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.

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

Beautiful times through pregnancy to see your Acupuncturist

Pregnancy can be so demanding on the body.

Physically and emotionally.

Acupuncture can be Oh So Useful in pregnancy.

As an Acupuncturist I often get asked – when are the most delicious times to check in with your Acupuncturist?

So let’s jump in.

 

Regularly though the first twelve weeks

Especially if it’s taken some time to conceive this babe, you’ve experienced pregnancy loss in the past, or you’re feeling particularly anxious about this pregnancy.

Also, if symptoms like nausea and fatigue are having a considerable impact, give your Acupuncturist a call. And the sooner the better on this one.

 

Through the middle of the pregnancy: as symptoms arise

And again, the sooner the better on this one. Catch things like carpal tunnel, back pain, insomnia and indigestion as they arise.

An alternative to the ‘catch things as soon as they creep in’ approach is to schedule monthly check in appointments with your Acupuncturist through the middle of the pregnancy. There is always work to do. And a month can be a very long time during pregnancy!

Go with what you feel will work best for you.

 

Weekly in the final weeks of pregnancy

Weekly from 37 weeks is ideal. This will help facilitate the smooth preparation of bringing this divine soul earthside and prepare your body for labour.

There is so much divine work going on inside your body during this time. Many women become physically more tired and sore. And it may become harder to reach good pockets of sleep.

On top of that, there can be car seats to fit, renovations to finish (why does that always happen?!), and an influx of information coming at you from your birth provider.

There’s the endless thoughts of what labour is going to be like. How we are going to work with the pain.

In other words, there is A Lot. And our minds at this time can go into overdrive.

As the To Do List can whir around us, it’s time to breathe and come home.

A space that Acupuncture is so great at facilitating.

 

More often if you pass your estimated due date

Great to book in some treatments for 40.5 weeks and even 41 weeks. It’s very common to reach these! An estimated due date is just that, an estimate.

So if you do become ‘overdue’, lets use the pins to create some calm space, and facilitate the most optimal environment for your body to go into labour.

 

On ‘the other side’

If you’re seeing an Acupuncturist, ask them what to do regarding treatment on ‘the other side’.

Once pregnancy has drawn to a close, the summit of labour has been climbed, and you have that sweet delicious soul in your arms, there may still very well be work to be done.

Stepping over the threshold from pregnancy to motherhood does not mean you no longer require support.

In general, Chinese Medicine advises that it’s absolutely best for mum and babe to stay indoors and rest for the first 6 weeks. To get to know each other, facilitate recovery from the big experience of birth, and sync up in their rhythms.

At the same time, be in contact with your Acupuncturist if any bumps arise. They may be able to help you. Or they may be able to guide you towards the correct support you may require. Early intervention can be so useful with many postpartum conditions, so please remember that it is always, always okay to ask for help.

 

AmyObrienColourAmy O’Brien is a registered Acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine practitioner with a passion for preconception, fertility and pregnancy care. Amy has extensive experience in acupuncture, including a 2 year period of administering acupuncture in a Melbourne hospital. She enjoys working with every aspect of health and disease to assist you in creating fabulous health.

Pregnancy Acupuncture 101

Ashley Gordon, FGHG Acupuncturist takes us through the basics of acupuncture during pregnancy and explains why it’s such a good idea.

Is it your first pregnancy? Maybe your second or third? Whichever is the case, when you are looking for pregnancy advice, if you Google it you will be inundated with pages of links and information overload. If you don’t have time to navigate the extensive library of information, here is a short spiel on pregnancy acupuncture, the best bits, to save you some time!

I’ve had many questions asked of me about acupuncture, but undoubtedly the most common is “Does it hurt?” and specifically for pregnancy acupuncture, “Is it safe?” The answer to the second question is YES, it is safe! The first question, is a bit more troublesome as it is based on an individual’s pain tolerance, which is subjective, but in general acupuncture doesn’t hurt. Sure, we are puncturing the skin with a needle, so there has to be an initial prick, but there should be no unwanted sensations after that. Some patients even fall asleep, or use the time to meditate while the needles are doing all the hard work for you!

