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7 Things you ought to Know about your Pelvic Floor

7 Things you ought to Know about your Pelvic Floor

What if you didn’t have any pelvic floor concerns?

Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Truth be told, I didn’t think much about my Pelvic floor before kids.

Then.. after twins.  Watch out. It became my life’s work.

By the end of this blog, you’ll understand where your pelvic floor is and how to release or contract it to reduce pain for years to come!

But first, where is your pelvic floor?

Pelvic Floor Muscles Female

For women, a pelvic floor is a group of muscles that forms a supportive sling in the lower pelvis.

Watch this video to learn more and see where your pelvic floor is!


#1 You can have a weak pelvic floor

Weak Pelvic Floor Muscle Symptoms

  • You’re experience leaking
  • Your back, knees, and hips are weak or sore
  • You feel no connection to your core
  • You may have an abdominal separation
  • You possibly had a vaginal birth

#2 You can have a tight pelvic floor

Pelvic Floor Pain

Signs of a tight pelvic floor

  • You feel like you cannot take a deep breath
  • You can’t release your abdominal area
  • Inserting a tampon, finger, or having sex is uncomfortable
  • You feel tense, all the time
  • You may have constipation
  • You may experience leaking

#3 You can relax your pelvic floor

How to relax your pelvic floor muscles

  • deep breathing
  • rolling or massaging your pelvic floor
  • using herbal remedies to reduce pain or spasms

#4 You can have pelvic floor dysfunction

Signs of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

  • Urinary and/or fecal incontinence; leaking any amount at any time.  Including jumping, laughing, running, and during exercise.
  • Urgency: feeling like you have to go to the bathroom NOW or you may not make it.
  • Pain in the sacroiliac joint (SI joint) between the sacrum and the ilium and tailbone
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Uncontrollable gas
  • Aches and pains in the hips, back and neck
  • A feeling of heaviness or pulling in the pelvic organs, feeling like you’re going to fall out of the bottom
  • Pain or discomfort during sex, bowel movements, and urination

#5 You can be doing too many Kegels

Signs of overdoing Kegels

  • you have pain when you perform your Kegels
  • you still have incontinence/leaking even though you’re practicing your Kegels
  • you have pain with insertion

So, How long does it take to strengthen your pelvic floor

It can take about 6-8 weeks to strengthen your pelvic floor.  But! Keep in mind, it takes more than pelvic floor exercises to reduce bladder leaking!

#6 Your gut health can affect your pelvic floor health

If you struggle with Dysbiosis or constipation your gut health will be disrupted.  When you have poor gut health or inflammation, you’ll feel it in your pelvic floor.

Recurring UTI’s? Your monthly Advil? These medications affect your gut health and therefore disrupt your digestion creating Cystitis and pelvic inflammation.

This can all change when we reduce your daily medications.

#7 Your pelvic floor helps “fix” diastasis recti

Did you know you CAN do sit-ups again after having a diastasis recti? But first, you’ll want to learn HOW to engage your pelvic floor.  Your pelvic floor helps “fix” diastasis recti but tightening the gap.

Conclusion

Your pelvic floor can be your source of pain or pleasure. By stretching and strengthening these muscles, you’ll have fewer back pain episodes, less pelvic pain, heal diastasis recti and reduce your risk of a hernia!

Your digestion and gut health also contribute to your pelvic floor health. By reducing your medications, you’ll improve your gut health and save your pelvic floor for years to come!

Have questions? Ask below and I’ll get back to you.

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5 Steps To Stop Stress & Urge Incontinence

5 Steps To Stop Stress & Urge Incontinence

 “Don’t make me laugh, I”ll pee my pants!”, Is an expression heard amongst women?

If you’ve experienced pregnancy, surgeries, or menopause, you can probably relate to this.

Beyond Kegels states:

Twenty-five to thirty percent of adults 25-55 years old has experienced bowel and bladder problems at some time of their life.”

This percentage increases by 10% in adults sixty-five or older and even children have nighttime wetting.

