Calves on a stool: reduce pelvic pressure during and after pregnancy

Calves on a stool position during and after pregnancy

“Calves on a stool” is such a great simple exercise to help decreasing pressure on the pelvis during and after pregnancy. I thought you may be interested in knowing about it, whether or not you have symptoms, so you can use it now or in the future if you present those symptoms ๐Ÿ’œ

During pregnancy๐Ÿคฐ

โœ… To reduce symptoms of pelvic or vaginal pressure

โœ… To reduce swelling in the labias and lower body (legs/feet)

โœ… To use as a resting pose whenever you feel too much pressure in the vagina after being on your feet

โœ… To allow baby to move around and reduce pressure on the bladder and pubic bone

Postpartum ๐Ÿคฑ

โœ… To decrease pressure on the pelvis and vagina

โœ… To allow the pelvic organs to come back up

โœ… To connect with your pelvic floor and feel better your contractions if you cannot feel them in sitting or lying down positions


โœ… You can stay in the position for 5-10 min once a day or as many times as you want if it feels good!

โœ… Use enough cushions or pillows so your pelvis is higher than your heart โค๏ธ

โœ… Make sure youโ€™re comfortable! This position should feel good – if there is pain you need to re-adjust

โœ… You can also have your legs up on the wall with your bum as close as possible from the wall

Postpartum Running Program

You just delivered your baby a few months ago, and you are SO EAGER to get back into your running shoes!

Plus – I am so proud of you – you checked all the boxes:

  • You waited at least 12 weeks post delivery: as you took my prenatal class and heard it was the minimal amount of time you should hold off on high impact exercises after baby is born. Also, you were too afraid of developing a prolapse from returning to running too early – not worth the risk, you concluded!
  • ย You were assessed by a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist:ย and got their clearance – your pelvic floor and core are in great shape – good work girl!
  • You have no pelvic symptoms in your daily activities: including long walks (1h or more). Those pelvic symptoms include urine leakage, vaginal heaviness (or feeling that something is coming out of your lady bits), pelvic pain or bowel control issues. Oh you may have had those symptoms in the early days after baby was born, but this time is well over now, and you are quite happy about it!
  • You performed the return to running pre-requisite tests: and felt great, no pelvic symptoms during any of the tests. Yay!!!

Can I go back to my previous running program?

First, no matter how much running you did before delivering your baby, you will need to take things slow. It does not matter if you were 5 months pregnant when you ran your last half marathon…! Sorry!! In the postpartum running world, you will never regret taking your time so you can protect your pelvic health and continue to support your body in its healing. Because, yes, your fourth trimester may be over, but your body is still healing from your pregnancy and birth, and will still be for up to a year!

Also, being a new mom…

  • You energy level is different than before – your little one may be keeping you up at night, and you are far from those 8-9h of sleep you used to get!
  • Your breast is heavier:ย if you are breastfeeding or pumping, the additional weight of your breast adds pressure on your pelvis
  • ย Your hormones are still out of whack: if you are breastfeeding or pumping, the relaxin (the hormone that makes everything looser in your body during pregnancy) is still running in your blood stream and affects the strength of your joints, ligaments and muscles, thus affecting stability. However, if your period has resumed, it is normally a sign that your hormones are shortly going to be restored.

With all these changes, it is understandable that you will need to take it slow, and start with a program that will allow your body to progressively adapt to this new load.

Setting yourself for success

In order to put all the chances on your side to have a successful return to running, a few things to consider:

  • Run on days where you feel rested
  • If you are breastfeeding, make sure to empty your breast before going for a run, so you reduce the weight on your pelvis
  • Wear a supportive braย 
  • In the first few weeks of your running program, make sure you don’t “overdo it” on the days you are planning to run. For example, avoid planning a run when you know you will be on your feet a lot that day or doing lots of errands.

Running program

Now let’s dive into the details of your running program! The following postpartum interval program was designed by physiotherapists and can be found on the running clinic website. I translated it from French, for your convenience ๐Ÿ™‚

Download and print the program

Why alternating running and walking?

I know those first few runs will look very short at first and may leave you on your appetite, but the goal here is to provide your body with an opportunity to slowly adapt to the demand without overloading the system. Progressively, your ligaments and muscles will build up strength and adapt to the load, and it will decrease the chances of experiencing pelvic symptoms like urine incontinence, urinary urgency, pelvic prolapse and pelvic pain, to name a few.

