Thanks, But No Thanks: Dealing gracefully with unsolicited advice

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When my newly pregnant friends ask me what’s the one thing I wish I had known earlier, it’s simple - I wish I had a strategy to deal with the cascading stampede of unsolicited advice. It begins the moment people know that you are pregnant and apparently doesn’t end anytime soon either. I confess how unprepared I was until one day I had reached my limit.

The mother in me had had ENOUGH!

The therapist in me was fascinated with the motivations of people to want to dole out what was ‘clear as mud’ unwelcomed micromanaging of motherhood.

The therapist in me recognized that we can’t change other people’s behaviour but we can be in control of ourselves – how we choose to see, interpret and manage other people’s behaviour; and, so this post is to help demystify why people might be bursting with unsolicited advice and some strategies to handle it with grace.

Now, before I go further.  I would like to add that not all unsolicited advice is "bad" or "unwelcome."

Sometimes we don’t know that there’s a solution to our struggle unless someone else recognizes it and steers us to a better outcome. The wisdom of ‘been there, done that’ can be helpful.

Sometimes someone may notice something potentially dangerous in the short or long term and if it could save my child’s life or keep them safe from serious harm I would absolutely want to know.

Unsolicited advice can be a blessing when it is:

  • given in genuine kindness      
  • spoken with sensitivity      
  • humble enough to know that it’s 1 of many ways of doing something, and    
  • most importantly, honours the characteristics and relationship of the parent and child together

So why do strangers, family, and friends feel compelled to give advice?

Let’s assume with the benefit of grace that it’s coming from a place filled with the best of intentions… Maybe it’s because:

  • This was hard won wisdom – things that they wished had someone told them and this is a way to pass it forward
  • Just want to be helpful/ needed – in the absence of concrete action ways to help, they offer advice (which they believe to be less intrusive)
  • 'Know it all’/ ‘survived it all’ types – some people believe that the way they did it was best
  • Assuming they have a right to give advice – often a generational thing, where older generations feel this is their role in society and in many cultures the role of an elder is highly valued
  • Nostalgia – Comes often from a place of longing to once again experience this phase of life and feeling that it went by too fast. For those past child-bearing years, there may be a sense of wanting a “do over” with the wisdom they gained from trial and error the first time around.

"Nice Words" and Boundaries

So what to do when you’ve had enough…

To the stranger:

DEEP BREATHS, SMILE and say “Thank you” – The End.

  • If you found it valuable, consider it. If not, fluff it off. That was easy, right? Because you’ll likely not see this person again frequently and you have no vested interest in the relationship. But that’s easier said than done when it’s someone you care about and have a relationship with. You can thank them for noticing you and your beautiful child in a busy world without committing energy.

To the person who is TICKING you off:

“Please help me understand where you are coming from, because this is how it is coming across to me…. As (your feeling)”

  • This is likely a communication problem that causes misunderstanding. By acknowledging how it makes YOU FEEL, you allow them the opportunity to re-phrase and apologize. If they will not see how they caused you hurt that’s a bigger problem.

To the know-it-all:

“I know you mean well, but please don’t assume that my approach will be the same as yours”

  • It gracefully honours that there is more than 1 “right” way to do things and reminds this person of boundaries.

To the person who challenges your decisions over and over:

“Thank you but I’m already operating with an informed decision.”

  • This type of person will likely want to get into a whole long drawn argument until you give in and cede to their point of view. If you have already decided what is best for you and your family, it is energy draining and counterproductive to engage this type of person in a “rational” argument. They want to WIN not necessarily understand your decisions. Disengage and move the focus to something else that is neutral.

To the micro-manager:

“Please just enjoy being a __(role)___ and leave the parenting to me/us”

  • Do you have someone hovering over your shoulder and clicking their tongue “tsk tsk” as you try to change a diaper, nurse, give a bottle, shush and rock the baby and on and on. Or swoop in and “re-do” it “correctly” and it seems that nothing you do is “right” or “good enough”. This sort of behaviour needs FIRM boundaries, left unchecked it can undermine your confidence as a parent

What's my favourite line, you ask...

Finally when you need to shut it down once and for all, a gentle but clear reminder that you are ALWAYS on the mission to do what is BEST for YOUR CHILD. Here’s my favourite line:

“The thing I LOVE about being (child’s) MOM is that I know him/her better than anyone else”

Please pardon me …. This one piece of advice….

