Hey Moms – Ever Hear of Diastasis?

medium_8570833723Looking back on it now, there were so many things about pregnancy I didn’t know that I really wish I had! One of these was about diastasis. As with all women, my abs obviously stretched out while I was pregnant. After I had my baby, I noticed a line in the lower part of my stomach, right under the belly button. As I began to lose the weight, the line didn’t go away. In fact, it seemed like one side was actually lower than the other. I thought it was just a gross fat thing and that I just needed to do more cardio, but after discussions with a few friends in the fitness industry, they said that it might in fact be diastasis recti.

Diastasis recti is actually a protective response that often happens during the 5th month of pregnancy. The abs will split apart in the center since that area has less surface area to stretch. The split happens to help prevent the area from excessively stretching. However, if this occurs, the new mom should be focusing on specific exercises to help close the diastasis and shorten the abs back to their pre-pregnancy state. Without these exercises, the abs may not come fully back together and/or may come back together lopsided.

Typically, a postpartum plan* should first focus on the transverses abs and pelvic floor strengthening. Once these areas have begun to heal, you should then focus on closing the diastasis recti. During this time, it’s important to stay away from exercises that require a strain on the rectus abs (the center). This includes exercise or movements that require you to lift your head and shoulders off the ground and/or lifting both legs up in the air. (So don’t jump right into those sit-ups!) Once the diastasis is fully closed, then you can move on to more advanced ab work.

Be patient with yourself and don’t rush it. Debbi Goodman, MSPT,** states, “On average it takes most women (even extremely fit women) approximately 6 months to 1 year to regain full integrity of the abdominals. So, this is a slow process and one that should not be rushed. Advancing abdominal strengthening too quickly can jeopardize the joining of the recti and leave women with a central weakness.”

It can be frustrating waiting to get your body back, but trust me, it will be much more frustrating to have it heal incorrectly!

I know those first few months postpartum are so exhausting and finding the time for yourself sometimes seems impossible. But if you can, it is so worth it to work with a professional trained in these postpartum exercises to help you through and to make sure you are doing it the right way to properly heal your body. You could either work one on one with someone that has this specialty, or look for an ab rehab type of class or postpartum specific Pilates class taught by a qualified instructor. It will definitely be worth it in the long run, and at least this will be one thing that you won’t have to say, “I wish I knew….” for!

 

*It is important to talk with your doctor about any exercise program before starting. Be sure to discuss with him/her first!

**Debbi Goodman, MSPT is a licensed manual physical therapist with specialties in women’s health, dance medicine, and sports medicine. Debbi has had a private women’s health/orthopedic practice in New York City, and since moving to the Albany, NY area in 2004, she has developed a private practice in the Capital District. Debbi is one of the few physical therapists trained in internal evaluation and treatment of the pelvic floor muscles. In addition, she is specifically skilled in treatment of pregnancy problems including: sciatica, back/neck pain, pelvic pain and rib pain, and postpartum problems including: cesarean section recovery, urinary incontinence, pelvic/vaginal pain and post-delivery scars. Debbi teaches continuing education workshops for physical therapists, trainers and Pilates instructors focusing on exercise during pregnancy, and she is an instructor for prenatal and postpartum group fitness classes.

Source: Postpartum Recovery: Helping New Moms Get Their Bodies Back by Debbi Goodman in Pilates Pro

Another Interesting Article: Bigger Postpartum Challenges Than Just Baby Weight, by Sarah Nassauer in The Wall Street Journal

Photo Credit: Kit4na via photopin cc

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Daycare Decisions

daycare pros1Every mother I know dreads the moment when she is forced to decide if she should put her kid into daycare or not. Sometimes you have no other choice and the decision is taken out of your hands, but sometimes, you have more than one option, and then it becomes a mind game as to what the best choice may be.

I worked in the daycare world in various capacities for many years, so I was able to get a good feel for the pros and cons of the daycare (and yes, there are both). Here are a few of the things I learned that may help with your decision:

PROSocialization – There is no denying it, kids in daycare tend to be far above other kids in terms of socialization. Whether if they have siblings or not, they quickly learn the basics of how to get along with others; not being able to have alone time whenever they want it; learning to share; learning how to play, talk, and get along with others. They learn to overcome shyness and quickly develop bonds and a group of friends.