I had clients who started running continuously (without walking breaks), and after a few runs started experiencing pain in their lower back and pelvis. We had to fix their alignment before they could return again. The second time around, they followed the program and had much more success, their symptoms did not return. The body never lies! It will tell you when you are trying to go too fast. Trying to cut corners sometimes sets you back in your fitness goals, so why not doing things right from the start ๐Ÿ™‚

Flat versus hills?

I always recommend starting on flat courses (you can walk the hills if your environment does not allow you to run strictly on flat), and choose a soft terrain (ex: trails) over road to decrease the impact. Progressively include hills, starting with running up hills and walking down hills. Downhill running is definitely something you should try later on in your program (in the last weeks), since it puts more stress on your pelvis.

Be smart and monitor your pelvic health!

During your run and in the next 24h, pay attention to your body symptoms. If you experience any urinary leakage, pelvic heaviness (sensation that something is hanging down in your vagina), pelvic or hip pain, or urinary urgency, you may want to check in with your Pelvic Health Physiotherapist so they can help you figure out what is going on.

Running technique pointers

Now, did you know that the way you run affects tremendously the load applied on your pelvis? And since your pelvis is trying to recover from your pregnancy and birth, running with proper technique could make a huge difference on your success and symptoms.

A few pointers:

  • Soft landing:ย try and pay attention to your landing and make it as soft as you can – a hard landing means you put more impact on your body and pelvis
  • Lean slightly forward: did you know that running with your body upright is not optimal for your pelvic health, as it increases the impact on your pelvic floor? Try to lean forward instead – normally about 20 degrees is sufficient to significantly decrease the load on your bladder and pelvis. For that reason, running with a baby stroller is not optimal, as it forces you to keep your body upright.
  • Breath in your abdomen:ย a shallow breath (or chest breathing) contributes to increase the intra-abdominal pressure, thus adding pressure on your pelvic organs. You want to send your breath down into your belly during your runs ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Short strides:ย the longer your strides are, the more likely you will land directly on your heels which puts more impact on your body. It is better to accelerate your cadence and shorten your strides.
  • Arm swing:ย keep your arms relaxed so they can help propel yourself forward – normally your hands should swing down beside your hip bones. Avoid running with your arms “punching the sky”!
  • Don’t grip your abs: a lot of women were told they should ‘engage their core’ when running, so they end up running with their tummy super tensed which puts so much pressure on their pelvis and bladder, and also reduces their trunk’s ability to rotate! This is a whole topic on its own – but ladies, please, let your belly be, let your belly breath!

The most insightful thing you can do is to ask someone to take a video of your running so you can self-assess those elements – get a front view and a side view. This is exactly what I do with my postpartum clients who are ready to go back to running – it is helpful to watch the video in slow motion to see where the foot lands (heel versus forefoot), the angle of your trunk (upright versus backward or forward), your stride length, how you use your arms, etc. Of course, don’t overwhelm yourself if you are not sure what to look at, and consult with a Pelvic Health PT who has some training in postpartum running assessments!

There you go! You’re GTG!! So excited for you!

How did your return to running go after baby? Share your story by dropping a comment below ๐Ÿ˜‰




Coregeous ball: 6 techniques to make the most of it!

The coregeous ball is definitely one of my favourite self-care tools. I use it pretty much every day for different purposes – whether it is for back pain, posture, digestive issues, stretching and so on! Want to learn how to use it?

Watch the video below ๐Ÿ™‚


Self-massage with balls during & after pregnancy

Low back, hip & pelvic pain during & after pregnancy can restrict mobility and limit moms in their daily activities. Having some self-management techniques to alleviate the pain can be a life saver for a better sleep, improved mobility & remaining active.

How about using massage balls for self-treatment? You can do it anywhere, anytime, for as long as you want! Isn’t it the best?


  • Pregnant or post partum women who experience low back, hip, sacrum or pelvic pain (**an assessment by a pelvic health PT is highly recommended prior to do these techniques, to make sure they are appropriate for you**)
  • Pregnant women who are closer to labour (>36 weeks) and want to improve their pelvic mobility in order to ease labour and birth
  • Pregnant women in labour who want to reduce pain during the contractions

First watch the warm-up video to help your tissues get in the mood and ease into the release. Then, move on to the next video for more in depth massage techniques.

