Stress – Does It Affect Your Pregnancy?

 

Stress: In a medical or biological context stress is a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension. Stresses can be external (from the environment, psychological, or social situations) or internal (illness, or from a medical procedure).

 

Pregnancy can be a cause for a great mixture of emotions. Whether it is planned or unplanned, doubts may creep in whether your are able to care for a baby be it physically, financially, or emotionally. Fear of lack of support to help you care for the baby.  Physical changes that you are not looking forward to. Concerns about your career. Or how will this new person in your life affect your relationship you your partner. Fatigue, morning sickness, headaches, aches body, lack of sleep, and perhaps other physical illnesses during pregnancy can lead to stress.

 

Physical Affects of Stress

When we are stressed the body creates more blood catecholamines.  These are stress hormones. In pregnancy if you have elevated levels, you are at risk of developing trouble sleeping, fatigue, high blood pressure, lowered immune system, anxiety, etc.  These hormones can slow labor down. It can decrease circulation to the placenta decreasing baby’s ability to be nourished in utero. The effects of postpartum stressors can be a decrease in oxytocin production which is important in mother baby bonding and is helpful in mothers ability to heal, and increases the risk for postpartum mental health problems.  The effects of stress on baby’s health are lower birth weights, premature delivery. There have even been studies down that have correlated low birth weights with high blood pressure in adults.

 

How to De-stress For a Healthier Pregnancy and Postpartum

First on my list of course is massage therapy!  So many studies have been done proving over and over massages ability to soothe and restore the nervous system.  It helps the body to know what needs correction and helps it to reach a balanced state. The Touch Research Institute has done some amazing research on the effects of massage therapy and pregnancy.  Here is one case study showing the enormous benefits of massage in pregnancy.

 

“Women who received massage therapy reported decreased depression, anxiety, and leg and back pain. Cortisol levels decreased and, in turn, excessive fetal activity decreased, and the rate of prematurity was lower in the massage group. In a study of labor pain, women who received massage therapy experienced significantly less pain, and their labors were on average 3 h shorter with less need for medication. An underlying mechanism we have been exploring is that these effects are mediated by increased vagal activity.”

Field, T. (2010). Pregnancy and labor massage therapy. Expert Review of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 5, 177-181.

In essence, massage works!  It is well worth it to put massage therapy in your plan of care during pregnancy.  You will feel the benefits now and see them well into labor and your baby will too.  As for postpartum, I will discuss that another time. What are some other stress reducers you can implement in between you massage appointments?

 

  • Swimming
  • Prenatal Pilates or yoga
  • Prenatal dance (Dance For Birth®)
  • Gentle exercise (I recommend Essentrics ® as an apprentice instructor)
  • Daily walks
  • Talking with someone such as a trusted friend or a licensed professional

 

So if you are feeling stressed or anxious, know that it is okay to take some time for yourself.  It is okay to ask for help. You are not being selfish but you are caring for the wellbeing of yourself and your unborn baby.  If you have other recommendations that helped you to lower your stress during pregnancy, please share in the comments.

For more information on massage therapy appointment please feel free to contact me at dee@ebbandflowbirth.com or make an appointment online if you are ready to jump on the massage table asap!  

Summer Safety For Pregnant Folk!

Pregnancy, swimming while pregnant, doula tips, hot summer in Buffalo, NY

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With the hot months upon us, it’s good to go over some tips to stay cool and safe while pregnant.  It’s no joke to be heavily pregnant in the summer.  While you have the awesome benefits of  a having great array of fresh veg and fruits in the summer, the heat can be so oppressive it can distract from the pros of having a summer baby.  So what’s a hot pregnant person to do!?