The next most common question is “Is pregnancy acupuncture beneficial?” During the first trimester, it’s very commonly used to treat and alleviate symptoms such as nauseaheartburn and fatigue. Acupuncture aims to maintain health and restore balance within the energy flow of the body – this is crucial due to the multitude of amazing changes that occur during pregnancy. Not only do we need to give the body some credit for the incredible task it has ahead of it, but also give you as much assistance as we can to help the pregnancy move forward with ease and grace.

Equally as important as the first trimester is the third trimester. This time can be used to prepare the body for labour. This is all about blood flow, ensuring the body is well nourished and all of the key organs active in labour are supported and regulated – this is what is called birth preparation acupuncture.

But why is birth preparation acupuncture important, you ask?

Think of it as training. Would you front up to a marathon without any training? Probably not. The #1 reason for birth preparation treatments is to promote a smooth labour. Birth preparation acupuncture consists of a series of weekly treatments from 34-36 weeks onwards and can help to prepare the body for labour. Due to this preparation, your body will not be a stranger to acupuncture if used for labour promotion and will be more receptive to it’s effects. When the time arrives to assist in helping your baby engageincrease cervical ripening and dilation or strengthen contractions, acupuncture is here to help.

Here at Fertile Ground, not only do we have skilled acupuncturists, but we also have Naturopaths, massage therapists and Osteopaths to further assist you and your body throughout the incredible journey of pregnancy. It’s the wholistic approach that we love the most here at Fertile Ground and it would be our pleasure to help you on your way…

 

Ash Gordon colourAshley Gordon, FGHG Acupuncturist

Ashley is an experienced acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist who is passionate about utilising the innate healing qualities of the body in achieving the desired outcomes, be that in fertility, pregnancy or general health. He has developed a strong focus and passion for pregnancy, birth preparation and pre conception care, and is motivated by being apart of each individual journey and the emotional and physical changes of these experiences.

Who is Ashley Gordon, Acupuncturist?

We talk to Ashley Gordon, Acupuncturist at FGHG and discover what makes him such a fabulous, dedicated practitioner and why he has chosen to focus on reproductive health, fertility and pregnancy acupuncture.

What initially ignited your interest in studying to become a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner and acupuncturist?

Before my time as a TCM practitioner, I was a middle school Biology and Maths teacher. This was good, but I knew there was something… I was on the prowl for job satisfaction. Whilst having a treatment from my acupuncturist, she said “you seem to know a lot about it, ever thought of studying it?”… baffled at the timing of that statement, my answer was “not until now…” and the rest was history!!

How does an Eastern philosophy differ from a western philosophy in terms of fertility and reproductive support?

In my understanding, as different as they can be, they are both just as crucial as the other. Simplistically and generally, Western philosophy seems to go by numbers… if they fit, then they are good. This may not always take into consideration factors such as stress, emotions, sleep and their related symptoms in the body… this is where Eastern philosophy comes in quite strongly. Together, they can make as awesome team, but each have their own ability to stand independently. Fertility and reproductive support can be so easily affected by so many different lifestyle choices. It make sense to sort these out ASAP!

What unique challenges and rewards come from working with your patients in an independent, non-Western healthcare care setting ?

The rewards are many. In fertility and reproductive support specifically, the answer is simply sharing in the joy of people succeeding in their goal of having a baby. In general, assisting people in working towards better health and maximising all that their body and life has to offer. The body knows, we just need to point it in the right direction sometimes…

Chinese Medicine is such a broad discipline with so many different tools, could you offer some insight into how Chinese Medicine works best for you as a practitioner and which areas you particularly love treating?

Without a doubt, my passion lies in treating pregnancy with acupuncture. My fascination and intrigue with the human body is epitomised by pregnancy. Watching the body, grow, adapt and mould whilst still supporting the day-to-day life of a human, blows me away. My other favourite is pre-conception care – assisting this miracle to happen is such a joy!

 

Ash-Gordon-colourAshley Gordon, FGHG Acupuncturist

Ashley is an experienced acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist who is passionate about utilising the innate healing qualities of the body in achieving the desired outcomes. Be that in fertility, pregnancy or general health.

