5 Ways Acupuncture Can Help Pregnancy

by Anna Pyne LAc, MSOM, FABORM

Acupuncture stems from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), an ancient medical model that dates back 3,000 to 5,000 years. There are 14 main meridians or pathways that are designated to each individual TCM organ. By stimulating the acupuncture points on any given pathway you can effect the paired organ associated with that meridian. Another way in which acupuncture works, is that it allows the body to recognize how to heal itself. A common question I get is, “Are the needles coated with medicine?”, to which the answer is no. The needles are non-coated stainless steel, solid, and as thin as a single strand of hair. Acupuncture should not be painful, or minimal sensation such as a quick pinch like a mosquito bite is the worst of it.

Pregnancy is one of the most wonderful stages in a woman’s life. There are a myriad of hormonal, physical, and emotional changes occurring in the body. Such an exciting time that can also be quite stressful. The majority of our pregnant patients are high risk, as they mostly struggled with infertility from the outset. Acupuncture can alleviate or mitigate numerous common ailments affiliated with pregnancy, and when received from a qualified practitioner is extremely safe during this time*. To list a few, the following are five ways in which acupuncture is beneficial:

1. Acupuncture Relieves Morning Sickness and Vomiting

Morning sickness is quite common during pregnancy especially in the first trimester. The American Pregnancy Association states that more than 50% of women will experience it. There are varying degrees of morning sickness and a mild case can be normal. However, if it is disrupting your daily routine, or if the condition has worsened and turned into vomiting, then treatment is necessary. Acupuncture is quite effective in reducing or eliminating nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy**.

2. Acupuncture Calms Insomnia

In pregnancy the body is busy at work producing more blood to grow a baby. There is a connection between blood deficiency and insomnia according to TCM. All of the mother’s blood will go towards the baby first, then whatever is left over goes toward nourishing mom. If the patient is in any way blood deficient, there will not be enough in the end to supplement her system. This in turn will disrupt the mother’s sleep. It can cause difficulty with falling and/or staying asleep. There are many wonderful acupuncture points we use to help build the blood supply to help treat insomnia so that mom can have her well deserved restful sleep.

3. Acupuncture Helps Decrease Depression and Anxiety

According to TCM the mind and the body are so intricately connected, that when one is off the other cannot help but be afflicted. Acupuncture helps lift the mind and regulates the mood. It can calm a racing heart and any feelings of stress. It works by supplying the body and mind with the strength required to deal with life’s stressors. If there is a need to be on medication, acupuncture can be used to lessen the dosage of that necessary medication. In a study conducted at Stanford University, researchers found that 63% of women who received depression-specific acupuncture treatments reported that their symptoms were cut in half.***

4. Acupuncture Resolves Headaches

The hormonal flux from a woman’s non-pregnant self to pregnant self can trigger or worsen migraines and headaches, especially for those women who already have a predisposition to them. In some women pregnancy can eliminate headaches completely, which is wonderful. Acupuncture offers a safe non-pharmaceutical option for treating and preventing headaches and migraines while pregnant. In the very least it can help reduce the frequency and intensity of them, if not completely eliminate them.

5. Acupuncture Can Help with Swelling and High Blood Pressure

Many women experience swelling, which may even be accompanied by pain, in their hands, feet, and ankles. Usually this symptom arises towards the end of a pregnancy, but I have seen it happen at anytime, even earlier than the typical third trimester. Swelling is a fluid metabolism issue in which acupuncture is quite effective at resolving, by improving the body’s ability to reabsorb it or free it by way of urination. The acupuncture is also extremely useful for the accompanying pain if there is any. If swelling becomes excessive it may be indicative of a blood pressure problem. In this instance acupuncture has been shown to be quite helpful in dealing with high blood pressure in pregnancy.****

If you have any questions in regards as to how acupuncture can benefit you in your pregnancy or to schedule an appointment please feel free to call the office 312-321-0004 to speak to our team or click here to schedule via Mind Body Online. Feel free to email me too if preferable at anna@pullingdownthemoon.com , I am in the office all day Tuesdays/Fridays in the Chicago River North location and we are open seven days a week for your convenience. Services are available in Chicago, Highland Park, and Buffalo Grove.

