Acupuncture Support in Early Pregnancy

Acupuncture support in early pregnancy can be a great alternative to ‘waiting and seeing.’

So you’ve just found out that you’re pregnant. Congratulations! You might only be 4 weeks along with your embryo no bigger than a chia seed.

You may have waited for years or months or it’s a complete surprise.

You’ve might have had your beta HCG tested and booked in your first scan, but it’s not for 3 more weeks…seems like a lifetime away.

You may have already read what seems like thousands of articles about women who have experienced miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies and you’re so scared about wondering what could happen in your pregnancy.

You’re feeling lost as to what you can do to support your pregnancy but there are a few natural things you can do.

First, take a breath. At this moment, all you know is that you have created the beginnings of a tiny human. This is wonderful!

Also plan to rest a little bit more than normal.  This doesn’t mean sleeping 10 hours per night or napping for 2-3 hours during the day. It just means slow down, pay attention to what your body is telling you.

Plan to eat warm, healthy foods while you don’t feel queasy just yet. This may change soon so enjoy.

You can of course start to read about what your body is going through and know what foods to be mindful of eating.

If you’ve experienced a miscarriage before or can’t stop negative thoughts, try replacing those thoughts with positive affirmations. Some examples:

  • I got this
  • I set my worries aside and I allow my body to do its job
  • I have within myself all the necessary resources to grow a beautiful, healthy baby
  • I trust my body
  • I am relaxed and calm (this one may need more repeating than most!)
  • I have complete confidence that my body is working perfectly

Another thing you can do, is make an appointment with an experienced acupuncturist, as early as 4-5 weeks.

“Acupuncture has been used for centuries to help women conceive, grow and give birth to healthy babies, naturally.”

Treatments are based on preventative care and support. They work to ‘uplift’ pregnancy energy which can help to hold a pregnancy in place. It can work to strengthen digestive energy to alleviate pregnancy sickness and can help you improve hormonal symptoms like headaches, constipation, low back pain  and emotional volatility – all common in early pregnancy.

Seeing an experienced healthcare practitioner in early pregnancy can also help you with reassurance. This doesn’t seem big…until you’re in your first trimester and you’re overthinking every single symptom and wondering whether you’re doing all you can to make sure your embryo becomes a healthy baby.

Gaining confidence in your body’s ability to nourish and support your  can make a difference for how you experience your first trimester.

So enjoy your positive news and please get in touch if you have any questions about your pregnancy.

Registered Acupuncturist and Owner of Gold Coast Acupuncture Clinic – The Point of Wellbeing

Chinese Medicine and Grief after IVF

The entire IVF rollercoaster can pretty much cover every type of emotion possible. From joy, hope and happiness to anger, sadness, loss and grief.

Experiencing negative emotions in intensity, for long periods of time or not acknowledging them or expressing them can result in long term health concerns.

Chinese medicine has a different way of looking at emotions. We see pathological negative emotions as a cause of disease, similar to a poor diet and lack of exercise.

Each emotion has a particular affect on the body’s energy. For example, worry and anguish ‘knots qi’. Worry specifically affects the stomach, which is why you can feel that knotted feeling in your abdomen when you’re worried or anxious.

Anger causes your Liver energy to tighten and heat up, sending heat up to your head. The old saying of ‘steam coming out of your ears’ exactly describes what anger does to the body. Alcohol can worsen this reaction in some people because it adds heat to your Liver.

But sadness and grief has a strong affect on the Lungs. In Chinese medicine, healthy Lung energy works to pull the breath into the body, manage the rhythm of all of the body’s processes and is the first line of defence in protecting the body against pathogens.

Sadness weakens Lung Qi. After loss, you can experience a tight chest, shortness of breath, hyperventilation and general tiredness. You may even develop a cough within a couple of days.

I see in clinic many women suffering from the effect sadness and grief has on the Lungs after an IVF failure or miscarriage. But I also see lots of women who haven’t expressed their grief or sorrow. So below are some health tips for helping deal with grief and sadness…naturally.

Natural Health Tips for Dealing with Grief, Sorrow and Sadness

Breathing – spend time each day to breathe. Mindfully concentrate on deep inhalation and exhalation – even pairing this with yoga if you feel up to it. You will noticeably feel better

Crying – don’t be afraid to express your grief with tears. Crying moves qi and helps you to ‘let go’ of sadness. Holding on to tears can actually cause accumulation in the lungs and I often see bronchitis or pneumonia develop after experiencing loss because of this.