CON – And this is the biggie con: Sick. Often. – Especially if you need to start them in daycare young, their little immune systems just are not completely developed yet. And the fact that they are stuck in 1 room with 10+ other kids all day – regardless of how clean the teachers manage to keep it – they will get sick. And chances are, so will you. “Daycare Diseases” as I call them are not the same as what you experience day-to-day in the adult work world. There will be some things your little one will get that you won’t, but be prepared for the whole family to get sick as well. The other big con aspect for this one is that since your child will often get sick, you’ll often have to take sick days to stay home with him/her unless you can make other arrangements. It’s center policy as well as state requirement that your child can not attend school with anything more than a cold. Watching your child constantly get sick is one of the hardest things a parent can do, but that said, your child will get sick regardless of being in daycare or not. If it doesn’t happen now, it will happen when they go to school unless you are able to expose them slowly to things in controlled situations.

PROProjects – If you pick the right center, your child will be exposed to lots of activities and projects. Not only will they help developmentally, but they will also look so cute on the refrigerator!

PROExposure to other adults – This exposure to a variety of adults will help your child open up and learn how to accept and socialize with adults and authority figures too.

CONBad habits – Obviously, not everyone is going to raise their kids the way you do, so your child will likely pick up some bad habits to go along with the good things they learn. Be prepared to have to stay on top of your kid to try to nip some of these new habits in the bud!

CONMore laundry – As if that laundry pile wasn’t big enough, be prepared to get more. There’s something about daycare that means extra dirty clothes!

CONTurnover – While many centers try to keep your child’s environment as stable as possible, be prepared to see lots of change with the teachers. Early childhood teachers are grossly underpaid and work in a fairly stressful environment, so there is often a high turnover rate among daycare teachers. And although there are state regs as to the requirements a teacher needs to work in a daycare, they are likely going to be lower than your requirements. If you want a teacher with credits out the wazoo, you better start looking into private school.

PRO/CONState Regs – Daycare centers have a list of regulations they need to adhere to (some states more than others). This is a good thing because you can be sure that there are safety precautions in place (as long as the center consistently complies). This can also sometimes be a con if there are certain regulations (or paperwork) that you don’t want to deal with. The center has to follow these regulations or they risk closure, so their hands are tied.

PROSchool Life – Your child will already be used to “school life”, so the transition into kindergarten and elementary school will be much easier.

PRO“I’m a big kid now!” – Being able to say, “I’m in school” enhances the “big kid” status. Having the confidence of being a “big kid” helps the child have confidence to do other big kid things like potty training, etc.

PRO/CONPotty training – If your kid starts daycare while still in diapers, potty training at school can be both a good and bad thing. Sometimes the extra help and reinforcement from other adults is nice. But sometimes it can confuse matters if the school is not able to use the same methods you prefer to use, and/or if your child only goes to daycare part-time. Be prepared that in some cases, the potty training process may take a little longer.

CONOverstimulation – If your child needs to go for a full day, it can sometimes lead to overstimulation. As you can imagine, one room with 10 toddlers can get to be a bit much. Even when everyone is calm and things are good to go, there’s just always something going on. There is always some kind of noise, something to see, do, etc. It can be a long day. Expect your child to sometimes be “buzzing” when they get home. Be prepared to create a calm atmosphere to come home to if possible so they can have a chance to try to unwind a bit before bedtime. And on the days not at daycare, try to provide calmer, quieter things for your child to do so their already-stimulated-just-from-development senses have a chance to take a little break so their brains can focus on different things. It will also give their brains a chance to learn to focus on just one thing at a time instead of always having multiple things going on at once.

PROAbility to observe older kids – This is especially great if you only have the one child at home. Younger children often like to watch their older siblings and tend to develop quicker because of it. But if your child is the oldest (or only), they do not get that chance at home. Daycare allows them to see what other kids are doing as an example of what they can strive for.

