I feed I crave something sweet) but I am worried that for the first 6 weeks of her life she was not getting the best milk. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Sincerely,

Not a Health Nut

 

 

Dear Not a Health Nut,

Hello!  This is a great question and one that I am sure many mothers wonder about.  The bottom line is that that the quality of your milk is generally not affected by your diet.  Mothers who live in poverty stricken areas around the world and here in the U.S. are able to provide nutritious milk to their infants.

Many mothers find that their appetite is low right after giving birth. Eating small nutritious snacks throughout the day will provide sufficient calories for you.  The fat stores accumulated during pregnancy will provide some additional reserves.

With that being said, eating nutritious foods will help you feel good and maintain your health. Try and avoid eating “empty calorie” foods like sodas, candy and chips! A poor diet will not effect milk production but is more likely continue at your own expense, leading to fatigue and listlessness! To Dieting during the early weeks is not recommended; as most mothers who are eating nutritious foods will gradually lose the weight they gained during pregnancy.

There is no set number of calories that is necessary during lactation.  In the past, there was a recommendation of eating 500 calories above a mother’s regular diet but now this is not thought to be the case.  On the other hand, some mothers, like those who are nursing multiples may need additional calories.  Most mothers supporting nursing multiple babies may need more calories but in many of these cases, she may naturally feel more hungry.

Nutrition and breastfeeding

Dieting

It is not advisable to begin a weight loss program until after two months post partum and weight loss should be limited to 1-2 pounds per week.  Low carb diets are also not recommended as they can cause some dehydration, constipation, fatigue and sleeping problems.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements for Mothers

It is recommended that mothers get 1000 mgms of calcium (calcium carbonate, being the least expensive with the highest concentration)per day.  This can also be achieved by drinking 3 glasses of milk per day or having several servings of cheese or yogurt.  If you don’t like milk or cow’s milk products, you can either take a calcium supplement or eat other calcium rich foods each day.  These include goat milk or cheese, bone containing canned fish, whole grains or whole grain flours, nuts, seeds and dried fruits.  Green leafy vegetables, with the exception of brocolli, are poorly absorbed. Other calcium rich foods include tofu or soy milk or cheeses, and lime based corn tortillas.

If you eat a vegan diet, which excludes egg and milk products, it is recommended that up to 4 mgms of vitamin B12 be taken daily to avoid deficiencies.  While mothers can take a supplement she can also include foods rich in this vitamin.   These include goat milk and/or cheese, canned fish, whole grains and whole grain flours, green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and dry fruits.  Also, tofu or soy cheese, tortillas made with lime-processed corn.

Iron supplements may be necessary if you are anemic following the birth of your baby for your own health.  Some mothers develop vitamin B deficiencies, experiencing depression, irritability, impared concentration, loss of appetite, and tingling or burning feet.  A daily B complex supplement or taking Brewer’s yeast mixed with juice or milk can reverse these symptoms.

Supplements for Babies

Vitamin D, actually a hormone produced by sunshine is now recommended for breastfed babies.  This vitamin is important for several reasons.  It promotes the absorption of calcium in the baby’s intestinal tract. It is also an important part of a baby’s immune system keeping the baby less prone to infection.  Most recently, a lack of vitamin D has been associated with rickets, a bone softening disease.  There is also an association of low vitamin D with Type-1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer.

Many babies are born already vitamin D deficient. While babies can get vitamin D from sunlight, assuring that they get enough is complicated by the latitude, season, altitude, weather, time of day, air pollution, and how much skin is exposed and whether sun screen is applied.  While a baby who is exposed to sunlight for 30 minutes per week wearing only a diaper or for two hours a week fully clothed without a hat.  Some babies in higher latitudes need even more light.

Because sun exposure is associated with skin cancer later in life, the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that all breastfed babies receive 400 International Units of vitamin D throughout childhood.  Formula fed babies do not need this supplement.  Most formulations of vitamin D are combined with other vitamin preparations which are unnecessary for the breastfed baby and may be difficult to give to the baby.  One company, Carlson Laboratories, offers a vitamin D supplement, Baby Ddrops and are available at health food stores and on-line pharmacies.  The baby only requires a single drop, which can be placed on the mother’s nipple for easy ingestion.

Best  wishes to you and your baby!

