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  • 90-Day Prep? Start Here!

    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!

    Nutrition

    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

    Increasing blood flow and reducing stress go hand-in-hand when optimizing your body for conception. Acupuncture, yoga, and massage can all help you achieve healthier circulation and reduce stress.

    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:

    Acupuncture

    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.

     

    Yoga

    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.

     

    Massage

    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!

     

  • Choline: An Update on a Vital Fertility and Pregnancy Nutrient

    By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

    Choline is little talked about essential nutrient for fertility and pregnancy. It is not technically considered a vitamin, as our bodies can synthesize choline though not enough to meet our daily needs.  Choline is a major component of all cell membranes and is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is involved in muscle control and memory. Choline is also converted to betaine, which prevents homocysteine levels from becoming elevated. Elevated homocysteine has been associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease and miscarriage. Choline deficiency may also play a role in the development of fatty liver, as choline is necessary to transport fat from the liver to other tissues in the body.

    Choline also has important functions during pregnancy. Choline is essential for baby’s brain development and for DNA methylation, meaning that choline deficiency can have epigenetic effects on the developing baby. There is also evidence that adequate choline intake helps prevent neural tube defects like spinal bifida, which most people associate only with folate/folic acid intake. 

    Several studies have compared intakes of 480 mg choline daily to 930 mg choline daily at varying times during pregnancy and found a variety of outcomes. For example, supplementation with 930 mg choline compared to 480 mg throughout the 3rd trimester resulted in faster information processing in 4-13 month old infants. In a similar study, children whose mothers took in 930 mg choline daily performed better with a color location memory task compared to children whose mothers who had only taken in 480 mg choline daily. Another study reported reduced attention and behavior problems and social withdrawal in children at 40 months of age in the group of mothers supplemented with 900 mg choline from the 2nd trimester through delivery in addition to baby being supplemented with 100 mg choline daily through 3 months of age compared to controls.

    The daily requirement for choline for non-pregnant women of childbearing age is 425 mg. This goes up 450 mg during pregnancy and further increases to 550 mg during breastfeeding. Less than 10% of pregnant women are meeting their daily requirement for choline, underscoring the importance of focusing on this nutrient.

    The impact of choline during pregnancy is an emerging area of research, and currently it seems that 450 mg choline at a minimum is needed to support a healthy pregnancy, but up 900-930 mg is safe and may have long-term benefits to the baby. Animal products are better sources of choline than plant foods–with liver and egg yolks being the best sources–followed by meat and fish and cruciferous vegetables.

    Because so few women are meeting even basic daily choline needs during pregnancy, taking a prenatal vitamin that contains choline is a good idea, especially if you are a vegetarian or vegan. Pulling Down the Moon carries two prenatal vitamins, both of which contain choline. TheraNatal OvaVite contains 100 mg choline, and PlusOne contains 450 mg choline. Do you have more questions about optimal choline intake prior to and during a pregnancy? Book a nutrition appointment today!

     

      

     

  • Magnesium: An Essential Mineral for Fertility and Pregnancy

    By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

    Magnesium is an essential mineral in hundreds of reactions in the body involved in a variety of processes including deriving energy from food, DNA synthesis, and blood sugar regulation. In addition, magnesium is a mineral component of bone along with calcium and phosphorus. Along with these important functions, did you know that magnesium may play a role in fertility and pregnancy as well?

    Magnesium’s Role in Fertility and Pregnancy

    In a study of 33 women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), 23% of women did not meet their daily magnesium needs. (1) In another study comparing women with and without PCOS, women with PCOS consumed less magnesium than women without PCOS. In women with PCOS, lower magnesium intake was correlated with higher risk for insulin resistance and elevated testosterone, key hallmarks of PCOS. (2) There have been many studies investigating the impact of magnesium levels and magnesium supplementation on insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. These studies point to a significant role for magnesium for blood sugar regulation. (3)

    Magnesium supplementation may also help prevent muscle cramps in pregnancy, and may also be helpful for headache prevention. Research is ongoing around magnesium and its impact on risk for gestational diabetes and gestational hypertension.

    How much Magnesium do we need?

    According to NHANES data, the majority of Americans do not get enough magnesium in their diet. The daily requirement for magnesium is 310-320 mg for non-pregnant women. During pregnancy, magnesium requirements increase to 350-360 mg daily. 

