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It’s not surprising that pregnancy and childbirth can take a huge toll on a woman’s body. A recent study reported that giving birth can be as taxing on a woman’s body as running a marathon, and in countries outside the U.S. it is common for women to seek out physical therapy to help them recover after having a baby.

I was fortunate enough to have relatively comfortable pregnancies, but a long labor and forceps delivery with my second baby left me dealing with intense hip and low back pain for the better part of a year. I tried seeing orthopedists, chiropractors, and physical therapists, as well as doing various stretches and exercises on my own, but nothing really helped. I was uncomfortable performing basic tasks most days, and could no longer do so many of the things I loved. In short, I was miserable.

Luckily a friend of mine that knew about my situation referred me to Susan McLaughlin at Align Health and Wellness. Susan is a Salt Lake City-based physical therapist that specializes in management of the pelvic floor and orthopedic dysfunction. Her approach to healing was so much more positive and simple than the other physical therapists I had seen, and within a month of doing the basic, relaxing exercises she gave me I felt significantly better and on the road to recovery. It felt like Susan gave me the tools to get back on track, and I cannot say enough good things about my experience with her.

In addition to one-on-one physical therapy sessions, Susan offers prenatal and postpartum workshops for women who are pregnant or have recently had a baby. These 3-hour classes will help you feel your best at this physically demanding time of life. Spots are still available in the workshops scheduled for June 2016; find out more information and register here. Be sure to enter the drawing at the end of this post to win a spot in the workshop of your choice!

One of my favorite things about Susan’s practice is her emphasis on self-care. Her blog is a wealth of information and useful exercises for any aches and pains you may have. Below are links to three posts she recommends for relief of sciatica, a common complaint for so many pregnant women:

Get Rid of Sciatica

How To Release Your Psoas

Gluteal progression for back, hip and knee health

Align Physical Therapy Giveaway

A C-section is not something that every mom-to-be plans for. Though many moms, especially after their first child, opt for a C-section, for most it can come as a surprise. My husband and I just had our second child via C-section, and the whole experience including the recovery was much different than with our first who was delivered vaginally. I found myself coming home from the hospital feeling completely different, and needing different types of remedies to help my body recover. So whether you're planning a C-section or have to have one unexpectedly, here are some helpful tips to help your at home recovery.


Pillows are your friend. After my C-section, I surrounded myself with pillows. When you have a C-section, you quickly realize how much the core muscles engage during simple everyday acts, such as sneezing, coughing and laughing. If you hold a pillow over your stomach when you feel a cough or sneeze coming on it can soften the blow. Watching a TV comedy was not fun when every time I laughed I felt a twinge at my incision. So I kept pillows nearby and grabbed one when I started to laugh. The pillow trick also saved me from the pain when going over a speed bump or hitting a pot hole. You may also want to use a nursing pillow, such as a boppy, to prevent your baby from sitting right on your incision while you're nursing. This will stop any irritation and make nursing more comfortable.


Wear abdominal support. While you're in the hospital, your doctors will most likely offer you a belly binder. Take it, use it, love it. Not only does it help train your belly to go back into position and shrink your uterus, but it can also give you the support you need to get up and move around. The doctor will tell you to get moving as soon as possible, but it's tricky when your abs are out of commission. The binder tightens around your core and makes it easier to pull yourself up. Once you've been home a few days, the hospital grade binder may be too large and cumbersome to wear, so you can switch to a pair of high waisted compression underwear, like these C-Panty High Waist C-Section Recovery Panty from Upspring Baby:


Both the binder and support underwear will also provide a barrier between your incision and your clothes, keeping it free from irritation.


Just say yes. Delivering a baby takes its toll no matter how it happens, and you cannot do it without family and friends for support. With a C-section you'll need help in new ways. For the first few weeks, you should plan to have someone else drive you around. Driving can be painful (remember the potholes and speed bumps?), and can tug at your stitches. You are also limited on what you can lift. Most doctors say no more than a baby in a carrier, but even that amount of weight can be difficult the first couple weeks. Having someone around to help with the lifting is a life saver. Bending over to pick things up will also be tricky so forget about cleaning by yourself. Let a spouse or others who offer take care of that. You may also want to schedule someone to help with other kids, especially if they are super active. Running and chasing a toddler is not gonna work when you're healing from a C-section. For your sanity and the sanity of your other children, organize play dates and outings with someone you trust. It will help to get your child's wiggles out and allows you time to relax. The people who love you want to help. Say yes when they ask, and you will be much happier.

We've teamed up with Upspring Baby to give away an Undercover Mama and a C-Panty!

C Section Giveaway

Essential oils are natural aromatic compounds found in the leaves, stems, seeds, bark, roots, and flowers of plants and have a wide range of physical and emotional uses, including supporting a pregnant and laboring mother. DōTERRA Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade (CPTG) essential oils work great and Jennifer is here to give you some recipes to use as you prepare for labor.  Always consult your doctor or midwife when using essential oils during pregnancy and labor.