Anna Pyne LAc MSOM, FABORM

* https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4112450/

** https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11843784

*** https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20177281

**** https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26516136

Acupuncture and Pregnancy Loss

Pregnancy Loss Journey invited our amazing Acupuncture Director, Christine Davis to participate in their podcast. Hear this feature at: ” Episode 45: Acupuncture and Pregnancy Loss ” and learn more about the benefits of Acpuncture/Traditional Chinese Medicine when coping with loss.

http://www.pregnancylossjourney.com/single-post/Episode-45-A cupuncture-and-Pregnancy-Loss

How Lateness Helped Me Find Greatness

How Lateness Helped Me Find Greatness

by guest blogger, “Jugy”

When it comes to being late, I am notorious for it. Late to parties, dinner reservations, weddings … you name it. I have had no qualms about being fashionably and shamelessly late, it is my MO after all. While my fashionably late behavior has gotten me in all sorts of annoyances with friends and family, I wanted to talk about being a late bloomer.

The thing is, I did not start dating until I was 24 years old. I was a tomboy and did not want to deal with dating shenanigans. Alas, curiosity and interest in boys became a reality and I started dating around. The problem was my radar was focused on all the wrong men! The party boy, unsure boy, and the goofy boy. I dated them. I loved them. I hated them.

A misguided radar can make marriage and kids seem farfetched, and even a long-term relationship. Nonetheless, I did not stress. I was a late bloomer and life was good. I took great care of myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I built a phenomenal foundation of friends that were like family. So, I did me for a while. I worked on my radar. I stopped going for the crazy man in the room and realized that values came first. And, at 37, I met a man that would become my husband.

I found together forever and this meant the next step: kids! My age was creeping in the back of my mind, so we decided to visit my primary care doctor for a basic workup. We started to try naturally and fell pregnant that month, only to end in miscarriage 7 weeks later…then another, and another, and another. After a fertility work up, I came to realize it was my very MO, lateness, that was causing our infertility. Age and time, the two things you cannot get back in life, crept around the corner to cast a cloud on my happiness.

I was so confused, sad, and heartbroken over the fact that I could not do something that is a natural part of life – maintain a pregnancy. Back at my RE, I learned about Pulling Down the Moon (PDtM). This community would become the very thing I did not know I needed – a strong community of supportive women. I have since experienced fertility acupuncture, massage, yoga, and nutritional supplements and have learned a lot about Chinese Medicine. My sense of mental health, relaxation have improved drastically. I have a renewed faith in the fact I am doing all I can to make my dream of having a family come true. To me, it is about no regrets looking back, no matter what the outcome.

PDtM is a “home for the soul.” I am surrounded by women that understand the challenges of letting go, acceptance, and welcoming a different path to life. Without lateness, I never would have found this greatness.

About the author: “Jugy” has been receiving treatments from PDtM since December 2016. She has had age-related fertility for the past 2 years with 4 natural pregnancies ending in miscarriage and 2 failed IVF cycles. When she is not thinking about things fertility-related, she is a digital marketing professional that loves to cook and stay active.

Grief and Infertility

Grief and Infertility

by Meredith Nathan, LMT

A colleague of mine heard this stat at a recent fertility conference: ‘One in ten people experiencing infertility is actively suicidal.’ Did she hear that right? One in ten? Not depressed…not has suicidal ideation. But is ACTIVELY suicidal?

I remember reading early on in my career at Pulling Down the Moon that fertility patients have grief levels rivaling those of cancer patients. Should this surprise us? The drive to reproduce is wired into our biology. Many of us have fantasized about the joy of having children since we were children ourselves, and to be told we may not be able to fulfill this can threaten everything we thought we knew about our future. Add to this the pain of loss, for those who have had miscarriages or stillbirths, or those who are ‘circumstantially infertile’, due to divorce or not finding a partner to embark on this journey with…all of these people have had paradigms threatened and dreams shattered.

But unlike cancer patients, people struggling with infertility tend to be very private with their grief. They typically don’t broadcast their struggle to the world, and as such bear the burden of it largely alone. And since men and women tend to experience grief very differently, even a loving partner doesn’t always provide the support you need.

Grief can manifest in different ways, whether in the form of anger, guilt, insomnia, depression, loss of appetite, apathy, or over-achievement. Grief goes through many stages as it’s processed. And grief, when left unchecked, can create stress and disruption in the body as emotions are stored in the tissue, leading to imbalance, disease, and (ironically) even infertility.