RECLAIM your CONFIDENCE, EMBRACE your LOVE

 and know that

YOU’VE GOT THIS!!!

xo Ramona

Ramona Fernandez, Psychotherapist

For the last 10 years I have dedicated my professional work to specialize in women’s reproductive health, fertility and reproductive loss as a counsellor, researcher, ethicist and professor.  I am humbled by the majesty of nature, that brings together so many things with such precision at exactly the right times to make a life. I also bear witness to the deep suffering that comes when the imagined future didn’t work out as hoped.  My knowledge to be your guide as you navigate this path comes from my professional training but also from the empathy of personal knowledge, as I’ve borne 5 pregnancies to bring into the world 1 beautiful child that lived.  I am a psychotherapist with a specialization in perinatal health and reproductive loss. I have a Master’s in Counselling Psychology, Certificate in Grief & Bereavement, and a PhD in Health Professional Education on the topic of high risk pregnancies involving fetal anomalies. I’m currently an adjunct professor at Western University in Counselling Psychology and have taught at Western, Ryerson and Yale Universities. 

Well Parent: Nutrition While Pregnant & Breast/Chestfeeding

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Well Parent Nutrition While Pregnant

Healthy eating is an important part of good health, and an integral part of disease prevention and immune system support.  It is important that you eat healthy to ensure you are at optimal health to grow and care for your baby.

During pregnancy and while breast/chest-feeding your body provides all the nutrients a baby requires, often at the sacrifice of the parents needs. Good nutrition is important to help you keep your energy, and replenish reduced nutrient stores so that you are feeling great while growing, caring for and feeding your baby. Eating a well balanced diet filled with vegetables and good protein is the best way to achieve this.

Healthy oils such as raw olive oil, coconut oil and other unsaturated fats. Raw nuts are an excellent source of healthy oils, and a great source of protein and other micronutrients

Protein is an important part of good health. When choosing plant sources, be diverse! Mix and match! By eating a variety of legumes, nuts and grains  every day your are providing all the building blocks for healthy bodies and brains

Complex carbohydrates These can include beans and legumes, whole grains, rice, quinoa, fruits and vegetables. But beware the easy trap of pre-made simple carbs such as pastas, breads, and crackers…although they do have *some* nutritional merit, and are a wonderful addition to the diet in small quantities, they don't offer the biggest bang for your buck for nutrient needs, and can fill you up quickly

Vegetables and fruits Eat lots! They are excellent sources for micronutrients, vitamins and minerals. Don't forget the dark leafy greens, which are excellent sources of iron and folate: Spinach, Kale, collard greens…

Well Parent Nutrition While Breast/Chestfeeding

The beauty of breast/chest-feeding is that the nutritional content of breastmilk will always be exactly what your baby needs, but it is important to eat well so that you are getting exactly what you need.  

Many parents are often concerned about the nutritional content of their breastmilk, and worry that their babies are not getting what they need. Your body is made to breastfeed, and it will ensure that  your milk is filled with everything it needs for baby's growth and development. It will use all its resources to stockpile breast milk, regardless of parental nutrient levels. If your baby is eating well, and gaining well then your baby is very well fed.

All in all, parental diet has little impact on breast milk nutritional content (breast milk will always have the right stuff in it) (1).  However, there are a few exceptions:

Fat   Fats are incredibly important in brain development and growth, and although the amount of fats you consume has minimal impact on the amount of fat in breast milk, the type of fats that you eat IS important (1, 2). If you are eating the 'not so healthy' fats found in deep fried foods, potato chips and french fries the composition of those fats will be the composition of the fat in your breast milk. But if you are eating healthy fats such as avocados, nuts and olive or coconut oil then the fats in your breast milk will be that of the healthy fats. How neat is that?

Water soluble vitamins    The amount of water soluble vitamins (Vitamin C, B complex vitamins) found in breast milk depends greatly on maternal intake (2). These vitamins are not stored in the body, so both mother and babe are dependent on food to provide these vitamins (3). This is why it is important to eat a healthy well rounded diet so that both babe and mom are getting the vitamins they need. So, where can you get these important vitamins? You guessed it…Veggies! All those bright colourful veggies like red and yellow peppers, brussels sprouts, and dark leafy greens are rich in those C and B vitamins. B12 seems to be the tricky one, most sources of B12 are derived from animal products, however alternative sources include nutritional yeast (I’ve got a great recipe for nutritional yeast popcorn..yum yum yum), fortified tofus and soy products.

Calorie counting? Often new parents find that they have increased hunger. The caloric need of a breast/chest-feeding parent has increased with the increased demand from breast/chest-feeding, this makes it so important that you listen to your body. Every person is different, and as a result what every person needs is different. The same goes for thirst; while breast/chest-feeding, a lot of the water consumed will be used to produce milk, and many parents often feel an increase in thirst. My advice? Drink when you are thirsty! Water, coconut water or natural fruit juices are great ways to hydrate. Eat when you are hungry! Or do both at once with a smoothie!

