Ep 57: Using the Bloom Method to Prepare Physically for Birth and Postpartum Healing with Brooke Cates

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We talk a lot on the podcast about preparing for your birth, and usually that revolves around preparing mentally. We're diving into another aspect of birth preparation today though, and we're focusing on how you can prepare both physically and mentally for your birth and for the postpartum healing process.

Brooke Cates is the founder of the Bloom Method, which empowers expecting and postnatal moms with smart, safe and effective education and workouts. The method works to prepare mothers for birth, prevent and heal injury-based Diastasis Recti and common pelvic floor injuries, and help moms re-strengthen themselves postpartum. 

Brooke and I talk about her experience working with expecting moms and how she helps people prepare physically for labor. We also talk about why diaphragmatic breathing is such a powerful tool for labor and beyond.

We then chat about the postpartum period and why it's so important to give yourself time to heal before leaping right back into the workouts you enjoyed before pregnancy. Brooke also shares who the Bloom Method is a good fit for and how her own pregnancy affected her work.

In this Episode, You’ll Learn About:

  • How Brooke became interested in working with mothers on the physical aspects of pregnancy and labor.
  • What the Bloom Method aims to do for expecting and postpartum moms.
  • Why preparing physically for your birth can be so empowering. 
  • What diaphragmatic breathing is and how it can help you during labor.
  • Brooke's two favorite tips for expecting moms who want to prepare their bodies for birth.
  • Why women shouldn't rush to be out of the postpartum period.
  • How giving birth allowed Brooke to experience her teachings firsthand.

Links Mentioned in the Episode

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Speaker 1: In today's episode of the podcast, I am interviewing pre and post natal exercise specialist, Brooke Cates.

Speaker 2: Welcome to the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast. I'm your host, Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins, a board certified Ob Gyn physician, certified integrative health coach and creator of The Birth Preparation Course, an online childbirth education class that will leave you feeling knowledgeable, prepared, confident, and empowered going into your birth. Quick note, this podcast is for educational purposes only and it's not a substitute for medical advice. See the full disclaimer at www.ncrcoaching.com/disclaimer.

Speaker 1: Hello and welcome to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 57 and as always, I am so grateful that you're spending a bit of your time with me today and today's episode on the podcast I have Brooke Cates. She is a pre and post natal exercise specialist, a core rehabilitation specialist, a pre and postnatal holistic health coach and she's the CEO and founder of The Bloom Method. The Bloom Method launched Studio Bloom, the first ever pre and postnatal online fitness studio in May of 2018. And Brooke created The Bloom Method with the desire to empower and shift the way women approached movement during and after pregnancy. The Bloom Method has over 12,000 followers on Facebook and another 61,000 on Instagram. And let me tell y'all what, Brooke is so super passionate about what she does. She's very serious, committed, thoughtful and intentional about how she approaches her work and she really just wants to help women be their best physical selves during pregnancy and after pregnancy.

Speaker 1: So you're going to learn a lot from today's episode where we chat about the benefits of physically training for birth, how that's different than just exercising during pregnancy, some things that women can do to help prepare themselves physically for birth. We talk about what The Bloom Method is, who The Bloom Method is for, who The Bloom Method is not for, spoiler alert, she thinks The Bloom Method is appropriate for anyone. And then there's just lots of great advice sprinkled throughout the episode. So again, I know you're going to enjoy it and find it useful.

: Now, before we get into the episode, let me do a listener shout out. This is to Kat_Franke and it's a little bit of a longer review, but I'm gonna read it. The title of it is "this podcast is a blessing" and the review says, "I started listening to this podcast when I was early first trimester with my second son, just a few weeks after Dr. Rankins started releasing episodes. My goodness, I don't even know where to begin. With my first son, I was blessed with the resources that taught me how invaluable childbirth education is and how important it is to bring support with you to your birth, whether it be a partner, coach, or doula. After that birth, we moved and I found myself pregnant and with a provider that I knew wasn't going to support my hopes for my birth because I listened to this podcast. I knew that I had the power to find a provider that would support me. I switched at 26 weeks pregnant and I found so much comfort knowing that I would be supported not just by the people I brought to the hospital with me, but by the caregivers who met me when we arrived. I would not have found that inner strength without Dr. Rankin's wisdom, and I'm indebted. I'm so grateful to Dr, Rankins for how she delivers, pun intended, such valuable information in such a soothing way. Through her podcast, she empowers women with education and compassion. I would and do recommend this podcast to any mother new or repeat."

: Oh my goodness. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for that review that truly, truly tugged at every single heart string I have. I really, really appreciate that and you taking the time to leave those kind words. That is exactly why I created this podcast, to empower women to make the best choices for themselves during their pregnancy. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you again, and you know I have a couple other resources that can help you during your pregnancy and birth. In addition to the podcast, I have a free online class on how to make your birth plan. It's called how to make a birth plan that works and it's an online class and you learn things to include in your birth plan.

Speaker 1: Really birth wishes, because none of us can plan birth, but I say birth plan because that's what's commonly used. But you learn what to include, some questions you need to ask your doctor or midwife before you write a single word of your birth plan, how to get folks to pay attention to it, how to approach the process and so much more so you can check out that free online class. It's an on demand class offered several times a day and that's at www.ncrcoaching.com/register and then of course also check out my online childbirth education class, The Birth Preparation Course, my online class that leaves you knowledgeable, prepared, confident and empowered to have the birth that you want. There's over eight hours of content in the birth preparation course. There's a private Facebook group with additional support and community there. Everything is convenient for you.

