Monday, February 12, 2018

Side Lying Release - The Geek Details

Side Lying Release - The Geek Details

Side Lying Release (SLR) is an amazing technique developed, as far as I know, by Carol Phillips, DC of Dynamic Body Balancing.  Since then it has become standard fare of the Spinning Babies approach to caring for families who are expecting babies.  In this entry I am going to discuss what SLR does and does not do.  If you want to learn HOW to do it, sign up for a Dynamic Body Balancing class or a Spinning Babies class.

What SLR does in prenatal care....

Side lying release is one my favorites!  I use it in a majority of sessions that occur in my office.  Prenatally SLR is used to release the hip, pelvis, and the leg.  These structures are released with passive stretching.  The muscles released (in a majority of people) are:

  • gluteus maximus and gluteus medius
  • tensor fascia lata
  • iliotibial band
  • the 6 lateral hip rotators of the posterior pelvis
    • piriformis
    • gemellus superior
    • obturator externus
    • gemellus inferior
    • obturator internus
    • quadratus femoris
  • vastus lateralis
  • biceps femoris
  • adductors
  • in some cases where fascia is very tight, the lower leg and foot will be stretched as well
It also has the benefit of giving the pelvic floor muscles a wee break when very gentle compression is applied.
Let's walk through together step by step....
When the parent lifts their leg 20 - 30 degrees upward we are engaging the central nervous system (CNS) in the pelvis, core, and leg to let the CNS know we are going to ask the body to do something different.  Lifting the leg up in addition to the standard SLR is going off the principle of agonist and antagonist activation of the muscles.  Or, in simpler terms, the muscles on the back of the body have to stop firing when the muscles on the front of the body fire, and vice versa. The parent will then swing their leg forward over the edge of the bed or massage table.  (I ask them to kick their partner in the derriere - butt.)  Again, we are notifying the central nervous system that something is going to change.  Then the parent gets to let their leg dangle down to be soft and as relaxed as possible.  As the top leg is crossing the midline (middle) of the body we believe a gentle pull is created in the lower segment of the uterus.  This pull, along with the lengthening of the surrounding musculature can help baby rotate, untwist the uterus, and release tension in the pelvic floor.

In the meantime, a partner is supporting the pregnant parent at the anterior superior iliac crest (ASIS) with one hand, and applying VERY gentle downward pressure - as light as a small bag of sugar - on the greater trochanter of the femur or the flare of the iliac crest.  The gentle pressure at the greater trochanter is what gives the pelvic floor muscles a break, especially the horizontal muscle fibers.  Here are some anatomy pictures to help you understand the geekery.
Illustration by Adrienne C. Caldwell  Copyright 2016

As the pregnant parent is dangling their top leg over the edge of the massage table or bed their bottom leg needs to be gently engaged.
So what is being stretched?  We are stretching the tensor fascia latae, the lateral quadriceps, the lateral hamstrings, gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, piriformis, gemellus superior and inferior, obturator internus and externus, quadratus femoris, the upper portion of adductor magnus, and the posterior aponeurosis of the back.  And that is if the fascia is not twisted up the leg and back.
If the fascia of the lower leg is twisted then parents can feel the stretch all the way down to their toes.  If the fascia of the lower back is dysfunctional this can be felt into the low back muscles that attach to the top of the pelvis.
The partner's very gentle pressure at the greater trochanter of the femur - the big knob on the hip - creates slack in the pelvic floor.   How often does your pelvic floor get a break from being stretched between the bones?  Not often.  This slack may help any muscle, fascia, ligament, or tendon fibers get the chance to reorganize themselves so the pelvic floor is more functional.  We do not have objective evidence for this yet.  But I am going on the theory and application of scar tissue redirection techniques as taught by James Waslaski of the Center for Pain Management.  Scar tissue can only become well organized and functional with movement after warming and loosening.  I may address accessing pelvic floor muscles - not internally - another day.