Having tools to address grief is vitally important. We live in a society that doesn’t often place a high premium on self-nurturing, but we need to. Taking time to show ourselves kindness, whether in the form of a walk through nature, a massage, or a bubblebath should be an absolute priority for someone dealing with infertility. Finding a place to communicate and share your struggles, losses, and dreams also makes a huge impact on your well-being. That’s why community is at the heart of Pulling Down the Moon. Whether through yoga classes, workshops, or working one on one with a practitioner, it is our mission to let our patients know that they aren’t alone. Our heart is to give them not to address their physical wellbeing, but to give them mental and emotional support throughout their journey.

You are not alone, click here for Resolve’s help line

Click here for Evolve Counseling and Wellness

My Rainbow Baby, Jack

My Rainbow Baby, Jack

By Anna Pyne, LAc MSOM FABORM

It is with such gratitude in my heart and soul that I can share with you, that I delivered Jack Fitzgerald Pyne on July 22nd 2016. He was born at 9 lbs 9 oz and 22 inches long, with a full head of thick black hair. We are so blessed to have him, our third child. His sisters Lily 5 years old and Claire 3 years old have so much fun doting on him and entertaining him. I feel so blessed to be surrounded by all this love. It has certainly enhanced my motivation in helping others fulfill their dreams of becoming a parent too. It feels wonderful to be back at Pulling Down the Moon as an acupuncturist/herbalist.

Last year June ’15 my husband and I had our first (and thankfully only) miscarriage in the first trimester. It was devastating. I had a difficult time moving forward but eventually did with some help. Of course being an acupuncturist I was giving myself acupuncture treatments weekly to twice a week directly after our loss, and continued throughout my pregnancy with Jack. I was also taking Chinese herbs to enhance the acupuncture therapy for improving fertility. The formulas would vary depending upon where I was at in my cycle. I utilized our unique massage services at Pulling Down the Moon. I started out with our Cleanse the Body massage and moved forward from there with the rest of our Fertility Enhancing Massages (FEM protocol). There is a specific massage for every stage of the cycle. Nutritionally I was taking all of our recommended egg quality supplements, except for the Melatonin as my sleep was fine. Luckily it only took two cycles before we conceived again using this regimen. I was so nervous during the entire first trimester, which was a new feeling for me as I did not have any difficulty with my girls. I kept up with the acupuncture, herbs, massage, and nutrition throughout the entire pregnancy which helped contribute to the delivery of our healthy baby boy Jack.

You never know how strong you are until strong is the only choice you have

You never know how strong you are until strong is the only choice you have

By Michelle Johann, LPC

Navigating the world of infertility, I never felt like more of a failure. It was such a frustrating time where you don’t know if you will find your way out successfully. I started going to the fertility clinic before work. Our first procedure failed and that call was devastating. We were already a couple years into the process and wanted some good news. We soon realized this was a marathon and not a sprint! We tried again to get the approval, wait for the following month, and plan for the next medication regime. After our second attempt, we got a positive and were surprised with twins!

My pregnancy was uneventful. We did the required testing due to ‘advanced maternal age’ with all results clear and we learned we would be having boy/girl fraternal twins. We let everyone know past the 12 week ‘safe period’ on Mother’s Day.

We were counting the days. We had ultrasound visits with excited family members. We had brunches after appointments. Our twins were growing and we were wrapping up our 20 week appointment when the look on the tech’s face changed. We knew something was wrong. We were notified there was “funneling” of my cervix. We were in shock and the words flowed over us. Diagrams and explanations did not help. We wanted to know what this meant for our babies. We were told that I would have to go on bed rest to get to viability.

We researched what to do while on bed rest and let everyone know. Hubby made healthy meals and did everything around the house. We had a plan, we were a team, and we would do anything for our babies. I could feel the babies moving and I talked to them. I told hubby that we had to finalize our babies’ names: Payton Marie & Anderson Chris .

We made it through our follow-up doctor’s appointment and were almost 22 weeks. We were making it through for us and for our little family. On July 21st, I wasn’t feeling well. I seemed to be having Braxton and Hicks contractions. I wanted to be in denial until nothing resolved it. I told my husband that we had to go to the hospital. The car ride was a fog and my husband drove so fast. Nothing worked to stop my labor. Looking back, I can see the movements like a bystander watching a movie. It all went so fast and painfully slow at the same time.

