16 Herbs Every Breastfeeding Mom Should Know About

16 Herbs Every Breastfeeding Mom Should Know About

16 Herbs Every Breastfeeding Mom Should KnowIt’s frustrating to begin and continue breastfeeding for the suggested six months to a year.

  • Thrush
  • Cracked nipples
  • Too much milk
  • Too little milk

Wouldn’t it be great if breastfeeding was easier?

We know it is the best food for our child and the benefits extend to the momma as well, as noted by The American Academy Of Pediatrics and here.

But, here’s the thing.. it’s not always that blissful.

Trust me, I tried breastfeeding twins!

I lasted about three weeks and then rushed to Amazon to buy formula at 3:00 am one night.

Chances are you’ve tried breastfeeding and now struggling with one of the many challenges we face – along with sleep deprivation and the stress of raising a little one.

But don’t worry, botanicals can provide great support during this season of your life.

And don’t forget.. not all botanicals are safe while breastfeeding.

The greatest risk occurs 3-10 days postpartum as the child’s tight junctions of their gut may not be closed, and the newborn is the most vulnerable to chemicals ingested by the mother at this time.

It would be wise to wait to use medications, or even essential oils, before two weeks of age due to your child’s immature gut, liver, and kidney function. This kidney clearance capacity increases and becomes fully by 4-5 months of age, therefore as your child grows the concerns of safety and allergies decrease.

“1% of the maternal dose of any medication will enter the milk, and with some exceptions up to about 10%.”

So how can you make breastfeeding a little easier?

In this post, I’m going to share my favorite herbal remedies for moms who are breastfeeding.

2 Botanicals For Sore, Cracked Nipples

Some amount of discomfort will occur with breastfeeding, especially within the first week of latching. Nipples may become sore, cracked and may even bleed. Contact a lactation consultant or midwife if there is continued difficulty or infections due to latching.

#1 Calendula
Calendula is used topically for the treatment of minor inflammations of the skin. Typically used as an oil or salve. Apply to cracked, dry nipples to prevent infection and soothe inflammation. Caution: The oil or salve may stain clothing and although there are no known risks with minimal ingestion, wipe off your nipple before breastfeeding again.

#2 Chamomile
The German Commission E. approves chamomile for the use of skin inflammation and bacterial skin diseases. Chamomile Matricaria oil has demonstrated activity against Candida albicans at the concentration of .7%.¹

Taking preventative steps to support your immune system, rest and apply an herbal salve will prevent cracked nipples which increase your risk of mastitis.

Euphorical Herbals has amazing products for your times of breastfeeding. 

Additional tips to reduce cracked nipples

  • Ensure proper latching
  • If nipples are sore or cracked, gently rinse and pat dry after each feeding
  • Avoid the use of breast pads, when possible, and spend time without a bra
  • Wash nursing bras regularly to avoid infection
  • Treat oral thrush in the newborn with yogurt and probiotics to prevent the spread to the nipple
  • Apply an herbal salve several times a day after nursing and wipe off before nursing again
  • When there is an infection, use an antimicrobial – like Echinacea– to support the mother’s immune system

3 Herbs For Plugged Ducts & Mastitis

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

#1 Phytolacca 30C 

Personally, I liked to take homeopathic medicine when I had mastitis.  Along with Echinecea, 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

#2 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

#3 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

5 Signs of Mastitis

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

Diabetes, steroid use, and oral contraceptives may also increase the risk of candida mastitis.

Herbal Treatment For Mastitis

If you are experiencing recurrent breast infections, you may want to be evaluated for adequate nutritional intake.
Particularly see if you are low in:

  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Protein
  • Vitamin c

Along with good nutrition, consider adding an adaptogen to support your immune system during this stressful time.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) and Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) Tincture are considered safe adaptogens during breastfeeding.

Along with supporting your immune system with adaptogens, consider these tips to avoid mastitis.

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

Increase milk supply

Galactagogues are the main category of herbs that enhance milk production, but you’ll also want to address your stress with botanicals that soothe your anxiety in order to increase milk supply.