    Food sources of Magnesium

    The best food sources of magnesium include: nuts and seeds especially Brazil nuts, cashews, and almonds; seaweed, leafy greens, legumes, whole grains, and dairy products.

    Magnesium Supplements

    Adding a magnesium supplement can be a helpful way to ensure you’re getting enough magnesium on a daily basis. Magnesium glycinate is the preferred form of magnesium, as it’s very well-absorbed and unlikely to cause digestive issues or loose stools like other forms of magnesium that are less well-absorbed like magnesium oxide.

    Unsure if you’re meeting your daily magnesium needs? Schedule a nutrition consultation for a comprehensive review of your diet and supplement regimen.  Supplements are available in Chicago, Highland Park, and via our online shop for your convenience!

    References

    1. Szczuko M, et al. Quantitative assessment of nutrition in patients with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig. 2016;67(4):419-426.
    2. Cutler DA, et al. Low intakes of dietary fiber and magnesium are associated with insulin resistance and hyperandrogenism in polycystic ovarian syndrome: a cohort study. Food Sci Nutr. 2019;7(4):1426-1437.
    3. Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University: Magnesium

     

     

  • Acupuncture During Pregnancy

    By Christina Livas L.Ac.

    As an acupuncturist working in the fertility field, I am frequently asked if Acupuncture is safe during pregnancy. I am here to answer that question! Acupuncture is a completely safe and effective treatment for minor to moderate pregnancy symptoms. It is important to know that there are many medications that are considered unsafe to take during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. That is why many patients turn to acupuncture (as I did during my own pregnancy) to treat even common symptoms unrelated to pregnancy to avoid taking medication unless it was deemed necessary. 

    Here is a list of symptoms Acupuncture can treat during your pregnancy journey.

    First trimester:

    Second Trimester:

    • Lingering first trimester symptoms
    • Pain
    • Sinus congestion
    • Hypertension
    • Preeclampsia 
    • Emotional Imbalance

    Third Trimester:

    • GERD/acid reflux/heartburn
    • Neck pain
    • Back pain
    • Sciatica
    • Rib pain
    • Leg cramps
    • Headaches and migraines
    • Insomnia
    • General discomfort
    • Itching 
    • Sinus congestion
    • Anxiety
    • Preparing the body for labor

    Postnatal:

    • Discharge
    • After pains
    • Perineal pain
    • Incision pain
    • Breast discomfort
    • Fatigue
    • Insufficient Lactation
    • Mastitis
    • Baby blues/postnatal depression

    While acupuncture can treat a variety of symptoms during your pregnancy there are still areas of the body that should not be needled while you are pregnant. This makes it very important that you choose an acupuncturist that specializes in fertility and/or pregnancy. Pregnancy is an amazing and exciting time in your life and you should make sure your body feels amazing too!! 

    Book your appointment with Christina in Highland Park or Buffalo GroveAcupuncture support for fertility, pregnancy, postpartum care, and general wellness is available in Chicago seven days a week, too!  Book an Initial Acupuncture Consultation with the $99 Wild Card and save $51 this season!

    Specials are available with services from our partner CocoonCare AND Pulling Down the Moon!  Check it out today!

    References:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31392990 – low back pain and pelvic pain
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30423471 – anxiety and depression pre/postnatal
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30261764 – treating nausea and vomiting
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31483927 – safety of acupuncture during pregnancy

  • Waiting for Elijah

    The night before you were born, there was so much lightning. It wasn’t raining though, just hot– the hottest night of the year. Sitting on the big blue birth ball, rocking from side to side, I’d rest my head on the hospital bed during the in-between. When a contraction came, I’d sit up, open my eyes and watch the jagged stabs of light through the window as they punctuated the clear, distinct pain in my body.

    Later, the white haze of high noon would blur the edges of the clouds. By then, nothing would be clear for me. The pain and the urge to push or not push and the exhaustion and the panic would all run into and over each other, a hot, foggy murk, and I would not know when or if or how you were coming, or what my body was doing, or if both or either of us would survive.

    Everyone said it would be a snap. A breeze. A walk in the park. There will be nothing to it, they said. They said, he’ll slide right out. Nothing is like the first one, after that, it’s all downhill. Your body is ready, they said. Your body knows what to do. Your body will take over. You’ve been through it all already.