Speaker 1: You can go through it on your own time at your own pace. Covers everything from getting in the right mindset for your birth to the details of labor, to how to push, how to avoid tears, what to expect if you find yourself needing a labor induction, the postpartum period, some nontraditional things like placenta encapsulation and circumcision. So you can check out the class at www.ncrcoaching.com/enroll, and there's a 30 day money back guarantee. So there's nothing to lose if you want to check it out. If you don't like it for some reason, then you can get your money back within 30 days. So again, www.ncrcoaching.com/enroll, or if you want to check out the free class on how to make your birth plan, then you can go to www.ncrcoaching.com/register.

: All right. Without further ado, let's get into the episode with Brooke Cates.

: Nicole: Well, thank you so much Brooke, for agreeing to come onto the podcast. I am super excited to talk to you today about you and your work.

Speaker 3: Brooke: Yeah, are you kidding me? I am super excited to be chatting with an OB GYN about my work. You guys are so hard to get ahold of. So I am super thrilled to be just to be connecting because I feel that my work is so important and can not only help mamas out in the world but can really help support OB GYN and letting you guys shine and do what you do best when you have experts and specialists like myself to refer your patients to. So it's, it's great. I'm so excited to be here.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Yeah, that's great. I think that's one of the things that traditionally in medicine we haven't done a great job of connecting with people kind of outside of medicine for the benefit of the women that we care for. So this is definitely an important part of what I do with my podcast is just bringing on other people. So cause we all have the same goal of helping women have their best pregnancies and births and lives really. So. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So why don't you start off by telling us a bit about yourself and your work and your family.

Speaker 3: Brooke: Yeah. So, I guess from a credential standpoint, I am a pre and postnatal corrective exercise specialist. I also hold a certification for a pre and postnatal holistic health coach and a diastisis core specialist. I do a lot of rehab with diastisis also in the area of prevention. In fact, we prefer to focus more on prevention because if we can prevent these injuries from occurring, then it just helps the women so much more. I live in Boulder, Colorado, and I love where I live. It truly is a bubble for anyone listening who knows anything about Boulder, we definitely live in a bubble and I often will tell people I enjoy living in my bubble. But I do my best to also be very worldly. My husband and I have one little guy, his name is Levin and he's 15 months.

Speaker 3: Brooke: My husband and I have been together for 14 years. And just embarked on parenthood. So we're navigating that and having so much fun with our little guy. We love to travel the world, and just be in life and experience life. My husband actually works with me. He closed his business about two years ago to come on board when we launched the online platform, which we refer to as Studio Bloom and he does all of our production and editing and kind of heads the director role, if you will. So it's kind of a family affair, although there are much more people involved at this point than just my husband and I and my work. My work is The Bloom Method and it's so much more than work. In fact, oftentimes I feel weird referring to it as work and at the same time extremely blessed to be able to say that it is my work.

Speaker 3: Brooke: I think it's more of my gift that I get to share with the world. I speak about it often that I feel so strongly that this is my truth. This is what I'm supposed to be doing in this world. As far as work is concerned and it is so passion filled, it is just a huge labor of love that every woman who was involved in The Bloom Method and every man, because my husband is included, I often can forget to mention his presence, there's so much heart involved and we just, all of us, I can speak collectively and say that we just want to be a sliver in the change or shifts that we hope to create around pre and postnatal care as a whole. Our part just focuses more so in the movement and fitness realm.

Speaker 1: Nicole: I love that. And you can hear the passion coming through in your voice that this is really just like your purpose. Like this is, this is what you were, we're here to do. And that you feel really, you know, excited about about what you do.

Speaker 3: Brooke: Yeah. Yeah. Thanks for, thanks for seeing that. We're hearing that because it is so true. Yeah. I love it.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Absolutely. And I mean you guys have a, that's how you got a lot going on there and that you were together for so long and then you add a child to the mix and then you start working together. So that must be, must have been a bit of an adjustment and figuring all that stuff out too.

Speaker 3: Brooke: Yes, it was an adjustment. But you know, oftentimes he and I will sit back and kind of as we're trying to assess or navigate the newness of things, that's just life. And I think it keeps it interesting for us. I mean, being together for 14 years, we've been together, I'm 38 years old. We've been together since I was 22. We had a short break in the midst of all of that, but that is a long time, and for us to not get bored for a lack of better words, or for our lives to feel mundane and routine, the changes are nice. I mean there are definitely things that we have to navigate, but we have fun with it and we learn a lot. And I think they help us both as a couple and individually grow as people. So it's cool.

Speaker 1: Nicole: I totally get that. My husband and I have been celebrating almost 14 years of marriage and our kids came a little bit sooner. But definitely it's very nice to be able to grow with someone both as an individual and as a couple. So you obviously have a lot of extra, you know, certification and training. How much time did it take you to get to the point where or how much education I should say to get to where you are now?

Speaker 3: Brooke: I love this question. I love this question because I still educate myself so much. I'm actually in the mainstream world, I have found that people often refer to people like myself as an expert in pre and postnatal fitness. And when I speak to people, I actually refer to myself as a specialist because I feel that when I take on that term expert, it almost shuts out the continuing education or lack of growth. And I am constantly educating myself and trying to be as innovative as I can with my education and any knowledge that I put into my methodology or out into the world. So I guess if we talk about a base education, I went to school for, I always chuckle at this because I had no idea what I was doing when I went to school. I went to school for childhood development and exercise science and I will never forget my parents being like, what are you doing?

Speaker 3: Brooke: And I would respond with I don't know, I'm just interested in both of these. And then it was one day I'm in the shower, because all great things come to us in the shower, I went, Oh my goodness. This whole time I was preparing for what I do right now. I just had no idea. The universe had not shown me what I was going to be doing, but here I was going to school for these two things that I didn't think meshed. No one in my life thought they meshed yet here I am working with mamas and babies kind of in this directly way. So that is kind of more of my schooling. And then when I got the bug, I guess to start down this path, and it all started with seeing the missing link in the fitness industry, seeing the issues that friends and other women in my life were coming up against in their pregnancy and postpartum journey.

