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Kegels vs. Squats for Pelvic Floor Health



Every woman has been told this same sentence when becoming newly pregnant. “Don’t forget to do your kegels.” “Kegels are very important, so make sure your are working with them daily.” Midwives, Doctors, Childbirth educators all say the same thing. Most of us don’t stop to question it. Our mothers, sisters, and friends have all been instructed in the same way before us. When a few of us do question the nature or need to keep up with our kegels, we are told this is to strengthen our pelvic floor. But what if it’s not strengthening but weakening it? Where do kegels come from? Why are they needed and how do they work? I was very surprised when I happened upon these articles about pelvic floor strength, and what kegels add or take away from it. I also learned more of the nature of squats and why and how they work, and may actually work better than said kegels. It was also of interest to me that in tribal cultures where squatting is the norm in everyday life that the deliveries are so much easier than our western births. I think there is a lot to this and encourage you to read the 2 articles and take from them what you will. I have been working with musculature for 15 years now, and the information that has come to light makes so much sense to me. In my opinion, doing kegels correctly  along with squats is probably the best all around way to prepare the pelvic floor for birth.  A “new” way to look at the pelvic floor and perhaps a better way to strengthen and tone it.




Image: sportEX journals

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Bonding at It's Best


   (Image of Lily relaxing and giving thanks for her mommy & me service!)

Over the last year, I have been fortunate enough to be one of the therapists to provide Mommy and Me sessions here at the Pittsburgh Center. From the first session I was grateful to be a part of this unique dynamic between another parent and child. The children come in so happy to be be having an “adult” experience, and the icing on the cake for them is sharing it with their Mommy or Daddy. Mommy and Daddy, on the other hand, come in half looking forward to the relaxing experience, but a bit reproachful and unsure of how their child is going to relax in this situation. They are hoping for the best. One of the rare qualities of this experience, to me as a therapist, was watching this parent showing their child how to relax by example, as well as spending some wonderful one on one time together. My favorite part in every session was getting to watch as either child or parent looked at the other relaxing, then closing their eyes with a satisfied and tranquil smile. Inevitably, a moment or so later the other would do the same exact thing. To me this is touching beyond words.

    As many of you may or may not know, I have been attending school again over the last year. Fortunately most of my schooling is home study, but the “hands on” days of instruction & lecture I have to travel leaving my little Lily for 5-6 days at a clip. Lily (age 6) has had such a hard time with this particular portion of my studies. So, the last time I went away, prior to leaving I scheduled a Mommy & Me session for us to look forward to when I got back.

    I thought I had really appreciated the session as a therapist, but this was brought to a whole new level when getting to experience it for myself with my Lily! The attention to detail that everyone at the Center offered made this such a special experience that was so touching to me. We were both greeted with nice warm neck wraps, got a soothing vanilla and orange scented foot soak while enjoying vanilla cupcakes with decadent orange frosting from Vanilla. The time that we were left to soak was so precious. I will always remember her delighted face at the chance to be doing something so special, just her and Mama, and her cute 6 year old antics. After the soak we both got to enjoy our tootsies being scrubbed. Then it was off to our warm “squishy” tables (as Lily refers to them) where we enjoyed a delicious head, hand and foot massage. I was a little uneasy as to how Lily was going to relax with someone other than me working on her, but I was quickly amazed at how quickly she responded to Beth. This by far was the most memorable part for me. I just LOVED watching her go from animated and observant, to so very tranquil and soothed. It was so awesome to have us both relaxed at the same time! Needless to say when our session was over Lily did not want to leave & became quite vivacious again, asking when could we come back again!

    I asked her when we left what her favorite part of our time together at the Center was and she said “Getting to relax and see my Mama taken care of.” I almost cried because then I knew those times when my eyes were closed she was watching me as I had watched her. I feel so blessed that my little bug and I got to have this experience together. We are looking forward to the next time I come back from class to have this special time together again.

