Abdominal Support During Pregnancy

Pregnancy Support Band at bynature.ca

Once you add an extra 30lbs of weight right up front during pregnancy, your body needs extra support. Abdominal exercises can give you that support, and a pregnancy support band can give you more help when needed.

Ideally, exercises throughout your pregnancy will build your abdominal muscles to support the weight of your growing baby. It only takes a few minutes a day to tighten your abdominal muscles while you are sitting or standing. For a specific workout, consult an expert. You do need to avoid lying on your back after the first trimester, avoid certain exercises if you are experiencing diastasis, and be particularly careful if you are carrying multiples. Your trainer can help you assess your specific situation and suggest helpful exercises.

Your body was built to support your baby, but you need to work the muscles designed to do the job, and you may need to adjust your posture as your weight changes.

Whatever workout to decide on, you may still feel some lower back pain. Especially late in your pregnancy, when you are probably carrying an extra 25-35lbs, you might find that you need extra support to prevent back ache.

Abdominal support belts for pregnancy have become very popular. If you decide to use a support belt, use it sparingly—no more than a few hours a day. Your own muscles need to support your baby and all of the extra fluid you are carrying, and you use those same muscles that support you during pregnancy as you push your baby out during labor. The more efficiently all of the layers of your abdominal muscles work in both cases, the better.

When you choose a pregnancy support belt, make sure that it gives overall support without putting extra strain on your back.

Seamless Pregnancy Support Band

We carry the Pregnancy Support Band, a medical, seamless compression band that you slip into. When you wear this maternity band, you will feel immediate relief for lumbar and abdominal pain. The flexible fabric has tri-dimensional support zones for the most comfort, and it stretches to adapt to all shapes and sizes. And, the Pregnancy Support Band is Made in Canada.

Build your own body’s support system for your pregnancy then you will only need to rely on a belly band or maternity belt in exceptional cases. Be strong!

More resources for a well-supported pregnancy

Ready, Set, Push workout from Fit Pregnancy

“Back Pain During Pregnancy: 7 Tips for Relief,” Mayo Clinic

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Reusable Lunch Bag Supplies

Mimi the Sardine Reusable Lunch Bag for Kids

Have you packed that first school lunch yet? Many schools now require a waste-free lunch. At bynature.ca we carry a variety of reusable supplies you can choose to replace the throwaway lunch bags and make your child’s lunch waste-free.

Laptop Lunch bento boxes

Reusable Lunch Bags & Boxes

Start with the bag or lunch box itself.

Replace paper bags with a bento box for cut up lunch in the tidy little boxes of the Laptop Lunches Bento System or freeform lunch of any shape in a colorful Mimi the Sardine bag?

Stainless Steel sandwich container

Reusable Sandwich Containers

Next, containers for the food. If you chose the Bento Box already, congratulations! You already have the box and the containers.

Replace baggies with Planet Wise Sandwich Bag with a window or put the sandwich in a stainless steel Lunchbot Uno.

Clean Canteen reusable bottle

Reusable Water Bottle

Then, the drink.

Replace a juice box or a canned drink with a stainless steel Klean Kanteen or a glass, flip-top bottle from Lifefactory?

Reusable Bamboo Utensils

Reusable Utensils

Finally, what utensils will your child use?

Replace plastic utensils with lightweight, reusable bamboo To-Go Ware or just send finger foods.

More on School Lunch and School Supplies

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Does Breastfeeding Change Your Body?

Nursing mother with baby

Before the experience of pregnancy and breastfeeding, you might be curious what changes to expect with your body during pregnancy, during breastfeeding, and afterward.

Because of the hormonal changes in your body, your breasts may get larger during pregnancy. Increased blood flow can make them feel tight or swollen. If you experience breast sensitivity before your period, you may have a similar, stronger feeling during pregnancy. You may even see some discharge, as your breasts create colostrum in anticipation of your baby’s arrival. The most noticeable physical change is in fullness of your breasts.

After your baby is born and breastfeeding is well established, you will notice the change in fullness and size. As your breasts fill with milk, they become fuller and firmer. When your baby empties one breast, it will look and feel noticeably softer. If your baby stops after one breast, you will probably look a bit lop-sided until the next feeding. As you breastfeed, your breasts will change in appearance and feel.

Most of the changes that come with pregnancy and breastfeeding are temporary. Many new mothers want to know if their bodies will change permanently. Your body will definitely change permanently, but the extent of the changes varies greatly among mothers.

