Prenatal Vitamins: What to Look For

By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

Choosing a prenatal vitamin can be daunting, as there are a wide variety of brands and types of prenatal vitamins out there. It can be hard to know exactly what nutrients are the most important to focus on when evaluating vitamins. Prenatal vitamins can really run the gamut from bare bones to very comprehensive. The foundation should be a healthy nutrient dense diet, but most people have gaps in their diet at times and fertility and pregnancy often require additional nutrients. Here are some of the most important attributes to look for when shopping for a prenatal vitamin:

  • Contains 150 mcg iodine. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends taking a prenatal vitamin with 150 mcg of iodine, as iodine is important for thyroid function, which affects baby’s brain development. A full one-third of women of pregnant women don’t get enough iodine.
  • Contains at least 27 mg iron to support red blood cell production and prevent anemia.
  • Has vitamins A, C, and E, which are antioxidants and may support egg quality.
  • Rich in B-vitamins that support ovulation.
  • Purity-tested EPA/DHA (fish oil) to support egg quality, reduce inflammation, and support baby’s brain development and vision.
  • Contains 1000-2000 IU Vitamin D to support bone health and IVF success.
  • Contains choline, which may prevent neural tube defects along with folate/folic acid.
  • Contains at least 600-1000 mcg folic acid or methylfolate (the active form of folate) to prevent neural tube defects.
  • Free of colorants, unnecessary allergens, additives, and preservatives.

At Pulling Down the Moon, we carry 2 different prenatal vitamins that have all of the attributes above, but some key differences from each other. The Prenatal Vitamin Packet is a really comprehensive prenatal vitamin to take during pregnancy. The Supplement Packet with Prenatal Vitamin provides extra support for fertility patients with 100 mg CoQ10 and 2000 IU vitamin D and is designed to be taken while trying to conceive.

Save in August with our BOGO Supplement Pack sale! Learn more here and stock-up while supplies last!

 

Postpartum Support: Beyond Depression

Historically, there has been a lack of attention to the full range of women’s emotions.  The typical woman is presented as having a limited response to stressors or negative experiences: she is sad, helpless, and inwardly focused.  Anger, in contrast, may be seen as unusual and/or inappropriate for a woman.  This may be especially true for women during the postpartum period, as the emotion of anger suggests there is something to be angry about, which starkly challenges stereotypes of new motherhood.

There are a number of reasons why it is important to protest those stereotypes and recognize women’s experiences of anger during the postpartum period.  For one, normalizing the response is important in helping women to recognize their own emotions and feel less isolated.  Unless it represents a chronic and debilitating pattern, anger in and of itself is not pathological, and may be an entirely appropriate response to a negative occurrence.  Expression of the emotion can be constructive and help to remedy aspects of a new mother’s life that may be working against her.

The reasons for feelings of anger postpartum are numerous and surely varied for each woman.  They range from societal (insurance company frustration, hospital bureaucracy, poor maternity leave policies at work) to relational (not enough support from friends or family, waking up constantly while your husband sleeps through the night, having your instincts questioned by the pediatrician) to the personal (poor birth experience, negative feelings about body/appearance, sleep deprivation, lack of time for self).  The list could go on and on.  I once had a client who denied her own angry feelings for months after her child was born.  One day she was in the library, and found that her stroller could not fit down an aisle.  It was the last straw for her, and she began to feel overcome by an incredible amount of rage and frustration that she could no longer ignore.  She realized then that she needed an outlet.

Be it therapy, mom’s groups, or talking with our own mothers or sisters, being able to express the frustrations, injustices, and indignities of motherhood can be crucial for our mental health.  It also can be the first step to creating societal change, helping us organize and question why we and our babies are not better supported.  It can validate other women’s experiences, sending the message “It’s not you, it really is just that tough sometimes.”  Finally, it can serve to help us enjoy all the amazing aspects of parenting because we are not carrying suppressed negative emotions.

One of my main goals for the therapy room is make it a taboo-free zone.  Women are so often shocked when I tell them that their feelings or experiences, be it anger or whatever else, are not uncommon.  Because we are so trained to keep a smile on our faces, make it all look easy, and not make others uncomfortable, we may have the illusion that we’re the only ones faking it.  The struggle is real, mamas.  As real as the love and joy and delicious chubby thighs.  By moving toward authenticity and the acknowledgement of our full range of emotions we can achieve greater fulfillment as well as push for changes that can improve our experiences as mothers.  Maybe a campaign for wider library aisles?

Dr. Erika Yamin is a clinical psychologist with a long-term focus on women’s reproductive mental health (issues relating to pregnancy, motherhood, postpartum, infertility, adoption).  She has extensive clinical, academic, and advocacy-based experience in this area, and previously worked as a birth doula.  Erika completed her doctoral coursework at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and her master’s degree at the University of Chicago.  She sees her work as a tremendous privilege and is continually awed by her clients.    

