My first period came in January 1998. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in eighth grade and I remember saying the cruelest thing I have EVER said to my Mom. I cursed her for making me be born a girl. I still to this day feel awful for those words having left my mouth, as my Mom is the most amazing mother in the world.
In high school and college, I would pass out from the debilitating pain and friends, roommates, and loved ones many times would find me in the fetal position just trying to breathe through the pain. What I learned from an early age from classmates, girlfriends, and women in my life is that we as women experience painful periods and it’s just part of being a woman. We (women) all experience this excruciating pain.
I went on for the next 20 years thinking it was completely normal to feel stabbing pain for 2-4 days every 28 days. I learned quickly that heating pads and Ibuprofen were my best friend. I always felt that this pain was not normal, but nobody outside of my Mom truly understood and believed me. It was in college where I first learned about Endometriosis and thought, hey I think this is what this pain is all about.
From 2007-2018, I saw nine doctors. Most of the doctors I saw, all said similar things, “We’re women, we’re used to dealing with pain. Every woman has painful periods.” Unfortunately, there were only two doctors who truly listened and believed me when I said I think I have Endometriosis. I felt defeated and crazy. I thought all these doctors are telling me this is normal that I feel like I am being stabbed in my uterus each month. I must be making this pain up. I was just surviving month-to-month and most definitely not thriving. As women we have an incredible gift of intuition, so trust that, trust that you know your body better than anyone else. Don’t be afraid to speak up!
My husband and I began our fertility journey 6 years ago. We tried naturally for 1½ years with no success. After 4 failed IUIs, 4 failed IVF transfers, and 3 miscarriages, I asked my doctor for more answers. She suggested two things: first was to do the Yoga for Fertility program with Beth Heller at Pulling Down the Moon. This was the first time I had been shown how to tune in and listen to my body in a supportive female community. I had never been so seen and loved within the fertility community. I have friends for life from that Yoga for Fertility program.
Second, my doctor suggested I see an Endometriosis specialist. I had excision surgery in November 2018. My surgery should have taken a max of 1-2 hours, instead I woke up 6 hours later to hearing news from my husband. My husband said “I have good and bad news, which would you like to hear first?” I said, “I want the good news first”. He said, “you were right, you have stage IV Endometriosis and bad news it was so extensive they removed your left fallopian tube.” Even though this news was the worst case scenario with Endometriosis, it was a blessing in disguise.
Hearing I was right and in fact did have Endometriosis, was the best news I had received in 20 years. I had finally felt heard, seen, and my opinions were valued. This new information changed everything for me and my fertility doctors. My doctors could now move forward with adjusting my fertility medications and procedure process based on my Endometriosis diagnosis.
I know many would be angry having a body that made you feel debilitating pain every 28 days. However, I am incredibly grateful for my Endometriosis journey because it has forced me to find my voice and learn how to advocate for myself and my body. I have also been able to share this information with my nutritionist who can better assist me. It takes practice and time in silence to tune in with our bodies and listen to what it needs and craves. Remember, you are the ONLY one who knows your body inside and out and no one else will advocate as fiercely for you or your body the way that YOU can.
About the author: Kasia has been a part of the PDTM community since March 2016. She has been trying to conceive for 6+ years, has had 5 failed IUIs, 7 failed IVF transfers, experienced 4 miscarriages, and has Stage IV Endometriosis. She is in the midst of her last and final IVF retrieval and transfer AND beginning her adoption and possible surrogacy journey. She is thriving as a Fertility Coach by empowering, supporting, and inspiring women on their fertility journeys. You can find her blog and contact information over at www.CoachingwithKasia.com
Learn how Pulling Down the Moon can provide community and support on your journey! Check our calendar for events today!
Photograph by Anna Stidham
Kasia S. McGuire
Mobile: (773) 844-2117
by Cathy McCauley, LMT
Whether getting pregnant naturally or using some form of assisted reproductive technology (ART) like IVF, fertility clients come to Pulling Down the Moon because they want to increase their chances of fertility success. I often see clients have better success after a 90-day prep.
Because the cycle of an egg is about 90 days, it’s helpful for you to prepare and optimize the health of your ovaries, uterus and your whole body at least three months before trying to conceive. In that time, you can monitor your nutrition, increase your vitamin intake, become intentional about improving blood flow and lowering stress levels. All of this can help enhance fertility and create a healthy environment for a pregnancy.
Want to create a 90-day prep plan for enhanced fertility? Start here!