I’ve witnessed this myself with my child when we were transitioning pre-schools; fear and stress created constipation and led to bedwetting every single night for seven days.

“It’s just part of menopause; It’s part of getting old,” are other expressions we hear.

But is there any truth to it?


 

5 Steps to stop stress & urge incontinence

#1 Reduce Constipation
  • The pressure of constipation {and even excessive coughing} weakens the pelvic floor and decreases its ability to hold in urine. Try these tips to reduce constipation.
    • Increase your daily water consumption – up to 8 Glasses/day
    • Avoid coffee as much as you can (as they lead to dehydration)
    • Increase your fiber!  Reach for 20-35g/day (i.e., fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans)
    • Reduce meat, cheese, and ice cream! These tend to cause constipation 
    • Walk 30 minutes a day
    • Use the bathroom at the first urge to eliminate
    • Use the toilet at a consistent time every day
    • Try Hara massage; massage your abdominals in a clockwise direction 
    • Add Flaxseed to your diet: Grind a cup of flaxseed and store in the refrigerator. 
      • Take 1 tbs. of ground flaxseed and add to your food daily.
      • Add Psyllium Seeds – Bowel movement can occur 6-12 hours after consumption.
      • Soak prunes or other dried fruit in water or apple juice until softened
    • Add Fruits like apples, pears, apricots, and cherries
    • Add Molasses to your food! This is a gentle laxative and high in iron

#2 Engage & Stretch Your Pelvic Floor

Where is your pelvic floor? Watch the video below to learn more. But keep in mind…

  • Your pelvic floor can be tight and cause leaking
  • Your pelvic floor can be weak and cause leaking
  • or both!
  • So we want to learn how to stretch AND strengthen your pelvic floor.  How? Watch this video 👇

#3 Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing

What is that?

Diaphragmatic breathing is a deeper breath that allows the abdominals to relax. 

👉Think of breathing side by side like a bellow.  Let your abs go!!!

This regulates the pressure in the abdominal cavity and releases tension and tightness in the pelvic floor. 

Are you “gripping?”

Women say they feel tense or tight in their core and pelvic floor when they have incontinence. Diaphragmatic breathing releases this tension.

How do you practice this breathe?

  • 1. Begin by sitting on a hard chair or bench and pull your “flesh away” so you feel your sitz bones.  If you are on the floor sit high on blocks or a firm cushion.
  • 2. Inhale-Envision the diaphragm moving downward, the abdomen contents are displaced outwards and the pelvic floor bulges
  • 3. Practice 3 ways: put both hands on your ribs and breathe into your hands 3-4x, place hands on your belly and allow it to push into your hands 3-4x, and last place hands on your collarbone and feel your breathe rise above your heart.

#4 Reduce Your Stress

As your bladder fills up it sends nerve messages to the brain to tell it when to empty your bladder. 

When we “go to the bathroom, just in case”, we are actually decreasing the size of urine our bladder can hold therefore making the problem worse. 

By relaxing your nervous system, you can change the response your brain triggers when your bladder is full.

How do we relax our nervous system?

  • Meditate daily
  • Drink herbal teas
  • Add adaptogens to your diet
  • Exercises daily
  • Journal

#5 Try Homeopathy

Homeopathy is safe, gentle, and affordable and can be used with children and adults alike. 

The key to homeopathy is finding the right remedy for your specific symptoms. The theory “like cures like” implies you are seeking the specific remedy for your unique symptoms.   

Reducing constipation and using homeopathy helped my child during bedwetting.  Read about the remedies here.

Do you love natural remedies?

5 Herbal Remedies For Stress Incontinence

    • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)- Sweet and soothing for your urinary tract.  As this is known to increase your blood pressure, caution if you have high blood pressure. 
    • Slippery elm (Ulmus rubra) or Marshmallow root- Known as a mucilaginous botanical, this soothes your digestion and urinary tract. 
    • Are you constipated? These botanicals can reduce constipation
      • Dandelion Root (Taraxacum officinale)
      • Yellow dock root (Rumex crispus), 
      • Senna Leaf and Pod (Cassia senna)- Use only after the first trimester of pregnancy and only for 1-2days.