Ashley has a strong focus on preconception care, pregnancy and birth preparation and is motivated by the journeys and emotional and physical changes that these experiences bring. It is his privilege to a be a part of such a personal and life-changing journey.

Tips for Good Posture During Pregnancy

By Ros Gilfillan, FGHG Remedial Massage Therapist

Pregnancy by its very nature creates new postural patterns as the body compensates for a change in weight and shape. On it’s own this can be totally manageable, but many pregnant women have pre-existing postural issues, developed long before pregnancy and will need additional exercises to minimise muscular aches, pain and long term consequences.

Most people spend each day repeating other postural patterns caused by the lifestyle they live, i.e. sitting or standing for long periods of time at work and time spent repeating limited movements in our daily life. But it’s the bad habits developed over a long period of time that can be detrimental to our general wellbeing, taking years to undo.

If you are more aware of your posture during pregnancy and take measures to stretch and strengthen your muscles, you can avoid long term postural issues that can develop during pregnancy.

What happens to your posture during pregnancy?

So many things happen to affect your posture during pregnancy! Here are just a few:

  • Your organs will go through some changes in shape, size and positioning in order to make room for the growing baby, ensuring that everything still functions adequately.
  • As you expand, your centre of gravity shifts and the orientation of your posture adjusts with a compensatory pattern.
  • Your ligaments soften during the gradual increase of load, which we hope is being beautifully cupped by the subtle spreading of your pelvis. All of this softening is what starts to alter the curvature of the spine through the rib section, the sway-back in the lower lumbar area and a more pronounced anterior (forward) tilt to the pelvis.
  • The second half of the pregnancy is probably when those niggling pains start to set in, where the back muscles shorten and the abdominal muscles lengthen with the pelvis tilting forward due to weakening of hips, gluts, and even the surrounding muscles of the shins. Sometimes this can lead to mums becoming ‘knock kneed’ and why addressing these changes early on with tailored strengthening exercise and stretching is essential.

What can be done to avoid problems with posture during pregnancy and beyond?

As difficult as it is to find lifestyle balance, just being a little mindful of the way we carry ourselves each day and by starting to incorporate good postural habits early, we can move through life avoiding a myriad of unpleasant conditions that can come back to haunt us later in life.

Stretching and strengthening exercises are so important to maintaining good posture; avoiding slouched shoulders, forward head and curvature of the thoracic and lumbar spine during pregnancy and in fact, all through life.

Stretching increases the range of motion and resting length of muscles while resistance exercise strengthens the integrity of the prime movers and their smaller assisting muscles, contributing to better posture. It’s important to try to make small adjustments to how you carry yourself daily and mix it up with some pilates, gentle yoga, swimming, or a brisk walk outside.

Massage during pregnancy can also assist by releasing some of the pressure on your posture as the baby grows. Offering relief for sore and aching muscles, it also helps to release tension in restricted muscles, lengthening them and increasing blood flow.  Everyone feels “ironed-out” after a good massage!

10 Posture improving tips you can start right now:

  1. Stand straight. Imagine a string attached in the middle of the top of your head that “the puppeteer” is pulling on upward.
  2. Try dropping shoulders naturally. If your head is first in the right position with your ear aligned with the centre of the shoulder at the AC joint, you will have no trouble dropping the shoulders.
  3. Gently pull in your abdomen. This will counteract the sway-back and pouched out belly stance.
  4. Activate your buttocks and pull inward. The centre of gravity should sit centred directly over your hips.
  5. Avoid locking your knees. Stand with knees at shoulder width and knees ever so slightly flexed. And try evenly speeding weight in your feet. Think of a triangle between the big toe, to the little toe and the centre of your heel with even distribution.
  6. Don’t stand for too long. Good blood circulation can become impeded. If you’re forced to stand. E.g. in a cue or on public transport, try to lift your knee and rotate your feet occasionally in circular motions.
  7. Sitting posture during pregnancy. Make sure your chair has a hard upright back, and place a small pillow across your lumbar back, positioning your feet squarely on the floor, and use a foot stool if necessary.
  8. Never cross your legs. This can cause circulation problems and varicose veins. Get up and walk frequently, and if sitting, use a foot stool and keep up the foot twirling exercise.
  9. Optimum sleeping position. Your body will let you know when to stop lying on your back. Side sleeping is best with a supportive pillow under your head and neck, and also between the knees. Some ladies also like to cuddle a pillow between their arms to square up the shoulders too. Sleeping on the left side is better for digestion, and enhances circulation to the placenta.
  10. When changing positions. Shift slowly, extending and using arms and bending knees to maintain your centre of gravity. Try activating the big dynamic muscles in your legs and buttocks.

