• We Don’t Have To Own It

    by Faith Donohue MSW, LCSW

    From an early age we are taught that “our body is our temple”. To respect it and expect for it to be respected.

    As we grow and mature, our bodies go through many changes, not all of which are welcomed, but we are forced to embrace nonetheless. In an effort to avoid embarrassing moments, we quickly learn to chart our periods and be prepared for when “our friend” arrives (in the middle of science class). Over time, it becomes a part of who we are. We own it!

    As teenage girls, rarely did we sit around talking about how the changes in our bodies represent a path to parenthood. More often than not, we talked about the bloating, cramping and uncontrollable emotions, and perhaps, how to avoid premature parenthood. But as you read this and giggle because it brings back memories of your teenage years, it cements the idea that this is my body and I am responsible for it -the good, the bad and the many changes I must be prepared for. We own it!

    As we continue to mature and become sexually active, if not prepared to start a family, we work hard to prevent pregnancy. While we are well aware of how to protect against unwanted pregnancy, the reality is, if we get swept up in the moment, make a silly decision while partying, or simply find ourselves in love and it just happens, the result of that encounter is ours. Knowing this, we as women take it upon ourselves to ensure that an unwanted pregnancy does not happen. We own it!   

    And now, we are married and ready to start a family. We schedule the appointment with our gynecologist, chart our cycles and prepare a romantic evening that will lead to the conception of our baby. We count the days waiting to find out if pregnancy occurred. Day 14, 15, 16… and you get your period. We tell our partners the disappointing news, ensuring them that there is always next month. We own it!

    Months go by, sometimes years and still no baby. We schedule another appointment with the gynecologist and the testing begins. As research supports, the testing begins with us. It is often not until all female issues are ruled out do the doctors consider that it may be our male counterpart’s medical condition that’s preventing pregnancy (that’s a topic for another time). For those who have gotten to this point, we often feel like we need to coax or coddle before and after our partners’ appointment -like they just did us this amazing favor! (Funny, I don’t recall anyone needing to coax or coddle me when I went to all those doctor appointments trying to figure this out.) We own it!

    I am sure you get the picture by now. We are taught from an early age by our parents and society to be responsible for our bodies. And, as with most things in our life, we take that responsibility seriously because if we don’t, there could be unwanted consequences. We own it!

    And now, here we are being told that fertility treatment is about to begin. With mixed emotions, we jump in. We have no idea that we are about to turn over our bodies to a stranger, our reproductive endocrinologist. You are poked and prodded, often half-naked. Once again you find yourself charting, scheduling early morning appointments and waiting for the phone call with instructions about what to do next. We own it!

    Here is where I want you to stop. You took good care of your body all these years and now you are about to embark on a journey with a partner you can trust and lean on to help you care for your body and soul. This is where the conundrum begins -giving up control of your body, the thing that you spent a lifetime controlling. But if you allow your partner to help, it can be an amazing release. It can take your relationship to the next level.  It also provides your partner an essential role the journey.

    • *Have your partner attend the doctor appointment to discuss the treatment plan
    • *Have your partner order the medication and have it delivered to a place that will ensure its proper handling
    • *If you are wearing an ovulation bracelet, have your partner manage the data gathered
    • *Have your partner administer shots
    • *Keep a calendar in a place where both of you can manage your cycle and appointments
    • *Have your partner schedule and drive you to the next appointment (you can grab breakfast together as a part of your routine)
    • *Have your doctor call your partner with any instructions
    • *Have your partner plan a romantic evening  -It’s important to stay intimate during this process
    • *Have your doctor call your partner with the results of the pregnancy test
    • *Have your partner tell you the good news, “we are pregnant,” or the bad news, “there is always next month.”

    The process is challenging and we find ourselves needing to “own it” but the reality is we now have partners who want to be there for us, protecting and loving us. Try not to own it, let your partner in, tell your partner what you need, listen to what your partner needs. Communicate and support one another. And, together, own it!

