Blog Post #4
Blog Post #3
If you’ve spent any time around new parents, you’ve probably heard them comparing “Tummy Time” experiences. But if you ask your own parents about how they did tummy time with you, they inevitably have no idea what you are talking about. Why? Tummy time is a recent term. In the 90’s, a “Back to Sleep” campaign started advising parents to have their babies sleep on their backs to prevent SIDS. While successful, it created a need for ensuring babies spent enough time on their belly for normal development. Hence “Tummy Time” became a recommended part of a baby’s daily routine.
Tummy time is essential for your baby’s muscular and motor skill development and starts from the time your baby is born. But what if your baby hates tummy time (after all, it’s hard work!)? My little one couldn’t stand traditional tummy time on the floor. She cried the second I got her into position, with each minute feeling like an eternity of frustrated tears. I then learned some creative ways to do it. Suddenly I was able to hit time goals in tummy time and we even had a little fun.
Here are some other ways to get creative with tummy time:
On You: Skin to Skin
This is the best way to start baby on tummy time – In fact, you are quite possibly already doing this kind of tummy time. While enjoying some skin-to-skin snuggles, recline (fully supported) on your sofa or bed at about a 45 degree angle, laying your little one belly-down on your chest. Baby will lift their head to look at your face.
On You: Hold Baby in Tummy Time
When you are walking around, start making a habit of carrying your baby belly-down a few times a day. As they work to look around them, this also becomes a great opportunity to introduce them to their home and outdoor environments.
On You: Across Your Lap
Sometimes baby gets fussy in tummy time because they want to be with you. That’s where this tummy time version comes in handy. Sit with baby tummy-down across your legs in your lap. Place something on the other side for them to look at and connect with baby with your touch and voice.
If you want to get really playful with tummy time on your legs, you can play airplane with baby: lie on your back with your legs elevated and knees bent with baby resting tummy down on your shins. Use your hands to secure her chest to your legs. Let the smiles and giggles ensue! (Be aware of your own core position during this: we aren’t encouraging you to hold a crunch, but it’s a great opportunity to connect with baby after you do Functional Progression 1! You could even do tummy time in Functional Progression 1!)
On a Nursing Pillow
Using a prop like a nursing pillow can help achieve optimum positioning while giving baby a better view of the world around them. Lay baby on a nursing pillow on the floor with their arms over the top. Once there, try placing toys, pictures, a mirror, or yourself in front of them to help entertain them. This will keep them engaged, allowing you to keep them in tummy time longer.
On an Exercise Ball
This was a game changer in our household. Place a blanket over an exercise ball (my little one preferred no blanket). Then, lay your baby on the ball so you are holding them upright at an angle. When comfortable, slowly roll the ball forward until your baby becomes more horizontal. Once there, get playful and gently roll them around in different directions while allowing them to enjoy tummy time with a little movement.
Have you ever experienced a numbing, tingling, or throbbing sensation in your thumb or first three fingers of your hand while pregnant or postpartum? Have you had trouble performing fine motor skills such as gripping objects or buttoning a shirt? Does it feel like your hand has fallen asleep or has that pins and needles feeling for no apparent reason? If you’ve experienced any of these symptoms, let’s make an appointment with your healthcare provider; you may have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) occurs when the median nerve, which starts in the neck, runs down the arm, and into the wrist, is compressed or pinched as it passes through a narrow space of the wrist called the carpal tunnel.
CTS can appear any time in pregnancy but usually begins or worsens in the second trimester, when we start to retain more fluid. Experts aren’t exactly sure what causes CTS during pregnancy, but it may be linked to hormone-related swelling. While pregnant, our blood volume increases as much as 50% in order to supply our baby, uterus, and placenta. This drastic increase in blood volume may account for the swelling and extra fluid that compresses the median nerve and causes those painful symptoms. Other reasons for CTS include repetitive motions or activities to the wrist, like sewing, knitting, excessive writing, typing, or carrying heavy loads.
Will I have CTS Forever?!
If you are pregnant or postpartum, you may be wondering if you’ll have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome for the rest of your life. Many women experience CTS during pregnancy and well into their postpartum season. After delivery, symptoms of CTS usually go away gradually without treatment as the swelling from pregnancy subsides. However, they can last longer if you’re breastfeeding due to wrist position during feeding. If symptoms persist after your baby is born or they become more severe (meaning you have constant numbness, muscle weakness, or loss of sensation), be sure to mention it to your healthcare provider during your next postpartum visit; you may be referred to a specialist or surgeon.
