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A podcast for conscious parents who drop the f-bomb. A lot.

We are the overthinkers, the dreamers, and the doers. We are parenting in a radically different way than those before us. But our divine vision gets blurry cause...OMG...kids can be such a pain in the ass. Let's work from the inside out, in a whole brain, whole body way to mitigate the crappy behavior. Not just with our kids but with ourselves. So you can be the parent you envision.

Hosted by Jamie Glowacki, Author of "Oh Crap! Potty Training" and the soon to be released title, "Oh Crap! I Have a Toddler: Tackling These Crazy Awesome Years―No Time-outs Needed"

Jun 2, 2022

Today, I’m thrilled to be joined by a very special guest, Sarah Smith, who’s a pelvic floor rehab specialist. Sarah and I share some pretty similar philosophies and practices—we’ve both done intermittent fasting, we both cold plunge, and we both mouth-tape—and I wanted to have her on the show because of her expertise and unorthodox views. We start things off with Sarah talking about her work and explaining the various kinds of pelvic floor issues women can experience, including prolapses. Sarah herself had a pelvic floor prolapse in 2015 and was prescribed kegels as part of her recovery, which she found not only didn’t help but actually made her feel worse. Instead, Sarah uses breathwork to strengthen the core, and she explains how this helps your body manage pressure and align itself as a support system, ensuring that no one part of the body, pelvic floor included, is doing all of the work. She also goes into more detail about the problems with kegels and how the cause of pelvic floor problems isn’t a weak pelvic floor but a lack of good connection in the body that requires training to correct. Then she suggests some indicators that you may have pelvic floor issues, including chronic low back pain, chronic constipation, and discomfort during sex (plus we discuss the importance of good lubrication!).

Next, Sarah shares some of the breath practices she utilizes in her work that help people get out of constant fight or flight mode (which is hugely important for parents trying to co-regulate with their kids). We also talk about our shared love of infrared sauna therapy, and Sarah shares the impact that using the sauna has had on her health, including dramatically improving her gut health. Moving on, we talk about the modern tendency to accept a level of sickness in our lives and the phenomenon of the depleted mom, with Sarah explaining some of the reasons for this depletion and giving some suggestions for how moms can reinvigorate themselves (including eating animal protein and unfollowing social media accounts as self-care). And finally, we talk about how Sarah uses kettlebells as part of strength training to help women overcome pelvic floor issues before finishing up with a chat about how we’ve lost access to ancestral wisdom as we’ve become more isolated from our communities (and why the boomers are to blame!).


The Finer Details of This Episode:

  • I wanted to have Sarah on because she has unorthodox views, and she has had a pelvic floor prolapse. And because she goes about rehabbing via kettlebells and breath, which is infinitely better than kegels.
  • Sarah describes herself as a strength coach and an educator for women. Her goal is to help women discover their inner strength, both physical and spiritual, and their innate wisdom about the body that may have been lost through the messages our culture sends about our bodies.
  • Oftentimes, the people who realize they need help are postpartum women (whether they’re new mothers or had their kids decades ago) struggling with pelvic floor issues as a result of the changes and sacrifices they’ve gone through after becoming mothers.
  • Any organ can prolapse, which just means that the organ moves out of place. A pelvic floor prolapse is when one or more of the organs in the pelvis slip down from their normal position and bulge into the vagina. It can involve your bladder (as Sarah experienced after the birth of her third son), your urethra, or your rectum.
  • Other issues with the pelvic floor include difficulty connecting with and controlling it, which means that it may not relax appropriately when it’s time to urinate or eliminate stool, or it doesn’t create the support to stop the bladder being relaxed all the time, which means pee can drip out.
  • There are also people who overuse the pelvic floor by constantly creating tension in the abdominals and pelvis, which can negatively impact your organs, normal elimination things, sex, and how you feel in your body in general. Sarah says that we often teach our bodies to use muscles in a way they shouldn’t be functioning in relation to the body, which makes them overworked and tense.
  • However, pelvic floor tension can also be the result of constantly living in fight or flight and not using your breathing mechanics, which means you’re not getting circulation to those muscles.
  • You guys know the story of when I blew out my knee when I was in a Spartan Race. The doctor told me I’d never do the race again unless I got surgery, and after I told him to hold my beer and said, ‘Watch me,’ I started doing knees over toes exercises, which train all your muscles except your knees. And now, my knee’s fine because I was using the full range of my muscles instead of letting my knees take the strain.
  • Sarah says the best way to strengthen the core, including the pelvic floor, is through breathwork. Inhaling creates pressure in the body, which meets resistance from your muscles and creates stability in the body and causes your pelvic floor to relax; exhaling engages your deep core muscles and again creates stability.
  • Think about the inner core and outer core as a Pringles can inside a Crisco can, and don’t just focus on the Crisco—make sure the Pringles can is operating too.
  • There’s an elevator piston phenomenon where the diaphragm and pelvic floor have to move up and down while the transversus has to move in and out. When those systems work really well, you have natural and automatic stability.
  • Oftentimes with pelvic floor issues, the problem comes about because something around the pelvic floor isn’t helping it. It’s not that the pelvic floor is weak or unable to do its job; it’s that it’s trying to do everything without support.
  • The pelvic floor is like a hammock: it needs to be tight and strong and lift into support when you’re laughing or lifting something heavy, but it’s also supple and responsive, and it needs to be able to respond, relax, and come downwards to accommodate the increase in pressure when you inhale.
  • Sarah thinks kegels create problems for many reasons, number one being that a lot of people are already walking around with tension in their pelvic floors, and kegels make that worse—in fact, they can create inflammation and tension in the body.
  • The other main problem with kegels is that when they’re used after pregnancy, when the body and muscles are oriented differently, those muscles aren’t necessarily in the position where they’re supposed to be squeezed and tightened, leading to overwork and over-recruitment.
  • If you pee on the trampoline (or elsewhere!), it doesn’t necessarily mean your pelvic floor is weak. In Sarah’s experience, it usually means that there isn’t good connection in the body, and people need to train to get their pelvis oriented better underneath their body so that the diaphragm is moving and communicating with the pelvic floor.
  • A statistic I’m very disturbed by is that 75% of women polled in the US defined good sex as not painful. That’s not the definition of good sex! It should not be painful, ever! Make sure you’re communicating with your partner and that you’re properly lubricated (organically or artificially!) during sex.
  • Signs that you may need some pelvic floor help include chronic low back pain, chronic constipation not caused by diet, tailbone pain, and discomfort in sex (see above!).
  • We tend to look at pelvic floor issues from the bottom up—but what about all the stuff that’s above? One of the best things to do with breathwork is to increase how much expansion you get in the thorax because the more space there is in your thoracic cavity, the less downward pressure.