Preconception nutrition research shows that what you eat can impact the health of your ovaries and eggs either negatively or positively. Yet trying to navigate all the information out there can be overwhelming. The ART Prep/Recovery Program is unique to Pulling Down the Moon and exactly what it says: A science-based nutrition program (with some teachings and techniques from Traditional Chinese Medicine and yoga added) especially created to help you prep for your upcoming treatments.
With this program, our nutritionists will help you set goals, regulate blood sugar levels, support the liver, assist in getting your gut and thyroid to function properly, discuss sensitivities, look at possible food eliminations, decrease inflammation and safely cleanse. Your nutritionist will also be an accountability partner and will provide support, encouragement, ideas, and recipes to help you meet your goals while simultaneously working to improve your egg quality.
Vitamins and Supplements
Pulling Down the Moon has been working with medical doctors for over more than a decade, as well as, keeping up with the latest research and literature in the emerging field of supplements. We can provide recommendations on specific supplements for your unique situation and also help you streamline an overwhelming supplement regimen to include the supplements with the most research behind them for fertility. From finding the right prenatal vitamin to taking a probiotic to getting on a supplement of CoQ10, we can help you make the right choices as you work on enhancing your fertility during your prep.
Blood Flow and Stress Reduction
Studies show that embryos with the highest implantation potential are from follicles that have sufficient blood and oxygen. If you want optimum egg health, promoting oxygen-rich blood flow to the ovaries is essential.
No doubt, stress influences your body in many ways and your fertility is not spared. High levels of stress can create an abundance of hormones, which in turn, can disrupt ovulation. By reducing your stress levels, you can have a positive affect on your fertility and your overall well-being.
Here are some approaches:
In very simple terms, acupuncture is believed to clear blockages in the body in order to allow energy, greater health, and the feeling of emotional well-being to flow freely within the body. And more and more, acupuncture is becoming a widely accepted and sought after natural treatment for restoring fertility.
Some research shows acupuncture may improve ovarian functioning, balance the endocrine system and hormones, increase circulation to the uterus and improve egg quality.
Additionally, the treatments are balancing, relaxing and offer clients an opportunity to unplug and feel grounded. Many clients fall asleep during their sessions.
Pulling Down the Moon acupuncturists are well-trained in working specifically with fertility clients. They are knowledgeable in treating your whole body and can provide you up-to-date information on fertility health and wellness.
Pulling Down the Moon’s Yoga for Fertility (YFF) offers you another way to prep for enhanced fertility.
At each class, you will learn a series of yoga postures designed to improve fertility by increasing blood flow into the pelvis, releasing stress and anxiety and balancing life energy flow in the body.
In addition to this physical practice we explore concepts from yoga philosophy that frame the fertility journey in a way that reveals our personal strengths, reinforces the joy of everyday life and empowers us to create the family we are meant to have. Through this class you will also join the wonderful, positive healing community of Pulling Down the Moon and enjoy the energy of all the amazing women who have shared their journey with us.
The last treatment service we offer is dear to my heart. I’ve been a massage therapist at Pulling Down the Moon for several years and have seen women experience much success after receiving massage as part of a fertility prep plan.
What we offer is unique. Our FEM Protocol™ is a five-part series using massage and related techniques to enhance the health and functioning of the pelvic and abdominal organs, and to promote the client’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being.The five parts of the protocol focus on cleansing and detoxification, enhancing reproductive circulation, oxygenating the pelvic organs, and combating stress. Benefits may include:
- promoting egg quality by improving the follicular environment and increasing its supply of oxygen-rich blood
- lowering hormone disruption through stress management and clearing lymphatic congestion (a common storehouse for excess hormones and toxins)
- supporting uterine lining and alignment through melting abdominal scar tissue, clearing circulatory pathways, and releasing structural tension patterns
- encouraging relaxation and an overall sense of well-being during your fertility journey
We offer a massage treatment schedule to keep you on track during your 90-day prep. And once you’ve actively started trying to conceive, whether naturally or through ART, we encourage you to continue to receive the FEM Protocol. It is safe any time in a cycle and we are trained in helping you determine what will be the best treatment for you no matter where you are on your fertility journey.
Get started with a 90 day prep and save with one of our New Year, New You Passports to Wellness! Have questions about how Pulling Down the Moon’s unique services can support your journey? Call us at: 312-321-0004 for us personalized support today!
by Christina Thompson Olson RYT RPYT
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? But if the onslaught of holiday parties, shopping, and family gatherings has you feeling a bit stressed out, you’re not alone. How many more times is Aunt Ginny going to ask when you’ll be having a baby? Before you snap or find yourself making up stories to distract from your fertility situation, try these simple yoga techniques to stay grounded and let all that chatter melt away.
