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Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Childbearing Year

Strategies for coping with your changing body:

Swollen extremities?

You probably know that raising your swollen limbs so they are above the heart level can be helpful. Another method to reduce the swelling is to take a cool or cold shower or to just soak your hands or feet in cold water. You can also combine these strategies by using a towel to fasten an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables to your hands or feet while also keeping them above heart level. Make sure to have the ice pack wrapped in another towel first so that it is not directly in contact with your skin, and apply it for no more than 20 minutes at a time.

Sore lower back?

Try sitting in a chair with a firm seat and full back support while your partner sits on the floor in front of you and leans back into your knees, or sits facing you and presses your knees back with her/his hands. This will help to relieve the pressure on your sacroiliac joint.

Alternatively, you can try the all-fours position on the floor while your partner presses on your sacrum. For this move it is imperative that your partner knows where the sacrum is before proceeding or you can be injured. It is important to note that this move should never hurt. Check with your Massage Practitioner, Physician or other healthcare professional for guidance if you are unsure and always proceed slowly, stopping if you experience any pain.

Sleeping problems?

Sleeping on your side doesn’t come easily for some. Making sure that you have enough support can go a long way to getting a good night’s rest. Use a variety of pillows to bolster yourself: a small wedge-shaped pillow fits nicely behind your back and a second one can support your belly. You can also use a folded towel for this purpose.

A long “huggy” pillow is good for ensuring that your spine remains in alignment by raising and supporting your top leg and arm (you hug it and hold it between your knees). Finally, get someone to help you to assess if the pillow you are using for your head is the right height to keep your head and neck in line with your spine. Perhaps that same person would be willing to give you a very light massage, just running their hands lightly over your skin to help you to relax and drift off.

Engorgement?

Any breastfeeding woman who experiences engorgement knows that it can be uncomfortable and even painful. And while some measure of engorgement is usually considered normal (and even an essential result of the body’s need to increase production as your baby grows), it is also important to know that moderate to severe engorgement should be taken seriously as it can predispose the breast to mastitis. If you think that you are experiencing unusual engorgement, you should consult your lactation consultant, midwife, community nurse or doctor without delay.

La Leche League International counsels women that, “Mothers experience less severe forms of engorgement with early frequent feedings, self-demand feedings, unlimited sucking times, and with babies who demonstrate correct suckling techniques.”[i] They also recommend a self-massage technique called, “alternate breast massage” which is done during the pauses that occur while the baby is latched and feeding, and is a combination of breast massage and breast compressions (which are well-demonstrated on video on the website of Dr. Jack Newman - http://www.drjacknewman.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=18&Itemid=42). There are other home remedies that are often very effective including hot and cold therapies, chilled or room-temperature cabbage leaves in your bra, and hand expressing or pumping to comfort. I will be addressing engorgement in greater detail in a later article.



[i] Walker, Marsha. "Breastfeeding and Engorgement". La Leche League. June 24, 2007 .

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