In short, prenatal application of the SLR opens the hip, pelvic muscles, lateral upper leg, sometimes the lower leg and foot, and allows for the pelvic floor to take a little break.

SLR in labor....

Side Lying Release in active labor has shown the miracle of how versatile and agile the human body is under duress.  According to the Spinning Babies approach we use SLR for several scenarios.
  • When labor stalls out
  • Slow progress 
  • High baby
  • When baby is awkwardly positioned
  • When the parent is having back labor (typically indicative of posterior baby)
  • When the parent is having sacral pain
The standard of care, according to Spinning Babies, is to do 1 - 3 side lying release (SLR) on each side, during contractions.  I usually do 3 SLR on one side, and then 3 SLR on the opposite side.  I know practitioners who alternate between sides.  I believe it is good to use your best judgement as to what is appropriate for each individual scenario you encounter.   Again, the best place to learn application, and technique is not from a blog post, but from the teachers themselves.

We have so many stories of how SLR has turned a labor around so quickly it would be ridiculous to try and post them all here in a blog.  This one move can bring comfort to the laboring parent, help the baby rotate into a better position, restore progressive dilation to the cervix, relieve muscle spasm, and so many more scenarios.  Just ask any Spinning Babies trained provider.

What SLR does not do...

Side lying release will not release a psoas muscle.  It may help to lengthen it a bit, but the leg needs to move into extension and external rotation to fully release the psoas.  I have seen, and heard this misconception in several groups.  The psoas is a hip adductor and flexor.  Therefore to stretch it, the opposite has to happen.

When not to do SLR...

  • If someone has symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD).  This move can and will aggravate this condition.  If the SPD has been resolved, move into using SLR with caution and comfort.  
  • If someone has unusual bleeding.
  • If someone has a circulatory disorder and cannot lie on their right side.
  • If someone has just had surgery on any part of their leg - wait at least 6 weeks.
  • If someone does not want to do it.
It is my hope that this is helpful for the birth and bodywork community.  As I stated earlier, if you want to learn HOW to do this move, please take a class from Carol or Spinning Babies.  Side lying release is an incredibly valuable tool!

Also a warm and heart felt Thank you to Carol, Gail, and Deb for editing and commenting before the final draft was published.

All the best,

Information in the post is not medical advice, nor is it intended or meant to replace medical treatment.  Please consult your primary care provider to be certain new movements are appropriate for your situation.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Easing your Postpartum Time

Hello fellow Earthlings,

It has been a long while.  Today, I am going to thow out some thoughts about helping to make your postpartum time a little easier.  Transitioning into a family of your first or tenth baby can be challenging.  So here are some tips and tricks to make the transition a little smoother.

Meal Lists

There are web sites out there dedicated to helping get families food in times of transition.  They can be used any time a family is need, whether it is a new baby, a crisis, or you just need a hand because your pantry is low. 
You know your friend who keeps asking what they can do to help you get ready for baby?  This is it!  Have them set up the meal list for you.  It is super easy.  Generally it is about a 15 minute investment in exchnage for about 4 - 8 weeks of meals to be brought to you by friends and family.  

Here's how it works:
You set up an account with the site.  My community uses, but is also a great one.

You and your partner/husband/wife/live-in parent tell your friend (who is on the phone with you): 
  • what you are allergic to 
  • what you don't like to eat, what you do like to eat
  • what you LOVE to eat 
  • how many people does your village need to feed at a meal 
  • what time you want the meal delivered
  • how often you want meals delivered
  • organic?, don't care?
  • fresh?, frozen?, delivery?
It is all laid out for your community.  Each person will need to set up an account with the site.  They are both spam free.  The only email you receive is a notice saying "You signed up to bring Erika and Yanis lefse and tater tot hotdish on February 10, 2018", and then a reminder 3 days before the date chosen.  Easy peasy, and no annoying newsletters.  

Your friend who set it up for you will email or text a link for your village to sign up with.  Ask them to post the link in your local parenting group, bowling league, surfing bungalo, or where ever your people are to found.  The link will need to be posted a few times to get the list filled out, don't get discouraged if it takes a week or two for it to fill up.  Typically we send the link out when the pregnant parent is about 38 - 40 wks pregnant.  