Get into your breath
Before reacting to someone or something, check in with your breathing and see if you can allow it to slow down. Try Samavritti pranayama, or equal breath to help calm your mind and relax your body. Start by bringing your attention to the tip of your nose, inhaling and exhaling through your nose if comfortable. Notice the length of your inhale and exhale, and work towards equal breathing by silently counting to four on your inhale and exhale: “In-2-3-4, Out-2-3-4”. Let your breath move deeply through your abdomen, expanding your diaphragm as you inhale and gently drawing in as you exhale, working towards twelve rounds of breath.
Gently move your body
Try some easy yoga poses to relieve stress, even if you’re in the restroom at a holiday party! One of my favorite moves to ease tension in the mind and body is the forward fold, which can be done in a variety of ways. Try a halfway forward fold or L-shape, walking your hands down a wall (or on a countertop) as you take your feet hip-width distance and create an L-shape with your body. Take 4-5 deep breaths to relax your shoulders, lengthen your spine, and send your sitting bones back evenly behind you. Then take your feet wider and find a dynamic squat-forward fold by bending your knees as you exhale and returning to the forward fold with an inhale for another five rounds of breath.
From this wide leg forward fold, with hands either supported by a wall or on blocks, take a gentle open twist by bringing your left hand under your face and lifting your right hand up towards the sky, or to your right hip. Breathe deeply for several rounds of breath to gently massage your digestive organs in this twist, and then repeat on your left side. Take one more symmetrical forward fold of your choice, coming up slowly when you’re finished, and hopefully you’ll return to your holiday season feeling a bit more at ease in your body.
by Cassie Harrison RYT RYPT
You May Not Control All the Events that Happen to You, but You Can Decide Not to Be Reduced By Them – Maya Angelo
My miscarriage at 43 wasn’t just the loss of a baby, but the realization that my baby years might be behind me. Having suffered from infertility, it never felt like they were with me. I spent almost all of my 30s and part of my 40s trying to have a baby. In the past, I would’ve trudged forward and tried again, but after this loss it occurred to me it might no longer be an option. Sure, all women at some point face the fact that their baby making time is over, all for different reasons. What felt different, at least for me from an infertility point of view, was this was just something else I didn’t have control over. It also occured to me that I identified with trying to have a baby. I’d spent over a decade thinking, planning, and working on my family. My future suddenly looked more like a blank slate, rather than timelines. Up until this point, I’d avoided planning much of it, such as my next career move or even a big vacation, having thought there might be a baby to interrupt my plans. The idea that I could make future plans without interruption was exciting to me. Simultaneously, I was filled with regret. The dichotomy of my emotions was intoxicating.
Similar to my infertility journey, I found it challenging to speak about my newest realization. When I did manage to speak about it, either it felt like no one understood or it was Déjà vu all over again as I found myself greeted with insults disguised as well intended advice. Yes, I was sad I lost my baby just when I thought I beat the odds of getting pregnant again. After that loss, it did feel like it was time to move on…but to what? On one side, I didn’t want to let go and on the other I celebrated my infertility journey being over!! Yet, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it wasn’t really me deciding, but somehow infertility was. That it again had the upper hand. The fact is, had I not struggled with it, I wouldn’t have been forced up against the pane (or do I mean pain) of my baby window by still trying to push out another baby at 43.
Where does this leave me? I’m not certain yet, my loss was only 5 weeks ago. There is a new lightness underneath my thoughts when I see my future no longer being held by the chains of infertility that for so long infiltrated my life. To help me through this change, I’ve used breath work (Try this Yoga Breathing Video to get you started!) and a very simple yoga practice. I dream of attending (not just teaching) a full yoga class, but recent life has been hectic and I’ve not prioritized time to do this. Which lead me to my Nook and Cranny practice. I’m literally fitting it into the nooks and crannies of my life. If there’s a 5 minute slot between tasks, you’ll find me in a forward fold or downward dog. My Nook and Cranny practice has done wonders and I highly recommend it. Just as with starting anything new, start small. That’s the great thing about Yoga, it can be done anywhere for any amount of time and you will benefit from it. I’ve practiced while the kitchen sink filled with water. Heck, I’ve done it in the driver’s seat waiting in the carpool line (my car was off and I was 10 minutes early!). Hello to neck circles and Sama-vritti (balanced) breath. My Nook and Cranny practice relaxed my tensions, cleared my thoughts, and opened my mind. Take time to find your nooks and crannies wherever you are on your journey (Try Yoga Poses You Can Use Now! to get started) as I know it will make a difference!
