Fertile Ground Health Group provides a range of services and expert practitioners to guide you through all aspects of your pregnancy journey from conception all the way through to caring for your newborn.
Fertile Ground Health Group (FGHG) is a multidisciplinary, natural medicine practice with expertise in preconception, infertility, pregnancy and family health. We are currently seeking an experienced Osteopath with a desire to develop their career and work with other high achievers in a vibrant, professional team. If you can start in August, we have a waiting list of patients ready for you!
We are ideally looking for a dedicated professional with special interest and experience in treating pre and post-natal women, newborn babes and children. A minimum of 3-5 years’ experience as an Osteopath working with pregnancy is an absolute necessity and additional training in this area, as well as treating babies will be highly regarded.
We are also very interested in applications for an enthusiastic osteopath who treats men and women generally (without experience in babies and children necessarily) and we encourage you to apply also as we grow our physical therapy team. We have plenty of patients with pain who need your confident expertise and hands-on therapy too!
You will also want to actively raise your own profile amongst your peers, medical specialists and other important referrers as well as share your expertise with our patient base through blogs, podcasts and/or social media. Your ability to collaborate with other practitioners, coupled with confidence in communication with and presenting to medical specialists and other primary health carers will be highly regarded.
Starting immediately, FGHG has room for a practitioner doing at least 2-3 days per week including valuable Saturdays. Our current osteopath Andrew Nguyen and his partner are moving back to Tasmania to start a family of their own leaving a gap ready to fill. To apply please email a covering letter and resume to Monique Bevan at email@example.com. Apply ASAP.
How many nights have you SWORN you would get off Netflix earlier/ stopped scrolling social media in bed/ run a bath/ rubbed lavender in your pillow/ done a guided mediation/ got a better night’s sleep?! Or perhaps you tend to lay in bed, wide eyed, coaxing yourself to drop down, only to become more restless the longer you remain awake?! If you answered yes, you are not alone! An astonishing 39.8% Australians are not getting the recommended quality and/or quantity of sleep each night, leading to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, cognitive dysfunction, poor immune regulation and higher chances of depression and anxiety during and post-pregnancy (Adams 2017). And this where yin yoga comes into play – yin for the sleep win. Let’s dive in.
Increasingly, we are living in a screen-driven, complex, and uncertain world. The prevalence of sleep problems and prescribed sleep medications actually increased between 2010 and 2016, suggesting that despite increasing awareness in the general media and medical literature about sleep, we are not making meaningful changes!
So, what can you do?
One of the first things you can do to support your sleep is to get honest and conduct a night-time audit. It is much harder to change a behaviour you are not aware of, so understanding your patterns and how they might be contributing to poor sleep comes first.
RECORD… Track your movements between 6pm and bedtime each night for the next two weeks. Keep a record of the times you ate/ drank, what you watched on TV, amount of alcoholic drinks/ cigarettes, interactions with partners/ family/ housemates, time on your phone, reading, what you do when lying down to bed, exercise etc. Also note caffeine intake (how many coffees/ teas/ cola drinks you had during the day) Make this as detailed as possible.
ASSESS… Each morning, record how your sleep was the previous evening – how many times you woke, if you got up during the night, how vital you feel when you wake on a scale of 1-10 (if you have a device that tracks this you could record the data as well).
REVIEW… After two weeks, go back to your journal and notice if there are correlations between evening activities and sleep quality/ quantity.
The next step? Operation SLEEP HYGIENE
EDIT… Start small. That is, find ONE thing you can remove from your evening ritual that might be connected to poor sleep, and introduce ONE thing that might improve your sleep.
REMOVE– Wi-Fi in your home after 9pm, scrolling on apps whilst lying in bed, alcoholic drinks, caffeine after midday, bright lighting around the home in the evening, arguments with family/ housemates, going straight from Netflix to bed, eating/ working within an hour of going to sleep, electronics in the bedroom.
INTRODUCE– dimmed lighting for an hour before sleeping, sipping warm water in the fresh air for 10 minutes before bed, yin yoga, 10 mins of meditation, reading, a warm shower or bath, daily exercise (20-30mins), going to bed at the same time every night, removing all electronic devices from your bedroom
REVIEW… Notice what changes for you over the following two weeks. Does your sleep improve? What are you feeling since your audit? Can you introduce another small change after these two weeks?