12 Herbs To Increase Your Milk Supply

  1. Marshmallow Root  (Althea Officinalis)
  2. Dill  (Anethum graveolum)
  3. Oats (Avena sativa) A cup of oatmeal every morning may help soothe digestion and increase milk supply!
  4. Caraway  (Carum carvi)
  5. Blessed thistle  (Cnicus benefictus)
  6. Fennel Seed (Foeniculum vulgare)
  7. Goat’s rue (Galega officinalis)
  8. Barley (Hordeum vlugare)
  9. Hops (Humulus lupulus)
  10. Anise seed (not Star anise) Pimpinella anisum
  11. Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)
  12. Chaste berry (Vitex angus castus)

 

How can you increase your milk supply?

  • Try by eating oatmeal in the morning.
  • Make Lactation cookies.  Recipe here  or Bars here
  • Drink tea of stinging nettles and milky oat tops or purchase Our Lady Of La Leche Tea
  • Don’t forget to address your stress as well with adaptogens!

Mother's Milk Tea Blend

Ingredients

  • ea Recipe
  • MOTHER’S MILK TEA BLEND
  • • Chamomile Flowers 1 ounce
  • • Dried Catnip 1 ounce
  • • Fennel seeds 1/4 ounce
  • • Dried lavender flowers 1/8 ounce

Instructions

  1. Combine all the herbs.
  2. Put 1 tbs. of the mix in a cup and fill with boiling water.
  3. Cover and let steep for 10 minutes.
  4. Strain and drink plain or slightly sweetened. Dose; 1-3 cups/day.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
https://taragregorio.com/16-herbs-every-breastfeeding-mom-should-know-about/

Too much milk? Try these herbs to decrease your milk supply.

Conclusion

Botanicals can provide great support during this season of your life.  Particularly if you are getting recurring infections, antimicrobial can support your immune system and decrease your risk of infections.  To increase your supply, adding botanicals can help and then don’t forget to address your stress.

What botanicals do you use to support breastfeeding?

Leave a comment below.


References:

  • ¹https://www.homeopathycenter.org/breastfeeding
  • https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/Breastfeeding/Pages/Benefits-of-Breastfeeding.aspx
  • https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/115/2/496.full
  • https://kellymom.com/bf/can-i-breastfeed/herbs/fenugreek/
  • https://lllusa.org/
  • ¹Romm, Aviva, Botanical Medicine For Women’s Health

 

Warning! Are you experiencing pain from your C-section?

Warning! Are you experiencing pain from your C-section?

Let me guess.  You thought a C-section would be easier on your body, right?

Have you ever noticed pain in your groin, inner thighs or with sex?

It may be because of your scar tissue.

The scar tissue formed from C-sections, episiotomies, surgeries, and perineal tearing can cause numbness and an inability for the adhesions to lay down in a proper pattern, creating tension in your groin and inner thigh area.

Crazy thought, isn’t it?

Furthermore, if you have scar tissue internally, it may be affecting your organs.

(Here’s a nice image to demonstrate the pull of scar tissue)

Imagine what it would be like to be pain-free.  To enjoy sex again.  To have no trouble with your bladder or incontinence.

Ask yourself these questions…

9 Out Of 10 Moms Have These Symptoms From A C-section Scar

  1. pain during sex
  2. clitoral and/or labial pain
  3. feeling like you need to go to PEE a lot
  4. numbness around the scar
  5. lumpy or hard spots over the scar
  6. pelvic, low back and pain in the groin
  7. digestive troubles
  8. can’t feel your abdominals doing work

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3 Symptoms You May Be Experiencing From An Episiotomy

    • difficulty going to the bathroom
    • pain/tension in your pelvis
    • pain or discomfort with sex

So, What can you do about your pain? In this post I”ll share how a scar massage can reduce your pain and improve your incontinence.

Step #1 Massage your scar. {keep in mind, I am not a massage therapist}

The scar tissue formed after an incision may not lay down as “neatly” and is less pliable and flexible. A gentle scar massage can “break-up” this tissue creating more freedom in the area and in your overall body and may reduce the tension you are feeling.

How soon can you practice a scar massage?

You want to wait for at least 6-weeks after any abdominal surgery and consult with your doctor before adding this in. Do not massage the scar if there is any oozing or redness. Please see your doctor!

How do you practice a scar massage?

There are 4 ways to do a scar massage

  1. massage gentle circles over the scar {and any area of tension}
  2. press and wiggle- press down and shift forward and back slightly
  3. go over the scar left to right and right to left
  4. use a SOFT massage ball/foam roller and gently sit on it and breathe for your perineal area

You can use coconut oil or any other oil to help the fingers skim over the skin.