CONRules – The guidance and/or limitations at school may be different from what is expected at home. Be prepared to try to meld the two world together for your child and help them understand the different rules for both at home and at school.

PROLearning that Mommy/Daddy always come back – As hard as it is to let go of our kids, going to school offers the very good benefit of teaching your kids that they can always trust you to come back. They learn that it’s ok to be away from Mom/Dad and to explore and have fun because they will always come back. As much as it kills us parents, it’s a good developmental milestone.

CONThe Arts – Depending on your school, your kid might not be exposed to enough of “Arts” activities. If music and dance, etc. are important to you while your child is little, be sure to check into what the various centers in your area offer. If they do not offer enough Arts curriculum, you may need to consider enrolling your kid in a weekend Mommy & Me kind of class to fulfill that requirement.

PRO/CONPrice – Daycare is very expensive. You also need to factor in additional money for extra doctor visits, medications, and time off of work. If price is a concern, and you have the ability to stay home with your child, then daycare may not be the right route for you. However, it also tends to be cheaper than a private nanny, so if you have to leave your child with someone, then daycare will be a cheaper option than private care.

As with anything, there are obviously many pros/cons to consider. When making your decision, you’ll need to weigh out what is more important for your family’s needs. And if you don’t really have options, then don’t despair. There are ways to combat many of these cons on this list. If you’re aware of them ahead of time, then you can be prepared to do what you need to in order to make this a good experience for everyone all around. There are also many pros to daycare, so try to focus on these – that’s what your child will remember in the long run anyway!

Photo Credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via photopin cc

In a Nation of Fear, United We Stand

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me,
‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’
To this day, especially in times of  ’disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing
that there are still so many helpers –
so many caring people in the world.”
-Fred Rogers

Flagedit

I purposely try to stay away from the news lately. It seems like it is worse and worse each day and quite frankly, I just don’t want to hear it. I know that’s not a very responsible, adult thing to say or do, but it’s true. I don’t feel the need to constantly subject myself to all the other ever-increasing craziness in the world when I have more than enough of my own right now. Not to mention that when there is a huge tragedy, the media sensationalism gets me almost as upset as the event itself.

Yesterday’s tragedy at the Boston Marathon made my heart jump into my throat yet again this year. A swirl of emotions and reactions went through my body as this latest disaster unfolded before my eyes. First, I experienced the shock of hearing the news and the tears of sympathy for all the people affected. I feared for my family and friends that live there. Then I got mad.

Why?
Why do these crazy tragedies continue to happen at a more and more frequent pace now? 

CONTINUE READING

See The Rainbows?

rainbow

“See the Rainbows, Mama? Seeee??”

What is it that children have that always allows them to see the magic in the most seemingly ordinary things? Do they have special eyes that we slowly lose over time? Or is it merely that they have not yet become jaded as adults do, and are therefore just able to see things more clearly, more purely than we can?

My daughter constantly reminds me to “see the rainbows.” We have some beveled glass in our front door, and when the morning sun hits it just right, it casts prisms across our front hallway. I’ll never forget the day my daughter first really discovered this. She walked out front, squealed, pointed, drew in her breath, then yelled out, “See the Rainbows? See?” She came running into the kitchen, grabbed me by the hand and pulled me out. “See the Rainbows, Mama? See?” The joy and wonder on her face tugged on my heart. She continued to pull us out there all morning long. She would point to them, touch them, stick her toes in, try to sit on them, and sometimes just stand there holding my hand in wonder, saying, “See? See?” It was a perfect moment. A perfect, ordinary, normal, magical moment. A moment that I come back to again and again because it taught me something – It reminded me to always look for the magic in things. To let my daughter lead me in remembering what it’s like to have pure joy, hope, innocence, and magic. To be truly present in just one moment and to not let anything else cloud that.