Including meditation and gentle yoga before bed is one simple method of reducing stress and supporting in to ‘come home’ to your body and breath. Studies have shown that including meditation, breathwork and yoga reduces stress and associated negative health effects, as well as improving sleep quality and quantity.
Yin yoga, a practice which includes long held postures targeting deep connective tissue and calming the nervous system, has shown great promise in reducing stress and ensuring good sleep hygiene.
A 2012 US study found 55% of participants who included yoga in their weekly practices reported improved sleep, and 85% reduced stress (Stussman 2015). Yoga’s ability to increase relaxation and induce a balanced mental state has also been explored, with a regular yoga practice resulting in an increase in the total number of hours slept, significantly less time getting to sleep, and a feeling of being rested in the morning (Woodyard 2011).
While there is not one definitive answer to improving sleep quality and quantity, becoming aware of our daily habits and behaviours is an incredibly important starting point in establishing what is true. By getting honest, it is possible to firstly acknowledge and then establish what changes can be made. Implementing a regular yoga and meditation practice may provide both a nourishing and supportive way to come back into alignment with our natural cycles, improve sleep and experience deep rest.
So as the sun sets on your day, watch your own habits and behaviours as you prepare for sleep. Will you be winding down with nature and following your natural rhythms supported by yoga and mindfulness? Or will you scrolling mindlessly, yearning for deep restoration but unwilling to make changes… The choice is yours.
Pregnancy can be an amazing and rewarding experience for many women. It’s an experience that is often accompanied by varying degrees of pain, but how you look at pain and how much you understand it can drastically alter your perception of it.
Pain is a misunderstood beast
It is perhaps one of the most important survival systems your body has.
It used to be believed that pain was a reaction to tissue damage, but we now know that pain is predictive, it functions more like a warning of potential damage either real or imagined, and the most interesting part is that it is an adaptive system.
This might seem obvious to anyone who understands that the body is a living, learning and constantly changing organism, but unfortunately many medical professionals fall into the trap of seeing the body as a machine with simple mechanisms and unintelligent parts.
It’s too often from this view point that many medical professionals discuss healthcare with their patients. Modern science is at odds with a mechanistic view, the more we learn about pain the more we see a highly complex system capable of completely remodelling itself.
The pain we feel is influenced by many aspects our life and physiology. The unique make up of our bodies, how we move, what we eat, as well as our thoughts and beliefs are just some of things that contribute to our experience of pain.
Knowing this we can take a different approach to treatment by understanding that pain can help navigate us towards what our bodies need.
During pregnancy the body transforms dramatically and its needs can change daily, so interpreting what it’s trying to tell us becomes even more important.
Pain is multi-faceted, and so should your treatment be
As many healthcare professionals specialise in particular areas, the best care is often delivered by a team who work together to provide you with an individualised and multifaceted care plan. Your team should collaborate with you to ensure you are receiving the appropriate treatment, guidance and advice that reflects your wishes, goals and intentions. That is the philosophy of multimodal and patient centred care.
If you are experiencing pain, it is often a good idea to see a healthcare professional who specialises in musculoskeletal pain and associated conditions such as a Clinical Myotherapist.
What to expect when you see your Clinical Myotherapist
During your consultation your Clinical Myotherapist will take the time to have a detailed discussion about all possible aspects of your life that may contribute to your health.
Then with your consent they may assess any areas of pain to help gain a better understanding of your musculoskeletal health. Using all the information collected they will then work with you to draw up a healthcare plan that can be used as a roadmap to achieve your health goals.
Your healthcare plan is tailored to your specific needs and may incorporate things such as manual therapies (massage, PNF stretching, dry needling), pain education (understanding how pain works in the body), and exercise prescription, as well as referral to other practitioners that may be better suited to different areas of care.
Your Clinical Myotherapist can be an important part of your healthcare team.
Written by Zach Hannan
Zach is a Clinical Myotherapist at Fertile Ground Health Group. He is available for in person consultations to support you through pain, through your pregnancy, through COVID and beyond. Learn more more about Zach here.
Have you noticed any asymmetry in your baby’s head shape or neck movements. If so, new mama’s, read this:
A misshaped head, clinically known as plagiocephaly is a common condition affecting up to 1 in 5 babies in their first 2 months of life. This is most prevalent at 4 months of age as prior to this babies do not have the strength to hold up their head when sitting without support.