Practice this for 1 minute most days of the week. Be gentle and over time increase your pressure.


Take your time and realize healing takes time. The best types of exercise for you are breathing, walking, core restoration and light bodyweight exercises until the scar tissue heals. Possibly 9-12 months.

Diet is also VERY important to heal the scar tissue. Make sure you are getting enough healthy protein at each meal to aid in your healing. 

Conclusion

In short, your scars from childbirth could be creating tension, pain, and in turn, affect your bladder control.  When the scar tissue is released, you will unwind years of tightness and be able to connect to your core AND pelvic floor with ease.

The first step is the hardest.  Have you tried massaging your scars from childbirth? I want to hear from you.  Tell me below in the comment section. 
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10 Things I would have done differently postpartum

10 Things I would have done differently postpartum

I cried when we left the hospital.

I was so afraid to go home with two babies and get back to real life where I had to cook, clean and care for two little ones. I was right to be afraid.

Our postpartum time was filled with so much chaos, crying and sleep deprivation.

We opened two businesses and had twins in the same year. I wouldn’t suggest it to anyone.

Five years later, we survived the fevers, the crying, the sleep training, the potty training and feeding them with only one experience of Mario choking on ice.

So, I’d love to share with you what I would do differently if I were to raise twins all over again.

#1 Ask for Help

I found it very hard to ask for help. I was a strong, independent woman and didn’t realize it’s ok to ask for help. Although friends and family are very busy, they want to help. I’m forever grateful to those who made us meals, held a baby for just a moment and ran after baby a, while I ran in the other direction for baby b. Thank you.

#2 Take supplements

I was so against supplements before giving birth. I wanted everything natural and thought I could get my vitamins and minerals from my food. I suffered from digestion problems, so taking anything scared me as I didn’t know enough. I feared taking anything at all that it may disrupt my digestion more. What I know now, is I lost a lot of blood giving birth, and it’s a traumatic, stressful event, the body needs more support. Postpartum women need iron, vitamins, digestive enzymes, EFA’s and probiotics to restore their gastrointestinal flora. Next time I would take supplements, especially magnesium to release the stress and tension!

Essential fatty acid supplementation (1-3 g/day combined EPA and DHA) and adequate cold water fish consumption during pregnancy and during the postpartum period may prevent or alleviate postpartum depression. ¹

#3 Improve my diet

The first six weeks were all about survival. Whatever you made me, I ate it. I woke up to coffee and had wine to wind down at night. The excessive caffeine contributed to my insomnia and created a terrible daily routine of anxiety. Next time, I would wake up with hot water and lemon and eat oatmeal to aid my digestion. I’d skip the caffeine, chocolate, and coffee.

#4 Skip the wine & beer

I found myself drinking Guinness as it was supposed to increase my milk supply. I would have a glass of wine or a drink to take the pain away in the evening. My body ached from sleeping just two hours most nights, and I was numbing the pain with alcohol. It didn’t help. It created anxiety and insomnia that lasted months. I’d skip the alcohol and drink herbal teas of chamomile, lavender, and stinging nettles.

#5 Take adaptogens sooner

Adaptogens are a category of herbs that help you adapt to stress. At the time of my children’s birth in 2013, I studied herbs for over six years but what I was not taking was adaptogens; like Ashwagandha or Reishi mushrooms. These herbs help the body modulate stress, reduce anxiety and ease insomnia. Ashwagandha, motherwort, and nettles are considered a L1 in the risk category for lactation risk.² For a list of herbs to avoid while breastfeeding see Kelly Mom’s website. 
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#6 Meet with a pelvic floor physical therapist

My six-week postpartum visit to the doctor was a disappointment. I asked her if I had a diastasis recti or a prolapse. She insisted everything was “fine.” I didn’t feel fine. It turns out I did have both. Meeting with a pelvic floor physiotherapist would have confirmed my biggest worries and eased some anxiety about my body. Locally, we love Dr. Ashely Hocutt. See her website here.

#7 Had my thyroid checked

Your thyroid can become hyperthyroid two to four months after birth and then hypothyroid for two to eight weeks. I treated my self for hyperthyroid with botanicals, but I would have loved to have a proper diagnosis. Dr. Aviva Romm discusses your postpartum thyroid here. 

