Postpartum Hernia After Pregnancy

If you are a mom, you may have come across the term ‘Diastasis Recti’ (DR) at some point in your postpartum journey. It is the splitting of the abdominal wall due to increased Intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) during pregnancy. However, there is also something called ‘postpartum umbilical hernia,’ which is also caused by increased abdominal pressure however, the major difference is that in addition to a DR gap, intestinal organs push against the weak abdominal wall causing a protrusion around the belly button area, which may remain after the baby is out. As seen in the image below, the hernial sac pushes against the stretched abdominal walls.

Image source: Michigan Hernia Surgery

Common facts about postpartum umbilical hernia

  1. You might experience mild to moderate pain in your abdominal area especially when engaging in strenuous physical activity like lifting heavy items, doing exercises that add more pressure to your weak abdominal walls (like sit-ups or crunches), coughing or laughing heavily.
  2. An umbilical hernia is caused by increased intra-abdominal pressure like diastasis recti. The only difference is that an umbilical hernia will result in a protrusion of an intestinal organ around the mid-section of the abdomen (where the belly button is).
  3. Umbilical hernias may be managed with safe abdominal exercises; however, the protrusion is usually fixed with surgery. In some cases, your doctor may advise to leave an umbilical hernia alone if it is not causing any pain/discomfort or increasing in size. Should a patient choose to undergo surgery, the protrusion is pushed back to its original spot via an incision. Always seek medical advice from your doctor about the necessity of undergoing an umbilical surgical repair.

 

Managing your umbilical hernia without surgery

There are a few things you can do at home to manage your umbilical hernia and possibly prevent it or reduce its severity.

Building a strong core foundation goes a long way in delivering your baby with ease and recovering well during the early weeks/months of postpartum. Remember that building a strong core prepares your body for more than “snapping back” postpartum. A strong core helps in healing your abdominal walls and pelvic floor muscles, which have gone through a tremendous amount of stress.

Core breathing is a foundational exercise that should be carried out actively and intentionally when healing the abdominal walls and improving. It can be done anywhere at anytime that is convenient for you. Below are instructions to follow:

You can also watch a core breathing video clip here in a seated position.

Core breathing

In a seated or standing position take a deep breath and inhale through your nose (filling the belly with air). Next, gently release the air through your mouth (as the abdominal muscles are contracted) and holding the contraction in place for about 10-15 seconds while still breathing. Ensure not to hold your breath. This simple exercise goes a long way in strengthening those weak abdominal muscles.

Correcting your posture

Maintaining proper posture goes a long way in healing your weak abdominal core muscles and pelvic floor. The image below shows the pelvis in both anterior and posterior positions. Maintaining a correct posture (last photo) also helps alleviate any form of discomfort you may be feeling in the umbilical hernia position.

Important things to note about postpartum umbilical hernia

  1. Umbilical hernias do not go away on their own. As mentioned earlier, fixing an umbilical hernia will require undergoing surgery to correct the protrusion and return the abdominal organs back to their original spot.

Note: not all hernias require surgery. You must seek advice from your medical doctor on whether or not it is necessary to undergo surgery or leave it alone depending on the kind of hernia it is. Hernias that may lead to complications like strangulation around intestinal organs are medically advised to be removed.

  1. Although an umbilical hernia may leave the belly button with a protrusion, the kinds of low impact targeted exercises done like those in the PPCORE 1 will help strengthen the core and heal the (pelvic floor muscles and abdominal walls).

 

In summary, your expanding uterus during pregnancy, puts a lot of pressure on the abdominal wall causing the protrusion you see afterwards. However, once baby is out, there is a drastic drop in the intra-abdominal pressure and your abdomen gradually returns to normal. If the protrusion still exists, you may be experiencing mild to moderate umbilical hernia. If you are not in pain or discomfort, you are okay to leave it alone.