**The Yoga Tune up massage balls are available at my clinic for purchase, or online :)**

Relieving pubic symphysis pain during & after pregnancy

Pubic symphysis pain can be extremely debilitating during and after pregnancy.

It is a kind of pain located at the pubic bone (the bone above the clitoris), and it can be sharp or dull.

Most women report that it gets triggered with some or all of the following activities:

– Standing up after sitting for a while

– Turning in bed

– Standing on one leg (ex: to put shoes on or pants on – they end up having to sit to perform these tasks)

– Going up/down stairs

– Turning in bed

– Going up/down stairs

– Walking

Here are my top recommendations to help alleviate pubic symphysis pain.

PS: check out the video below if you want an actual visual of these recommendations!


Make sure you sit with equal weight on both butt cheeks, and stand with equal weight on both legs.

When sitting, avoid crossing your legs, and keep your knees in a “V” shape. I know this is not the most feminine way to sit, but what can I say…! Your body will feel more balanced that way!


Lie on your back with your legs open on both sides, feet together. Let your legs relax on both sides. Keep this position for 2 minutes, then do 3 bridges to activate your gluts. This will re-align the pubic symphysis. There is another re-alignment exercise that you can do in the sitting position. Both are demonstrated in the video below ๐Ÿ™‚


This is a stability belt that you wear around your pelvis to make sure your pubic symphysis remains stable. Some women respond well to it, some others don’t like the sensation, and some others do not report much changes. I have definitely seen more women having good results than not though, but just so you know it is not a magical solution for everyone.

A good way to test if it may work for you: ask someone to squeeze your hips together while you stand on one leg, and see if you have less pubic symphysis pain when your hips are squeezed. If it makes a difference, then you are probably a good candidate for a stability belt. You can also go to a medical equipment store when your pubic symphysis is a bit “angry” and sore, and try the belt on. Normally, when it helps, you should feel significant relief in your symptoms right away when you put it on and you start moving around.


Your upper and lower body should always move as a whole, or a “block”. Avoid twisting the upper body over the lower body. This applies when you turn in bed or come out of bed.

This from Cecile Rost is a must to teach you how to move properly with pubic symphysis pain!


Put a pillow or cushion in between your legs at night – something big enough to keep your legs PARALLEL to each other. Using a thin pillow where your legs are still not parallel WON’T WORK! Use a bigger pillow or put two in one pillow case, or use one of those gigantic body pillows ๐Ÿ˜‚ If it keeps slipping away during the night, you may want to look at a pillow with a leg strap to keep it in place.


Make sure you wear good shoes with ankle support. If your feet are not well supported, the whole alignment of your body will be off, especially during pregnancy when the relaxin hormones makes all the ligaments looser. It is like building a house on a crooked foundation..!

I have seen many moms coming into my office wearing flip flop sandals in the summer, and complaining of pubic symphysis pain. The first thing I told them was to swap those flip flops for running shoes ASAP!

Also, if you live in a snowy country such as myself, you will want to make sure that you wear shoes with good traction in the winter (add metal crampons if needed!). Any unexpected side motion or slip can make the pubic symphysis angry, so prevention is the key!


Whether it is a Pelvic Health PT, a chiropractor, or an osteopath, seeing someone who has experience and appropriate training in assessing and treating pelvic conditions is absolutely essential if you feel like the advice above are not working effectively.

In the following video,

I show you two re-alignment exercises as well as how to wear the sacro-iliac belt ๐Ÿ™‚

I hope this helps ๐Ÿ’œ



Vaginal scar tissue: 3 techniques to release it

Vaginal tears from childbirth can heal in different ways, and many people are not aware that sometimes they need a little help in the healing process. In fact, vaginal scar tissue can often heal “tight” and not super flexible, and can cause pain with sex.

If this is your case, these techniques can help with releasing the scar tissue and make it softer. I recommend doing them every day or other day until there is no discomfort anymore with any of the techniques and that sex feels comfortable.

Return to running after birth: do you make the cut?