Kathleen

 

 

Kathleen-Higgins Kathleen Huggins RN IBCLC, has a Master’s Degree in Perinatal Nursing from U.C. San  Francisco, founded the Breastfeeding Warmline, opened one of the first breastfeeding clinics in  the United States, and has been helping breastfeeding mothers professionally for 33 years.  Kathleen  authored The Nursing Mother’s Companion in 1986 followed by The Nursing Mother’s Guide to Weaning.  Kathleen has also co-authored Nursing Mother, Working Mother with Gale Pryor, Twenty Five Things Every Breastfeeding Mother Should Know and The Nursing Mothers’ Breastfeeding Diary with best-friend, Jan Ellen Brown.  The Nursing Mothers’ Companion has also been translated into Spanish.  Mother of two now grown children, Kathleen retired from hospital work in 2004 and after beating breast cancer opened and currently runs Simply MaMa, her own maternity and breastfeeding boutique.  She continues to support breastfeeding mothers through her store’s “breastaurant,” online at The Leaky Boob, and in private consultations.  
Share

Medications and Breastfeeding

by Star Rodriguez, IBCLC 

This post made possible in part by the generous support of Rumina Nursingwear.

 

It can be really confusing taking medications or having procedures done while you are breastfeeding.  Most of the time, if you look at the package insert or online, most medications simply say that you should ask your doctor or not take them while breastfeeding.  Then you might hear something completely different from friends, or relatives, pharmacist, or from your doctor.  So what do you do?

Well, luckily, there are a bunch of fantastic resources for breastfeeding moms.

First, I want to tell you that research on breastfeeding and medications has come a long way in the past few years.  So your doctor, nurse practitioner, or pharmacist may have outdated information.  I am not trying to say that you shouldn’t respect your provider or that they don’t know what they are talking about.  That’s absolutely not true.  However, the amount of breastfeeding patients or customers that they see is probably relatively small, so their continuing education is often focused elsewhere.  If you are wondering if information that you were given is correct, you have every right to research that yourself and then bring that information back to your provider so you can make an informed decision together.

Medications moving into milk depend on several things, and, sometimes, even if they do, they do not enter the bloodstream of the baby.  Describing the hows and whys of that could literally take me twenty (probably boring to most people) pages, so I’ll cut to the more important things: how to tell what your medication is ranked, taking you baby’s age into account, resources for information, and supply issues from medications.

Drugs are typically ranked in L categories.  These categories are, as per Dr. Thomas Hale:

L1 – Safest.  These drugs either don’t reach the baby at all or have been proven to be safe in large studies.

L2 – Safer.  These drugs have either been studied to a lesser degree with little to no side effects on the baby, or, after taking the evidence into account, the likelihood of this drug being problematic to your baby is pretty remote.

L3 – Moderate.  This category is where most drugs start.  L3 drugs either have no studies done, or studies have been done showing minimal problems to the infant if the mom is taking it.  This is the category where it’s really a risk/benefit situation.  What are the risks of the drug in your breast milk versus the risks of feeding formula?

L4 – Possibly Hazardous.  We know that this drug can have adverse effects on the baby.  However, there might be some situations where use of this drug is justified.  For instance, if someone is in a life-threatening situation.  For the most part, though, we want to avoid these medications.

L5 – Contradicted.  You can’t use these while breastfeeding.  We know that they have significant, documented, negative impacts on babies.  If you have to take a L5, you cannot breastfeed while it is present in your milk.

 

Sometimes the classification of medications can vary based on where you are in your breastfeeding relationship.  In the first week of breastfeeding, due to the difference in colostrum versus mature milk, it can be a little easier for medications to pass into milk in greater quantity.  If you can avoid a drug during that time, you should.  However, maintenance medications, pain relievers used for surgical deliveries or painful vaginal deliveries don’t need to be avoided.

In the later stages of breastfeeding, after solids are introduced, most babies begin to take in a little less milk – and in the toddler stage, that often lowers again.  So if you are nursing in a later stage, some medications that were once not ok can be acceptable again.

So now that you have a basic idea about how drugs are coded, where do you find this all out? 

LactMed is a website that has a bunch of information about drugs and breastfeeding.  It doesn’t have the L classification, but it does talk about the drug’s potential effect on lactation.  For instance, if you look up Sudafed, it talks about how it might lower production of milk.  LactMed also has a free Android and iPhone app.  I haven’t tried out the app itself yet, though, so I’m not certain what, if any, differences there are.

