Resources from Mama’s Newsletters
PRENATAL & POSTNATAL PRACTIONERS
Stephanie Forster, Preggo Pilates
My great friend, and fellow teacher Stephanie Forster is the founder of Preggo Pilates, and teaches pilates classes both at EHS Pilates and in Potrero Hill. Her mission is to help women stay in shape while their shape changes through pre & postnatal pilates, safe core work, pelvic floor support + more.
In the video below she shares with us a few simple things that you can do to make a BIG IMPACT every day in the health of your core – whether you are pregnant or postnatal, and if have diastasis recti abdominal separation or not!
Stephanie is one of the only educators around who leads courses specifically designed to help mamas safely heal their split abdominals.
Learn More about Stephanie and her work at PreggoPilates.com.
The San Francisco Birth Center
Three midwives – Julie Birdsong, Sara Van Acker and Nancy Myrick worked together with the community to open the first birth center of its kind in San Francisco as of May 31, 2016!
What is unique about the San Francisco Birth Center? The extraordinary midwives at SFBC care for families during pregnancy, birth, and beyond offering a combination of private prenatal care, group prenatal care, labor and birth, water birth, postpartum home visits and newborn care. You can register for their informational sessions to meet the midwives, learn about their services, and find out if the birth center is a good fit for your care.
Learn More at SFBirthCenter.com.
Jane Quach, DPT, CSCS, ART
Physical Therapist, Owner at Jane Quach Physical Therapy
Jane Quach is a Doctor of Physical Therapy who graduated from Northwestern University in 2006. Jane specializes in Women’s Health & Wellness in all stages in life including Prenatal and Postpartum Physical Therapy, TMJ/Orofacial pain, and Orthopedics. She is currently an Associate Clinical Professor at UCSF, and also sees patients at her private practice Jane Quach Physical Therapy (JQPT) in San Francisco and Marin.
Jane is passionate about community, education, and improving the quality of life of patients. You can reach her at 415-766-8757 or via email email@example.com and at janequachpt.com.
Liz Miracle, MSPT, WCS
Owner, Miracle Physical Therapy
Liz is the founder and owner of Miracle Physical Therapy. She enjoys helping women prepare for birth, as well as serving those suffering from diastasis rectii, pelvic girdle pain or pelvic floor dysfunction resulting in pain with intercourse, incontinence, and many other diagnoses.
Liz holds a Certification of Achievement in Pelvic Physical Therapy (CAPP) from the American Physical Therapy Association. She is one of only three pelvic physical therapists in California and the only one in San Francisco who holds both a CAPP and WCS distinction.
Learn More about Liz and Miracle Physical Therapy at miraclept.com.
Building Strength in the Pelvic Floor: Pre & Postnatal
by Annemarie Lepe, PT, DPT
The pelvic floor is an essential part of core stability and strength, but is even more important during pregnancy and the postpartum period! Cultivating a connection to these muscles in pregnancy and postpartum will improve your ability to build and maintain strength and coordination for long term health.
One easy way to build awareness of the pelvic floor is to feel its natural rise and fall as you breathe; as you exhale, the pelvic floor contracts to rise inward and upward, and as you inhale it will expand downward and outward. If you are unsure if you are contracting and relaxing your muscles correctly, you can insert the tip of one finger and try to squeeze and then relax around it. Like any muscle, the pelvic floor must be both strong and flexible, so it is important that it not only contracts (like doing a “Kegel”) but also releases that muscle activity after you let go. Learn more at https://www.wellpelvis.com/what-is-it/.
Pelvic Floor Health : Things You Can Do at Home
by Charisse Balance, DPT, RYT
A bit about the pelvic floor
Pelvic floor PT (PFPT) focuses on the skeletal muscle function of the pelvic floor. It also focuses on the muscle function of the abdominal wall and diaphragm, as all three (PF, Abdominal wall and diaphragm) work together to stabilize the midsection and provide support to the internal organs.
This is SO important because your pelvic floor is responsible for “the three Ps”: Peeing, Pooping and Pro-creating (Sex). All very important activities of daily life! Our society places so much shame on discussing your “private parts.” I believe that this has led to a cultural disassociation from the pelvic floor and as a result, a significant lack of awareness of these muscles. Your pelvic floor muscles are skeletal muscles, just like your biceps and quads. You have voluntary control of these muscles. You should be able to voluntary contract, relax and lengthen these muscles for optimal functioning – if not, then it is likely you have pelvic floor dysfunction.
