Looking for a career change? At Birth Right we provide transformative doula training, and Inside Birth® Practitioner Training – teaching you how to teach deep hypnosis for labour and birthing, challenging your beliefs and learning to think outside the box.
At Birth Right, we believe that each woman ‘knows’ how to birth.
Our Inside Birth® classes and doula service respects each woman’s uniqueness, and inspires the integration of mind, body, and spirit through the values of trust, right choices and non-violence.
When this connection happens, it teaches self-confidence, deletes fears and allows ‘trust’ – to give birth in peace and with love.
Mind the Bump is a fabulous new App developed by Smiling Mind and beyondblue with the help of psychiatrists and psychologists who specialise in Mindfulness Meditation, mental health, perinatal health and online wellbeing.
The free Mindfulness Meditation App aims to help individuals and couples support their mental and emotional wellbeing in preparation for having a baby and becoming a new parent.
There are loads of tailored exercises to support parents from day one of pregnancy through to 24 months after birth and is geared towards mothers, fathers, single parents and same sex couples. It can also be used by health professionals working with new and expecting parents.
Mindfulness is simply the process of paying attention to the present moment, with purpose and without judgment.
The Mind the Bump App contains activities that help to train the brain and strengthen one’s ability to be mindful, which further increases an individuals capacity to manage stress, change, and build connections.
A Child’s Brain Development
On the flip side, mindfulness is an incredibly useful tool for optimal child development as well.
It’s now clear from decades of research that as a young child’s brain develops over time, mindfully caring for them increases the chances they grow up to be mentally and emotionally well balanced and better able to handle life.
Here is a great video describing the importance of mindfulness on a child’s brain development.
Many of you may have heard the recent news about the food health scare across Australia involving frozen berries.
A public health investigation is currently underway into the national outbreak of locally-acquired hepatitis A during January and February 2015 which is linked to eating frozen berries during the incubation period.
Several lines of frozen berries under the “Nanna’s” and “Creative Gourmet” brands are now subject to a national recall. See the NSW Food Authority website for details on products recalled.
If you feel you or your family have been affected by this then please read the following information sheet GP Alert: Hepatitis A – 17 Feb 2015 and contact your local GP immediately.
Red Tent Mums is hosting the Bumps Births Babies – Holistic Health Conference 2015 where some incredible speakers from Australia and around the world will be interviewed on the important topics of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and motherhood.
You get to hear about the science, discover new techniques and uncover ancient ones, as well as nurture your pregnancy, realise your birth potential and discover delicious motherhood. Sounds pretty good!
These interviews with inspiring and dedicated women who are experts in their field be be available online via a series of webinars between the 23-28 March 2015.
Anyone who signs up for the conference will receive FREE ACCESS to 21 interviews as well as 3 FREE GIFTS which include:
Free Gift 1 – E-Book: The Simple Homeby Jodi Wilson
Free Gift 2 – E-Book: Educate Yourself by Dr Nat Kringoudis
Free Gift 3 – Website Membership to exclusive videos & resources by Dr Sarah Buckley
To find out more about the conference have a look at the video below.
We are very excited to welcome Alice Yang to our team here at House of Fertility & Healing.
She will be available by appointment on Sundays between 9am – 5pm.
Alice is a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner with a skill set that includes Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, and moxibustion. She graduated from UTS with a degree in Applied Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and has completed an internship at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital, where she worked on various wards including dermatology, gynaecology, oncology, and musculo-skeletal.
She strongly advocates a holistic approach in health and well being, where treatment is a combination of providing relief for symptoms as well as addressing the root cause of health conditions. An integral part of Alice’s practice is an emphasis on the important role diet and lifestyle can play in a person’s health and healing process.
Alice has a strong interest in:
Women’s Health – especially in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and Endometriosis
Pregnancy & Fertility – IVF, Pre- and Post-Natal Care and Birth Induction
Weight Loss and Digestion
Migraine and Headaches
Alice is a member of Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association and a registered member of the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia.
For further enquiries please contact Alice at the House of Fertility & Healing, 02 9557 6440 or book yourself in for an appointment with her via our online booking system.
For pregnant women, pubic symphysis pain can be truly debilitating and even result in depression. What is Pubic Symphisitis and what pregnancy treatments exist that can help women to cope with this condition? Read on to learn more.