When should you return to running after delivery? There is so much controversy about this topic, and I thought I would share the updated 2019 guidelines to enlighten your decision making. Remember that these tests are only one part of the puzzle, and that a Pelvic Health PT assessment should also be part of it to make sure that you core and pelvic floor are ready for it too.

What’s the risk of going back to running without meeting those criterias?

You may put yourself at risk for permanent damage/injuries such as vaginal prolapse (when your bladder is descending into the vagina), or even pelvic/low back pain. Or you may get lucky and nothing will happen. But do you want to take that chance?

I have had clients who regretted not having been informed about holding off on high impact after birth, as they dealt with low back pain or vaginal heaviness for years after the fact… until they finally consulted with a pelvic health PT to address it. Believe me ladies, it is not worth the risk, especially if a few weeks of adequate exercises prescribed by a Pelvic Health PT can prevent those injuries.

Watch my 10-min video below to test where you’re at ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

Also, if after going through these tests you feel like you make the cut, please ensure to go back to running very progressively – starting with some walk/run, flat course, short distances, slower speed, etc.ย  A pelvic health PT can guide you in the progression. You can find the updated guidelines at p.5 here for more details ๐Ÿ™‚

What to expect after your vaginal delivery?

One of the things I hear the most from my post partum moms is “No one told me this could happen..!”

Indeed, not many women are informed about what to expect in the pelvic area after baby is born. We spend soooo much time preparing for labour, birth and baby’s care. But once these adorable little humans are out of the uterus, it can be comforting to know what is normal and what’s not. No one needs an additional source of anxiety when trying to take care of a newborn, am I right..?

So here’s a list of the most common pelvic symptoms you may face after delivery:

1- Pain and soreness in the perineum

The perineum refers to the area between your vagina and anus. After all it’s been through, normal that it may feel sore and painful for a few days.

Your best friends will be: ice packs, sitz baths with witch hazel or calendula infusion, witch hazel pads, peri bottle to clean after urination & bowel movement, pain medication if needed.ย 

2- Painful bowel movement, hemorrhoids, blood in stool, constipation

Again, depending on how your birth went (pushing time, baby’s position, baby’s size, use of forceps or vacuum, tearing, etc…), your rectum area may have taken a hit in the process. Totally normal to have some of these symptoms for the first few weeks.

Your best friends will be: anurex (cooling device for the rectum – available to purchase at my clinic), stool softeners, squatty potty (to have a more optimal position on the toilet), ointment (ask your doctor), donut cushion. For constipation: water, fibre & magnesium supplements. For more detailed info about this topic, read my post about bowel health!

3- Difficulty to hold urine, stool or gas

That is to be expected to a certain degree for the first 2 months after baby. You may feel urine coming out with laughing, sneezing or coughing, or even on the way to the bathroom, or at random times. You may feel like you cannot hold gas anymore, and that you have to rush to the bathroom to make it on time when you need to have a bowel movement. These symptoms can be quite embarrassing to deal with, but they should slowly get better over time. Starting on your pelvic floor exercises a few days after birth should speed up your recovery. After 8 weeks, it is not normal to still present these symptoms and you should definitely consult a Pelvic Health PT if that’s the case.

Your best friends will be: pads specifically made for incontinence (such as Poise) – they breath better than menstrual pads and will be less irritant for your skin

4- Vaginal heaviness / feeling that something is falling out of your vagina

For the first few weeks after birth, you may feel like your organs are falling out of your vagina if you stay on your feet too long or go for a walk. My suggestion is to:

  • Try and avoid activities that trigger heaviness, and ask your pelvic health PT about how to modify your activities to reduce pressure on your pelvis
  • Address any constipation issues – straining on the toilet is a major risk factor for prolapse
  • Avoid lifting more than your baby weight for 4-6 weeks – split your loads (ex: grocery bags, wet laundry baskets) and use your support network for domestic tasks
  • For families with toddlers: try and explain that mommy can only give hugs while sitting for now, and find creative ways to make them more independent to get into bed / vehicles so you do not have to lift them too often (ex: monkey ropes, ladders, stool to climb onto the bed). If you make it fun and interesting, they are more likely to collaborate ๐Ÿ™‚
  • ย Spend 5-10 min with your pelvis elevated when you present heaviness sensations (ex: lying on the floor with calves on the sofa or a chair, and a few cushions under your pelvis to elevate it)

