After the birth of your child, you begin to structure a routine with your baby– When to feed, when to sleep, when to change their diaper. These tasks are part of the bonding experience but they can come with some unexpected discomfort. With repetitive hand movements and lifting of your newborn is the chance to develop symptoms of Carpal Tunnel- an uncomfortable tingling or pain in your hand, wrist, and arm that occurs when your median nerve is compressed. Located on the palm side of your hand, the carpal tunnel is a space between your carpal bones and your retinaculum ligament that protects your median nerve as well as many ligaments that attach your forearms to your fingers. You can think of your carpal tunnel as a safe space for the nerve that is in control of the mobility in your hand and wrist to lie within your arm. When this nerve gets pinched or compressed, many symptoms can occur: – weakness in the hand, wrist and fingers – numbness in parts of the hand and wrist – numbness or tingles usually starting in your fingertips and working its way through your hand – pain starting in the fingertips and working its way up your arm. http://www.westwoodhealingarts.com/tendonitispg.html Although pre-pregnancy factors like obesity, thyroid disorders, arthritis and diabetes can increase your chances of Pregnancy Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, many women without these disorders can still experience acute to severe symptoms during post partum and in some cases, during pregnancy (around the second trimester). Some women may experience slight tingling while others have to incorporate strategies into their new role to prevent damaging their wrists and hands. But why is this happening? When pregnant, your body is doubling your blood volume to provide to your baby, placenta and daily growth. This increase in liquid can add pressure to many parts of your body, including your median nerve and that is when you start to experience Carpal Tunnel. With a combination of swelling and repetitive motions, you start to get the tingling nerve sensitivity in your fingertips and wrists. Pregnancy Carpal Tunnel tends to resolve itself in the weeks or months surrounding your labour as long as you tend to its needs. There are many strategies that you can incorporate into your routine to reduce the stresses of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome on your wrists and hands: -stretching your fingertips and wrists multiple times a day- especially if you have a job that requires repetitive hand motions – massage your arms and hands to help with blood flow – stick to a clean diet free of additives and excess sodium – look into adding anti-inflammatory substances like turmeric and cinnamon into your diet – sleep with your hands by your side, not under your pillow (relieve that pressure!) – reduce time texting and typing if you can – wear a wrist brace or wrap- especially when lifting your newborn or other objects – acupuncture – essential oils with a carrier of arnica or coconut oil (try frankincense, helichrysum or lemongrass) As I always recommend, talk to your health care provider about the symptoms that you are experience and the methods of treatment you are taking. Pregnancy Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can leave a new mother with feelings of anxiety, frustration and disappointment. It is incredibly important to take care of your hands and wrists to prevent the tingling from over-staying its welcome and causing excess stress. The most important thing to remember is that unless you have a genetic predisposition surrounding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, it will go away in time. For extra support surround Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, please feel free to email me at email@example.com For a video on stretches for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTxQqu9USC4 With love, from Ficus. http://www.ficusdoula.com firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are a fan of the flavour of molasses, hot molasses is the drink for you! Filled with iron, B vitamins, manganese, selenium, calcium, and potassium, molasses is a sweet alternative for coffee in the morning or an additional nutritional boost if you are on the brink of anemia. Blackstrap molasses is made by boiling down raw sugar three times to make this nutritious, thick and sticky liquid. It is important to use blackstrap molasses as regular molasses is only boiled down twice and this style of boiling does not obtain the same nutritional density. If you have gestational diabetes during your pregnancy, be cautious of the sugar content in molasses and make the choice to use it as a supplement or not.
Most women have found themselves to have anemia or low iron at one point in their life or another. Even I have trouble keeping my iron at a healthy level but try to incorporate iron rich foods into every meal. If you find that you are feeling tired and sluggish or feel like you’re removed from your body, you may want to get your iron and ferritin levels checked with a blood test. Boosting your iron levels can not only physically make a difference to your body but can help with your mental state as well. If you are trying to become pregnant, you can request to get your iron levels checked to see if you should incorporate more iron rich foods into your diet. Obtaining optimal nutrition before you are pregnant can make a huge different throughout your pregnancy and delivery.
