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Love Your Belly- Happy Mother's Day

Some of you may have joined me for Lake Country Family Fun's Love Your Belly event this past weekend. Events can be overwhelming, and while some of you stopped in read my whole board, many didn't get a chance to, so I wanted to re-post the content...for educational purposes.  I also attached an excerpt from "The Velvateen Rabbit" which I think really embodies more about pregnancy than toys.  

At any time

Learn body mechanics!

Before Pregnancy

Your body: Get in touch with how to use your pelvic floor and deep abdominals…it will help you to get back in touch with them afterwards.

OPT: Address any pain…it may get worse and there are more treatment options in this phase, you can get your esophagus, stomach & sphincters mobilized, which may help with acid reflux.

1st Trimester

Your body: Growing a human is tiring. You may get lucky but consider adjusting your lifestyle best you can to allow for enough sleep. Being well-rested helps your immune system.

Any “bodywork”: The rate of spontaneous miscarriage is high (~20% in this stage). Although my techniques are not thought to increase that rate…nobody is really volunteering for research to prove it. Besides, you’re too tired to do anything anyway.

OPT: Hands on will be only gentle massage techniques & Craniosacral therapy. 

2nd & 3rd Trimesters

Possible product recommendations (I have no affiliation professionally with these products, just good to know about)

-Invest in a good pair or 2 of compression stockings, your blood volume increases a lot! (50%!)  I went with the 30-40mmHg pressure, Jobst brand. That level compression is hard to get on but varicose veins run strong in my family so I felt it was worth it. Lighter grade compression available.  

-You may be feeling the laxity in your joints, your back especially. (Serola belt) The best way to not strain your ligaments is to not put undue strain on them- use good body mechanics.


-I can answer any specific exercise questions; there is no cookbook on this one. A lot of what is recommended for you is based on what you were doing before, any complications, and what your goals are afterwards.

- While special consideration is given to your pregnancy, most typical orthopedic cases can be treated in this stage.

0-6 weeks post-partum

- Under typical circumstances, PT is not necessary, although I have treated in this phase.

General guidelines:

-You can and should be trying to:  

1- re-activate your pelvic floor (Kegels are not the be all end all of pelvic floor health…but they’re an okay place to start.

2- restore normal breathing patterns (your diaphragm has not been able to drop fully in months).

3- use good mechanics!

     - When lifting your baby and car seat.

     -Make sure the straps on your baby carrying devices are adjusted to you/ you are tying your carrier tight enough.

     -Especially if you’ve had a C-section, use the “roll & elbow pry” when getting out of bed (15x/day).

     -Do not be so afraid that your baby will unlatch that you let yourself stay in uncomfortable positions (you can see just as well with your chin OFF your collar bone).

     -Consider using a Binxy Baby  (shopping cart hammock), and of course, a Boppy.

For the little one

While I am a board certified orthopedic therapist, and not a pediatric PT, there are some basic pointers to convey:

- Do not rush walking, or even standing. Crawling is an amazingly awesome developmental phase, as it rolling. Crawling begins with tummy time. Crawling is given as an exercise to adolescents & adults with poor coordination to help them re-integrate functional movement patterns in their brain.

- Pass on the Bumbo seat. Forcing your baby into a sitting position before she can sit on her own hinders postural/ core muscle development.

- Turn off the TV. Especially if you are in the habit of just having it on for background noise. Limit screen time as much as possible (save it up for Skype calls with grandma).

6 weeks to 6 months

Nap time may be a little more predictable, but leaving the house is still a bit of a mission…good thing OPT makes house calls 😊

Exercise: Just as during your pregnancy, what I guide you with is 100% dependent on YOU and your goals. The important thing is to build a foundation and gradually and systematically progress. Do not go from trying a few Kegels to running 2 miles, please! And for the love of God, no crunches!

Visceral manipulations help restore natural balance needed after your lovely fetus smooshed all your organs out of the way, it can also help close that gap in your belly (no tapes or braces for this one).

Dry Needling is back on the table as a treatment option for any lingering sciatica.

6+ months

If you are still leaking urine, I can help with some external manual therapy such as coccyx mobilizations, visceral mobilizations, and pelvic floor muscle re-education. If the problem continues or is severe, you may need to see a PT who specializes in that field who will likely do internal therapy (yes, that means in your vagina) with biofeedback machines.

Exercise: a general guideline is that if all goes well, high level athletes can return 40 weeks after delivery; for every week pregnant, your body needs a week to recover. While we may not be high level athletes, this may make you feel better about not running those 2 miles 6 weeks out.

When is been a lot longer: We can always find a starting place. 

…”Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes.” Said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful… “It doesn’t happen all at once, you become. It takes a long time. That is why it does not happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real, you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

“I suppose you are Real?” said the Rabbit… The rabbit sighed…He longed to become Real, to know what it felt like; and yet the idea of growing shabby and losing his eyes and whiskers was rather sad. He wished that he could become it without those uncomfortable things happening to him.

  • Excerpt from The Velveteen Rabbit, Camelot Printing © 1975

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