Your best friends will be: anti-gravity pose (calves on a stool with pelvis elevated) or horizontal position when symptoms occur, pacing yourself to avoid triggering symptoms, squatty potty, stool softeners, support network to reduce domestic tasks

5- Intercourse may not happen @ 6 weeks postpartum

OK: first, most couples return to intercourse between 3-6 months after baby is born – those are just the statistics. The famous “6-weeks green light” from the doctor can be quite a source of anxiety for many women, actually. Indeed, some moms feel the pressure to get back to sex ASAP, when in fact they still have lots of healing to do, both physically and emotionally especially if they have experienced birth trauma.

Not to mention that moms may feel exhausted, overwhelmed, anxious or depressed. They may have a low libido, sore nipples, and vaginal dryness from breastfeeding. On top of that, they are figuring out their new role as a mother, their new routine, how to care for their baby, how to heal their body, etc. They are learning to take care of their postpartum body, but they may not feel super sexy while they are figuring it out. How are they supposed to want sex in these conditions?

Now – you have worked up the courage to try intercourse again. You were seeking that connection with your partner and you were also curious to know how it would feel like, especially that your doctor told you that your tear was healed. However, a well healed tear does not necessarily translate in a pain free tear. Some women may have no pain with sex at all after a 2nd degree tear, and some others will barely be able to tolerate penetration after a 1st degree tear. Why is that? Because no one heals the same – some people will have more scar adhesions than others, reducing the mobility of their tissues (which causes pain). Other will have tight pelvic floor muscles as a result of their birth, and this can cause pain too.

Bottom line is: painful sex after birth is a thing! A very common thing, but it does not mean that you should accept it as your new reality. There are so many things we can do to help you, so please do not suffer through and consult ๐Ÿ™‚

Your best friends will be: lubricant, Book “Reviving your Sex life after Childbirth” from Kathe Wallace – she shows great massage techniques to help with scars, pelvic health PT consult, Sofia Fortin from the Happy Vagina Project & her Sex After Kids masterclass

I hope I did not scare you with this post – but I just wanted to let you know that these issues are super common after birth, so don’t panic if they happen to you. But most of all, I want you to know that Pelvic Health Physiotherapists ARE YOUR BEST FRIENDS for your postpartum recovery. They will carefully listen to your birth story, let you cry if you need to cry, let you share your concerns without discrediting them. They will ask you all about your urinary, bowel, pelvic pain & sex symptoms, and they will make a plan with you. They will guide you through your recovery, so you are not alone.

You are not alone, mamma, and you deserve the best.






Top post partum recommendations to protect your floor

Delivering a baby puts a huge amount of pressure on your pelvic floor muscles, and sometimes tearing. It is not surprising that our pelvic floor needs some rehabilitation and care once Baby is born, after all it has been through!

In the first few weeks after your delivery, you have to be extra cautious in the activities you are doing so you do not injure your pelvic floor during its precious recovery time (normally up to 12 weeks – the famous “4th trimester!”). Even if you feel good, you have to remind yourself of taking things slow, as going back to your normal activity level too fast would likely lead to pelvic floor dysfunctions. No one wants to deal with prolapse or urine leakage when they go back to their running or work out class!

Watch this video to get my top recommendations to protect your floor after baby!

Healing the Body during & after Pregnancy

It all started last spring. There was this Birth Healing Summit advertised on one of my pelvic health groups on Facebook, and since it was presented online and free, I decided to sign up. What did I have to lose anyway..?

This summit was put on by a Pelvic Health physiotherapist called Lynn Schulte who had interviewed different speakers in the birthing field about various subjects. When I saw that Julie Wiebe & Sinรฉad Dufour – two experts that I highly respect in the pelvic health field – were going to be interviewed, my heart was won already.