    I have spent over 25 years helping individuals and families overcome a wide array of challenges. During the course of my professional life, I have gained an expertise in reproductive health, family building including fertility treatment, assisted and third party reproduction, and adoption and foster care, as well as depression and anxiety that often accompanies life’s challenges.  I have assisted individuals and couples as they think through their decision to have children. If pregnancy can’t be achieved, I have counseled individuals and couples in processing their loss, and aided them in exploring alternatives. I understand the struggles of pre/postpartum and post adoption depression.  In addition to providing therapy, I have completed mental health and donor assessments needed to pursue third party reproductive services. -I accept BCBS PPO and BCBS Blue Choice and I offer weekday, evening and weekend appointments.

     

    Faith Donohue, MSW, LCSW

    4256 N. Ravenswood Ave.

    Chicago, Illinois

    312-399-3284

    Faithdonohue3@gmail.com

    **Know that you are not alone on this journey!  Whether with a partner or going it as a single person, our community is here to support everyone on their road to parenthood! Try a free webinar, a Yoga for Fertility class, or just reach out and we will answer your questions at: 312-321-0004.

  • 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 September with our Supplement Pack sale! Learn more here and stock-up while supplies last!

     

  • Your Hip Flexor and Your Fertility

    By Meredith Nathan Director of Massage, LMT

    The psoas muscle, the largest muscle in the group of muscles that make up the hip flexor, is arguably the most important muscle in your body. Without this vital muscle you’d never be able to get up off the floor!  Reaching from the 12th thoracic vertebrae to the 5th lumbar vertebrae, traveling down the pelvis to the femur, it is the primary connector between your torso and your legs  The only muscle in your body that connected your legs to your spine, It affects your posture and stabilizes your vertebrae.

    A weak or tight psoas is known as a hidden cause of low back pain.  But low back pain isn’t the only mysterious symptom associated with an imbalanced psoas.  Another frequent symptom is stress, which both causes the psoas to contract and can also be caused by a contracted psoas.  Anatomically linked to your breath, it connects to the diaphragm through connective tissue and diaphragmatic ligaments.  Stress not only signals the psoas to contract which creates tension in the diaphragm, it also signals shallow, pant-like breathing which doesn’t engage the diaphragm.  Both of these factors signal an ancient fight or flight response in the body, activating stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.

    Your psoas muscles also create a muscular shelf that your kidneys and adrenals rest on. As you breathe deeply your diaphragm moves and your psoas muscles gently massage these organs, stimulating blood circulation. But when deep breathing doesn’t occur or the psoas muscles become imbalanced, the adrenals and kidneys don’t receive the stimulation they need, and the feeling of exhaustion can become a way of life.  In fact, according to Liz Koch, author of The Psoas Book, “The psoas is so intimately involved in such basic physical and emotional reactions, that a chronically tightened psoas continually signals your body that you’re in danger, eventually exhausting the adrenal glands and depleting the immune system.”

    The kidneys and adrenals aren’t the only organ affected: as the psoas travels through the pelvis it supports your organs and works like a hydraulic pump pushing lymph and blood into and out of your cells.  When psoas becomes tight or imbalanced, overall abdominal stagnation can occur.  And if all that weren’t enough, a tight psoas can directly impact a woman’s reproductive system.  The nerves of the reproductive organs embed throughout iliopsoas, and a tight psoas may pin down the uterus, creating painful menstrual cramps.  The ovaries, which can double in size during ovulation, also sit close to the psoas, especially if the uterus is retrograde.  A tight psoas can cause pain in the ovaries, restrict blood flow, and impinge reproductive nerves.

    So how can you tell if you have a tight, weak, or overstrained psoas?

    Here are some symptoms of an imbalanced psoas:

    • pain in the low back/hips
    • leg length discrepancy
    • postural problems (especially a low back that has a more extreme ‘C’ curve, or one that has almost no curve
    • constipation
    • severe menstrual cramps
    • chronic chest breathing
    • chronic fatigue

    If you’ve identified that your psoas might be tight or over-strained, there are things you can do to help support it.  