    Everything they said should have been true; but nothing could have prepared me for birthing you.

    I cannot say your birth tore me open. My body did not literally tear. Somehow, I managed to expand beyond my own capacity to accommodate not only your body, but also the hands and wrists and forearms of the midwife who reached inside to turn you and free your shoulder from the umbilical cord that had wrapped and twisted its way around you.

    And yet, later, I needed to mend.

    It’s hard to know what happened to me afterwards, where I went. I thought I knew how to have a baby – how to birth a baby and then how to mother an infant back at home. I’d done it before – I knew how.

    But I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know how to handle you, the colic. Who could blame you for being so fussy!  You had swallowed so much amniotic fluid, having descended into the birth canal, then waiting there for much longer than you should have. The fluid was in your ears and eyes and belly. You needed to recover from your own birth. You needed to be held all the time, and of course I wanted to hold you, but you have a brother too, and he also needed my love and attention.

    It’s not like things ever got That Bad, really.  I was not incapable of joy, because I did laugh and love with you. I could never not get out of bed. I did not want to harm myself or others. I never fantasized about abandoning you or dropping you out of the upstairs window.  I said “no” to many of the criteria on the doctor’s checklist when I finally went, nine months later, to get some medication.

    It was hard to describe, other than to say that I didn’t quite feel like myself. But then again, it was hard to know who my “self” was anymore. There was a dark heaviness, an anger and sadness and loneliness. There was a feeling that nothing was wrong, but everything was wrong.

    I slept upstairs for months, on the guest futon in my office. I did not know how to be married. I had no space. I felt so empty and hollow and heavy, there was no way anyone could meet me where I was.

    It was, and still is, vague and blurry and hard to understand.

    Maybe I just needed time to breathe, to mend my overstretched ligaments and allow the holes in my psyche to close back up again, after experiencing what was beyond my comprehension, to replenish the reserves of energy and fortitude that had been used up in birthing you.

    Maybe if I had been allowed to stay in the hospital for another day or so I would have been okay. Just some time to collect myself before heading back out into the world where so much would be asked of me.

    Maybe it’s because I felt so inept.

    Maybe it’s because the only ways I knew to love were suddenly limited by time, attention, and energy.

    Maybe it’s because your birth was so difficult but maybe it’s because that type of difficulty is not recognized as trauma.

    Maybe it’s because I wanted to tell my story – the story of your birth – over and over and over to make sense of it, to find a context, but once everyone knew the basic details – 20 hours of active labor, the cord around your shoulder, no c-section, nine pounds, two ounces, everyone’s fine – they had heard enough.

    Maybe I had post-partum depression. Maybe I had a chemical imbalance.

    Maybe I just needed help. Everyone had told me – 2 kids is more like 10 kids, the workload increase is exponential, etc. etc. But no one ever said, you will not know how to handle it. You will not know how to love so much, so separately, at the same time, and this not knowing will tear you apart.

    Maybe it was simply that I was an almost-40 year old woman who spent many long days alone with a toddler and an infant, and I could have used some time to myself.

    Maybe it was nothing more than that.

    My water broke first. That was a surprise. It hadn’t been that way the first time. Later, I was told that that there is much lore and myth around births where the water breaks before contractions have begun because contrary to common portrayals on TV, this sequence of events is actually rare.

    I had just gotten your brother into the bath and I bent down to kneel beside the tub and there it was, as if the bathwater had overflowed onto the floor. Of course I knew, but I still wanted to be sure. I waited. Soon, there were puddles of amniotic fluid all over the house. We called your grandparents to come for your brother. I stood on the front porch, waving until the car disappeared around the corner into the clear evening light. My heart ached, saying goodbye to my “only” son, bursting to welcome you.

    Back home again when everything was over, I was nostalgic for the hospital. There was a hippie deli down the street, and I missed the tuna sandwich on thick, soft, grainy bread, with tomato and sprouts brought to me on my one day of convalescence. I would miss the quiet, the solicitude, and that single night, alone with you, in the bed beside me, swaddled, nursing, as we figured out how to be together with you outside of me.

