postpartum joint painJoint pain in the postpartum period is a symptom that is rarely mentioned during pregnancy.  Although not all women suffer from this sensation, those who do experience aches and pains throughout different parts of their body that can feel difficult to understand.  This lack of warning can make you worry when it happens.   You might  feel that your bones have suffered a great deal of loss of density throughout the pregnancy, which is often not the case.  One mother I know in her early 30’s said she felt one hundred years old!  When I did some searches online about this topic it wasn’t easy to get a lot of clear answers.  I hope this article can help shed some light on this subject.

In response to a patient’s question about the reason her back hurt,  Dr.Moore, an Anesthesiologist at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital states: “My rule-of-thumb is that 90% of mothers will have some type of back pain for six weeks to six months–postpartum back pain. During pregnancy, your placenta secretes hormones, which cause laxity of the ligaments in your back. This allows Lordosis, that big arch in the small of your back, which helps you support the weight of a sack of concrete at the front of your belly. After delivery, it takes time to re-tighten and strengthen them. Unfortunately, instead of resting, you now spend 24/7 bending over to lift a 10-pound baby out of cribs and car seats. Take care of your back; you only get one.”

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shopping for your baby

As new parents awaiting your baby’s arrival, it can be a very nerve-wracking experience with all the medical aspects and decisions surrounding the birth itself.  That should be all you have to worry about…but it isn’t… now it’s time to hit those mega baby stores and embrace your little bundle of  joy with lots and lots of stuff!

The amount of manufactured products around the whole baby business is so overwhelming, it can make your head spin.  I walked in and out of  a mega-baby product store four times before I bought anything.  The amount of choices alone paralyzed my decision making process.  Add to that  being pregnant with “baby-brain”.  I felt extremely overwhelmed.   Finally on our fourth trip, we bought a bathtub.  My husband had such a headache from the noise and lack of oxygen in those places I promised him we would do the rest online!  Soon,we became masters at finding great baby products online with free shipping!  A simple Google search along with the keyword free shipping will save you time, money and headaches.  There are also many sites that offer free coupons to most if not all baby product companies.

At a very personal and special time in one’s life, it is normal to feel overwhelmed by all this materialism.  As the due date was approaches, you are suddenly thrust into a world of shopping that you probably never new existed.  Sometimes there are certain feelings of guilt in not being overjoyed by the shopping experience.  Fortunately,  you are  not the only one who might feel this way.

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loosing pregnancy weight

In western culture, there is pressure and also a desire to lose pregnancy weight as fast as possible. It often seems that a woman is somehow more noble and has it all together if she can manage to get back to her pre-pregnancy weight in a month or so! Some women do and that’s good, but there are so many factors to consider such as nursing, hormones, metabolism, diet, exercise…etc. Whether delivery was a c-section or vaginal is also considered to be an important variable. I’m not suggesting that one should not try to lose the pregnancy weight-I just think we should be very patient and kind to ourselves, our bodies and our self-esteem-they have just been through A LOT! The fat gives us energy we need to breastfeed and care for our babies. We burn 500 calories a day in order to produce milk.

We see magazines with movie stars who’ve lost their weight in a miraculously short time period and hold that up as our standard. Let’s remember that most of them have personal trainers, nannies and a personal chef to cook their diet. Also, they are in an intensely competitive field and there livelihood depends a great deal on their image. So in a way they DO have that pressure to live up to.

Our bodies are our babies environment too even after birth. Imagine your baby holding on to you-which they love to do as often as possible! Doesn’t it seem to be the way nature intended that we should be soft and fleshy so our babies feel comfortable adjusting into this new environment/world? Try pinching your belly and lovingly consider it your “scoochieness” for them for a while!” My brother said something very kind to me at this stage when I was fretting about losing the weight. He said, “You have the rest of your life to lose the weight just enjoy this time with your baby.” His point really struck a true note for me. It is such a special, brief moment in our lives when they are so small and so dependent on us, so why waste a second condemning ourselves for not being thin!