Keeping warm – this prevents you from getting sick. Because the Lung’s defence is weakened during grief, make sure you keep your neck, abdomen, low back and feet warm.

Talking to someone – if it’s your partner, a good friend, your mum or even a professional, talking again keeps Lung energy moving. It helps with the process of ‘letting go’. I find as an acupuncturist, seeing women after their IVF has been unsuccessful, this appointment is really important for expressing feelings.

Massage – a great way to unknot stuck energy. I would advise telling your massage therapist about your loss as massage during grief can result in huge emotional releases. You could be sobbing the whole way through your treatment….which is ok!

Acupuncture – we have specific points and treatments to improve the function of your Lung energy after experiencing grief and sadness. We can use acupuncture to strengthen Lung Qi, move accumulation and improve the Lung detoxification process. Similar to massage, acupuncture can result in a big emotional release.

Grief, loss and sadness are unfortunately an inevitable part of life. Our bodies are great at managing negative emotions when give the opportunity to do so. Be kind to yourself and let your body process your grief in it’s own time.

Acupuncture After Egg Pick Up

Acupuncture after egg pick up helps reduce some of the uncomfortable symptoms experienced after surgery.

Many women experience pain, cramping, bloating, constipation, increased wind, headaches, nausea, vomiting and tiredness.

Unfortunately, pregnancy can worsen these symptoms because the ovaries remain very active until about 13 weeks pregnancy when the placenta takes over hormone production.

A severe complication of IVF ovary stimulation is ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), a very concerning, possibly fatal condition which can develop after the ovaries have been overstimulated. It’s main symptoms include severe pain and bloating, fluid weight gain, vomiting and shortness of breath. Please contact your IVF clinic immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

Treatments offered after your egg pick up usually include just pain relief and rest.

However, acupuncture can offer a natural, non pharmacological treatment option. Acupuncture helps to reduce pain, reduce inflammation, warm and stimulate blood flow to the pelvis and abdomen to reduce the severity of these symptoms.

As well as acupuncture after egg pick up, I recommend complete rest after your surgery. Keep up your water, warm protein and green vegetables as they can help with abdominal inflammation. Avoid carbohydrates and grains for a a few days post surgery too as they can increase bloating. Keep your abdomen and low back warm, keep up light exercise like walking too.

You will feel much better going into your transfer and the days following until your blood test.

Please get in touch if you have any questions – info@thepointofwellbeing.com.au

 

Warm wishes,

Paige

Registered Acupuncturist and Founder of the Gold Coast Acupuncture Clinic, The Point of Wellbeing

Laughing after Embryo Transfer Improves Your Chance of a BFP

I really just love that a bunch of researchers have made the effort and had the research funds approved to find out the answer to this question…does laughing after your embryo transfer improve your chance of falling pregnant?

Turns out the answer is yes!

So the researchers figured that IVF is stressful (we’re in agreeance here right?). They also found that stress can have negative effects on fertility (also in agreeance). He then discovered that laughing reduces stress (it’s a hat trick!). Therefore, why wouldn’t laughing improve your chance of falling pregnant?

The design of the study included a 15 min visit from a “professional medical clown” (fantastic occupation title!) just after the embryo transfer. While the women were still lying on the treatment table.

Each patient in the intervention group was visited by a professional medical clown immediately after their embryo transfer. “The routine included jokes, tricks, and magic and was performed on a one-to-one basis with the clown dressed as a ‘‘chef de cuisine.’’” (Friedler et al, 2010).

36.4% of these women fell pregnant as opposed to the group with no medical clown intervention, where only 20.2% of women fell pregnant. As far as statistics go, this is a significant finding!

We’ve all heard that ‘laughter is the best medicine’ and all over the globe there are laughing classes designed to improve health. I also found you can participate in laughing yoga!

In research, laughing has been found to reduce cortisol (stress hormone) and adrenalin, reduce blood pressure, blood sugar levels and cholesterol. It has also been found to boost the immune system and improve blood circulation – similar benefits to regular exercise.

