Mom Wellness, Uncategorized

What Moms Really Want for Christmas

Significant others, listen up closely, and, others, take note if you are getting a gift for a Mama! And Moms, share this with your people, you will thank yourself later for doing so!

Holidays are right around the corner and there will be a lot of gifts that get stuffed away and never thought of again. There will also be so many mothers that ask for nothing and won’t say what they really want because they are more concerned with how the holidays will be for others. Even though I love surprises, I am a big advocate of communicating what you really want, just so there is no confusion, everyone is happy and it won’t be wasted money or energy.

So first thing I would do is literally ask the Mom in your life what she wants. If she loves surprises, have her make a list of different things. If answering that makes her uncomfortable try one of these…

*If you are the Mom, I suggest getting comfortable with communicating exactly what it is you want, especially when asked! Release the mom guilt, you deserve a Merry Christmas as much as everyone else! And this communication practice will help for future situations that encourages healthy and authentic relationships.

  1. Time alone

This gift can simply be a homemade certificate that she can cash in anytime or you can set up an event or get a gift certificate like a spa day, a wellness retreat, workout/yoga class she loves, a target gift card, whatever she is into! It doesn’t have to be expensive, the time alone is going to be so good for her well being it will mean so much more.

  1. Sleep

This one is more for significant others but no, I am not kidding, sleep is such a gift as a mom. This could happen to be the best gift you could ever give her. Take on the morning duty alone and let the Goddess get her beauty rest. Again, you could make a homemade gift certificate, maybe with a few Sleep In certificates that she can cash or schedule. Or if the child/children are having sleep issues that is affecting Mom’s wellbeing – gift her a sleep consult with a children’s sleep expert. I have worked with a sleep expert and it was the best thing for not only my son’s health, but mine. I was a literal zombie, or Mombie, and after getting my son sleeping I felt like a million bucks. Don’t hesitate, it’s worth every penny to have someone set up a custom sleep plan for your family. Sponsorless shout out to Heaven Sent Sleep.

  1. House Cleaner/Car Detail

Releasing a Mom of a cleaning duty or her coming home to a clean house/car is going to make her day! This is a service that can be done by a significant other or gifted as a service done by a professional. That gives her more quality time to spend with family, which is what all moms really want.

  1. Babysitting

YESSSSS!!!! This is worth the price of gold to moms. Whether you are a spouse setting up a babysitter to take her on a date or a family member/friend that offers services as a babysitter, schedule a date that works for her and set it up so she doesn’t bail out and feel possible mom guilt. Even if it is for a couple of hours, it will be much appreciated.

Moms are simple creatures who just want to enjoy the simple moments in life. Moms spend so much time worrying about if everyone else is happy that they tend to neglect their own self care, so you can’t go wrong with gifting something that is going to light up her soul and fill her cup. When Mom is filled, the whole family benefits from it. The gift that keeps giving!

Happy Holidays and Merry Mom Christmas! 🙂

For Balancebuilding Philosophy Gift Certificates Contact Brandi at Balancebuilding@brandimills.net

Mom Wellness

Ever have doubts and wonder if you were made for this Mom title?

With my son’s birthday a couple of ago, I have been looking back at pictures from his birth in complete amazement. I re-lived his birth and to be honest I didn’t have a very blissful experience and my recovery was so hard on me physically and mentally, so it’s something I don’t like to go back to often. But this moment captured in this picture was a pivotal moment in my life and the exact moment I realized that this child was meant for me. He was mine and I was his.

I remember this exact moment and I am so glad it was captured because the day was a blur and it confirmed what I felt. After he was delivered by emergency caesarian section, he was evaluated by the NICU because meconium was found in the amniotic fluid. So, I didn’t even get to see him for what felt like a lifetime. I was shaking from the anesthesia, scared because I wasn’t sure if he was ok, and was in shock and exhaustion from the long labor and emergency delivery. Thankfully my husband was able to be right there with Maddux and even bring him to me when he was cleared. As he was bringing him to me, Maddux was crying, and as soon as he snuggled up close to my face, it was like Maddux just knew, he calmed immediately. His face softened, his hand felt my face and he was safe. Close to his mama. Close to the person that he has been nestled in for 9 months prior.

