pelvic floor

What I Learned About Myself During Our Stay in the NICU

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A year ago TODAY, I took my last pregnancy picture.  I had an OBGYN appt that morning.  By 10:45am, I was told to call my husband and it was time to have this baby via cesarean.  

I remember calling my hubby that day and not being able to get a hold of him on his cell.  He was in a presentation at Burns and McDonnell and I was determined to not have our last baby without him present.  I remember standing in the parking lot of Saint Luke's East hospital chatted with the lovely receptionist at his work and explaining I needed to to get a hold of him ASAP and it was urgent.  "Mam....I'm having a baby in approximately 20 minutes!"  I could hear her voice on the intercom while on the phone with her...so calm..."Brett Fisher...you have a call from your wife on line 3...Brett Fisher". No answer.  I sat myself outside the elevator to go up to the maternity ward.  I was suppose to go straight up stairs BUT I was not having this baby alone. (Looking back, I should have gone straight up stairs and listened to my OBGYN)  

I FINALLY got him on the phone and he was so shocked and left without finishing his presentation.  There is something to be said about having a loved one in the room while you deliver. It is needed!  Especially with a cesarean delivery.  It wasn't my first rodeo, but I still had fears about the "What Ifs".  

With the help of an amazing OBGYN, we delivered our third boy via our third cesarean. Yes, I feel like I am an expert in cesarean recovery lol. Each one has taken a little longer than the first due to scar tissue from the surgery before.  BUT in the end, this momma gets to snuggle the most precious little boy on the planet. 

When your child is placed on your chest, the world seems to stop.  I had no idea what was going on down below with sewing me up, nor did I seem to care.  I was a mother to this beautiful baby boy who has completed our family.  Nothing else seemed to matter.

On December 13th, I remember waking up and my husband taking pictures of me and Baby Hudson and stating how he thought he looked orange.  Not when you looked at him, but when you looked at pictures of him.  

Soon after, a nurse came in to check his vitals and said the same thing. The hospital ended up checking his blood levels earlier than they normally would. Around 10:30pm on Dec. 13th when we got the labs back, and I received a phone call from our pediatrician (who I adore AND who happened to be on call-praise the Lord!) and we were transferred to the NICU at Saint Luke’s East.

Hudson’s bilirubin was 20 or 21 during the early hours of his life. We found out he was Combs positive and ABO incapable. He was immediately put on the highest level of lights to help decrease his bilirubin levels.

My milk was coming in (yes, earlier than most) and I was recovering from my third cesarean so I took the lovely wheel chair down to the NICU multiple times a day to visit my baby and deliver milk. We were sent home after about a week in the NICU and followed up with our pediatrician’s office the following morning for labs. I received the dreaded phone call a few hours later from our pedicatrian (where I’m pretty sure I bawled) to head back to the NICU. I re-packed my bag and called family over to watch the older boys while we headed back into the NICU. It’s there I stayed in the same room with my baby for the following week. Each day sending prayers, asking a zillion questions to the medical staff while waiting for answers.

I was in a deep-dark place mentally while in the NICU for those two weeks. I am still in awe and so incredibly grateful for the love and support we received while in the NICU. We had friends/ family stop in just to chat (MUCH needed), meals brought to our house for the boys and to the NICU for Brett and I, cards and gifts dropped off as well as a basket of goodies and a little Christmas tree for Hudson’s NICU room.

It truly takes a village to raise a baby. My mental state NEEDED that support. I realized with the help and support from everyone around me (and the amazing NICU staff at SLE), I was strong enough to be patient and make it through that difficult chapter in our lives. Childbirth is tough, but then living the first few weeks in the the NICU is hard too. AND then the first few months of colicky baby, food allergies, 4 nights of sleeping through the night in a year...I know…I CAN DO ANYTHING I put my mind too. My gratitude journal has been my daily go to and has changed my life and my mindset. I am one strong mother and I, like my son, am a fighter.

I know my short time in the NICU cannot compare to what other mothers go through, but I do know, I would not be where I am today without the love and generosity of others during our first few weeks with Baby Hudson.

Today my baby turned O N E. As a reflect back on last year and our journey with him, I just want to say thank you. Thank you to all of you who have continued to follow my journey and who have supported my business. If you ever need anything, please reach out! Have a blessed day!

How To Manage Pelvic Pain Over The Holidays

Hi friend. I’m gonna get straight up personal with you and if you don’t know me yet, allow me to introduce myself. I am Amanda Fisher, pelvic floor physical therapist with a history of pelvic floor issues from peeing my pants to pelvic organ prolapse to pelvic pain to postpartum issues from 3 cesarean deliveries.

Yes, I have experienced my fair share of pelvic floor dysfunction. Now I know it was God’s Plan for me to go through those times to help people like you.

Pelvic pain is a real thing and I can tell you first hand, I have HAD it and still HAVE IT from time to time.

After 10 years of having pelvic pain, I know what to start doing when I feel it creep back in (because let’s face it, we all get busy and fall off the bandwagon of habits we SHOULD continue because it is good for us…but I'm human too) and this time of year is the perfect time for it to come a knockin’. Who isn’t a tad bit stressed around the holidays?! Um…I think we are all raising our hands here.