Ready to learn more?

Join my FREE 5-Day Challenge

How to run, jump & cough without any leakage whatsoever – Create an exercise plan you love

 

How I Healed My Abdominal Separation {a.k.a. diastasis recti}

How I Healed My Abdominal Separation {a.k.a. diastasis recti}

It’s frustrating to still look pregnant after having kids, isn’t it?

What if you could be stronger AFTER having children?

Picture this.. little to no back pain, your stomach doesn’t stick out and you don’t have any bloating.

That’s a crazy thought, isn’t it?

The point is, your body can heal after having children.  With the correct rehabilitative exercises, diet, and addressing your stress.

**But hang on… it’s not about closing the gap when you have abdominal separation, also known as diastasis recti.**

It’s about tightening the connective tissue BETWEEN your abdominal muscles and improving your breathing so that you have less back pain and greater strength for years to come.

How? Let me explain.

Here are a series of steps you can try to tighten your separation and reduce the pregnancy look.

Here’s what I want you to focus on:

#1 Diastasis Recti Breathing

A deep diaphragmatic breath can help modulate the amount of pressure INSIDE of your body.  Reducing your chances of hernia’s, bulging discs and pelvic floor dysfunction.

#2 Your Pelvic Floor

Your pelvic floor helps you activate your deep core muscles and supports your low back to reduce pain.  Your pelvic floor muscles are the secret connection to your core healing.

You see, the pelvic floor {those muscles below the belt} can help restore your core.  You may be holding tension in the muscles from a c-section or a perineal tear, and this tension needs to be released.

You also may be weak in your pelvic floor if you had a vaginal birth.

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So, How do you know if you need pelvic floor exercises for your separation?

  • Your back goes out occasionally
  • You feel like you have doming in your abs with sit-ups
  • You have leaking once and a while:)
  • You squeeze your buttocks most of the day
  • You can’t connect to your center at all

#3 Diastasis Recti Bloating

It’s very common for women with diastasis recti to have a gut imbalance or discomfort with digestion.  You may find avoiding gluten and dairy helps, but this is not the answer!

Healing your gut with the 4R approach will help soothe digestion and eliminate excess hormones in your body – causing your belly to appear bloated.  This can change!

#4 Sleep deprivation

Hello, sleep deprivation! Raising twins, I am no stranger to insomnia.  This exhaustion raises our cortisol levels and has us reaching for coffee and sugar in the morning and wine to wind down at night.  This sick cycle keeps us holding onto weight around our center for years.

Break the cycle. Address your stress by integrating adaptogens into your life. Read this: 7 Natural Remedies For Everyday Stress. 

5 Ways I Healed My Diastasis Recti

#1 Abdominal Pumps For Abdominal Separations

  • #1 Similar to “fire breath” in yoga.  You inhale release your abdominals and then exhale, pull in your core as if snapping it to your back.  Practice this 10-100x daily.
  • #2 Hold your abdominals in and count to three.  Rest and repeat.

#2 Pelvic Floor Exercises

The pelvic floor muscles are BELOW your core.  So, it only makes sense that they are affected when your core is not functioning correctly.  If your pelvis is tilted forward OR back, your pelvic floor has changed.  A diaphragmatic breath will release any tension in your pelvic floor and re-teach your core to let-go of undue stress.

#3 Addressing Gut Imbalances

Due to antibiotic use and the hormones from your baby {or two in my case!}, you may need to address gut healing to shed the pregnancy look.  It’s common to have leaky gut syndrome after birth.  Read this post on how I did it. 

Therefore, you may need to remove gluten and dairy for 4-6 weeks and add in some good supplements to repair your gut digestion.  It’s called the 4R approach, as a women’s herbal educator I can walk you through the steps or reach out to a functional medicine doctor for a firm diagnosis.