It’s SO IMPORTANT to become familiar with your pelvic floor – how it looks, how it feels, what is normal. Think of a breast exam.
If you do routine exams on yourself, you will become familiar with the normal consistency of your breast tissue – you will know what lumps are normal. In that, you will be able to recognize when an abnormal lump arises.
Likewise, it is important to become familiar with your vagina – yes, I said it. Look at it, feel the outside (vulva), feel the inside of your vaginal canal – know what YOUR normal is. I tell my patients to do malasana (yogic
squat) over a mirror to become familiar with what their perineum and vulva looks like.
Charisse Balance, DPT, RYT is a a pelvic health physiotherapist serving prenatal and postnatal mamas in San Francisco. Her offerings aim to promote optimal pelvic floor muscle function through a variety of modalities such as : vaginal steaming, sEMG biofeedback, neuromuscular reeducation, myofascial release, manual therapy techniques, restorative yoga, yin yoga and prenatal yoga.
Charisse believes in the importance of educating her clients on what is going on in their bodies anatomically, as there is empowerment in this knowledge and self understanding.
Learn more here and find Charisse on Instagram @balanced.physioga for updates on offerings, workshops and fun PF health info!
MIDWIFERY, DOULA + BIRTH SUPPORT
Birthing in the Age of Covid-19 by Sue Baelen
“Who ever thought that your time of wonder and miracles would be overshadowed by a pandemic?
There are so many difficulties that people are facing – from minor annoyances to a variety of life-threatening concerns – that it’s hard for some pregnant women to acknowledge the many things they are losing even if they don’t have to contend with the worst of the worst. We are all getting used to this new way of being – for a while – and as we do there are many new insights developing.
For some people it’s a return to the idea of birthing at home.
I’ve talked to so many people over the past few weeks who have told me they always dreamed of having a homebirth, or they are intrigued by the idea but they didn’t pursue it, and now that we are trying not to overtax our medical system or take unnecessary risks of contact with Covid-19, homebirth seems like a better and better option.
It’s not just the people who are due this spring while we are sheltering in place that feel this way, but people who are due in the fall and winter are also realizing there are some advantages in planning a homebirth and taking advantage of midwifery care – even if some of it by videochat.
But whether or not homebirth is for you, here’s a list of 7 things that you should consider while gestating in the time of C-19.
- Protect yourself. Take all the precautions you can. Wear a mask, wash your hands, ask people around you to wear masks. We know that SarsCoV2 is not as dangerous to pregnant people as H1N1 was, but we also know it’s better not to be sick. It also seems that birth while sick with Covid-19 has its own set of risks so those are births that are better done in the hospital.
2. Strengthen yourself. Consider taking a daily dose of Vitamin D to build up your levels.
Vit D has been shown to play a role in protection against respiratory viral infections. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27838350/) as well as many other disease states (https://vitamindwiki.com/Chart+of+Vitamin+D+levels+vs+disease+-+Grassroots+Health+June+2013).
3. #ShareYourBump. There is an innate hopefulness and optimism about seeing pregnancy out in the world. If we can’t all be out there safely we can at least show it on Instagram.
4. Find online support groups and make time for yourself to share, celebrate and kvetch with other people in the same stage of life. I know we’re all experiencing videochat fatigue but some meetings are more important than others. And of course, take time for Jane’s classes where you can both to develop community and move your body in helpful ways! Natural Resources also has a full calendar of support groups happening online.
5. Nurture yourself with really good food. For many of us sheltering in place has brought the profound benefit of more home-cooked food. As Julie Thomas wrote, “cooking sends yourself a message that you are important,” and so much more ( https://www.huffpost.com/entry/benefits-of-cooking-for-others_n_5967858ae4b0a0c6f1e67a15). Before SIP it was so easy to be too busy for this, but we have fewer excuses now.
6. Journal. Your child is going to want to hear stories about how everyone stayed home once upon a time when they were growing inside. We hope this is a once in a lifetime experience. Document some of it for posterity as well as all the other beautiful benefits of sitting with our feelings and organizing them in some way.
7. Educate yourself. Evidenced-Based Birth has a free birthing class on YouTube about birthing in the time of Covid-19. https://evidencebasedbirth.com/birthing-in-the-time-of-covid-19/.
Wherever you plan to give birth, know what to expect. Some of the protocols are changing weekly but you’ll be happier if you know who can be there to support you, who can connect virtually, what you’ll see in the environment.