Medications and Mother’s Milk  is a book that is updated every 2 years.  Many libraries have it, as do most pharmacies, hospitals, WIC clinics, and doctor’s offices.  It is written by Dr. Thomas Hale, and has a wealth of information on drugs and breastmilk, including the L classification.

Infant Risk Center is a website that has a bunch of information regarding pregnancy, breastfeeding, and the risks to infants of various things.  It is directly connected to Dr. Hale, who is the foremost authority on breastfeeding and medications.  The site itself can sometimes be a little difficult to find the specific information that you’d like.  However, Dr. Hale also has an app (it is a paid app, but it has a HUGE amount of information, so if you’re a provider, or you regularly work with breastfeeding moms, I can’t endorse it enough.  For the mom who is occasionally taking medication, it’s probably not necessary, though.)  The Infant Risk Center is also staffed Monday – Friday 8am – 5pm CST to answer questions about breastfeeding (and pregnancy) and medications, and the people working it are knowledgeable, helpful, and generally wonderful.

When looking at medications, it is important to consider whether they can impact supply.  For instance, as I mentioned, Sudafed can be problematic in that area.  Generally, if a medication is meant to dry something up, or impacts your hormones (like birth control), you should exercise caution in using it.  Before anyone worries, you can still take birth control.  You may want to use an IUD, the mini pill, or Depo Provera if you are not planning to use barrier methods.  With Depo or the Mirena IUD, I usually tell moms to ask to be on a month of the mini-pill first; some moms just have sensitivities to hormones, and those sensitivities can impact supply.  Depo can’t be removed once injected, and Mirena is expensive to place and uncomfortable to remove, so it is good to have an idea if you will react that way.  Also, hormonal birth control should not be started until at least 6 weeks postpartum after milk supply is established.

I hope this information helps you work with your health care provider to determine the best choice for you when you need medication.

___________________________________________

Did you have to take medications while breastfeeding?  Was it easy for you to find good information on them?

___________________________________________

 Star Rodriguiz, IBCLC, began her career helping women breastfeed as a breastfeeding peer counselor for a WIC in the Midwest.  Today she is a hospital based lactation consultant who also does private practice work through Lactastic Services.  She recently moved to the northern US with her two daughters and they are learning to cope with early October snowfalls (her Facebook page is here, go “like” for great support). 
Share

Fitness and Breastfeeding

by Star Rodriguiz, IBCLC

fitness, fit moms, fitness for moms, walking, breastfeeding and fitness

Moms can burn 500 calories a day while breastfeeding.  So that’s all you have to do, right?  Just breastfeed?  And the weight will all magically fall off and you will look like Giselle?

Breastfeeding can absolutely help you to lose weight, but many moms find that they need to embark on a plan of diet and exercise, too.  (And, just for good measure, please let me remind you not to begin a diet/exercise plan without consulting a medical professional and all that jazz.  Also, don’t rush into physical activity right after having a baby, take the time you need to really heal and adjust to having a new baby, pushing your body too soon could lead to further health issues.  Most moms find they need to wait at least 6 weeks, often closer to 12 weeks postpartum before they start exercising.)

BUT WAIT!  There are a lot of things that people talk about with diet and exercise and breastfeeding that make doing it seem…well, like maybe not the best idea.  So what’s the reality?  Can you safely breastfeed and lose weight?  Or exercise?

I am so glad that I just asked that for you.  The short answer is yes!  Of course!  But the long answer is addressed below, as we unmask three very common breastfeeding myths…

Myth #1You need to eat A LOT to make milk, and drink A LOT, too.

Ok, so here’s the deal.  When you are breastfeeding, you should eat to hunger and drink to thirst.  So, if you’re hungry?  Eat something.  If you’re thirsty?  Drink something.  You may find yourself ravenous, or you may find that your appetite has changed little.  Listen to your body’s cues.  There’s probably little to no need to shove extra food in your mouth or force yourself to drink excessive amounts.  In fact, over drinking water has been linked to a lowered supply.  You may find yourself thirstier, and if you genuinely feel that you need to drink, do it.  Just don’t force a specific amount down your throat in hopes that you will increase supply.

Now, that doesn’t mean you should rejoice and eat whatever, whenever.  Eating a mostly healthy and balanced diet is important.  Few of us are going to be able to eat perfectly all the time, though, especially with a new baby.  So I always tell my clients to continue to take a multivitamin, like their prenatal, throughout the breastfeeding relationship.  Moms probably need some extra Vitamin D, too.  (See this study for more information.)  Most moms can safely take 4000-6000 IUs a day.  This will not only help you, but can help to increase the Vitamin D in your breastmilk, too.  However, you should check with your doctor before increasing any dosages or starting any new vitamins.