I did walk regularly and used a Pilates videos almost every day when I felt up to it.  Sarah Picot’s video, Postnatal Pilates is excellent and only around 25 minutes long.  She promotes interaction with your baby as you are exercising.   I think I developed stronger “core” muscles than before I was pregnant. My arms and legs have gotten stronger from carrying my baby often. Muscle weighs more than fat so don’t trust the scale. Going by the way your clothes are fitting is a more accurate measure. Of course if you have a medical condition follow your doctor’s advice on weight management. Cardiovascular exercise is a key component to weight loss-try investing in a treadmill, elliptical machine or  a stationary bicycle for your home. Use them as a temporary alternative to the gym since it can be challenging to find the time to get back there!  You can also put on some favorite music and gently dance with your baby.

Remember, most people are focused on your baby now and if you are into baby wearing like I am, those carriers do wonders for hiding that post pregnancy ponch!  Furthermore, wearing your baby has many other physical and psychological benefits.  To read about all the “Attachment Parenting” Rewards (see Dr. Sears website). There are many different carriers available.  My husband and I use the Ergobaby and absolutely love it.

My point is to encourage women to not be so hard on themselves especially at a time when they deserve all the patience and compassion they are giving to their baby or babies. It is a healthy pattern to begin now to model for them a good sense of self-esteem. How we treat ourselves shows them how to treat themselves in the future. Try giving yourself the same compassion and you will probably not even notice the weight coming off. Exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of water. Weight Watchers is an amazing organization to help with sensible weight loss after pregnancy and can help set up great habits for your whole life as well as that of your children.

I am still about five pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight and I am gently conscious of it falling off.  Being a nursing mother of an eight month old and an active member of La Leche League, I know I need the extra cushion for energy to generate milk production. There is a saying that “it takes nine months to put on—it can take nine months to take off.” So I feel I’m on track. That saying really helped me be patient and realistic.

So, remember what a truly beautiful time this is and keep your focus on health and balance for you and your whole family. I heard the Dalai Llama speak once and he said “the better you take care of yourself, the better you will take care of others.” What a perfect quote for motherhood.

acupunctureRecovering from c-section (like any surgery involving an abdominal incision) is a process by which we need to have our bodies, minds and spirit along for the course to help us achieve optimal healing.  Maybe you felt somewhere along the road your body has “failed” you.  I heard a postpartum woman who had had a c-section say this once and it was disheartening because birth can be such a complicated situation and forgiveness is a first step in true recovery as it releases a lot of anger and other emotions we all hang on to.  Forgiving our body’s imperfections and cradling it by sending it positive messages goes a long way in strengthening  the body-mind connection.  There is also a point where we must forgive our choices in childbirth.  Whether you had a vaginal birth, a c-section or a natural (drug free) birth it is an intense experience and our choices were the best we could make at that given moment.  A great deal of motherhood is making choices and if we constantly second guess and judge them, we will simply be in a stuck place in our mind and not able to enjoy the present moment with our newborns.  How can we truly feel connected in body-mind and spirit without love and acknowledgment of all three?  Acupuncture is a holistic practice that is  effective in  clearing our negative emotions and connecting us so that we feel more connected-literally.  This connectedness through acupuncture helps immensely on our road to recovery.

For a long time after my c-section (almost a year) I had a numbing and often itchy sensation around my scar.  It was a daily discomfort and my doctor said it was “normal” but had no suggestions for relief.  I tried several creams for scar tissue healing but to no avail.  Finally, I began seeing an acupuncturist, Dr.Hyun Lee L Ac. of Woodside acupuncture and after about six weeks of weekly visits, I was feeling much more comfortable and all the previously mentioned symptoms had dissolved.  Dr. Lee explained to me that any surgery that involves an incision can and often interferes with the energetic pathways of the acupuncture meridians.  Since Acupuncture is based upon the principal that our Qi (life force) flows throughout the body along pathways that correspond to major organs and emotions throughout the body.  If there is a major obstruction of the pathway it can cause stagnation and a stuck feeling and this is probably what contributed to my symptoms.  Through the use of fine needles, magnetic therapy, moxabustion and certain gentle “shock” impulses she helped to re-connect the meridians.  My healing expedited and I was recovering better. The subtle energetic pathways of the body have always been with us and are only recently being scientifically “proven.”  Chinese Medicine and most notably the existence of the meridians has been around for thousands of years.  I doubt it would have stuck around this long if it didn’t work.  Always be sure to go to a licensed professional that you have a good report with.