Speaker 3: Brooke: Even in birth. It started with that. I kind of went, what is going on? Why does there seem to be so much lack of education or mis-education when it comes to pre and postnatal women wanting to stay active or prepare for birth and feel empowered during this time in their life? So when I started down that path, I did a bunch of certifications. I've done pelvic floor certifications, I've done the corrective exercise pre and postnatal specific certifications, diastisis certifications. So I've done all of that. And then even to this day, I still do tons of education and online learning around just questions that I have, things that I feel are a little gray area in the world that I'm in so that I can try to utilize the knowledge that I have with the new knowledge that's coming in and find solutions, figure stuff out.

Speaker 3: Brooke: I also love to give a lot of attention to my clients, the women who have trusted me over the years. I have evolved my work from a one-on-one trainer, so I've always worked with pre and postnatal, one that I've never actually worked with anyone outside of that demographic. But when I started this work, I for the first four years only saw women one-on-one and that experience and working with those women and all of the different ways that they would show up in the space with all of their different injuries or issues or discomforts. I oftentimes will say that they, these women have taught me more than any certification could. And that's not to discredit the certification, but the hands on experience and maybe you have experience with that too. Absolutely. It was just everything for me. And it was, it was what I learned from these women that helped me develop this methodology to work with more women in a grant, in the grand scheme so that I can take it out of just the one on one, and scale it in a different way to reach more women.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Absolutely. And how long have you been doing this?

Speaker 3: Brooke: So about seven, seven and a half years now.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Yeah. And it just takes time to get to that point. There's something to be said about that, that hands on experience. So that's really awesome. So let's talk about, I know just kind of looking through your website and your materials and things, one of the things you talk about is physically training for birth. So what does that mean for you and how is that different than say, just plain old exercising during pregnancy?

Speaker 3: Brooke: Yeah. So I think it's the way that we approach this at The Bloom Method and the way that we approach it is that we take the way your average woman experiences birth and that there is oftentimes a hype of the contraction, which can commonly be seen as the intensity of the contraction or sometimes known as the pain of the contraction. I like to refer to it as the intensity. And then the low of the contraction, which can sometimes depending on the individual be seen as the rest space. So they go to this height of the contraction, which can feel really intense and then they come down. You are very familiar with this. So we build at The Bloom Method with our birth prep classes specifically, we build our class formats around this concept. So we have what we call contraction stages. You can also look at them as circuits of the exercise, but we call them contraction stages.

Speaker 3: Brooke: And we build upon movement. So we take let's say a single leg lunge for example, and they're in the single leg lunge working the left leg and we may put them in this single leg lunge for anywhere from two minutes to three minutes. And we are moving very slowly, very controlled, talking about our breath being in the diaphragmatic form. We may even incorporate our pelvic floor and inner core unit movement from a biomechanic stand as we move with the lunge and what we're doing. There's always a method to our madness. But what we're doing is we're trying to fatigue the muscle. So we're trying to get that individual safely to her edge and in a physical way, kind of like the intensity of a contraction would and and then we're there to coach them to say, when you get to your edge, this is where you soften.

Speaker 3: Brooke: This is where instead of pushing through and feeling like you've got to go to that fight or flight stance, we actually want you to come down to remain strong and continue moving, but tap into your body's inner wisdom, find your diaphragmatic breath, try to remain in parasympathetic nervous system. And know that you can do this. We give them cues like, yes you can, you are made for this. The way that you show up to anything is the way that you show up to everything. So treat this as if it were your contraction, the moment that your body says, I need to pull out of this exercise because it hurts so bad. That's when you've met your contraction. And this is where we need to pull other tools into our toolbox and utilize them to get through the last 30 seconds of this exercise. So we do that and we build upon each contraction stage focuses on fatiguing a certain muscle group, whether it's the lower body, the upper body or cardio based movement.

Speaker 3: Brooke: So that women can really start to not just physically train, but also learn how to use their mental body in a birth situation so that they understand that we were designed to do this and we were made to do this. We believe that every woman can birth and should be birthing the way that she feels the most comfortable. So for some women, an epidural is what she wants. And we think that's great, then go for it. But for those women who are like, I've been told that birth is horrible and when I tell women that I want to give birth unmedicated they kind of laugh at me. We want to empower those women with tools and techniques through our birth prep classes to know that if that is what they want, they have the power inside of them to do it. And I think lastly to simply look at it, I like to refer to birth as the birth marathon.

Speaker 3: Brooke: I often will tell women that the average woman in labor expels three times the amount of oxygen as an avid runner does in a marathon and no one shows up for the Boston marathon after they got a cup of coffee and goes, you know, this was a great cup of coffee. I think I'm going to go run the Boston marathon. It just doesn't happen. So I believe, and I think this comes full circle to what I said earlier around supporting our OB GYN like yourself, in that if we can empower and instill tools and techniques in our women to be more prepared for their birth, it helps along the entire course. It helps our nurses, our doctors and the individual themselves because everyone knows that when someone is more prepared for what they're about to embark on, it just makes it easier for everyone. So we get, you know, women telling us across the board because of your method, I had a shorter labor because of you.

Speaker 3: Brooke: I pushed shorter and I'm constantly telling women that's not always the case. Birth is different for everyone and we can't show up for birth expecting because we did X, Y and Z to have a shorter pushing phase to have a shorter labor. I think this goes more into some esoteric stuff, but birth is our birth to teach us whatever we're supposed to be taught. So it's not necessarily about shorter births, shorter pushing phases. It's more about the prevention of injury being, I kind of don't like to use this, but for a lack of better words, being in more control of an oftentimes an uncontrollable situation.

