What Every Woman Should Know About Her Postpartum Body

What Every Woman Should Know About Her Postpartum Body

During pregnancy, a woman’s body drastically changes in a very short period of time. It is important for women to be aware of these changes so that they are better prepared to address them. Women should prepare for the following changes to occur:

Pelvic Muscles: It is important that women who want to become pregnant, are pregnant, or are postpartum understand the importance of strengthening their pelvic floor muscles. The weight from carrying a baby for 9 months places a lot of stress on a these muscles, causing them to become weak. Weakness in the pelvic floor muscles causes women to be at risk for experiencing incontinence while pregnant and postpartum; which is a sign of a much more serious problem called a vaginal prolapse. The only way to prevent incontinence and a vaginal prolapse is to exercise the pelvic floor muscles. It is never too late to start pelvic floor exercises. The most commonly known exercise that targets the pelvic floor muscles are kegals; but there are many more exercises that a woman can do prior to pregnancy, while pregnant, and postpartum to strengthen her pelvic floor muscles.

Diastasis Recti (split abs): Women who are interested in exercising postpartum should be aware of diastasis recti. Some women, including myself, experience a split in their abs while pregnant. To reconnect them, women need to do very gentle core workouts. Post delivery, I asked the nurse to check my abs and she confirmed that my abs were split three fingers wide. She then taught me how to measure my abs and explained that prior to engaging in ab toning exercises, my abs could not be any wider than one finger width apart. Women are not allowed to engage in any toning exercises until six weeks postpartum; so when I reached six weeks, I saw a physical therapist who taught me the exercises that I needed to do to strengthen my abs. I highly recommend going to see a physical therapist six weeks postpartum prior to exercising.

Vagina: Any change to your vagina will depend on the trauma it endures during delivery. Trauma includes first degree, second degree, third degree, or fourth degree tears or episiotomies; as well as tools used for assisted birth. Women who experience no tears or episiotomies; first degree tears or episiotomies; and who give birth without assistive birthing tools will most likely notice very little change about their vagina both aesthetically and sensationally.

Muscle LossMuscle loss is inevitable during pregnancy due to many factors. The experience of pregnancy is beautiful, but it is physically difficult. There are approved pregnancy workout programs that women can do; but even these workouts may be too strenuous for many women. If you are unable to workout during pregnancy, do not worry, any muscle loss during pregnancy can be rebuilt postpartum.

Breasts: If you produce milk, your breasts will change drastically; and they will change whether or not you choose to breastfeed. I exclusively breastfeed (meaning that all sucking needs, both for nutrition and comfort, are met at my breasts); and exclusive breastfeeding has not only impacted the physical appearance of my breasts, but my weight loss and fertility as well.

  • Exclusive Breastfeeding and Weight Loss: I dropped my pregnancy weight at an accelerated rate. It is recommended that women consume an additional 500 calories a day if they are breastfeeding because women burn approximately 20 calories per one ounce of milk.
  • Exclusive Breastfeeding and Fertility: Women who exclusively breastfeed may experience natural child spacing. For this to be effective, women need to be breastfeeding approximately every 3 hours to maintain the hormone prolactin; which is the hormone responsible for milk production. Natural child spacing is 98 percent effective for the first six months postpartum.

With the knowledge of these postpartum body changes along with setting goals, hard work, patience, realistic expectations, accepting and overcoming setbacks, being in tune with my body, embracing a positive mindset, accepting the permanent changes to my postpartum body and desiring to be the happiest me; my pelvic floor muscles are once again strong, I no longer have diastasis recti, and I have gained my muscle mass back. The female body is strong; and being informed about postpartum changes will allow women to overcome these temporary changes.

Poor Latch, Bloody Nipples, and Insufficient Milk Supply? This May Be the Resolvable Reason Why.

Poor Latch, Bloody Nipples, and Insufficient Milk Supply? This May Be the Resolvable Reason Why.

The first three weeks of breastfeeding were completely disheartening and discouraging. Breastfeeding is something that I thought would come naturally to me, but at that time, it was for me the most difficult part of being a new mother. I find that there are two components to breastfeeding, the emotional and the physical. Emotionally, I have an innate desire to nourish my baby with my milk from my breast, so when I was faced with the necessity to both supplement with formula and pump my milk and feed him with a bottle, I felt like a complete failure. Then, there is the physical component where I just want my baby to be nourished, even if the nourishment does not come from me. I just want what is best for my son.

