The Two Week Wait

the two week wait with Naturopath Tess Doig, Fertile Ground Health Group

It’s important to explore your options for mind and body support during the two week wait, as this is the time between ovulation or transfer of an embryo during IVF,  to when you find out the outcome of your pregnancy test. It can be a time of great anguish, as you wait (for about 2 weeks) to find out if you are pregnant. 

Many women that have been on a fertility journey for a while often say they are living their life in 2 week increments. The 2 weeks leading up to their ovulation are filled with planning, and lots of sex in the days before ovulation, which then moves into stress and anxiety post ovulation, followed by a depressed few days when their period comes, to be repeated over and over. 

Seek Support

To help support you in this time, here are a few tips to help optimise your body in lowering stress, improving your mood and as well as optimising your body to hopefully lead to a positive pregnancy test. 

  • Reward yourself with a massage, a shopping trip or a delicious meal out with your partner (no wine though please). There is some evidence that supporting dopamine can help support implantation. Dopamine is produced when we feel a ‘reward’, so no better excuse to treat yourself than this. It doesn’t need to cost money either, it could be running a bath for yourself with some candles, chatting with an old friend on the phone or anything else that feels good. As well as supporting dopamine, it can also help as a point of distraction during the two week wait.
Sex for everyone
  • Commonly, when couples have been trying to conceive for a long time, sex can become a little mechanical and left for just the fertile window.  However, studies show that a woman being exposed to a male partner’s semen post ovulation or transfer can actually help implantation. When an embryo implants into a woman’s uterus, her body has to perform a miraculous feat of down-regulating her immune system to allow the foreign cells from the embryo to join into her body and allow her blood supply to continue to nourish and grow the embryo. In no other time does this happen, think of how many immunosuppressive drugs a person must take in an organ transplant. It is believed that a woman continuing to be exposed to a male partner’s cells through contact with semen, this supports that down-regulation of her immune system to support the embryo’s implantation. Sex can also be a wonderful way to boost dopamine, see above, as well as to strengthen the connection between a couple.
  • When going through the fertility journey, allowing sex to be for pleasure and not just baby making, can be a wonderful way to maintain your connection in any context you choose – be it to yourself, to your partner or otherwise. Sex can be supportive whether you’re conceiving naturally, through IVF or in a heterosexual or same-sex couple. For single women, self-pleasure can be just as beneficial. 
When is sex not recommended?

The only time I may consider sex may possibly not be safe during the two week wait, is if you have a significant vaginal infection such as Bacterial Vaginosis. Hopefully this has been looked into and treated prior to conception but if you are unsure, speak to your naturopath practitioner. 

Nutritional & Medicinal Support
  • Eat nitric oxide rich foods such as berries, beetroot, dark chocolate, pomegranate and leafy greens. Nitric oxide is a chemical in the body that helps to open blood vessels and promote blood flow. Increasing blood flow is important for implantation to help nourish the uterine wall and embryo. Some examples of how to include these foods could be a berry choc smoothie with cocoa and organic raspberries, or a roasted cauliflower and beetroot salad with a yogurt dressing and pomegranate sprinkled on top. The other benefit of these foods is they are often feel-good foods, boosting your mood. Another fantastic way to support blood flow can be getting acupuncture, and many studies support acupuncture for not only improving implantation but also relieving stress and anxiety.  
  • Take your progesterone or progesterone supportive herbal medicines. Progesterone is produced in a natural cycle post-ovulation from the corpus luteum, the temporary gland that is produced once an egg leaves the ovarian follicle. Progesterone supports implantation by down-regulating the immune system, lowering inflammation and maintaining the uterine wall for implantation. If during your preconception work up, your naturopath has found you have low progesterone, they may have implemented strategies through nutritional supplementation or herbal medicine to increase progesterone levels. If this is the case, please remember to take your medicines in this time as it is important to continue to work on your progesterone. During an IVF cycle, progesterone pessaries are very commonly prescribed, and please continue taking these as prescribed by your fertility team. There are other benefits too – low progesterone can increase anxiety and insomnia, so by supporting healthy levels of this hormone you can also support a happy mood. 
  • Take your probiotics: some strains of probiotics can support progesterone production which helps with implantation as well as supporting good bacteria that support implantation as well. Bifidobacterium strains, in particular, have some research they can increase progesterone, while the lactobacillus species are the beneficial species in the vaginal microbiome. As mentioned above, vaginal infections can possibly affect the implantation process, by increasing inflammation, and triggering the immune system, so support a healthy vaginal flora while helping to boost your progesterone levels. Speak to your naturopath about which probiotics are right for you, as different species have different roles in the body. 

These strategies can be really helpful in supporting your body to increase the chances of falling pregnant and lowering your stress and anxiety during the two week wait, but the real work comes in preparing your body BEFORE conception. Working with your naturopath for at least 4 months prior to conceiving, can increase your chances of pregnancy through natural conception or IVF by improving egg and sperm quality, supporting healthy nutrient levels, looking at microbiome issues and addressing hormone imbalances (just to name a few). There is a myriad of things we look at improving for people who are struggling to conceive. 

If you would like to find out more how I can help you, please book a free 10 minute consult and we can have a chat about your current fertility struggles and make a plan to move forward.