All those freezer meals you already made...hang on to them, they will be awesome when your wee babe is a few months old and you are at the end of your rope due to lack of sleep and a shower.  Let your community feed you for the first month or so.  

5 Rules for Visitors

This, I strongly encourage any family to do when a new baby arrives.  These rules set firm boundaries for friends and family who like to visit.  It prevents you from having to host and serve visitors.  When you have a new baby, it is not you who should be serving visitors, they should be serving you, especially grandparents, aunties, and uncles.  

The other benefit is that it helps your community have a way to aid you in your growth as a family.  Who doesn't love to help a friend?

Here are the 5 rules:
  1. If you are sick, or think are you coming down with something, please GO HOME
  2. Do a chore
    1. sweep the floor
    2. vacuum
    3. wash dishes
    4. load of laundry
    5. light dusting
    6. fold laundry
    7. wipe down surfaces
    8. (your best friend will clean your bathroom)
  3. Beer/Smoothie/Beverage the spouse/partner, walk the dog, pet the cat, talk to the fish
  4. Wash your hands with SOAP AND WATER
  5. QUIETLY come meet baby 
Run to your local craft or drug store, grab a poster board and a pack of markers.  Make the rule board.  Place the rules on the porch or right on the door.  

Birthing Parent, Stay in Bed

For the parent who has given birth, whether surgically or vaginally, stay in bed as long as you can.  In our home birth and birth center community (Minnesota), we encourage the birthing parent to stay in bed for a minimum of 15 days.  Yes, 15 days.  We break it down into 3 sets of 5.  
  • 5 days in the bed
    • yes, you get up to go to the bathroom
    • learn to nurse your baby
    • learn to sleep when baby sleeps
    • let your partner/spouse/friends wait on you
  • 5 days on the bed
  • 5 days around the bed
Why?  It saves your pelvic floor.  Even if you had a surgical birth, yes, you more than likely labored before your surgery, your pelvic floor needs to heal.  
DO NOT DO STAIRS.  The stress of doing stairs too soon will wreak havoc when you are older.  

Feel like this is not doable?  Then try 3 days in, 3 days on, and 3 days around instead.  Some is better than none.  

Call on your community to help facilitate this important piece of the 4th trimester for you.  It is okay to ask for help.

I hope these tips and tricks are helpful for you in the birth of your new family.  It is always exciting to welcome a new bub to the world.  But it also brings its challenges.  

In love and light,

post script
This information is not a substitute for, or to be used instead of medical advice given by your provider.  It is not prescriptive.  It is only to be interpreted as one person passing on experiential information to other people in the world.  

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Tracing the Fascial Lines

Today was one of those great days in the office where I had the privilege to work with a mama for her 2nd visit.  She has given me permission to use her session today as an example of how pain presenting in an area may not be the root cause of the problem.

The client came in today reporting radiating pain (px) that originated on the L side just under the rib cage.  She felt it was in the diaphragm.  She stated the px radiated across to the right side of diaphragm and became worse as the day progressed.  Her activities of daily living (picking up her toddler, doing dishes, walking the dog, putting on her shoes, exercising) were all limited and significantly reduced or eliminated due to px along the diaphragm.  She had consulted with her midwives, chiropractor, and acupuncturist.  No one was overly concerned, but she was not getting relief from any of the therapies offered by those practitioners.  The client voiced concern that her mother and grandmother had suffered a hiatal hernia during their pregnancies.  She was worried she was experiencing the same thing.  She is in the 3rd trimester of her pregnancy.  She agreed that we would work slowly and gently along the area where she was experiencing the px and try to see if relief could be found with soft tissue work.

So, off we went into the wilds of the pregnant abdominal tissue.  First we did a little Belly Mapping(trademarked) and Leopold's to determine where baby was hanging out this morning.  Baby was L(eft)O(cciput)P(osterior) and very disorganized.