My husband and I met with two lactation specialists during the two days that we spent at the hospital after the birth of my son. We had issues with latching from the beginning, which caused my baby to lose 10 ounces during our hospital stay. It was devastating to us. Both specialists said that he had a posterior tongue tie as well as a lip tie. The lip tie was preventing him from opening his mouth wide enough to latch on correctly and the posterior tongue tie was preventing him from maneuvering his tongue correctly to efficiently remove milk from me. The poor latch caused breastfeeding to be painful and he would try to drink for up to four hours at a time every 30 to 60 minutes because of his inability to remove milk from me.

The two lactation specialists presented me with three options: to continue trying to breastfeed with the lip and posterior tongue tie, to get the tongue tie and lip tie released with a laser by going to see a dentist, or to get the lip tie and posterior tongue tie released with surgical scissors by an ears, nose, and throat doctor. I tried to continue breastfeeding with the ties for three weeks, but I felt defeated. He was constantly hungry, I was in pain, my nipples were bleeding and my ducts were always clogged which as a result prevented my milk supply from increasing. We found ourselves supplementing with one to two bottles a day and I had to pump directly after breastfeeding to unclog my ducts. Since his appetite was increasing and I was already unable to satisfy his hunger, I decided to make an appointment with the ears, nose, and throat doctor.

Going into the office, I was very hesitant about the procedure. The doctor spent a lot of time with us during the consultation explaining everything we would need to know and answering our questions. We felt comfortable with her, so we decided to get the procedure done. She did not use any anesthetics. The procedure lasted about three minutes. She cut the lip tie, and she made four cuts underneath his tongue. To me, there was a lot of blood, but he stopped crying almost instantly. The doctor then spent time with us working on his latch, and there was an immediate noticable difference. For the first time, breastfeeding was painless. He chugged until he was satisfied and he passed out for the first time after 30 minutes of nursing. I cried with delight–this was the first time I was able to satisfy my son’s hunger; it was the first time my milk ducts were not clogged; and to my delight–no more bloody nipples! 

For seven days following the procedure we had to massage the area to ensure that it did not heal back into the tongue tie. If you are having difficulty with breastfeeding; if its painful, if your bleeding, if your ducts are clogging, if your baby is never satisfied, he may have a tongue and/or lip tie. There are different types of ties, but they all impact a baby’s ability to eat efficiently. I highly recommend taking him to an ears, nose, and throat doctor who can perform a frenulectomy.

Three and a half months following the procedure, my breasts were producing enough milk that I was able to discontinue supplementing with formula and solely exclusively breastfeed. My son cluster fed for hours each day which increased my body’s supply. Now, my son is twenty months old and we are enjoying every minute of extended breastfeeding. Our journey with breastfeeding has been incredible. 

Teaching an Appreciation for Failure and Encouraging a Growth Mindset

Teaching an Appreciation for Failure and Encouraging a Growth Mindset

From the viewpoint of an educator, I have witnessed how a child’s fixed mindset and fear of failure can hinder his desire to fully immerse himself in learning experiences. When a child has a fixed mindset, he believes that his intelligence is limited; he does not respond well to failure and associates failure with being unintelligent and unsuccessful; and he will seek out activities that are not challenging to validate his intelligence rather than work through an activity that he struggles with because of his fear of failure. This fixed mindset will negatively impact this child throughout his entire life if it is not changed. So how can we help change this mindset in children that already have a fixed mindset? Furthermore, how can we help prevent this mindset from developing at all? The two following approaches will help to change and prevent a fixed mindset; and instead promote a growth mindset.

Praise Effort, Not Intelligence: Research has demonstrated that praising intelligence (i.e. “I knew that you could do it because you’re so smart.”) places children at high risk for developing a fixed mindset. While the intentions of praising intelligence are to enhance confidence, motivation, and determination; children instead experience a short lived positive reaction to this praise followed by an immense fear of becoming or appearing unintelligent, thus causing them to avoid challenging tasks, resist learning, and negatively respond to failure. Children who are praised for their efforts (i.e. “You put so much effort into that task by trying new strategies and through trial and error you’ve succeeded!”) understand exactly what steps they took to succeed as well as learn that through hard work, much effort, and determination; their skills and knowledge will change and develop, allowing them to achieve a task that was once new, challenging and confusing. This perseverance, resilience, determination, and motivation along with the understanding that skills and knowledge are acquired are the qualities found in children who have a growth-mindset. Praising effort rather than intelligence encourages children to develop these qualities.

