You & the Bump

I’ve always said that pregnancy is a wondrous journey. It’s rattled with joy, fear, wonder and excitement. Below are some breathing and movement exercises to help you manage through each passing wave. Check out some simple flows that you can do in your living room to help ground you!


Chair Pose with Heel Lifts
  • Start in mountain pose.
  • Stack your ears over your shoulders, shoulders over your hips, hips over your heels.
  • Root all four corners of your feet into the mat.
  • Place your hands on your hips.
  • On your next inhale, draw your sit bones back, attempting to keep your knees stacked over your heels, settling into chair pose.
  • Lift your heels, while keeping your heart lifted and your shoulders settled down and away from your earls.
  • Continue this for 5 cycles.


Warrior 1 Flow with Arm Circles
  • Start in warrior 1 with your arms overhead.
  • Bring your hands together into prayer.
  • On your exhale, slowly ripple forward. Dive down only as low as you feel comfortable.
  • Circle your arms as wide as possible as you slowly start to raise up back into warrior 1.
  • Continue this for 5 cycles, flowing with your breath.
*repeat for opposite side
.

Wide Knee Child’s Pose Flow
  • Start in kneeling with your knees wide and your big toes touching.
  • Raise your arms up overhead, palms to touch in prayer. Gaze up.
  • On your exhale, slowly bring your hands onto the mat, allowing your head to settle in between your arms into wide knee child’s pose.
  • Inhale up through rag doll, stacking vertebrae upon vertebrae until your head is the last to arrive at the top.
  • Continue this for 5 cycles, flowing with your breath.
*repeat for opposite side

Tips + Tricks…coping tools for birth

Birth Tips + Tricks

Birth…what an astronomical journey, ride, rush…whatever you call it, your baby’s birth is a momentous time! Without the use of certain coping strategies that I learned prior to delivering, I am not sure I would’ve managed as well. I’ve personally explored the following tools during my past three births and, holy cow, they DO really work! Whether it’s to take the edge off of your next contraction or to simply tune inward, pushing through the distractions in and around you.

Explore, practice and OWN them because, when you’re in the thick of birth, and you don’t think you can possibly get to that next contraction…maaaaaaaaaaybe a Mantra will get you there! It’s worth a shot. So, will you choose to fight or flight? If you choose to fight, read on! 

Body Melt

This scan from head to toe allows to to tune into the areas in your body that frequently cling to stress. Take note of those places so you can quickly access them during your birth. Here’s how to do a body melt. Close your eyes to help tune inward. Start from your forehead and scan all throughout your body, releasing anywhere that is clinging to stress. Spend a lot of time in your face (tight jaw, furrowed eyebrows, flared nostrils). These areas connect to your bits, which you only want to be open during your birth! Spend a lot of time scanning your vagina! We women can hold a great deal of stress in there and in the pelvic floor muscles. Continue scanning through to your tippy toes. Let it all go with each loooooooong exhale, feeling the tension and stress melt away.

Mantra 

A mantra is filling that inner voice inside your head with the right words. Birth brings challenge, there’s no doubting that. Sometimes those words of encouragement or strength can help tremendously. Repeat positive affirmations to yourself to find the fight within! Choose words that bring you power, strength, courage and peace. Some favourite examples I’ve heard over the years are, “There is an end, There is an end” or “Strength, Serenity” or “I trust my baby, I trust myself”. Find words that have an impact for you, then share them with your birth partner so they can remind you when times get tough! 

Movement

Always remember this tip…dance your baby out! Movement is an incredible and effective way to get baby moved down into the optimal position for birth. While pregnant, your body releases a hormone called relaxin, which helps your joints become more loose and open. Your pelvis is made up of four bones, which need to open up as baby progresses down during birth and for the pushing stage. Your movement helps the pelvis open up and get baby nicely positioned. Also, studies show that upright birthing positions can reduce your labour time…nice, eh? So move, walk, climb stairs, squat, lunge and dance that baby down and out! Also, try to change positions every 30 mins, if possible. This also helps move things along. Giddy up!