Image used with express permission from Gail Tully of Spinning Babies

What does disorganized mean?  It means baby's limbs were literally all over the place.  Baby's bum was right in the area where mama was experiencing her debilitating px.  She reported baby would often kick her there as well.  A light fascial palpation along the inferior border of the rib showed congestion and threadiness in the tissues.  The abdominal muscles were pulling against the lower anterior rib and formed a band of bunched up muscle fibers.  We followed the fibers toward the navel and about 1/5 of the way there, the client exclaimed, "That's it!  That is making my diaphragm hurt!".  So here we have a classic trigger point in the upper external obliques of the abdomen.  The nodule was quite large and deep.

Baby became very responsive to the touch and was interacting with us as we worked through the trigger point (TrP).  Now, be aware, one cannot use traditional Cyriax and Travell method to release a TrP on a pregnant belly.  The technique must be slowed way down, there is no Optimal Tolerance (OT - means right on the edge of pain, an "it hurts so good feeling") work, you must work well below OT and in comfort of your client.  Yes, this takes longer, but the reward is greater for your client, and it gives you time to really get into the flow of the tissue.  The TrP was mostly freed up but there was a residual tension in the abdomen that both of us noticed.
So, therapist pulls out the detective hat....let us go for the most obvious first, take a look at the superficial fascial line (according to the teachings of Tom Myers - inventor of the Anatomy Trains).

Photo by Adrienne Caldwell
Image used with permission of the model

The "X" in the photo represents the superficial fascial lines of the anterior body.
Indeed the right hip was tight and restricted.  The fascial line that was restricted goes at a diagonal from the Left shoulder to the Right hip.  There is a match on the opposite sides as well.  So, if you were to look at the human body with only the superficial fascial line it would look like a large "X" over the torso.  It is my experience that injury, overuse, and compensation will restrict this line.  This means, when you have a significant dysfunction anywhere along these lines, in order to fully release and gain full function of the soft tissues, you must follow the lines to where the next most restricted area is, and release it.  This does mean that sometimes it takes more than one session to fully open these lines in pregnancy.  So what did we release?  The tensor fascia latae (TFL), attachments at the anterior superior iliac spine (ASIS), attachments at the anterior inferior iliac spine (AIIS), the quadriceps group, the iliotibial (IT) band, and the gluteus maximus.  The techniques to release the structures are varied.  Primarily, fascial release is the mainstay of my practice.
As soon as the right hip was released the client reported she could feel more space in her left upper abdomen.  She also stated she felt like baby was in a different position.  First we checked the TrP area, the TrP was gone - no more referral px along the diaphragm, and then we rechecked baby's position.  Baby was still LOP but their limbs were more organized and closer to the right side of mom's belly.  Baby's back was more upright and the head was more centered.
When the client stood up from the table she stated how much better she felt.  She stated she felt like she had room to breathe.  She could feel that baby was lying differently in her pelvis.

So, this scenario of a place of pain not being the source of pain is incredibly common in my practice.  I hope you enjoyed this little case study and it helps you on your journey of pregnancy, bodywork, or just understanding the mystery of the human form.

Join myself, Deb McLaughlin, and Marcello Windolph in July to learn our techniques and philosophy around prenatal, labor, birth, and postpartum care.  We are presenting in Minneapolis, MN in July.  Here is the link to the conference web site.  It will be a unique blend of disciplines with the Spinning Babies paradigm leading the way!

All the best!

None of the information presented in this blog is instructional.  If you have a specific medical concern please consult your primary physician.  All thoughts and ideas presented are those of Adrienne, and are not advice on practice or medicine.  

Monday, January 16, 2017

Understanding the basics of flexion and extension

It seems that a recurring theme in my practice and general geekery of my life is explaining our society's tendency toward chronic flexion and how important it is to work ourselves out of said flexion.  So, this entry is dedicated to providing a basic explanation of common patterns of flexion and the counterpoint of the extensor muscles.