Do you think you have an umbilical hernia? Visit our products tab under PPCORE 1 and get started on strengthening your pelvic floor and abdominal wall muscles. Improve your postpartum journey experience and attain long term benefits of being and feeling well.

Bell’s Palsy: My Story & Journey to Recovery

Sometime in June, 2018, just a few weeks after relocating back home, I woke up one morning in a different body. My daughter was only 8 months old trying to adjust to her new normal just like the rest of us. We had travelled across continents and time-zones with job changes and a new life to begin. We were tired! On this fateful day, I woke up and got ready to brush my teeth, only to realize that my mouth was bent to the side and I could not control it. I tried to gargle but struggled. I immediately called my husband, “babe, there is something wrong.” “What do you mean,” he said? I responded – my face feels like it has a partial stroke. I can’t close or control the muscles in my mouth. “Come home”- I said in frustration. Something is not right.

Fast forward to driving down to the doctor’s, it was confirmed to be a condition called Bell’s Palsy. The Dr. confirmed that there is no known cause, but it could have been triggered by anything. Bell’s Palsy is a condition that occurs when the root of the facial nerve is attacked by a virus, causing paralysis to one side of the face. There is no cure for it.

After doing a little more research, I discovered that stress could also be a trigger or even something I ate. The last thing I recall eating a day before it happened were some nuts. Because of this, I stayed away from nuts for about 2 years to be on the safe side.

However, after visiting my doctor for my annual wellness check in 2020, she confirmed because Bell’s Palsy is idiopathic, meaning there is no known cause, it is difficult to determine where it stemmed from. For this reason, I was able to eat nuts again.

I started noticing recovery at the 6-month mark with accompanied pain on the affected side of my face. It was a good sign that my nerves were beginning to wake up. My smile also started to return gradually. Before then, it was hard to laugh or smile. I have never been the one with low self-esteem, but the condition left me uneasy and unsettled. I hardly left the house or received visitors. I wondered if my face will ever get back to normal. The stress from traveling around, resigning from my job and adjusting to motherhood in a new country took a toll on my body. Bell’s palsy can also spring up in women who are in their 3rd trimester of pregnancy.

Today, I am feeling a lot better than where I started. After 2 years of recovery, my sense of self has returned. I may never have my face back at 100% but where it is today is a lot to be grateful for.

Have you heard of Bell’s Palsy? Do you know anyone that had or has it? Share your experience. I would love to hear from you.

BELL’S PALSY AWARENESS WEEK IS MARCH 1ST TO 7TH.

How To Enjoy Exercising

I was never the athletic girl or runner growing up. I didn’t like exercising. It was a chore and a bore. But one thing I paid some attention to was wellness. Not necessarily what I ate or how I moved, but the serenity and calm I felt when I saw something clean. A bit weird I know. I honestly didn’t start falling in love in with exercising until after I had my daughter. I became and felt more empowered and was able to channel that energy into postpartum exercise. I find comfort and strength in exercising. I have maintained this momentum for 3 years and it has been going well.

Below are a few things that have helped keep exercise consistently a part of my life.

 

  1. Start simple: you don’t have to overcomplicate exercises to make you feel like you exercised. Start small. Do one or two exercises to begin and start to work your way up as your body builds more strength and endurance.
  2. Find exercises you enjoy: when you are not enjoying your workout, it may discourage you from exercising. You lose motivation and may give up after your first try. I have a list of exercises in my YouTube Channel library that you can try.
  3. Plan your workouts: I usually have an idea of the exercise I will be doing the following day to help prep my mind and body for what to expect. This goes a long way in also holding yourself accountable. Also, bringing out your workout gear a day before your workout helps with staying organized and ready to go.
  4. Exercise around the same time every day: I currently workout every morning between 9:05am and 9:15am for about 15 to 20 minutes. This time reminds me that I must exercise. It’s like setting a recurring meeting in your google calendar that you can’t miss or a work meeting that holds at the same time every day.
  5. Think of exercise as a simple routine: the same way I brush my teeth and take a shower daily is the same way I think of exercise. It is part of my daily regimen and part of who I am.
  6. Have your favorite playlist going: if you like to listen to music, you can collate a list of your favorite songs to get you in the mood to exercise. The endorphins released from exercising as well as the vibes from your soundtrack will get you going.