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It all comes down to the basics when growing and breastfeeding your baby…take care of you and your body will take care of baby.

If you are interested in learning more about eating well while pregnant or  breastfeeding, or looking for tips on how to manage feeding a baby while feeding yourself...give us a call at Rebirth Wellness Centre! We would love to have a chat with you about how we can get you feeling and being well.

xo Rebecca

References:

1.    Fraser, Diane, Cooper, Margaret. (2009). Myles Textbook for Midwives, fifteenth edition. Elsevier Limited

2.    Park, Eileen. 2012. Class notes-Nutrition and Biochemistry

3.    Baby Center  www.babycenter.ca

Rebecca Robertson, Breastfeeding Counsellor, Doula, Childbirth Educator

I am a birth advocate, a breastfeeding educator, and especially an advocate for mothers and the choices they make. As a doula my main role is to support mothers and partners to ensure a satisfying and positive birth experience. I am trained in providing emotional and spiritual support, as well as physical comfort during labor. I completed a DONA training course in 2009 and it sparked my love for supporting laboring women. Since then I have been inspired to continue my learning to provide the best support I can with additional studies in lactation and natural medicine. Some of the things in my tool kit include massage, acupressure, and items to help with visualization and relaxation.  I am trained in different stretches and birthing positions to improve pain tolerance and pushing efficacy, as well I give lots of encouragement! In 2012 I enrolled in a Lactation Medicine Program at the Centre for Breastfeeding Education. There I was instilled with this goal "To enable the mother to manage her own breastfeeding experience, so she will be empowered to achieve her own breastfeeding goals." I accumulated over 90 hours in lactation specific education, as well as hours in observation at their breastfeeding clinic. Since that time I have been supporting new moms as they transition to motherhood and begin the breastfeeding relationship. During my time studying Naturopathic medicine, I was fortunate to expand on my knowledge on lactation medicine as well as how naturopathic medicine can play a role in the perinatal care of women and their new babes. I am passionate about my job, and I bring lots of enthusiasm and love for what I do.  

Six Steps to Escape the Mom Spiral

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Today felt like a mom fail. I couldn't get anything right. According to my toddler, the pants were wrong, the shirt was wrong, the breakfast was wrong, the shoes were wrong and even the method of transportation to school was wrong. It was a GREAT start to the day. You know, one of those days where you're right on the edge of falling apart or not giving a *!@#...it could go either way. 

Step 1: Questioning

So after dealing with an epic temper tantrum throw down at daycare drop off, I climbed back into our minivan (infant in tow) and began the process of what I like to call "the mom spiral". For me, the mom spiral is not just a downward one; it's full of all sorts of fun ups and downs. Mom spirals may be different for everyone and have different triggers, but for me it usually goes like this: step one is an incident resulting in me questioning a parenting choice (big or small). 

Step 2: Indecision

I am wracked with indecision over what I should or should not have done, could have done better or should have known better about.  Step two almost always involves some aggressive Googling; and, even though I am always the first to advise my other mom friends to NEVER Google something when in this state of mind…I of course ignore my own advice and type on.

“Hmmmm maybe someone else has gone through the same thing,” I think to myself.  

This quickly turns into “I must have done something that contributed to my child behaving this way”, or, my favourite, “how could I not have known that when it seems that all these other moms in this forum from 2011 knew about it.”

Either way, it is not often a constructive use of my time and definitely allows my mom spiral to continue. 

Step 3: Mom Guilt

This part of the mom spiral is the most draining and consuming. Unfortunately, this is the part of the mom spiral that I find myself stuck in and obsessing over the longest.  

Step 4: The Punishment

Since I clearly don’t have it together I guess I better punish myself with tasks, errands and chores. I often catch myself in this pattern where I keep busy with “things to do”. These are things that I have decided HAVE TO GET DONE now. As a result, anything else that I had planned for myself must wait. 

Once I’ve spent some time trying to run away from these feelings of self-doubt and mom guilt through obsessive multitasking it's time for…

Step 5: Exhaustion

I stop for a moment and look around only to realize that maybe I overreacted. 

How do I escape the "mom spiral"? 

Step 6: Commence Pep Talk

Ok breathe…don’t be silly. You’re not a bad mom. There is nothing you could have done differently. You did the best you can. A few years from now you won’t even remember this and more importantly neither will the kids. They will remember you being happy. They will remember you having confidence in yourself and encouraging them to do the same. They will remember you leading by example and picking yourself up after a bad day. They will learn to be kind to themselves if they see you being kind to yourself. So, yup, today was a bad day. I got yelled at by my toddler in public and had to make an impromptu performance of my parenting skills in front of some daycare parents and a few pedestrians. I got to take a spin on the "mom spiral". But it's ok. Tomorrow is another day and until then I am going to lean into the moments of joy, hug my kids a little harder at the end of the day and go to bed with a full heart ready for a fresh start.