  • You can also use abdominal massage, which increases blood flow and circulation and helps to increase drainage of lymph and, in turn, gives you better support, better position, and more stability in the position of the uterus.
  • I know what an impact breathing can have on your body from my opera training (my bra size went from a 32 to a 36 in the first couple of years). I’ve talked to you guys about cold plunging and Wim Hof breathing, and recently, I’ve started mouth taping at night, which has changed the quality of my sleep unbelievably.
  • Some of the practices that Sarah uses in breathwork are: getting your tongue to rest against the roof of your mouth, which opens your nasal cavity, communicates with your diaphragm and helps you to have better posture, and gives you better stability in the pelvis; closing one nostril and slowing down the breath to help career mouth breathers get comfortable with nasal breathing; and getting on all fours to help people sigh out the tension that’s in their belly.
  • People don’t realize that when they’re in fight or flight, they’re changing their biochemistry, raising the acid in the blood and muscles, making you more tense and twitchy, and even increasing any pain you feel. So simply getting out of that fight or flight mode through breathwork makes a huge difference for pelvic floor issues alone.
  • Sarah’s a big fan of infrared sauna and red light therapy, which I talked about on the episode with Dr. Rimka. Among the changes she’s noticed since starting are a dramatic improvement in her sleep, better recovery and little pain from workouts, and her long-term gut issues going away.
  • Improving your gut health can help with pelvic floor issues. A more balanced gut microbiome means you can extract better nutrition for your food, providing better building blocks for all your tissues and dramatically reducing inflammation, which is often linked to pelvic floor pain. It’s also going to help you poop more routinely and easily, which gets toxins and old hormones out and stops you needing to strain.
  • It seems that we’ve all come to accept a level of sickness in our lives, from sinus problems to hypoglycemia to not sleeping at night. Sarah says that part of the reason for this is some people find themselves in the trap of finding their identity in an illness and locking themselves into that story.
  • I ask Sarah why modern moms are depleted, and she suggests some really interesting reasons behind this, including the expectations moms put on themselves, social isolation, soil depletion, and external pressure to do and have it all. In traditional Chinese medicine, prolapse is a sinking, and Sarah says she sees that physical and emotional sinking in women all the time.
  • She also has some suggestions for how moms can reinvigorate themselves, including having a breath practice in place, investing time in your social community to strengthen your relationships, and paying attention to your diet (Sarah loves broths as a way to get highly digestible nutrients and minerals to help you body remit and repair itself after childbirth, no matter how long it’s been).
  • There’s a big push for plant-based foods right now, but so many of our vegetables come from depleted soil that you’re not getting and absorbing anywhere near the nutrients you need. Animal protein is easier to digest and assimilate, especially for new moms, and you can make it even more digestible through slow cooking or sipping on bone broth.
  • Sarah advocates unfollowing social media accounts that make you feel like you’re not doing enough. Seeing those accounts can stress you out and put you in fight or flight mode, so removing them, even just until you can handle seeing them better, is the healthy choice.
  • One of the things I think messes women up about nutrition and exercise is the social-media-influenced negativity and conflict that encourages us to obsess over whether what we’re doing and eating is right. Instead, as Sarah suggests, we’re better off listening to our bodies and using our innate wisdom to figure out what makes us feel good and what doesn’t, rather than worrying about what our favorite influencers say.
  • Sarah’s a certified kettlebell instructor, and she uses strength training in her work to help women overcome pelvic floor issues. It helps women to reconnect with their bodies and feel strong and capable again. She also has a kettlebell program with core and pelvic floor and postpartum in mind—it’s called Kettlebells for Cool Kids and is set to 90s hip-hop!
  • I use a kettlebell too—I have one that sits in the middle of my floor, and I do twenty swings every time I go past it—but it’s really important to get proper coaching before using one. There’s a technique to kettlebells, and you can fuck up your back if you don’t know it!
  • We’re less connected than we used to be, which means moms are trying to figure out parenting all by themselves. Personally, I think the boomers fucked it up for us because they forced us to reject them as part of our community, but we’re starting to get back to our roots and ancestral wisdom.