Yours in wellness

Tess Doig

Tess Doig is a highly skilled degree qualified naturopath with over 9 years of practice specialising in the areas of fertility, pregnancy, women’s health and mental health. She is skilled in complex infertility cases, helping support many women and couples through unexplained infertility, recurrent miscarriage, IVF, male factor infertility and more. 

Along with supporting singles and couples with fertility, she also has a passion for all areas of women’s health including hormone imbalance, gynaecological disorders, vaginal infections, autoimmune conditions and mental health.

Read more about Tess and make a booking to get started on your journey together.

Support After a Pregnancy Ends or a Baby Dies

Support After a Pregnancy Ends or a Baby Dies

As a counsellor, listening to and being present to the unfolding stories after a pregnancy ends too early, or when a baby dies, requires me to hold space for another’s sorrow in a way that can seep in, grow, and be held as a deepening sadness. This impact can be felt, yet remain as invisible and silent as the way society responds to these unspeakable losses.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.

Naomi Shihab Nye

Supporting someone after a baby dies as a loved one requires holding compassion for any perceived failings in supporting the unravelling of another in sinking downwards into an unfamiliar terrain. Allow them to decide whether to rise again or not and just be there alongside, being the doula for the other side of birth where a baby is missing in every part of their imagined shared futures. It is bleak and dark and unbearable and yet bear it you must as it is only a fraction of what the other carries. 

Often the joy of having babies is preceded with experiences of grief, and yet we only see the images around us of blissfully expectant mothers and smiling parents with their children. So rarely do we see the stories of loss, often born shrouded in silence such as with miscarriages, terminations or when a baby dies in utero, during birth or shortly after.

If you visit a maternity hospital, you will likely see image after image of the joy of having a baby. Go seeking a visual representation of the babies that will never be born, die in pregnancy, in labour or shortly after birth and you will notice little to no representation for this reality. With life comes death and the lifetimes in between the two are varied and many, yet we only champion live births and happy parents.

Sitting with

Being alongside such experiences is profound in its sadness, and yet there is honour in being a companion to such grief. Sitting with the love lost and the agony felt in letting go is an enormous task to hold. Forgiveness is needed when you fear you might get it wrong as it comes with the territory where ‘getting it right’ does not really exist. It is as much a fantasy as being a perfect mother. There is only what is.

Be present when others cannot be. Be there because there is a need. Hold self-compassion as you cannot be blamed for any failings as who taught you to hold the unbearable? Who taught you to know what to say, not say and when to do and give instead of speaking?  When you cannot ‘fix it’ there is no room for questioning, only sitting with, being with, sharing the uncertainty.

Anchor

Allow the depth of despair to be felt and be held. Give them an anchor to secure themselves to. Let them know their rights in honouring the loss, speaking of their loss, to expect to be heard for as long as they need to speak of their pregnancy, their baby, the child missing from the dinner table. Speak their baby’s name, ask them about their cherished one. Find ways to honour this experience, a tree that blooms at this time of year, a memory box full of all that is known and not yet known about their pregnancy, their baby. Allow for meaning making and disbelief to coexist.

Let them know it gets easier, you get to know the grief, recognise its needs, make room for it, be forever changed by it. Know your limits and encourage professional support so they can become more than the sum of their broken parts. Seek help yourself as you begin to feel that deepening sadness seep in and start to grow. You and I cannot ward this off for we are human, and it is too big to wriggle our way out of it. When attending to another’s grief we must attend to our own breaking hearts.

Know that a parent that has endured suffering on the path to parenthood will be better equipped to know something of their child’s suffering and may pass to them what has been learnt in reaching rock bottom and rising again. 

What a gift to give to another to reshape suffering into a way to comfort even if you have never received that yourself. Hold light where there is darkness and know if you only offer kindness, it is enough where there is sorrow.

Suzanne Hurley

Support After a Pregnancy Ends or a Baby Dies

Perinatal & Fertility Counsellor & Supervisor

Fertile Ground Health Group

If you would like help navigating grief and loss please feel welcome to make a booking with Suzanne.

How to tackle guilt during the silly season

Are you eagerly anticipating the start of the silly season (and holidays!), or dreading the craziness which inevitably emerges when you mix families/ food/ alcohol and the (second) weirdest year on record?! It feels like the perfect time to talk about how to tackle guilt during the silly season – and to be kinder to our bodies and minds.

For many, this time of year can feel challenging. ESPECIALLY if there is an already fraught relationship with food and eating… Instead of being a time of celebration, it becomes a time of consternation. Worrying about over-indulging, constant fear of gaining weight, imagining how your family will judge you for your body or appearance after a year (or two) apart, and guilt about the dessert… or the ham… or the pavlova you take a slice of every time you walk past the kitchen. Instead of being a time of relaxation and enjoyment, it can feel exhausting and stressful.

But it doesn’t have to.

As we temporarily step away from the routines and rituals which structure our daily lives, our mind can ring the alarm bells (often loudly!). These routines provide us with certainty and a sense of control, which means as we move into a more ‘fluid’ time of year, we lose trust in our capacity to honour our inherent needs and are instead filled with uncertainty about our ability to cope. We fear that, without the diet or meal plan or gym session, we will become chaotic eating machines. What follows is usually guilt and remorse for our apparent lack of willpower and self-control and a rollercoaster of emotions as we grapple with our constantly nagging inner critic.

So what can we do?

Firstly, BE KIND.