So, how do I get a handle on my pelvic pain over the holidays?

First thing to do is find a pelvic floor physical therapist in person or virtually. Having a coach or a professional to chat with about your symptoms and give you support/ advice when you need it most is a MUST!! This also creates accountability for me to stay on top of my exercise regimen to kick pelvic floor symptoms.

Second, I schedule or plan out my week and month. I tend to do this on Sundays. I look at my week and plan out what days I can go to the gym (with or without my kiddos), what mornings/ evenings I can walk, and when I can do my pelvic stretches/exercises (I try daily). Writing it down in a notebook or planner makes my brain think that this is happening today and I almost never miss it IF I write it down.

Third, I get a journal and spend a few minutes EACH morning while sipping my coffee (before my kids wake up) writing five things I’m grateful for and 1-2 things I can do today for someone in my family/ friend circle and for a complete stranger. This helps re-wire the brain for positive thoughts. And we could all use a little more of this in our lives, am I right?!

Fourth, motion is lotion. The days I sit on the couch and binge watch Netflix are the days I feel worse. This could be because I am not staying hydrated, or eating more junk food, BUT mostly, it’s because I am sitting in one posture (bad) and not getting blood flow to the tissue. I have to move to feel better and you have to move to create energy and get the blood flowing. I feel so much better after working out, walking etc and then following it up with 1-3 quick pelvic floor stretches to lengthen tissue. So bundle up and get out! OR set a timer in your home and don’t stop moving until it goes off. Follow up with a happy baby stretch or a deep squat to stretch out the pelvic floor muscles.

Fifth, don’t cancel on myself!! This time of year is hectic with all the holiday parties and childhood gatherings, BUT I still make time for myself so I can continue to feel better. And you should too! It is easier to continue a habit I am doing consistently because if I stop it one day, it is much harder for me to get back on the horse and start again.

If you want more information on this or what else I am doing for pelvic floor issues, please email me amanda@empoweryourpelvis.com.

Flat Butt Posture

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As you can see, during pregnancy, my pelvis wants to tuck under to balance the weight of the growing baby and uterus (picture on the left).  If I were to move around with this posture throughout pregnancy, it could contribute to the flat booty and pelvic floor issues many mommas experience post-baby.  UNFORTUNATELY, this week I have noticed my butt is, SADLY, looking more flabby than it has in the past.  Time to focus on how this momma is holding herself up during the day!!!  Time to make sure I am practicing what I preach and focus on posture in the right picture. 

I need make a conscious effort now, for the next few weeks, to keep my posture in proper alignment and keep my pelvic untucked.  It is so important for postpartum recovery and what I preach daily! 

With my postpartum women, I am usually discussing how tucked butt posture causes misalignment of the ribs and pelvic floor, which can increase pelvic pain, leaking, pressure in vagina, hip pain and much more.  And this isn't just for women!  For example, my hubby just got a stand up desk at work and has been complaining of hip pain.  When looking at his posture, this is how he is standing during his work day.  Men do it too ladies!  

When tucking our butt under, our initial thought might be that I am clenching my butt so I must be making it stronger, but actually you aren't.  You are making it more weak by turning off the glutes from stabilizing you and you end up clenching more pelvic floor. A weak butt can increase pelvic floor dysfunction and make your postpartum recovery even harder because you don't have a strong butt for picking baby up properly or lugging the car seat around etc. 

So, start practicing better aligned posture in standing and while carrying/ lifting babies, groceries etc You body will thank you!!  

Sex After Baby

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Sex.  This can be a scary thing for women who have had a cesarean birth, who have torn vaginally, or who have had an episiotomy (or some kind of traumatic birth...or even just birthed a baby).  For one, some women find it hard to look at their cesarean scar, think their vagina appearance has changed or have a difficult time letting their partner look at them postpartum because they have lost muscle tone, have a stretched out belly, stretch marks etc.  

The scar tissue from the cesarean delivery and vaginal delivery (with a 3rd/ 4th degree tear and episiotomy) is still healing at your 6 week check up and will continue to heal for 6-12+ months, even if you are released at your 6 weeks check up and were told your incision was healed.  

Remember, sex should not be painful, but if it is, it would be wise to see a pelvic floor physical therapist to assess your scar tissue (vaginal or abdominal) and see if it might be causing some of your pain.  Most OBGYNs and Midwives recommend waiting until after your 6 week appointment to start engaging in sex again.  If your doctor has cleared you for intercourse, it is fine to start. There are many factors during pregnancy and delivery that can cause pain with sex.  Remember, painful sex is common and not normal.  Speak with your doctor about your pain and see a pelvic floor physical therapist to help improve your symptoms.  A pelvic floor physical therapist can evaluate your pelvic floor muscles for tightness, poor coordination and assess your scar tissue (cesarean or vaginal) to help address your pain.