If you struggle to do this on your own, let us help you with our upcoming Holiday Survival Online Yoga starting just after Thanksgiving that will get you through the stressful holiday season or plan for a series in the new year! Save during the holiday week with the Holiday Survival Online Yoga Series (12/8-1/12) available for only $50 on Cyber Monday (save $100) or get the $99 Wild Card this month towards a full in-center series in January (save $111)! Call us to learn more at: 312-321-0004 today!
By Alece Demaray, RYT500 + CPYT
I have a question and I want you to be honest (and not judge yourself for your answer)! How do you feel at the end of the week? Do you feel exhilarated …exhausted…fulfilled…or like you could dive into a large pizza? Forget about a week, what about in a day? Does the day leave you feeling happy and whole OR empty and broken (or somewhere in between)?
Life has a pace to keep up with. There are appointments to make, deadlines to meet and challenges to tackle. The constant hustle can drain you of your vigor. The fertility journey can be especially depleting. The stress can rob you of joy and the worry can overwhelm your sense of peace. Prolonged imbalance of your energy can lead to anxiety, depression, physical pain and even sickness. Not ideal for anyone, especially those trying to conceive.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to completely eliminate stress from our lives. That would be unnatural and out of balance. It is possible, however, to COUNTER the drain of energy OUT with replenishing energy IN.
In demanding times, it’s easy to forget that you are in the driver’s seat of your life. You control the speed and can pump the brakes as needed. You have the personal power to enhance your vibration in the world and boost your PRANA. Prana is a Sanskrit word that means your vital energy, a.k.a. your gas in the tank, the strength of your blood flow, the fullness of your breath, your will to thrive! In Traditional Chinese Medicine, prana is the same concept as “chi” or “qi”.
Prana is ESPECIALLY important when on the path to conception. Not only do you need enough energy to sustain yourself, but you also need enough energy to grow a human! So how can you boost your prana?
We gain prana by doing things that nourish us, both physically and spiritually. For me, that means eating vegetables and lean proteins, to stabilize my blood sugar. It means going to the lake to be by water, so I feel more balanced. It means taking a bath on a Thursday night with my favorite essential oil and meditating in the morning, before the activity of the day picks up.
What boosts my prana is not necessarily what will enhance yours, as we are all unique individuals. Here are some ideas that could help to nurture your vital essence. Which resonate with you?
- Being in nature
- Eating well – lots of vitamin rich food
- Moderate exercise that leaves you energized – NOT depleted
- YOGA is WONDERFUL 😊
- Deep Breathing
- A cup of tea with a good friend (grab a FREE cup of a caffeine-free blend for your journey while at our center!)
- A cup of tea by yourself
- Listening to music that soothes you
- Taking a rest
- Getting good sleep
- Treat yourself to a massage
- ANYTHING THAT MAKES YOU FEEL MORE WHOLE, REFILLED AND REPLENISHED WITH YOU.
You can call it Self Care, you can call it a Prana Party… they are the same wonderful thing: Taking time to slow down and take care of YOU. Build your energy reserves so you are capable, creative and authentically you – radiating out in the world, with a sense of balance and ease.
If you are inspired by this concept of Prana and harnessing it to support your fertility journey, inquire about the next Yoga for Fertility series at Pulling Down The Moon!
- Try a FREE Yoga for Fertility class in Chicago or Highland Park on Monday, October 21st at 7pm!
- Interested in joining the series? New sessions are starting: Thursday, October 10th at 6pm for Online Yoga for Fertility; in Chicago on Saturday, October 12th at 12:15pm and Wednesday, October 30th at 7pm (with me)! For Highland Park, the new session will start on Monday, October 28th at 7pm!
by Christine Davis, LAc MSOM
With each passing year, things seem to get busier. More appointments, more work requirements, more life events, more things to do. Then there’s the well meaning family members and friends: why aren’t you pregnant yet? My friend tried This Thing and it worked for her, so you you should try it, too! Then there’s social media and the internet: EVERYONE seems to be happier and more successful than you – here’s what you SHOULD be doing to do to be happy ALL THE TIME. It’s all a never ending stream of NOISE. Where does it stop? How can you simmer down and quiet the stream of mental debris that constantly stimulates worry, fear, anxiety, and frustration?