#8 Waited to go back to work

In most cultures, the new mom is encouraged to rest for forty days. The family helps with food and caring for the newborn. The mom is invited to sleep and relax. Again, this was not my experience. The worries of the new business, the stress of not sleeping and the never-ending crying of babies were exhausting. If I were to do it again, I would have planned better to be able to step away from my business and ask for help.

#9 Moved in with my parents

I joke about this, but it’s the truth. Raising twins is hard. Very hard. Living with my family would have helped immensely. End of story.

#10 Hire a postpartum doula

Postpartum doulas are known as the “must have” accessory for new moms. They help new moms with the caring of the child so that would we can trust our inner momma instincts. They also may help with light housekeeping and meal preparation. I breastfed both of my kids for three weeks, and then I looked in the mirror and thought, I am never going to get out of the house if this doesn’t change. That night at 3:00 am I ordered formula and The Baby Whisperer on my phone. The next day Mario ate 5oz. of formula and slept seven hours! I would have loved for someone to tell me it’s ok to give your kids formula! Katherine Whiteside runs a free infant support group at the local libraries.  Sign up for Linda’s Ladies breastfeeding support group for postpartum questions and support.

If you are in the “thick of it” and your babies are young.  Don’t worry, it will get easier.

I hope some of these tips help you survive the chaos of raising little ones.

Warmly~

Tara

If you’re curious about integrating botanicals into your diet during the postpartum period, book a health consultation to get started. Book now. 


References:

¹Romm, Aiva; Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health

²Hale, Thomas; Medications and mothers milk 2017
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Are you still wasting money on pantyliners? 5 steps to stop incontinence.

Are you still wasting money on pantyliners? 5 steps to stop incontinence.

I know what you’re thinking.

Incontinence is just a part of aging.  Incontinence is because of your kids or menopause.

Are you sick and tired of the embarrassment of incontinence?

Picture this.  No more fear and frustration with running and jumping.

No more need to cross your legs when you cough or sneeze.

Saying YES to the things you love to do again.

Let’s dive in.

Which activities increase your leaking and which ones do not?

When does your leaking occur?

  • Is it during running? When you hit the hill?
  • Do you leak when you yell at your kids?
  • Does it happen when you step to the side?
  • Or stand up after going?

This all can change.  We need to re-train your body for the event in which leaking occurs.

Incontinence after birth

Running & Bladder Leaking

You’re going for a run and all of a sudden you feel it.  Take note.  What was happening in your run to cause the leaking?

  • Does it happen just when you reach the hill?
  • Did you think of something that caused you to stress?
  • Did your pelvic floor fatigue and you’re tired?

These are all reasons why you may experiencing leaking.

Your pelvic floor, the muscles that hold up your bladder, are part of a pressure system that runs from your the top of your mouth to your pelvis called your intra-abdominal pressure (IAP).

When one part of this system is compromised, say in childbirth when your pelvic floor may weaken, then the whole system is affected.

But don’t forget….

Women who’ve had a C-section, large tears, abdominal separations and episiotomies have increased pressure inside their body because their pressure system has been cut into.  Therefore, you may need more breath training then a friend who did not have these experiences. ¹

Similar, when you cough in excess, sneeze, run, or jump you increase the pressure and when the muscles are not activating correctly, the pressure moves out of the system; as in leaking.
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Incontinence causes:

  • your pelvic floor muscles are weak/long
  • your pelvic floor muscles are short
  • caffeine and your diet may be causing inflammation and constipation
  • you may be in a high-stress response all day long
  • you may have had surgery that has compromised your pelvic floor/bladder area {C-section, episiotomy, or a large tear}
  • your exercise routine may be too intense for you right now
  • you’re overweight and it’s too much pressure downward
  • you have a forward head
  • your upper back is stiff
  • you’ve had a cold and have coughed for days
  • your sleep
  • your posture is poor
  • you are carrying two kids and groceries all at once!

So what’s the secret to stopping incontinence?

Incontinence Care


5 Little Known Facts To Stop 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.  Even if you’re worried about leaking.
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages as much as possible (as they can lead to dehydration)
  • Walk 30 minutes a day
  • Use the bathroom at the first urge to eliminate
  • Use the toilet at a consistent time every day
  • Minimizing consumption of constipating foods (like ice cream, meats, cheese, and high-fat foods
  • Increase adequate dietary fiber – 20-35g/day (i.e., fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans)
  • 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.