Our Daily Postures

Take a moment and really visualize how you hold your body as you go through your day.  
  • Making tea or coffee in the morning - your head is flexed forward and down, your arms and hands are held in front of you while you tinker out your beverage, most average sized persons are bent at the waist to get to the counter.
  • Doing your morning ablutions - again, bent forward with your head thrust forward and down, arms in front as you brush,  polish, and groom to head out of the house.
  • Driving or riding to your job/activity - sitting is all about flexion, everything is flexed.  The seats we sit upon are not designed for active humans, not sure who is designing furniture but I am convinced they are not human.
  • Doing your job/activity - Most of us have work that requires our arms, heads, hands, hips, knees, etc. are all flexed (or bent toward the center - belly - of our body).  There are always exceptions, surfers for example.
  • Phone and computer activity - humans tend to lean in toward the bright light of the screens, again bringing ourselves into gross flexion.  And now, our thumbs in particular are spending more time than any other in human history doing a whole lot of flexion.
  • I think you get my point....
The result of all this flexion is distortion in posture, dysfunction of soft tissue, skeleton, and nervous system, and what makes most of us head to the doctor, pain.  So, what do we do?

Changing Our Habits - Relearning Extension

In order to combat the chronic flexion of American life it is imperative we start to look at how we move and stay stationary in our day to day activities. nonjudgemental toward yourself.  Postural habits can be very challenging to change.  For the average person, it takes about 6 weeks, before the new habit becomes old habit.  When we ask our bodies to change, not only are we re-educating the muscles and soft tissue, but we are re-educating the central nervous system (CNS).  This takes time and patience.  Why extension?
Extension is the opposite of flexion.  Extension is vulnerable, extension is powerful, extension is counter to how the modern world is set up.  So, we have to work harder to make extension happen in our everyday lives.  How do we do this?
Stretch.  Strengthen.  Move.  Change.  As always, easier said than done.  There are so many great methods out there to relearn how to stretch and strengthen.  Pick what is right for you, select something that fits into your life style.  Go take a few classes, do some reading, find a buddy to do it with, but most of all...have fun!!!  Here in good ol' Minnesota metro area, one of current favorites is Restorative Exercise.  We have a few excellent trainers here who can meet with you one on one, or in a workshop setting.  They customize the routine for your body and habits, the rest is up to you.  You do your homework at home, and then if you want/need, come back and check in with your trainer.
Movement.  Movement is hard in our sedentary world.  It's a lot of hurry up and wait.  Drive and wait.  Walk and wait.  Well, while you are waiting, there are so many subtle and not so subtle things you can do to work out as you wait.

  • Pelvic floor exercises in the car, standing in line, waiting in a office.
  • Standup and stretch, your waiting buddies will be jealous and may join you.
  • For the adventurous, why not some burpees, mountain climbers, jumping jacks (be fit enough to do these so you don't hurt yourself).
Fit4Mom  teaches really fun classes in public open air spaces that helps you get comfortable with movement in public.  It's worth checking out, plus, you can bring your little ones to the Stroller Strides classes :-)
Change is hard. You don't have to do something big, start small.  Get up from your desk every 45 minutes and reach for the sky, do a few lunges from your chair, walk around the office the long way, park farther out in the lot, instead of sitting down in front of Netflix - reach for your toes or try some gentle yoga.  There are a million ways to help your body out of flexion and back into it's upright posture.

I hope this was helpful.  Remember, nothing here replaces medical advice from your providers, and this is not medical advice.  The information here is from experience, education, and love of the human body.  Be smart.  Be safe.  And remember, extend yourself in a healthy way.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

You have a breech...

This phrase can make so many women's/pregnant people's hearts sink, stop, and break.  Especially if they are planning a natural vaginal birth.  Since the Hannah Term Breech Trial in 2000 vaginal breech birth has been struggling to find it's way out of the dust bins of memory.  The Term Breech Trial was declared false by Dr. Hannah, by the way.  Since then, we have been fortunate to have many dedicated obstetrician's, midwives, and nurses studying the reality of vaginal breech birth.  The results have been favorable.  But that is a blog for another day.

