The Wandering Mother Blog

How to stop back pain stopping you!

A contribution post by Michelle McWilliam. 

After carrying your baby nine months, mothers then carry said baby in their arms or a sling or are found carting a car seat about. Then, as children grow you are carrying heavier – and wrigglier – small children. Of course, that’s all part of motherhood and our body is designed to be able to undertake these activities. However, if this coincides with a combination of repetition and inadequate physical fitness, we can develop injuries that cause pain, ranging from a mild backache to serious pain.
And you can’t really be struggling to get around when you have a small human (or more) to care for and enjoy spending time with. So what do you need to consider.

Know how your back works

Knowing how our bodies work empowers us to make the correct decisions on how best to look after ourselves, whether that’s what we choose to eat, how much we exercise or the daily stretch routine we participate in.

The spine consists of a stack of bones called vertebra and sandwiched between each bone is a disc. These discs are the shock absorbers for our spines and are incredibly strong. Imagine a jam doughnut. The jam in the middle is the nucleus pulposus, the dough around the outside is the annulus pulposus. The sugary coating around the outside is the annular ligament. Together these structures produce a disc that can be squashed in all directions to allow movement of the spine. Holding all of this together are ligaments and a complex array of muscles, which support the central column on bones and discs.

The Wandering Mother - UK Family Lifestyle Blog
Knowing your body mechanics can really help to prevent back pain

What causes pain

Different issues with the spine can cause pain. Most common is the overuse of muscles. This can cause a deep, dull ache which gradually builds up during the day. This is due to muscle fatigue and is an indicator that the spine and muscles around it can no longer maintain the work you’re expecting of them. Alternatively, sudden, cramp-like pain can be caused by muscle spasms. This is where the muscles of the back feel the need to spasm as tightly as possible to stop you doing something, in an effort to reduce possible injury.

More severe back pain can be caused by damage to the discs of the spine. Image the jam doughnut between two plates. As you squish the plates together you squish the disc. If you place more pressure on one side of the disc, the central jam can push out towards the sugary coating. In cases of continued pressure this sugary coating can become damaged and the jam and dough can produce a bulge. In the worst cases the dough, or annulus pulposus, is also damaged and the jam, nucleus pulposus, can come outside of the doughnut, resulting in a herniation.

If the disc bulge pushes out at just the right angle it can place pressure on the nerve which can produce pain. This is known a nerve root compression.

The Wandering Mother | IDD Therapy: Relieving Back Pain
Make sure you look after your back whilst working

Avoiding and treating back pain

When neck or back pain starts it becomes difficult to move. Our body becomes stiff and immobile either due to muscles spasms or the pain that restricts our movement. The first stage is to try and reduce the acute nature of the pain. This maybe helped with hot or cold packs, or pain medication as prescribed or through a GP. Once pain has started to reduce, some movement will return as the muscles start to relax. Manual therapy can then be used to try to further reduce the muscle spasm, mobilise stiff joints and improve the movement of the spine.

Exercises are, of course, an important part of maintaining health for the spine. They help not only to prevent injury but also for the treatment of injuries once they have started. Tai Chi, Yoga and Pilates are all excellent forms of exercise to maintain the strength of muscles in the spine, your core control. They can also improve and / or maintain flexibility of the ligaments, muscles and joints of the spine and neck.

Posture and manual handling techniques are incredibly important for preventing injury. Lifting incorrectly, especially with an added weight such as a child, can add a large amount of pressure on the neck and spine. If this is added to poor spinal health due to poor posture and declining physical fitness, the chances of injury are increased.

Herniated discs

For disc problems to resolve, the body needs to be given the right environment to help itself. This means that the spine needs to be moving to the best of its ability, with enough strength and control to undertake the activities that are expected of it. Osteopaths, Chiropractors and Physiotherapists are all skilled and able to provide the correct treatment and advice to try to help with back and neck pain.

In cases where the body is unable to heal itself and manual therapy treatment has been unsuccessful, clinics can recommend IDD Therapy. This form of treatment is a specialised form of spinal decompression, controlled through computers to provide the exact amount of decompression to a targeted area for a sustained period of time. The targeted area means that the specific disc that is causing the issue can be targeted rather than a broad traction throughout the whole spine. The gentle nature of the treatment means that the muscle spasms can be eased to improve spinal mobility and, therefore, proves a far more suitable environment for the spine to heal.

The Wandering Mother | UK Family Lifestyle Blog
IDD Therapy treatment with Accu SPINA

As the pain subsides, manual therapy and gentle exercise can, of course, be re-introduced to help get patients back to full health again. Keeping your body strong and mobile is the key to enjoying a long, enjoyable and – importantly – pain free life. However, since over eighty per cent of people will experience back or neck pain at some stage in their lives, it’s reassuring to know that in most cases in can be helped quickly with the right management or treatment.

The Wandering Mother Blog - Guest Post

About the author: Michelle McWilliam

Michelle McWilliam is a highly experienced Osteopath and Acupuncturist and co-owns The Totalcare Clinic in Botley, just outside of Southampton.

The clinic provides Osteopathy for adults and children, Acupuncture, Sports Massage, IDD Therapy, and boasts 48 classes per week of Pilates, Yoga and Tai Chi. ‘Intervertebral Differential Dynamics’ or IDD Therapy is the fastest growing non-surgical spinal treatment for intervertebral discs with over 1,000 clinics worldwide and 34 clinics across the UK. Safe, gentle and non-invasive, IDD Therapy helps patients who need something more for their pain when manual therapy alone is insufficient to achieve lasting pain relief.

http://iddtherapy.co.uk
Facebook: IDD Therapy Europe
Twitter: @IDDTherapyDisc


NB. This is a contribution post written by guest writer, Michelle McWilliam who is an Osteopath, Acupuncturist and co-owner of The Totalcare Clinic

The Wandering Mother Blog

Can eating a vegan diet in pregnancy really be healthy?