    If you have the opportunity to take time out like this with your little one, I am sure it will be an experience you won’t soon forget!    
Bonding at it’s Best

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Tips for a Healthy Thyroid

On estimate, 59 million Americans suffer from some sort of thyroid dysfunction (the thyroid gland is located just under the skin, splayed like a butterfly across the windpipe, right below the Adam's apple). I also recently read that while many cancers are on the decline, thyroid cancer numbers are soaring, especially in women. I took a closer look at the thyroid over the last couple of months and have read that fertility issues can stem from thyroid dysfunction as well as  problems during pregnancy and the postpartum period. This month I thought I would share with you a few ways to keep your thyroid healthy!

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Green Smoothies: Powerful Nutrition for Pregnancy

Many mothers-to-be are aware that nutrition plays a vital role in the health and development of their babies. In this day and age many mamas are running to work, running here, there and everywhere… Possibly with a little one already in tow. Who has time to eat all the fruits and veggies that their bodies require to stay healthy and strong for their babies and themselves during pregnancy? Green smoothies to the rescue!

Over the last few months I came on board with these delicious treats. They pack my body full of vitamins and minerals and leave me feeling wonderful (You don't have to be pregnant to reap the benefits of these babies!)! I know this is a quick way to get a lot of what you need to feel great with very little time & effort (which is key if you have a hectic schedule to keep). I make my smoothies at night so I can enjoy them first thing in the morning on my way here, there and everywhere.

This green smoothie is packed with folic acid, omega 3 and plenty of B6 -- and that's just from the from the avocado! The strawberries add healthy fiber and powerful antioxidants. Superfoods banana and kiwi bring vitamin A, phosphorus, iron, potassium and magnesium to the table along with many other vitamins and minerals. Lastly, the spinach…the spinach! On it's own it delivers vitamins A, C, E, K, Beta-carotene, selenium, zinc, magnesium & lutein. It has also been shown to help lower blood pressure. So, blend up a glass and drink your way to a healthy and happy you!

Strawberry-Kiwi Smoothie:

1/4 avocado
2 kiwis
6 strawberries
1 banana
2 cups fresh baby spinach (or other leafy green)
1/2 – 1 cup water (you can also substitute coconut water, or a juice if you prefer)

Start by blending the fruit and avocado with a wee bit of the water, and then add in the greens with more water until you get your desired consistency. More water makes for a thinner consistency; less makes for a thicker one.

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Analyzing The Fear of Labor: How to Take Control of Your Body and Birth


"We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face... we must do that which we think we cannot." - Eleanor Roosevelt

 A new study has found that women who have a fear of childbirth have longer labors than those that do not.

Norwegian researchers assessed fear of childbirth with a 33-item questionnaire filled out by pregnant women at 32 weeks of gestation. After excluding those with multiple pregnancies, breech presentation, preterm labor and elective cesareans, they were left with 2,206 women for this study. On average, the women who had the most fears going into labor spent 47 minutes longer in labor than those who were less afraid.

We all have fears of the unknown or of the all too well known. Have you taken the time to look your fears in the face and find ways to put them at ease? The female body is designed to stop labor in unsafe situations. Therefore, the mother being in a heightened state of fear is a trigger for stopping labor. Take the time to investigate any fear that you have.

Look at your attitude and feelings about the birthing process. Educate yourself and learn your options. Surround yourself with a cushion of supportive people both before and during your birth; Leave behind those Negative Nancy’s (or at least those with discouraging or conflicting views from what you want). Set realistic expectations for your labor and birth. Most importantly, take control! This is not something that is happening to you, there are many options on how to birth and handle labor. Research, research, research!

As always, if you have any questions about the birthing process, if you have fears you’d like to discuss with a birth professional or would just like to come in for a fantastic Certified Prenatal Massage (massage alone has been shown to reduce fear and anxiety in many studies,) then please do come in for any of the Transition Prenatal Massage sessions (including the Couples session) or specifically Labor Induction session during which birthing concerns can specifically be addressed. I can be reached here at the Pittsburgh Center for Complementary Health and Healing at (412)242-4220.

Photo by Ethan John

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