    • try a runner’s stretch or warrior pose; hold all stretches for at least 30 seconds so the body will ‘remember’ the new length
    • put a small cushion or support behind your low back while seated (for instance, while you’re driving your car or sitting at your desk
    • try Open the Breath, the second blood builder session in The Fertility Enhancing Massage Protocol™; this massage works specifically with releasing the iliopsoas and balancing the viscera through breath work and massage

    So give your psoas a little love.  You’ll have a happy hip flexor, and your whole body will thank you!

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • 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.    

    826 Madison Street
    Evanston, IL 60202
    847-461-8905

  • The Other Half: Male Factor Infertility

    By Christine Davis LAc, MSOM

    At Pulling Down the Moon, we primarily treat women’s fertility concerns. Sure, we can treat just about everything: allergies, digestive problems, pain, stress … you name it. Mostly, though, we see women who want to get pregnant and have a baby. We help reduce the impact of stress on her life, we work on regulating her cycle or combating the side effects of IVF meds, and even women who are trying to conceive still have headaches and back pain and allergies. We help her body be in it’s very best condition to be able to grow new life in her belly. But there’s one thing we don’t see very often, a critical missing element, an equally important part of the equation to creating that new life: Men!

    Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is a 5,000 year old tradition. Embedded within this long history is a strong theory and framework for treatment of fertility concerns. We are fantastic at helping to resolve known fertility concerns for both men and women. So, why are only women coming in to see us? This problem goes deep and it’s one that may continue to grow based on recent assessment of global infertility rates. A recent study of sperm analysis from 1973-2011 showed 50-60% decline in male fertility rates suggesting that by 2060, most men in the US and Europe could be infertile. And here’s the scariest part: scientists don’t know why (or at least they can’t agree on it).

    Much has been written about why there is such a dearth of information and focus on male infertility. Many men see even the suggestion that there may be something “wrong” with their side of the court as an attack on their manhood. They see it as an insinuation that they are somehow less virile, less capable, less manly. Just think of the language we use to describe a man who we consider manly: “He’s got big balls!” “Balls of Steel” or unmanly: “Don’t be a girl.” This isn’t just a generational thing. Historically, much of the research and treatment of infertility has focused squarely on the female.

    So, what can we do? Let’s start talking about it! Ladies, bring research to your partners/husbands. Get evaluated by a Urologist who focuses on fertility or a Reproductive Endocrinologist. If there are identifiable issues, consider an appropriate course of action. If you are in the “unexplained” camp, there are other things you can do to support male fertility including taking CoQ10, a multi vitamin, and possibly additional selenium (ask your doctor first before beginning a new supplement). Come experience Fertility Enhancing Massage at Pulling Down the Moon.

    Acupuncture has been shown to be more effective than Western medicine in improving sperm quality and quantity. Regular acupuncture treatment (once per week, generally), helps to reduce stress, eliminate pain throughout the body, and achieve wellness by balancing the body. It has been my experience that couples who both receive regular acupuncture see so much benefit and often achieve pregnancy sooner. The needles are teeny tiny and are placed mainly on the arms and legs, never in sensitive areas (none near the genitalia). The first visit takes about an hour or so because we go through a very thorough consultation of medical history and questions about symptoms. Follow ups can be performed in 45 min or less.

    We have to open this conversation up if we are going to find a way to resolve it. Women are currently doing so much to become pregnant – thousands of shots, thousands of doctor visits, emotional stress, fielding the comments about why you’re not pregnant yet. Men, please get involved (if you are not already!). Talk with each other about your goals, fears, desires, and plans about growing your family. Seek the help if you need it. We must keep the doors open to conversation to finding solutions to this growing problem.

    Learn more about Acupuncture and schedule your consultation today!