Black Pepper has a warming effect to the touch and can help sooth anxious feelings.

To Use:

Have your doula, midwife or partner mix 1-2 drops in 10-12 drops of fractionated coconut oil in their hands and massage it on your hips during back labor for a soothing warming sensation.



This essential oil possesses stimulating and purifying qualities, making it ideal for supporting healthy immune system function when seasonal threats are high. Wild Orange contains powerful antioxidants that help maintain overall health. Diffusing Wild Orange will energize and uplift the mind and body while purifying the air.

 To Use:

Diffuse 2-3 drops during labor for an energizing effect.  

If no diffuser is available, place 1 drop in your palm, rub your hands together, cup them over your nose and mouth, and inhale.



These three oils have incredible properties that help our skin. All are known to help reduce skin irritation and imperfections, which make them perfect for preparing the body for labor and facilitating recovery postpartum.

To Use:

Add 10 drops of each essential oil to 2oz of fractionated coconut oil in a glass container or glass spray bottle to apply with perineal massage daily starting around 37 weeks.  The remainder can be used postpartum after daily peri washes. Using a glass spray bottle is the easiest way to apply postpartum.

Add 10 drops of each to 1/2c of raw shea butter and 1/2c of melted coconut oil. Whip together in a mixer, and apply to your growing itchy belly as needed.

Feel free to contact Jennifer, as she specializes in making each of these custom blends for expecting mothers. You can find out more about doTERRa essential oils and purchase undiluted CPTG oils here or email for further information

* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are intended to support general well being and are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure any condition or disease.


Oily Babies Giveaway

Surviving the Last Trimester

Finally, the third trimester of pregnancy! Something about getting there makes it seem like your baby will be here at any moment. Unfortunately, for most women that isn’t the case and the last trimester can feel like an endless waiting game. When people ask how you are, the only thing you can think to say in response is “uncomfortable”! Don’t worry, you are almost there! Here are a few tips to surviving third trimester:

1 – Treat yourself. You have carried this baby for 6 months already so you deserve a little TLC. There are lots of ways to do this. Prenatal massage can be an excellent way to relieve stress on your body, as well as any anxiety you may have as your due date approaches. In many areas you can find Massage Therapists who specialize in prenatal care, and this kind of massage is perfectly safe for you and your baby. Another great way to treat yourself is to get a foot massage or pedicure. Most women experience swelling in their feet or legs toward the end of their pregnancy. Foot massages and pedicures can help with your circulation and reduce swelling. Plus, cute toes make everything better.

2 – Keep Moving. It is easy to become sedentary during your third tri. Moving can seem like a chore when your feet are swollen and you’re feeling pressure in your hips and back, but staying active keeps your muscles strong and again helps with your circulation and swelling. If the weather permits, simply walking around the neighborhood is an easy way to get going. Nothing is a race when you are pregnant, so take it as slow as you need to, but keep moving! If you are stuck indoors prenatal yoga is a great way to strengthen core muscles. Check your local gym or yoga studio for classes, or if you don’t want to pay for a class, YouTube is always good for instructional videos. Bonus! Staying active can also help you sleep better, which is something every pregnant woman needs.

3- Be Mindful. It is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel during this time of pregnancy. Every day leading up to delivery can feel like an eternity when you’re uncomfortable. Take time to think about the reason you are putting your body through this. You are creating a human being, and when this trimester is over you will have a beautiful baby. Think about your baby growing up and becoming his or her very own person. This connection that you have with them will be different than any you have yet to experience. Think about how much joy and love you can bring into this little person’s life and what they will bring to yours. Keep in mind that not everyone gets to experience what you will when you see your little one for the first time. Being mindful of what you are getting in the end can make it a lot easier to cope with the stresses of pregnancy.

1. Because planning and preparation help things go smoothly.

You wouldn’t decide to have a wedding then wing it, would you? Even though things rarely go 100% as planned, all of the preparation you did for the big day was essential to your enjoyment of your own wedding. Who wants to be sweating the details day-of? The same goes for labor: you may not get a crystal ball to plan with, but preparing ahead of time will take the edge off.

2. A well-educated and empathetic childbirth educator will help you be ready for every possibility.

A good childbirth educator uses evidence-based curriculum to help you prepare for a full spectrum of possibilities. A great teacher will help you tap into your strongest coping mechanisms. She will walk you through the mental and emotional possibilities of various interventions and outcomes so that if you and your baby’s physiological needs up the ante, you’ll be able to shift gears without feeling emotional trauma later. And while that may not seem like a big deal to some people, it can have a major impact on a woman’s postpartum mental health.

                      3. Because even if you are planning to have an epidural right away, you may still have to wait for it.

Many practitioners will encourage healthy, low-risk pregnant women to go into labor spontaneously. A quality childbirth preparation course will give you and your birth team a full arsenal of tools to help you respond to the sensations of labor. This is especially useful while you pack your bag, sit in the car, and get checked in at the hospital. You’ll be grateful that you practiced!

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