Does the pep talk always work? No, of course it doesn't.  But I have always found remembering my successes as a mom helps a lot. So does a good cry.

If any of you moms out there have encountered “the mom spiral” or perhaps have dealt with your own version of it, please know that you are not alone. And the next time you are out and about and see another mom who is maybe having a bad day, send a little smile their way so they know they are not alone either. A little smile goes a long way on a bad day.

xo Adrienne

Adrienne MacDonald, Postpartum Doula

I am a mother of two children, two dogs, one horse and a cat.  I am currently completing my Postpartum Doula certification through Doula Training Canada and am fully insured as a postpartum doula in training. Some previous work experience that I bring into this new role includes many years volunteering in crisis intervention with Victim Services as well as a career as a legal assistant, where I learned both compassion and professionalism.

New parenthood can feel both exciting and overwhelming. Nothing can prepare us for this journey. Sometimes, the only way to get through the day is with the help and support of others. Some of my best and most valuable postpartum experiences were receiving the support and encouragement of another person when I was feeling vulnerable. It is through these moments that my passion for helping others navigate the postpartum period emerged.

I believe that when it comes to parenting, there are often 100 different ways of doing the same thing.  It’s our job as parents to choose what works best for our family, and it’s my job to provide you the support you need to make safe and healthy choices that help you achieve your goals during the postpartum period.

Mindful Living: Say Whaaaat?

Katie Wright, CPCC

We hear it a lot. Be mindful. Honour yourself mindfully. What a minute... back it up... what does mindful mean? How do I add that to my list when I’ve already got a bunch of stuff to do!

For starters, mindful living is not an actionable item – you can’t cross it off a to-do list. Instead, it’s a way of going about your action items. Here’s how I see it...

Being mindful is about 1) stopping your actions to check-in with your WHOLE self (that means your body, mind, and spirit), 2) aligning with your heart (what your heart wants), and 3) using this check-in and alignment as an arrow to point you forward.

That was a lot of words. Let me share an example.

How do you stay mindful in the hustle of your job? Feelings of overwhelm and anxiety can creep in – there’s so much to do! Mindful living is stopping the bustle and checking-in with your whole self. Acknowledge that your mind is distraught, your body is tight, your spirit is edgy. And then, and here’s the rich stuff, you anchor to your beloved heart and consciously (aka mindfully) choose what’s important to you. Connect with what your heart and soul crave, and determine what you will do next. Follow?  

Let’s further explore...

How do we stay “present” with a big list of things to do, demands, actions to move our life forward, mouths to feed, children to pay attention to, partners to tune into, meals to plan, etc. etc.

Well.... Pause.

Pause some more.

Breathe.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Breathe some more.

This is good for you. How am I feeling right now? Anchor to your heart, and ask yourself this very important question:

Try this on. Right now. I want you to actually stop and reflect on this.

Pause and breathe. What is important to you? Check-in with yourself.

Once your pause is over, and you are ready to return from reflection, answer this: what did you discover?

1. Do you want to move again, and tackle what you were doing? Will it be with a fresh perspective? OR

2. Did it become clear you aren’t supposed to be moving right now? Maybe you’re supposed to tune into something you love – your partner, your kids, and your own self-care practice.

Either option is a fine one because you’ve taken a moment to acknowledge your now, and are consciously moving forward with intentional purpose that came from your heart. Did you catch that? You got present and are moving forward with intention from the heart.

If you choose the latter (#2), then bask in this area of love. Breathe it all in. This is a beautiful opportunity to connect to something you love. This allows you to sink into some resonance that your heart is craving. Honouring what is important to you. This place breeds satisfaction, fulfillment, joy ... all those good things. It also breeds the law of attraction. Your thoughts become your experiences. What you put out into the world comes right back to you. You put out love; you get love back. Boomerang! Ex. if you choose to tune love to your partner, your partner is likely to show love right back to you. Maybe this comes in the form of an acknowledgement or affection. Try it on… play with it. Nothing to lose.  

So, what about staying mindful when you’re a small business owner and the demands of everyday life exist? This one is a personal one for me, but again, it’s about connecting to your heart. What do you want? What is important? Define a plan on how you can accomplish both work and personal. Set goals, set boundaries. For me I choose to focus really hard on work for a period of time, and then outside of that time I give myself permission to focus on what I love, whether that be my family, exercise, or making time for myself.

Try this on, and enjoy with deep gratification.   Live rich.