Whatever it is, write out your goals, make sure they are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time – bound. It might not be as easy as it looks or seems but with time, everything will come together if you are consistent and dedicated. Show yourself some love and grace and trust the process.

The bottom line is that you must be ready to do this for YOU only then will you naturally crave to exercise and stay well.

How to Deal with Loose Skin after Baby

Every mama, at some point in her recovery journey has consciously or subconsciously wondered if the loose skin that appeared after delivery will ever go away. Well, there is no clear, cut and dry answer. Everyone’s body is different so what you notice on body will not be the same as seen on another mama. Also keep in mind that hormonal changes in the body play a major role in how the body looks after pregnancy and needs time to re-adjust to its pre-pregnancy state. Below are six tips on how to improve the loose skin you may be experiencing and wellness habits you can adopt.

 

  1. Move: it is important to keep the body active after having a baby. Most times, you are safe to exercise with direction from your doctor 6-8 weeks after baby. The timeline is heavily dependent on whether you had a vaginal or c-section delivery (also factoring in complications if any). Exercising makes the body feel good and well. Besides burning calories during a workout, targeted strength training & cardio exercises also help improve skin elasticity and toning the body.
  2. Drink water: drinking enough water not only prevents dehydration but helps burn calories and prevents bloating and water retention. Water also helps with skin elasticity and tightening of the skin.
  3. Breastfeeding: if you are still in the breastfeeding stage, congratulations. This simple act of nourishing your child helps you burn a few calories more a day. The breastfeeding process also gradually helps shrink the size of the uterus by contracting due to a decrease in the levels of oxytocin hormone.
  4. Engage in proper breathing: one of the most important ways to restore proper core and pelvic floor function after delivery is by engaging in core breathing exercises. This is equally as important during the pregnancy phase. When people hear breathing, they assume it involves chest breathing. However, core breathing takes it a step further. The act of core breathing involves engaging your core to breathe. Take a deep breath and fill the belly in with air. Gently release the air through exhalation and hold for a few seconds while still breathing. Repeat this exercise a few times a day and you will notice a difference in how your core area feels. Properly engaging these abdominal muscles, in turn helps reduce the amount of loose skin you notice over time.
  5. Eat well: stuffing your plate with a variety of fruits and vegetables goes a long way in keeping your body nourished as well as healing connective tissue that has stretched during pregnancy. Foods high in vitamin A & C such as pumpkin, squash, carrots, cantaloupe (vitamin A) and oranges, bell peppers, berries (vitamin C & antioxidants) should be included in your diet as much as possible. Eating a well-balanced meal that contains healthy fats, lean protein, fruits, vegetables, and complex carbs helps restore tightness to your skin. Other foods that aid in collagen production include tomatoes, spinach, kale, broccoli. Make your plate colorful and rich.
  6. Exfoliate: just like the way you exfoliate your face to remove dead skin, exfoliating around the belly area helps with the same. Keep it strong and healthy by exfoliating regularly and increase blood circulation and skin elasticity. You can use a chemical exfoliator or a DIY one by using ingredients in your kitchen like salt or sugar and your favorite carrier or essential oils.

 

At the end of the day, your post-pregnancy body will not be the same as your pre-pregnancy body so embrace your new self with good intentions and adopt healthy habits to change your life. Take care of your body so it can take care of you. Have you already started to adopt any of these tips?

My Wellness Journey

 

As a wellness coach, I think it’s important to constantly remind myself and those around me, what my “why is.” In 2012, I had a health scare. If you have read my nutrition and lifestyle book, Less Is More, you will know that majority of my wellness journey story includes my husband, who I see as my accountability partner. However, I had to make some changes and tough decisions for everything to be successful.