If I had to go back and tell my new mom self something, I would say, “Brandi, this might be tough, this might be extremely challenging, but you are tougher! You are strong. Your baby loves you and that is all that matters. Don’t let others dictate how you walk through this journey. Communicate your feelings as best as you can. Ask for help, even when you hesitate and think it might make you seem weak, ask for help! Hire that sleep consultant sooner than 14 months, being a zombie isn’t all that fun. It’s ok to not love motherhood at all times, but I promise Maddux is worth every second, so trust the process. Love yourself as much as you love that baby. Everything will be ok, even when you think it won’t. And YOU ARE THE BEST MOM FOR MADDUX, I can tell by the way he hugs and kisses you!!”

When you are in the thick of motherhood it can be hard to clear your vision. If you find times where you aren’t sure if you were made for this job, or you are wondering whether you are a good enough mom, you were good enough without even laying eyes on each other! You were good enough without them knowing anything about the world. You were good enough when you were all they had.

You are their world, you are their safety. This was my personal experience but I am sure if you look back on your journey with your little one, you have a moment where you just knew. That moment of connection, even if it wasn’t right off the bat.

There are times in this journey where you can feel defeated, not good enough, compare yourself to other moms, feel like you just aren’t cut out. But let me give you a little insider tip… everyone has these feelings at some point, but it is our responsibility to ourselves to change the perspective. You owe it to yourself to change the narrative. Switch the negatives to positives and if that isn’t possible in the moment you are in, switch it to a neutral comment.

Instead of I am not good enough, change the narrative to I am enough, or I am doing the best I can. And repeat this to yourself over and over again. These affirmations are so important to our mom well-being.

If you were to go back to the new mom you were, who just gave birth to your little being, what would you tell her? What would you insist she do from that point forward?

Mom Wellness, Self Care

Motherhood Mantras to Get You Through the Day

As mothers, we have a tough, thankless job that doesn’t come with any handbook with directions on how to navigate motherhood. We are forced to tap into that divine feminine intuition that sometimes can be tough to listen to when we are tired, working, trying to raise kind, responsible human beings and juggling all life throws at us. That can lead to opportunities for negative narratives filling up your mind. Then comes the comparisons to other mothers, without much help from social media. It then leads to focusing on what we did wrong to what a horrible parent we are. You can head down a rabbit hole of despair fairly quickly.

But there are some things we can do to stay centered and close to the Goddess Mother within you. The more we work on our own narrative, the more others will catch on as well. If anything we need more now, it’s to support each other in this motherhood journey even if situations are not the same. We need to unite as mothers because, let’s be honest, it takes a village to raise a child!

So how can we do that?

Changing the narrative.

Sounds easier said than done, I know. But don’t complicate it because it is a simple task, we can all do. When you find negative thoughts flooding your mind, instantly turn it into something positive. Whether its immediately thinking of 3 things you are grateful for or just saying something positive about yourself instead. This will train your mind into releasing the negative and focusing on the positive. Instead of thinking about everything you did wrong, think about everything you did right! I guarantee that list is longer!

Something else I love, love, love are Affirmations.

Affirmations are positive, unique mantras or statements about you or your situation that you can play on repeat in your mind daily. You can choose one daily or a few different ones to repeat throughout the day. I suggest starting your day, upon waking, with an affirmation that will set the tone for the day. Write it down so you can be reminded of it often.

If you are having trouble coming up with your own, here is a list of 30 Motherhood Mantras that will get you through the chaos that motherhood comes with.

  1. I love myself enough, to nurture myself, so I have an abundance of love to give to others.
  2. I trust my intuition to lead me in my motherhood journey.
  3. I am capable of amazing things because I helped create life.
  4. I love the body that created and carried my child(ren).
  5. My body is beautiful and deserves grace in this season of healing.
  6. I am centered and focused on healing my postpartum mind, body, and soul.
  7. I am strong because I helped create, carry and birth my little one(s).
  8. Peace begins with me. The more peaceful I am inside, the more peace I have to share with others. – Louise Hay
  9. This is just a season of life that needs me to nurture and be nurtured.
  10. I love myself because_____________.
  11. I am filled with an abundance of love.
  12. Today I will find peace in knowing that the sun always rises and so will I.
  13. Even the littlest thing I do, serves the greater good of my family.
  14. I parent with confidence, without guilt or comparisons. Other mothers are not me, as I am not them.
  15. I give myself permission to do something that nourishes my mind, body and soul.
  16. Loving my child(ren) is more important than loving every moment of motherhood.
  17. I am a good mom, even as I work to become a better one.
  18. I was chosen to parent my child because I was exactly what he/she needed.
  19. There is an abundance of love and peace in this home, even in the midst of chaos.
  20. I am grateful for the time I get to spend with my child(ren).
  21. I will do my best as a mom, and that is always enough.
  22. I am more than enough for my baby.
  23. I am present and grateful in this moment.
  24. I will model self-love to my child(ren) without guilt.
  25. The struggles I push through today will be the strengths I gain tomorrow.
  26. My love is given from my full, heart centered, cup.
  27. I will let go of how I think today is supposed to go and accept how it flows.
  28. I am grateful for my ability to create and carry life.
  29. I was brought to this moment because I am strong enough to thrive through this situation gracefully.
  30. I am going with the flow of life and I am peaceful knowing it will all be OK.