With love,

Katie

Try on coaching with a 30-minute sample session. Your riches await. Send an email to schedule your date: katie@katiewrightcoaching.com

Katie Wright, Professional Coach

There is a strong need across the planet for human beings to live a life aligned with their values and purpose – a space to quiet the busy mind, and self-sabotaging voice so they may courageously speak their authentic voice and share their talent. I got into coaching because I had a voice to share.  Though immersed in the business world for over a decade, I started my journey into coaching in 2013 with the Coaches Training Institute, an internationally acclaimed training platform, and became a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach in 2015. I did this while caring for my own small babe.  As a mom of two healthy young boys, I know it takes a lot of strength and courage to step outside the ordinary and into the life of desire. Both motherhood & entrepreneurship call on this strength and courage daily. 

Aside from helping to create a heart-centred, resonant population, fully experiencing my two boys and setting aside time to nourish ‘me’ is where I am supposed to be right now. This allows me to show-up as a healthy mix of knowing what’s right, combined with the stamina to get things done. I promise to push you toward your vision, hold you accountable to your desire, give you the space to figure it out, challenge your limits, and honour your inner leader. Live in harmony – fulfilled, at peace, confident, and strong. 

The Top 5 Foods to Make More Milk

Isn't it amazing how quickly the boob obsession can take over your life as a new parent? Am I making enough? Did they drink enough? Is the milk good enough? Are they getting the hind milk? What is hind milk?….? Thats the thing about breast/chest-feeding, it’s a little unnerving not knowing how much your baby is drinking. But here's the thing about that thing (too many things?), you don't need to measure the volume of breastmilk your baby is drinking to know if they are getting enough. The key is to look and listen to what your baby is telling you.

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Revolutionary thinking, I know.

When you are able to look and listen to your baby, and decode what it is that they are telling you, you learn so much.  If you are struggling to decode the mysterious signals your baby is sending in relation to hunger, drinking and satiety then let's chat in person. Once you have someone guide you to see the simple cues baby sends, it can change how you feel!

Also, I have a confession.  I have you here under a ruse...I've mislead you to believe that we are going to talk about how to increase your milk supply through food. And we WILL get to that...but first let me say this: the NUMBER ONE way to increase milk supply is to have a great latch, with baby draining the breast well.

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If your baby is latching well (big wide mouth, asymmetric on the breast, full tongue mobility), and able to drain the breast well, this will be the absolute *best* way to continue to produce the milk that your baby needs. It is supply and demand, if your body gets a strong signal to make more milk, it will!

Sometimes the stars don’t alight for this process to run smoothly right from the beginning, and that is ok-and completely normal. But getting you back on track is without a doubt the best way to make more milk. Sometimes other factors, like mood, sleep and breast-chest feeding parent nutrient, come into play as well. Please, if you are struggling reach out, use your community, we want to support you.

So, if you are reading this because you are struggling to produce enough milk for your babe, or your babe is gaining "slowly" then the number one way to boost that milk production is to consult a lactation consultant or breastfeeding professional. If you have and are still struggling, then see someone else.  The guidance you get can be invaluable for your breast/chest-feeding journey. There are so many ways that we can adjust latch and change breastmilk intake to help your baby and our body communicate effectively to get those mammary glands Rockin' and Rollin'.

Milk Boosting Foods

If the number one way to increase milk is to have a great latch, then what's the deal with milk boosting foods and teas?

Milk boosting foods are foods that will slightly increase the amount of water that is circulated to the mammary tissue.  When these foods do this it provides more water for your body to use to make milk. Being well hydrated is important for the galactogenisis process. These foods are high in protein, iron and B-vitamins, which provides some of the important building blocks for galactogenesis to occur, as well as supporting recovery in the post part period, and supporting overall wellness. Increased food intake and milk production go hand in hand. It is important to eat when hungry and drink when thirsty.

Having said all this, if you are looking for the top 5 foods to *support* the milk making process then here they are:

Adding these foods into your diet as a part of a healthy diet can help support the milk making process. And thereby slightly increase the amount of milk you make. Some breast/chest-feeding parents respond incredibly well and drastically increase production, others not so much. A simple way to add these to your diet is to start your day with a bowl of oatmeal, a handful of almonds, a spoonful of flax meal and Brewers yeast sprinkled on top, and a big glass of water.  For a more involved recipe here is my favourite Lactation smoothie recipe.

If you give it a try let me know what you think, or if you have any other questions send them my way. And as always, Nurse on!

~Rebecca

References: Compr Physiol. 2015 Jan;5(1):255-91.