#2 Engage & Stretch Your Pelvic Floor

In a woman’s body, the pelvic floor muscles surround the urethra, vaginal opening, and anus. In addition to keeping the pelvic organs in place and the pelvic bones stable, the pelvic floor muscles are also responsible for:

    • The pleasurable muscle contractions felt in the genitals during orgasm. Orgasms feel bigger and stronger when the pelvic floor muscles are strong.
    • Comfortable vaginal penetration. The flexibility of the pelvic floor muscles is important for comfortable penetration.
    • Keeping urine inside the bladder at moments of unexpected belly pressure (laughing, coughing, lifting, sneezing, jumping).
    • Keeping stool inside the rectum until you consciously relax your pelvic floor to allow it to pass.

#3 Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing is a deeper breath with increased coastal expansion and it allows the abdominals to relax.  Think of breathing side by side like a bellow.  It regulates the pressure in the abdominal cavity and releases tension and tightness in the pelvic floor. 

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

To do:

    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 slightly.
    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.

Reducing stress is a multi-dimensional healing process.  Some steps you can take today are:

  • Incorporate meditation as often as possible to change your stress response
  • Drink caffeine-free teas
  • Add adaptogens to your diet
  • Exercise daily
  • Journal
  • Read this: 7 Natural Remedies For Everyday Stress

#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.   Read about the remedies here.

In Conclusion

It’s easier than you think.  The first step in stopping incontinence is to tap into your breath.  Notice if you’re holding your breath during the day and when incontinence happens.  Breath holding, constipation, and your stress response increase your risk of leaking.  What’s stopping you from trying this?

Let me know in the comments below.


References

¹ Clint, Susan; The Whole Body Connect

² IAP with Functional Activities. Egger, et al. Reproducibility of Intra Abdominal Pressure Measured During Physical Activities Via a Wireless Vaginal Transducer. Female Pelvic Med Reconstr Surg 2015;00: 1

²  Lift and carry conditions; Int Urogynecol J (2015)
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6 Ways To Fix Diastasis Recti

6 Ways To Fix Diastasis Recti

I pulled up my shirt and peeked in the mirror.

Twelve months after birthing twins, I still looked three months pregnant.

My six-week postpartum visit with the doctor had not been reassuring. I came in worried about the pressure in my pelvic floor and expanding belly, but she just said, “Everything looks fine.”

I thought I’d feel normal again before too long, but here we were a year later. I was still struggling with toning my core, pelvic pressure, insomnia, and anxiety. I did not feel like myself.

And the worst part was, I felt like I ought to know better. I had been teaching Pilates and fitness classes for thirteen years, and training other instructors in how to teach postnatal clients for almost as long.

I knew the mechanics of the pelvic floor and abdominals, but I still had no clue how to heal my postpartum body.

I knew I needed more than Pilates, yoga and strength training, suggested by a friend; I reached out to a physiotherapist Jessie Mundell, creator of Core & Floor Restore.

I also signed up for The Prenatal Client with Debbie Goodman, MSPT. They both opened my eyes to postpartum physical therapy.

When I finally became brave enough to touch my stomach, I realized I had a gaping two fingers-width separation. The tissue was soft, and sit-ups and my poor diet made my stomach stick out more. Honestly, I was disgusted and determined to fix it.

What is diastasis recti?

Diastasis recti: A musculoskeletal injury, where the rectus abdominis stretches at the connective tissue, {the linea alba – a collagen cord that runs from the bottom of your sternum to the front of your pelvis} leaving a weakness in your core.

This superficial stomach muscle {rectus abdominis} has always been separated into right and left halves, but with a diastasis recti diagnosis, it is based on a 2.7 cm distance between the rectus abdmonis halves.

If your space is less than this and still feels unnatural to you, no worries, you can still benefit and decrease the area with my suggestions below.

Diastasis recti occur because of undo pressure and poor body alignment.

It wasn’t just about what I saw in the mirror. Repairing my diastasis recti, I knew, would help me stand stronger, tone my core and reduce my bloating. Here’s how I did it — and how you can too.

Diastasis Recti Exercises

1. Support Your Core

I began wearing a diastasis rehab splint, which is like a big Ace bandage for your tummy. (Here’s the one I used, from the Tupler Technique.) A friend suggested it to me, and although it can be uncomfortable, it supported my core and reminded me to draw in my abdominals when I was caring for the twins and jumping out of bed when they cried in the middle of the night.