Easter is often viewed by Christians as a time of rebirth and new hope. Even if you are not religious, Easter is synonymous with Spring, and Spring is most certainly a time of new life. We begin to see the plants peek their heads out through the seemingly dead ground. The birds appear once again. Sunshine feels like a long-lost friend, warm upon our face. Hope is in the air. It’s easier to be positive in the Spring. The extra light and signs of new life prove to us that summer is on its way and we are filled with fun thoughts of good things to come. If only for a brief moment, we are once again able to feel the “magic” in the air.

We need to try to remember that there is always magic in the world. Sometimes it feels like all the magic is gone. We’re often so caught in the horrible stories on the news, the stresses of work and family life, the weather, the commute, our everyday worries and anxieties and routines, that we forget to take a moment and just enjoy, well, the moment itself. There are still so many wonderful things in this world to cherish. There’s still hope for us to reach our dreams, to stretch to our true potential. There is always a reason somewhere to smile, to laugh, to enjoy one quiet breath. Somewhere deep inside of all of us is that ability to still “see the rainbows.” We may sometimes have to look a little harder to see the magic in the world, but it is still there.

This Spring, let’s hold onto that feeling of hope and rebirth, find that childlike corner of our heart (no matter how small it may have become) and try to stay positive. Live life from one joy to the next and always find a way to see the rainbows. They might sometimes be behind a cloud, but they are still always there!

Photo Credit: Nature’s Images via photopin cc

This article was originally published at Silverpen Productions, LLC. 

Psycho Mom

retro momSome days I feel completely psycho. I feel like I’m failing at whatever I do. If I were to take a step back and look at my life from the outside, I’d see that in reality, I’m really quite successful. I have a great job (or 2 or 3), I’m healthy, I have a beautiful family, and a kid that I just adore to no end who seems to think I’m pretty cool too. But the problem is, I live in my life and whether if I actually am or not, I feel like I’m failing at everything.

How does that happen? How does a happy, successful person suddenly start to feel like a complete psycho?

I’ll tell you how – I became a mom. That and the fact that society has created ridiculous expectations for ourselves. Back in the day, moms were expected to just be a mom. Little Suzy Homemaker – take care of the house, take care of the kids. But now, moms can have it all – family, house, career, kids.

And kids these days? They don’t just run outside to play in the yard all day. Now they have classes, and sports, and dance, and clubs, and play groups, and music lessons, and the list goes on and on. Being a stay-at-home mom is a full-time job in itself with lots of overtime hours. How do you even just keep up with your kids?

Then there’s the pressure to have it all – kids and career. So now you have this great job, which is full-time job #2. When you are at work, you’re thinking about what you should be doing with your kids. When you’re with your kids, you’re thinking about all the work you didn’t finish at your job. Not to mention you can’t really take your kids to all these groups and activities because there are just so many hours in the day.  But you will anyway because “that’s what good moms do.”

And housework? What’s that?!? You’re just happy when dinner gets on the table at a reasonable hour…

Women today can have it all. But at what price?

We put so much pressure on ourselves to be the best at everything, just because we can. Get the promotion at work, look fabulous every day, have the house spotless, the kids perfect, the hubby happy, workout, do yoga, meditate, don’t forget to treat yourself to the spa every now and then. Yeah, right. How often does all that really happen? Without a nanny and obscene amounts of money anyway… Society makes us believe that it always happens – or should happen. But in real life, these moms just feel psycho.

I know I do. I’m Miss Multi-tasker all the time, but I never think I am doing them well enough. I feel guilty being at work, because I “should” be home with my kid and doing things with her. I feel guilty if I’m just home because I “should” be showing my daughter that women can have a career too and I should be setting an example of a strong, independent woman. I need to pay the bills, but I feel like I’m not around enough to do ample activities to help “expand her development” and “socialization.” At the same time, it seems like we don’t just “not do anything” enough either. We should have more hang-at-home time to chill out and have quality time together. I feel like I can’t even stay on top of the laundry. I think my husband is getting the short end of the stick. I feel guilty if I dare to take a little bit of time just for me to do one workout or go get my hair cut. Some days, I feel completely psycho – have I mentioned that??