Strains in-utero position, during or after birth may predispose neck restriction leading to a head turning preference which may then result in unilateral flattening of the head. A 2008 study indicated that 73% of newborns have one or more asymmetry, 16% of these had torticollis aka neck tightness, limiting their range of motion.
If a baby is born with a restricted neck they are susceptible to spending time with their head resting on the one side which may lead to unevenness over time. 1 in 3 mums also reported feeling that their baby remained in the same position or was stuck during their final few weeks of pregnancy. Studies have linked babies being in a confined position for six weeks or more with an increase the incidence of torticollis when compared to restricted in-utero position for shorter periods of time.
Worried this may be present in your bub? Here’s our advice:
See an Osteopath trained in paediatrics: A 2011 study on the impact of osteopathic intervention for infants under 6.5 months old with positional plagiocephaly found significant improvements in asymmetry following 4 osteopathic treatments over a 2-month period.
Tummy time: When bubs are positioned on their stomachs it strengthens their neck, trunk, shoulder and hands. It also prevents pressure on the head and therefore flattening.
Repositioning: Encourage babies to turn their head to the non-preferred side. You can try this by sitting on their non-preferred side while playing or positioning their cot to be facing the window, pictures or toys in their room to capture their attention.
Early intervention: Early diagnosis and treatment is always preferred. Early intervention for plagiocephaly is positively correlated with an increased potential for correction.
Without intervention plagiocephaly can worsen with time. Are you concerned about your child? Come see our paediatric trained osteopath, Nicole Cukierman.
Looman, W. S., & Flannery, A. B. (2012). Evidence-based care of the child with deformational plagiocephaly, Part I: assessment and diagnosis. Journal of pediatric health care : official publication of National Association of Pediatric Nurse Associates & Practitioners, 26(4), 242–253. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pedhc.2011.10.003
Flannery, A. B., Looman, W. S., & Kemper, K. (2012). Evidence-based care of the child with deformational plagiocephaly, part II: management. Journal of pediatric health care : official publication of National Association of Pediatric Nurse Associates
Stellwagen, L., Hubbard, E., Chambers, C., & Jones, K. L. (2008). Torticollis, facial asymmetry and plagiocephaly in normal newborns. Archives of disease in childhood, 93(10), 827–831. https://doi.org/10.1136/adc.2007.124123
Lessard, S., Gagnon, I., & Trottier, N. (2011). Exploring the impact of osteopathic treatment on cranial asymmetries associated with nonsynostotic plagiocephaly in infants. Complementary therapies in clinical practice, 17(4), 193–198. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctcp.2011.02.001
We are here to help you – it’s what we love to do. This COVID care package is for you if you:
Want better health, rest and body-wide repair,
Want help with navigating the complexities of making your Fertility Plan,
Have PCOS and want to start making healthy recovery strides simply by adjusting your diet,
Need help creating better breathing and respiratory health habits to carry you through a COVID climate,
Are experiencing frayed mental edges that need soothing,
Want relief, attention and release of areas that experience cyclic or persistent pain,
Love to have beautiful restorative sleep,
Want insights into how to ramp up the health of your diet and your digestive tract
How can we help?
You may have noticed that we’ve enacted an outpouring of free things to you since the inception of COVID. We have made a concentrated effort to create free resources for you with love from many of our wonderful practitioners, to support your mind, body, and sense of connection through all the recent challenges and beyond.
These resources have felt like a lifesaver for many people who have felt disconnected, stressed, in pain, anxious and fearful with reverberating body-wide repercussions like restlessness, digestive issues, insomnia, panic attacks, breathing difficulties, muscular pain and more. It’s important that you pay attention to your health with even more precision during stressful times like these.
We are robust and resilient when given the right ingredients for thriving and surviving.
Your COVID Care Package Freebies
We are dedicated to supporting you now and beyond – download any and all of the freebies contained below in our free COVID Care Package. We have built all of these resources for you and will be adding to this package often over the coming months, so keep your eyes peeled on our newsletters and Instagram OR Facebook pages so that you can grab each freebie as it comes out.
It is our pleasure and mission to support your glowing health and healing always.
Free 10-minute Naturopathic Wellness Consults
Book herefor anyone who needs preventative wellness strategies for immunity, symptomatic relief for an acute condition and general health enquiries. We will, of course, refer you if needed for more complex issues/conditions, but this is a great way to make a start toward your healthier life.