If we consider the enormous change a pregnant woman’s body goes through during the gestation of a baby, you can understand why it is common for mums to get all kinds of pain, especially in the lower back.  With just a little awareness, some simple exercises and the occasional massage your posture will survive the pregnancy and be ready for the fun times ahead when the baby arrives!

 

Rosalyn Gilfillan colourRos Gilfillan is an experienced remedial massage therapist who enjoys working with a myriad of people from all backgrounds and ages. Her skills have been developed through treating conditions ranging from muscular, skeletal and postural issues, pre and post sports treatment for athletes and management of pain linked to injury, degenerative conditions and mental health.

Ros has also developed a special interest in working with women through their pregnancy journey and beyond. She considers the incredible changes in a woman’s body that accommodate and nourish the life of baby, to be both magical and a time that should be enjoyed given the right support system.

 

Connecting to nature: how Clary Sage essential oil supports the health of women and their wombs

by Nicole McCowan, FGHG Massage Therapist

Mother Nature provides so many healing gifts to us, one of which is Clary Sage, botanical name Salvia Scarea. The gorgeous purple flowers that cascade down the stem of the plant hold the most special gift.Clary Sage It is in the flowers and foliage of the plant that contains its essential oil which is steam-distilled and extracted. This precious oil can then be used to assist women in so many ways. Here are some of the primary benefits.

Mind
  • Euphoric and uplifting in action it is beneficial for treating anxiety, stress, nervous tension and depression.
  • A balancing oil it is strengthening yet relaxing.
  • Assists with nervous fatigue
  • Effective for calming the mind and easing tension
Body
  • Antispasmodic and Analgesic – brings relief to menstrual cramps, assists during labour
  • Uterine Tonic – can cause contractions of the uterus, which can assist in toning and improving the effectiveness of contractions in labour
  • Emmenagogue and uterine stimulant – promotes menstruation when it is delayed, scanty or completely absent.
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Oestrogenic action – meaning it mimics oestrogen which can be beneficial to balance hormones and during menopause. For menopause it can help reduce hot flushes, night sweats, palpitations, irritability, as well as headaches and dizziness.
Spirit

Stimulating and balancing the sacral and third eye chakras. The sacral chakra being connected to your sexual organs and third eye to your intuition.

How can I use Clary Sage?

You can use Clary Sage in applications such as:

  • Massage – add 12 drops of Clary Sage to 30mls of carrier oil. Carrier oils can include jojoba, rosehip, coconut, olive, almond, macadamia, any vegetable oils that are scrumptious and you adore to lather yourself in.
  • Hot/cold compress – add 4-6 drops to a bowl of hot/cold water and immerse your compress in the water. Repeat soaking of compress as desired.
  • Bath/foot bath – add 4 -6 drops
  • Skin care – add 2 drops to a 50 cent piece size of your daily body moisturiser. Avoid adding to facial moisturizer.
  • Inhalations – add 2-4 drops to a bowl of boiling water and use a towel to cover your head over the bowl and breath normally until steam dissipates.
  • Oil diffuser or vaporiser – add 4-6 drops

Massage is such a luscious way to absorb the benefits of Clary Sage. For that reason, and all the other benefits stated above, is why at Fertile Ground Health Group we use this essential oil in our birth preparation/induction massages.

Contraindications

Although Clary Sage is a wonderful oil to use when preparing for and during childbirth, as well for menstruation and menopause. It is advised not to use during pregnancy before 37 weeks. Not to be consumed internally.