Today, let's talk about what to do when you hear this phrase from your provider.

Don't Panic

There are several non-invasive, low risk modalities to encourage a breech to go head down.  Experience shows that integration and dedication gives one the best chance to go from breech to head down.  Get your providers to talk to each other and work out a plan that fits your needs and lifestyle.

Start Early!

Start working to get your breech baby head down as soon as you find out.  Do not wait until 36 or 37 weeks gestation.  Often, and especially in this day and age, babies are malpositioned due to stress on the body structure.  People spend a large amount of time in flexion, slouched, only using one side of their body, and so many other habits that contribute to soft tissue imbalance in the body.  A great way to start at home when you are waiting for an appointment to be available is Spinning Babies.  Gail Tully, the Spinning Babies lady, has compiled a series of exercises to do at home, some by yourself, and some need a partner.  Continue integrating the Spinning Babies techniques with any other modalities you choose.

Find a modality that works for you

What a great time in herstory to be out of balance!  There are so many great practitioners in the world who are masters at their craft.  So, which ones are good for helping a breech go head down?

  • Acupuncture - find someone experienced with breech.
  • Chiropractic - be certain your practitioner is certified in prenatal care.
  • Hypnosis - works very well for many people.  Hypnobirthing and Hypnobabies have turn your breech tracks.
  • Massage - ideally the massage therapist needs to be certified in prenatal care.
  • Movement - Keep moving.  What ever that looks like for you.  If you need something more directed Restorative Exercise is a great choice for alignment.

Stress Reduction

Everyone has stress, but it seems more so pregnant people.  Which birth class do we go to?  Are we going to make prenatal yoga everyday?  What kind of diapers?  Hospital, Home, or Birth Center?  Doula or no? (Get a doula!) Shots? Circumcision? Food?  And then if you have a breech....Which modality do you choose?  Do we try an external cephalic version?  (More on that in a moment.)  Do we schedule a c-section?  Oy vey!!! The decisions are endless!!!!  Step back, evaluate what is important to you.  Take quiet time for yourself and tune into your intuition.
Talk to your baby.  Really.  Your baby will tell you what they need.  It's a matter of creating space to hear baby.
Next, delegate.  Ask for help.  Simple things, laundry, meals, cleaning.  Those are all things that people in your community can easily do and help with.  Go do something fun with your friends!  Have a date with your partner!  Doing activities that make you happy and boost your oxytocin do the same for baby.  When you relax, so do your soft tissues.

External Cephalic Version (ECV)

So, you have tried everything, and baby is still breech.  The next step is an ECV.  ECV is done by an OB/GYN or midwife in the hospital.  You will be put on a monitor, an ultrasound will be done to confirm baby's position, and then you have a few choices.  There are medications that can soften the uterine muscle to make the ECV easier.  This reduces the uterus' ability to contract.  An epidural can be used as well for the same effect.  Or you can choose no medication.  The provider doing the ECV can tell you the risks and benefits.  Make sure you ask!  And don't let them tell you there are no risks, there is always risk.  Baby is monitored between each attempt by the practitioner.  So, what is the practitioner doing?  They are trying to turn the baby from breech to head down by pushing on the baby.  Is this risky?  According to the National Institute of Health, there is a 2% risk that something will go wrong.  What is the rate of success?  50% success rate, again according to the National Institute of Health.  Those are pretty good odds.  Find a practitioner who has LOTS of experience.  ECV should be gentle.  It should not be painful.  It is uncomfortable, but not painful.  Now, you may be asking, "But I spent all of that money on the other modalities!  Why am I ending up here?"  Often, my clients say their ECV went so well, baby turned on the 1st or 2nd try.  Practitioners believe this is from the preparation of the soft tissues before the procedure.