I hope starting this affirmation practice gives you the confidence you need to be your best Goddess Mother self, even when life challenges it.

Exercise, Mom Wellness, Women's Health

Yoga and the Pelvic Floor

Yoga has a great way of bringing self-awareness to our bodies. But did you know that a mind-body connection is key to having optimal pelvic floor health? Just as we need a mind-body connection for exercise and yoga, we also need it for our pelvic floor, so it makes sense yoga would be the best place to become more mindful of this practice. Strong pelvic muscles aren’t just built by doing your occasional Kegels and along with strength, you need stability and softening, the trifecta of a healthy pelvic floor. Based on research, yoga is considered a great option for strengthening, softening and stabilizing these muscles.

Since the pelvic floor isn’t widely talked about, let’s talk about the specifics.

What is the pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor refers to all of the muscles at the base of the pelvis, creating a hammock shape. These muscles cover the opening of pelvic boney structures, supporting our reproductive organs, bowel and urinary organs. These muscles might be small, but they have some big jobs to excel at keeping our bodies functioning well. The pelvic floor is the foundation to our whole-body structure. So, any issue with the pelvic floor can cause some major problems to our bodies.

Pelvic Floor Jobs:

  • Provides support for pelvic organs
  • Facilitates birth
  • Maintains optimal intra-abdominal pressure
  • Assists in stabilizing the body, along with, the core, hip and back muscles
  • Plays an integral role in sexual health

Pelvic Floor Issues/Disorders:

  • Urinary Incontinence
  • Fecal Incontinence
  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Pelvic spasms
  • Painful Intercourse

Causes of PF Issues/Disorders:

  • Pregnancy
  • Vaginal childbirth
  • Obesity
  • Constant Coughing
  • Some surgeries that might require cutting
  • Lower levels of oestrogen after menopause

Nearly 24 percent of US women are affected with one or more pelvic floor disorders, according to research done by National Institutes of Health It also showed that the frequency of pelvic floor disorders increases with age, affecting more than 40 percent of women from 60-79, and about 50 percent of women 80 years of age and older. The prevalence of pelvic floor disorders increases with the number of times a woman has given birth.

The American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology (AJOG) conducted a research study to assess the changes a yoga class could make to a group of women with urinary incontinence in 3 months. In that 3 months, there was a 76% decrease in the frequency of their incontinence and a 61% decrease in stress incontinence. There are definitely no losses in adding yoga to your new routine.

So, in other words, any woman can be affected by a pelvic floor disorder but there are ways you can be proactive in prevention and recovery.

Do you think you might have an issue?

Talk to your provider or a physical therapist who specializes in the pelvic floor, to assist in diagnosing and treating any pelvic issues you might be experiencing.

Exercise! The pelvic floor is the foundation of our center so a full body workout is indirectly, positively, affecting the pelvic floor.

Add in some yoga, core, pelvic floor, and breathing exercises to your health regimen. Most of the appropriate exercises can be done daily in the luxury of your own home.

Yogic Practices that can help Strengthen, Stabilize and Soften the Pelvic Floor

Diaphragmatic Breathing

The diaphragm and the pelvic floor are synergists, they work together with inhalation and exhalation. They are both hammock like muscles that do the same thing at the same time. So with inhalation, the diaphragm and the pelvic floor both drop creating space in both the lungs and the pelvis. With exhalation these muscles lift with the vacuum effect that takes place in the body.

These two important muscles work best when aligned properly over each other. So this is where posture becomes important and where yoga can help. Tadasana (Mountain pose) with head over shoulders, shoulders over hips, hips over feet with pelvis slightly tucked in a neutral position. Or you can try lying with knees bent and a neutral pelvis slightly tucked.