Rebecca Robertson, Breastfeeding Counsellor, Doula, Childbirth Educator

I am a birth advocate, a breastfeeding educator, and especially an advocate for mothers and the choices they make. As a doula my main role is to support mothers and partners to ensure a satisfying and positive birth experience. I am trained in providing emotional and spiritual support, as well as physical comfort during labor. I completed a DONA training course in 2009 and it sparked my love for supporting laboring women. Since then I have been inspired to continue my learning to provide the best support I can with additional studies in lactation and natural medicine. Some of the things in my tool kit include massage, acupressure, and items to help with visualization and relaxation.  I am trained in different stretches and birthing positions to improve pain tolerance and pushing efficacy, as well I give lots of encouragement! In 2012 I enrolled in a Lactation Medicine Program at the Centre for Breastfeeding Education. There I was instilled with this goal "To enable the mother to manage her own breastfeeding experience, so she will be empowered to achieve her own breastfeeding goals." I accumulated over 90 hours in lactation specific education, as well as hours in observation at their breastfeeding clinic. Since that time I have been supporting new moms as they transition to motherhood and begin the breastfeeding relationship. During my time studying Naturopathic medicine, I was fortunate to expand on my knowledge on lactation medicine as well as how naturopathic medicine can play a role in the perinatal care of women and their new babes. I am passionate about my job, and I bring lots of enthusiasm and love for what I do.  

A Healthy Period: What You Need to Know

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Fertility, women's health

A thorough history of woman's menstrual cycle is something I always ask my patients in practice: whether they are tracking it for fertility, just getting it back post partum, or slowly losing it during menopause. Understanding our periods can tell us so much about our bodies and yet all too often I get woman who are unaware of the signs of irregular hormone imbalance and claim that everything is... well, fine I guess.  When I start digging deeper, some admit to having such bad cramps they need to take time off work, some bleed between periods or have such a heavy flow they change a pad every hour. A period shouldn't be a time of suffering. Neither should the weeks leading up to it. Now I have to admit, there is no one fits all perfect period. Every woman will have a different cycle length and experience different symptoms. What is consistent for each woman though is important to evaluate because it's a window into what's going on with her hormones and the state of her general body.  

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Cycle Length

The average length between periods should fall between 21-35 days and be consistent each month. A day or two difference isn't much to worry about, but if you're noticing that your cycle was 21 days one month, then 40 days the next, and then possibly one month skipped, this is a sign of irregular hormone balance and can either be caused by stress, dieting, or PCOS.

Length of Bleed

Anywhere from 2-7 days of bleeding is typical for woman. A period will start on the first day of a true bleed, as in the need for a liner or tampon. Some woman may experience bleeding between periods, after intercourse, for only 1 day or for over 1 week. These again are signs of hormone irregularities and possible issues with the endometrial lining.

Quantity and Quality of Blood

The amount of blood can be a large predictor of just how much lining is being shed during a period. Often woman who have very heavy flows and need to change even a super absorbent pad every hour will need to rule out estrogen dominance and conditions like endometriosis or iron deficiency as a possible cause.  Heavy dark clots are also something that should be investigated. If on the other hand there is very little blood, this could be a sign of estrogen deficiency, often caused by menopause, smoking, dieting, and stress.  

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PMS/Pain

This may come as a surprise, but women should not be experiencing irritability before their period and intense pain during it! Excess pain during a period is another hallmark sign of endometriosis, fibroids, or inflammation and should be evaluated by your health care provider. Mild twitching and aches can be felt on the first few days, as blood loss is often that highest, but the pain itself should never be severe or debilitating. Some woman are so used to heavy painful periods that they assume it's the norm. I often ask patients if they require medication, such as Tylenol or Advil, and how many of them. If it's 8 a day to get by, it's too much. It is, however, common to feel a slight cramp in the middle of a cycle during ovulation, this can actually be a good sign that ovulation is occurring.

Cervical Mucous

This isn't specific to a period per se, but to the overall health of a full hormonal cycle. In the first two weeks after day 1 of your period, estrogen is rising. This should be a state of happiness as estrogen is linked with serotonin and rising libido towards ovulation. Often you'll notice cervical mucous will be white and creamy. As ovulation approached, your body prepares to thin out this mucous in order for sperm to enter. Leading up to ovulation, you should notice that your cervical fluid increases and becomes thinner, clear, and more slippery - somewhat like egg whites. After ovulation, it will return to a thicker consistency.

Temperature

This is again an indicator of ovulation. Temperature will fluctuate throughout the cycle, with it being the lowest before ovulation, spiking during ovulation, and then slightly higher after ovulation. If you track your temperature daily (best to be done first thing upon rising before eating or even brushing your teeth) and notice there is no spike or a very erratic fluctuation, this should be evaluated as well. This could indicate an issue with ovulation or even thyroid imbalance.