Visualization

Close your eyes. This immediately mitigates about 30% of distraction into the brain. Take your focus inward and imagine yourself in a safe place. It could be anywhere…somewhere real, like your big cozy bed or someplace totally made-up, like the top of a rainbow! Experience this place with all of your senses, looking, touching, smelling, hearing and maybe even tasting things around you. Spend as much of your time there in that place of complete safety and serenity. Visualization has a powerful effect on a stressed brain. You may practice it at home and think there’s not much power there, but when you’re moving through each stage of labour, visualization can sometimes be the tool to help you escape and focus that energy inside to get the job done. 

Third Eye Focus

The Third Eye is also referred to as the Sixth Chakra. It is located on the forehead, between the eyebrows. Start by rolling your eyes into back of your head, focus there in the middle of your forehead. This sensation can help invite a calming sensation to the muscles surrounding the eyes. It’s a powerful and simple meditation to maintain your energy and focus inward. 

Birthing Breath

Practicing, what I like to call the Birthing Breath, will likely become one of your most powerful tools during birth. The breath has the capacity to reduce pain and relax the body/mind. This tool is about connecting your breath down to your bits during your contractions in both early and active labour. Remember, you want your bits, or pelvic floor muscles, to remain open through each rush, or contraction. The breathing techniques below will help achieve this. Here’s the dilly:

Firstly, focus on loooooooooong out-breaths, which is an exhale that is longer than an inhale. Imagine for a moment, that someone cuts you off in traffic…you let our a big, hard, maybe noisy sigh! That’s your body’s intrinsic way of inviting calm and peace inside when in a stressful situation. Secondly, you’ve probably seen many Hollywood films portraying birth via mom on her back, legs up and screaming at the top of her lungs. Nope, try to avoid that scenario! Besides the unhelpful position of being on your back, which we will get into in another Blog, the high-pitch screaming is also not useful during birth. So what should we do instead?

Try different out-breath sounds that promote an open jaw and relaxed frame. Horse lips is a great example that you can practice. I like it because it helps to keep your jaw open/loose, which also speaks to your bits. Clenched jaw = clenched bits (says, Ina May Gaskin). Another sound you can try is, chhhhhhhhh. Remember, draw that exhale out as long as you can! And, the last, but most powerful sound you can practice is the low moan (from the chest). This sounds similar to an Om in yoga…or an orgasim sound. Ha, yes indeed! Labour and orgasims are related too, if you can believe it! But I digress. Always try to vibrate the sounds from deep within your chest. This action helps keep your bits open during the contraction. Take a slow inhale, then let out an audible exhale, nice and long! These vibrations help guide baby down into that optimal position for birth. Don’t be afraid to be noisy now, because sounds will come out of you during labour that you did not know you could make! So rock this birth like the powerful goddess you are! You got this!

My final note here is to say that if you went into your birth with a vision of how it should end up, but it didn’t go that way, that’s ok! It’s more than ok. If you feel you owned every decision during your birth, that you were supported and that you were informed, then that detour in the plan is, well, is how your baby was meant to come into this world…whether that be at home in the water or at the hospital by cesarean! It’s all part of the journey!

Lots of sweet baby love,

Salina

Tighten Your taco! 5 tips for strengthening your pelvic floor

If you ask your mother if she could jump on the trampoline without using the bathroom first, chances are she will say, “no”.

There are generations of women who think just because they’ve carried and birthed a baby, that their body will forever be broken. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With proper information and practice, you can gain strength through your pelvic floor during and after pregnancy, and once again be free to sneeze without needing to cross your legs…I’m talking about incontinence here!

Besides incontinence, your pelvic floor muscles are also responsible for other factors, such as sexual pleasure…um, important, right? Strengthening these muscles can also help to relieve constipation, restore/prevent prolapse, reduce low back pain, hold in tampons/menstrual cups and decrease frequent urination. Holy smokes!

As a woman’s belly becomes more bountiful during pregnancy, pressure gets put on the pelvic floor, which can weaken the area. During this time, you want to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles through specific connection exercises (see below) and avoid any pose or movement that could put added pressure on the floor. Postpartum, it’s important to continue with these specific exercises to maintain strength and connection. So, how do you tighten your taco…big wink*!?