Our tendency is to berate ourselves for stepping outside the lines. A part of us is desperately afraid that if we ‘fall off the wagon’ it will mean we will never get back on again. We might find ourselves eating differently during the holidays, because it is a different time of year.  This in itself is JUST WHAT IT IS. It is what we MAKE THIS MEAN that ultimately creates dissonance. In other words, we eat a big slice of Christmas pudding.

The only truth here is that we ate a big slice of Christmas pudding. What we tell ourselves (ie what we make this mean!) is that we are hopeless/ have no willpower/ will get fat/ might as well eat everything all day long…/ fill in the blank… The truth is, you ate something. Full stop. It is what it is and instead of judging yourself for the choice you made, ask if you can accept this, with kindness, and move along. Fixating on every extra chocolate you eat will not change what happened, but it will create discomfort and anxiety.

Secondly, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.

This one can feel a little challenging if you rely on a diet plan or eating regime to make decisions. Outsourcing our inherent body cues instead of paying attention to what we are feeling can mean we are very disconnected to what is going on inside. Taking a moment to breathe and notice your hunger, the sensations that are present and what it is you TRULY want can go a long way to nourishing yourself. And it’s not always food you are needing! In fact, oftentimes food is simply a convenient way to relieve stress, boredom or loneliness.

Being present with the sensations that arise in each moment and enquiring where they are in the body, as well as allowing them to move through us can mean instead of reacting by eating unconsciously, we are able to respond and meet our needs instead.

Thirdly, HONOUR YOURSELF + SET BOUNDARIES.

Find ways to support and connect to what nourishes you EVERY SINGLE DAY. Sometimes when we step outside of our day-to-day lives and get around family, we can get triggered. Creating a daily ritual or practice can be an incredibly powerful way to check in with yourself. And it doesn’t have to take a long time! Five minutes of conscious breathing, a quiet cup of tea on the grass, a morning shake or stretch or 10 minutes of meditation can bring us back into our sovereignty. Be honest with yourself and others about what you need so that instead of being at the mercy of the world around you, you can connect first to your intuition and be in service from there.

And finally, HAVE FUN!!

It’s been a year for all of us, so don’t be afraid to enjoy yourself! Laugh, connect, dance, eat, be merry. Life is short and we are here to experience it all. It’s ok to be who you are, your messy, beautiful imperfect self.

Lots of love, Jane x

Jane Holland Fertile Ground Health GroupWritten by Jane Holland, respected holistic Nutritionist at The Melbourne Apothecary, renowned international retreat facilitator, adored Deep Sleep Yin Yoga teacher.

Jane is running a free webinar on 11th January 2022 which will be available as a recording after the event. Register here to get free access Reprogram your relationship with food, eating & your body

Book in with Jane to understand and reshape your food story, build a healthy relationship with your food and body, and create behaviours in your life that support your healthiest self. (Jane is currently offering free 10 minute Nutrition consults to help you take action – when booking navigate to heading Nutrition > Free 10 min consult > Jane Holland)

Free 10 minute Health Consults

Free naturopath

We believe that bodies and minds thrive when given the right ingredients. We are dedicated to boosting our community wellbeing and this is why our brilliant team of practitioners offer free 10-minute health consults on rotation, so that you have access to expert naturopathic and nutrition care.

These sessions are designed to help anyone wanting preventative wellness strategies for immunity, symptomatic relief for acute conditions and general health enquiries. You will , of course, be referred if needed for more complex issues or conditions.

With health there is endless possibility, multiple angles for fine tuning and a plethora of ways to start to feel better. We want to help you feel your radiant vitality shining through.

Register for your free digital consult

Simply head to our bookings page, navigate to Nutrition or Naturopathy and choose ‘Free 10-minute consult PHONE/ONLINE’

Note: If you are interested in fertility, IVF support or trying to conceive, please book with a Fertile Ground naturopath. For general health concerns and questions, please book with a Melbourne Apothecary naturopath or nutritionist.

Which practitioners are offering free 10-minute health consults at the moment?
Shantini Iyngkaran

Shantini Iyngkaran

Shantini Iyngkaran is a Naturopath whose practice focuses on maternal care including pre and postpartum experiences. She believes the vitality of a mother is the result of unconditional support, attuning the mother to her body and replenishing all her cups, emotionally, physically, and relationally.

She also has a special interest in gut and immune health. As someone who has struggled with her own health challenges in these areas, she approaches this with lived experience and compassion.

Shantini values time and presence in her consults as she learns about the individuals physical, spiritual, emotional, and home health. She discerns a variety of modalities, techniques, herbal, and nutritional knowledge to identify and support health needs.

Shantini brings insights to her work from her multifaceted career as a solicitor, entrepreneur, personal trainer and yoga teacher. Her multi-passionate approach to her career and life, allows her to provide a holistic and tailored naturopathic practice.

When she isn’t working at the Melbourne Apothecary, you will either find Shantini walking in nature, with her beloved pooch, Sir Waffles, creating in the kitchen, serving her local community, enjoying a matinee at the cinemas or relishing the company of her friends. She is a connoisseur of hugs, so if you feel like a warm embrace book in with her.

As someone who deeply values connection and community, Shantini is currently offering free Naturopathic 10-minute consults to help to get you started towards better health. These sessions are a chance for you to make sure the therapeutic relationship is a great fit and get clarity about what you want to achieve on your health journey.