Here are my suggestions. They aren’t a complete list, but these are the important ones. It may take time to incorporate them all:
- Say it with me: “No.” “I’m sorry, I’m not available.” It’s ok to put yourself first and say “no” when what is being asked of you will compromise your wellness. Clear a path for your ability to think clearly, breathe, and do the things you need to do to feel balanced. Much like Marie Kondo’s method for clearing physical clutter, you need to decide what’s important in your life mentally and emotionally. Say YES to the things that create the life you want (even though they may be difficult, too, sometimes) and NO to the things that are holding you back from that life.
- Disconnect. Social media has been fun over the past couple of decades, right? There are some good and some (really) bad parts, but study after study emerges showing the negative impact that it can have on your mental and emotional state. If you are having trouble completely disconnecting – especially if work or other interests require you to connect with SM – limit your interactions with these apps/websites. Give yourself a specific time frame in which you allow yourself to use them in a positive, uplifting manner.
- Get help. There is no shame in reaching out to a professional if you need help with mental wellness. This could be a mental health professional, a religious guide, etc. Someone who you trust, who is impartial, who has training in helping to guide you is ideal. This doesn’t mean you are signing up forever – sometimes a few sessions can really help to clarify and ground you. I feel like the best therapists are the ones who hold a “mirror” up, so to speak, so that you can see things as they are, then help you to appreciate the beauty that you see.
- Center yourself. This could be with meditation, prayer, yoga, journaling, long walks by the lake – whatever helps you to focus on one, two, or ten things–instead of the thousands of thoughts that are constantly flooding in otherwise. I like to think of Georgia O’Keefe’s “Sky Above Clouds” painting – the thoughts are just clouds floating past. Try not to hang on to them and instead just observe them and let them float past. There are some amazing smartphone apps: FertiCalm and FertiStrong, Insight Timer, MindfulIVF, Headspace, etc. that have tons of guided meditations for everything from general anxiety to trouble sleeping to going through an IVF cycle.
- Find gratitude. Keeping a Gratitude Journal helps with this. Write just a line or two each day about something you are grateful for. It could be the delicious muffin you had for breakfast, the painless phlebotomist experience, your favorite song coming on the radio, the friend who went out of her way to give you the support you needed. Many studies have shown that focusing on the positive aspects of life actively literally rewires the brain to feel happier and more positive.
- Try Acupuncture. A modality of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupuncture is a therapy for the mind, body, and spirit. With regular (once or twice per week, usually) treatment, you will see many aspects of your physical, mental, and emotional self come into balance. Acupuncture is known to be helpful for everything from pain to allergies to digestive stuff to fertility, but it can also be helpful for balancing the mental state and emotions.
Firstly, an acupuncture visit is usually very relaxing! Most who haven’t tried it don’t believe me when I say that, but when else do you take 30 min to just lie still, no phone, not going to sleep (although it’s ok if you do!), not talking or listening (except to quiet music)? This is a deeply restorative time to be quiet, soft, grounded.
Acupuncture has mounting scientific evidence showing that regular treatment can help with reducing anxiety, depression, and other emotional disorders. In TCM, there is a strong connection between the physical state and the emotional state. By creating a state of harmony throughout the physical body, balanced mental/emotional wellness is the natural outcome.
In TCM, fertility is associated with the element of Water. When water is too abundant or too scarce, the earth and all forms of life suffer, including our own bodies. The element of Water shows its emotional imbalance in the form of Fear/Anxiety. When we are in a constant state of stress (life, work, family, infertility, etc), we put ourselves into a constant state of “fight or flight.” This creates a situation in which our bodies focus only on staying alive for the moment rather than long cycles like those required for fertility. By using acupuncture, we are able to break that constant loop of stress, find grounding, and reconnect with our natural cycles which can lead to improved fertility.
Choosing to find serenity in this life takes effort. Just think about when someone says, “Calm down!” or “Relax!” Has anyone ever calmed down or relaxed just by hearing that? I don’t think so. By regularly making the choice to build the space for quiet, for reflection, for balance, you are creating a foundation for the life you are searching for.
By Diana Zic, RPYT, Certified Functional & Integrative Health Coach
Whether you’re starting to plan your family, you’ve been on your journey for a bit, or have had your kiddos; having a conversation with your doctor about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) can be a good idea if you are having symptoms!
What is PCOS and is who affected?