NicoleCOLOUR1Nicole McCowan is an experienced remedial and pregnancy massage therapist. as well as a feminine embodiment yoga teacher. She finds both yoga and massage are wonderful ways to help women drop into their body (and out of the mind) and nourish their body, mind and spirit. Nicole has deep respect for where each woman is on her journey and will honour this as she helps facilitate healing and wellbeing through her divinely releaxing and therapeutic massage.

Getting to know your practitioner – Sonia Millett, FGHG acupuncturist

What inspired you to become an acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist, with a special interest in fertility and pregnancy?

Fertility, pregnancy and women’s health conditions are some of the most interesting and complex to treat, for this reason it has always drawn me – there are so many interesting aspects to consider, such as hormonal and emotional factors.

I love the challenges fertility issues present, and in particular the joy of hard-fought successes such as conceiving a baby after years of trying.  I also enjoy then treating  patients up until they give birth –  there is a real sense of completion and connection with the patient.

I first experienced the benefits of Chinese Medicine when my infant son did not gain weight and was diagnosed with ‘failure to thrive’, and was very unsettled. Several pediatricians were unable to provide a reason or a solution. Chinese Medicine, however, provided some notable improvements, and I was hooked.

What do you see as the strengths that acupuncture and Chinese Medicine (CM) have to offer in terms of fertility and reproductive support?

Fertility and pregnancy treatments are a major area of strength in Chinese Medicine as it fills a gap in conventional Western Medicine. This makes it a wonderful adjunct to medical treatments such as IVF.  If a pathology is not visible (eg in scans/to the eye) or does not show up in testing such as blood tests, Chinese Medicine excels. This is why Chinese Medicine can be effective with diagnoses such as ‘unexplained’ infertility, or for older patients. Traditional Chinese Medicine has a different diagnostic system and we can find a diagnosis (and therefore help treat) even when there is none in Western Medicine.

Chinese Medicine practitioners treat the individual, not the disease, and aim to strengthen underlying issues in the body.  The treatments are more patient- centred.

Also, Chinese Medicine is a holistic approach, supporting the OVERALL health and vitality of the body, as well as treating health issues directly. The principle aim of Chinese Medicine and acupuncture is to recover the equilibrium between the physical and emotional aspects of an individual, by treating the whole person. This is why we also provide lifestyle and dietary advice, and consider the emotional state of patients.

Patients often report they feel less stressed and more able to cope following acupuncture treatments, and we see this as a vital part of the treatment.

In your work you assist a lot of women on their journey to becoming pregnant, do you recommend they continue to see you after they have fallen pregnant? What does acupuncture and Chinese medicine have to offer during pregnancy?

Chinese Medicine is very useful throughout pregnancy. It offers a gentle approach to treatment without side-effects. It can help treat conditions such as nausea in early pregnancy, and any pain throughout the pregnancy. In late pregnancy, acupuncture can be used to prepare the patient for an on-time labour.

The benefits of treatment also extend to post-partum for issues such as poor milk supply and for a boost in energy when exhausted.

Your week tends to be very busy, what sort of self-care do you do to recharge outside of seeing patients?

I get lots of benefit from connecting with special friends, and possibly combining this with a walk. Also a regular yoga practice. I find that any practice that nourishes you emotionally as well as physically, has more far-reaching benefits. Whenever time permits, I also enjoy  acupuncture, kinesiology or massage treatments throughout the year.

I enjoy massage treatments primarily for stress relief, and acupuncture or kinesiology when I have a more acute condition that needs addressing such as pain.  I personally really enjoy kinesiology – it’s an eclectic mix of treatment approaches (and even incorporates some Chinese Medicine channel theory).

What are your top five tips for others to help maintain a healthy lifestyle?

  • Eat a nutritious diet with primarily fresh fruit and vegetables (no need to eat low fat foods) and get daily exercise (doesn’t need to be strenuous).
  • Make time for fun and nurture the special relationships in your life. Particularly important when going through challenging times such as when trying to conceive or with a new baby.
  • Find Gratitude – notice things in your life daily that you are grateful for
  • Get plenty of sleep, ideally within the hours of 11pm – 6.00am.
  • And of course have regular therapeutic treatments such as acupuncture, massage, naturopathy, kinesiology, to maintain health – after all, prevention is better than cure! CM is great as a preventative to help keep you in peak heath and manage stress.