  • Breathing deep and slow, focusing on filling up the lower part of the lungs (belly will expand but it’s not the focus here) immediately triggers the vagas nerve which is directly related to our parasympathetic nervous system. Then exhale completely drawing the navel toward the spine to help empty completely. This can be done at any time of the day just to relax and center yourself.
  • You can take it a step further, try connecting with the pelvic floor and doing a kegel (a gentle squeezing/lifting action of the pelvic floor as if you were trying to stop urinating) on the exhale. With a kegel, you want to isolate the pelvic floor and keep glutes, hip and legs soft.
  • Once you have felt that contraction, reverse it and try contracting a kegel on the inhale, much harder.
    • Note that kegels should be practiced for the fast twitch muscles and the endurance muscles within the pelvic floor so you can try doing a lift and release with diaphragmatic breathing like explained, lift and release 1 second hold to 1 second full release while breathing normally, and a lift and release building up to 10 second hold while breathing normally.

Diaphragmatic breathing can…

  • improve the pelvic floor musculature.
  • Lower stress responses associated with “fight or flight” mechanism
  • Improves heart rate variability- which is the measurement of variations between beat-to-beat intervals.
  • This is great to do anytime, anywhere for any amount of emotion, anxiety, stress, or irritability- because life.

Bandha Engagement

Bandhas are energy locks that are engaged during certain asanas or postures. Bandhas help regulate and flow energy through the body. There are three bandhas that can be engaged together or independently from one another, the Mula Bandha or root lock, Uddiyana Bandha or abdominal lock, and Jalandhara Bandha or throat lock. When all three are engaged it is the Maha Bandha

Muscularly, the Mula Bandha or Root lock, is similar to a kegel with a more complete engagement of the pelvic floor. Kegels focus primarily on the muscles that control urination. This certain engagement, draws the levator ani muscle up into the body for added strength and toning of the pelvic floor. A yoga class can keep the mula bandha engaged the whole time with a sequence focused on postures that energetically engage this lock. The poses below focus on this.

Engaging the Uddiyana Bandha or the abdominal lock, takes your pelvic floor engagement to another level by involving the core. Having strong deep core muscles (transverse abdominis muscles) also helps to improve pelvic floor health.

To engage the Uddiyana Bandha…

  • Start with diaphragmatic breathing.
  • On the exhale, engage those deep core muscles by drawing them in like a corset, simultaneously, engaging the mula bandha, lifting the pelvic floor. You can place your hands on your belly to help feel the contraction of the transverse abdominis muscles. Your belly should not buldge here, it should draw in creating a more flat contraction.

The asanas listed below are postures that will help you put this all into action. If this all seems overwhelming to do on your own, start with one thing at a time. Master it and move forward. I also plan on starting a weekly Women’s Health Yoga class that will focus on all of this. The postures listed below are a good place to start that will naturally engage this area.

Strengthening Poses

  • Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
  • Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana or Chakrasana)
  • Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
  • Cat Pose (Marjaryasana)

Stabilizing Poses

  • Chair Pose (Utkanasana)
  • Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
  • Bird Dog Pose (Dandayamana Bharmanasana)
  • Extended hand to big toe Pose (Utthita Hasta Padangustasana)

Softening or Stretching Poses

  • Malasana (Squat) Pose
  • Child Pose (Balasana)
  • Lunge Pose (Anjaneyasana)
  • Cow Pose (Bitilasana)

The pelvic floor is widely unknown yet such an important part of keeping our bodies healthy and running at optimal performance. It is never too late to start!

Resources:

www.nih.gov

https://www.ajog.org/article/S0002-9378(18)30915-3/fulltext

Mom Wellness, Self Care, Women's Health

Chasing the “Love” Hormone

I have stumbled upon yet again a new Balancebuilding journey for myself that hit me unexpectedly, although it really shouldn’t have. Its the moment I left my Milkmaker title behind and stopped breastfeeding. It was February 14th and Maddux was staying with the in laws while my husband and I went on our annual date to The Forks Inn, Maddux had been only nursing at night for a couple of months and I realized this was my chance to eliminate the night nursing! Yessss! After the roller coaster ride we had been on with breastfeeding, the indescribable bond with Maddux, the oversupply issues, the elimination dieting due to allergies, the gratitude of being able to breastfeed my son who has allergies, the crying over all of the pumped milk that couldn’t be used because of allergies, the abundance of emotion of donating hundreds of ounces of milk to a mother who adopted a baby with formula sensitivities, the pumping and the exhausting self advocacy at work. I am so thankful I was able to breastfeed, but after 15 months of it I was so excited to have some body freedom and sleep back,  so much so, that I didn’t pay attention or plan according to the actual physiological changes that happen afterwards.