Book your free 10-minute health consult with Shantini by navigating to Naturopathy – The Melbourne Apothecary > Free 10-minute Naturopathic Consult”

 

Jane Holland

Jane Holland Fertile Ground Health Group Free 10 minute health consults

Renowned for her grounded and intuitive approach to health, Jane is a holistic nutritionist, yoga teacher and retreat facilitator who is passionate about empowering people to cultivate a healthy and honest relationship with food, eating and their body. Jane brings awareness and reverence into her sessions and is dedicated to listening and supporting her clients to unravel the subconscious patterns of behaviour which drive decision making (particularly in relation to food and eating).

Jane is deeply committed to building community and creating safe and supportive spaces for people to live more harmoniously within their inner and outer environments.

Jane carries degree level qualifications in both Environmental Management (Sustainable Development) and Health Science (Nutritional Medicine) and is trained in both Hatha and Yin Yoga (400hrs Teacher Training certifications). She is also a Food & Spirit practitioner and Emotional Anatomy coach, integrating Eastern and Western philosophies in a wholistic approach to wellness. Jane uses her technical knowledge and understanding in these modalities, together with her deep insight and intuition, to ignite profound and lasting transformation for her clients.

Book your free 10-minute health consult with Holistic Nutritionist, Jane, by navigating to Nutrition > Free 10-minute Nutrition Consult

 

Josephine CabrallJosephine Cabrall Fertile Ground Health Group Free 10 minute health consults

Josephine is an experienced, degree-qualified naturopath and trained fertility teacher specialising in fertility, reproductive health and pregnancy. She uses nutrition, dietary strategies, herbal medicine and lifestyle advice, to help her patients achieve their goals and is passionate about working collaboratively with other health care providers for the best outcomes of the patient.

Understanding the importance of a supportive and empathic support team through the fertility and IVF journey, Josephine aims to meet her patients where they are at, giving them strategies and resources to achieve the best outcomes possible.

She also enjoys helping patients with gut health, thyroid health and stress reduction, recognising the impact of these conditions can have on both fertility and general health.

As well as general fertility, Josephine has a special interest in polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Acknowledging the different presentations of PCOS, she relishes in seeing women improve their fertility and other hormonal symptoms through individualised, tailored treatment plans. To help women better understand and combat PCOS, Josephine has authored an eBook, The PCOS Solution, as well as the Guide to PCOS & Diet – which she generously makes available for free – download here.

Book your free 10-minute health consult with Naturopath, Josephine by navigating to Naturopathy – Fertile Ground > Free 10-minute Naturopathic Consult.

 

Tess Doig

Tess Doig

“I believe the future of our health starts with preconception care and that improving a couple’s nutrition, health and lifestyle can give the best possible start to their future baby’s health”. Tess Doig

Tess Doig is a highly skilled degree qualified naturopath with over 9 years of practice specialising in the areas of fertility, pregnancy, women’s health and mental health. She is skilled in complex infertility cases, helping support many women and couples through unexplained infertility, recurrent miscarriage, IVF, male factor infertility and more.

Tess also has a special interest in endometriosis, understanding the complexities of this condition through the connections between, immune, microbiome, hormones, and nutrition and how they interplay to progress this disease. She also understands the huge lifestyle and emotional burden this condition causes, and uses a range of nutritional, herbal medicine and lifestyle interventions to help resolve symptoms and improve the reproductive health and fertility of women with endometriosis.

Having two young children herself, she loves to support women through their pregnancy and postpartum journey. Tess understands the joy of this time but also the impact this can have on a woman’s mental health. She offers a supportive and compassionate listening space, while also investigating underlying pathology that may be affecting their mood. Treatment options include through nutritional, herbal medicine and lifestyle prescriptions.

Believing every person is an individual and there is no one-size-fits all approach to health, Tess will use all of her tools and knowledge to create a treatment plan specifically for you. She likes to think of herself as a health detective and is highly skilled in blood pathology interpretation along with clinical expertise, functional testing, and naturopathic diagnostic techniques.  Tess combines all of these approaches to assess and investigate your health. Tess is also passionate about collaborative medicine and will work and communicate with your medical practitioner and other members of your health team where needed.

Book your free 10-minute health consult with Naturopath, Tess by navigating to Naturopathy – Fertile Ground > Free 10-minute Naturopathic Consult.

Getting to know your practitioner – Michelle Lowe, Massage Therapist & Doula

with Michelle Lowe, FGHG pregnancy and fertility massage therapist and doula

What do you love about your work as a remedial, pregnancy and fertility massage therapist?

There’s so much that I love about what I do as a massage therapist, I feel I am very fortunate and lucky to be able to do work that I am deeply passionate about. I love being able to see the transition patients make from when I first see them to when they leave the treatment like a whole new person and then seeing the progress they make with each treatment. I love being a part of the journey with women to falling pregnant and helping them to switch off and just receive. Hearing my patients’ good news that they’ve fallen pregnant, or the relief they feel after a pregnancy massage is really rewarding for me as I love to help.

What initially inspired you to add womb massage to your skill set?

So I used to suffer from really bad period pains, with no real understanding as to why I was suffering from them. I tried many different things to help, but for me they weren’t overly successful or not well suited for my lifestyle. It was definitely more of a personal journey for me initially to train in fertility/ womb massage. I remember sitting in circle on the first day and all my symptoms were explained so clearly to me as to why I was experiencing period pains. With this experience I learnt so much about my body that I wanted to help others who experience the same.