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Is it Hot in Here?!

By Dr Helena Para LAc, DACM, MSTOM

With the quickly approaching summer, and Chicago’s humid tendencies already underway, some people may be getting concerned about staying cool. One such population would be women with a tendency towards hot flashes. While we most often associate hot flashes with menopause and ladies over 45, there are other reasons for this bothersome temperature dysregulation. Pregnancy, menstruation, premature menopause and anxiety can all be causes of hot flashes, and some individuals are just heat intolerant overall. Interestingly, Traditional Chinese Medicine pays particular attention to your body’s internal and external temperature, and you may find that your acupuncturist often asks about temperature even when you don’t have any complaints associated with it.

The best way to balance temperature and clear heat is the integration of acupuncture into your health care routine. Your acupuncturist can determine the root cause of the fluctuations you are experiencing and bring your body back into balance. If you want to carry on the heat clearing outside of the treatment room- you can also eat foods that are “cooling” in nature.

Alfalfa sprouts Apple

Artichoke Apricot

Asparagus Avocado

Bamboo Shoots Banana

Beets Blueberry

Bok Choy Cantaloupe

Broccoli Cranberry

Cabbage Fig

Carrots Grapefruit

Cauliflower Lemon

Cilantro Lime

Collards Orange

Cucumber Peach

Daikon Pear

Dandelion Persimmon

Mushroom Strawberry

Potato Tomato

Seaweed Watermelon

Snow Pea Barley

Spinach Kamut

Squash Millet

Watercress Rice

Try a Nutrition Consultation in June AND a follow-up session for only $99!  It is great for general health, your fertility treatment plan, during pregnancy, and postpartum. Learn more here.

Don’t miss the opportunity to meet Helena in Sept for our FREE Points to Ponder:  Acupuncture, Community, and Stress Reduction session in Chicago! Have more questions about how acupuncture can help you or want to schedule an initial consultation?  Call us today at: 312-321-0004.

Tips to Help Stop Stress Eating

By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

Imagine this scene. You worked late to finish a project at work. You ordered in some takeout while you were working, and now it’s finally time to go home. You’re exhausted and stressed. When you get home, you start raiding the fridge and cabinets for things to eat. You really aren’t hungry at all since you ate dinner at work, but you’re looking for comfort in the cupboards.

I think most people can relate to this, and I would venture to guess that most of us have been in this or a similar situation before. In times of stress, we tend to turn to food as a coping mechanism. Food is readily available and processed high sugar, high fat foods tend to give us a quick, but very short-lived, boost that often leaves us feeling worse or just simply that we haven’t acted in a way that is consistent with our long-term goals. No matter how good our intentions are, stress from a variety of sources can tend to deplete our resolve and decision-making capability. In addition to the daily stresses of work, family, and finances, struggling to conceive adds significant stress. People have varying degrees of stress or emotional eating, and these habits can take significant effort and time to change. Here are some tips to help get you started:

1) Check-in with yourself to determine whether you’re feeling physical “stomach” hunger or “head” hunger. Sometimes our head is telling us to eat even though our stomach isn’t hungry. Physical hunger comes on gradually and is felt in the stomach, and can be satisfied by most foods. In contrast “head hunger,” tends to come on quickly with very specific cravings. In addition with “head hunger,” it may not be very long since you last ate, and your stomach isn’t giving you any hunger cues.

2) Find alternative coping mechanisms to manage stress and find comfort other than eating. It’s helpful to make a list of things you can do when you want to eat when you’re stressed, but not actually hungry. There are a wide variety of options including ways to simply distract yourself or ways to actually help you unwind and manage your stress. Examples include: go for a walk, take deep breaths, meditate, do a few yoga poses, take a bath, call a friend, read a book or magazine, go outside and get some fresh air, etc. It’s helpful to make your own list of 5 things that you can do when you find yourself turning to food for comfort.

3) Be kind to yourself. In those moments when you eat something that you wish you hadn’t or feel uncomfortable because you ate too much, practice being kind to yourself instead of berating or beating yourself up or feeling guilty. As much as we think our guilt about our eating habits helps us do better next time, it actually holds us back and keeps up trapped in the cycle of stress eating. Instead, practice being kind to yourself as you would to a dear friend or family member. Then move on, and return to your healthy eating instead of letting it spiral out of control or deciding to restrict at the next meal. Restricting at the next meal only causes the cycle to repeat, as becoming overly hungry combined with stress makes it much more likely that we have a harder time making healthy choices moving forward.

Reducing stress and emotional eating takes time, so be patient with yourself. Know that progress often comes in fits and starts, and we often take 2 steps forward and 1 step back along the way.