    Afterwards, I wanted to do it again right away, which was crazy, given what I’d just been through. I thought it was the post-partum euphoria, the hormones and dizziness. But the feeling lasted.  I wanted a third. A girl. I felt myself clinging to the hope that I would go through it all again. I knew that if I was going to do it, it was going to have to be now, that I could not make the transition in and out of this space again. I needed to keep the momentum going.  As the months wore on, though, I knew I could not handle more. This was plenty. We were enough.

    But first I had to be sad.

    I had to be sad that I am not younger. I had to be sad that I didn’t do this sooner. I had to be sad that I’m someone who needs a lot of solitude in order to feel fully whole. I had to be sad that I will never have a daughter, a Violet or Ruby. I had to be sad that your birth marks an ending for me. I had to mourn the loss of possibility, that while it is still technically possible, it is not actually desirable, given our circumstances, our lives, to have more children. I had to actually say the words to myself, No, I can’t handle more. And then I had to be sad that I can’t handle more. I needed to be sad that this will be all, and I had to go through all of that to recognize that this is plenty. That you, I, we are enough.

    Last time, I had birthed naturally, as I had wanted, but in a traditional hospital, with an O.B. With you, I was going to have a water birth. We had switched OB practices so that I could employ a midwife and use the Alternative Birthing Center and give birth in the giant bathtub. I could labor in water, which was said to be so relaxing and warm and peaceful. Floating took pressure off the joints and alleviated the affects of gravity and you would not be shocked by the sudden change from water to air and I could catch you myself as you slid out.  

    But the night you were born was the busiest of the year in the birthing wing. Someone said it was because of the lightning, the way it pierced the pressure of the atmosphere which induced labor. The tub was not available. It’s rare that so many women are laboring at the same time that those who desire the tub suites cannot have them, but as I breathed through my contractions in the triage room, I was told that there was a chance we might not be able to have a water birth.

    There was much confusion then, and conferring with various staff members. But I left that to the trusted others to handle, your father and godmother, who were with me in the hospital. I was busy, breathing, focusing, rocking, turning further and further inward in preparation for the work I would do later.  

    The lightning began to fade as the first signs of daylight appeared in the sky. There was a shift change for the staff, and once my regular midwife showed up, I knew we would be alright. She was taking charge of the situation and said that yes, we could get into the tub room because I had been there longer than the others. I only had to be dilated 5 cm before I could get into the room but that surely that would not be a problem because I had been there all night.   

    But when she checked, I was only at 2.5 cm, still. I didn’t know why it was taking so long, what was wrong, what I was doing wrong.

        Even at this hospital, with all their alternative methods, there were still rules; they followed the standard hospital protocol which allowed no more than 24 hours to elapse between when one’s water breaks and when the baby is delivered. Without amniotic fluid, the theory goes, the baby has no protection from harmful germs and bacteria and is potentially exposed to danger of all kinds.

        5 cm to get into the water, 24 hours without water.

        5 cm to get into the water, 24 hours without water.

        5 cm to get into the water, 24 hours without water.

    Later, somehow, in the space between trying to return to normal and recognizing that my notion of normal had vaporized – during the time when I tried to show your brother how much I still loved him and how much attention I still had for him, how much I could still dance and romp and play and be silly, and how much it was okay for him to be mad at me for having a baby, and how it was okay for him to not want me to sit next to him, or tuck him into bed at night, all while trying to figure out what would make you happy, not the car nor the stroller nor the bassinet, only my arms, my breast – somewhere in there a part of myself became dormant, as if stunned into stillness. It felt as if nothing within me was growing, that I had shed all the life I had.

    I was already a mother when I had you, so your birth was not the dramatic transformation into something else that had occurred the first time. One birth revealed to me how much I was capable of, was for me about capacity; the other illuminated my limitations, the point where branches can bend no further, the point of breakage. Both showed me to myself. Both were necessary for me to be whole. At the time I did not know that. At the time I did not recognize that anything was growing or alive, that deep underground, my roots were stretching, absorbing nutrients from the rich soil of my life, of our lives together.