 

  1. Stay covered:  Despite the urge to strip it all off in the middle of the playground, keeping covered will protect you from the rays of the sun.  Keep the clothing light in color and stick to natural fabrics like cotton or linen.  Channel your inner Audrey Hepburn!  28BDB7B9-B201-4D57-851F-CC5DA3933FCBWear a hat for added protection.  Straw or cotton is great, so again, keep it natural in material and light in color.  Dark colors attract the heat.  If you are at the beach or pool, have an umbrella to stay under so you are not constantly in the sun.
  2. Schedule outside time right:  The peak hours for the sun is 11 am to 3 pm.  So try to get your fun or errands done early in the day or wait for the sun to be setting to enjoy the outdoors.  Save the midday activities for the air-conditioned  places.
  3. Hit the pool:  Swimming is great for cooling you off.  We are also blessed in Buffalo to have splash pads in most parts of the city.  They were opened today so check out if there is one close by.
  4. Guzzle the water:  It’s important to stay hydrated when pregnant to begin with, so when you add heat to the mix you’ve got to really keep track.  Always have a bottle with you.  If you are not a natural water drinker, try adding fruits, veggies, and herbs.  Strawberry  and lemon perhaps or watermelon mint and cucumber.  So many options that you could play with.  You could even add a few drops of red raspberry tincture.
  5. Block the sun:  Get a good sunblock.  The higher the SPF the better.  If you go swimming you should reapply.  Most last a few hours.  If you have a favorite please comment below. I’m in the market for a new one.
  6. Adventurer look:  Wet a bandana with cool water and wrap it around your neck to keep cool.

 

So if we have a hot summer, there is no need to hide indoors.  You can have fun and stay safe while pregnant.  Have more tips please share with the class.  You can come in and get a massage with cold stones as well.  Very chill experience.  Enjoy your summer and stay safe!

June Treaments

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Try out this cool dream of an add-on for the hot months ahead.  If this week is anything to go by, we are in for some hot days.  Enjoy this fresh aloe vera and cucumber mask for the back to help you have a cool experience.  Cold marble massage stones deepen the cooling experience.  Perfect to soothe a sun-kissed back.  If you are experiencing hot-flashes from menopause this is a nice break.  Enjoy a green tea and fruit infused water to take with you on the go.  Schedule your 60/90/120 minute massage session and add-on this treatment to give yourself a cool treat!

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What is this round ligament pain about?

CI8A0405Once you hit your second trimester, perhaps some of the early symptoms of pregnancy have abated.  You’ve got more energy.  You are eating well.  Feeling good.  In your second trimester, some will get a sharp pain in on the sides.

What is happening ?

So there is this hormone called relaxin and this lets connective tissues relax.  Sudden movements or stretching with normal movement can cause this sharp pain on your side or even both sides.  The uterus is growing and is heavy and big enough to stretch the ligaments, but not quite big enough to sit on the pelvis bones to give some relief.

 

What’s a pregnant person to do?

First, be aware of your movements.  Use those abdominal muscles to help support your movements and not put those ligaments under strain.  Try to avoid sudden movement and changes of position.  If you work in an office setting, be careful about going from sitting to standing suddenly.  At bedtime, you are probably are all ready doing this, but laying on your side at bed time can help the round ligaments get some relief from all their hard work.   You can do leg lifts.  Start with the side that is in pain.  Holding on to a chair or table, you use your abdominal muscles to lift the leg up a couple inches off the floor and hold for 10 seconds.  Repeat 10 times.  Now do the same rep on the opposite leg.

This too shall pass!

You can expect some relief once you hit the third trimester usually.  Pregnancy massage to the abdomen and myofascial abdominal stretches with a pregnancy massage specialist can really help as well.  Did you or are you experiencing round ligament pain?  What tricks or tips do you have for other moms?

 

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Postpartum Massage – A Returning to Self

New Awareness

You look in the mirror and see a new person.  Welcome mother.  Welcome to motherhood.  Do you recognize her?  Can you believe how much a little person has changed life?  What now?

Enjoy the ever changing and evolving life of motherhood.  It can feel like standing at a precipice.  Whether you have waited a long time to get here or happened upon this path of mothering, you may feel overwhelm at the responsibility and uncertainty before you.  Who am I now?  How can I remain me and embrace this  new sense of self?