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Impact on Fertility

    By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

    In recent years, we’ve been learning about the impact of quality of fats on our health. The focus should be on including healthy fats, instead of on following a low fat diet. The same is true for fertility. We learned in the Nurses’ Health Study that higher intake of trans fats was associated with ovulatory infertility. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids seem to impact fertility in a variety of ways.

    Let’s back up and review the different types of omega-3 fatty acids. The plant source omega-3 fatty acid (like walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseed) is called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and the animal source omega-3 fatty acids (like cold water fatty fish, eggs, and grassfed beef) are EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA may have beneficial impacts on our health and fertility. Our body is able to convert a small amount of ALA into EPA and DHA, but this conversion is inefficient. Going right to the source by getting EPA and DHA from fish, eggs, and supplements is your best bet.

    Studies have looked at the impact of omega-3 fatty acids on embryo quality, PCOS, endometriosis, and sperm quality. Higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids has been associated with better embryo quality when doing IVF. An additional animal study showed similar results. In a randomized controlled trial of men with low sperm count, motility, and morphology, EPA and DHA supplementation improved all three of these sperm parameters compared to placebo. In PCOS, omega-3 fatty acids may help lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and reduce insulin resistance. Higher intakes of omega-3 fatty acids have also been associated with lower risk for endometriosis, and in an animal model of endometriosis, omega-3 fatty acids helped induced regression of endometriosis lesions.

    Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, have many potential fertility benefits. Eating low mercury fatty fish is beneficial, however it’s important to keep even low mercury fish intake to 12 oz per week. Thus EPA and DHA supplementation is often recommended in order to take in omega-3 fatty acids on a daily basis.

    Try our EPA/DHA in July and save 20% while supplies last!  Use promo code EPA20 when checking out in our online store here.

    References

    Hammiche F, Vujkovic M, Wijburg W, et al. Increased preconception omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid intake improves embryo morphology. Fertility and Sterility. 2011; 95(5):1820-1823.

    Yang K, Zeng L, Bao T, et al. Effectiveness of omega-3 fatty acids for polycystic ovarian syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2018;16:27.

    Safarinejad MR. Effect of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation on semen profile and enzymatic antioxidant capacity of seminal plasma in infertile men with idiopathic oligoasthenoteratospermia: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial. Andrologia. 2010;43:38-47.

  • Moon Mantras

    by Kellie Greene RYT, RPYT

    The fertility and pregnancy journey can often be riddled with anxiety, fear, and doubt. Our yoga instructor Kellie Greene draws on more than ten years of experience to give you a brief overview on why adding mantras to your coping toolbox can be beneficial at any point on your journey with Pulling Down the Moon.

    What is a mantra? 

    Mantras are something we discuss in both the Yoga for Fertility and Prenatal classes. They can be useful in yoga postures that are held for a longer period of time, or doctors appointments, waiting for test results, and daily encouragement. It can be helpful to disrupt the stress hormone cycle, and boost the beneficial hormone oxytocin. It also gives parents something they can control.  A mantra can be a simple phrase, a word, a prayer, or an intention. It is typically repeated several times in a row during a challenging experience, or several times throughout the day.

    Why choose to use mantras?

    The fertility and childbearing experience is one of great stress. That may present as anxiety, difficulty making decisions, depression, fear, or passing physical symptoms. A mantra is a tool meant to bring some level of calm. It can be helpful to remind yourself of a feeling you wish to evoke to replace the stress response. Or, it can be helpful to remind yourself that this part of your journey is temporary. Regardless of why your have chosen to try a mantra it can give you something you can control, or allow you to shift your focus intentionally on to something positive.

    Common fertility mantras- 

    • This is temporary  One day at a time
    • I will be a parent It will happen for me
    • I am healthy, I am whole  I can do this
    • I am not alone  I will stay patient and trust
    • Common Prenatal mantras –
    • My baby is healthy and happy in this moment.
    • The information I have tells me baby is fine
    • My body is doing exactly what it needs to be doing in this moment
    • My baby is safe
    • I trust my body
    • Today I am pregnant

    The fertility and pregnancy can be lonely, and filled with many emotions. It’s ok to be your own loudest cheerleader. Each day can be a new mantra. You can use it once or a 100 times.

