Class Theme for the Week: Postpartum Mood Disorders

This week each of my prenatal yoga classes were focused around Postpartum Mood Disorders.  My goal was to bring awareness of Postpartum Depression, Anxiety, and OCD to my students and to help prepare them for action, if and when these situations present themselves.

When I gave birth to my first child, just over two years ago, there were close to 20 other women who I know who gave birth within that year.  Was it because most of us were turning 30?  Perhaps!  But from this large amount, I have known 2 or 3 to have gone through some form of postpartum depression, specifically.

As far as my story goes, here is why I think it’s important to talk about ppd and other related disorders: Towards the end of my pregnancy, I was speaking with one of my coworkers at the psychotherapy clinic I was working at.  She mentioned how she had suffered from depression long before her first baby was born and was worried about ppd.  I mentioned that I was in a similar situation and she suggested I get hooked up with the ppd program at Women’s College Hospital here in Toronto.  They have a program called the Reproductive Life Stages Program.  Basically you get a referral from your doctor or midwife and make an appointment to see a doctor there to determine if you’re at risk for a postpartum mood disorder.  It is great because if you do have troubles after the baby is born, you’re already in the system and can more easily make an appointment to seek care (wait lists can be long apparently).  I decided to take action and see what would come of it.

After an incredibly lengthy and somewhat cathartic intake session with a psychiatrist (this ended up happening postpartum because I was late in getting the referral), I was told that more than anything, I may be at a slight risk for a Postpartum Anxiety Disorder.  This was surprising to me and my natural tendency was to put up a defense, and I did (on the inside).

But it all added up.  Since my baby was born, my house was cleaner than it had ever been.  I felt incredibly anxious when the baby was asleep and didn’t know what to do next to make myself as productive as possible.  Sleep?  Sew?  Clean?  Cook?  Yoga?  Shower?  All this amoungst other things.

This session with the doctor really helped me to see things a little clearer, and it has taught me what my tendency is toward – anxiety.  I can see my anxious thoughts and behaviours creeping up in my second pregnancy, and I will surely be on the lookout for their presence postpartum this time around.  And I know there is help out there if I need it.

In my research for my classes this week, I came across a few great resources which I’d love to share with you:

  1. The Postpartum Progress website, and specifically the checklist they provide.
  2. Postpartum Support International website (thanks Rose)
  3. This blog post from the owner of Blooma – Sarah Longacre
  4. Brooke Shields’ book Down Came The Rain (I read this during my first pregnancy and it really helped to see things more clearly)

May is Postpartum Mood Disorder Awareness Month, and you can bet I will be revisiting this topic in my classes then.  It was quite a challenge to attempt to lead a yoga class with this as the theme.  But I know the benefits far outweigh the consequences.

Love, Light, and Awareness,



Managing Morning Sickness

Good Morning!

Well a lot has been going on over here in the last week.  My son has quit breastfeeding at 23 months, only goes poop and pee on the big-boy toilet, has taken to sleeping for a total of 15 or more hours a day, and I’m back to feeling more like my energetic self with a willingness to exercise and cook!

And at the same time, I have some things I’d like to share about morning sickness in a long over-due post.

Morning Sickness – do you know what it’s triggers are?  Since I didn’t have to deal with it in my first pregnancy, I feel like so much light has been shed on it this time around.  (Please note that all my suggestions below are merely suggestions and things that worked well for me, nothing more.)

Did you know lack of sleep makes morning sickness worse?  This was a shocker for me for some reason!  And the general consensus for second-time moms is their baseline of tiredness during their second pregnancy is slightly higher – I wonder why!  Perhaps it’s that toddler running around constantly from sun up to sun down. 😉

Also, did you know morning sickness is brought on by a blood-sugar dip?  When we get hungry this is a sign of our blood-sugar dipping. This is why new moms are recommended to eat many small meals throughout the day, sometimes as often as every 1.5-2 hours apart.  The trick is to never get hungry!  If you can prevent a blood-sugar dip, you can prevent the nausea and lack of appetite that follows (what a nasty spiral).  I confess, sometimes I feel like I NEVER stop snacking!  It can be hard to keep up with this while caring for a toddler as you can imagine.  However, it’s important to keep your fridge and pantry filled with healthy, quick snacks that you can grab on the go. I recommend simple things like cutting up all your vegetables for the week ahead of time and keeping them spritzed in a sectional container in the fridge so you can grab and go.  Also, do your best to save your energy: stick close to home when you can, and take time through the day when your child is around to prepare food and cook.  It is important for our kids to handle healthy food and watch us cooking at an early age so they associate this as a daily habit and regular occurrence.  My crafty brother-in-law made a learning tower for my son for Christmas last year which is incredibly handy in the kitchen.  I will post on that soon.