I wore it day and night for six weeks. Keep in mind>>> The splint does not replace the necessary exercises you need to do to heal your connective tissue, but it helps bring support when you are caring for your family. 

2. Roll Over.

The brace helps to close the gap between your abdominal muscles, but it also made me more mindful of how I moved — especially how I got out of bed. For most of that first year, the cries of my babies startled me so much that I jack-knifed myself up and out of bed when they needed me. But that movement pushes your core out, which can weaken your pelvic floor and make diastasis rectus worse.

With the brace on, I began rolling to one side and gently pushing myself up. This movement protects your core because you are not putting undue pressure on your rectus abdominus, which is already weakened due to the separation. This rolling to the side is how I recommend all moms get out of bed and off the floor. Forever.

3. Alignment- Untuck Your Tush

I first noticed I was gripping my tush when I was doing dishes for hours on end. The pain was excruciating; I now know the piriformis tightens to support a weakened pelvic floor. By rolling the piriformis with the Franklin Massage balls, I was able to release the hip tension I was experiencing and reduce my pain.

Lots of moms tuck or squeeze their glute muscles when they hold their kids; you might not even realize you do it but pay attention the next time you pick up a little one. Tucking the glutes brings your pelvis into a posterior tilt, which tightens your hip muscles and weakens your pelvic floor. This posture is very common with diastasis recti.

Try to release your tush muscles and draw your ribs over your hips when standing. Use a massage ball to loosen the piriformis, so the pelvic floor muscles can do their job of supporting your core and pelvic floor. This rolling is a great thing to do when you’re watching TV in the evening — you’ll release all the tension that builds up in those muscles when you’re chasing after kids all day long. See how here. 

4. Engage Your Pelvic Floor

I’ve taught pelvic floor engagement for over thirteen years, but what I didn’t realize is how vital the pelvic area is and how important it is to lengthen and strengthen your pelvic floor with many different types of contractions.

Your pelvic floor, an intricate web of over twenty-two muscles supporting your internal organs and your low back and is the foundation of a healthy core. It’s important to strengthen it when healing Diastasis recti because the pelvic floor brings your pelvis into better pelvic alignment, reducing the tension placed on the linea alba.

How do you engage your pelvic floor? {Listen to this audio}

A student once said; “It’s like closing both exits.” Lift and squeeze the pelvic muscles surrounding the vaginal and anal opening; It’s a figure 8 shape, and you should feel a tightening from front to back. Contract the pelvic floor 10x quick {known as quick flicks} and then lift and hold the pelvic floor for a count of 10. Repeat daily.

5. Skip the Sit-Ups

Whenever I did crunches in the first year after my twins were born, I noticed my ab muscles bulging out instead of curling in — the exact opposite of what I wanted them to do! Crunches and sit-ups place too much pressure on your core and pelvic floor muscles when they are weak. This undo stress, causes poor posture when your standing and sitting for long periods of time.

This poor alignment is the reason diastasis recti occurred in the first place.

Each pregnancy is different and your recovery can be different from everyone else.  When you can engage your pelvic floor and transversus, you may be able to do crunches and planks again!

6. Diet and diastasis recti

Barely sleeping for two years and living on Guinness for dinner was not one of my best moments in life. The sleep deprivation led to a poor diet and had me reaching for coffee and sweets throughout the day for energy.

I was practicing the right exercises, but my stomach was still bloated, and digestion was slow. A healthy gut and easy digestion are imperative to healing the linea alba, and constipation creates increased pressure in the abdomen, weakening this area causing a “pooching” of the core.

Eliminating inflammatory foods like gluten, alcohol, and dairy can help to speed the recovery by reducing inflammation and easing digestion. Whool-foods, healthy proteins and lots of water, along with a daily multi-vitamin and a probiotic can help repair digestive dysfunction from childbirth.

“The diastasis recti is just a symptom- a sign of poor mechanical nutrition.” -Katy Bowen

My twins are five years old now, and while I still have a slight separation of my abdominal muscles, the connective tissue is healthy, and I no longer have pressure in my pelvic floor or core.

Conclusion

These six steps; supporting your core, rolling over, untuck your tush, engage your pelvic floor, skip sit-ups and diet can help close the gap and help you gain valuable inner strength to last a lifetime!

Have questions? Comment below.

Warmly, Tara

 

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