Quotes:

My goal is really to help women to discover their inner strength, both physical and spiritual, and their innate wisdom. Because I think we have so much innate wisdom about the body, and we lose that. The culture and athletics and things that we’re told all the time about how our bodies function muddles what we know and what we actually feel.”

A lot of women accept it as normal, like, ‘Oh, I pee my pants,’ or, ‘Oh, my bladder is falling out of my vagina,’ you know, like, that’s normal... And it’s like, it’s not, I mean, it happens, but like, we can do better than that.”

I realized shortly after the birth of my third son in 2015 that I had prolapse of the bladder. And as you may have guessed, I was prescribed kegels, all of the different kinds of kegels, you could do fast kegels, slow kegels, long kegels, and I did them, and they made me feel worse.”

I think because of stress and different airway issues, movement, things that happen in athletics, and whatever, we teach our bodies to use muscles that help us to cope and to keep going, but they’re not functioning the way that they should be in relationship to the body. They’re overworking in some areas, doing jobs that they shouldn’t be doing.”

The best way to strengthen the core is through breath work because your core strength really comes from the ability to manage pressure.”

Oftentimes, when we see pelvic floor issues, you know, coming up, we have to look and be like, well, what else around the pelvic floor is not helping it? Is it really that the pelvic floor is weak? Or is the pelvic floor just not able to do its job because it’s trying to do everything?”

If somebody doesn’t have good posture and alignment, and they’re not allowing their pelvic floor to fully relax so that it can recruit and do its job, then why would just squeezing it over and over and over again help anything? It’s only going to make things worse.”

Back when I was like twenty-one, I worked in a restaurant, and we would try to do our kegels while waiting on people and see, and it was like a contest, so like, nobody could see it on our faces.”

It’s amazing to me how much you can solve with incontinence and also symptoms of prolapse just by getting people oriented so that their ribcage is directly over their pelvis. So then, now you have the thoracic diaphragm up top, talking to the pelvic floor, and you manage pressure together.”

People really, really, really don’t understand, like, how important lubrication is for good sex. Like, it’s gotta happen, like, either organically or artificially, I don’t care.”

Having the tongue on the roof of your mouth opens your nasal cavity. It actually immediately communicates with your diaphragm and helps you to have better posture. You have better stability in the pelvis simply by having your tongue press on the roof of your mouth.”

A lot of people are walking around with tension. They’re sucking in, they’ve been told that they’re not supposed to have squishy bellies, they’re wearing really tight pants, they deal with tension and stress and trauma by internalizing it both in the gut and the pelvis.”

I got too many dysregulated parents trying to co-regulate with a dysregulated kid, and I’m like, y’all are just giving them your chaos. You’re not giving them your calm, you know?”

I went in my sauna every day, like no, five days a week for like a year. And I just stopped having the digestive issues that I had been having for a really long time.”

Getting your gut health ducks in a row, I think, makes a huge difference for any kinds of pelvic floor issues whatsoever.”

We see Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, all this pressure to look a certain way and have our homes look a certain way and have our kids perform and look a certain way, and I think women are just burned out.”

Try to connect with people, even if it’s online, it can be an online community, but connect with people that really love you for who you are and respect your truth and are going to be there for you in a meaningful way, that you can say, ‘I’m struggling, help. Can you bring me soup? I’m not feeding myself.’”

Over the past couple of years, you know, people have been fighting a lot about health and nutrition and what works and what doesn’t and what’s happening and what isn’t. I’m like, stop throwing your energy towards all this negativity and conflict all the time. How are you sleeping?”

You can’t put too much stock in what you see on the screen. You got to get more into your own wisdom. Listen to your gut, no pun intended.”

I use strength training to help women overcome pelvic floor issues because again, it’s about training alignment, training stability, and helping them feel strong and capable again.”

I like doing hard things. I think we need to manufacture obstacles because we don’t have enough of them.”

I think the boomers fucked it up.”


Links:

Jamie’s Homepage - www.jamieglowacki.com

Oh Crap! Potty Training – https://www.amazon.com/Crap-Potty-Training-Everything-Parenting-ebook/dp/B00V3L8YSU

Oh Crap! I Have A Toddler -

https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Oh-Crap!-I-Have-a-Toddler/Jamie-Glowacki/Oh-Crap-Parenting/9781982109738

Jamie’s Patreon Page: www.patreon.com/join/jamieglowacki?

Jamie’s Instagram Page: @jamie.glowacki

 

Sarah’s Homepage: https://www.sarahsmithstrength.com/

Sarah’s Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/sarahsmithstrength/

Sarah’s Instagram: http://instagram.com/sarahsmithstrength/

Dirty Strength Radio podcast: https://sarahsmithstrength.com/podcast/