What if my period isn’t “normal”?

All too often birth control is used to try and "regulate" cycles. Unfortunately, birth control simply stops your body from producing these wonderful hormones and instead causes what is known as a fake bleed. Often times, woman will be on birth control for 10 years or more and then once stopping, their cycles can become irregular and conceiving may even be difficult. If you think your period pain and overall cycle could be improved, talk to your naturopathic doctor about safe, gentle, and effective ways to optimize your period health!

Dr. Natalia Ytsma

From a young age, I knew that a career in health and medicine was in my future. Having spent time in doctor's offices and hospitals to correct a congenital heart defect, the idea of providing care to families in need and educating them on their health was something that I knew I had to do. It motivated me to always be cautious of how I treat my body and I grew to really appreciate what being healthy was all about, a lifestyle that ensures you take care of yourself from the inside out. I focused my education on science and business and gained experience in teaching, which allowed me to help others empower themselves with the knowledge they acquire. Having also traveled throughout the world, I gained work experience in North America, Europe, and Asia, which allowed me to learn from different work ethics and cultures. I grew a passion to learn about natural medicine and how to help others use it to achieve optimal health. I learned to understand that there's almost always a root cause to a health issue and that you can use safe, gentle, and effective treatment to address it. Ultimately, naturopathic medicine was my calling.
 
EDUCATION
•            Bachelor of Science and Business: McMaster University, Hamilton 2009
•            Holistic Health and Skincare: CNM, London UK 2013
•            Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine: CCNM, Toronto 2015

With 8 years of post-secondary school complete, I completed my clinical internship at the Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic - with a full year rotation on the paediatric focus shift- and the LAMP Community Health Centre both in Toronto, Ontario. 
 
After graduation, I moved to Beijing where my husband was working at the time. While there, I designed pregnancy and fertility workshops for a local spa and ran a health elective for local teens to educate them on proper nutrition, mental health, and fitness. While abroad, we got pregnant with our son and decided to return back to Canada to begin raising our family close to home. Currently we reside in London, Ontario and I am practicing at Rebirth Wellness Centre, a thriving place dedicated to empowering woman into motherhood and providing family based health care at its best.

Acupressure for Nausea and Vomiting

Acupressure for Nausea and Vomiting

This past August, my family and I spent a week together in Huntsville, Ontario.  We swam, paddled, fished, golfed, rock climbed, played at the beach, visited with friends and roasted marshmallows.  All in all, a terrific summer getaway… until the very unfortunate bout of gastroenteritis we came down with at the end of our week. 

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The Powerful Key to Recovering from Pain

The Powerful Key to Recovering from Pain

Today I want to share about something that is very dear to me:  Pain.  I sustained a pretty serious injury in 2013 which altered the course of my life in ways I could not have anticipated.  It was at this point that the experience of profound physical pain entered my life and seemed to set up camp as a permanent resident.  It was a demoralizing and deeply discouraging time.

It was a slow climb out of that dark pit of physical pain.  I slowly began physical therapy and other body work in order to try to heal.  What I didn’t realize at the time was, I wasn’t interested in healing:  I was interested in “fixing”.  I would “fix” my pain.  I would “fix” my body and then it wouldn’t be a problem anymore.

 

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Finding Yourself In Motherhood

Finding Yourself In Motherhood

You have just had a baby... you are beginning the beautiful journey of motherhood. This new life depends on you for feedings, sleeping, changing, stimulation, teachings and most importantly love. You...They are counting on YOU! You are their mother and while this can be an incredible role it  can also be overwhelming, exhausting and frustrating. Here's the thing though, they chose YOU so they already know you've got this. I believe in order to feel successful in this new role of "mom" there is one very important thing you must do before you begin the list of everything baby will need... you need to give yourself a little love.

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How to LOL Without Peeing Your Pants (Part 2) - Learn some MORE about your Pelvic Floor

How to LOL Without Peeing Your Pants (Part 2) - Learn some MORE about your Pelvic Floor

What is Pelvic Health Physiotherapy?

Pelvic Health Physiotherapy is the assessment and treatment of a wide variety of issues pertaining primarily to the pelvis and pelvic floor muscles.  While pelvic health is largely concerned with this area of the body, it is by no means the only thing we care about.  Many other areas of the body, from head to toe, can influence how well the pelvic floor works and/or how well the pelvis moves and contributes to movement.

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How to LOL Without Peeing Your Pants (Part 1)

How to LOL Without Peeing Your Pants (Part 1)

Hello there!  My name is Jaclyn and I’m a certified pelvic health physiotherapist. Many people don't know my job exists. I can’t say that I blame them. A few years ago, I didn't know either. Then I had babies…3 to be exact and now pelvic health is one of my biggest passions.