Immune Essentials E-book
Nine simple steps to enhance your health and resilience written by our wonderful naturopathic team.
Naturopath, Sage King, is putting together a free 6 part series designed to help you navigate your fertility journey. Sage touches on everything from preconception care, pathology screening, to assisted reproductive technology (ART) and how to optimise your outcomes with Naturopathy. Register to be notified when the series is released.
Free PCOS & Diet Guide
Do you have PCOS? Access this simple Naturopathic guide to get started with balancing your body through your diet. Inside you’ll receive delicious PCOS friendly recipes, detoxification details, information on how to approach carbohydrates, fats and proteins, food swap charts, as well as steps that you can take to really kickstart your healing. Well known PCOS treating Naturopath, Josephine Cabrall, has put this together to help anyone suffering with PCOS start to find the path to healing. Get your free copy of this fantastic resource.
Deep Sleep Yin Yoga
Jane Holland, yoga teacher, international retreat facilitator and educator has lovingly created this Deep Sleep online series in collaboration with Fertile Ground at The Melbourne Apothecary.
These yin classes are designed to guide you into your body to fully inhabit sensation, find release and arrive in spaciousness, allowing you to melt tension and move into a deep state of rest. Jane is generously offering to everyone to come and experience their first class free.
The Starter Pack includes 3 x 15 minute Buteyko embedded meditations and comprehensive instructions about duration, frequency, what to expect as results. Made with love by our breath specialist naturopath Carly Woods
Carly has also made a hilarious and informative online quiz entitled ‘Are you a Dirty Mouth Breather?’ So go ahead and find out – are you a Dirty Mouth Breather?
Acupressure for Stress Relief
Stressed? Understatement of the year perhaps.
Download this wonderful Acupressure for Stress Relief Guide from Acupuncturist, Chinese Medicine practitioner and Naturopath, Holly Peyton-Smith (thanks so much Holly).
This fabulous Super Soups Ebook has been built for you with love by Naturopath Tina Jenkins. Do you want to ramp up your Winter wellness in an oh-so-delicious way?? If so, make sure yougrab your copy here.
Phew! That’s A LOT of resources for healthy living that you can use right now or access later as you need. Feel welcome to share it with your friends too – these resources are for everyone.
Have a great time consuming all of these wonderful resources packed full of actionable health-enhancing goodness. Thank you to all of our loving practitioners and team for putting these together for our community so quickly and with such care.
Brought to you by Carly Woods Director, Naturopath and Breath Specialist, Fertile Ground Health Group and The Melbourne Apothecary.
The mind body connection has really caught my interest lately. It’s something that is poorly understood but can have a profound effect on your health. Take depression as an example. There are signs that most people can automatically identify with like hopelessness, sadness and anxiety, but depression can also cause unexplained physical symptoms or worsen the symptoms you already have, like pain. The two are closely linked and simply put, pain can be depressing and depression causes and intensifies pain.
In fact, vague aches and pains are often the presenting symptoms of depression, highlighting the mind-body connection. These symptoms can include back pain, gastrointestinal problems, chronic joint pain, limb pain, tiredness, sleep disturbances, psychomotor activity changes and appetite changes. Psychoneuroimmunology is what scientists are now calling the field that explains how our mind, our brain and other systems in the body all interact to have an impact on our health. Thanks to developments in MRI technology particularly over the last 5-10 years, we can actually look at what’s going on in the brain while it’s happening and see the connection between mind and body.
How the stress response works
The mind-body connection can be clearly seen when we look at the stress response (fight or flight). The stress response developed to help us deal with danger, like when a Saber tooth tiger is chasing you. When the stress response is triggered a lot of physiological processes are set off to help your body cope with the situation. Once we are stressed glucocorticoids are released to help mobilise energy, inhibit storage of energy and suppresses immune function. Adrenaline is released, increasing blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate. Extra blood is pumped to the muscles so you can get away from those shiny teeth. Sugars and fats pump into the bloodstream, your metabolic rate goes up, you start to feel hot and you sweat. Blood is diverted away from the skin and away from the gut due to adrenaline’s vasoconstrictor action, so your gastrointestinal system slows down. Your blood thickens and will clot faster than normal, which could be the difference between life and death if the tiger gets a hold of you. Your immune system is activated by pumping out inflammatory chemicals, so there is a short-term burst in immunity but long term is suppressed. And you become very focused.