There’s a good chance you’ll be supported by a sea of masked faces and that can feel a little alienating sometimes. If you don’t know the team well, ask to see pictures of them so you can feel more oriented. (Unless you’re in the full on throes of active labor – and then just go inward and be your warrior self!)
Image Credit : Fotografia de Familias
Sue Baelen of Sacred Body Midwifery has worked in the San Francisco Bay Area birth community since 2001. She delights in helping her homebirth clients, practicing yoga, eating chocolate and listening to music.
Rachel Yellin, 10 Ways to Restore Yourself After Birth
Most women will say that giving birth and recovering from birth is “No Joke.” What they are really saying is something to the affect of “I had no idea what a huge transition this was going to be, and I wasn’t prepared to take care of myself or be cared for in a way that would make my recovery smoother and easier.”
I’m here to share with you, after 15 years of working with women pre- and postnatally, my take on how to restore yourself after giving birth, and how to recover more fully and completely in a reasonable amount of time.
- Take 2 weeks of committed bed-rest after your baby is born. Your body just did something so major. Stay in bed. Week 3 is partial bed-rest.
Read all 10 Tips + Learn more about Rachel and her services at https://rachelyellin.com/.
A New Approach to Health, Well Baby & Well Mama
by Whole Family MD
with Sage Bearman, CNM + Avril Swan, MD
Looking for personalized postpartum and pediatric care? WholeFamilyMD in Noe Valley is pleased to offer a new unique, small-group approach to newborn and new mother health. Well Baby, Well Mama combines personal well-child pediatric and postpartum medical visits with the synergy and strength of a built-in community.
Board certified providers, midwife Sage Bearman, CNM and Avril Swan, MD, combine the best of western medicine with a holistic approach to create personalized health plans for each family. Intimate group visits mean convenience, extended check-ups, and support from an understanding community.
To participate, families must become members of WholeFamilyMD. Your child’s first visits will be one-on-one with Avril Swan, MD and at about 2 months of age your well-child visits will transition to group care. Urgent visits, vaccine-only appointments, and questions outside the group will take place at the WholeFamilyMD offices in Noe Valley, and group visits will be held at the San Francisco Birth Center.
For more information, you can visit wholefamilymd.org or call WholeFamilyMD at 415-642-0333.
Brittany Blockman, MD, MA, FAAP — Healthy Baby Secrets
Pregnancy is an exciting journey, and yet when I was pregnant, I felt lost-even as an integrative pediatrician. I had so many questions:
– How can I optimize my baby’s health and development before she is born?
– What are the best foods to eat and the most important supplements to take to enhance my baby’s health?
– How can I reduce the risk of pre-term labor? And so on…
I wanted someone to guide me through the latest science on how to optimize my baby’s health, brain, and body before she was born.
As an integrative pediatrician, I knew that researchers were beginning to understand how to optimize a baby’s health prenatally and in early life. However, when I was pregnant, I became acutely aware that parents are unable to access this information, and if they are, it’s often not early enough in their child’s life to make a difference. This is partly because our health system is not set up to work with pediatricians before children are born-and in particular, a pediatrician who is knowledgeable about integrative prenatal pediatric care.
I want to change all of this through a new medical service I am launching. MotherWit Integrative Medicine’s Healthy Baby Secrets program
Learn More Britanny, this program and her work at https://www.motherwit.earth/
Katie Louderback, Nutritional Consultant
Katie supports women and new families through pregnancy, birth and new parenting. She is a prenatal yoga teacher, a birth and postpartum doula, and a nutritional consultant focusing on healthy pregnancies and healthy families.
Currently she teach prenatal yoga classes and work with clients looking to improve their health through diet and lifestyle shifts, focusing on the childbearing time. Katie works one on one with people to deal with specific health conditions or to achieve specific health goals, and also teach group classes on nutritional principals to support fertility, healthy pregnancies, nourishment for breastfeeding, introducing foods to babies, and feeding toddlers.
Learn more about Katie and her work at katielouderback.com.
Kyla Brown, Holistic Nutrition Consultant
Kyla Brown is a holistic nutrition consultant specializing in prenatal and postnatal wellness. From pre-conception nutrition to postpartum weight loss, meal planning by trimester or for the whole family, she helps clients develop long-lasting, manageable eating habits that will ensure a lifetime of good health.
Contact Kyla for a free consultation, and mention Jane Austin to get 50% off your first package! Learn more at healthy-belly.com.