Going back to the health scare, I always had headaches as a child even into my early teens and early to late twenties. Headaches and bloating were a norm. It was part of my life. If I didn’t have a headache, I assumed my body was just taking a break.

About 9 years ago, I was sitting at my work study desk at home and remembered having headaches that just would not go away. The following day, I scheduled an appointment with my doctor. After describing the frequency of the headaches and how long they lasted, she immediately went over my blood pressure numbers that had been taken before the consultation started. She was not pleased with what she saw.  She went on to have me purchase a BP (blood pressure) machine and monitor my BP at home for a week. She associated my headaches with the high BP (as well bloating) and wanted to know what my BP numbers were whenever I had an episode. About two days later, I started recording my BP every day. The following week, I returned to the hospital to go over the blood work that was taken the week prior to. Overall, everything looked great except on thing. She said, “Wande, your sodium intake is high, we need to control it.”

She later went on to share a nutrition chart that included all the classes of foods with suggestions of the high sodium foods to avoid and what healthier options to replace them with.

I gradually started to notice a drop in my BP levels and the headaches were considerably reducing.

Fast forward to 9 years later, my life has changed for the best. I am a living example of what it means to be and still becoming the best version of myself. Well

ness has become the reason for my existence and will be till I am no longer here. It is who I am. Join me on this wellness journey, let’s see what we can achieve together. There is more to you. Find it and live your best life while you can.

Breastfeeding & Exercise

Will my milk supply dip if I exercise? This is a question I heard repeatedly at 8 months postpartum. I didn’t get it. Why would your milk supply drop because you are exercising? It didn’t make sense. Recently, I did some research on why this belief was floating around. I wanted to get it straight once and for all.

Ah ha, I finally found out why. Small studies show that level of intensity in your workouts can alter the lactic acid levels in your breast milk, which could affect the taste. If you engage in exercises at 100% intensity, lactic acid levels in the breast milk change. Engaging in low intensity workouts or bringing your high intensity workouts down a notch can make a difference in how baby may reacts to your milk. It doesn’t mean your milk is bad or harmful to baby, it just means you may have to wait a bit before beginning the next feeding session and preferably rinse off the sweat to avoid baby tasting salty milk. Other low intensity workouts include yoga, Pilates, swimming, brisk walking, strength training.

So what are some tips for breastfeeding with confidence?

  • as mentioned above, take precaution while exercising so you are not discouraged that baby is rejecting your breast milk (just for the period of time the lactic levels are changing). Taking simple precautions like feeding baby before you exercise and others listed above can go a long way in making your breastfeeding sessions a pleasant experience.
  • surround yourself with a strong support system. You want to have the right energy that will allow you breastfeed for as long as you want.
  • eating the right foods help with nourishing you and baby. In my Nutrition Book, LIM Guide, I talk about the types of foods that are great for breastfeeding.
  • join support groups that have similar interests and experiences like you.
  • exercise as often as you can to help build up endorphins that help improve your mental health and mood. Visit the website to access simple home workouts that you can complete at your schedule

I hope these tips helped. Wishing you all the best in your breastfeeding journey as a first or second time mama. The month of August honors and recognizes both World Breastfeeding and Black Breastfeeding Weeks to create more awareness on the benefits and importance of breastfeeding.

What is Diastasis Recti?

What is Diastasis Recti (DR)?

Diastasis recti is the splitting of the abdominal wall due to excessive intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) in the abdominal cavity. Research shows that it is common and 2 out of 3 women will experience DR if they have had 2 or more children. Studies show that 30 to 65% of women experience DR in the 3 trimester of pregnancy.DR photo self test

What causes DR?

Simply put, it is caused by excessive IAP as mentioned above, poor posture & body alignment, or engaging in the wrong exercises during pregnancy. Many people have DR and do not know it.

How can I tell if I have DR?

