Part two of my analysis of the question "are you pregnant" that has come my way in the last few weeks and has made me really sit down and unpack this statement. Outside of my own wrestling with body image postpartum, these encounters have really stayed with my lately. I felt it was important to sit down with them and really give them my attention to understand why they were brining up such strong feelings for me. Here's part 2 of 3 of that exploration (if you missed part 1, check it out here)...
Over the course of the last several months I have had several students ask me if I'm pregnant. Being a yoga teacher, I'm often "on display" in front of students. I'm moving, sometimes wearing tight yoga clothes and my focus is on teaching not on what my body looks like. That being said I am NOT pregnant, I am two years postpartum and while it comes from a place of curiosity and interest I have several problems with this question. Here is my first issue (part 1 of 3):
Let's face it, pregnancy, no matter how active you are, does a number on your core. Outside of general core weakness from the muscles being stretched out as baby grows, many folks also get some level of diastasis recti, a separation of the abdominal muscles that can contribute to additional weakness, pouching of the belly and bigger issues if left untreated. In the face of this it may feel like the best thing to do is to dive right into sit ups as soon as baby is born. Which is absolutely not the right answer. The best answer is doing core work, every day, in slow, incremental movements to help build core without doing any further damage. Here are four exercises you can do (once you've got clearance from your provider) to start rebuilding your core safely.
When we think about pregnancy we don't really think about having a core, we generally think about losing it, which is something that happens to a certain extent. But understanding what happens to you core during pregnancy can be very helpful in understanding how to avoid issues in the core during pregnancy (like diastasis recti) which can have an overall impact on the health of your core as your start to heal postpartum. Curious to find out what's happening?
Diastasis recti is something often talked about after pregnancy as we start to address the changes that have happened to the body during pregnancy and continue to happen postpartum. The thing is though, you can start addressing diastasis during your pregnancy and steps you take then can make a difference in the amount of abdominal separation that happen. First off, what is diastasis recti?
The most significant muscle stretching in the core happens along the rectus abdominus and impacts the connective tissue called the linea alba. The rectus abdominus muscle consists of two sets of muscle bellies that run parallel and are held together by a connective tissue called the linea alba which runs from the sternum to the pubic bone. As baby grows and the uterus expands, the muscle bellies can separate and the linea alba stretches thin which is what creates diastasis recti.
So, what to do?
Many people come to yoga for the first time during their pregnancy. Yoga is often recommended by a care provider or a friend as a way to address some of the common discomforts that go along with inhabiting a pregnant body. Yoga can also provide much needed mind-body practices that can help address stress and anxiety and potentially prepare one for childbirth.
First and foremost, make sure that you have clearance from your care provider to be doing exercise and that you don’t have any specific circumstances where yoga isn’t recommended. From there, there are some general guidelines you can keep in mind in your practice, in most cases it’s a matter of what things to avoid. We'll go through each of the things to avoid and some ways to adjust when you're in a regular yoga class:
So we've all heard the "don't lay on your back when you're pregnant" advice, but so often we're just told that, not really the why. The reason folks are advised not to lay on their backs during pregnancy is because when you are flat on your back there is the possibility of the uterus pressing on the inferior vena cava which is a vein that carries deoxygenated blood back to the heart. Prolonged pressure on this vein can cause issues for mama and potentially cause issues for the fetus. But what's the deal here really? Do we stop laying on our backs as soon as we conceive? Can we still do yoga poses on our backs?
I cannot tell you the endless posts I've seen on social media as of late by mamas and papas denouncing the actions of the government against immigrant families. As a parent it can feel heartbreaking and overwhelming and as a human being, parent or not, it can be devastating and hard to know what to do to help.
I attended a community meeting this morning for information on asylum seeks and separated families. Make NO mistake that the current executive order is a stop gap, but does nothing for all the families currently being separate and does nothing to address the fact that asylum seekers are still being turned over to the DOJ to be processed criminally (SEEKING ASYLUM IS NOT A CRIME).
There is much to do, and much you can do whether its from the comfort of your home, computer and phone or going out into your community to take action. Here's a short list of things you can do to help, right now at this moment:
The second trimester is when you may start seeing an increase in low back pain, particularly around the SI Joint. This is due to relaxin’s effect on the SI joint, causing it to loosen and become less stable as well as later in this trimester the postural shifts in the low back due to increased load of baby.
But wait, what is my SI Joint? This is the joint between the sacrum (the heart shaped bone at the base of the spine) and the illium bones (the pelvic bones that come around and meet either side of the sacrum in the low back). This is considered a joint because it is held together my connective tissue (tendons and ligaments) and the sacrum can move slightly in relationship to the pelvic bones.
Okay, so maybe you've had the experience postpartum of having to reorganize your breasts in your bra before leaving the house? I can't tell you how many times I have looked down and found one nipple to be totally off-center in relationship to the other one. It was one of those days. And so I reach in to reorganize and as my fingers hit my nipple and I had a moment of thinking
"Oh my god, what is that? Is that me? Is that my nipple?" In that moment, I physically did not know my own body. It was funny and also a bit unsettling.
Wisdom and insight with a dash of humor to help guide you on your journey through motherhood.