The Ayurvedic Guide to Fertility by Heather Grzych
“With high-stress modern lives, many women’s bodies are not prepared to nurture the growth of a child, and they may find it challenging to become pregnant. My colleague Heather Grzych’s beautiful new book The Ayurvedic Guide to Fertility: A Natural Approach to Getting Pregnant offers a practical, intentional guide to creating enhanced conditions for conception and a healthy pregnancy.”
Soumya Kristin Renee, Mothering the Mother: Using the Art + Science of Yoga and Ayurveda to Nourish Mamas
Are you looking for some prenatal and postpartum nourishment for your body, mind and spirit? Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, offers practical and holistic tips to enhance your overall wellbeing and to awaken the health that is inherent within you.
Come join one of the upcoming workshops to learn how Ayurveda can support you on your pregnancy and parenting journey! Workshop topics include pregnancy, postpartum health, nutrition, and radiant beauty. All workshops are located at The San Francisco Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, and include an Ayurvedic organic meal.
For more information, visit www.motherayurvedahealing.com, or call Soumya at 415-706-1370!
Nimisha Gandhi, Moon Cycle Nutrition
“The 1 Key Nutrient to Stay Healthy From Pre-Conception to Postpartum”
“The prenatal and postpartum periods are extraordinary times of transformation that require special attention, care, and guidance. The Vata dosha is in abundance during pregnancy and Vata causes great irregularity in digestion and the nervous system. This is why it is so important to keep our Vata balance happy by eating plenty of good fats.
Healthy fats play a critical role from conception to postpartum recovery. Good fats are essential for your baby’s growth, especially for the development of the nervous system, retina, and brain, which is made up of 60% fat. A diet high in essential fatty acids protects against postpartum depression, depression, anxiety, stress, ADHD, and other mood and behavioral disorders. Maternal stores of DHA can be reduced as much as 50% during pregnancy, which could be a factor in postpartum depression.
The system and science behind Ayurveda puts a strong emphasis on helping mama recover for 42 days postpartum, where she is fed all sorts of delicious, high-fat foods. This helps her rejuvenate, balances hormones, and helps mom produce high quality breastmilk. Good fats include coconut oil, ghee, tallow, lard, grassfed butter, raw cheeses, full fat yogurt, pasture-raised eggs, wild fish, pasture-raised meats, nuts, seeds, and unrefined nut and seed oils.
A nice ritual to add into your daily routine is to drink a cup of golden milk with one teaspoon of ghee before going to bed each night. The ritual in itself is VERY soothing to the Vata dosha!
About the Author : Nimisha Gandhi is a functional medicine and Ayurvedic nutritionist, Yoga Nidra teacher, and Moon Cycle Wisdom leader. In Nimisha’s private practice, Moon Cycle Nutrition, she specializes in fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum care with an emphasis on the mind, body, and soul. Her work is research-based, intuitive, and from the soul.
Simple Nutrition & Self Care Tips for Mamas
by Jeanne Norsworthy, Nutritionist + Founder of Worthy Granola
Since completing her schooling to become a Certified Nutrition Consultant in 2012, Jeanne has been channeling most of her wellness “know-how” into Worthy Granola as a way to provide real food with the community she loves! Here are two simple self care tips to keep you balances mamas:
1. Drink Warm Lemon Water First Thing = Super Morning Boost! This gets your digestive organs & enzymes going, which is beneficial for digestion. Just think- if you give your digestion a boost in the AM, you will most likely feel less lethargic, less bloating in the gut, less air/gulped air- trying to escape, less indigestion/heart burn…
2. CHEW. Chew thoroughly. Chew slowly enough to TASTE it – this simple act of using your teeth can dramatically improve many health issues.
“Many health issues begin because people aren’t fully digesting and/or absorbing their food. Poor chewing and rushed eating are the top culprits” — Dr. Elizabeth Lipski, Digestive Wellness, Ph.D.
Haven’t tried Worthy Granola yet? Here is a coupon code for 10% off your first online order: WORTHYTHANKS.
3 Healthy Eatings Tips for Mamas + Little Ones!
1. DO lightly use herbs and spices in baby, toddler and children’s food!
Exposing younger kids to a variety of “adult” flavors can lead to more healthy adventurous eaters. Good to know: baby’s palette is picking up flavors from what you eat early in pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
2. DO add veggies in wherever possible!
Butternut squash mac n cheese? Spinach black bean brownies? Sweet Potato Muffins? Variety is key to get all the nutrients you and your family needs.