Below is a description of the Connection Breath Exercise, but make sure to read these 5 tips first:

  1. ALIGNMENT. Samantha Jones in Sex and the City does a lot of things well, but I don’t think she gets her strong pelvic floor muscles by engaging her bits  while sipping cosmos at the bar! Her posture is all out of whack! Alignment is key as you prepare for these exercises, ensure you’re sitting up tall before you begin (ears stacked over shoulders and shoulders over hips).
  2. BREATH. Forget everything you know about breathing. But don’t stop breathing…dear god, what I mean is breathe sideways. As you prepare for the Connection Breath, take a few breaths and focus on your inhale. Imagine your belly is a balloon and swell through the front, back AND side bodies, opening up the rib cage and pushing your breath deep down to your belly.
  3. RELEASE. Don’t just Kegel to contract! Actually what’s just as important is the release! Women can hold a lot of tension in their bits so simply focussing on the contraction, or lift of your pelvic floor, can often do more harm than good. Inhale to release mama!
  4. VISUALIZATION. Sip a milkshake through your vagina..one of those thick creamy milkshakes that you have to get going by sucking vigorously on the straw half a dozen times before it wells up. Exhale to lift your pelvic floor, as if you’re stopping the flow of urination.
  5. CONNECT. This exercise is a practice of connecting you with your pelvic floor, the muscles that sit at the base of our pelvis, and the transverse abdominus muscles, located deep below the navel. So, at the end of your exhale, draw your lower belly in 10%. THAT’S how you connect the pelvic floor (aka: mula bandha) and transverse abdominus (aka: uddiyana bandha). Be aware…don’t do more than a 10% engagement because then you’ll be contracting your rectus abdominus (aka: six pack).

Here we go…

CONNECTION BREATH

Sit up tall and bring your hands to rest under your belly.

Gently close your eyes and start to take your focus inward, tuning into your breath.

Inhale, slowly breath in and feel the expansion through your front, back and side bodies.

Exhale long, feeling the belly and the ribs gently draw in.

On your next inhale, focus on releasing the muscles of the pelvic floor, those that prevent the flow of urination and passing gas. 

Then on your exhale, start to lift these muscles up, imagine picking blueberries up with your vagina.

Inhale again, breathing sideways into your ribs and soften and release your pelvic floor.

Exhale, contract your pelvic floor, this time, imagining you’re sipping a milkshake up through your vagina.

Inhale, and again, fill yourself up like your filling up a water balloon, releasing between your bits.

Exhale, lift up, and at the end of this exhale, pause…and connect with your lower tummy muscles (transverse abdominus) giving baby a very gentle hug from below the navel.

Repeat this for three more cycle on your own, pausing in between cycles to steady your breathing if necessary. 

After your solo cycles, gently open your eyes and steady your breath.

 

Lots of sweet love,

Salina

Prevent & Restore…What is Diastasis Recti?

OMG, what is wrong with my belly?”. That’s what I thought when I first saw a ridge form down my tummy in my first trimester, pregnant with my first babe. I wanted to investigate further and was surprised that more people weren’t talking about this very important topic! I had to share! Check out this video to see what I learned about Diastasis Recti.

 

VIEW VIDEO HERE

 

 

*This video is for informational purposes only. Kukoon Yoga is not directly affiliated with products promoted in this video. We simply want to share what we learned and what we loved about postpartum wraps and care.

“The Time I Pushed Two, Tiny Pregnant Women” ~ by Gillian Rowinski

A very cool perspective from a mama at one of my Prenatal Yoga Class. One of my favorite classes to teach, the theme that evening was focussed on Sisterhood, Community and Support! I love how Gillian captured the moment in class when we moved into a standing balance pose in a circle, supporting each other. Check it out here…Unlearning Supermom

 

Prenatal Yoga…not your typical yoga class!