Teach An Appreciation for and the Importance of Struggling and Failure: Children with a fixed mindset and a growth mindset approach struggling and failure very differently. Research has shown that children with a fixed mindset experience poor self concept, negative thoughts, and helplessness in response to struggle, setbacks and failure. Teaching that struggling and failure are essential to learning, gaining knowledge and developing new skills will encourage children to take risks when presented with new learning opportunities. Children will learn to appreciate struggling and failure when they no longer associate struggling and failure with being unintelligent or unsuccessful. Those who understand the importance of failure will become even more determined to problem solve to overcome a challenging task because they know that they will acquire new knowledge and skills; thus boosting long term confidence. Understanding the importance of struggling and failure is a characteristic of children with a growth mindset.

Praising effort and teaching the importance of failing helps children develop the qualities essential for achieving a growth mindset. Developing these qualities are crucial because a child with a fixed mindset will become an adult with a fixed mindset if it remains unaddressed. A fixed mindset can prevent people of all ages from reaching their full potential and achieving consistent happiness because of their strong fear of failure. Adapting a growth mindset equips people with the qualities that allow them to become resilient, determined, and positive.

What You Could Do Immediately:

The next time an opportunity arises to encourage a child’s growth mindset, keep these questions in mind before providing a response:

  • Will my response praise effort, determination, perseverance, resilience, motivation and confidence?
  • Will my response encourage working through failure so that new knowledge and skills are gained?
  • Will my response support the importance of problem solving to overcome challenging tasks?

My Recommendation:

Achieving a growth mindset is an ongoing process that requires daily reflection. With daily reflection, one will be able to determine if one’s responses, qualities, and outlook are contingent with a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. A parent is a child’s role model, so adapting a lifestyle that reflects a growth mindset will teach a child to adapt a growth mindset himself. Modeling the qualities of a growth mindset every day is the best way to teach and encourage it.

Our Bittersweet New Nighttime Routine

Our Bittersweet New Nighttime Routine

Until four days ago, nursing has been such a prominent part of our nighttime routine. Paulie loves to nurse, and I love to nurse him; and he shows no interest in weaning–which is perfectly fine by me. I absolutely love every moment of extended nursing. However, because Paul has been exhibiting tooth decay on his top front four baby teeth for months with no signs of improvement; we decided it was best to wean Paul off of his bedtime nursing. Nursing is not causing his teeth to decay, but my inability to clean his teeth properly after he falls asleep is causing the sugar from the milk to harm his teeth. In addition, Paul did not start taking any fluoride supplements to help strengthen his teeth until he was 16 months old.

Previously, the bedtime routine was as follows:

1. Brushing his teeth with all natural fluoride free toothpaste after dinner.

2. Taking a bath.

3. Putting on PJs.

4. Preparing his room for bedtime; covering the window, turning on his noise dome and air purifier; and bringing the fan into his room.

5. Mama and dada reading bedtime stories while he sits on our laps until Paul was ready to nurse.

6. Paul says goodnight to dada and nurses with mama until he falls asleep.

7. Paul slept from 8pm to 6am.

 

Now, steps 5 – 8 have changed:

5. Mama puts Paul in the crib with his bedtime bottle full of purified water.

6. Mama and dada read stories to Paul while he is in his crib.

7. Mama says goodnight and dada lays next to the crib either reading or singing songs until Paul falls asleep.

8. Paul currently sleeps from 8pm to 4 am and nurses from 4am to 6pm.

On the first night, I tried to put him in his crib and give him the opportunity to fall asleep on his own without me in the room. He ended up calling for me for a half hour until he fell asleep; but then slept awfully for the rest of the night. He woke up with a night terror an hour after falling asleep; which I attribute to him knowing he was alone when he fell asleep.

For the last three nights, I put him in his crib and papa reassured him he was going to stay. Paul didn’t cry but he kept calling out for me. On nights two and three, he rejected the water, but accepted and drank the water tonight. Under this new routine, he has been sleeping from 8pm to 4am and then nursing from 4am to 6am. Since he drank his bottle of water tonight, i’m expecting him to sleep through to 6am tonight.

The change in the nighttime routine has caused him to nurse more frequently during the day. We were only nursing three times a day; morning, before nap, and before bed. Over the last four days, he has been nursing frequently and for longer durations; so we have been having lots of daytime cuddles =)

I knew for some time (about a month) from the Individualized Nighttime Parenting Sleep Training Program that Paul was ready to sleep in his crib; but he preferred to nurse to sleep. While I am happy his teeth will improve, I wanted Paul to wean himself off of bedtime nursing. The abrupt change has also been difficult for me, since I loved spending these last wonderful minutes of his day watching him relax while gazing into my eyes until he drifted off into a comfortable sleep.