PCOS it is one of the most common hormonal endocrine disorders in women. It affects 7 million women in the United States alone. In fact, September is PCOS Awareness Month! Statistics show this impacts all races/ethnicities including: Caucasian: 4.8%, African American: 8.0%, Hispanics/Latinas: 13%, as well as, an added concern for teens as obesity increases.
For some women, symptoms can appear as early as their first menstrual cycle. Unfortunately, most women don’t know they have it until they start trying to conceive. PCOS can often looks like what is termed “normal” symptoms to have as a maturing woman. For example, you may have acne, anxiety (reduce anxiety and stress!), depression, or an eating disorder.
PCOS affect 7 million women in the US alone.
What Causes it?
Genetic predisposition appears to be strong with this diagnosis. Many women have mothers and sisters struggling with the same condition!
So, what are gals to do if they suspect PCOS?
Keep reading for tips!
- Talk with your doctor. It’s important to get the appropriate testing done to get clarification! A simple blood test and ultrasound is all you need to get started. You may even be eligible for a free check-up! Learn more here.
- Dietary Changes. Lose the low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets. Choose complex carbs, which are high in fiber and moves through your body more slowly so your blood sugar levels stays level. According to the Mayo Clinic, even a modest reduction in your weight – for instance, losing 5 percent of your body weight – might improve your condition.
- There are also supplements available that may be helpful. See the new research on PCOS and CoQ10 Supplementation today!
Here’s a prior blog of mine for some ideas of foods to start incorporating now.
- Be active. Exercising daily helps to reduce and/or prevent insulin resistance, reduce inflammation and it’s the happy drug for your mind by producing endorphins. It also helps to reset your HPA Axis – reducing stress! Try the Moon Salute Sequence today to see what a difference a few minutes can make! Join Pulling Down the Moon’s 6 Week Yoga for Fertility Series starting September 24th (for those trying to conceive), or CocoonCare’s schedule (for pre/postnatal care) to see for yourself!
- Get support. As I mentioned, 7 million women in the USA have PCOS, so don’t feel like your abnormal or broken beyond repair. We can help you implement these changes, reach out!
Wanna learn more on the root cause approach? Try the You Pick Two Special during PCOS Awareness Month to try two services (Acupuncture, Massage, Yoga for Fertility, or Health Coaching) for only $199!
By Cathy McCauley, LMT
You’ve received the results – you are pregnant! Take a deep breath. It may have been a long road to get to where you are now.
Pregnancy is an exciting time, and you’re probably feeling a mixed bag of emotions. Maybe you have concerns or stress. These feelings are normal as changes occur in your life and in your body. However normal, it is important to find healthy ways to deal with feelings, emotions and stress during pregnancy.
Chronic stress during pregnancy can impact you and your baby as more blood is sent to the extremities rather than to the internal organs as a result of the “fight or flight” response. With blood being sent to other areas over the internal organs, stress can compromise blood flow to the baby, perhaps by as much as 65%. This may result in lower fetal heart rate and blood oxygenation (Gorsuch and Key 1974 as cited in Osborne 2012).
Massage for Health
One way you can improve your health and well-being during pregnancy is to receive regular prenatal massage. While multiple sessions can have a greater effect on improving pain and lowering anxiety and depression, even one massage session can offer benefits (Moyer et al 2004 as cited in Osborne 2012). The Unwind the Mind Massage is safe and supportive from transfer through the first trimester at 14 weeks, the Prenatal Massage can be enjoyed throughout pregnancy, and the Postpartum Massage after delivery whenever you feel comfortable or are cleared by your doctor.
Safe, therapeutic touch provides you with deep levels of relaxation that signal your parasympathetic nervous system creating physiological balance, steadier blood pressure, pulse and respiratory rates; regular blood flow to the uterus, placenta and fetus; and healthier immune system functioning, emotional states, and responses to stressful stimuli (Nichols and Humenick 2000 as cited in Osborne 2012). This is good news for you and your baby.
In addition to the therapeutic touch, evidence shows that having a strong support system may reduce pregnancy complications. A study of several hundred pregnant women who had difficult life changes in the two years immediately preceding and/or during their pregnancy found that those who also had strong support systems had one-third the complications of those who experienced similar stresses without a support system (Nuckols et al. 1972; Hobel and Colhane 2003 as cited in Osborne 2012).
Pulling Down the Moon wants to help support you through your pregnancy. Whether choosing prenatal massage, nutrition, acupuncture, or one of our community events; we offer nurturing care for you during this exciting and stressful time of transitions. Our partner, CocoonCare can support your prenatal/postnatal fitness, health coaching, and informative workshop needs!