Reconnection

Massage is a beautiful way to increase self awareness.  As your body is massaged, you become aware of how each part of the body feels.  Done regularly, massage can help you get to know your body well.  This is so important because our body talks to us.  It tells us the real story of what is going on in our lives.  Tension in the shoulders, is it anxiety, am I slouching because of feeling sadness, am I aware of my posture when nursing my baby?  Making a plan for massage as a part of your life is worth it.  It has been found in research to decrease anxiety and depression in new mothers.  Done regularly during the immediate postpartum phase and into that first year of postpartum can make a world of difference to a mother.  It is not just six weeks to recovery.  Postpartum affects our bodies and minds for years to come. Physically, the body is jumbled up so to speak from our growing baby being inside and postpartum abdominal massage can help to reorganize things.  You have just run a marathon of birth and need to address areas of tension that have built up during labor.  You carried a growing baby for 9 months and you will have postural changes.  If you have had a Cesarean birth, this still applies to you momma.  You will have scar tissue to be addressed and you need no less self-care than a woman who gave vaginal birth.  With a plan of massage mother to baby interaction is more positive and helps baby grow well, have better social interactions, and just generally happier.  Self-massage routine can be taught to mom so that in between her massage appointments she can still reap benefits.  Plus she will know her body well, having a better awareness, and positive body view.CI8A0367

Committing to Yourself

Planning for postpartum massage should be a necessity for new moms.  It is a normal part of cultures worldwide.  Mothers are given massage daily in some cultures as well as baby.  It is not stressed enough to take care of mother in our culture.  This conversation needs to be heard more.  That is my goal.  The better cared for the mother is the better cared for the baby.  We really all benefit when mom’s are cared for.   Make it your commitment to be well, be cared for and thrive in your 4th trimester.   Mom’s make the world go round!

Book an Appointment

Deidre’s massage studio is at Buffalo Midwifery Services 289 Summer St. Buffalo, NY 14222 (716)292-6113.

 

 

Move It!

Move

As a massage therapist, I know that massage absolutely works. Massage therapy has been well-established through studies. It has been found to help with sleep, reduce inflammation, decrease pain, speed recovery from muscular injuries, reduce injury and depression, relieve side effects of cancer treatments, help with fertility issues, help premature babies gain weight faster, etc., etc., etc. So what would help you to kick it up a notch. Simply put, movement!!

I know massage gives my clients results, but I also know that their results would be last longer with adding some type of movement in their life as much as possible. Whatever your choice of movement, make it a regular ocurrance a minimum of three times a week to daily at 30-60 minutes a session. Movement and massage make a dynamic duo in your health strategy. You can change it up or focus on a particulary practice. Personally, I love hiking, Pilates, Essentrics, and Aeriel silks. I think it definitely helps to choose something that excites you and you really look forward to doing. Yoga, running, swimming, walking, rowing, skiing, dancing, whatever! Just move it. You really can keep the variety, but just make it a definite part of your self-care routine.

When you keep your body moving, it helps me as your massage therapist to work on warmed up muscles that are being cared for. Whatever work I do on the table will last that much longer. You might consider doing your exercise of choice and then have your massage. The results will not disappoint. So whether your goal is to improve flexibility, increase positive body image, lose weight, gain muscles, get faster or stronger, move it! Move it regulary! Show your body some love!  Move it and get a massage!

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Your friendly neighborhood LMT! XO

New Holistic Postpartum Care Offering!

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I am so thrilled to introduce you to the newest Ebb & Flow offering. Let’s get together and see if this plan is right for you. I know it is worth it. It’s  known in many societies the new mother is not valued. We do not teach new mothers to accept that they are valuable and though countless women before us have birthed, every single one is special and is your own experience. What does postpartum support look like for you? What do you wish it was for you? In the post before I talked about the support I provide mom’s immediately after the birth and in the 5 weeks to follow.  Massage in the home using hot stones to warm and pull back the pelvis area and lessons on self-massage that you can practice daily. IMG_2524.PNG

Nourishing meal preparation in the home to encourage your body’s healing.  IMG_2519

When your body is ready, rejuvenating makko ho stretching. This is about mom and helping her replenish, nourish her baby, and be nourished. Let’s talk about how I can help you feel nurtured in the #4thtrimester.

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