: Nicole: Or at least taking control of the things that you can take control of yourself.

Speaker 3: Brooke: Exactly, yes. And just being somewhat prepared for this really crazy ride you're about to go on. And then of course the prevention of, you know, when I think about pushing, of course our methodology helps women understand the way their inner core unit and pelvic floor can work for them during the pushing phase so that during the pushing phase there isn't so much pressure happening on the pelvic floor that they give themselves prolapse or they increase a potential injury that had started during their pregnancy and it kind of exacerbates in their birth. So I do think that there is more that we can give women than just the preparation. There is this prevention and then of course healing any injuries postpartum as well. But it's just, it really comes back to being empowered and being prepared for this experience.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Absolutely. Yeah. I am all about that as well. Knowledge is power and really like getting all that information you can. You can't control, none of us can control birth. Doctors can't control birth, but you know, babies really control birth and they don't tell us what their plans are. So yeah. But preparing yourself as much as you can with knowledge and even physically is important. We don't do enough to help women understand the physical aspects and there's plenty of data that shows if you're more physically active, it helps you have an easier pregnancy and birth. So all good, great stuff.

Speaker 3: Brooke: Yeah. And I love also how you touched on that our babies are more in control of this than we are. I think you hit the nail on the head because I am constantly telling our moms that our babies are so wise, far beyond what we expect them to be, especially before they make it earth side, while they're in the womb. And what comes to mind when I think about our baby's wisdom is women over obsessing about scheduled cesarean births. So one thing that comes to mind is breech babies. And when a baby is breech, you have no idea, actually you probably do because you probably hear this from your patients too. They want to do everything in their power to get that baby to turn so that they can avoid a cesarean birth. And while for a lot of women, so cesarean births may not be ideal.

Speaker 3: Brooke: They are absolutely necessary when they show up in a birth. And for example, if a baby is not coming out of a breech position, there can oftentimes be very good reason for that. And I think that there is this, the word surrender comes to mind. And sometimes I wish that women would just surrender to the experience that they are handed no matter how it shows up, even if it isn't going the way that they wanted it to go and they're going towards that cesarean birth route versus a vaginal birth. At the end of the day, all any of us want is a healthy mama and a healthy baby.

Speaker 1: Nicole: For sure. I totally hear what you're saying. You know, babies sometimes, they do what they're going to do. I think it's hard for women, sometimes to surrender because unfortunately they're in an environment where they're not, they don't have providers who are supporting them and giving them the best information in order to feel comfortable doing that. The maternity system in the US needs some work in terms of how we support women. So ideally, yeah, we should definitely get to a point where women feel comfortable that they're getting the best advice and the best recommendations and that they can come to the decisions for things like that. Feeling very confident and comfortable that their choices and preferences and wishes and safety were at the center of those decisions.

Speaker 3: Brooke: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I think, you know, I would just add to that, that it's, I think it's voices and passions like yours and I's and many other women in our fields that, that I believe will shift maternity care in this country.

: Nicole: I agree too. Yeah. So let's talk about what are a couple things women can do to help prepare themselves for birth? I know one thing I heard you say is diaphragmatic breathing. And that's something that I know just from being a regular meditator and how that's important for that. So tell us what a couple things that that women can do and I'm guessing diaphragm diaphragmatic breathing will be one of them.

Speaker 3: Brooke: Absolutely. Yeah, that's always my first go to because it's the easiest thing that any woman in the world who is expecting a baby or healing from a birth and pregnancy can do. Because we breathe 22 plus thousand times a day. So you're already breathing. So the only thing that you have to do is create more awareness around your breath throughout your day. And ultimately your body wants to breathe in a more parasympathetic diaphragmatic state. It was, I will tell moms often that that was the way that we were designed. If you watch your babies breathe, unless they have some sort of respiratory thing going on, the majority of babies breathe via their diaphragm, their bellies rise and fall with every breath and I believe personally that the reason once we get to our teenage years and definitely our adulthood, why the majority of us are disconnected with this form of breeding and why we've shifted to a more chest breath with every respiration that we do is because of the stress, because of the modern world.

Speaker 3: Brooke: We live in the go go go mentality and we are actually moving into this, not a parasympathetic state, a sympathetic state where we are living in a more sympathetic state, which we could go down a whole rabbit hole around how that is killing us. We know the studies have been done. That stress is a lead killer in the US and when our breath can reflect stress in our body because the slower we breathe, the deeper we breathe. The more that we focus on that diaphragmatic breath, the less stress our body has. And in regards to pre and postnatal, this is really every human being. But with pre and postnatal women, the reason diaphragmatic breath can be so powerful is one, it can teach you the basis of how your inner core system works. And when I talk about the inner core system, I'm talking about your diaphragm, your transverse abdominis, which is your deepest abdominal muscle and your pelvic floor.

Speaker 3: Brooke: So your inner core system works as a unit. It was designed to work in sync and it can get offline when we don't breathe properly. So diaphragmatic breath can really bring all of that back online. And for women who are going, I don't know what my deep core is, I don't even know what my pelvic floor is. What is a kegal? And then you talk about releasing your pelvic floor. How do you release your pelvic floor? Diaphragmatic breath can be the guide and kind of the first step to learning all of that. It's so powerful. And then as far as bringing that into birth, it is the number one tool that I tell every woman, whether she is a Bloom Method client or not to take into birth with her. It will help her. It will help her birthing team. It will help the energy in the room because if she can be so in tune with her diaphragmatic breath, getting her into a parasympathetic state while she's in labor and while she's going through birth.

