Fertility & Reproductive Health
Making the decision to have a baby and beginning the journey toward motherhood is a big one. Whether it is your first time or not the fragile miracle of conception bring thoughts of being healthy and doing the “right” things. Eating well and taking care of your body, become important when preparing for a healthy pregnancy and baby. Conception begins with a healthy menstrual cycle (Heavenly water in TCM) and ovulation (the carefully timed release of an egg from the ovary). A healthy menstrual cycle requires hormone balance, the right nutrients, stress control and a connection with the well-being of mind and body. Nutrition from our diet provide the building blocks for the cells that make our body and contribute to a health monthly cycle.
If conception is not “just happening”, you are not “broken” or in need of repair. You are imbalanced. There is a difference. Maybe it’s hormones or current lifestyle choices or nutritional needs causing an imbalance. Perhaps low- tech approaches such as optimizing diet and lifestyle, tweaks are needed. Maybe it’s your partner who has the imbalance. Whatever the case, once it’s discovered then a treatment plan can be made to correct it. A plan of action that will begin to bring your body and mind into harmony with each other. Western medicine has a specific way of working with infertility. Chinese medicine has its way of working with infertility. The reproductive world has room for both, ancient wisdoms combined with current science and western medicine. Both medicine’s fit into the infertility world, as ally’s and maybe even as a friend.
Chinese medicine and natural functional healthcare ask you to consider and open your mind to other ways of thinking based on a concept of wellness rather than disease. Acupuncture, functional nutrition, and herbal fertility remedies give you back control of your body with a focus on health creation. Conceiving and providing a healthy home or (baby palace in TCM) for your baby may mean making necessary changes with your health and lifestyle that support fertility and well-being. Conceiving is the first of various signposts of pregnancy with the destination being the birth of a healthy baby.
When you are trying to conceive it seems everywhere you look another woman is pregnant. Seemingly without issues and sometimes by mistake. We question our body; our self-worth is challenged; we feel disempowered and the desire to be pregnant takes on a life of its own. Each monthly cycle is greeted with anticipation or despair. Intelligence, success, academic achievements, being financially stable bring no power to a body that is not conceiving. An unhealthy relationship with one’s body for not getting pregnant or holding a pregnancy may form. Maybe an attitude shift is needed. This is the time to look at your body not as an enemy but as a friend and ally. Your relationship with your body should deepen with admiration and respect for all the other ways it supports you. It’s time to value yourself.
The world we live in today is much different than 5000 years ago but the fundamental issues that support the function of the human body remains the same: Eat clean, whole and healthy, move your body, limit alcohol, limit coffee and soda, limit white sugar, keep healthy relationships, build in relaxation, and control emotional stress. That’s it? Well no. We now have modern world issues to deal with that contribute to the level of stress we must adapt to to keep healthy and well. Some of which is an overload of toxins, preservatives, pesticides and depleted soils of nutrients and minerals.
Which is why choosing food that has the nutrients and minerals and not the other stuff becomes priority. It’s so important during this very stressful time to reduce anxiety, stress and the hormones that are secreted during stressful situations that can impede conception.
Here is a quick reference of things which are supportive and
proactive that can help with that:
• Eat organic or Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen- (Environmental Working Group) List.
• Take supplements to support foundational health and those specific to conception.
• Utilize Acupuncture-to increase blood flow to the uterus which improves the chances of an ovum implanting on the uterine wall.
• Add Chinese Herbs-Herbal fertility Remedies and Reproductive herbal tonics.
I went right into infertility as a specialty along with women’s health at the beginning of my private practice. It was in 2003 when the internet and social media and “chat” groups were just taking up speed. It’s hard to believe now since it is such a huge and important part of our culture. I had my son in 1994 after years of trying to conceive. No phones or internet on demand. There was NO immediate support for a woman at that time. There were no “groups” to talk about the shame and pain that not getting pregnant made me feel. I was fortunate to talk to a friend of a friend who mentioned she had been having acupuncture for infertility. At that time, it was almost six years of trying to conceive with “unexplained” infertility. I was so stressed out and full of anxiety by the time I started treatments that the relaxation and stress relief I felt after each session was worth it. After a few months my migraines were fewer, my periods were not as heavy, and I became pregnant with my son. My husband and I were elated, and I wanted to do everything “right”. In 1994 the only book from the bookstore or library (yup) was “What to Expect when Your Expecting”. When our son was 15 months, we started to try to get pregnant again. I was getting older, and it took so long the first time, we figured why not. It did not take long this time to get pregnant again. I had a miscarriage 9 weeks later. It was not meant for us to have another baby. We tried and tried and finally let go of the dream of having more children. I tell my story because I want you to know that I understand this journey, I know what the road is paved with.
“I continue to learn from my mentors who learned from their mentors and masters who have paved the way. Who generously and with passion share with us their skills of healing the body and the human condition”
While in practice in 2004 we were fortunate to have a book written called ‘The Infertility Cure” – The Ancient Chinese Wellness Program for Getting Pregnant and Having Healthy Babies by Randine Lewis. It became the bible for our patients because it is written for women to understand their body and how to have natural fertility health. I was able to meet her in person, study and thank her for her gift to us during a time with so little supportive information for ourselves and our patients.
Randine explains this section of what is true about the heart and spirit of women. Mysterious and ancient-our spirit is always with us. When facing challenges of infertility, we can draw upon its life-giving potential. This spirit wants to give life, to be healthy, to harbor children: our job is to help our bodies do what they were meant to do.