Laughing can also increase endorphins (happy hormones) which helps manage pain and helps create a positive frame of mine. All very much needed throughout your IVF experience.

“Laughter is a highly complex process. Joyous or mirthful laughter is considered a positive stress (eustress) that involves complicated brain activities leading to a positive effect on health.” (sciencedaily.com)

Research into laughter’s effect on the body started in 1978 when Norman Cousins (not a doctor), was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and treated himself into remission (with the guidance of medical professionals) with laughter.

His study is still reportedly one of the first into mind-body medicine.

All kidding aside…(see what I did there?)

Laughter can improve your chance of falling pregnant with IVF. Research says so. 

From a Chinese medicine point of view, laughing helps move blood and energy. Stress through the IVF experience can cause energy to stagnate which results in pain, emotional upset and unsmooth uterine blood flow.

In ancient Chinese texts, it is also mentioned that joy (and therefore laughter) is an emotion strongly linked to healthy heart energy. Your heart energy is connected to your uterus energy for the purpose of growing your baby with love.

I would think it’s important to encourage yourself to laugh throughout your entire IVF experience, not just after transfer. As we have just learned, it has so many other health benefits.

It also doesn’t cost anything and doesn’t take much time. Sounds like an ideal natural support for IVF to me!

So don’t forget to find ways to laugh throughout your IVF experience :)

References: Friedler, S et al., 2010 The effect of medical clowning on pregnancy rates after an in vitro fertilisation and embryo transfer, Fertility and Sterility, vol. 95, no. 6, pp. 2127-2130

Getting More Sun Improves IVF Success

Vitamin D has long been linked to improved physical and mental health.

It is important for the production of hormones, bone health, a well working immune system, muscle function, heart health, respiration and brain development.

It has specifically been found to be a great predictor of success in IVF too with higher levels found to correlate with a higher chance of pregnancy success*.

In Chinese medicine, the sun’s warmth increases internal warmth and blood flow, which is ideal for improving medication delivery to your ovaries and blood delivery to your uterine lining.

Being outside is also a great way to feel relaxed.

So aim to get at least 30% of your skin (arms, legs and face) in the sun for 20-30 minutes per day for adequate amount of natural vitamin D absorption.

Of course, avoid the sun in the middle of the day to reduce excessive sweating, sunburn or heat stroke, especially after your embryo transfer.

Supplementation can of course help, but nothing beats the real thing!

 

Acupuncture to Prepare for IVF

You may have read or heard about the benefits of acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer.

Acupuncture has been found to improve blood flow to the ovaries and endometrium, settle uterine contractions, reduce stress on the nervous system and encourage relaxation.

For these reasons, research has found that having acupuncture immediately before and immediately after your embryo transfer can improve not just your chance of falling pregnant, but your chance of taking home a beautiful baby by up to 65%.

That’s great odds. Why isn’t everyone doing it? Or better yet, why isn’t everyone falling pregnant and taking home babies who have had acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer?

A closer look at the statistics shows that ten women need to be treated for just one woman to have this increased chance.

So basically, only 10% of women have a 65% chance of improving their IVF success when having acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer.

The difficulty we have, is that we don’t know which women are going to be more likely to get that 65% increased chance. It would be great to think that we might have a screening tool for this in the future, but it doesn’t look like that’s on the cards just yet.

What we do know though, is that your general health absolutely plays a role in your IVF outcome and perhaps more importantly, the health of your baby.

“Acupuncture can play in big role in improving your general health.”

Before acupuncture was known for its help with IVF, it had been used for centuries and continues to be used to help millions of people around the world maintain wellness and restore health.

Just a few of the things it can help with include; improving the health of your uterine lining, reducing pain, reducing inflammation, calming the effect stress has on your body, improving egg quality, increasing sperm count and movement and improving digestion.

Acupuncture is also safe and mostly pain free, especially when practised by a qualified practitioner.

So, if you wanted to ensure you are in that 10% of women who get the best outcome with acupuncture and IVF, finds ways to become the healthiest you can be. Start your acupuncture treatments three months before you start your IVF.

You won’t regret feeling healthier and you may just get that positive you’ve been hoping for.

Registered Acupuncturist

Founder of The Point of Wellbeing, an acupuncture clinic on the Gold Coast focused on natural support for fertility, IVF and pregnancy.