Take time to relax and celebrate with a massage today! Cathy is available in Highland Park on Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays, as well as, Buffalo Grove on Tuesdays! Enjoy savings with our package options throughout your journey!
Osborne C. Pre- and Perinatal Massage Therapy, A Comprehensive Guide to Prenatal, Labor and Postpartum Practice. 2nd edition. Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2012.
By Alece Demaray RYT
I consider myself an optimist and a person who is capable of staying grounded through the whirlwind of life. This is generally speaking, because being positive is a practice and life is always willing to test you.
When I started to see a specialist on my fertility journey, I became quickly overwhelmed at the amount of appointments I had to fit into my already full schedule. Thankfully most of the appointments could be completed early in the morning prior to work, but the early wake ups, finding parking and long days started to wear on me. In addition, I was feeling stressed at trying to plan ahead of what cycle days I would have to go in, so I could plot my schedule/travel around my new commitment. I became agitated and overwhelmed. NOT what you want when trying to conceive.
Once I got in the routine of the appointments and how they fit in my life, I started to appreciate them more. For one, I am so lucky to live in a place where this top-notch care and specialty exists. I also began to feel very grounded around my early morning appointments because of what I was doing after them. After each appointment I would carve out some time go to get some breakfast prior to moving into the rest of the day. While nourishing, I would reflect on the good, what I was grateful for… the level of care I was able to access, my supportive partner, my flexible work schedule, the warm food in front of me. I would write around 5 things and often that act of writing 5 things stimulated more words to flow. I found that my ritual would leave me feeling calmer and connected to myself. It prepared me to take on the day ahead with a renewed sense of vigor.
It can be difficult to find the good when you are feeling down, but I assure you- it is always there. There is always something to express gratitude for, even if only the shoes on your feet or a snuggle with your pup. Finding gratitude has a myriad of benefits including improved sleep and fostering a greater sense of contentment. A study carried out by Emmons & McCullough in 2003, also confirmed that people who practiced gratitude daily exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical aches and pains, felt more connected to others and were more optimistic, thus improving their ability to make progress towards their goals.
Gratitude has a way of slowing you down and filtering your view of life, allowing you to see the rosy hues. They are there, BUT it takes some reprogramming of the brain to recognize them BEFORE you see the dark tones. Believe it or not, we are programmed to find the threat in things first. This stems from way back, when humans were being chased by lions and tiger and bears (oh my) and had to defend themselves to survive! Thankfully we do not need to operate that way, but our mind is still programmed to scan our environment for what is wrong, what is threatening us. As a result, we can see “threats” in people that we don’t like, jobs that over-stress us and get caught up in drama, losing sight of the bigger picture.
There is good news. We can take conscious action to retrain the way our mind works. We can flip our attention to see the good. To notice the sun before the feeling the humidity, to savor the doughnut before counting the calories, to admire your accomplishments before obsessing over what is left to do.
So how can you make the shift? It is easier than you think, but it takes a daily commitment that you are more than capable of doing. Get a notebook and spend 5 minutes every day to jot down 3-5 things that you are grateful for. That is it! Commit to your gratitude journal for 30 days and then check in. Do you enjoy it? Have you noticed any shifts in your mood, relationships and life? Good things, abundance and high vibes attract more good things, more abundance and higher vibes. It’s time to put on your rose-colored glasses, so you can see and experience the beauty around you, your life. So, start now. What are you grateful for today?
If this conversation lights you or if this conversation agitates you, let’s talk about it! I will be at Pulling Down the Moon for two FREE events this summer and will kick off a Yoga For Fertility series in August. Dates are included below. I hope to meet you soon… and in the meantime, stay grateful, bask in the sun and taste the sweetness of the season. Soak up the goodness that life serves daily.
- Go Prana Go: 8/24 @ 10am, FREE –> Space is limited. Register here to save your spot!
- Yoga For Fertility Series: Join the current series on Sundays at 11:30am with rolling enrollment through September 22nd and then the next series starts on Tuesday, September 24th at 7pm –> Register via MBO here.
Questions? Let us help at: 312-321-0004!
The anticipation, anxiety, the loss of control and not knowing what to expect can be especially difficult during the “two-week wait.” The two-week wait – between ovulation and when your next cycle is due to start – can feel as if you are in limbo as there is no way to tell if you’re pregnant.