Did you know combining proteins and fats can curb morning sickness?  Protein is the building blocks for your new baby and fats are what keeps your hunger at bay.  The average woman needs 15 grams of protein a day, but the average pregnant woman needs 70 grams!  That’s a HUGE difference!  So be sure to keep your protein stocked in the fridge.  I always have hemp hearts, nuts and seeds, nut butter, cottage cheese, avocado (fats), and hard boiled eggs on hand.  A hard boiled egg is a wonderful combination of protein and fats that can help any pregnant woman get through the next couple hours.

If you wake up hungry and already feel ‘gross’ before you open your eyes, a good strategy is to prepare something the night before and have it ready in the fridge or right on your bedside table.  My midwife suggests having a glass jar of nuts (I also always have ginger chews by my bed) at the bedside for those hard mornings, most likely when you didn’t sleep well through the night.  My husband also graciously would get up right away to bring me some overnight oats or a protein-packed smoothie before getting out of bed.  This helps a LOT!

Another strategy in case you are easily disgusted by EVERYTHING, is to eat the thing you want to eat (a bun or piece of toast for example) that you know won’t satiate you (doesn’t contain significant protein or fats) to get the hunger away and then right away use that energy to prepare something that is healthier and will better satiate you.  This strategy works well to stave off the hunger and give you a minute to think about your best or quickest healthy option.

And my last suggestion if all these are still not helping and you still feel a baseline of grossness, cancel as many of your plans as you can and sleep a LOT and then go out to get Ginger Gravol.  Yes, Gravol makes an anti-nausea pill that is natural, PURE concentrated ginger!  It is safe and effective when taken over time.  One of the only things I’ll buy at the drugstore!

And as always, I suggest considering the above (or other) natural options before taking any heavier meds!

Much love, patience, and happy food-preparing in your pregnancies!



Bawling Like A Baby

You may or may not know I teach a prenatal yoga class on Friday mornings at Toronto Yoga Mamas, a pre and post-natal yoga studio in downtown Toronto’s East Side.

This past week we focused our practice on The Spine and our theme was ‘Tension’.  I have been taking some pride in planning and theme-ing my classes the past few weeks, aiming to build in structure and cohesion to the poses, breath-work and meditation.

To start class, each Mama got into a comfortable position and I read this little blurb on Motherhood that my fancy and beautiful friend Rosilee wrote.  I am glad to say that I almost couldn’t get through it for the tears screaming forth.  Something took over me.  I held it together, but I more or less could have bawled like a baby.

Here it goes:

Being a mother has not come easily for me.  I grew up dreaming about becoming a mom and had always believed I was well-suited for the role.  After seven fabulous years as a couple, our first  pregnancy and birth were more wonderful than we could have hoped and my expectations were soaring as I dove head-first into my life as a mother.  As we’ve changed and grown as a family, it isn’t hard to embrace my three children whole-heartedly; I am overwhelmed by their incredible capacity for wonder, curiousity, magic and love.  In the midst of the magic though, if I’m honest, there is still a certain sadness as I mourn the loss of the life I had, and loved, before my kids came along.  There is always a tension inside me between letting go and embracing, needing and meeting needs, welcoming the new and letting the old slip away.  This tension that I feel brings a certain fierceness to the love that I have for my family because I know that the incredibly meaningful moments that we share and the life we have together takes hard work and a lot of sacrifice from each of us.  We have each given ourselves to this family, and together we are writing an incredible love story.  

Bless you Rosilee.  Thanks for sharing your gift of writing and your experience in Motherhood.  🙂
May each of you have light and acceptance in your tension.