I listened to all the interviews with much interest, getting everyone’s perspective on how to heal the body after delivery. But the interview that really got me was Lynn Schulte’s herself. She spoke about her experience treating pregnant and post partum women, and how she found these similar patterns in all of her clients. It was like a light bulb flashing to my eyes, so brilliant, so clear. She was mentioning about how the pelvic bones (sacrum & ilium) need to move and open to let the baby go through the pelvis during labor and delivery. She called it “the open birthing pelvis” pattern. She also mentioned how these bones were stuck in a very stereotypical way in almost every post partum mom she had assessed, leaving the right side of the pelvis (especially the sacro iliac joint) out of whack after birth, triggering similar symptoms such as right-sided low back pain, pubic symphysis pain, feeling of unsteadiness in the pelvis, difficulty to recruit the pelvic floor & core after birth, etc.

But wait…!!? My moms were reporting that too!!! That damn right-sided pelvic pain! This feeling of getting out of bed in the morning and feeling like an 80 yo! This hip pain while sleeping! This “unsettled pelvis” sensation, or feeling that you don’t own your body anymore after delivery! Then it became clear to me:

I had to meet Lynn Schulte in person.

I had to learn everything she knew about fixing the body during and after pregnancy.

The first thing I did was to read everything about her and the Institute for Birth Healing which she had opened a few years ago in Denver, Colorado. I realized that this amazing experienced physiotherapist had worked for more than 25 years helping moms to recover from birth. I discovered her youtube channel which I spent many hours on, watching every video, positively nodding to everything she said, and wanting more. This woman knew what she was talking about, holy!

But what caught my attention was this Birth Healing Specialist Certification that she was offering for professionals in the birth/pregnancy field. This included 3 in-person practical courses at her Institute in Denver. Mmm… this would be a big investment if you count the courses/certification fees as well as travel fees… Plus the Canadian to US dollar change rate was not really helping me…!

But hey! My heart was really calling for this training. Everything I had done so far was leading me to it. Working with pregnant and post partum moms was clearly my path, I knew it deep inside. I needed to offer more to my moms. I needed to help them in an effective way and understand what was going on for them. Make them more comfortable so they can get back to what they love doing without discomfort from pelvic floor disorders. Go back hiking, running, playing with their kids, camping, and whatever they like doing, and feel like their body was not restricting them to do those things.

Doing a grounding exercise with my colleague from California ๐Ÿ™‚

So I signed up for the certification. In October & November this fall, I flew to Colorado (long travels!!!) to meet with Lynn Schulte and all the amazing women who wanted to learn from her. Our first course was the Holistic Treatment of the Pregnant Body, and the 2nd one the Holistic Treatment of the Post Partum Body.

There is no word to say how much this training has changed my practice already. A few realizations I made…:

  • This open birthing pattern where the pelvic bones move for delivery can remain in the post partum body for years if it is not addressed through manual treatment, it can lead to pelvic floor disorders symptoms like pain, prolapse, urine incontinence and so on. So big “hah!!!” moment for me to learn that we cannot just approach things from a strict “muscle” perspective.
  • There are quick and effective external manual techniques to fix the bones and put them back where they should be. After trying it in clinic with a few patients, I was so surprised to see how effective these techniques are!!
  • During pregnancy, the organs (liver, stomach, small intestine, bladder, uterus) are pushed in all directions to make room for the baby, and can remain “stuck” in these positions after baby is born, causing various issues. I learned how to mobilize these organs and put them back into place. I am thankful for the visceral knowledge that PT school never really brought up…!
  • Urinary urgency/frequency that is often reported post partum can be caused by the urethra/bladder being shifted to one side or the other, and I can now fix this with quick effective techniques!
  • There is an emotional component from pregnancy and birth that can be held in the tissues, and doing a body/mind connnection through a pelvic bowl meditation (credits to Lynn Schulte :)) can be so so powerful to release it!

    Lynn Schulte demonstrating pelvic mobilization techniques to fix the open birthing pattern after delivery
  • Yes, internal vaginal techniques have a big role to play in assessing my moms, but there is much more to it such as external joints & organ mobilizations, release of the abdominal wall & diaphragm, etc, and I am thrilled to now be able to offer more to my clients with a holistic approach
  • These techniques are not only helpful for moms or moms-to-be – I have been applying them to many other clients (back/pelvic pain, urinary problems, etc) and they proved to be effective for so many people!!!

These are just a few “wow” moments that I picked up, but there are so many more!!! My last course is coming up in December and we will learn more advanced post partum techniques which I am so excited about!

By the way, I am proud to say I will be the first PT in Canada who has this Birth Healing Specialist certification! What an honour!