Speaker 3: Brooke: Birth has this natural way of wanting to put our bodies into a fight or flight state. So when you can come in and say, no, I'm going to utilize this tool, kind of like meditation, right? To try to maintain a healthy level. Even if you lose it sometimes and go to fight or flight, that's normal. But if you can come back to that parasympathetic nervous system through your breath, you not only help yourself labor more naturally and it kind of allows the labor to unfold without feeling stuck is the way I like to refer to it. But I also like to say that it can help the baby because this is a journey for baby too. It's not just a journey for moms. So it can just be a really beautiful tool to help labor progress in a more natural state. We've actually had moms tell us that they've even used their diaphragmatic breathing in situations where their birth kind of goes awry.

Speaker 3: Brooke: And of course in a birthing situation, we don't have people observing the birth and going, well, this is why the baby's heart rate just skyrocketed or plummeted. We don't know why these happen per birth, but sometimes it happens. So we've had moms write to us and tell us that these things showed up and maybe their birth team started talking about a potential cesarean birth. Baby's heart rate is dropping. They don't know why. And mom starts diaphragmatic breath and all of a sudden baby's heart rate normalizes again. And their birth team is kind of floored and going, okay, don't know what you're doing. Keep doing it. We're going to cruise. You know, and labor kind of comes back and starts to progress. Or we've had women say, my labor stalled, my labor stalled. We were on the verge of getting Pitocin. So I'm calming myself down.

Speaker 3: Brooke: I'm breathing, I'm tapping into my body, trying to calm myself, and all of a sudden my labor comes back on. And I just think that's powerful. At the end of the day, we don't, in the time of birth, we don't have the ability to study these things right now because birth is so, maybe for a lack of better word, I'm gonna use fragile. The time is fragile. But the fact that these women are reporting this to us is powerful. And I think we know what diaphragmatic breathing can do in the way of parasympathetic nervous system. So that's my biggest and easiest thing for all women to learn how to do and to bring into their birth with them.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Yeah. Do you have a video on your website? Or maybe even if you did a quick video and I could post it in the show notes or something like that, just to show women what it means to do diaphragmatic breathing because it's, it's really, I know you hear us say it, but it may help to show folks.

Speaker 3: Brooke: Oh, absolutely. I think seeing it is amazing and seeing it on a pregnant belly, especially one of our techniques, which is called a belly pump. It takes diaphragmatic breathing to the next level because we combine it with what we call an intentional contraction of the pelvic floor and transverse abdominal muscle and then we relax all of that. But those two things are so cool to see on a pregnant belly because you get to actually see the visualization. I would tell people that are listening, our Instagram page is full of education. It's actually what we use our Instagram platform for is to educate women who are not subscribing to our online studio because we, we know that our online studio isn't for everyone. And we want to help as many women as we can and be a voice for as many women as we can. So there are tons of videos on our Instagram page and then of course within Studio Bloom. So we call Studio Bloom a virtual fitness studio, but it is so much more, it's packed with tons of education and diaphragmatic breathing is one of our foundational techniques within the methodology. So we teach it, and if I had it my way, we would teach it in a 45 plus minute video because there's so much education around it, but we've summed it up to a 15 minute video for my class to join.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Got it. Got it. So, and we will of course I will link to all of that in the show notes so you can start following her on Instagram. And I believe you offer some free classes to check out the studio. Is that correct?

Speaker 3: Brooke: We do. Yeah. They are just the fitness classes. We offer three free fitness classes through our website so that women can kind of see what they're going to get when they sign on. But again, those are just the fitness classes. We don't really put out the education just because it's so much education and we wouldn't know what to share.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. So, okay, so definitely the diaphragmatic breathing. Is there something else that you think women can do to help prepare themselves for birth?

Speaker 3: Brooke: Yeah, I think the other thing that really stands out to me is getting familiar and building a relationship with your pelvic floor. The reason I say this is in relation to the pushing phase of birth and OB GYN like yourself, you guys do. And then your nurse staff, they do not have time. You guys are so busy, you do not have time to teach women how to push. And oftentimes women are told to push like they're having a bowel movement. But when women push, and this is kind of a funny thing because when you think of pushing, like you're going to have a bowel movement, people think, well I do that hopefully every day, and I know how to do it. But believe it or not, most women are actually pushing incorrectly when they have a bowel movement. So if a woman has hemorrhoids, oftentimes it could be because she is not using the pressure in her system correctly to help her aid in a bowel movement.

Speaker 3: Brooke: And it's kind of the same thing when it comes to pushing out a baby. So I tell every woman, whether you do Studio Bloom or not, whether you work with the most known pre and postnatal fitness expert, you know, go and see a pelvic floor physio at least one time. In an ideal world, someone who is pregnant would see a pelvic floor physio multiple times throughout their pregnancy because the weight of the baby can change the way that we feel connected with our pelvic floor so much. And then at least one time postpartum, just because that individual is so skilled in understanding how to test someone's, what I call their baseline connection to their pelvic floor, because they can do that manual exam. I tell even our Studio Bloom moms, if you guys go and see a pelvic floor physio and get a manual exam from them, they're going to help you understand what is going on in your pelvic floor because it's not as simple as you have a weak pelvic floor or you have an overtone pelvic floor that's too strong.

Speaker 3: Brooke: Sometimes it can be your pelvic floor feels great except the left side of your pelvic floor or the front side of your pelvic floor needs X, Y, and Z. So when we have someone assess this for us and walk us through that, then people like myself can actually, and methods like mine can actually help women even more if they know where they're starting with their pelvic floor connection. And then that relates into pushing. When we understand how to push and how to use our body and our breath to assist in our birth team, in pushing the baby out, we are going to be so much less likely to have a pelvic floor injury from pushing. Then if we have no idea and we just assume that everything is going to work out and of course our bodies are designed to do this. So yes, there is a, an element of our bodies knowing how to push.