If you are experiencing pain with sex, here are some things you can try:

  1. Water-based lubricant

    Hormone fluctuations can decrease the amount of lubricant your body produces, especially if you are breastfeeding.  Trying a lubricant that is water based is likely to last longer.  Here are some options (In no particular order) :
    1. Slippery Stuff

    2. SYLK lubricants

    3. Good Clean Love lubricants

    4. YES lubricants

2. Longer foreplay with deep belly breathing

-It may take a little longer to increase your arousal.  Adding in some belly breathing with foreplay can help calm down the tissues and get them ready for the fun!

3. Switch it up!

-A position that used to be comfortable, may not be anymore.  Try a new position out and see if that does the trick.  For example, on your back might be uncomfortable, but on top might cause less discomfort.

If pain continues, please seek the help of a pelvic floor physical therapist and your healthcare provider.

What You Need To Know About Pelvic Health

As women, we live in this one body, yet, we still have a difficult time bringing awareness to the pelvic floor muscles and learning how to contract and relax these muscles. This is a topic that surprisingly, not a lot of women are well educated on. I love addressing the pelvic floor muscles, their roles in our health and how they can change with pregnancy and birth.  

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The pelvic floor muscles offer many functions to our bodies: they are supportive to our organs, they help pump/ circulate fluid in as we breathe in and out, they aide in sexual function, they control opening and closing of our openings and stabilize our SI joint, pelvis, hip joints and lumbosacral joints. The muscles run from the front of the pelvis at the pubic bone, to the sits bones and attach to the SI/ tailbone area.  When functioning properly, the pelvic floor muscles should fire prior to movement of lifting children, laundry, jogging, grabbing a glass of water etc. So it is important to continue to focus on your pelvic floor muscles through all phases of life.

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Your "core" is made up of your diaphragm, pelvic floor muscles, transversus abdominus and your mulitidus muscles in your low back.  So, as you can see, doing abdominal exercises for your "6-pack" muscles, will not target the true core. 

With life, we generally create habits.  Even within our bodies, we tend to do things the same way most of the time.  For example, we tend to carry our children or purse on the same side of our body.  This can create compensations to certain tissues and joints, especially during pregnancy and postpartum.  For instance, during pregnancy we may stand with our bum tucked under, our abdominals stretched and tightness in our backs to hold us up with our growing belly/ uterus.  After birth, our bodies stay in a similar posture, with weakened tissue and we start moving throughout the day making new compensations with carrying an infant or a toddler.   Seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist can help you fire and re-train your core the proper way to improve your core support during pregnancy and postpartum. 

One day, I hope it becomes a natural thing for a women to be seen at least once during her pregnancy and then get an automatic referral to a pelvic floor physical therapist postpartum to check on how the pelvic floor is functioning prior to beginning an exercise routine.  I believe many women would benefit on a prenatal visit with a pelvic floor physical therapist, to figure out how to make their pelvic floor muscles function properly and then what posture and body mechanics would be beneficial to avoid to promote a healthy pelvic floor.  Then postpartum, addressing women's pelvic floor strength, endurance, coordination and any areas related to pelvic floor dysfunction, diastasis recti or scarring from cesarean birth or perineal tearing.  I think so many women are doing too much too soon instead of giving their bodies enough time to heal postpartum prior to jumping back on the exercise train.  Remember, it took your body 9 months to grow that baby (ies), so give it grace with healing.  You will be glad your took your time and were smart with your healing and exercise, instead of rushing back into things.  

Pregnancy Journal: 27 Weeks!

 On the hayride to go find our pumpkins!

On the hayride to go find our pumpkins!

I am closer to 28 weeks than 27 weeks while posting this, but our house was hit with the stomach bug this weekend and life got away from me.  

 Landon doesn't like sitting on the hay.  Jackson was so excited to sit by the pumpkins!

Landon doesn't like sitting on the hay.  Jackson was so excited to sit by the pumpkins!

So #27weekspregnant and continuing to feel great!  This is my favorite time of year.  I love the fall, Midwest weather, the clothes, the smells, the food (but really, who doesn't love food while pregnant?!), and the outside activities.  My boys and I went to a local Pumpkin Patch this weekend (prior to getting sick), and had a blast. 

I am feeling baby move more and more each day.  Especially when Jack and Landon talk to my belly.  They love telling "Baby Fred" (that's what they have named him) all about their days, what they ate and what they did.  I need to record these conversations because they are freaking adorable!  

I was low on iron so I have started taking an iron supplement and eating more iron rich foods (greens, spinach, beans etc) to help improve my levels.  My eyesight has improved with doing so.  My eyesight was getting pretty bad over the last month so I am glad my doctor caught that.  

I am continuing to eat a diet high in good fats and protein.  Lots of good research out there with having a diet high in healthy fats while pregnant and breastfeeding.  I am adding more avocado, coconut MCT oil, and Omegas to my meals and snacks throughout the day.  I definitely feel better when I do, especially when I am staying hydrated, I notice less swelling in my labia and legs.  I mentally feel better too! That's a bonus as a mom of 2 (soon to be 3!).  

Eating a diet high in healthy fats is also great for women of all ages because they help regulate our womanly hormones.  How wonderful is that!!  We could all use a little help with our hormones, am I right?!  hehe

Anyways, I'll be making a post on that soon!

Have a fabulous week!  If you want to chat about anything, remember, I do virtual consults now :)

Amanda