As you reach the third trimester, your midwife or doctor will check your iron levels to ensure that you are not suffering from anemia. It is not irregular for iron levels to come back low during this time because you have been making enough blood for you and baby. By incorporating iron rich foods into your diet, you can raise your iron levels in a way that is less harsh on your system. Most women find that iron supplements constipate and cause other digestive upsets but if you are able to draw iron naturally out of the foods around you, you can avoid these feelings altogether. Some examples of iron rich foods are greens like spinach and kale, dried fruit like apricots and prunes, red meat, beans, and of course, molasses!
So if you are a fan of molasses, give a cup of these hot molasses drink a try.
Hot Molasses Drink:
16 ounces of milk/alternative milk of your choice
1 1/2-2 tbsp blackstrap molasses
dash of nutmeg and cinnamon
Put your milk of choice in a pot over the stove and turn to med-high heat. When the liquid is hot, whisk in molasses and spices. At this point, the liquid may get a little frothy on top and it’s absolutely delicious! Transfer into mug and enjoy!
Lemon Molasses drink:
16 ounces hot water
1 1/2- 2 tbsp blackstrap molasses
Dissolve molasses into a cup of hot water and squeeze lemon juice on top. Enjoy!
Scents have always had a way of calming people and bringing them back into a moment. I can always think back to my grandmother and the sweet smell of cinnamon warmed apples baking in her oven or walking through Fernwood in the spring to find myself greeted by lavender on the street corners. I can even remember the smell of eucalyptus being rubbed onto my chest when I was a sick child and needed to clear up my air passages.
If you take the natural oils from these substances—may the oils come from the roots, leaves, bark, stems, you are creating an essential oil. The processing isn’t as simple as just collecting the oils though. They will need to be distilled and cold pressed to extract the oils and this can take a lot of work but in the end, you are left with an essential oil. Most of us will choose to source out companies that have a respectable crop and harvesting system to buy essential oils from. With these oils, you can incorporate Aromatherapy into your daily routine. Aromatherapy is used to enhance physical and mental wellbeing by promoting relaxation, pain relief, emotional support, skin support and many other aspects of life by stimulating brain function or absorbing through the skin into the bloodstream. Many of the oils have antifungal, antiviral, soothing, calming, and nourishing qualities making them a useful alternative for not only our bodies but for cleaning surfaces as well. These qualities also make essential oils and the use of aromatherapy a perfect form of alternative medicine during pregnancy.
From reducing anxiety and tension to enhancing sleep quality, the use of essential oils can be blended into any trimester and labor. With a world of oils available, most women can find at least one or two scents that resonate with them during their pregnancy and can even be useful in their postpartum period. If you find an essential oil or blend that works with you, you may find it increases your quality of sleep, reduces tension and stress, balances the body, clears the skin, minimizes cold and allergy symptoms and increases your overall mood. When diluted, essential oils are safe to use on baby as well and can even help with diaper rash or increasing milk supply.
While there are three main ways to incorporate essential oils into your pregnancy, I am going to focus on two. The third way to use essential oils is by ingesting them and I do not want to promote ingestion as there are many different qualities of essential oils available and one kind may be harmful. The other two ways of using oils is aromatically and topically.
When using Essential oils aromatically, you can inhale the oils directly from the bottle, place a few drops onto your hands or use a diffuser and fill your home with the aroma of your choice. This is great for emotional support, respiratory support and sleep support. Try taking in a deep inhale of the scent while thinking your favorite mantra or qualities and feelings that you would like for you, your baby, and your family. On the exhales, breathe out qualities you don’t need or feelings that are holding you back. This practice is a great addition to your morning and nightly routine as it can set your mind up for a day of positive feelings and relieve any stresses at night that you might have picked up throughout the day. Try stimulation scents like citrus or peppermint in the morning and calming scents like lavender or sandalwood at night.