Speaker 3: Brooke: But again, when we have tools and we have that knowledge, we can just prepare our bodies and our pelvic floors. I even will tell women when it comes to tearing, I don't tell women that we can prevent tearing ever. But I do believe that you can prevent severe tearing when you have a healthy pelvic floor. Because the perineum is almost like you can look at it as a mirror to the pelvic floor. So when you have a healthy, balanced pelvic floor, and when I talk about a healthy, balanced pelvic floor, a pelvic floor that can link them or open or release whatever connects to that individual better and a pelvic floor that can engage or contract. When you have a pelvic floor that can do that, oftentimes you have a perineum that can be more malleable, if you will, and will stretch at a more healthy state. And will lessen the degree of tearing that women experience. Because I've had birth professionals like yourself say, we've got to get out of this fear around tearing because some tearing is normal. It's completely normal. And we've got to get away from that fear. What we need to do is educate women around their perineums, around their pelvic floor health so that the severe tearing can maybe be minimized in some of our women.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Yeah, I agree. And I would like to disagree. You know, tearing happens. It's common but it doesn't, it certainly doesn't have to be normal for everybody. And there are definitely things that can be done to help prevent it. I think we've underutilized things for sure like physical therapy and not just in birth but in women's pelvic health altogether. So like incontinence down the road, we are finding more and more that just physical therapy works as good if not better in some cases than surgeries. So we all have this being in tune with the muscles and things down there. I don't think it's training that we get very well as OB GYN, but it is really important.

Speaker 3: Brooke: Yeah, I completely agree. In a perfect world we would all create this beautiful support system for pre and postnatal women. But it is, I mean it is harder than we think. I have women all the time say, you know, why don't, why aren't you in better communication with our OB GYN and why aren't our OB GYN, you know, referring more to people like you and physios? And I just try to explain like, do you understand the workload that our OB GYN have? Do you know what truly goes into all of our work, but our OB GYN carry so much that it's not that we all don't want this support. It's that we all I think struggle to some degree figuring out how do we fix this and make it work.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Yeah, for sure. For sure. And I can say from having worked with, and I don't do prenatal care anymore cause I work as just a hospitalist in the hospital, but a good pelvic floor physical therapist is like worth their weight in gold. Especially for women who have injuries afterwards. It can be a tremendous help in healing and restoring normality and all kinds of things.

: Brooke: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

: Nicole: So why don't we kind of touch bases, you've talked a little bit about The Bloom Method. Tell us a little bit more about what that, what it is, who it's for and who it's not for.

Speaker 3: Brooke: Yeah. So in a nutshell, The Bloom Method, we really hope to be a methodology that redefines fitness, exercise and really movement for the modern mom. It is pre and postnatal focused. But pre and postnatal is a tricky thing, right? Because we also tell women that if you are preconception and you're in that state of wanting to start trying to have a baby, why not start on that path and implement tools that are going to help you take 10 steps ahead of the game and prepare your body, prepare your core and pelvic floor for what it's about to embark on. And then when you think about postpartum, I mean I meet women every day that say, Oh, well I wish I would have known about you and I had my baby 30 years ago or 45 years ago. I know that in the world that we live in postpartum, women have this mental, I'm gonna call it an issue, but this mental issue or disconnect where once they're done being postpartum, and that can vary from woman to woman.

Speaker 3: Brooke: Sometimes it's as soon as they're cleared at their six week checkup, but they don't want to be considered postpartum anymore. It's almost like our society has conditioned women to believe that pregnant and postpartum women are so fragile that women want to separate themselves so badly from that. Once they're, once they've had their baby, that it's hard for them to connect to even fitness methods like myself. They just want to get back into CrossFit. They want to get back into orange theory, basically back into what they were doing pre pregnancy. And we want to shift that for people. We want to say no. We are a methodology that yes can be temporary. It can be a temporary methodology for any woman who chooses us, but it is a methodology that will truly help you redefined the way that you connect with your body. So body awareness completely and the way that you move in daily life and in exercise for the rest of your life.

Speaker 3: Brooke: Because what we hope to do is have women come back to us six months, two years, 15 years from now and say it is because of your method that I am stronger than I ever was pre pregnancy. And the truth is you're really postpartum your whole life after you have a baby.

: Nicole: So is there anybody who the method doesn't work for, is not appropriate for?

: Brooke: No, I love this because, so because we're a fitness method, there are definitely, you may have listeners that go, but I don't like group fitness and your online studio is group fitness oriented and we are actually about to introduce this whole gym workout, kind of one on one training concept within the online studio. But just to create more diversity. But the truth is, is that if you took away the group fitness component, if you didn't want to do our classes and you wanted to keep doing what you have always loved to do, we want to empower you to do that.

Speaker 3: Brooke: So you can literally take the foundations of our methodology and anyone in the world, even men can apply our foundations and see incredible results. And the reason I say that is because I often think of the more sedentary person when it comes to exercise and fitness. So a woman who may say, well, I'm active, but I just go hiking three times a week. You know, and, and this doesn't seem like it appeals to me, but you can take our foundations and apply that to your hiking and you will come back and tell me, Holy cow, I've never felt more connected to what is going on within my core. Let's say you carry your baby on a hike and one of those front carriers or a bat carrier, we can teach you through breath and body awareness, how to be more in tune with your core and your pelvic floor and your posture on a hike with this extra load of your baby so that when you're done with your hike, your body doesn't hurt.