We were moved to a delivery room. Payton’s bag broke. Anderson’s bag broke. We waited and waited. Again, it was a marathon and not a sprint. I was at risk for infection. We finally met our beautiful babies on July 22, 2012. Despite all odds due to their level of prematurity, they were alive. I saw and felt my children take their first, then last breaths.

Leaving the hospital without your baby (or babies) is an indescribable feeling of emptiness. During those early days, there doesn’t feel like a way out. My body literally failed me and my babies. We baptized our babies and we buried them. We were thankful for our village that helped us get through those days. My friend that walked in the garden with me, when walking into the church for the funeral took my breath away. My sister-in-law that gave me breast pads for the leaking as my body wanted to nurse my babies that were no longer with us. My dear friend who lost her son and was now pregnant with her rainbow, who hugged me and understood. Her husband that hugged my husband as he also understood. I will never forget the blood curdling cry that escaped my husband’s throat when the tiny casket carrying our twins together came out. It all hurt so much. His cry was what we all felt in that moment.

I had another diagnosis: Incompetent Cervix. Cervical insufficiency can happen the first pregnancy or subsequent pregnancies. It can be due to trauma from delivery, cancer, biopsies, and unknown reasons.

We slowly picked up the pieces. You don’t want to hear that time heals, as it doesn’t make it go away, but it does help. Some days you just put one foot in front of the other. We did not want to try again, then one day….we did. We researched, fought doctors, appealed insurance, and then scheduled a pre-pregnancy transabdominal cerclage surgery (TAC) with Dr. Haney. It was the best choice we ever made.

As the anniversary of their birth approached, I wanted to do something. I did a vision board. I consulted a nutritionist. I did yoga for fertility. I am forever grateful for the women at Pulling Down the Moon. They helped me heal. They helped me be at peace. PDtM, along with all the wonderful women who joined “a club that no one wants to join”, helped me not only survive, but gave me the strength to try again.

We had two subsequent failures. We were not sure if we wanted to continue to try. Five months after my surgery, I was surprised to find out we were five weeks pregnant. Naturally, for the first time in our lives–after loss, after failures, after surgeries, after everything–we had a chance for a rainbow.

It was like walking a tightrope for nine months, but I knew with the TAC that I had a 90% chance of a full-term pregnancy despite PCOS, IF, and IC. I am a different person now. I would not wish the experience on anyone, but everyone has their own journey and I am able to share mine to help others. Our four year journey for a family was completed on May 6, 2014 when Gavin arrived at 37.5 weeks. When you see me at the office and I listen to your journey, please know that I do understand.

Mizuko Kuy: A Ceremony for Loss

by Lisa Meyerson LAc

Recently, NPR presented a show on the Japanese buddhist ritual for women who have had miscarriages and pregnancy losses. Around that time, I saw a patient who was on her way to Japan to participate in the ceremony. She had a late term miscarriage and was devastated to return to work and share the news with her coworkers. Because of the late stage of pregnancy, She was not able to grieve privately. The ceremony in Japan provided her with this opportunity.

For anyone who has experienced a miscarriage, the pain is difficult to articulate and hard to explain to one who hasn’t gone through it. Although it my be described in words, no one can really understand it unless they’ve experienced this kind of loss themselves. It’s similar to Persephone, possibly, after she was dragged into the Underworld. I imagine that, upon her return, no one could really understand where she had been unless they’d gone to that place, too. And it is likely the pain of a miscarriage or pregnancy termination is even too painful even for mythological comparison.

In Japan, the ritual called Mizuko kuyo was created during the Edo periiod (between 1603 and 1868). Mizuko translates as ‘water fetus’ or child who died. In the ritual, an offering is made to Jizo, a bodhisattva believed to protect children.

You can listen to the NPR story here:

http://www.npr.org/2015/08/15/429761386/adopting-a-buddhist-ritual-to-mourn-miscarriage-abortion

Or read more about loss ceremonies here:

http://stilllifewithcircles.blogspot.com/2009/04/mizuko-jizo.html

http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/jizo1.shtml

https://www.parentmap.com/article/water-returning-to-water-a-buddhist-ritual-brings-release

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