Several physical changes are happening. The milk-producing structures of the breast fill and empty, creating firmness and softness. Milk production results in denser breasts, which does mean some increase in size. For all women, though, fat cells determine breast size. During pregnancy, our bodies put on fat to support the pregnancy and breastfeeding. Part of the increase in breast size is just about fat—and, lest this isn’t clear in our fat-obsessed culture, that is a very good thing. Breastfeeding can reduce overall fat stores for some women, but it isn’t a given that you will lose the pregnancy fat after your baby is born. Another change that happens with the appearance of your breasts when your skin stretches. Some women get stretch marks; some women just find that their skin doesn’t feel as tight; and, yes, some women find that their breasts sag.

Sagging breasts aren’t caused by breastfeeding, though. A study found clear factors in sagging—age, significant weight loss, higher body mass index, large cup size, number of pregnancies, and a history of smoking—but breastfeeding, weight gain during pregnancy, and lack of upper body exercise were not among the causes. So, no, breastfeeding won’t cause your breasts to sag, though stretched skin might contribute to sagging.

Experience varies quite a bit between pre-pregnancy to post-breastfeeding breasts. You could return to almost the same size and shape you had before, your breasts could shrink and sag, or you could go from being flat-chested to abundantly busty (as I did).

To support your breasts and prevent unnecessary changes, wear a well-fitting bra during pregnancy and breastfeeding, even at night. This isn’t a necessity for health, but it can make a difference to post-breastfeeding appearance. Larger breasted women need a lot more support, and smaller breasted women can be fortunate enough to need no more than a breastfeeding top with a built-in bra. We carry Bravado Bras as well as Glamourmom and Undercover Mama nursing tops because these are the products we found helpful ourselves.

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Anti-bacterial Ingredient Triclosan Found to Weaken Muscle

Washing Hands with Liquid Soap

Triclosan, a chemical added to many dozens of household products, has been in the news this past week as a new study finds that the chemical weakens muscle by interfering with the movement of calcium in cells. Data from the study “provide strong evidence that the chemical is of concern to both human and environmental health.”

Where are the environmental protections that we rely on? Earlier this year, the Canadian Ministers of Environment and Health announced a finding that “triclosan is not harmful to human health, but in significant amounts can cause harm to the environment.” The U.S. Centers for Disease Control Fact Sheet on Triclosan still says, “More research is needed to assess the human health effects of exposure to triclosan.” Despite the slow-moving national regulation of chemical additives, the research finally seems to have reached a tipping point.

Environmental Working Group, in their 2008 report on Triclosan, recommended removing the chemical from all consumer products. That might seem an extreme conclusion at first. For those companies that add the chemical to dozens of products, it might seem impossible to discontinue its use. Continued research and persistent pressure have brought us to the point where a ban on triclosan seems possible, even probable.

Claims As a Germ Killer

Triclosan has been added to consumer products as a germ killer. We know it best as an ingredient in anti-bacterial soap. Does antibacterial soap work better than other soap to kill bacteria? No, dozens of studies have found that triclosan does not work better than plain soap.

It’s Not Just Soap

You might think you would find this so-called anti-bacterial pesticide just in anti-bacterial soap, but it is used in consumer products throughout your house: toothpaste, toys, filters, vacuums, cart covers, and even hockey helmets.

A few of the products containing triclosan include: Colgate Total, Revlon ColorStay LipSHINE Lipcolor Plus Gloss, Faberware Microban Cutting Boards, Fellowes Cordless Microban Keyboard and Microban Mouse Pad, Biofresh socks, Playskool toys (Stack ‘n Scoop Whale, Rockin’ Radio, Hourglass, Sounds Around Driver, Roll ‘n Rattle Ball, Animal Sounds Phone, Busy Beads Pal, Pop ‘n Spin Top, Lights ‘n Surprise Laptop), Ticonderoga Antibacterial pencil, Bauer hockey helmets, Miller Paint Interior Paint, Dupont Air Filters, BioEars earplugs, Petmate LeBistro feeders and waterers, Infantino cart covers and baby carriers, Bissell Healthy Home Vacuum, Rival Seal-A-Meal Vacuum Food Sealer, CleenFreek SportsHygiene Yoga Mat. (See Beyond Pesticides for their list of products containing triclosan, and see the SkinDeep database for a list of cosmetics that include triclosan. Check the Good Guide for product ratings, and download their app so you can scan bar codes as you shop.)