What types of benefits do you commonly see in your patients doing regular womb massage?

Everyone can be vastly different as all cases are unique. The main benefits I will see in almost everyone is that they are more relaxed and grounded. Almost everyone reports a lighter feeling in their abdomen, better bowel movement, reduction in period pain and feeling less stress and anxiety.

In your work you support many women on their journey to becoming pregnant. Do you recommend they continue to see you after becoming pregnant? What benefits does massage have to offer women in pregnancy?

Absolutely, massage is really beneficial to have throughout pregnancy. It’s great for relaxation, especially during first trimester or if any stage of pregnancy is causing some stress and/ or anxiety. It’s also great for relieving any aches and pains associated with pregnancy or pre-existing aches and pains that may be exacerbated by pregnancy. Beyond that, its beneficial for sleep and circulation, especially during third trimester when everything is starting to feel compromised. I like to think massage gives you a boost mentally and physically to help you feel more comfortable and relaxed.

You are also a doula (also known as a birth attendant). What inspired you to become a doula?

This has always been a tricky question to answer as there are many reasons why I decided to become a doula/ birth attendant. I think one of the biggest reasons why I wanted to become a doula was to support women and be with women during a time that can make you feel very vulnerable. I’ve been treating pregnant women for many years and I’ve heard lots of stories from women who hadn’t felt well supported during their births and many other stories when women haven’t been aware of their choices and options during pregnancy and labour, maybe wanting to have done it differently. If you look at the statistics and the possible causes of medical intervention, having a support person, particularly a doula, has shown positive research results. I’d love to help women have better birthing experiences.

What sorts of things do you do to support women in your work as a doula?

As a doula I am an emotional and physical support person during the pregnancy and labour of a mum to be. I support the mother in helping her through the pregnancy in the lead up to the labour, really getting to know her and her partner and what’s important to them during their labour experience. I personally like to go over any fears and try our best to work with them so that a couple can have a positive birth experience.

We go over a birth plan and their options as to what they might like to experience and how they usually cope with pain. I am currently working on a plan to try and determine tools that couples can use to help women cope with pain. This will allow partners to have a better idea of what they can do and possibly what role the mother wants from them – whether that’s eye contact, movement, massage, pressure points, music, rebozo work, there are sooo many things we can use to help create a safe space that is working with pain (if that’s what a mother’s goal is). Having said that I obviously bring in my own tools to work with pain and that’s massage, rebozo techniques (using a shawl) and pressure points, which are also great at boosting oxytocin for labour. I can use and teach these tools to partners so that we can support each other in supporting the mother to be.

After the birth I also like to meet up with the new family and see how they are going and offer any support that I can during this transitional phase too.

Can you share a moment from your work that you will never forget?

I will never forget that magical moment of seeing a baby born for the first time. I was so in awe of the mother’s strength and perseverance, it’s a magnificent journey to witness and be a part of, words cannot describe the feeling in the room once that baby is born. There are ups and downs, but you’re working as a team to support the mother and father along the way. That first birth taught me soo much, and I think it will forever affect my approach to being a birth attendant.

Your patients are often seeing acupuncturists and naturopaths as well. What type of benefits do you see in these types of shared care?

I find the women and couples who are seeing an acupuncturist and or a naturopath are very well supported through all aspects of health. We’re all looking at different angles of the individuals’ health and I find these clients tend to have better overall health and reach their health goals quicker, generally speaking.

What other modalities do you find your clients get benefit from?

Meditation and yoga, and when necessary counselling.

When I see patients who have a lot of mind chatter and trouble switching off I like to advise meditation to calm the monkey brain.

I also hear lots of good feedback from clients who have seen a counsellor, whether it’s to put things into perspective or have someone with an unbiased opinion to talk to.

I am also a yoga enthusiast and will often advise patients to do certain yoga poses to help stretch and strengthen muscles for better alignment, but if people can get to a class that’s even better.

 

Learn more about Michelle Lowe, remedial massage therapist at Fertile Ground Health Group or make an appointment to have one of her fabulous massage treatments. Online Booking

Kick Your Children’s Recurrent Infections to the Kerb

with Sarah Harris, Paediatric & Family Naturopath

Are You Sick of Your Kids Being Sick?

Do you shudder when you hear someone cough nearby them because you just know you’re kids are going to get sick? Do your kids often complete a course of antibiotics to treat an infection, only for it to return a month later? You are not alone! Hordes of children are frequently unwell with upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs), influenza (flu), ear infections, and a multitude of other recurrent infections. So what is it that decreases their immune system function – and what can you do about it?

Has Your Children’s Immune System Gone on Strike?

Several factors have the potential to diminish their immune function and make them more susceptible to getting sick; these include stress, a lack of regular exercise, inadequate sleep, and poor nutrition. Frequent antibiotic use, which often goes hand in hand with repeated infections, can also contribute to lowered immunity. It’s true that antibiotics serve an essential purpose in eliminating bacterial infections to help us feel well again. However, they are commonly overprescribed for viral infections (such as colds, flus, and URTIs), even though they do not have any effect against viruses. This overuse of antibiotics can not only reduce their efficacy, but also unbalance the ‘good’ bacteria in the gut, further compromising immunity. So you may be asking “what’s the solution?” Fortunately, there are natural treatments available which can help to strengthen your immune system and keep your children well for longer.