This change is bittersweet; and while it happened prematurely and I am sad about it– I have 18 beautiful months of bedtime nursing memories to treasure =)

UPDATE: On the fourth night, after drinking his bottle of water, he slept from 8pm to 6am. =)

Homemade Applesauce

Homemade Applesauce

Applesauce is another one of my favorites to make for my son to eat for breakfast or a snack because of how nutritious, delicious, and filling it is. It is also easy, quick, and cost effective!

Ingredients

  1. Two (organic) Apples
  2. (Purified) Water

Optional Ingredients

  1.  Rolled Oats
  2. Chia Seeds or Hemp Seeds

Step 1:

Peel and chop two apples of your choice.


Step 2:

Boil (purified) water for a few minutes. Then pour boiled water into a bowl and add chopped apples. Let soak for five minutes.

Step 3:

Scoop all of the apples out of the water and into the blender. Then add some of the water that the apples soaked in and pulse until it’s a consistency of your liking. 



Step 4 (optional):

Add toasted Rolled Oats, Chia Seeds, or Hemp Seeds for additional nutrition. 

I hope you enjoy this homemade applesauce recipe! 

Recipe for Healthy and Nutritious Scrambled Eggs

Recipe for Healthy and Nutritious Scrambled Eggs

Good afternoon and happy Thursday! This is one of my favorite recipes to cook for a quick healthy, nutritious, and delicious breakfast for Paul. Click on the ingredient whose nutrition you wish to explore further: 

Recipe

Ingredients

  1. [Organic] Eggs
  2. [Organic] Avocado
  3. [Organic] Butter 
  4. [Organic] Tomatoes
  5. [Organic] Mushrooms
  6. [Organic] Fresh Spinach or [Organic] Frozen Spinach 
  7. Scallions
  8. Hemp Seeds

Part 1:

    Sautée spinach and mushrooms in a pan with butter. 

    Part 2: 

    Add chopped tomatoes when mushrooms and spinach are sautéed to your liking. 

    Part 3:

    Add eggs and scramble until they are cooked to your liking. 

    Part 4:

    Sprinkle hemp seeds on top of your eggs. Serve with avocado for your little darling to enjoy =)

    Thank you for reading! I hope your little one enjoys this recipe! =D

    Recipe for Quinoa Guacamole Salad 

    Recipe for Quinoa Guacamole Salad 

    Good morning and happy Saturday! Quinoa Guacamole Salad is one of my favorite recipes to make for Paul for lunch or dinner because each of the ingredients are packed with nutrition. =) The recipe is as follows (click on the ingredient whose nutrition you would like to explore):

    Recipe
    Ingredients: 

    1. [Organic] White quinoa 
    2. [Organic] Frozen Spinach
    3. [Organic] Tomatoes 
    4. Scallions 
    5. Lime
    6. Salt
    7. Pepper
    8. Two [Organic] Avacodos 

    Part 1:                    


    Place 1 cup of [organic] white quinoa, frozen [organic] spinach (it is my preference to use frozen spinach for this recipe) and 2 cups of [purified] water into a pot over medium heat. As soon as it reaches a boil, cover the pot and lower the heat as low as possible so that it is simmering. Let simmer for about 15 minutes or until the water is completely absorbed into the quinoa. 

    Part 2:


    While the quinoa cooks, prep your quacomole. The ingredients for this recipe should be based on your preferences. Place two ripe [organic] avocados in a bowl and mash them with a fork until the consistency is smooth. Then add in the ingredients of your choice. In this recipe, I added and mixed [organic] tomatoes, scallions, salt, pepper, and one lime into the avocados.  You can add jalepenos, cilantro, onions, etc. Then cover and cool in the refrigerator.

    Part 3:


    When the quinoa is done cooking, serve with the guacamole for your little munchkin to enjoy =D 

    Tip: for extra nutrition, add a tablespoon of [organic] hemp seeds. =D 

    Thank you for reading! I hope you have a happy happy happy Saturday! =)

    Modeling and Encouraging Healthy Eating Habits and Lifestyle 

    Modeling and Encouraging Healthy Eating Habits and Lifestyle 

    Modeling and encouraging Paul to learn healthy eating habits and teaching him how to live a healthy lifestyle is a top priority of mine. The way we shop, the products that we buy, and the recipes that we make are all carefully considered to ensure that Paul is getting the nutrition that he needs in his daily diet primarily from products that do not contain preservatives, coloring, hormones, antibiotics, etc. If you are looking to buy products that are free of these potentially harmful components, the label to look for is organic. Other labels, such as “all natural” and “farm raised” are labels that do not necessarily mean that their products are preservative, hormone, antibiotic and color free; so it’s best to buy the regular inorganic products if you can not find the organic products.  