3. DON’T think all fat is bad.
We love to add bone broth, grass-fed butter and nuts to our food to include healthy fats and nutrients that heal tired bodies. And don’t forget to incorporate these healthy fats in your baby’s diet when starting solids: it’s their greatest source of energy and essential to brain growth and development.
DISCOUNT for Jane’s Mamas – Take $10 off orders of $25 or more!
Use the promo code “YOGATREE” at checkout + save. Learn more at https://flourishfoods.co/.
Homeopathy Remedies for Nausea + more
with Delilah Raybee
“Like many of you, Jane’s yoga classes enhanced my pregnancy and “fourth trimester” health. In February, I attended her and Sue’s Labyrinth walk at grace cathedral – only 8 years post-partum!
In my life as a mom, balancing personal health, family life and work in the world, I’ve been fortunate to be on a healing path – like walking the labyrinth – sometimes feeling like I’m moving backward or circling the same stuff – but ultimately always moving forward. In particular, my life as a mom has changed my work life in a big way, leading me from my career in nonprofit management into the healing professions as a homeopath.
Homeopathy can help with nausea, mastitis, birth trauma, and more.
Treating your self or family members with a homeopathic remedy begins with symptoms:
For example …
- What are your individual nausea symptoms?
- Do you feel better with a snack, or does the thought of food make you worse?
- Does your nausea come on at a certain time of day?
For mild to moderate nausea, match your symptoms to one of the remedies before, and see if you get some relief!
Learn More about Delilah and her work at https://www.delilahraybee.com/Get Delilah’s chart on common symptoms and how Homeopathy can help!
Holly Edison, R.N., BSN, CST +
Holly is a healer that works with babies and children typically on feeding and digestive issues through CranioSacral Therapy. This gentle, hands-on approach releases tensions deep in the body to relieve pain and dysfunction.
Learn More about Holly and her work at sfcranio.com.
Read about Holly’s work with babies
Amber Dawn Hallet, CMT, ATMAT, LMP/CMT, RHE
Mayan Abdominal Massage Therapist,
Reproductive Awareness & Fertility Health Educator
+ much more
Amber is a women’s health educator and bodyworker based in Seattle, Washington. She works both in-person and online to support women through all the different phases of our reproductive lives and loves helping women tune into the rhythms of their bodies. Amber is devoted to healing people and planet, one womb at a time.
Learn More about Amber and her work at amberdawnhallet.com.
Natalie Trousdale, L.A.c
Natalie Trousdale, M.S., L.Ac., holds a Master’s of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from The American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ACTCM) and is licensed by the State of California. In addition, Natalie holds a certificate in Qi Gong Therapy from the Yang Sheng Center at ACTCM.
Natalie specializes in women’s health, infertility, pregnancy and postnatal support. She has trained with Rose Glavin, L.Ac, a fertility and women’s health acupuncturist in San Francisco. Natalie has also taken continuing education classes from Claudia Citkovitz, L.Ac., a labor and delivery acupuncturist in New York.
When she is not in the office, Natalie spends her time playing with her 2-year old son, practicing Qi Gong and spending time in nature.
Learn more at NatalieTrousdale.com.
MARRIAGE & FAMILY THERAPISTS
+ LIFE COACHING
Dr Erin Griffiths is a doctor of osteopathy (a DO) who practices holistic psychiatry in the Stonestown Medical Building in San Francisco . She is proud to offer alternatives to medications, including TMS treatment, as a holistic approach to mental health.
Erin believes firmly that we are defined not by our diseases but by our life experiences and that transformational change is brought about by working with the 5 pillars of holistic wellness. She leads her life with intention, love, and a sense of wonder and keeps the following quote close to her heart, “just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it turned into a butterfly.”
Learn more about Erin and her work at http://www.mensanasf.com/.
Maria Iorillo, Life Coaching from a Midwife’s Perspective
This is not therapy, but more guidance, coaching, support and validation for the challenges that a mother faces.
This kind of support is especially valuable for mothers in their first year postpartum, but can be utilized at any time. MotherStory is particularly suited for those mothers at risk for postpartum depression, anxiety, overwhelm and stress. Really, all mothers can benefit from some additional counsel without the heavy commitment of therapy. Appropriate referrals to therapists, psychiatrists and other adjunct care will be made as necessary.