Remember, baby has the last word

Sometimes, baby will choose to remain breech.  There is usually a pretty good reason for this choice.  Please explore the literature, scientific literature, stay off the message boards, to find out common reasons for breech.  Today's blog entry explores the soft tissue and bodily restrictions we face day to day.  Physiological reasons are a whole other topic.

Vaginal Breech Birth (VBB)

In the United States this is a scarce option.  There are few who admit to having the skills and even fewer who will attend.  Recent studies, coming out of Brussels, Germany, Australia, England, and Canada, have shown that VBB can be as safe as head down birth.  There are many conditions that need to be present for a safe VBB.  Many VBB practitioners agree that a Frank Breech is the best candidate for vaginal birth.  This where the feet are piked up by the face.  But, the baby also needs to be facing the right direction, RSA - Right Sacrum Anterior.  (Go to Spinning to learn what that means.)  The providers attending the breech need to be experienced in breech and trained in what to do if baby needs a little assistance on the way down.  In general, and hopefully a majority of the time, all hands off the breech.  Hands off the breech has been found to be the best approach across the board in all country's where VBB is practiced.  The person giving birth should be allowed to move freely and be in whatever position they find best for them.  More often than not, breech parents find themselves on hands and knees to give birth.  Breech babies can be born vaginally, safely, and into loving arms.

Cesarean Section

There are times that cesarean section will be the best choice for mother and baby.  Sometimes it is the safest medical route, sometimes it is the best choice for the family, and sometimes the baby will choose cesarean on their own.  What ever the reason it is of utmost importance that families who choose c-section for their birth be supported and not shamed.  Not questioned endlessly about, "Well, did you try this?  Did you try that?"  It's not fair to put anyone through that line of questioning.  I have heard too many sad stories of parents feeling ashamed and unsupported for their decision to have a c-section.  Those parents need as much support, if not more, than families choosing a vaginal delivery.  Cesarean birth has become gentler and more family focused in the last year.  For this, the natural birth community is grateful.  I'm sure the medical community is grateful as well, but I don't dwell there often.  Cesarean is birth too.

I hope you find this entry helpful in your breech journey.  Best wishes!

Disclaimer:  This is not medical advice, not meant to substitute or replace medical advice.  All information is shared in the spirit of returning lost knowledge to the people.  If one is in doubt as to whether anything here is appropriate, ask a provider.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Stabilize Your Pelvis

Having low back pain?  Are you getting shooting pain down your legs?  Soreness in your tush?  Achiness in hips?  Is one leg shorter than the other?  Pubic bone pain?  Incontinence?

All of these issues can be traced to soft tissue imbalance in the pelvis.  An unstable pelvis can cause so much pain and discomfort in pregnancy, and out of pregnancy.  Here I will share suggestions made and collected over the years to help stabilize the pelvis.

"The Granny Swing"

I LOVE this one!  It's so simple, easy to do, and almost everyone can do it.

  • When getting in and out of the car, keep your knees and feet together.  Sit on the seat first and then swing your feet in/out together.  
  • When getting up and into bed, swing your legs together.  If you need help, ask your partner.  
  • When getting in and out of a chair, keep your knees and feet together.  Plant your feet on the ground before you take off a toddler or errant four-legged child.  

"The Shimmy"

This move is exactly what it sounds like.  My wonderful belly dance teacher, Anna Melzer, taught me this one.  It is best done right out of the shower.

  • Stand with your feet under your hips.
  • Make sure your knees are soft.
  • Quickly shake your bottom from side to side.
  • Keep your gluteals as soft as you can.  The softer your glutes the better the shimmy.
  • When you can hear your skin slapping together, you're doing it right!

Why do we do this?  When muscles are stimulated like this it wakes them up.  Literally.  There are nerve receptors (motor gamma neurons) that are stimulated to help allow the muscle to relax enough so it can contract in a more efficient manner.

Roll It Out

Here we are using a tool to apply self massage.  Grab a tennis ball, a small yoga ball, a Miracle Ball, a foam roller, what ever you have at hand, place it on an area of the pelvis that is tender, sore, tense, uncomfortable and roll out the discomfort.   Be gentle, go slow, keep yourself stable.  This is a common sense tool.  If it hurts, don't do it.