    By now I’m Tired. I’ve been having steady contractions for 14 hours already. The tub is open. We are moving. We parade down the hall, carrying pillows from home and clothes and bags and cups of coffee and cups of ice. I feel that I’ve earned this and here we are, the large room with the queen sized bed with the flowered spread and oak headboard. The tub. The tub is full of water and waiting for me, for us. Through the window I see the blue sky and white, puffy clouds. Late morning light. I sink into the tub. Getting close to transition now. The contractions are coming quick and hard and I am breathing and the water feels so good, I lay back, rest, so that only my face and the apex of my belly with its protruding navel are not submerged in water. And then I wait. And nothing happens. When a contraction comes, several minutes later, it is weak, and barely a moan escapes my body. I wait some more. It’s afternoon now. We’re close to 20 hours now. I’ve gotten to 8 cm and now my contractions have stopped. I’ve reached transition and now I’m going backwards. I am closing back up.   

    Out of the tub and into the shower. Out of the shower and on to the bed. A walk down the hall. Nipple stimulation to get contractions going. We’ll try a breast pump. This works; the contractions are back and they are quick and hard and we are ready to go and they are in my back now. There is no water inside me and no cushion. I’m having back labor now and I’m on all fours on the bed and I have never had pain so deep and hot that it pushed me to the edge of consciousness. I do not know who I am. I do not know what I am.

    Then back in the tub and do I feel pushy now?  

    I’m not sure; I can try to push but I don’t know how. I don’t know how to push anymore and it’s not time yet. It should be time, but it’s not time yet. We’re not ready yet. Back into the shower and down the hall and back and nipple stimulation and now I feel pushy. I want to push in the tub but that doesn’t work. We’ll try the bed and now the pain the pain the pain. On my back and I am screaming and I can’t take it. I can’t do it any more I am done. The contractions are too much, it’s too fast now. It’s happening too fast and too slow and it’s not over yet and it should be and out the window is only white haze and my eyes are blurry. The room is flooded with light and I scream into the light it’s too much I’m pushing now. I’m pushing now. My body is on fire and you will be here now.

    I am in and out of that place within me that I have never known before, that I will not remember afterwards, that place that allows my body to take over. That place that pushes me out of itself, that is myself. That is fluid. I will need this later. I will want this later. But my moments here are so fleeting I will not know how to come back and this is not a place to return to, only to bring back with me. But there is no time to come back here, like waking from a dream and wanting to remember it before the day begins.

    I am pushing now for you to come but you do not come. You move down but then back up and something is wrong. It is not supposed to happen this way. It’s not supposed to be this way. I am to push and you are to emerge but you are not coming out. You have descended. You can’t stay there too long but you stay. Your head is moving now your head is out. Your skull your brain your mouth your eyes are here but now your body is stuck. We’re both stuck. There is nowhere to go because of where you are and where I am and I am done but you’re not out and there is nothing to do but scream and sob and push and breathe and pray and beg to be cut open but they cannot cut because your head is out and the only way out is through me. It’s not supposed to be this way, your body should slide right out now, but there is the cord. The cord is keeping you here, part of my body holding strong to your body, not letting you out and this is when we could die. Like a flash of lightning, I suddenly know, in my bones and skin and fluid and a new kind of scream, that something is very wrong, that you or I or both of us might not survive this. Darkness descends now. But now there are the hands and wrists and forearms, reaching in and turning. I don’t know what is happening, only more pain but there you are now you’ve been turned and you’ll slide out now, and I’m pushing and just like that there you are. You’re out. You’re out now and I’m done. My shaking sobbing body is done. But you’re quiet. There is no sound from you yet, not yet not yet and I am waiting for you still and I don’t know I don’t know if-  

    Here you are. You’re on me now, blue and slimy and crying too and mine. You’re here and you’re okay and we both made it we’re both alive and you’re out and both our hearts are beating and you’re fine and you’re here.

    Oh my God – you’re here.

     

    “Waiting for Elijah” appeared in the Winter 2010 issue of Calyx Literary Journal and is republished here with the author’s (Christine S, Massage Therapist LMT) permission.

  • Tips to Manage Your Sweet Tooth

    By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

    So many of us struggle with having a “sweet tooth,” reaching for sweets automatically after meals or struggling to say no to any sweets that happen to be in the break room at work or at events. When we rely on willpower in these situations, it’s very difficult to be successful. Instead, set yourself up for success by making sure to have healthy snacks on hand and managing your appetite. Anytime we become overly hungry, we’re much more likely to overeat, and it’s more difficult to make healthy food choices.