Wise and True Doula Services is a deluxe doula service combining the skills and talents of midwife, Maria Iorillo, and the wonderful photographer, Suzannah Weening.
For either of these services, as well as homebirth midwifery, please make an appointment with midwife, Maria Iorillo, at www.wisewomanchildbirth.com. Please add Wise and True or MotherStory in the notes. See you soon!
Wizer Therapist App by Sige Weisman, MFT
Like the caterpillar that turns to goo inside the chrysalis before transforming into a butterfly, the shift from maiden to mother can feel like the self we once knew is dissolving into nothingness.
Once baby is born, we may find that the strategies and structures that once allowed us to thrive are no longer viable. Sleeping in till 8:30am, making time for a workout, a home cooked meal and a happy hour date with our best girlfriend are now distant memories.
As a new mother, you may ask yourself, “Where did I go? And who am I becoming?”
In order to find our wings we must find new strategies and mindsets that allow us to thrive.
Nicole O’Connor, CAMFT
Nicole O’Connor is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and art therapist. She has a private practice in Noe Valley working with individuals, families, couples and adolescents. She specializes in working with couples and families in the early years of parenthood.
Nicole leads classes at both the SF Birth Center and Natural Resources in SF on the subject of Transitioning from Partners to Parents. Read her piece below with some tips to help you stay connected and strengthen your relationship during this time of transition.
Learn more about Nicole and her work at nicoleoconnormft.com.
Christine Sferle, Transformational Counselor
Having a baby should be a time of joy, connection, partnership and peace — both before and after your baby arrives. For many women, hormones, worries about the future, and the changes to your body, career, partnership and identity bring increased stress and an “in-your-face” awareness of the family dynamics and patterns that you may not want to repeat.
This can be a lot for a new mama to process. Thoughts, old stories and daily stress add up. Emotions have a physical effect on your wellbeing, and that of your baby.
Learn More About Christine and her work at loveandtomatoes.com.
MAMA SUPPORT, COMMUNITY + MORE
Mamas Resource Network – A community of professionals who are passionate about supporting mothers, babies, and families in all dimensions of their health.
This community includes: yoga and pilates instructors, psychologists, pelvic floor physical therapists, psychiatrists, midwives, massage therapists, integrated family medicine doctors, homeopaths, hypnotherapists, chiropractors, lactation specialists, acupuncturists, pediatricians, and childbirth educators.
Get the services, resources, and education you need to meet pregnancy and motherhood with clarity, community and support.
Learn More at MamasResourceNetwork.com.
Signs and Symptoms Beyond “Postpartum Changes”
by Cynthia Li, MD
“Being a doctor, I thought I knew a lot about health and disease. Until I got sick myself.
I remember vividly the day I was walking home from Dolores Park, my babe strapped into the carrier on my chest. There was an intermittent flutter in my chest. Later that night, there was a soreness in my throat. Over the next few weeks, I lost weight. My muscles vanished. My face erupted with pimples, and hot flashes surged throughout my body. It felt as though puberty and menopause were hitting me at once.
Postpartum changes? Everyone I asked said so. Friends, family, even doctor friends. So I told myself, Sure, postpartum changes. I had nothing else to compare it to. My medical textbooks didn’t directly translate into lived experience.
This turned out to be the onset of postpartum thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition that occurs in 5-10% of mothers. Though most cases resolve in a year’s time-as mine did about 20-40% of women will go on to have chronic hypothyroidism, or an under-active thyroid gland-as I did, and then some. I was exhausted, dizzy, sleepless, and depressed. I felt like my body had betrayed me.
It Doesn’t Happen Overnight. I learned that chronic diseases, including any of the 80+ autoimmune conditions, usually start years, sometimes decades, before a diagnosis can be made. Sure, the enormous fluctuations in hormones during and after pregnancy can indeed trigger the immune system. But the hormones seem to be merely the trigger, so to speak, for a gun that was already loaded.
In hindsight, I see that I had symptoms of subtle imbalances during my medical training, college, and even as far back as adolescence, that might have increased the chances of autoimmunity. What are symptoms, but our bodies’ ways of communicating that something needs to change? So perhaps it was the other way around: by ignoring my body, I’d unknowingly been betraying myself.
Pay Attention. Some of the earliest signs of potential autoimmune disease: fatigue beyond the usual post-exertion tiredness. Joint stiffness, especially upon waking. Muscle soreness. Brain fog. Swollen glands. Swollen fingers. Excessive hair loss. All of these symptoms are common, in fact, with “normal” postpartum physiology. But regardless of a potential diagnosis lurking in the shadows, they can represent inflammation.