Boost Immunity to Combat Infection

Can you imagine a life in which your children feel vibrant and healthy? With the correct immune support, this could be a reality! Ask your Paediatric & Family Naturopath about the following natural immune boosters:

Coriolus: This medicinal mushroom increases the production of immune cells that help you fight off infections more effectively.

Reishi: Another medicinal mushroom which exerts potent antiviral activity to help you recover faster.

Astragalus: A well-known immune enhancing herb which can reduce the occurrence of reinfection.

Astragalus also helps to restore energy levels after being sick.

Lifestyle Tips to Improve Your Children’s Immune Defences

In addition to taking immune enhancing herbs and mushrooms, there are numerous ways you can support healthy immunity through your children’s diet and lifestyle choices:

  1. Rest! You may be surprised by how effective your children’s immune system can be when you give it a chance. Ensure they get a good night’s sleep and let their body work its magic.
  2. Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits. These foods contain abundant immune supportive vitamins and minerals including vitamin C and zinc.
  3. Go for garlic and ginger. Garlic is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent and an immune booster. Ginger helps to warm you up and fends off illness by reducing inflammation.
  4. Drink plenty of water. It is essential that your children keep hydrated. When they are unwell, fluids are rapidly lost through having a runny nose, coughing, and sweating.
  5. Unwind. While it may be difficult to reduce your children’s ‘stressors’ (like busy child care or kindergarten, after school activities, etc.), it is possible to manage stress more effectively.

Support them to participate in relaxing play, board games, meditation, and deep breathing exercises 3 to 4 times a week, or as often as needed.

Keep Your Children’s Immune Game Strong

Another way that you can ward off infection in your children is by ensuring they have sufficient stores of some key vitamins and minerals that support and improve immune health, such as:

Vitamin C – sources include red and yellow capsicum, citrus fruits (especially oranges), kiwi fruit, strawberries, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and even the humble tomato. heirloom-tomatoes-1188815__340

Zinc – at the initial signs of a viral or bacterial infection, zinc deploys infection-fighting white blood cells to destroy it. Food sources of zinc include seafood, meat, wheat germ, spinach, seeds (e.g. pumpkin, sesame), nuts (especially cashews), and beans (e.g. chickpeas, adzuki).

Embrace A Life Of Wellness for you and your children!

If recurrent infections are an issue for you or your children, speak with your Paediatric & Family Naturopath today about boosting your families’ immune function to get well and stay well. Kick sickness to the kerb, break the antibiotic cycle and enjoy a life of health, happiness and vitality!

sarahharris_edited_colourSarah Harris is a qualified and experienced naturopath, herbalist and nutritionist with more than a decade of knowledge and practice in complementary medicine. As a mother of three children and highly skilled in providing naturopathic care, Sarah has a special interest in treating children of all ages. Her empathetic and kind nature instills comfort and confidence when providing advice to parents about their child’s health and she works well with families and individuals to find solutions for health concerns.

What is Buteyko?

by Carly Woods, FGHG Buteyko practitioner and Naturopath

Did I say potato? No. But I understand the confusion. Let’s get some clarity around what Buteyko is.

A lot of people know about Buteyko Therapy because of the incredible results it produces in asthma recovery.  Dr Konstantin Buteyko developed it in the 1950s for this exact purpose. It’s a breathing therapy that is simple, powerful, and easy to integrate into your life for maximising your health outcomes.  Let’s dive in.

So Buteyko is fabulous for asthma – great, but did you know that it’s also applicable to a whole range of conditions that aren’t even related to asthma?

Anxiety, for example, is such a pervasive and easily hidden condition suffered by so many, and you can use the simplicity and power of Buteyko Therapy to take the edge off before the panic hits. You can even use Buteyko therapy to train your body out of anxiety patterns to avoid panic and chronic internal tension entirely.

The list of conditions that Buteyko is brilliant for is extensive, and includes:

  • Stress, anxiety
  • Digestive issues
  • Respiratory issues, such as sinusitis, rhinitis, hay fever, and asthma.
  • Sleeping issues, such as insomnia, sleep apnoea, and waking with a dry mouth.
  • Cognition issues, like memory, focus, and concentration.
  • Fatigue
  • Dental issues, like palate development, teeth grinding, bad breath.
  • Muscle tension.

And that’s not even all of it.

‘So why are the beneficial effects of Buteyko so wide-reaching?’ I hear you asking me with inquisitive eyes and slight disbelief. A great question.

The answers are simple, and the systemic effects profound.

Buteyko works to

  1. balance and retrain your nervous system;
  2. align your jaw to the right position and activate your correct breathing muscles (to train you out of being a dirty mouth breather);
  3. support proper oxygenation of the tissues throughout your entire body by adjusting your blood gas set point to a more appropriate level.

So let’s think about this for a second. I’m going to just take the first point of how Buteyko works, and dissect it a bit to help you to understand how powerful ‘balancing and retraining your nervous system’ really is.  Imagine you have a chronic condition (many of you may already, so if this is you, imagine your reality). Now imagine you are SUPER stressed. How does that stress feel thrown into the mix of your chronic condition symptoms? Does it exacerbate them, or does it placate them?

It surely does not placate.

So we can see here that stress is unhelpful. Great.

Now let’s think about sleeping.  When we sleep our body LOVES to repair itself. When we sleep we switch into something called the ‘parasympathetic nervous system response’.  It governs our states of rest. In this state we digest, repair, and rest best.