Myth #2- You can’t cut calories while breastfeeding.

Not entirely true.  You probably should wait to diet until at least 6-8 weeks, and you shouldn’t go from eating, say, 2500 calories a day to 1500 overnight.  But as long as you have an established supply, decrease your calories slowly, and go no lower than 1500-1800 calories per day as appropriate for your body type, you can absolutely work on losing some weight.  1-2 pounds a week is a pretty safe range of loss, whether or not you are breastfeeding.

Some popular programs have developed breastfeeding options to help moms lose weight safely while breastfeeding.  Weight Watchers and My Fitness Pal both have breastfeeding options.

Myth #3Exercising while breastfeeding will make my supply lower/make my milk gross or sour!

Let’s talk about exercise decreasing supply, first.  If you are constantly working out to exhaustion (and you’re probably not.  I did P90X for about a month when I was in the third month of breastfeeding my daughter, and it didn’t fall into the exhaustive, supply-diminishing category,) yes, you may see some reduction in supply.  Regular, moderate exercise, however, might actually increase your production, although that’s not guaranteed.  Even high intensity exercise when it’s balanced well with adequate caloric intake, is fine and many mothers experience no trouble with high intensity work outs.

Raise your hand if you’ve heard that your baby won’t drink your milk if you have been exercising, because lactic acid will build up and sour your milk.  The entire premise for this was one study with a whole lot of issues. Further studies have not been able to replicate this, and have, instead, pretty clearly shown that babies don’t refuse the breast after exercising.  Anecdotal evidence, while not “official,” shows that many breastfeeding mothers experience quite the satisfied customer in their breastfed baby following even intense work outs.

One thing you do need to worry about while breastfeeding and exercising is wearing a supportive bra that isn’t too tight.  Some sports bras can be really, really binding.  You want to avoid that, obviously, to keep from having issues with plugged ducts and the like.

_____________________________________

Have you heard any other breastfeeding and fitness myths?  Did you lose weight or become more fit while nursing?  Let us know in the comments!

 

 Star Rodriguiz, IBCLC, began her career helping women breastfeed as a breastfeeding peer counselor for a WIC in the Midwest.  Today she is a hospital based lactation consultant who also does private practice work through Lactastic Services.  She recently moved to the northern US with her two daughters and they are learning to cope with early October snowfalls (her Facebook page is here, go “like” for great support). 
Share

My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear giveaway and breastfeeding in special situations live chat archive

My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear is giving away a frog kits to 5 lucky Leakies!  One of those very special moments for expecting families is when you get to hear your growing baby’s heartbeat for the first time.  And the second time.  And every time after that.  There is something beautiful and moving about hearing the steady rhythm of your developing baby’s heart, indicating life, strength and health.  As an ultrasound tech, Purusha has enjoyed this experience over and over and over again, and it created in her a desire to provide a way for all these families to be able to take that life-sound home in a quality, cuddly, snuggly way, and keep it forever.  This is how My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear was born.  As a breastfeeding mother herself, Purusha has experienced not only this joy herself personally but also became aquatinted with breastfeeding in the face of special challenges when she had twins.  My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear sponsored a chat on TLB with Star Rodriguez, IBCLC, on the variety of unique challenges from multiples to NICU to health issues for mom and baby.  I’m so grateful for the support of My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear for TLB and all Leakies and hope you enjoy the interview and giveaway.

my heartbeat bear logo

Breastfeeding multiples and other special situations live chat with My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear and Star Rodriguez, IBCLC archive.

Introductions and personal experience

Breastfeeding multiples, challenges, tips, and tandem feeding

NICU babies and pumping in special circumstances

Dealing with the reality, finding out about special circumstances such as multiples or special needs, etc.

Health issues for mom and breastfeeding

Support, finding receiving, and advice for the mom facing a special situation

General questions included conversation about surgery for mom, baby with spina bifida, and cleft lip.

 

My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear is giving away 5 frog kits as part of the live chat.  Use the widget below to enter.  Please go to My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear’s Facebook page and thank Purusha for her support of TLB and this giveaway opportunity.

stuffed frog, frog plush

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Share