    If you would like help choosing a mantra that is right for your situation talk to one of our yoga instructors before or after class. Check our schedule for a time and location that is right for you.

    *Join Kellie for Yoga for Fertility on Saturdays at 9am and Prenatal Yoga After Infertility on Saturdays at 11am in Sept and October!

  • Summer Produce to Help Maximize Your Fertility

    By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

    Now that late summer is here, the local produce is abundant. Visit your local farmer’s market for the best tomatoes of the year, and stock up on some raspberries and zucchini. These summer fruits and vegetables can help support your overall health and fertility. Check out some specific items to emphasize below:

    Summer Fruit: Berries pack a strong antioxidant punch and tend to be high on the priority list of farmer’s market shoppers. Watermelon, cherries, and peaches also grow here in the Midwest, and the juicy summer sweetness makes for great desserts without the added sugar.

    Broccoli and Kale: These cruciferous vegetables may help balance estrogen levels and contain important nutrients like calcium, folate, and vitamin C.

    Zucchini: Zucchini tends to be abundant and cheap at the farmer’s market. Use a spiralizer to make zoodles (zucchini “noodles”) and top with chicken or white beans, pesto, fresh tomatoes, and sautéed kale for a nutrient-rich summer meal.

    Herbs: Don’t forget the herbs like chives, cilantro, oregano, basil, and dill. Herbs are antioxidant-rich and thus may help to prevent free radical damage to eggs and sperm. Add any of these herbs to salads, salad dressings, or eggs for extra flavor. Use basil to make pesto or in Thai dishes with cilantro. Use cilantro in tacos or other Mexican dishes.

    Eggs: You can get some of the best eggs at the farmer’s market – the kind of eggs that come from chickens that have been running around eating bugs and vegetable scraps. These eggs have a deep orange yolk, due to higher levels of beta-carotene. Eggs are a healthy and nutrient-rich protein source and are great way to ensure you get enough protein at breakfast.

    Learn more about healthy exercise and nutrition while trying to conceive, during pregnancy, and beyond at the FREE Essential Fertility Fitness Tips on August 29th at 6pm and/or Lifestyle Hacks for PCOS on September 18th at 6pm! 

  • Breathe—for Your Health

    by Cathy McCauley, LMT

    You aspire to feel well and whole, yet sometimes, the path to wellness and wholeness can seem like a lot to add to the “To Do” list. Another thing to stress about doing. Wouldn’t it be convenient to find one simple, daily activity that could improve whole-body health?

    One activity exists. You already practice it. It’s breathing!   

    Trouble is, many people don’t breathe to support whole-body health. In fact, many people breathe in a shallow, restricted manner that actually impedes health.

    Diaphragm Functioning

    Consider for a moment the functioning of your thoracic diaphragm muscle. It attaches along the inner rim of your lower rib cage and is the primary muscle responsible for your respiration. It is dome-shaped or looks like an open umbrella. When you breathe in, the diaphragm contracts and pushes down against the abdominal organs, which allows the lungs to expand to receive fresh air. When exhaling, the diaphragm relaxes upward against the lungs, helping to expel air from them. The more efficiently your diaphragm contracts, the more air will be drawn into your lungs.  However, if your diaphragm does not contract efficiently, you end up with shallow breathing.

    Got Stress?

    Now knowing how the diaphragm works, consider what happens when you are constantly stressed out. The body responds to stress (both good and bad types) automatically by tightening the abdominal muscles, among other responses. When stress becomes the norm, continual abdominal tightness restricts the diaphragm and in turn, shallow breathing occurs.