When using Essential oils topically, you can directly place the oils onto your skin or dilute them in carrier oil. This method is ideal for spot treating pains and skin irritations. It is also wonderful for immune support or allergy relief. It is always best to test the oils on a patch of skin before applying to multiple places on your body. I only apply oils directly to the soles of my feet and the palms of my hands. If I use them anywhere else, I dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil—usually coconut. Some other carrier oils are jojoba oil, almond oil, olive oil, avocado oil, calendula oil, or arnica oil (you can make a great muscle treatment for sore legs and joints). My favourite skin moisturiser is using a base of coconut oil (1/2 cup), shea butter (1/4 cup), add in two capsules of vitamin E, a pinkie nail sized dollop of rosehip oil, mixed with lavender and rose essential oils until you get a desired scent. You can also add a few drops of essential oils to water with a splash of witch hazel to make a facial toner—I like lavender, tea tree and rose.
Essential oils are a great way to enhance your pregnancy but there are some oils that come with warning. Clary sage is an amazing essential oil to use during labour but it should be left untouched in your pregnancy until you are full term. Its powerful induction properties can help jump start contractions and give baby the strength to move down the birth canal. Applying clary sage to the beautiful baby point (TCM) in my experiences can get baby moving quickly. You can also mix clary sage with coconut oil to smooth over your belly. A combination of clary sage, lavender, bergamot, grapefruit, peppermint and rose can be added into a spritz bottle to help relieve nausea during active labor and provide another wave of power for you to work with contractions. Sage can also decrease milk supply in not only essential oil form but as a culinary herb as well so once baby is here it is best to avoid it in all forms. Peppermint as we know is an amazing digestive aid especially when it comes to nausea. You can apply a few drops of peppermint to a warm facecloth and place over your eyes or around the back of your neck to relieve symptoms of a cold or headache. It should be used with caution in the postpartum period as it may decrease milk supply. That being said, if you are trying to decrease milk supply, you can combine peppermint and clary sage and rub onto your breasts as well as the highest point between your shoulders and neck and see if it will help. Fennel can help with milk production if you apply it with a carrier oil or onto a facecloth compress onto the breasts. This essential oil should only be used for a few days at most as it may increase urination. If you have high blood pressure, it is best to avoid peppermint, rosemary and clove as they will increase your blood pressure.
If you are using essential oils on your breasts and are breastfeeding, it is important to wipe the breasts before a feeding period. Using a hot cloth, you can wipe the remaining essential oils from your skin. The oils will have already released their healing properties into your bloodstream after a few minutes of application so it is okay to wipe off if you need to feed right away.
Although essential oils are used to enhance your pregnancy instead of harm, they should always be used at your own risk. Each body will react to oils differently than the next and some scents may make you feel ill while others will invigorate you. If you are using scents during labor or having someone who is planning to make you a calming labor spray, make sure you are alright with the smell before you fill your birthing room with it. If you are birthing at the hospital, it is best to smell the oil directly from the bottle in respects to the other birthing mothers and sensitivities of staff.
Here are a few of my favorite oils with their healing properties:
Lavender: Good for all stages in pregnancy, calming, reduces stress and tension, aids in postpartum depression, calms skin tenderness(acne, bruises, bumps, rashes), sleep support, seasonal allergy support, grounding, prevents stretch marks, helpful in healing after labor, decrease high blood pressure, mastitis, safe for household cleaning.
Lemon: Good for morning sickness, uplifting, seasonal allergy support, digestive support, aids in postpartum depression, increases lymphatic function, cools the body when applied to the feet, invigorating, great oil to use in the morning.
Bergamot: Uplifting and calming, relieves anxiety and tension, soothes muscles, cooling properties, balances female energies, aids in postpartum depression.
Rose: Promotes skin healing, relaxation, reduces scarring, promotes elasticity.
Peppermint: Aids in morning sickness, reduces headaches and tension, helpful during transition, mental clarity, helps urinate during labor, reduces nausea.
These are only a handful of oils and their descriptions. If there was an oil you are interested in using during your pregnancy, please feel free to e-mail me and I can give you suggestions on blends and application processes.