You may find yourself watching for signs and symptoms of pregnancy. Each twinge in your belly, tenderness in your breasts and feeling of fatigue, asking yourself, “Does this mean I’m pregnant? Or am I getting my period?”
The questions, the “what if’s,” the TIME all feels endless and one seems to build upon the other until what you’re left with is a gigantic ball of anxiety and feeling a loss of control.
What if instead of “getting through” the two-week wait, we were intentional and mindful of nurturing ourselves by creating a plan? This holistic guide to self-care will provide you with a plan for nurturing yourself in four areas: physical, social, emotional and spiritual.
Sleep is not only necessary and restorative for our bodies, it also allows us to cope with our feelings of anxiety and overwhelm in a more manageable way. If you find yourself having difficulty falling asleep, here are a few helpful tips:
- Keep a journal or notepad next to your bed and write down the thoughts, worries or items on your ‘to-do’ list. Say to yourself, “This will be here for me if/when I need it.” Sometimes the act of writing something down allows for a cathartic release of whatever we’re feeling preoccupied with.
- Listen to a guided meditation app before bed to relax into sleep and take your mind off of the two-week wait. Bonus: the more you practice, the more this cues your body and mind that it’s time to sleep.
Gentle exercise such as planning a walk to a scenic place, a lake or forest preserve. Getting outside can have a calming, centering effect while you are present in nature. Try Yoga for Fertility poses on your own or building community through practice with others. Schedule an Unwind the Mind Massage, “This session was created to be a safe oasis from post-ovulation stress, boosting immune and endocrine function, while supporting a potential pregnancy.” (Pulling Down the Moon, Fertility Enhancing Massage (FEM)
- Plan a social outing with your partner or friends. Socializing provides an outlet for connection as well as a distraction from the thoughts and feelings you maybe preoccupied with. And, it’s fun! What activities do you enjoy doing? Want to try something new? Try being intentional about planning enjoyable activities, especially during the two-week wait.
- Create a list of friends, family members or supports you can reach out to check in with during the two-week wait. Is there a fellow member of your support group, a friend or family member who has an understanding of what you’re going through? Who acts as a sounding board, offers encouragement or provides a fun distraction? Write these supports down so that when you’re feeling especially alone or overwhelmed during your journey you have a few go-to people you feel safe reaching out to.
- Mantras can have a powerful and empowering impact. Choose a word or short phrase you would like to be the focus during your two-week wait. How would you like to feel and respond to yourself and others? Write the mantra on a post-it note or schedule it as a daily event on your phone to be reminded of your intention.
Nurture ~ Empower ~ Peace ~ Joy ~ Warrior
- Practicing meditation & mindfulness “Mindfulness is the energy of being aware and awake to the present moment… Being present is the most powerful place to be.” Thich Nhat Hanh. Bringing your attention back to the present moment can help decrease feelings of anxiety and increase self-awareness. New to meditation? Try a guided meditation app. There are guided meditations specific to fertility, sleep, anxiety and grief that you may find especially helpful in starting or ending your day.
In summary, while creating a plan doesn’t take away the uncertainty, it may allow you to feel a sense of control with how you choose to meet this part of your fertility journey. Creating a plan for the two-week can be a nurturing way to care for yourself during a time when your thoughts and feelings may be overwhelming. Take this time to connect with yourself, your partner and those you enjoy spending time with who play a supportive role in your journey.
- Yoga for Fertility – https://www.pullingdownthemoon.com/services/yoga-classes/
- Fertility Enhancing Massage (FEM) – https://www.pullingdownthemoon.com/services/therapeutic-massage/
- Meditation Apps:
- Calm – https://apps.apple.com/us/app/calm-com/id571800810?ls=1
- Insight Timer – https://apps.apple.com/us/app/zen-timer-meditation-timer/id337472899
- Meditation Studio: Fertility Collection – https://www.meditationstudioapp.com/fertility
- Fertility Mantras & Positive Affirmations – https://fertility-news.rmact.com/path-to-fertility-blog/infertility-mantras-fertility-mantras-your-choice
Emily Heilman is the founder of Flourish Counseling & Wellness. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Certified Perinatal Mental Health specialist (PMH-C), she specializes in perinatal mental health and wellness, supporting women and their families navigate their fertility journey, the pregnancy and postpartum period, and throughout motherhood. Her experience in the field of women’s and perinatal mental health spans the past 13 years where she has worked in community mental health, hospital settings and private practice. Emily offices are located in the Chicago Loop & Oak Park. To learn more, visit: https://flourishcounselingltd.com/
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