1. See your doctor. Request a full thyroid panel (not just the TSH screening test), including thyroid antibodies.
2. Try a 30-day elimination of gluten and dairy, which are two of the most common culprits for autoimmunity, as well as generalized inflammation due to “leaky gut.”
3. Take care of yourself as you take care of your babe. Take a nap. Take a bath. Eat whole, nutrient-dense foods. Make yourself a green smoothie.
Practice pleasure. Laughter and joy trigger our bodies’ own feel-good chemicals and relaxation hormones. In this state, healing happens as a side-effect.
4. Inhabit your body. It’s easy to detach from our bodies when we’re not feeling well. But to heal, we need to ground in ourselves. Integrate yoga into your daily schedule, even if it’s 15 minutes twice a day. Be present. Don’t multi-task. Breathe through the challenge areas. If you’re too tired to do the poses, visualize yourself doing them. Healing is about flow and balance between mind, body, and spirit.
About the Author : Cynthia Li, MD, is board-certified in internal medicine and has worked in settings as diverse as Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, San Francisco General Hospital, and St. Anthony’s Medical Clinic for the homeless. She also volunteered with Doctors Without Borders in rural China, focusing on HIV/AIDS care. Her personal health challenges led her to integrative and functional medicine, and besides having a private practice in Berkeley, CA, she serves as faculty for the Healer’s Art program at the University of California San Francisco Medical School.
She is a contributor to Thrive Global and Psychology Today, and the author of a new book, “Brave New Medicine: A Doctor’s Unconventional Path to Healing Her Autoimmune Illness.” Learn more at www.cynthialimd.com or buy a copy of “Brave New Medicine” here.
Caroline Griswold, Baby Sleep Support
Sleep is one of the most challenging and tender things we deal with as parents, because of course how our baby is sleeping determines how we are sleeping. I think we also recognize how vulnerable we are in sleep, and we want our little ones to feel safe and cared for.
Caroline is a respectful-parenting educator and coach. She helps parents find greater joy and connection with their children and grow into their parenting with grace, insight, and humor.
Learn More About Caroline and her work at http://www.fertilegroundparenting.com/.
McKenzie Graham, How to Create Healthy Sleep Habits for Your Little Ones
Here are a few helpful tips that can be used with a baby 8 weeks & older AND for older children to help create more healthy sleep habits and success at night.
Nap nap nap! Naps can be challenging for many families, especially in the early months, as naps are typically short in length and inconsistent in timing. Watch for wakeful windows. Babies 6 months and younger will have short wakeful windows around 1.5 to 2 hours. Watch for sleepy cues and get those naps any way anyhow. Don’t worry, “bad” habits can be changed as early as 5 months. As babies become more alert, a dark quiet room with a white noise machine (do not place right next to the crib) can be very helpful for supporting naps. As babies mature (around 4 to 6 months), their naps will begin to consolidate and lengthen. At around 6 months I begin to work with families helping them nap train their littles because oftentimes babies need some extra support learning sleep skills.
Learn More about McKenzie’s work, and support offered to parents at www.peacefulsleepingbaby.com.
Read Sleep Tips in Jane’s newsletter
Amy Iacopi, Patient Advocate & Owner of Iacopi Health Research
Amy Iacopi started Iacopi Health Research after her mother was diagnosed with an unusual subtype of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The oncologists did a wonderful job taking care of her mother, but she noticed something missing: there was no one dedicated to addressing her mother’s-or both parents’-needs and concerns beyond the medical aspects of the cancer.
As a patient advocate and ally, Amy supports you and your family logistically and
emotionally by acting as your medical research assistant. She will be your facilitator of communication with clinicians and family members, your referral specialist, hand holder, note taker, and so much more.
Learn More about Amy and her work at ihealthr.com.
Carolyn Bernstein on Choosing Safer Products for Your and Your Family
We all know that eating organic blueberries and exercising makes a difference. But did you know your lotions and potions actually impact your health?
Believe it or not there is very little regulation in the US marketplace over personal care products. In fact only 30 chemicals have been banned in the US while in the EU over 1400 chemicals are banned from the shelves given that they are known to be harmful or potentially harmful.