Let’s face it, anyone who says they do all these things and it’s not a problem is a big, fat liar. Back in the day, “it took a village” to raise a child. It still does, but we often no longer have that option. And that’s okay. This is what life is like now. We have to just remember that we can’t do it all. Nor should we. The most important things a child needs is shelter, food, a few clothes, support, and love. Lots and lots of love. Now, that’s “doable”. The rest is just gravy.

Having the internet and everything else at our fingertips can be a great resource, but sometimes it’s our biggest downfall. We are constantly barraged by all the “should be” images and that’s a major contributor to the psycho mom feeling. Maybe sometimes we need to just click it off. Remember we are human. We are only 1 woman with only 24 hours in the day. Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate what “doing it all” really means to us since it’s probably something a little different for each person. It’s always good to work towards a goal. As long as we remember that we are who we are (forget about the “should be”), and as long as we have a hefty source of love, we are 3/4 of the way there. No psycho mom needed.

Think Your Kid Is Drinking Milk? Think Again…

Got MilkA friend of mine shared a link to this article on Facebook this morning, and I was instantly appalled. (Although, sadly, not surprised.) Aspartame in milk? Seriously?!?

Why is it that our country is making it harder and harder to eat wholesome, natural foods? Is it any wonder that there has been a huge spike in food-related disorders, cancers, and other unexplained health problems? Yes, please, let’s just keep adding chemicals and other nasties to our food, that will help…

Aspartame in milk and 17 other dairy products…. The best part is this petition is not only asking to do this, but asking to do this without having to put it on the label! They’re trying to say that the aspartame would provide for a lower calorie product and would “promote more healthful eating practices and reduce childhood obesity.” What?! Last I heard, aspartame actually contributed to obesity and diabetes and puts us at risk for certain cancers and other fun disorders. Not to mention, many people’s systems can not tolerate it very well. So what’s the real story here? That’s what I call conflicting information!

I’m outraged that the FDA is even considering this. I’ve been frustrated with all the horrible things I’ve been reading about our food lately anyway, and this just set me off. Why is it so hard to be able to affordably provide our families with healthy, natural foods?

I do not want my kid drinking any milk with aspartame in it, not to mention myself. If this ridiculous proposal does go through, I certainly hope they will be required to put it on the label. It should be illegal not to given all the health problems associated with aspartame and other artificial sweeteners.

I’m not sure if there is much we can do about this, but the FDA has opened public comments until May 21, 2013. I’ve already submitted my outrage. Let’s spread the word and try to send the government a message –

KEEP THESE CRAPPY CHEMICALS OUT OF OUR KIDS’ FOOD!

Submit your comments, supporting data, and any other information regarding this issue on the FDA’s site at:http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=FDA-2009-P-0147-0012

Then spread the word!!

The Whole Proposal

Photo Credit: pixagraphic via photopin cc

This article was originally published at Silverpen Productions, LLC

Dreaded RSV

Sick baby

It was one of every parents’ nightmares – my little girl was in the hospital, looking so tiny and helpless in that huge bed, hooked up to an IV and oxygen. How did we go from my crazy, nonstop kid to this in just a matter of days??

After a week of being sick, 2 doctor visits, and a day sitting in the ER, we finally learned that she had RSV – Respiratory Syncytial (sin-SISH-ul) Virus. And not only was it going around, this year, it was going around with a vengeance. Basically, RSV is an infection of the lungs and breathing passages. Everyone gets it. Most people will get it at least once a year. In healthy adults, it just presents as a bad cold – stuffy nose, cough, mild fever. But for young children (as well as the elderly), RSV can turn into a major respiratory illness.

The most frequent cause of lung infection in infants and young children, RSV usually lasts 5-15 days. The child’s airways will become inflamed and swell, the muscles around them will tighten and they will often fill with mucus, dead tissue, and fluid. RSV occurs in epidemics and peak season is typically November – April in the US. Virtually all children will have been infected by RSV at least once by the time they are 3 years old. Most children can be treated at home, but higher risk babies and those who have it morph into a severe lower respiratory infection may need additional support.