After a wonderful pregnancy and the birth of my daughter in 2010, I realized my passion for anything and everything to do with bumps, babies and beyond. This fuelled my decision to become a yoga teacher and specialize in prenatal! Since then, I have become a Doula, teach Prenatal Yoga and host Prenatal Workshops (or ‘Bumpshops’) that support pregnant women and their families.

Enough about me now, let’s talk about you!

Fantastic news! You’re pregnant, but now what? What modifications should you make to the way you work out? Should you take specialized prenatal classes or stick solely to your original fitness program?

Sticking to your usual fitness regime is great (as long as it doesn’t include bull riding or sky diving), but supplementing that with a specialized prenatal class is key! These classes help you to learn about the physiological changes happening inside you, such as, increased relaxin, expanding uterus, rapid hormone changes, shifts in centre of gravity, etc. and the pre-cautions to take to honour those changes.

Understand, you’re not ‘weaker’ because you’re pregnant, not at all in fact! You are a fearless, powerful Goddess capable of amazing feats! Always remember to celebrate your beautiful, bountiful self!

Prenatal Yoga classes do just that! They help you connect to with your self (breath, body, mind), your baby and with other mamas. Classes can enhance comfort, calmness and flexibility. Conscious breathing and supported physical movement are at the core of most prenatal yoga classes—these elements are crucial in prepping you for labour and delivery.

Below are 10 Reason’s why I love Prenatal Yoga.

  1. Connect with other women experiencing the journey of pregnancy—build community and sisterhood
  2. Deepen connection with your baby and your self
  3. Learn effective breathing techniques to aid in the birth process
  4. Improve sleep, relaxation and comfort—calms the nervous system
  5. Reduce pregnancy symptoms—shortness of breath, swollen ankles, nausea, tiredness, headaches, moodiness, carpel tunnel syndrome and more
  6. Improve physical strength, flexibility and endurance of muscles needed for the birth process
  7. Empower your fearless Goddess—tapping into your intuition and inner wisdom
  8. Provide clarity and insight while creating your birth vision by useful learning tips and tricks
  9. Create a space for ‘you’ time—nurture yourself by slowing down and settling inward
  10. Learn helpful tools to aid in pain relief during the birth process

Every Prenatal Yoga class is different—find one that suits your needs with a teacher to whom you can connect. Passion, information and a love for ‘bumps’, I love this stuff!

Lots of sweet baby love,
Salina

 

Babe & Me

Nutrition for Pregnancy

Nourishment during pregnancy in the form of good food, friends, family, support, and love are key ingredients needed for development of a healthy & balanced child.

Sadly, there are findings that have shown over 200 toxins found in the umbilical cord blood of some babies. Yikes!! This is where education and support from your health care team comes in; knowing what to avoid in your diet & lifestyle and what to add in, is important information for Mother’s to know in order to increase baby’s chances of optimal health!

WHEN DO I START MY HEALTHY PREGNANCY REGIME? The best time to start a healthy pregnancy diet, and make positive lifestyle changes is before you conceive! By starting early you can help to increase the likelihood of a healthy conception and quite possibly even help to reduce any chances of common pregnancy discomforts. That said, babies happen! We can’t always plan ahead. So the best
time to start is as early as possible.

13 WAYS TO BE NOURISHED BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER PREGNANCY…

Click here for full blog post.

Birth Talks

Movie | Panel Discussion

Pregnant or soon to be? Come join us on Feb 26 at 7:00pm for our premier event at the Inlet Theatre, Port Moody. We’ll be showing a fascinating movie, “The Business of Being Born” followed by a panel discussion! The movie will be followed by a panel discussion by a Midwife, Doula and Doctor where we will open it up to the audience for questions. Come to get informed, empowered and for a lot of fun!

Love,
Salina

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big NEWS!

Prenatal Partner Prep Workshop

Christina, over at be loved nutrition, and I are super excited to announce the launch of our first “Prenatal Partner Prep Workshop”. It will be the first in a series of birth prep sessions for pregnant women and their birth partners.

On Saturday, Nov 29, as an introductory offer, we will be sharing the workshop by donation!

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