A contribution post by Louise Palmer-Masterton

There is a widely-held belief that humans are omnivorous (both meat- and plant-eating), so eating a solely vegan-based diet with no meat, fish or poultry cannot be safe in pregnancy. However, I and many others, would disagree with that statement.

I was almost 40 years old when I was pregnant with my first child. At that time, my diet mainly consisted of whole vegetables, small amounts of wholegrain, tofu, lentils and pulses, nuts and seeds. I ate as I normally would throughout both of my pregnancies. I had no morning sickness, no particular cravings, no complications or deficiencies, and was able to deliver both of my children safely at home by home birth. During both of my pregnancies, I took multivitamins and folic acid as recommended by health professionals.

I then started to wonder if my experiences were rare ones, or were there many vegan women out there experiencing the same problem-free pregnancies like I did. So I did some research and found that there were many other new mums who were also vegan during their pregnancies.

My findings:

  • All of the new mums I spoke to adopted a ‘wholefoods natural diet’ during their pregnancies
  • None of them experienced any cravings
  • Two out of the seven experienced severe morning sickness ate plain toast for their first trimester
  • Two were diagnosed with gestational diabetes (GD) in the second trimester which was successfully managed by eating a wholefoods-vegan diet
  • Soups and stews were frequently mentioned as the main ‘go to’ meals
  • Marmite, tofu, tempeh, brown rice, aduki beans, miso soup, and ginger were also popular food options

“When I had morning (all day) sickness I ate a lot of baked potatoes, as I didn’t fancy much else. Luckily potatoes have vitamins in the skin, and so I felt they were better than other bland things. I supplemented potatoes with vitamins and iron. I also remember eating dried mangoes, cucumber, and miso at some points, and drinking orange juice. When I recovered from the morning sickness, I ate a lot of everything.”

Helen, Vegan Family Guide

For mum, Holly (one of the women diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes) said nut butters were a life saver for her special diet, thanks to the high-fat/protein and low-carb content in nuts, to sustain her through her pregnancy.

For Danielle, who developed cholestasis in her second trimester, meant she could only eat foods that were low in fats explained that “the vegan diet was great for this”.

Can you get the right nutrition from eating a vegan diet?

All the vegan women I spoke to were very knowledgable about vegan nutrition in pregnancy. They were all well aware of the need to increase protein intakes by 10-20%, and did so with greater attention based on eating good, balanced meals. Not all of them ate protein/rich foods like tofu, with many of them preferring pulses, grains and organic vegetables.

It is recommended in pregnancy for all mothers to take folic acid. With vegan pregnancies, it’s also highly recommended to take vitamin B12 and vitamin D supplements as these are not found in plant-based products. Half of the women I spoke to did mention they take diet supplements, but the other half only took the recommended folic acid supplements.

Helen, who has been vegan for many years, said: “I always try to follow a balanced diet. Supplements are recommended to pregnant people of all persuasions. I took vegan vitamins and iron before, during and after my pregnancy.”

Angie, who was vegan pregnant then raised her children on vegan diets, said she “just ate sensibly – mainly fruit and veg. I’d been vegan thirteen years before I became pregnant and had never been unwell so I assumed it all was ok…” shows it is possible to be healthy and vegan during and after pregnancy.

This was reiterated by Lee, who has been through two pregnancies as a vegan; “I didn’t even think about nutrition, I just followed what my body craved and had zero nutritional issues”.

Do pregnant vegans feel well?

None of the women I spoke to reported of any nutritional issues or deficienciesa during their pregnancies, and aside from the complications mentioned by some of the women, all of the mum-to-bes said they felt healthy during their pregnancy.

Danielle stated: “I am very strong and the muscle of the household, even when pregnant if something needs lifting, I’m your girl”.

Another mum, Emma said she continued to be vegan whilst breastfeeding and had a wonderful pregnancy with no issues whatsoever.

“I wasn’t sick once, I had no cravings, I felt great the whole time, had energy, my skin was the best it’s ever been and I continued to work-out throughout the entire pregnancy. Postpartum I was told I had great colostrum, since my baby only lost 70g initially and I had a plentiful supply of milk, the health visitor actually said I had too much!”

Emma, new mum

What do health professionals think of pregnant women following vegan diets?

All of the new mums I spoke to remarked on how compassionate and empathetic their health care teams were of their vegan food choices. None of them was pressured or advised to eat animal products, including the women who were diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

Emma: “I didn’t tell my midwife that I was vegan because I expected a negative response which I didn’t want to deal with at that time. However, in hospital (after the birth) the team were very supportive in providing me with decent vegan food to eat.”

If you are vegan or vegetarian, don’t let the myth that you need animal products during your pregnancy put you off sticking to your plant-based diet. Eating a healthy and balanced vegan diet during your pregnancy can be good for you and your baby – and as long as there aren’t any vegan foods that are on the ‘no go’ list during your pregnancy, you won’t have to give anything up either.


This is a contribution post from guest writer, Louise Palmer-Masterton – founder of multiple award-winning restaurants Stem & Glory.

It’s okay to not be OK…

threenager-meme

I came across a post on Sunday which resonated deeply within me.

A post that could’ve been written more or less by myself. So much so that my original post (which I’d deleted)  has now been re-written with a dedication to Aleena from Mummy Mama Mum for encouraging me to publish this. Thank you! 

For me, if it’s not admitting it then it’s accepting it that’s the problem…
Telling myself that sometimes I’m not OK is a struggle. Like a never-ending battle.

If you haven’t read her post yet…  I’m Not OK by Mummy Mama Mum

Continue reading “It’s okay to not be OK…”