    All the systems of your body can be affected by shallow breathing. Reduced oxygen intake can raise your blood pressure, create low-level anxiety, decrease immunity, cause mental and physical fatigue, reinforce serotonin and cortisol hormonal imbalance, and disrupt digestion.

    Just Breathe

    Thankfully, it’s not too late to learn and practice how to relax your breath and breathe fully from the abdomen. Perhaps it’s time to sign up for a yoga class or schedule an “Open the Breath” massage with us. Or try the “Breath of Happiness” YouTube tutorial. Do what you can to get started.

    As reported in our “Open the Breath” massage client information, the health of your body, and specifically your reproductive organs, is greatly affected by the movement of your breath. In fact, the human body is designed to discharge approximately 70% of its toxins through respiration. As deep, full breathing engages the diaphragm, the organs are kneaded and churned, fluids are renewed, and stagnant, toxic build-up is flushed out. The pelvis is bathed in oxygen-rich fluids, helping to balance the chemistry of the blood. Deep belly breathing also creates tone and alignment in the pelvic floor, while promoting movement in its connective tissues. Developing a deep, free breath is fundamental in preserving abdominal pliability and mobility.

    Another benefit of belly breathing is the relaxation response. Deep abdominal breathing stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system and enhances your cellular, hormonal, and psychological processes. Your bodies conserve and restore energy, build immunity, and regenerate injured tissues. The relaxation response can even lower blood pressure levels. In addition, a deep breath can encourage a feeling of groundedness.

    You aspire to feel well and whole. Breathe—for your health!

    Be well,

    Cathy

    See Cathy in Highland Park on Mondays and Thursdays for massage therapy and starting July 17th she will be available on Tuesdays in Buffalo Grove as well!

     

  • Keeping Your Fertility Friendly Eating Going During the Summer Months

    By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

    It’s both easier and harder to eat healthy during the summer. Local fruits and vegetables are abundant, especially leafy and greens and berries, which are nutritional powerhouses. On the other hand, there are also lots of opportunities for less healthy options due to eating more meals out on vacations and attending more parties and barbecues.

    The key is not to take the enjoyment of these events, but to make choices that are consistent with your goals with the knowledge that there is no such thing as the perfect diet, and that it’s perfectly fine and normal to indulge sometimes. That being said, what’s the best way to handle events during the summer? Follow these tips, and see what you can apply to your life:

    Have a plan in mind for events or meals out. Often when we’ve decided ahead of time what we plan to eat, it goes better than when we make decisions in the moment. When eating out at restaurant, check the menu online ahead of time. At  other events, try to load up your half your plate with vegetables.

    Bring a healthy dish. Potlucks tend to be light on the veggies, so bring a veggie dish if you can. Alternatively, bring fruit or a healthy protein.

    Manage your appetite. Make sure you don’t arrive to restaurants, parties, or events ravenously hungry. When we’re overly hungry, it’s SO much harder to make healthier food choices, and it’s much easier to overeat.

    When you’re on vacation, rent a place with a kitchen. That way, you can prepare some of your own meals. Seek out a local farmers market for fruits and vegetables, and pick up some local fresh fish if you’re somewhere on the water. Make a point of prepping 1-2 meals per day where you’re staying, so that you can have healthier options and feel your best.

    On road trips, you use apps to find restaurants nearby. Using the signs on the freeway pretty much ensures you’ll be eating at fast food restaurants. Apps like Yelp will show you what restaurants are nearby, and you can even peruse menu from the car (not while you’re driving, of course) and get directions.

    Remember to keep it all in perspective. What you eat most of the time is what matters the most to your health and fertility. Eating also shouldn’t be a source of stress in our already stressful lives, so do your best and let the rest go. It’s ok and totally normal to indulge and eat more meals at restaurants on vacation. Choose healthier options most of the time, indulge sometimes, and eat until your satisfied, but not overly full, and make peace with your decisions without guilt.

     

    Looking for more ways to use your diet to positively impact your fertility or to fit healthy eating into your busy life, book a nutrition appointment today!

     

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