Especially as more research shows potential harm from triclosan, you might find that the chemical disappears from some of these products. As Beyond Pesticides points out, “many companies are quietly taking triclosan out of their products Remember to always refer to product labels to determine whether triclosan is contained in your product.”

Getting Rid of Triclosan

As with so much of the chemical body burden resulting from the experimental innovations of modern synthetics, chemicals accumulate in our bodies. There is a way a woman can rid herself of these chemicals: breastfeed. That’s right. Triclosan and other chemicals are found in breastmilk then passed to babies. It is unlikely we can prevent all exposure to Triclosan and other dangerous chemicals without a complete ban from consumer products, but we as individuals can limit our exposure by understanding the products that use these chemicals and avoiding those products.

Environmental Working Group recommended in 2008 that Triclosan be banned from all consumer products. Just this week, Johnson & Johnson announced that they will remove Triclosan from all products by the end of 2015. Consumer pressure does work to remove these dangerous ingredients from the products that surround us. It helps us all to vote with our dollars and avoid products with experimental chemical ingredients, but we also need to keep up the pressure as consumers to encourage changes like this.

Naturally Antibacterial

As you pack your child’s school bag, if you are looking for naturally antibacterial cleaners that do not add to your child’s chemical body burden, consider Clean George (Made in USA) and Graydon (Made in Toronto). Both products use essential oils as the antibacterial ingredient.

Image © Umiterdem | Dreamstime.com

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My Baby Keeps Falling Asleep While Nursing

Baby sleeping on mother

Does your baby keep falling asleep while nursing? Are you wondering whether this is OK? It is!

It is common for a newborn to be very sleepy. The size of a newborn’s stomach is very small. Their need for sleep is often greater early on than their need for food. Some babies even lose weight for a bit, but weight loss won’t go on for long for a healthy baby.

It isn’t a problem if an older baby falls asleep nursing either, unless you find it a problem. A baby might nurse a bit here and there for an hour then want to be fed again in another hour. If this kind of feeding doesn’t fit your schedule, you can take steps to encourage your baby to stay awake and nurse more consistently for a shorter period of time.

Keep in mind as well that you want your baby to get the fatty milk that comes as your breast is emptying (sometimes called “hindmilk”). Whether you do this by nursing frequently (keeping your breasts relatively empty) or by nursing until empty on one side before switching to the other, it doesn’t matter. Just make sure that your baby is getting the full benefit of the fatty milk.

How to Keep a Baby Awake

Many mothers have developed gentle ways to keep a baby awake long enough to nurse thoroughly.

  • Start by changing your baby’s diaper before feeding. If you use a cold cloth to wipe the baby’s bottom or against her face and back, your baby will start the feeding stimulated.
  • Don’t put your baby’s clothes back on after the diaper change. Some babies stay awake longer with skin to skin contact.
  • Tickle his toes. Be aware of whether this is fun or irritating for the baby, but it is a common way to keep breastfeeding babies awake.
  • Sing to your baby. Your baby loves watching you. If you do something interesting, you might find that she stays awake just to see what you will do next.
  • Use the cold washcloth again. Brushing your baby’s cheeks with a cool washcloth can cause an intake of breath and more awareness—at least for a short time.
  • If you nurse on both sides at a feeding, stop in between and play for a bit. Sing and laugh. This is similar to the idea of changing diaper before feeding. If your baby is stimulated to start, he is more likely to stay awake.

Or, Just Let the Baby Sleep

Chances are you need more sleep yourself. If your baby wants to sleep, maybe you can take advantage and sleep as well. If you have a soft, comfortable chair or if you nurse in bed, this works better than sleeping sitting up.

If you don’t need the sleep, but you do need focus time, can you do your work with your baby on your lap? If you have set up a nursing station with water, phone, notebook, book, computer, or whatever it is you need to do, your baby’s sleepy nursing time could be a good time for you.

One of my babies was a leisurely, sleepy nurser, and I didn’t try to change her patterns. I went on with my work by nursing where I knew I needed to be next. Sometimes, especially when I was nursing a toddler and pregnant, I just slept.

In general, it isn’t a problem that your baby falls asleep while nursing, unless you find it a problem. You can help your baby adjust to your schedule, but your baby also needs you to adjust to her needs. If your baby is growing, alerts at other times, and happy, do what you can to go with the flow.

Image © Valeko | Dreamstime.com

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