Thankfully, we had a long, gradual weaning process which probably made things a little better than they could have potentially been. But my body was definitely missing the prolactin (hormone for milk production- also brings feelings of calmness, well-being, and relaxation) and the oxytocin (hormone required for the “let-down” of breastfeeding- also known as the Love hormone). I felt down, unmotivated, irritable and just not myself. And not to mention, the instant 10 lbs I gained back because I am now not burning the extra 500 calories or more a day, that was nice while it lasted. Breastfeeding was legit my cardio for most of that time period. (Thank you Jesus, because I didn’t sleep for 15 months, so that wasn’t a priority) So with that, and eliminating multiple foods from my diet and going on a more plant based journey I was able to get back to my pre pregnancy weight. But how could I have not planned for this moment?! This is what I do, prepare and recover the body through each Balancebuilding season. Well, I am just a mom like a lot of you, trying to balance everything, family, work, home, and wasn’t as concerned about myself as I should have been. Sometimes it can be so challenging to be proactive for ourselves but it is so important. I think the key thing to remember at all times is that it is NEVER too late to start caring for yourself. One thing I am thankful for that I have been gifted through all of my Balancebuilding journeys is self-awareness. I was self aware enough to know that I wasn’t feeling my normal self, I needed to support myself during this time and that this too shall pass.

Oxytocin is a hormone produced by the hypothalamus and secreted by the tiny, pea sized, pituitary gland. This hormone is associated with trust, anxiety, bonds, and relaxation. The production of oxytocin is controlled by a positive feedback mechanism. When this mechanism is triggered, oxytocin is released.

So mainly what I am after is naturally creating more of the “love” hormone minus the breastfeeding. Whether you are a guy, a girl, a mom who breastfeeds or a mom who doesn’t, this list of ways to chase feel good hormones can benefit anyone. But I am also not discounting real mental health issues, if you are someone who has been dealing with intense feelings of depressions/anxiety, please reach out to your physician.

So, here are some things I am actively working on to boost my mood…

  • Creating a nourishing food/workout plan
    • Now that Maddux has a spot on structure with nap and bedtime, I am able to plan out my days better, my workouts/yoga/cardio, meal planning, etc., I can be more consistent, which is key for success.
    • Reverse dieting- Eating with a caloric intake that is high enough without gaining fat while eating enough to feel satisfied. This helps with cravings and binge eating.
  • Adding in foods that contain Tryptophan which can promote oxytocin production.
    • Eggs
    • Bananas
    • Yogurt
    • Rice
    • Quinoa
    • Salmon
    • Beans
    • Spirulina
    • Potatoes
  • Diaphragmatic breathing
    • Breathing deep and slow, filling up the lower part of the lungs into the belly actually immediately triggers the vagas nerve which is directly related to our parasympathetic nervous system.
    • Lowers stress responses associated with “fight or flight” mechanism
    • Improves heart rate variability- which is the measurement of variations between beat-to-beat intervals.
    • This is great to do anytime, anywhere for any amount of emotion, anxiety, stress, or irritability- because life.
  • Hugs
    • Oxytocin actually gets released when you hug or hold someone close for at least 30 seconds! It is a little tough to hug or hold onto a toddler for this long but I take what I can get!
  • Getting outside
    • Thank goodness it is spring! This warmth and sunlight is everything right now! Nature stimulates all of the feel good emotions.
    • Even taking it a step farther and grounding bare foot in the grass instantly helps balance and transfer energy improving our health.
  • Exercise/Yoga
    • Literally exercise and yoga fixes everything, it boosts dopamine and oxytocin, reducing stress and improving confidence and love for your self. #selflove
  • Increasing Magnesium intake
    • relieves anxiety by promoting oxytocin production
    • relieves constipation
    • strengthens bones
    • can help with migraines and headaches
    • relieves premenstrual symptoms
    • increases energy levels
    • fights inflammation
    • You can find magnesium in foods like spinach, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, avocado, figs, almonds, black beans. You can also take a supplement capsule as well.
  • Meditation
    • Meditation promotes a higher level relationship with yourself and a broader connection with others. It enables oxytocin, positive emotions, lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. It can increase pain thresholds and provide healing. Meditation is so powerful and underutilized.

These are things I have always done but now I am reprioritizing my Balancebuilding journey specific to what I need at this moment. Right now I just need a little extra self care to get me through this rough patch. As soon as I came up with a plan I instantly felt better. Just goes to show you, sometimes it is the simple things that make the biggest differences!