Relief for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome During Pregnancy & Postpartum
The following are some recommendations to decrease wrist symptoms usually associated with CTS:
What to Do On Your Own for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Rest and SLOW DOWN – Reduce activities that cause movement or pain in the wrist. Whenever you feel pain in your wrist or hand, we suggest you rest or switch to a completely different activity that does not involve the hand or wrist, and slow down.
Warm Water Immersion – In warm water, gently flex your hand and wrist. Try this exercise 3-4 times per day.
Cold Therapy – Try wrapping your wrist in an ice sleeve (or ice wrapped in a towel) for 10-15 minutes, several times a day.
Contrast Bath – You can also try a contrast bath where you soak your wrist in warm water for 2-3 minutes, then cold water for the same amount of time. Contrast baths are a form of hydrotherapy that have been shown to help decrease pain and increase circulation through the use of hot and cold water immersion.
Elevation – Keeping your arm slightly elevated above the heart while resting or sleeping will help prevent the build up of excess fluid in the wrists. Elevate your wrists whenever possible using pillows to keep them propped up.
Yoga – Although there is not much data to back it up, mamas agree that yoga has helped reduce pain and increase grip strength. The reason may be associated more towards increased breathing, blood and oxygen flow, meditation and reduced stress levels.
A Wrist Splint – A wrist splint keeps your wrist from bending and keeps your hand properly aligned. You may also wear it when you sleep to avoid flexing or overextending your wrist.
Speak up! – Ask your employer if you can switch jobs for a while and/or simply reduce the amount of typing you do. If you don’t speak up for yourself, you may continue to experience unnecessary suffering with symptoms of CTS.
Help from Others for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Chiropractic – In addition to ensuring that the spine and nervous system are functioning properly, adjustments to the extremities and soft tissue mobilization can be beneficial.
Physical Therapy – Finding a professional therapist to help properly and safely move everything from your shoulders, arms, and wrists is key to improving hand function, mobility, circulation, and reducing fluid build-up, swelling and pain.
Myofascial Release Therapy – MFR is a type of alternative therapy involving massage and gentle sustained pressure into the myofascial connective tissues. It is used to treat skeletal muscle immobility, relax muscles, relieve pain, restore motion, and improve blood and lymphatic circulation. It has been shown to greatly reduce CTS-related pain and increase hand function.
The Graston Technique (GT) Therapy – is another form of manual massage. GT and instruments enable the treatment of scar tissue and fascial restrictions during rehabilitation that allows for faster rehabilitation and with greater success when the goal is restoring range of motion, eliminating pain, and restoring normal function (1). GT combined with manual massage administered by the clinicians hands have been found to be beneficial in alleviating symptoms of Carpal Tunnel. Studies reveal that localized relaxation massage combined with multimodal care [at least two distinct therapeutic modalities] may provide short-term benefit for treating carpal tunnel syndrome (2,)(3).
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID) – Although pain relievers such as acetaminophen, Ibuprofen or naproxen are common and may cause temporary pain relief, they could have some serious side effects in your pregnancy. We suggest you consult with your primary care provider before taking any and all medications.
Ultrasound Therapy – According to a 2013 study, ultrasound therapy for CTS “involves applying a round-headed instrument to the skin of the painful area, to deliver sound waves that are absorbed by the underlying tissues, to help relieve pain and lessen disability (4).” To some moms, this form of therapy has proven to be painless, effective and refreshing.
Surgical and Non-surgical Interventions for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Steroid Injection – Serves as a temporary fix for CTS. According to new research from doctors at Hassleholm Hospital in Sweden (in the Sept. 3 issue of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine), 3 out of 4 patients who received the injection needed surgery within a year (5).
Surgery – In moderate to severe cases, Carpal Tunnel Release surgery is required. This surgery involves opening up the carpal tunnel to relieve pressure on the median nerve. The surgery does not guarantee that CTS will not return, especially if mom returns to doing the activity that may have contributed to CTS in the first place and/or if mom becomes pregnant again.
If you are experiencing pain or discomfort during your pregnancy or postpartum due to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, try one of the methods above for relief. Whichever method you choose, we always recommend incorporating some form of rest, which is why it’s first on our list. After all, we could all use a little more rest in our very busy lives. Do you have a method or remedy that works best for you? We would love to know!