Usually people avoid talking about the pelvic area because bodily functions here are considered personal and private.  Functions such as going to the bathroom aren’t talked about when they are working properly, let alone when they’re not.  Thank God for girlfriends though!  Girlfriends don't mind talking about personal things.  They’ll get that conversation started!  And it’s a good thing too or none of us would ever know that other people also have issues.

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Burritos, Balance and Bananas - How To Stay Sane On The Nutrition Train

Burritos, Balance and Bananas - How To Stay Sane On The Nutrition Train

This blog post is not your typical guide. Are you ready for your Nutritionist and Yoga teacher to tell you your how-to’s for the week? Or, your 5-step program to elation? Well sorry, this is not that kind of guide or post. It is one of listening to yourself. It is a guide to eating healthy, but also a guide to throwing in the towel shamelessly eating a burrito in bed with nothing but a T-shirt and underwear on while binge watching Grace and Frankie. (If you haven’t seen this show yet, you must!)

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Honouring your fitness journey in pregnancy

Honouring your fitness journey in pregnancy

With one quick search on Google for “prenatal fitness” or “postpartum exercise” you will come across a barrage of sites that promise a “belly only pregnancy” or “get back to your pre-baby body” or my favourite, a picture of a three day postpartum woman with a miraculously flat belly. How does this make you feel? How is this supposed to make us feel?

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The Breastmilksicle: summer's coolest and most nutritious treat!

The Breastmilksicle: summer's coolest and most nutritious treat!

Parents, it’s getting hot out there. Some of the more frequent questions I get over the hot summer months are:

“Should I be giving my baby water?” and“How can I help Baby stay cool and hydrated?”

When it comes to the breastfed baby, there is no need to worry too much about water. Breast milk has got you covered! It has all the hydrating, nourishing, and body regulating components needed to keep your baby safe and well hydrated.

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There’s more potential waiting to shine on ...

 There’s more potential waiting to shine on ...

Living someone else’s dream? Holding back on something big because there’s fear? Tending to everyone else but you? Got bigger things in mind? Don’t know what the future looks like? Want to show up better? Need to slow down to figure it all out?

Yes, yes, yes! You answered yes, because there’s a hell of a lot more potential inside of you waiting to shine on.

All of us can relate to the questions above. Sometimes we cop it up to, “that’s just life”, or, “I guess this is what life has in store for me.” Here’s another one, “I don’t have the resources, both time or money, to spend on me right now.” 

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Top 5 "Must-Knows" for Breastfeeding a Newborn

Top 5 "Must-Knows" for Breastfeeding a Newborn

Breastfeeding a newborn can feel like such a daunting task. Those first few hours, and first few days can seem to contain so many unexpected unknowns. But rest assured, you and your baby know exactly what to do. You have everything within you to be a badass breastfeeding parent. Here are my top 5 “must knows” for that first week.

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100 Days of Happiness

100 Days of Happiness

I made a commitment to change my perspective, so that one day I could honestly tell my child his story of the early years as memories filled with one day after the other of HAPPY MOMENTS. And so I began my own reflective journey to find at least 1 moment in each day for 100 DAYS OF HAPPINESS.

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Holiday Presence - Guided Meditation

Holiday Presence - Guided Meditation

Lights, snow, food, and fun are all indicative of the festive holiday season; but, for some of us they are joined by stress, anxiety, and frenzy.  How can we keep our cool and share in the joy of the holidays?  A key step is recognizing what concerns us, and then identifying whether it can be changed or simply let go.  Then, we have room to focus on what truly matters.  
Using the following guided meditation, I encourage you to take a well-earned rest from hurried holiday preparations and set your intentions on a holiday filled with all that warms your heart.
 

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Dear Pain, it’s time to get moving…

Dear Pain, it’s time to get moving…

The human body is made for movement, and as humans, we have explored the glorious potential of that movement. Picture a Cirque de Soleil acrobat, a gymnast, a marathon runner and best of all – a child at play.  The human body did not evolve to sit in a chair, or car, or remain static and still for hours at time.  Our bodies crave movement, yet when we feel pain, we begin to be afraid to move. 

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Q & A with Dr. Holly Beckley

Q & A with Dr. Holly Beckley

Question: “What is the best type of pillow or mattress?”

Answer:

This is a question that comes up a lot in my practice. In my opinion, there isn’t one best brand or style. You have to find the one that suits you best and that can be a challenge. There are certainly a huge variety of options out there on the market and picking out just the right one can be quite overwhelming, not to mention expensive.

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