The problem with the stress response
Unfortunately as smart as our bodies are, we do have to consider the fact that the evolution of technology and consciousness is far faster than that of physical adaptation. Adaptations are said to accomplish a goal, however the adaptation does not have to be, nor is it in many, many situations, optimal. We activate this stress response all the time through our modern lives, by anticipating future events or replaying past events, or by becoming overly angry and reactive to normal day to day events. We end up over activating this pathway, which can have a long-term cumulative effect that’s called allostatic load. Heart disease, diabetes, ulcers and growth problems for example, can then ensue.
In the brain, chronic stress will decrease glucose delivery to the hippocampus (limbic system: emotion, memory) and cortex (neocortex and prefrontal cortex: cognitive region) to probably divert it to the more reflexive brain regions (reptilian brain: survival). These effects are measurable not just in terms of physiological, metabolic effects and immune effects but also to the very DNA. The acceleration of the rate of ageing of the DNA can be seen, which is measured by the telomeres – little caps on the end of your chromosomes.
How to reverse the effects of the stress response
A chronically activated stress response is really how we accelerate the progression of chronic illness and the effects are also observable in the brain. Thankfully these changes seem to be able to be reversed. Meditation is fantastic, as is exercise, counselling, diet and manual body therapies. A combined approach is ideal, but exercise and osteopathy are two powerful treatments to get started on.
Exercise appears to have a similar action to an antidepressant, by acting on particular neurotransmitter systems in the brain and helping patients with depression to re-establish positive behaviours. 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity is all that is needed. After just 25 minutes, your mood improves, you are less stressed, you have more energy – and you’ll be more motivated to exercise again tomorrow. A bad mood no longer becomes a barrier to exercise; it is the very reason to exercise.
An Osteopath is obviously not a psychologist, however depression has important physiological and anatomical components. Many physicians consider patients to be in remission when their acute emotional symptoms have abated, but residual symptoms—including physical symptoms—are very common and increase the likelihood of relapse.
Psychiatrists and primary care physicians are now beginning to recognise that even though symptom domains in the areas of motivation and physical illness are frequently part of depression, they are often ignored in the assessment of depression and subsequently, in the treatment goals. Often, pain is not included in the treatment goals because it is interpreted as a sign of a somatic illness. Pain and depression share common pathways in the limbic (emotional) region of the brain according to some research. In fact, the same chemical messengers control pain and mood. Many people suffering from depression never get help because they don’t realise that pain may be a symptom of depression. The importance of understanding the physical symptoms of depression is that treating depression can help with the pain – and treating pain can help with depression.
Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) has been shown to improve cardiac indices, increase lymph flow rates through the thoracic duct, and decrease sympathetic tone in postoperative patients and those in intensive care. Another study has looked at how OMT can increase secretory IgA which provides our first line of defence against bacteria, food residue, fungus, parasites and viruses. A fancy way of saying there’s indications we can help with stress and actually improve immune function.
Osteopathy can also help to reduce some of the strains and stressors placed on your body in order to bring you back to equilibrium. Either through the postural compensations brought about from depression or through treating the pain-causing tissues that can lead to depression.
Posturally, there is often a shortening of the abdominal muscles and a tightening of the diaphragmatic arch which pulls the chest down and forward, limiting its ability to expand during breathing. Combined with medial rotation of the shoulders and internal rotation of the arms resulting in a increased kyphosis (mid back curve) that further restricts breathing. Without the support of the thoracic region, the head and neck will often move forward and down and further into collapse. Which can lead to follow on affects in the lower body. Through exercise prescription and treatment we can help resolve some of these extra stressors.
So yes Osteopathy can make a huge difference to your health and wellbeing, however, if we keep being overstimulated physically, psychologically or through anticipation (literally worrying ourselves sick) it will only offer short term relief. This short term relief however in the long term is not to be underestimated as it opens the gateways for new insights.
Bryden is passionate about restoring movement and function to help people achieve their optimal health. Through effective assessment, diagnosis and treatment, Bryden is able to guide an individual to a better understanding of their body and provide symptomatic relief. He uses a range of techniques including manipulation, massage, dry needling and stretching, as well as patient education and exercise prescription. He has a keen interest in treating a wide variety of musculoskeletal conditions affecting people of all ages, including pregnant women and babies.