The first reason that Buteyko is such an incredibly versatile therapy is because it switches your body out of the state of stress (called the sympathetic nervous system response) and lands you in your parasympathetic response – your resting, digesting, and repairing state.

So now reconsider your chronic condition – is its repair helped or hindered by stress? Is its repair helped or hindered by being in a repair and rest state?

You got it – the healing of chronic conditions is helped GREATLY by putting your body in the nervous system response state of REPAIR.  I’ve never met anyone who was all, ‘oh yes please, I’d love a bit more stress today – that will surely help me feel apex on my health mountain and heal my underlying issues.’

So we get it – the takeaway here is: Buteyko trains your body OUT of the stress state and INTO a state of repair.

Throughout the next lot of blogs I’ll get into the nitty gritty of how Buteyko helps with all of the conditions listed above. We will start with anxiety and stress.  In the meantime – to get you going with a fierce health stride make sure you grab your free access to my Stress & Anxiety Buteyko Starter Pack.

Buteyko is a combination of simple, practical breathing techniques – I’ll be writing all about how and why they work in these blogs.  If you’re keen to learn how to use Buteyko for yourself and start feeling better immediately – come and see me so that we can tailor a Buteyko program specifically for your needs.  In my consultations we create a Buteko program specifically for you, teach you how and when to use your techniques at home, I’ll show you how to measure your progress, and you’ll learn about what signs to look out for from your body that indicate you’re on the right track with your balance and healing.  My aim is to make it super accessible and easy for you to stay on track with your health long-term.

I usually see patients 3-4 times, and then it’s up to you to implement the changes consistently in your life – which is not hard at all with Buteyko since it’s practical and simple, plus the way you feel as you progress through it is so wonderful that you’ll undoubtedly be a keen Buteyko breathing bean, looking forward to your integrated self-care spaces.

Breath is so incredibly fundamental to life. You meet your breath before you meet your mother.

Learn to get the basics right, and from there your health and healing potential is limitless.

In breath

Carly

Carly Woods - HeadshotCarly is a Buteyko Practitioner and Naturopath. She is passionate about helping her patients access their innate balance and wellbeing using practical, simple, and powerful fundamentals.  If you’re keen to get started now, book in to see Carly. She is available to see you at Fertile Ground Health Group on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Take a look at Carly’s bio to find out more about the way she works and how Buteyko Therapy can help you.

Getting to know your practitioner – Nicole McCowan, FGHG massage therapist

What do you love about your work as a remedial and pregnancy massage therapist?

I love being able to give women relief from any aches, pains or discomfort they have. I also absolutely adore when women lie down on the table and 9 times out of 10 there is an instant “Ähhhhhhhh” moment as they allow themselves to relax, knowing that the next 60-90 minutes is all about them and nurturing their bodies. Being a remedial and pregnancy massage therapist it’s my job be as caring, kind, compassionate and knowledgeable about the body as I can possibly be. Considering these are my favourite things to be in life, I truly think I have one of the best jobs in the world!

As well as being an aromatherapist and reiki practitioner, you teach feminine embodiment yoga. Would you like to tell us a bit about that?

Love to, it’s a massive passion of mine. Feminine Embodiment Yoga (FEY) is a specialised yoga practice uniquely celebrating the female form and flow. The practice allows you to strengthen your body through a combination of hatha yoga poses and rhythmic movements. It also has a strong focus on breath, balancing active and restorative poses and meditation. I love being a woman and learning about how unique our minds, emotions and bodies are, so when I discovered a yoga style specifically developed for women I couldn’t get enough and I enjoy sharing this practice with all women.

As a Practitioner, layering treatments with several modalities brings incredible results. For example, in a birth preparation massage the physical massage will work on an anatomical level, with the essential oils in the massage oil penetrating to a physiological level, add some reiki to reach the energetic level and once the massage is complete we the discuss home care and simple yoga postures and stretches that can work wonders to continue the birth preparation process.

Do you think women could benefit from feminine embodiment yoga during their fertility journey? How?

Definitely, Feminine Embodiment Yoga (FEY) focuses on relaxing the nervous system by releasing physical and emotional tension from the body. When the nervous system is relaxed your body goes from being in the ‘fight or flight’ mode (sympathetic nervous system) to “rest and digest”mode (parasympathetic nervous system) allowing your body to heal and restore itself.  The practice also targets specific areas of women’s bodies for greater engagement and toning. For example, in today’s society we do a lot of sitting at desks, in front of the TV, in the car, on transport etc. So FEY focuses on building strength in your legs, bottom and core, as well as stretching out the hips and pelvis, as these areas can become tight and locked. This is especially beneficial for fertility as it creates space and increases blood flow and nutrients to the area.

You support many women with massage on their journey through pregnancy and also post birth. What are some of the biggest challenges you see women going through physically and emotionally during these times?

It is an amazing privilege to be able to support women through this time of great transition as their bodies adapt and change to accommodate the next generation they are growing inside them. Exhaustion and fatigue are common challenges I see women facing during pregnancy and post birth. We live in a fast pace society and being the matriarch of the family comes with a never ending to do list, which you have just added “grow human” and/or “raise child” to the list! It’s important to get enough rest so your body and the baby has the best chance to grow and thrive. Getting a massage is amazing for this and I’m delighted when women come in to see me, having placed importance on putting themselves and their babies on top of their priority list. A massage helps relieve tension, headaches, body aches and pains, and cramping, to name a few. Massage for birth preparation is crucial to be in the most relaxed, rested and healthy state for the labour.