Speaker 3: Brooke: You don't hurt. You're trying to heal a diastisis and you're going, what am I doing in my daily routine that is potentially creating a roadblock for my healing? So we really address everything across the board. It's not just about the way that we move and exercise and fitness. It's really even bigger about how we move in daily life. I often tell women, if you're coming to us to heal and address diastisis or incontinence or prolapse, you've got to address the way that you move in everyday life. You cannot think that you can just take a group of exercises, roll your yoga mat out, and do those exercises every single day and you're going to be healed. Because the way that we move and breathe every single day is going to affect the way that we heal or the way that we prevent those injuries from occurring as well. Absolutely.

Speaker 3: Nicole: Very true. So just to wrap up, I want to ask, how do you feel like your own personal experience with pregnancy and becoming a mother has influenced your work?

: Brooke: Yeah, that's a good question. So interestingly enough, so people thought that it was really gonna change the method that my experience with pregnancy and birth, that I would completely change my method because for the first, you know, five and a half, six years of doing this, none of my clients ever kind of doubted my knowledge because I hadn't been a mother. But people who hadn't experienced my passion and my work would, and it only happened a handful of times, but it would come up. Well, how do you know that your work is good if you've never had a baby? And my quick fiery response was, well, you know, we have thousands, if not millions of male OB GYN across the country who don't even have a uterus and can never have a baby.

Speaker 3: Brooke: So if they can be experts, I can be an expert too. So with pregnancy, nothing really changed for me. It was really cool for me to apply my own methods. What I was really excited for was to practice my own method in the form of prevention because we preach so much that you can prevent diastisis, which kind of opens up a whole nother can of worms. And I guess I'll quickly say to your listeners, we're not saying that we can prevent the separation. A healthy form of separation is completely common and natural in pregnancy. What we want to be able to prevent and what we believe we have tools to prevent is the injury component. Of this natural occurring separation. So being able to dive into that and play around with that was really cool because it was fun to do and I prevented the injury based diastisis from occurring in my own body.

Speaker 3: Brooke: What was completely mind blowing for me outside of my birth, my birth was mind blowing too. I actually, I had a home birth and it was just crazy and I of course applied my techniques and got through it and had my baby. But it was really the postpartum, my postpartum experience, that really taught me the most and what it taught me was that more than ever you have got to honor our bodies in the postpartum phase and have grace for what our bodies go through to carry our babies to then birth our babies and then to heal and rehab. And I talk a lot about this on Instagram and in our videos on Studio Bloom, but it's that, and it's tricky because in today's world, especially being in the fitness industry, there is this rise of I just want to get back to doing what I want to do.

Speaker 3: Brooke: So I cannot wait until my six week clearance and then I am back in the gym. And that is not only the scariest thing that women could do in regards to healing and rehabbing the foundation of their core and pelvic floor. But I also feel that it's kind of this honoring to their body and what it's gone through because I'm a big advocate in actually starting to rehab the body, specifically the core and pelvic floor in the first six weeks so that when these women are going back to their OB GYN and their midwives and they're being cleared for exercise, that our health care practitioners can actually feel more confident in saying, sure, go back to doing what you love doing. Because they know that across the board women are starting to address and heal their bodies before that clearance, and that was, I did not expect to feel so disconnected to my body and what I are.

Speaker 3: Brooke: I've said this to so many people, but I of course first said it to my midwife and my husband. I went, Oh my goodness. If someone who was as connected to their breath, their core connection in literally everything I do, like I'm so anal about my core and pelvic floor connection and using my core firing properly. If I am so aware and I was so aware of pre pregnancy and during pregnancy and I feel this disconnected to my core and pelvic floor, postpartum, the pelvic floor was the biggest. I know that first week postpartum I would like sit in bed with my baby and I'm like trying to engage my pelvic floor and I'm going, so is there a problem here? I would talk to my midwife and I'd go normal because I had no idea that I, being the specialist that I am and being so in touch with these techniques could feel so offline and I went, if I can feel so offline, how does the average woman feel?

Speaker 3: Brooke: And this is even so much more important, why we've got to get this education, why we've got to get these tools and techniques into the hands of women. Like this just needs to be normal knowledge. And I tell women often, look, if The Bloom Method is not a good fit for you, find someone who is, because there are so many incredible pre and postnatal movement specialists out there that can help you just find someone that you relate with and you relate to their brand and their message and do the formula because we need it. And oftentimes women will say to me, but I didn't use any of this because I didn't really feel disconnected. You know, once I was six weeks postpartum and I was cleared, I felt great. And sometimes it doesn't show up immediately. Sometimes your first pregnancy is fine and then it's the second pregnancy and all of a sudden you reach 37 weeks and you've got incontinence or you've got this really heavy feeling or you've got painful sex postpartum.

Speaker 3: Brooke: So it's just important that we apply techniques, we are in tune with our body and that we really allow ourselves the time necessary for rehabbing and healing. And what I like to call the return to exercise. It's not a linear thing, not everyone's postpartum experience. And return to exercise or return to running is going to look the same and when we can release our ego, because there's a lot of ego in the fitness world, when we can release the ego and just show up knowing that when we embrace our journey and our bodies the way that we deserve, Oh my gosh, we can be the strongest versions of ourselves. Motherhood can truly allow us to be the strongest versions of ourself. There is no body bouncing back. What are we bouncing back to? We are bouncing forward birth and motherhood is no joke and no matter how strong I looked prepregnancy to someone, I am so much stronger than I ever was and I believe that we all have that in us.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Well, you know what? That just sounds like a fabulous place to wrap up. I mean, yes, we are indeed quite strong. Birth and motherhood transforms you in ways that you really can't predict until it happens, but you certainly can be prepared for it. And I think as a society, particularly in the US we just don't do enough to help women prepare, mentally prepare, physically, not just for birth but for the postpartum period. And as I've heard it said before, women are like the wrapper that carries the candy and once the candy is out, the wrapper kind of gets discarded. But it's like an ongoing process of really just preparing yourself on so many levels. You know, just hearing you talk just makes me realize we have a ways to go in the maternity care system, but I think we're getting there and things like what you offer sort of this modern day of online option is obviously going to help. So again, I'm super excited that you were here to share some of your information. I think we're going to have to have you back to talk about some things in more detail. Like the rectus diastasis. We didn't get to really get into that. And we're getting almost to an hour here. So I'll have you back and talk about some other things even a little bit deeper.