(1) The Graston Technique Therapy. Retrieved on January 16, 2019 from
(2) Burke J, et al. A pilot study comparing two manual therapy interventions for carpal tunnel syndrome.DOI: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2006.11.014. 2007 Jan;30(1):50-61.
(3) Piper S, et al. The effectiveness of soft-tissue therapy for the management of musculoskeletal disorders and injuries of the upper and lower extremities: A systematic review by the Ontario Protocol for Traffic Injury management (OPTIMa) collaboration.
2016 Feb; 21:18-34. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2015.08.011. Epub 2015 Aug 29.
(4) Page, MJ, et al. Therapeutic ultrasound for carpal tunnel syndrome. Cochrane Database of
Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD009601. DOI:
(5) Atroshi, et al. Steroid Injections for the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Annals of Internal Medicine.
Ann Intern Med. ;159:I–18. Doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-159-5-201309030-00001.
September 3, 2013. Accessed December 18, 2018.
Blog Post #2
Recently, I was attending a birth as a doula. You should know that at this point in my career, I only take on doula clients that do the work and choose to be “birth fit”. This means preparing mind, body, and soul for this monumental transition and planning for the postpartum.
I had been in communication with this client and her partner for the entire pregnancy. She had done the BIRTHFIT Coach Seminar, utilized the online prenatal programming, and taken the BIRTHFIT Prenatal Series. We had done a handful of sessions together working through birth desires and fears, different birth scenarios, and an immediate postpartum plan.
This client had been having prodromal labor for a few days and finally active labor began! We arrived at the birth center and the midwife checked my client. She was around 7 cm of dilation and 90% effacement. Even though the environment had changed and more people were now involved, we stayed the course of what we had been doing: laboring, moving, and breathing. The mom to be was a beautiful sight with a perfect ponytail, laboring in and out of the tub and trying different positions. However, I did not feel like she was truly in it yet. Often during births I keep my mouth shut, relying on my observation skills and intuition to influence my action and touch.
Three hours had passed and the client decided to be checked again. So, when the midwife said that not much had changed I was not that surprised. The team agreed that we should step out and give mom and partner some intimate space.
There were four of us that gathered – myself, the midwife, and two assistants/apprentices. It is not uncommon for a legendary midwife to have assistants or apprentices. (I mean, how else are they going to pass on their artistic skills?) It also not that uncommon for people to still be influenced by big ass misconceptions, even midwives.
“She’s too fit. Her pelvic floor is too tight.”
The words in my head, “What the f***? No!”
Yet, my response was a wee bit different, more polite and constructive, it took into account all the preparation, practice, and research this client had done. Also, I knew that her strength and conditioning training was tailored not only for her, but each trimester and was even adjusted as she progressed through weeks 35, 36, 37, and so on. My response took into account my experience, research, and intuition.
I said, “I would have to firmly disagree, I’ve worked with this woman from day one.” Emphasizing that BIRTHFIT is intentional, and an intuitive strength and conditioning program for the motherhood transition, otherwise just smart f*****g training for prenatal and postpartum.
I suggested that the answer to the question of, “why she hasn’t progressed in the past few hours?”, may not be “her pelvic floor is too tight” – it just seemed like the easy way out.
Looking at this woman as a whole we know that this is her first pregnancy and baby. She wears many hats such as wife, coach, doula, educator, athlete, friend, sister, daughter, lover, leader, mkm etc. She is conservative and has been independent much of her life, exuding confidence, discipline, and integrity. She is an overachiever and someone you always want on your team. My assumption is she puts an unrealistic amount of expectations and responsibilities on herself, much more than anyone else would place upon her.
It was time for her to truly surrender to the process of birth. It was time for her to get out of her thinking brain and fully embrace her feminine energy and primal brain. This is challenging for anyone in today’s society as we are dominated by a masculine energy with rules, regulations, and numbers. This is a wonderful energy for getting shit done but not so wonderful for bringing life earth side.
At BIRTHFIT, we create birth mission statements and desires because frankly birth plans are horse shit and create unreal expectations. Birth is a big fat mystery with a unique journey for each woman and her partner. As a doula, I am present to offer tools, a deep trust in the process, and continuous support. I will be there holding your hand but you have to go to that place that only you are called to.
As a team, we decided that it was the lead midwife that needed to have a surrender chat with the client. As the quarterback of the team, authoritative figure, and healthcare provider, she would have a private conversation with my client telling her and her partner that it’s time to let go and welcome the contractions. It’s time to welcome the uncomfortableness and purposeful pain. It was time for her to let her hair down and get raw.
