Thursday, 28 September 2017

Pelvic Health Series: Our journey to regaining strength, alignment and function Jamie - part 1

I am physically the strongest I have ever been in my life. I just achieved a personal best in a half marathon in August. I am one year postpartum. So, you are probably asking yourself, why on earth would she go see a pelvic health physiotherapist now?

In order to know where you’re going, you need to know where you’ve come from, so let’s go back in time and I will tell you a little bit about my pre and postnatal history.   My first child, Everly, came along just over three years ago.  I was active during her pregnancy; I practiced yoga once a week, ran until about 20 weeks gestation, and afterwards continued to walk daily.  We lived in Phoenix, Arizona at the time so it was easy to get outside every day.  I had high blood pressure towards the end of the pregnancy and was induced at 38 weeks gestation.  After about six hours of labour Everly’s heart rate was dropping with every contraction and I was about 1cm dilated.  My obstetrician, husband JJ, and I made the decision to deliver by cesarean.  The surgery went well, Everly was born healthy, and I had an easy recovery.  At four weeks postpartum my obstetrician cleared me for exercise without much guidance. So being na├»ve and not knowing any better at this point in my life, I started running. I know. I am shaking my head at myself right now. 

photo by Roughley Originals
Fast forward two years and I was pregnant with my second child, Camden.  We moved from Phoenix back to Edmonton during this time and I am so lucky to have found Fit Your Life and Kellie.  I was again active during this pregnancy with running, walking and Fit Your Life classes and took proper precautions to modify as necessary for my body.  For his birth, my husband and I decided on a scheduled repeat cesarean section and everything went smoothly.  This recovery was not as easy as Everly’s. I had a lot more pain in my incision site and bled much longer.  I found it so much harder to take it easy during this recovery with a toddler to take care of.  This time around though, with more knowledge, once I was cleared at six weeks postpartum, I continued to listen to my body and heavily modified exercises for what my body needed.   

So, I modified and took my time getting fully back into exercise and I backed off when my body told me to, which leads me back to my initial question…why did I choose to see Jillian Palmer at Bounce Back PhysicalTherapy?
I am going to try to be completely candid with you. 
I was having a lot of pain on the right side of my c-section incision when doing lower core strengthening exercises. 
I was feeling pressure and heaviness rectally when I did jumping jacks, especially weighted jack presses. 
I knew I had some abdominal separation that wasn’t going away. 

With all of those red flags, why didn’t I book an appointment sooner? Why did it take me close to a year to finally book an appointment? How can I work with women every day and recommend they take care of themselves and not do the same for myself?

I could give you at least 100 reasons that ran through my head telling me why I shouldn’t go, why I didn’t need to go. 
I kept telling myself that I was ok. 
If I really focused on engaging my pelvic floor while doing jumping jacks, the pressure was less so I justified to myself that it was fine.  I just needed to focus more while doing jacks. 
When I self-checked for Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation) and really activated my core to squeeze my abdominals I was able to get my separation much closer together. Again, justifying in my head that I was fine.
But really it came down to one little thing…I was scared.  I was nervous about the internal exam.  I was nervous the physiotherapist would find something wrong with me.  There were so many unknowns about booking an appointment and I really don’t like unknowns and uncertainty. 
I was in complete denial.
I finally decided that enough was enough.
I was telling other women that they should go get checked.
I was supporting women daily on their recovery journeys. 
I started to think about the consequences of not going, if there was something that needed to be fixed. 
It was time that I stopped only talking the talk and needed to walk the walk too, so I took the plunge and booked an appointment.
I felt an instant sense of relief once the appointment was made and pride that I overcame my fear and took the first step in advocating for my own health.

So what happened at my first appointment?  What was my experience like? 
Stay tuned to part 2 in our series.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Mom & Me Fit, Prenatal Fit, Family Fit, & Mom & Me Yoga in Edmonton!! Our new Fall 2017 Schedule is here!

The evening air is cooler, the sunrise is later, and it seems like we are all settling back into our routines. I love fall. I love the crisp breeze and wearing scarves. Even for those of us not in school or without little ones in school yet, the fall is still a great time to hit a reset button. Small changes in our daily routine can have huge impacts on our health and overall fitness goals.

Wake up 15 minutes earlier each day to sneak in a quick sweat or stretch.
Challenge yourself to test out one new healthy recipe weekly.
Carry around a water bottle to make sure you are hydrated.
Focus on your alignment throughout your work day or while playing with your little ones.
Schedule a class or two to attend every week to make yourself accountable to others.

These are just a few ideas, but the list is lengthy! How are you adding a little extra health to your daily life? A little does go a long way and remember, do not strive to be perfect. Strive to find a healthy balance for you in a way that makes you feel happy, proud, and motivated.

We are very excited to announce our fall schedule!

As of October 2, 2017 all of our classes will be indoors (unless it is a gorgeous day and then we will make sure to take advantage!) and ALL of our classes will be held at the Queen Alexandra Community Hall (10425 University Ave NW).