Speaker 3: Brooke: I would love that. I'm really passionate about getting women out of the fear box, making women believe that these injuries are just what motherhood looks like. So yeah, I love educating and providing women with the tools that can empower them in their bodies. And, yeah, I would love that. And I was honored to be here and chat with you and I look forward to the next time.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Awesome. Awesome. So where can people find you to get, I know you said you have great free information on your Instagram and then some of your, the studio, those kinds of things. And I'll link to it in the show notes, but just tell people where they can find you.

Speaker 3: Brooke: Yeah. Our website is www.thebloommethod.com. And like you said, we are also on Facebook and on Instagram. I tend to tell people Facebook is the sad stepchild to Instagram these days. So if you really want the powerful information, head over and follow us on Instagram. I don't think I've updated our YouTube videos in probably a year and a half, but there's also some really great in depth educational based videos on our YouTube channel. And yeah, if you're ever in Boulder, that's where I am and I do still see a small, small, small level of clientele and we have licensees all across the country so we're hoping to expand that and maybe have some Bloom Method actual brick and mortar studios pop up in some bigger cities across the country soon.

Speaker 1: Nicole: Awesome. Awesome. Well, again, thank you so much Brooke for being here. I really appreciate your time and your information.

: Brooke: Thank you so much.

: All right now, wasn't that a great episode? Can you hear the passion for her work in her voice? You definitely want to follow The Bloom Method on Instagram. I checked out her feed and she has tons and tons of great videos and helpful information for you there. So you definitely want to follow her on Instagram if you already aren't. Now, you know after every episode I do something called Nicole's notes where I talk about my top two or three takeaways from the interview and here are Nicole's notes from my conversation with Brooke.

: Number one, I really like how Brooke uses exercise as a way to practice dealing with contractions. Now it's not saying that exercise is the same as contractions. What she's doing is teaching you how to manage when you get to the edge of something that is very physically intense. So through exercise she takes you to a point that's physically intense and then helps you figure out how to get through it, past it, get back down from it, and then do the same thing again. It's kind of similar to an exercise. Some folks talk about holding ice in order to mimic getting through a contraction. Again, it doesn't mimic the feel of the actual contraction itself. It's mimicking dealing with something that's very physically intense except with Brooke's method, you're actually exercising too, so it has that benefit as well. So I like that.

: Number two, I have said this before, I'll say it again and again and again. It is so important that you spend some time preparing for your birth. Brooke said that her method is not going to guarantee you a certain outcome and really no birth preparation method can guarantee any sort of outcome, but you will be prepared. You'll be ready to advocate for the things that are important to you and you can have control over the things that you can control. So preparation is so, so important. A lot of disappointment that happens surrounding birth comes from unmet expectations. And when you are fully prepared and educated and knowledgeable, then it's less likely that your expectations will not be met because you just have more information to be ready and prepared going into your birth. So again, I've said it before, say it again. Take some time to prepare for your birth.

: And then the last thing I really liked how Brooke talked about the importance of giving yourself some time and space to heal after you have a baby. It is a big physical transformation. Your body is never going to be exactly the same again. So you need to give yourself that permission, that time, that space to heal. You don't feel like you have to jump right back into, you know, being super woman again or you see a lot of stuff on Instagram. You know the snap back after having a baby. I know those things can sometimes be inspirational but they can also be a little bit like really? You know, so don't feel like you have to rush. Take your own time, your own pace in order to heal after you have that baby, give yourself that time. Give yourself that grace.

: All right, so that is it for today's episode. Be sure to subscribe to the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast in Apple podcasts or Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. And if you feel so inclined, I love it when you leave a review. Number one, I just love to hear your feedback about the show. What you like, what you don't like. If there's anything that you don't like, things you want me to talk about how you've learned or how it's been helpful for you. So I appreciate those reviews. I love every one of them. I go back and read them and it gives me a little bit of boost of energy when I need it. So if you feel so inclined I especially appreciate the ones in Apple podcast, they help other women find this show, help the show to grow and I love to read the shout outs or give you a shout out on a future episode. So again, leave me those reviews if you don't mind.

: Also join my free Facebook group All About Pregnancy and Birth. That's a great place to continue the conversation after the podcast. I'm in the group, the community manager. Keisha is an experienced doula. She's in the group, but the most important or the best part of the group is the women in the group, the pregnant women, the women who've had babies before, who are thinking about getting pregnant, or trying. It's just a really nice and supportive community. So again, it's called All About Pregnancy and Birth and you can find that on Facebook and we'll link to it in the show notes.

: Now next week on the podcast it is a birth story episode. Birth story episodes are some of my favorite episodes, so definitely come on back next week to hear that birth story episode, and until then, I wish you a healthy and happy pregnancy and birth.

Speaker 2: Today's episode is brought to you by Women's Wellness Coaching by Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins. Head to www.ncrcoaching.com to check out my free one hour mini course on how to make your birth plan as well as my comprehensive online childbirth education class, The Birth Preparation Course, with over eight hours of content and a private course community. The Birth Preparation Course will leave you knowledgeable, prepared, confident, and empowered going into your birth. Head to www.ncrcoaching.com to learn more.