This month in our Wellness Wednesdays, we are exploring some of the ways that our pelvic health and relationships can affect one another! There are so many ways that these components of our lives interact.
This week is also World Breastfeeding Week… So let’s start by exploring that relationship with baby during the postpartum period. Feeding our bub (regardless of how) is so powerful in the formation of our attachment with one another.
The experiences of BOTH mom and baby are important in this process. It is such an elegant dance of flowing hormones and TWO dramatically changing brains.
So what if you are soooo uncomfortable (i.e. back pain, pelvic pain) that it is difficult to be present for these meaningful experiences? This dance can start to feel a bit rocky. Please know that you are certainly not the only momma struggling with this!
What can you do to find some comfort during these moments and optimize the feeding experience?
Here a few things to consider…
- Alignment – Your core has changed dramatically. Find an alignment to set your core up for success in supporting your body. This means a neutral position that allows those deep core muscles to communicate well with one another.
Tips and tricks for finding this:
- Props, props, props!: Cushions, pillows, rolled up towels and blankets! Keep them at the ready throughout your home.
- Try supporting your back in a way that helps your rib cage to stack over pelvis. For breastfeeding, the mantra “baby to breast” as opposed to “breast to baby” is so important for both latch and in maintaining a comfortable position for mom!
- In seated positions, sitting on a pillow or rolled up towel can create space in the low back and hips. This can take some strain off the low back and can help mama to find a neutral pelvis. That is, staying up on those sitz bones instead of tucking the bum under. Tucking the bum puts the pelvic floor muscles in shortened position where they are not fully prepared to support our bodies in this task.
- Breath – Check-in with how your breath feels in your body as you are feeding! This is a lovely way to gauge your alignment. Putting the diaphragm and pelvic floor parallel to one another sets the core up for success and therefore helps us to breathe with greater ease (as this is one of the main functions of those deep core muscles). Where do you feel your breath going while you are feeding your baby (belly? chest?). Search for positions that help the breath to flow evenly through ribcage (front, sides and back) and tummy.
I often think that the trick is NOT to get too caught up in the cognitive details of “good” alignment. By this, I mean becoming judgmental with ourselves about the positions we find ourselves in.
Our brain likes to breathe well and therefore searching for what JUST FEELS GOOD can help us to:
a) find this alignment that sets our core up for success with greater ease
b) build trust with our bodies again (something that is often shaken with the onset of pelvic floor dysfunction)! This is a great time to reconnect with your body, listening to its internal cues.
Bringing attention to breath non-judgmentally can also help to anchor us back in the present with our baby when that mind starts to race!
3. Variety – It’s the spice of life in all aspects of our health including how we hold and move our bodies! In those early days we are spending TONS of time feeding. For breastfeeding, as we establish latch and the feeding relationship some mamas prefer consistency in positioning. Learn more about strategies to help with establishing latch here! However, as you and baby become comfortable with latch, I encourage you to get creative! The more tools and options you have to find comfort, calm, and flexibility in the feeding process, the better! Check out some of the classics in this poster by Mama Natural! But certainly don’t feel limited to these, as you and baby get to know each other, you will figure out what works in your relationship with one another and in your relationship with your body
4. Support – Finally…ALWAYS reach out for individualized support!!! For establishing that feeding relationship, Lactation Consultants, Doulas, and Occupational Therapists can be wonderful resources! For rehabilitating your core post-partum, get connected with a pelvic health therapist such as an Occupational Therapist of Physiotherapist with specialized training in this practice area!
Lara Desrosiers OT Reg. (Ont.)