We would love to assist you in finding the healthiest version of YOU! We are specialized in prenatal and postpartum fitness and strive to continually educate ourselves to bring you the best ideas, tips, and variations to ensure you enjoy a safe and effective workout each time you come!

Your first class is always FREE! Our class passes are valid at every class we offer so that you can work with your schedule.

We now offer eight child-friendly classes!
Mom & Me Fit is so much fun! Bring your Littles (any ages welcome!) to workout alongside you or play with their new friends while you get sweaty. Currently seeing a Women’s Health Physiotherapist? Perfect! Once cleared, we would love to work together to ensure you are getting back into fitness the best way possible!
Family Fit is now offered twice a week! Bring your spouse and kids to the fun class and only use one class pass! Families who sweat together, stick together and we want to be part of the organized chaos!
Mom & Me Yoga is now officially part of our weekly schedule!! Your baby(ies) can participate with you while your big kid(s) can follow along or bring quieter activities to keep them occupied (colouring or crafts are great).

We are also excited about keeping our two very special  “women-only” classes on the schedule!
Fit Bootcamp is a great way for veteran moms, expecting moms, and non-mothers to all be able to laugh and sweat together!
Prenatal Fit is the perfect way to learn how to safely move your pregnant body as you prepare for the birth of your baby – non-pregnant women are always welcome too!

If you have any questions, never hesitate to contact us. Please also make sure to complete any required forms prior to attending your first class or your first class back after baby.

We look forward to sharing some sweaty high fives soon!

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Guest post: My Birth Story and the Return to Exercise - by Erin Wright

Each woman has a unique pregnancy, a unique birth experience, unique children, and unique parenting styles. I was always told this, but I never truly understood until having my son Arlo.

My pregnancy was fantastic. I breezed through the first trimester with no nausea, had an excellent second trimester where I felt full of energy and traveled across Canada with family.  During my third trimester I finished my Master’s Degree and I walked across the stage at convocation a week before Arlo was born. I had great energy levels throughout my pregnancy and even worked at a fitness facility where I was doing close shifts until 11pm until I was 39 weeks pregnant. I stayed as active throughout my pregnancy and felt confident doing cardio, lifting weights and teaching spin until the day before Arlo was born. One friend I worked with called me the “pregnancy unicorn” and I understood all too well that my experience was unique to me and to this pregnancy.

As you might imagine, my labour and delivery story is also unique. I will describe my story, but it’s not to scare you. By telling my birth experience, I want to share with you how I was able to recover and get back into exercise.

I was in labour for almost 24 hours (from start to finish). I was positive for Group B Streptococcus (a normal bacteria found in the vaginal tract, but requiring antibiotics in labour) and was told to head into the labour and delivery unit if my water broke. My contractions started at about 5:00am on the Wednesday and stopped at 9:00am. I went for a walk with my husband and after getting to the end of the block, I thought I had wet my pants. I ended up calling the labour and delivery room and essentially said “I know it’s possible I peed my pants but my water could have broke as well”. It wasn’t the usual “gush” you hear about. My water did break and I was induced around 1:30pm that afternoon.  I did get an epidural. My contractions were coupling (coming two at a time with no breaks) and with little sleep the night before I couldn’t relax. After receiving the epidural, Arlo’s heart rate fell and at one point we thought I was going in for an emergency cesarean section. Arlo’s heart rate dropped one last time and the doctors needed to get him out immediately. I was told to push (I maybe had time for 6 pushes) and heard the words forceps and episiotomy. In the midst of the emotion, all my husband and I were concerned about was the safe arrival of our unborn child. While I did have a vaginal birth, I sustained 4th degree tears.

Arlo Jasper Vriend was born at 4:01am on Thursday November 24, 2016. Thankfully, we heard Arlo’s little cry a minute after he was born and he was placed in my arms five minutes after delivery. I required stitching that lasted about 45 minutes and was told “this is about as bad as it gets when it comes to tearing”. I was terrified. Not only did I have a newborn child but I was unsure what 4th degree tearing was. I had no idea what kind of trauma I sustained. How was I supposed to look after this newborn child while unsure if I could walk, go to the bathroom, or look after myself?

What I learned is, many women who have a vaginal birth will have a superficial tear that heal relatively quickly and do not require stiches. A small percentage of women who deliver vaginally end up with a more serious tear in their perineum that extends to or through the rectum. A third-degree laceration is a tear in the vaginal tissue, perineal skin, and perineal muscles that extends into the anal sphincter (the muscle that surrounds your anus). A fourth-degree tear goes through the anal sphincter and the tissue underneath it.

I’m here to tell you that you can and will return to exercise after whether you have a “traumatic” birth or a birth with no complications. You will be able to return to exercise after a cesarean section. It may not look the same, you might need more time to recover, but you will get back to it. I’m going to share with you my five tips for an effective recovery to ensure you return to exercise the right way.