#4 Watching Alignment

Your rib to hip alignment is extremely important in healing your abdominal separation. Think of sticking your tush out {not squeezing your buttocks} and drawing your ribs over your hips.  This will engage your core and help with a better alignment throughout the day.

#5 Is It Safe To Do Sit-ups With A Separation?

This is a big question! One I suffered with for over three years.

IF you can engage your pelvic floor and transversus {a muscle that flattens your core in the front}, then you can do sit-ups.  Diane Lee has some amazing FREE content for instructors and clients to view.  Check them out here. 

“Training comes before strengthening.”- Diane Lee

It’s easier than you think.

It’s not important that you close the gap, but that you address the underlying reasons of why this is happening.

Conclusion

It’s not about closing the gap.  When you have an abdominal separation you want to learn how to engage your pelvic floor and your core again, address your postural alignment, investigate your digestion and stress levels. You may be able to do crunches and cross-fit again when you are stronger from within.

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How To Test For Diastasis Recti + Best Exercises

How To Test For Diastasis Recti + Best Exercises

I know what you’re wondering..”Do I have an abdominal separation?”

Ever noticed how you get doming when you do a sit-up? How your core feels “weak”? Your stomach still looks pregnant after having kids.

You’re afraid this may never change.

The truth?

You will be able to tighten the gap of your separation, but it may never close completely.  And that is ok!

Let’s start with…

How do you check for a Diastasis Recti?

You can asses your DR whether you are pregnant, a first-time mom or more seasoned.  Jessie Mundell (Physiotherapist) recommends waiting two weeks postpartum to do your first assessment.

Step 1:

Lie on your back with your knees bent.  First just feel.  Feel around your belly button, above and below.  

Feel for the quality of the tissue (specifically the line alba- the center), do your fingers sink in? Is it firm? Is it squishy?  You have to know what you are working and what it first feels like to see your progression. 

The goal is to: Maintain INTEGRITY with exercise and to do so, we need to know where to begin.  Lift your shirt and expose your belly. 

Step 2:

Next, place fingers pointing downward with the middle finger in the umbilicus

Step 3:

Tuck your chin towards your chest and slowly lift your head off the floor.  Only your head should come off the floor.  Keep your shoulders down.  Repeat a few time.  Feel for a separation.

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Step 4:

Check above and below your umbilicus and note how many fingers width the separation is and the quality of the tissue. Greater than 2 fingers are significant.  If your separation is wider, seek out a pelvic floor physiotherapist for a complete diagnosis. 

Watch this video to see how big your gap is.

But don’t forget…the goal is to strengthen the connective tissue, not necessarily decrease the gap completely.

What’s the magic formula to tighten the gap? First..

What is the Rectus Abdominis?

“The rectus abdominis muscle, also known as the “abdominals” or “abs”, is a paired muscle running vertically on each side of the anterior abdominal wall.  There are two parallel muscles, separated by a midline band of connective tissue called the linea alba.” This is the tissue that spreads during an abdominal separation.  We want to “tighten the gap” instead of close it.

So, what’s the secret?

#1 Change your movement {for now}

  • Sitting to standing… slide to the end of the chair and use your legs to stand.
  • Getting off the floor- lunge one foot forward, hands-on front thigh, move weight to the front foot and push with your leg strength to rise up, reverse to go down.
  • Every morning>>> Roll to your side to get up.  DO NOT jackknife out of bed.
  • When laying down always ROLL to your side and push up.
  • Shift your ribs back over your hips
  • Check your pelvis.  You want to “untuck” your tush when sitting and standing. {Think of releasing your buttocks.}

#2 What are the best Diastasis Recti Exercises?

    1. Diaphragmatic breaths.  Take deep breaths allowing your abdominals to let go.  This may seem weird at first, but you are re-teaching your pelvic floor, diaphragm and abdominals to re-engage.
    2. Learn how to engage and stretch your pelvic floor.
    3. Abdominal pumps.  This will help tighten the gap of your separation.
    4. Engage your hips; your glutes, inner and outer thighs

#3 Are sit-ups ok with diastasis recti?