There are some simple cues to know if you have DR.

  • you may experience urinary leaks (urinary incontinence)
  • lower back pain
  • bulging belly that has not reduced for over 6 months (mommy tummy)
  • weak pelvic floor

How do I check if I have DR?

There is a simple test you can take at home to determine if you have DR. Visit the site and download a free guide of self-test for DR. You can also watch a quick video here.

Start to reduce the separation by engaging in deep core breathing exercises found in our PPCORE Foundation eCourse. 

If you know or think you have DR, visit our PPCORE 1 (Pelvic Floor & Core Training Program) and start today.

You do not need to live in discomfort or pain. Start your recovery journey today.

July is Diastasis Recti awareness month. Follow our social media to stay up to date with DR topics.

Where Does The Pregnancy Weight Come From?

@__loveangrace (1)

Pregnancy is not a one size fits all. In fact, the way you gain weight during pregnancy differs for every woman depending on her Body Mass Index (BMI) and other uncontrollable factors. Weight gain during pregnancy is one of the most natural things a woman goes through. The extra weight comes with a basket of glow and other beautiful things. My hair for one thrived like never before as well as my skin. My favorite trimester was the second trimester because it was the easiest. The first trimester – I found weird because I was constantly tired and weak. The third trimester just refused to end.

Did you experience a significant amount of weight gain during pregnancy? Did you enjoy being pregnant? What was your favorite part about pregnancy? What was your least favorite part? Do you miss being pregnant? Would you do it again?

 

I’d love to hear from you.

 

xo

Wande

Hello, mama. How are you doing?

It goes without saying that the pandemic and global lockdown in many parts of the world, has changed the way we live. Just when we thought we could take a quick break from the kids and run to the grocery store for some alone time, we are hit with strict guidelines to stay home.

As if mom didn’t already have a lot on her plate, she now needs to work twice as hard depending on her support system arrangement. If the grandparents used to come over to babysit they can’t till further notice. If a live out nanny cannot live in, she needs to remain home for her safety and that of her employer. When children could go to school, it gave mom time to herself to get some rest and work done before the kids got back. Now, mom and or her partner need to home school. How in the world is this possible?

What I have learned these past few months, especially because we have been without a nanny during this period is taking it one day at a time.

The living room does not need to be cleaned 3 times a day. The bathtub can be scrubbed once a week. We can order out (if possible) when we do not feel like standing over the stove to put a hot meal on the table. We can look into grocery delivery options. The baby does not need to be showered 3 times a day.

It all sounds easier said than done but it is doable if you are intentional about it. Pace yourself. Give yourself grace. Do only what you are capable of. Your village may not be present but you can make use of what you have control over. Your family is grateful for you and the effort you put in on a regular to keep them happy. You are doing great. Cheer up. This too shall pass.

Social Distancing Amid COVID-19

social distancing

We want to make sure everyone is staying safe as much as possible so we have put together some reminders to note as you go about your day:

  1. It has shown that prevention 101 is washing your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use a hand santizer often.
  2. Stay healthy by eating well, exercising and practicing self-care. Check out the home workouts we have created for you to keep you busy and active during this period.
  3. Stay home to avoid coming in contact with someone who has contracted the coronavirus and may not show symptoms until later. This prevents spreading the disease. It has been advised to stay at least 5 meters apart from another.
  4. Stay up to date with accurate and correct information and avoid spreading fake news. This only compounds the problem.
  5. If you feel something, say something. You can save your life and that of many others by self-isolating.
  6. Suspend unnecessary outings and non-essential activities to limit exposure to the disease.
  7. Get enough sleep (7-8) hours and rest to boost your immune system and making it less prone to illnesses.
  8. Use this time to catch up on family activities.
  9. Stay hydrated.
  10. Check on loved ones as often as you can.

We are praying that the global crisis ends quickly, but we must do our part to make this a reality.

With Love,

The Love & Grace Team