1. Take your time and rest.
I took almost eight weeks off of any exercise other than walking. For the first three weeks I had to sit on an invalid ring (the official name for a donut – not nice!). There felt like a large led weight in my pelvic floor if I walked for any duration. I truly believe that taking the time I needed to truly heal the trauma part, was crucial. Yes – I almost went stir crazy in the house and the hormones didn’t help, but had I not taken the time I needed, I might never have healed.
2. Take the medication you need.
I was prescribed some pretty heavy duty pain killers that I needed to take every three hours. At one point over the Christmas holidays, I figured I could tough it off and get off the pain killers. I realized very quickly, I didn’t need to be a hero (and wasn’t very good at it). Check with your doctor and pharmacist that the pain killers are safe, but take what you need to heal. While you need to look after this newborn baby, you need to look after yourself. And if you are in pain, that’s very difficult to do.
3. Go see a pelvic floor Physiotherapist.
This is probably the best advice I could have received and could give to you. Even if you didn’t receive 4th degree tears and even if you delivered via scheduled cesarean section - GO SEE A PHYSIOTHERAPIST. I had the opportunity to attend the Royal Alexandra Hospital’s pelvic floor physiotherapy clinic because I had such severe tearing. I also sought out a private physiotherapist who specialized in pelvic floor therapy. The internal exam was scary but so was my first bowel movement with 4th degree tears (was it going to open my stiches?). All three physiotherapists that I saw provided me with techniques for safe bowel movements, exercises to repair and strengthen my pelvic floor and make me feel like I was normal again. I am happy to report that I have not struggled with bladder incontinence but still struggle to hold gas from time to time.  I still complete my exercises (including relaxation exercises) and feel stronger than ever.
4. Ask for help.
I spent a lot of my first two months with Arlo healing and learning about myself and my new family. I am fortunate to have amazing family and friends nearby who were more than willing to help when I needed it. People were more than willing to provide food, advice, gifts and a listening ear when I needed it. I couldn’t have done it without them.
5. When exercising again – seek a post-partum exercise specialist and do the modifications.
I am an extremely competitive person. I have always been an athlete and a competitive athlete. Not exercising intensely for eight weeks in the cold of winter nearly drove me crazy. At one point two weeks post-partum I cried to my husband saying “I used to be a productive member of society and now I sit and breastfeed for five hours a day!”. Having a baby is a big change and so when I was cleared for exercise, I wanted to jump right back into where I left off pre-pregnancy. Just because you are cleared for exercise by your doctor doesn’t mean you can go all out. Just because you had a cesarean section and are cleared for exercise, doesn’t mean you can take the highest intensity route. Your body changes after pregnancy and needs time to heal (more than eight weeks). The only reason I can run, jump and exercise at this intensity now is that I attended Fit Your Life classes (with Jamie and Kellie) and chose the low intensity exercises for another 3-4 months post-partum. I needed to re-learn how to control my pelvic floor and exercise with breath and purpose. Don’t rush back too fast. I know it seems slow but you can and will get back to full exercise, in due time.

I’m sure there are many other tips out there. What did you do to return to exercise? Did it take a long time? This list is not exhaustive. Everyone will have their own unique journey back to exercise, just as each pregnancy, labour and delivery, and baby are unique. One thing that I learned for sure is that women are superheroes. I am amazed by the body’s ability to grow a beautiful human being, sustain such trauma, and heal again. Remember – you are amazing!


Monday, 11 September 2017

Onya Pure GIVEAWAY!!

We don't meet people by accident. 
They are meant to cross our path for a reason. 

I met Annika of Born to be Adventurous during our undergraduate degrees at the University of Alberta. Mutual friends and the appreciation of a good time brought us together. Who would have thought that nearly a decade later we would each be married with two daughters and collaborating on social media to promote a lifestyle we both love ... being active!!

If you ever have the chance to meet Annika Mang, you will be smiling the entire time. Promise! Her friendly nature, awesome laugh, and sense of adventure will have you dreaming up your next trip to the mountains! Her blog has been a great source of reference for us as over the past three years. You see, we are lucky enough to have a daughter just less than one year younger than Annika's oldest. This means that she trials adventures at a certain age, blogs about it, and we benefit from reading about what worked...and what didn't! Perfect! When we first took our first born, Brooke, camping at two and half months old, Annika sent me a list of items to bring and it was very useful! Two years later, she wrote a blog post with a similar list. Read it here!
Some of my favourite blog posts of hers are:
10 Hikes for Preschoolers Near Calgary
Ways to Encourage Unstructured Outdoor Play

Now... I bet the real reason you started reading this post wasn't to hear about my friendship with Annika. That was a bonus! Born to be Adventurous and Fit Your Life have teamed up to give one lucky family a Onya Pure Carrier!

You can read my review on this carrier here

Check us out on Instagram @BornToBeAdventurous and @FitYourLifeYEG