Post birth massage is essential to relieve the stress your body has gone through in labour and accelerate the healing process by releasing tense muscles which aids in moving lymph, fresh blood and nutrients around the body. It can be a challenge to find the time with a newborn to make it into the clinic so we recommend timing it just after a feed and then your gorgeous baby can sleep peacefully in their pram in the room while you receive a much needed massage. If they wake and cry it wouldn’t be the first time the awesome team on reception coo them back to sleep (it’s literally a pleasure and cuteness overload). If leaving the house still seems too hard (which it totally can be trying to time feed and sleep cycles) we offer home visit massages, we recommend you have someone at home with you to watch over baby so you can fully relax in the massage and receive as much nurturing as you give your bundle of joy.

How else can men and women benefit from massage?

Massage can benefit men and women in so many ways by increasing circulation, assisting detoxification, relieving tension and pain, reducing stress and anxiety, improving sleep, and boosting your immune system, just to name a few.

Massage also counteracts all the sitting we do which is an awesome benefit considering how many of us have office jobs equating to prolonged periods of sitting. All this sitting leads postural stress which most times manifests in the shoulders and neck. More advanced postural stress can show up as pain or weakness in the lower back and gluteals. More often than not after a massage I will have patients comment how they didn’t realise how tense they were or how tight a specific area was until it was massaged. It’s highly beneficial to have a regular massage, even just once a month, to check in with your body before any aches or pains become acute or chronic.

What part of your work has ever brought you to tears?

As much as I try, I can’t help the rush of emotion when I hear about the birth, see pictures of, or meet a baby of a mother I have been massaging during her pregnancy. Its humbling and special to be able to share the joys of watching their belly grow and feeling the baby move when they receive a massage in Mum’s tum. Knowing that I have been able to support the mother through massage, which may have helped them have a more relaxed and enjoyable pregnancy is just wonderful.

Learn more about Nicole McCowan, remedial massage therapist at Fertile Ground Health Group or make an appointment to have one of her fabulous massage treatments. Online Booking

The emotional rollercoaster of infertility

by Suzanne Hurley, FGHG counsellor

Anyone in the throes of trying to conceive knows the grueling fertility cycle of hope then worry realised into disappointment, the grief and numbness that takes hold right before a new found fortitude and grit. Each new hope that is a little less sure of itself with each cycle, that if allowed, will vanish and harden into a no expectation kind of expectation.

They will know how disorienting, chaotic, demanding and painful it is to be a part of a world that all too often disallows space for such a massive struggle. Workplaces that have little or no flexibility, friends you simply cannot tell for fear of bringing darkness into their baby making bubble, families that will not or do not understand the what, how and why of what is involved. Your right to privacy and confidentiality that cannot be upheld and the all encompassing feeling of failure and shame, albeit real or imagined that prevents you from stopping the spilling over of grief from your heart, carried as tears that first pool and then pour for all to see.

In times such as these we can benefit from slowing the pace and collecting ourselves long enough to create a simple structure to help keep our vulnerability safe. Establishing some emotional scaffolding can alleviate us of any unnecessary burden we may keep on trying to carry. It can help to ground us in knowing some core well-being skills, either not yet learnt along the way to our adult selves, or are no longer effective. How can we ever be prepared to face infertility when the norm is for our bodies to work when we ask it of them?

No one expects this level of adversity in thinking about starting a family. We may dread it or worry that it may be our story but mostly we expect things to go smoothly. When it does not it can rock us to our very foundations of who we are in the world. It is this crushed illusion of who we are that needs the scaffolding in the same way we provide a stick or trellis for a plant that may struggle to bear fruit if not supported.

Identifying with a fertility counsellor who you are, why you are the way you are and knowing where you are right now when faced with fertility challenges, can be the glue that holds you together. It will be the scaffold you need until you too bear fruit. A task made easier with someone who can hold you lightly as you rise and more tightly as you yield.

The extra bonus is whilst doing all of this you earn yourself a confidant and a witness to the best and worst of you. A person who will see you and get to know you and listen and keep learning what it is that you need. They can plan with you how to have that need met, respectfully and honourably, with compassion and awe.

 

SuzanneHURLEYCSuzanne Hurley is an exceptionally compassionate, understanding and experienced counsellor with a very specific skill set and deep understanding of the challenging nature of infertility and the path to becoming a parent. Learn more about Suzanne Hurley here.

How to Improve Endometrial Health

By Jo Sharkey, FGHG Acupuncturist and Gina Fox, FGHG Naturopath

The big fertility discussion is often about enhancing egg quality to improve pregnancy rates, however, there is much less said about the other major aspect of being able to conceive and that’s the health of the endometrium and getting the embryo to stick. If the soil isn’t right the seed won’t grow and in this podcast we’re going to discuss things you can take control of to create a health endometrium and improve implantation success. Take heart in knowing that the endometrium regenerates every four weeks so by making some small changes today you’ll have an impact on your next menstrual cycle.

As usual the discussion is with acupuncturist Joanne Sharkey and naturopath Gina Fox and today to bring her knowledge to this topic is another Fertile Ground naturopath, Rhiannon Hardingham.

Listen to the podcast… How to Improve Endometrial Health