    It’s helpful to first determine the time of day that you’re working on cutting back on sweets. If it’s after dinner, get in the habit of having fruit for dessert after dinner. Don’t make having a real dessert off limits, since that sometimes makes us obsess about it more. Just add the fruit or a fruit smoothie as an experiment and see what happens. Sometimes you just might find that it’s enough, and you don’t need a “real” dessert afterward. The key is to pick fruits that you really enjoy and feel like a treat to you. Here’s a delicious and nutrient-rich smoothie to try, especially right now when peaches and blueberries are in season.

    Peach Blueberry Smoothie

    • 1 peach, peeled and pitted
    • 1 cup blueberries
    • ½ cup water or amount to achieve desired consistency.
    • Add all ingredients to blender or food processor.
    • Blend until smooth.

    Want to learn more?  Call us for a Nutrition Consult for fertility, pregnancy, postpartum, as well as, health/wellness support 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 November with our Supplement Pack sale! Learn more here and stock-up while supplies last! Save $56.50 for a month’s supply. Limit 3 per person.

     

  • 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.

    *Check out our partner CocoonCare for prenatal/postnatal fitness and health coaching needs!! Try our combined Pregnant Like Royalty special available for a limited time that includes an Initial Acupuncture Consultation and Prenatal Massage from Pulling Down the Moon with a 20 pack of classes and a 20 minute health discovery session from CocoonCare!! Questions? Call CocoonCare today at: 312-348-6283.

    References:

  • Study Finds Significant Benefits of Yoga for Women Trying to Conceive

    One of the biggest challenges of promoting holistic medicine is the lack of available research on the benefits of practices like yoga, massage and even acupuncture when compared to the research available for mainstream medicine. This month we are excited to share that a new study, conducted by Fertility Centers of Illinois and Pulling Down the Moon found that our six week Yoga for Fertility program significantly lowered anxiety rates in fertility patients. The study, which is one of the largest controlled studies to date looking at yoga’s impact on fertility, found a 20% reduction in anxiety in the yoga group versus just a 2% reduction in controls.

    The Pulling Down the Moon yoga program consists of six consecutive sessions, each of which is comprised of a yoga posture practice coupled with a group discussion focused on how to apply different yoga techniques (breathing, meditation, working with negative thoughts, etc.) to the fertility journey.

    “One of the most interesting things about the recent research findings is how quickly our program was able to create a large reduction in anxiety,” states Pulling Down the Moon Co-Founder and Study Co-Investigator Beth Heller. “We knew from 12 years of teaching that the class was beneficial but seeing it in numbers is great!”

    While we do not know the exact mechanism, here are some of our hypotheses:

    1. Yoga is a low-intensity form of exercise that works on the physical body, stretching and bending the spine and limbs and emphasizing deep diaphragmatic breathing in a way that is believed to mechanically stimulate the body’s relaxation response. It is hypothesized that yoga poses and breathing exercises mechanically stimulate the vagus nerve, a large nerve running the length of the spine that is a key regulator of our body’s parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The PNS in turn stimulates the relaxation response.

    2. The six-week yoga program in this study included breathing and meditation practices, which have been shown to decrease anxiety and alleviate depression in many different conditions.

    3. The yoga program in this study also included group discussion focused on the most stressful elements of the infertility process – medical aspects, feeling of lack of control, separation from one’s usual peer group and feelings of guilt/self-blame. The group dynamic immediately provides a support network and reduces sense of isolation.

    Why look at yoga for fertility?

    “As a casual yogi,” says Study Investigator and Reproductive Endocrinologist Dr. Jennifer Hirshfeld-Cytron of Fertility Centers of Illinois, “ I have personally appreciated the calmness and peacefulness that yoga provides. I was interested in learning how this simple intervention could benefit our infertility patients; given the stress and anxiety that goes along with the treatment process.”

    When asked what they would like to examine next, these researchers hope to conduct a larger study where patients are randomized to receive either yoga posture practice plus the discussion session or yoga posture practice alone to learn which component of the fertility yoga class is most beneficial. They would also follow women longer to learn if the impacts extend to pregnancy success and likelihood of staying in treatment long enough to allow for lifetime success given that often patients require greater than one cycle of therapy.

    For more information about this study and the Pulling Down the Moon Yoga for Fertility program visit www.pullingdownthemoon.com or call 312-321-0004 for sessions in Chicago, Highland Park, or online.