Yes! once you learn how to engage your pelvic floor, you can begin to work your core again.

Most importantly remember, your body has an amazing capacity to heal. I have helped women reduce their diastasis recti within 8 weeks.

Even if your children are 20+, you may still be able to close the gap and learn new movements to protect your back, hips, knees and pelvic floor for a lifetime of fluid movement.

In short, you want to know how big your gap is.  Then learn how to engage your pelvic floor, then learn how to engage your core.  All of this along with flushing out your hormones with a postpartum diet, you will be able to be strong once again!

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5 Natural Remedies For Mastitis

5 Natural Remedies For Mastitis

Wondering how to heal mastitis without antibiotics?

Here are my tried and true natural remedies to stop the pain fast.

But, hold on.

Always check with your doctor before using natural remedies if you have allergies or other health concerns.

What is mastitis? Here are 5 signs to look for:

5 Signs of Mastitis

  • fever as high as 104
  • local redness, hard tender inflamed area
  • chills
  • achiness
  • exhaustion

***Fever is usually the key indicator here.

5 Herbal Treatment For Mastitis

If you are experiencing recurrent breast infections, you may want to be evaluated for adequate nutritional intake. Have your vitamin levels checked and don’t be afraid to increase them to reduce mastitis and possibly postpartum depression.

#1 Have your doctor check for vitamin deficiency:

  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Protein
  • Vitamin c

Also, extreme exhaustion or sleep deprivation is so common.

#2 Along with good nutrition, consider adding an adaptogen to support your immune system during this stressful time.

  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
  • Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum)
  • These tinctures are considered safe adaptogens during breastfeeding


Milk ducts can become inflamed, tender, and distended creating a ‘plugged duct’, In mastitis, the plugged duct is accompanied by infection.

#3 My favorite homeopathic remedy for mastitis is Phytolacca

Phytolacca 30C 

Personally, I liked to take homeopathic medicine when I had mastitis.  Along with Echinacea, this helped resolve the inflammation within minutes.  If you are having these symptoms, consider Phytolacca as a remedy. Click here to purchase. 

Dosing: Take 2 tablets, wait 20 minutes, take another 2 and you should see improvement.

“For sore, cracked nipples, which hurt when the baby nurses. One of the most commonly used remedies for mastitis, especially where the pains radiate from the affected area and the breast is hard and lumpy.  The patient may feel heavy with flu-like symptoms, or may have a breast abscess threatening.” ¹

#4 Echinacea Tincture

Boost your immunity with Echinacea tincture.

In Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Years, Susan Weed recommends a dose of a 1/2 drop for every pound of body weight (so a 130 lb woman would take 65 drops).

According to Kellymom.com, this dose can be taken up to 3-5 times per day. Susan Weed says even up to 12 times per day is fine and may be effective.

You can purchase the tincture here.

Dosing: 20-30 drops, 3-4x day

#5 Ashwagandha Tincture (Withania somnifera)

Known as a Category 1, safe adaptogen during breastfeeding, Ashwagandha can help reduce stress and ease the anxiety that may be causing the inflammation during breastfeeding.

You can purchase a tincture here. 

Dosing: 20-30 drops, 3-4x day

Read more about natural treatment for breastfeeding moms @ Kelly Mom

6 Tips to avoid mastitis 

  1. Use compresses of hot water, ginger root or chamomile infusion.
  2. Apply a poultice of freshly grated raw potato 2-3x day.
  3. Take 1/2-1 tsp. of Echinacea tincture every 2-4 hours.
  4. For high fever, drink teas of elderflower and spearmint.
  5. To reduce muscle tension drink teas of lemon balm, chamomile, and catnip.
  6. To relieve pain tinctures of crampbark, passionflower, and hops tinctures can promote sleep and relieve pain.

Now that you know my favorite natural remedies for mastitis, comment below and let me know your concerns.

Head over to my Youtube Channel for more videos to help you thrive during the postpartum time. 

xo

Tara

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