Spinning Babies

I would be remiss not to list this resource as well.  I have found Spinning Babies techniques useful for pregnant and non-pregnant people.  Using the Three Sisters (Balance, Gravity, and Movement) to loosen the soft tissues of the abdominal and pelvic cavities is one of the best approaches I have found, personally, and in practice.  Check out the site and have fun!

Get Some Bodywork

An obvious suggestion coming from me.  Bodywork can be any number of modalities.  We are fortunate in the Twin Cities to have a plethora of talented and dedicated practitioners in the area. Here are some of my favorite modalities:

There are so many great ways to get help to balance your body.  Be kind to yourself and your body.  Explore what works for you in your life style.  Pelvic stability improves your core functions, alleviates pain in the body, and for those who are pregnant - an improved chance for baby to be in an optimal position for birth.

Have a great week!

Disclaimer:  This is not medical advice, not meant to substitute or replace medical advice.  All information is shared in the spirit of returning lost knowledge to the people.  If one is in doubt as to whether anything here is appropriate, ask a provider.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Loss and Grief in Pregnancy

Today is the first blog I have written in a long time.  Life and work have kept me away from the keyboard but today is a day I want to honor for myself and so many of my friends.  Today's entry is dedicated to all families who have experienced the loss of a pregnancy.

How many children do you have?
For 3/4 of families this is an easy question.  Their children survived pregnancy and are thriving in life and will hopefully continue on to live productive and happy lives.  For 1/4 of families this is a much harder question to answer.  Some have experienced the loss of a pregnancy, some have experienced the death of their babe or child.  Upon reflection over the last month I am having difficulty deciding which is worse.  Currently, I feel they run in equal course.  
Our society has trained us to only mention the children people can see and touch and hear.  I am beginning to see that this is detrimental to everyone for so many reasons.  Death is a certainty.  Death of a child is horrible and traumatic.  Why are we asked to keep loss quiet?  Why are asked to not discuss death with our villages more openly?  What is it that has made the subject of loss so hard for humans to face?  Yes, it hurts.  Yes, it is uncomfortable.  Yes, people handle loss in so many different ways but I know too many who feel so incredibly isolated by their loss.  Some even feel shame.  Loss of a pregnancy is very rarely the fault of the family.  Nature is a cruel mistress at times.  

Well meaning advice can hurt.
It's for the best.  The child is in a better place.  You can always have another.  And on, and on it goes.  Please be mindful of words meant to be comforting.  Often those statements only make grief worse and leave the family feeling they cannot discuss their feelings of grief.  Acknowledge what they are feeling, sit and quietly listen to tears, anger, rage, disappointment, and the cornucopia of other emotions that come with loss.  Keep conversations open ended.  And know that sometimes a person just needs to sit in silence with another person.  

A request.
I would request that if you have suffered loss reach out and gather those to you that build you up and can make you whole again.  Let your community know.  It's okay.  Light returns, sometimes it just takes so much longer than we want it to take.  I request of the community and society that we don't make so little of pregnancy loss.  It hurts, deeply.  Find your compassion and empathy - pass it to the person who is saying, "Oh, it's no big deal.  It happens all the time."  Well it does happen all the time and it is a big deal.  But they don't know that.  We need to share that pregnancy loss is just as difficult as loss of a child.  Compassion, love, and a good ear for all parties can help heal the losses and rift of misunderstanding.  

I am grateful...

for my two beautiful children and the experience of two pregnancy losses in my life.  The great wheel of life has kept it's balance for me and shown me the greatest of joys and the deepest of sorrows.  I am fortunate and privileged to have the resources and community to hold me up in times of both occasion.  I wish this kind of generous support for all families in times of joy and times of loss.

Now go outside and enjoy the beautiful day!  

Humbly yours,

Disclaimer:  This is entirely opinion.