Need to take a break? Try a four week nutrition, yoga, and coaching dextox program! Learn more about “Spring Cleaning: Using Nutrition and Yoga to Cleanse” and all our community events here .

Does Iodine Deficiency Reduce Fertility?

By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

A recent study, the first of its kind, investigated the impact of iodine deficiency on fertility. Iodine isn’t a nutrient that you hear very much about, but it’s essential for proper thyroid function. The thyroid is the master regulator in the body, governing metabolism in all the body’s cells. In addition, during pregnancy, adequate iodine is essential for baby’s brain development. About 30% of women of childbearing age (who aren’t pregnant) aren’t getting enough iodine. This study measured levels of iodine in the urine of more than 450 women as they were starting to try to conceive and looked at how long it took these women to conceive. (Iodine in the urine is considered to be reflective of the iodine status of the body.)

The results: A whopping 44% of women had iodine levels below sufficiency and 23% where moderately or severely iodine deficient. Women who were moderately or severely iodine deficient were 46% less likely to get pregnant per cycle than when with sufficient iodine levels. This is a striking result and definitely points to a need to ensure you’re getting enough iodine while trying to conceive. Iodine deficiency may cause your thyroid to not function optimally, which impairs fertility.

Iodine is in a variety of foods including seafood, seaweed, meat, eggs, dairy, grains, and iodized salt. Vegetarians and vegans are most at risk for iodine deficiency. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends women who are pregnant and breastfeeding take a prenatal vitamin with 150 mcg iodine in order prevent iodine deficiency. Both Pulling Down the Moon prenatal vitamins contain 175 mcg of iodine, so either would be a great choice to ensure adequate iodine intake. It’s important to note that certain types of seaweed are very high in iodine, and people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis should avoid high iodine intake, as it may make Hashimoto’s worse.

Are you wondering if you’re getting enough iodine and other nutrients in your diet to support optimal fertility? Book an appointment today with one of our nutritionists.

Reference: Mills JL, et al. Delayed conception in women with low urinary iodine concentrations: a population-based prospective cohort study. Human Reproduction. 33(3): 426-433.

Spring Cleaning Your Mind

by Cassie Harrison, RYT

A therapist once told me to write down all my thoughts with my left hang (I’m right handed) and not worry about what I wrote. I was to write whatever entered my mind onto paper. This request sent me into a tailspin of excuses. I can’t, my journal is full. To write with my left hand would be sinister. The pen store is out of pens. I went on and on.

When I finally committed to this drudgery, my eyes were opened or better yet my mind. What I learned from this exercise is that when I wrote with my dominant hand my tendency was to get caught up in self-judgment and criticism of my grammar, handwriting, and words. However, when I wrote with my left hand all that went away. My mind felt clear and quiet and this was before I started the exercise! Only my thoughts remained. What happened next was profound; the worry left with the ink. My hand couldn’t keep up, but that wasn’t important, as it wasn’t legible anyway! I let it all go. I could hear my breath, the space around me and found myself unconsciously being present. The “sound” from my citta (incessant monkey brain thoughts), was deafening, it drowned out the world around me and kept me from hearing my true self. I leave you with this, the fertility journey is tough enough and it might leave you felling depleted and out of control. I challenge you to take five minuets today (not tomorrow), set excuses aside, and chicken scratch onto paper (or that napkin below your coffee) whatever’s on your mind, whatever is troubling you.

There is no right or wrong here. Just imagine who you would you be without your citta.

Let us help you calm your mind and reduce your anxiety by 20% or more in just six weeks with our Yoga for Fertility series ! Available in Chicago on Tuesdays at 5:30pm and Saturdays at 8:30am along with Highland Park on Mondays at 5:45pm. Pair it with Acupuncture, Nutrition, or Fertility Enhancing Massage this month and save with You Pick Two for $199 . We also have special FREE events this month to take care during National Infertility Awareness . Call us to learn more at: 312-321-0004.

Better Egg Quality and Follicular Development: Acupuncture Can Help

by Dr. Amie Shimmel

In honor of National Infertility Awareness month we at Pulling Down the Moon like to remind patients how acupuncture can help with better eggs and follicles.

Here’s how it works:

Medical research shows that acupuncture can influence hormone secretion from the pituitary hypothalamus and ovaries, collectively called the (HPO) axis. One of the most recent studies was conducted at Georgetown University Medical Center, July 2015; they found that acupuncture balances this HPO axis.

When an acupuncture needle is inserted into a specific acupuncture point this triggers the release of prostaglandins and opioid peptides into the bloodstream which lead to the production of a substance that transmits messages to the hypothalamus and pituitary and then transmits to the ovaries.

The acupuncture normalizes the secretion of the hormones such as (GrRH), (FSH), and (LH). This improves ovarian function creating more follicles and better egg quality.

