The beginning of May is often filled with Mother’s Day related celebration. To Mother’s everywhere, I hope loved ones are telling you how much they appreciate you. As most of you know, the mental and physical work of a Mother never ends. We have little time to reflect on how we are doing and take care of ourselves. Although most of us rarely indulge in this activity, I’d like to highlight a few areas where we should. If we take time to focus on ourselves, we ultimately become better supporters of our families.

The women’s health team at Freedom works to empower our clients with information and motivation to improve pelvic, breast and bone health, as well as overall well-being. Pelvic health encompasses pre and post-partum conditions, pelvic pain, incontinence, urinary, reproductive and bowel function. We often instruct core and pelvic floor exercises to help in this area, in addition to proper body mechanics, toileting habits, dietary guidelines and breathing exercises. Breast health relies on proper stress management, hormone balance, nutrition and physical activity. Bone mass is also influenced by the above mentioned areas. Although it seems overwhelming to take on something else, a few changes to the above areas will go a long way.

The most common theme we use when educating patients is helping them become more aware of their bodies and how they are affected by their environment and activities. Simply being more aware of our breathing pattern, and working on taking deep breaths a few times a day can have a big impact on improving health. Awareness of our posture and how we use our muscles can also go along way in helping reduce pain and improve well being. Learning how to relax and best strengthen pelvic floor muscles can have a dramatic effect on incontinence and pelvic pain. Finally, mindfulness of what we are eating and drinking as well as how we eliminate influence disease and comfort.

Here are a few helpful hints you can try at home:

1. Notice how you are breathing, observe this during different activities and situations. Are you using your diaphragm to take breaths into your belly, or are you taking shallow breaths using your neck and chest muscles? Attempt to take 3-5 deep breaths 3 times per day.

2. Set aside 5 minutes to lie down, relax, and think about one of your favorite places or activities. Analyze all aspects you can think of, the sights, smells, feels and sounds. If you become distracted by thoughts about dinner, upcoming plans, or your child’s report card, allow that thought in for a moment then try to go back to the happy place. Be aware of your breathing during this time.

3. Take time to go to the bathroom. When you feel a moderate urge to go, calmly walk to the bathroom, shut the door (lock it of you need to), sit down and relax fully. Visualize your pelvic floor relaxing and letting everything out. Avoid pushing or hurrying. Focus on understanding what a relaxed pelvic floor feels like.

4. Perform 10 pelvic floor contractions at least once daily. Make sure you are in a comfortable and relaxed position. Visualize pulling your anal muscles together and inward, as if to stop from passing gas. Fully relax in between. If this is easy, try holding each contraction for 5-10 seconds.

5. Fill a glass or water bottle with plain water and sip it between breakfast and lunch, then again between lunch and dinner.

6. Analyze your posture while sitting and performing activities. Could you straighten your spine more? Are certain muscles tense or strained because they’re doing too much work? Think about how you can change how you are sitting or rearrange your work space or position to reduce strain on your body?

If you are struggling with how to manage symptoms or work on improving your health, Freedom specialists are available to help. Our dedicated team of providers will use their advanced training, personal experience and compassion to help guide you to success. We understand you have limited time and energy to invest in yourself, and will work with you to develop a practical custom plan that meets your needs and schedule. Please contact one of our specialists if you have questions about our services or would like to schedule a consultation.

Regardless of the gifts and accolades Mother’s Day brings your way, take time to celebrate yourself. Remember, you’ll be able to better help others when you are at your best.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Abigail Jurinek graduated with high honors from Bradley University in 2007 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Health Science and minor in Biology. She went on to graduate in 2010 from the Doctor of Physical Therapy program.