RSV is spread easily through aerosols and droplets, which means that any time a person coughs or sneezes, those around them can catch it just by being in close contact. You can breathe in the virus or get it by touching an infected surface, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes. Your child may be a higher risk baby if s/he:

  • Is less than 6 months old
  • Is premature or a small baby
  • Has another condition such as cystic fibrosis, neurological diseases, lung, or heart problems
  • Is around cigarette smoke or other tobacco smokes
  • Has a weak immune system due to immune system disorders, HIV, or transplants

It’s hard to tell at first if your child has RSV, as it presents similar to many other things. It initially starts out like a cold with a runny or stuffy nose, cough, fever, trouble sleeping and/or eating. If the illness becomes more severe, you may notice:

  • The fever not going away even with medication
  • Wheezing
  • Faster breathing
  • A “chestier” cough
  • Constantly sleepy
  • Lethargic
  • Fussy
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting with the cough
  • Dehydration

It’s time to high-tail it to the doctor if these symptoms worsen and/or you also notice:

  • Grunting or noisy breathing
  • Very fast breathing
  • Refusal to eat/drink
  • Pauses in breath
  • The nostrils becoming wider when breathing in
  • Pale or blue color of the skin – especially around the lips or nails
  • Pulling in of the skin around the ribs and neck with each breath
  • Dry mouth/cracked lips
  • No tears when crying
  • Low or no urine output
  • Sunken soft spot (if under 1)

These are signs that the illness has progressed to the lower respiratory track and is likely turning into bronchiolitis or pneumonia. They are also signs that your child is becoming dehydrated, not getting in enough oxygen, and needs additional support measures at the hospital, since both of these conditions can rapidly turn into much more serious problems in young children.

As parents, we want to protect our children as much as possible, but unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot we can do for this one. They have not yet been able to develop a safe and effective vaccine. High risk infants can get a series of the RSV immunoglobulin to help with some protection. However, this medicine is not right for all children so be sure to discuss the options with your pediatrician if you think your child may be high risk. The most important thing we can do to try to prevent infection is to wash hands with soap and water frequently (for at least 20-30 seconds) – especially before eating. Even though many of these things are hard to do in everyday life, also try to:

  • Keep hands away from mouth, nose, and eyes as much as possible
  • Keep your child away from large crowds during peak season
  • Avoid other sick people as much as possible
  • Breastfeed your infant since the mother’s antibodies will carry over through the milk
  • Clean toys and other objects that are shared with other people regularly with soap and water or another disinfectant
  • Do not expose your child to smoke – cigarette, other tobacco sources, or even a wood burning stove
  • Keep them away from any chemical fumes or dust
  • Cover faces when coughing or sneezing
  • Be sure that used tissues are immediately discarded in a lined trash can
  • If a school aged sibling comes down with a cold, try to keep them away from the infant or toddler as much as possible

For treatment at home:

  • Give your child a non aspirin fever medicine like acetaminophen or ibuprofen (Tylenol or Advil) to help control the fever
  • Use a cool mist vaporizer to help keep the air moist and to thin mucous (be sure to clean it daily)
  • If the nose is really blocked, use a nasal aspirator or bulb syringe to remove some of the fluids
  • Make sure your child drinks more than usual
  • Allow your child to rest with plenty of time at home to fully recover before going back out to daycare or normal activities

Unfortunately, this is a nasty virus that kids can (and probably will) get again and again. But if we as parents are aware of what to look for and what we can do to help, hopefully we can protect our littlest ones as much as possible.

At least Spring is almost here and this terrible bug season is winding down. Hopefully next year won’t be as nasty!

Other places for info:

American Academy of Pediatrics
141 Northwest Point Boulevard
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007-1098
847-434-4000
http://www.aap.org

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30333
800-311-3435
http://www.cdc.gov

Resources:

http://virology-online.com/viruses/RSV.htm

http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/lung/rsv.html

Micromedex Solutions

http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/immunize/docs/RSV.pdf

A Personal Rant:

Superbugs, Superstorms, SuperFrustrated

Photo Credit: kourtlynlott via photopin cc