    Paul not only watches Matt and I cook, he helps us! I usually give him a small task to do, like wash a few pieces of spinach off in the water and then place it in the pot. While we are prepping and cooking, we talk to him about the ingredients that are going in his food and why these ingredients are nutritious for our bodies. He helps us do tasks like mix the ingredients together or scoop them into bowls. Then, he watches mama and dada enjoy healthy good eats which makes him want it too. 

    Along with eating healthy, Paul also watches mama make fitness a priority. We go on walks every day that it is not raining; and he sees my interest In living an active lifestyle. I try to workout during his nap time every day, but he usually wakes up before I finish so he ends up spending the last 10 minutes working out with me. He is very interested in my weights, and tries to lift them; but they weigh almost as much as he does!

    Teaching relaxation is another priority of mine when teaching him how to live a healthy lifestyle. I have been working on teaching Paul how to take deep breaths in through his nose and out through his mouth (which he thinks is hilarious). Now that Paul only takes one nap a day, we take 30 minutes a day to relax together by doing breathing exercises and reading. Yoga will eventually be added on to this routine. We also work on breathing exercises when he becomes upset and emotional. 

    Finally, I have been on a mission to avoid and eliminate as much toxins as possible from our home environment. This includes furniture, cookware, toys, etc.

    Paul is my miracle. There are no words to describe how much I love him. I want to teach him the skills that will help him live a happy, relaxing, conscious, and healthy lifestyle. Thank you for reading, I hope you have a happy Tuesday! =D

    Capturing and Embracing Happiness

    Capturing and Embracing Happiness

    I have always been a strong believer of embracing the positive of every situation; it has always been a defense mechanism of mine. Even in the darkest, most unbearable and [seemingly and sometimes] irresolvable of situations, there are happy and positive moments around you waiting to be captured and embraced. Getting stuck in a vortex of negative energy and pessimistic thinking can happen rapidly, especially if negative situations continuously arise; and when this happens, it is so important to search and find the happiness waiting to be embraced around you–as little as it may be. Every day that we wake up is a fresh start; an opportunity to approach the day with a positive mindset; an opportunity to create and discover new options to change undesirable circumstances; an opportunity show respect, love, kindness, appreciation and admiration for those around us as well as ourselves; an opportunity to seek forgiveness and forgive; an opportunity to reflect on yesterday’s experiences with the goals of making a happier life and a happier you. I am sharing some beauty that I captured today and some happy moments that I had with my family  =D What beauty and happy moments did you embrace and capture today? If you would like to share the happy moments that you have embraced today on instagram, use the hashtag #embracehappymoments

    Fashion as seen in this post:

    Paul: Jacket: Burt’s Bee’s Baby Similar One , Burt’s Bee’s Baby Similar Two , Burt’s Bee’s Baby Similar Three // Sneakers: Stride Rite Shoes // Pants: Hand-Me-Down

    Sandra: Blouse: Express // Leggings: Forever 21 // Sneakers: Adidas

     Thank you for reading =) I will keep a lookout for your hashtag #embracehappymoments on instagram =D I hope you have a happy day!

    Body Progression: Everything You Want to Know

    Body Progression: Everything You Want to Know

    Good morning and happy Wednesday! Over the past 23 months, my body has gone through incredible changes. During this time, it was difficult to find information discussing the changes of a postpartum body, so I wrote the blog What Every Woman Should Know About Her Postpartum Body to share information about these significant changes. In this blog post, I shared research in addition to my own experiences with the postpartum changes (and if there were any) with my pelvic muscles, muscle mass loss, breasts, and vagina; as well as my experiences with diastatis recti, weight loss and fertility.

    Pregnancy Progression

    Week 1 and Week 17

    Week 20

    Week 23

    Week 25

    Week 27

    Week 34

    Weeks 36

    Week 37

    Week 39

    Postpartum Progression

    3 Hours Postpartum

     3 days postpartum

        feb 10thfeb 10th side

    5 days postpartum

        Feb 12th front Feb 12th

    18 days postpartum

            Feb 25th side  Feb 25th

    28 days postpartum

             March 6th side  March 6th

    47 days postpartum

    march 25th side March 25th

    3 Hours Postpartum and 14 Months Postpartum Comparison Pictures

    At 47 Days Postpartum, I lost all of my pregnancy weight, but I still needed to continue to strengthen my pelvic muscles, close my Diastasis Recti, and tone my body. I started consistently working out 3 days a week when Paulie turned 9 months, and by 13 months, I increased my workouts to 4-5 times a week (all completed at home). I will talk about my workout regime in an upcoming post.

    Thank you for reading, I hope you have a very happy Wednesday! =D

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