SO that means we need to read labels to assess for safety. You can start by looking for paraben and fragrance free products. Parabens are known to be hormone mimickers and act like excess estrogen in our bodies. Many small doses over time can add up to impact our health – and illness like infertility and cancer are in part linked with hormone disruption. So flip the bottle over and take a look at the label and don’t be fooled by marketing claims on the front of the bottle like “all natural” and “organic”.
Fragrance too is usually made of hundred of chemicals and ingredients do not need to be disclosed to the public. Buying fragrance free is a great choice.
If you want to learn more two great websites are Environmental Working Group and they have an app called Healthy Living that enables to you to check the safety of ingredients and products. Breast Cancer Prevention Partners is another great resource on navigating environmental health.
Learn more about Carolyn and this work at http://carolynbernsteinnp.com/.
Sarah Lacey, 5 Survival Tips for Mom in the Workplace
Author of : “A Uterus is a Feature Not a Bug, A Working Woman’s Guide to Overthrowing the Patriarchy”
Banish the word “perfect” from your internal monologue. Perfect means you aren’t growing and stretching enough. Perfect means stasis. Strive to constantly be reminded of how imperfect you are.
Guilt is the patriarchy’s voice in your head. Did you know that 40% of all Americans think it’s “bad” for society if women work? Even though most of us have to? Even though data shows a lot of benefits for sons and daughters of working moms? Even though research shows working moms only spend 15% less quality time with their kids a week? Good mothers don’t need to be 100% available to their children and good employees don’t need to be 100% available to your employers. You have a right to value *you*
If someone tells you to pretend you aren’t a mother to get ahead at work, FIND A NEW JOB.
Read all of Sarah’s tips (via the button below), and learn more about her NEW community for badass working moms (or women who want to become badass moms) to discuss the hardest things they face in a troll-free, mommy-war-free environment. Learn more + join for just $5 at http://beta.chairmanmom.com/.
Lidia Fong Waggoner, Childbirth Prep Tips
Lidia offers some great tips (preview here and full listing of tips via button below) :
1. Move in Tune with Your Body
Enter labor with optimal levels of nature’s pain relievers and feel-good hormones – endorphins!
Women who exercise regularly throughout pregnancy can boost:
– Overall levels of endorphins before the big day
– Energy, mood, and self-image
– Healthy posture, respiration, circulation, and muscle tone, strength, and endurance
– Whether it’s yoga, swimming, dancing, or a walk in the park, aim for 30 minutes (3-7 days per week).
Learn More about Lidia and her classes, work and services at http://www.urbancrunchymama.com/.
The Power of Singing by Paul Godwin, Founder of Music Together
Singing more than talking keeps babies calm and can lead to stronger social bonds with parents, improved health, and even greater language fluency.
A new study from the University of Toronto said: “Babies recognize the voice much, much earlier than they recognize a mother’s face,” said Sarah Trehub
“Voice is a very powerful stimulus for an infant.”
If you want to get more comfortable with singing and learn a variety of musical development activities to try with your infant, Music Together of SF offers classes for Mixed Age siblings and Babies Only every day of the week.
Clients of Jane Austin Yoga receive a $20 off by entering the code JAYU2018 at registration.
Learn more & start singing with your little one at http://musictogethersf.com/.
Community Well – A welcoming space for individuals and families to connect with a network of diverse practitioners focused on supporting people with holistic wellness services.
Community Well provides a welcoming space in the Excelsior District for growing families and individuals of all backgrounds to connect with holistic services supporting early parenthood and overall wellness that contribute to a better quality of life, and for holistic practitioners to connect with each other and the community.
Learn More at CommunityWellSF.com.
Hand in Hand
Hand in Hand is a national network that offers support to help create mutually respectful working relationships between families and the providers they employ.
Hand in Hand provides information online, one on one consultation, and offers a workshop four times per year at Natural Resources on “Best Practices” for employing a childcare provider. Note: the next workshop is planned for April 18th at 6pm.
All of the resources provided are free and have been created by families who employ nannies in consultation with the providers.
Hand in Hand also supports the Fair Care Pledge, which includes three recommended employment practices: Fair Pay, Clear Expectations, and Paid Time Off.
Sign the Pledge and find out more information and resources about what these practices look like at http://www.faircarepledge.org.
Littlelane – a new tool to help parents find awesome things to do with the little ones!
Littlelane is a new website that helps San Francisco parents find the best classes, activities and services. Check out our daily calendar of drop in classes, kid friendly events, story times, rainy day activities and more!
Check it out at littlelane.com.