The (HPO) Hypothalamus pituitary ovarian axis can be disrupted by stress, poor diet, age, etc. However this (HPO) axis can be positively influenced by many things, especially acupuncture.

The bottom line; women’s follicles and egg development can be enhanced by the balance of the endocrine system. Acupuncture balances the endocrine system.

We, at PDtM, recommend weekly acupuncture sessions to get the hormones in better balance and to help get the body as relaxed as possible. Acupuncture is accumulative therefore regular sessions can help shift the body in the direction the patient is looking for.

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

Is Prenatal Yoga Right for You?

by Kellie Greene, RYT

I recently attended a presentation where the speaker said that “infertility treatments are a full-time job”. She went on to elaborate about the doctors appointments, injections, daily lab draws, ultrasounds, testing, and then with integrated holistic care you may also have acupuncture, massage, and nutritional therapy on top of that. You may feel overwhelmed and over-scheduled thinking, “How can I possibly add another thing–and is it really worth it?”

Whether you have struggled with infertility and loss to get here or found us after getting your positive test, attending a prenatal yoga class can seem like a luxury. Below I will outline 5 ways prenatal yoga can benefit your pregnancy, as well as birth, and outline what you may expect from a class at PDtM.

1. A sense of community.

Outside of your care providers office, and maybe a childbirth education class there isn’t a lot of opportunities to meet a room full of pregnant women who are pregnant at the same time. With ObGYN care protocols and products changing so quickly it can feel comforting to be around other women who are pregnant at the same time. Being with other parents who have experienced loss or struggled with fertility concerns can help with what can sometimes be a lonely path feel not so isolating.

2. Ease physical discomforts of pregnancy.

Between gaining 15-45 pounds in nine months, your organs being displaced by a rapidly growing uterus, your pelvis widening and expanding, and cartilage in your body softening ( just to name a few pregnancy changes) you are bound to feel some physical discomforts. Prenatal yoga is a gentle and safe way to ease discomfort, and learn strategies that can make your pregnancy more comfortable. Prenatal yoga has been shown to help nausea, decrease pelvic and low back pain, help ease carpal tunnel, headaches, and shortness of breath.

3. Build the connection to baby.

Women who have experienced a pregnancy loss, or used fertility treatment often report difficulty feeling connected to the pregnancy/baby. With guided meditation practices, and visualization parents can feel more connected to the baby, and the pregnancy.

4. Improve sleep

Disruptions in sleep affect every parent to be at some point in the pregnancy. Finding ways to relax, self soothe, and calm down can help. The Mayo clinic even cites improvement in sleep as one of the benefits to prenatal yoga.

5. Prepare for birth

Regardless of your birth choices prenatal yoga can prepare you to labor more comfortably, push more effectively, and recover more easily, and quickly. The breathing techniques, and upright positions can help if you are desiring an unmedicated birth. The strengthening and pelivic floor poses can be beneficial for both a surgical or vaginal birth.

Regardless of why you are choosing to attend a prenatal yoga class, odds are you will likely leave feeling physically, and mentally better. Please join us for the next drop-in class on Wednesday, May 16th at 6pm and/or the next session of the Prenatal Yoga Series beginning on Saturday, May 19th at 10:30am in Chicago . Questions? Let us help at: 312-321-0004.

Acupuncture & Herbs for Prenatal Care

by Anna Pyne, L.Ac., MSOM, FABORM

Acupuncture and herbs can help mitigate or completely resolve many signs and symptoms associated with pregnancy during all trimesters. I have treated numerous patients for nausea, vomiting, headaches, any type of pain, skin problems, lung issues, depression, anxiety, miscarriage prevention, placenta previa, swelling, labor preparation, hemorrhoids, and constipation. The frequency and duration of acupuncture treatments will vary depending upon which ailment we are focused on and its severity. Another wonderful attribute to acupuncture therapy is you know that it is a safe and natural treatment. It can be used alone or in combination with a medication to help reduce the frequency and intensity of the problem. Current research supports acupuncture’s efficacy with helping treat depression*, nausea and vomiting**, and labor preparation*** to name a few. I do recommend herbs as needed, in conjunction with acupuncture when necessary. Both acupuncture and herbs can be used together or separately, as each is its own stand alone therapy.

For current patients, please feel free to contact Anna or your practitioner via email with any questions you may have regarding treatment during pregnancy.

For new patients, to make an appointment for acupuncture please call the office at (312)321-0004 or click this link to book now with Mind Body Online at your convenience. Please make sure to complete your intake form online prior to your appointment here .

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

Acupuncture for Nausea and Vomiting: ** https://www.uptodate.com/contents/nausea-and-vomiting-of-pregnancy-beyond-the-basics/abstract/2?utdPopup=true

Acupuncture for Labor Preparation: *** https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9692336

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