About an hour later, three of the four of us entered back into the birth suite. The energy was entirely different. The client had the messiest top knot and was now nude. She did not seem to notice any of us and was letting out the most primal of sounds. She did not give a F***.
The baby arrived less than two hours later.
Lindsey Mathews, CEO BIRTHFIT
Blog Post #1
The placenta is the life force for your little one throughout pregnancy. The placenta is an organ that surrounds the fetus in the womb, allowing for the exchange of blood, nutrients, and waste within the mama. After birth you have the choice to use your own placenta as a health benefit for both mama and baby. The traditional way of consuming the placenta is through encapsulation, a practice most often seen in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The placenta is considered a sacred medicine, a “full of life force” organ, and placenta remedies are an important part of birthing history (1). One of the first pharmaceutical experts of China, Li Shi-Zhen, included placenta encapsulation as a medicine in his first TCM Materia Medica published all the way back in 1578 (1). However, it wasn’t until the mid 1980’s when Raven Lang, an American midwife who studied TCM, brought back this lost tradition by promoting placenta remedies during a MANA conference in America (if you are interested in further placenta history check it out here) (1).
What is in my placenta?
There are a number of hormones, minerals, and nutrients held within the placenta that are beneficial in the postpartum transition. Important properties of your placenta are (2,3):
Oxytocin: The feel good hormone which creates feelings of bonding, pain-relief, happiness, and elation.
Cortisone: This hormone unlocks energy stored in the body and combats stress.
Interferon: This hormone stimulates the immune system to fight off infections while the mother is healing from birth.
Prostaglandins: Act as an anti-inflammatory
Hemoglobin: Replenishes iron, stimulates iron production in blood
Urokinase inhibiting factor and factor XIII: Lessens bleeding and promotes faster healing
Prolactin/HPL: Stimulates healthy mammary function and milk production
Trace Minerals (Iron, Zinc, selenium, and manganese (4, 5)): Helps increase rate of healing
How is the Placenta Consumed?
Whatever method you use for placenta consumption, we do recommend working with an experienced doula, midwife, or certified placenta encapsulation expert (some examples are APPA or IPEN). There are a number of ways that the placenta can be consumed;
Have it steamed, dehydrated, ground and encapsulated *Most Common*
Ingest some in a smoothie or cooked soon after birth
Ingest a piece after the birth and then have the rest made into capsules
Additional Emotional Benefits
Although research is still limited in this area, women who consume their placenta report fewer emotional issues, increased energy, and enjoy a faster, more pleasant postpartum recovery. There are studies showing placenta encapsulation as support for postpartum mood disorders, however research is still limited in this area. In one study in 2013, 189 women took placenta pills, many of which experienced postnatal mood disorders (6). Approximately 40% of the women reported an increase in postnatal mood after placenta consumption, and almost all reported they would consume their placenta with their next child (6).
If you feel that placenta encapsulation is right for you, be sure to contact your healthcare provider to receive more information on the proper procedure. It is also important to be aware of any laws in your state that make it illegal to remove the placenta from the hospital.
At BIRTHFIT we feel optimizing the four pillars will aid in the best motherhood transition and placenta encapsulation may be one component of that. If you have any other postpartum questions or need additional support, please check out our local BIRTHFIT Regional directors.
Jill Cameron, DC
Presence and concentration of 17 hormones in human placenta processed for encapsulation and consumption Young, Sharon M. et al.Placenta , Volume 43 , 86 – 89
Johnson, Sophia K et al. “Placenta – Worth Trying? Human Maternal Placentophagia: Possible Benefit and Potential Risks” Geburtshilfe und Frauenheilkunde vol. 78,9 (2018): 846-852.
Gryder, L. K., Young, S. M., Zava, D., et al. (2017). Effects of human maternal placentophagy on maternal postpartum iron status: A randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled pilot study. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health 62:68-79.
Young, S. M., Gryder, L. K., David, W. B., et al. (2016). Human placenta processed for encapsulation contains modest concentrations of 14 trace minerals and elements. Nutrition Research 36(8): 872-8.
Jodi Selander, Allison Cantor, Sharon M. Young & Daniel C. Benyshek (2013) Human Maternal Placentophagy: A Survey of Self-Reported Motivations and Experiences Associated with Placenta Consumption, Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 52:2, 93-115, DOI: 10.1080/03670244.2012.719356