Learn more about Sonia Millet on our practitioner page here: Sonia Millet, FGHG Acupuncturist

Surviving Summer Pregnancy

By Ashley Gordon, FGHG acupuncturist

So your first 34 weeks of pregnancy has come and gone. For some this has been tumultuous and you’d rather not do it again, for others, it has been an enjoyable journey. But be prepared! In my experience working with many pregnant women, I can safely say that when trying to cope with the Summer heat, the coming 6 weeks of pregnancy may prove challenging, especially when embarking on the run to the finish line (not that you should be running!!).

Why is that I hear you asking?

During the latter stages of pregnancy, the human body has increased its blood volume by up to a whopping 50% (or just short of, according to this study[1]). With more fluid comes considerably more heat! If you are 34 weeks and beyond you are carrying significantly more blood, metabolism is increased and so is blood flow to the skin, making you feel warmer and possibly sweat more too. Interestingly too, a pregnant woman’s basal body temperature is on average is 0.4 degrees higher than normal and while this doesn’t sound like much, most pregnant women will notice it!

From a Chinese Medical perspective, more blood means more Yang and Yang is the driving force behind growing a baby. So it has a wonderful purpose with its ability to speed up many important processes in the body but please hear me, while this is a great thing and undeniably important for your little one to grow, it may come at a cost to your comfort as the outside temperatures soar!

Some symptoms you might experience with excess heat include swelling, difficulty sleeping, skin tightness, excessive sweating and of course, just feeling really hot and bothered! So while there are many wonderful advantages to being pregnant and delivering your little one in the warmer months of the year (such as lovely days outside with copious fresh air), when the word “over-heated” is an understatement and the air-conditioner just isn’t helping… here are a few tips to make this time more tolerable…

  1. The oh-so-obvious – stay HYDRATED – Might sound like a “no-brainer”, but fresh water isn’t always as common as you think. Substituting other drinks for water, especially the ones which contain sugar, may in fact have a heating effect on your body – let’s go for a 2L of water minimum, but feel free to drink more.
  1. Plonk yourself in a pool – If you have kids, grab the kiddie pool, if you don’t have kids, BUY A KIDDIE POOL! On the deck, under a tree – set-up is easy, but make sure you have assistance getting out!
  1. Predict the warmth – again, might sounds like common-sense, but limit your outdoor activities to the early morning or early evening. Midday is for rest and relaxing (and the kiddie pool).
  1. A handy wet towel and ice pack – there are numerous places on our body where a cool towel will work wonders in decreasing body heat. A cold compress on your face and/or head will bring instantaneous relief, but if you have an ice pack handy, applying this to your pulse points at the wrists, neck, groin, elbows, ankles or behind your knees, will start cooling you from the inside out.
  1. A pre-bed or anytime cold shower (or dip) – no explanations needed here. Not only will this bring down your core body temperature fast, but cleanse you of your sweat so you can fall asleep nice and clean.
  1. Frozen treat fiesta – pack the freezer full of healthy home-made frozen treats. Try fruit-filled ice cubes or home-made fruity popsicles as a treat. Cooling down from the inside out is a much more efficient thermos-regulator.
  1. Spray bottle and a fan – cooling down is super efficient via sweating – why? EVAPOPRATION! DIY spray bottle and stand in front of a fan and watch your body temperature plummet.
  1. Scrap salty foods – salt retains water and chances are your already retaining fluid, so limit the salt intake and lose the excess fluid.

[1] Clin Haematol. 1985 Oct;14(3):601-12.

 

Ash-Gordon-colourAshley Gordon, FGHG Acupuncturist

An experienced Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist, Ash has a special interest in treating women from pre-conception, throughout pregnancy and beyond birth for post-natal care.

Ash has seen incredible results using acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine for pregnant women experiencing common pregnancy symptoms such as nasuea, morning sickness, sleep issues, fatigue and heartburn as well as preparing the body for active and successful labour.