Pubic Symphisitis is a condition in which a woman experiences pain in the pelvic region due to a shifting of the bones. It is the joint between the two pelvis bones that becomes stiff, and the pain from this joint can radiate in any direction creating extreme discomfort. The condition does not have to be associated with fertility and pregnancy, but it often is as the additional shifting weight is can be what causes the pelvis to shift and become misaligned. Also, during pregnancy, the body produces relaxin. This causes the ligaments to relax. It is important in order to allow the baby to pass through the birth canal, but it can also weaken the joint between the pelvis bones which is most often the cause of the pain. Doctors can use an x-ray to see if the gap in the joint has pulled farther away than it should during pregnancy.
As a result, everyday activities may become extremely painful for a woman. She may find it difficult to lift anything that weighs very much, to bend or twist at the waist, or even to get out of bed in the morning. Sleeping can also become difficult as the pain may increases with every shift while in the bed. Thus, some women sleep with a pillow between their knees. While many doctors will recommend Physiotherapy, our team of Acupuncturists at House of Fertility & Healing offer a solution that have been demonstrated to be even more effective in treating the pain of Pubic Symphisitis.
Research has shown that those who undergo acupuncture have a greater reduction in pain than those who seek what many may consider a more conventional treatment such as Physio. The fact is that pregnancy acupuncture is a great pain reducing tool for those who are willing to give it a try.
For a Symphisitis sufferer to set oneself up for an easier labour, acupuncture is an important part of the labour preparation process. Women suffering from this condition should thus consider the health benefits of pregnancy acupuncture. Sydney residents can be happy to have a reliable and experienced centre to go for this treatment.
Infertility is defined by failure of a couple to conceive a pregnancy after one year of regular sexual activity without the use of contraception (WHO, 2013). Infertility is further categorised as Complete/Primary Infertility – where pregnancy has never occurred or Secondary Infertility – a couple have previously conceived, but are having trouble conceiving again after one year (Alexander & Hanna, 2011).
Approximately one in six Australian couples suffers from infertility and in 30-40% of cases the underlying cause is Male Factor Infertility. The incidence of Male Factor Infertility appears to have increased in recent years (Qu, 2010) possibly due to deliberate deferment and acquired factors.
Cause of Male Factor Infertility
An estimated 6% of adult males are thought to be infertile; these cases are due to anatomical abnormalities which may include varicoceles, duct obstructions or ejaculatory disorders with an estimated 40-90% of cases due to decreased sperm production of unknown origin. Interestingly the average male sperm count has declined from over 100 million per ml in 1940’s to under 70 million per ml in 1990 (Carlsen et al, 1993). Research (Sinclair, 2000) indicates that the decline in sperm count has multi factorial causes these may include nutritional factors, environmental factors, endocrine abnormalities, use of prescription medications, occupational exposure to toxins, recreational drug use, alcohol, excessive heat and history of genitourinary infections.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
Traditional Chinese Medicine is perhaps more noted for its treatment of female infertility yet there are many references to male factor disorders in early Chinese medical texts. Like female infertility disorders the Kidneys are considered in TCM to be the foundation of male fertility. Similarly in Western Medicine functional disorders of the kidneys may result in a variety of disease such as urinary problems, genital disorders and renal disease which may affect the male’s ability for reproduction.
The Kidneys in TCM are considered the ocean of the human body which houses the ‘Jing’ and considered the master of the twelve meridians (acupuncture networks). The word Jing is synonymous with the Chinese word semen; therefore any dysfunction in the Kidney meridian will conversely affect the male’s ability for reproduction.
TCM treatment options for male factor infertility will usually incorporate Kidney tonics (Herbal Medicine) and acupuncture points associated with enhancing the Kidney Qi (energy). These treatment options will be dependent on your individual TCM diagnostics and clinical condition.
Research studies have indicated that acupuncture results in statistically improved or marked sperm quality and fertilization rates in men that have semen abnormalities (Gurfinkel et al, 2003) and low sperm counts (Siterman et al, 2000). Other studies indicate that acupuncture can significantly improve sperm motility, sperm ratio’s and increase fertilization rates (Zang et al, 2002).
Patent Chinese herbs and formulas are readily available for fertility; however it is essential that all herbal treatments are prescribed by a licensed TCM practitioner who prescribes according to TCM diagnostics and corresponding TCM pattern.
Life Style Factors/Risks
Recent research indicates that lifestyle factors play an important role in Male Factor Infertility and simple lifestyle modifications can dramatically increase the male’s ability to reproduce, although this is dependent on individual aetiology and clinical history (Homan et al, 2007).
Reducing Lifestyle Risks
Obesity – high Body Mass Index (BMI) reduces sperm count/motility and has other negative health consequences > increases your risk for heart disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes and sleep apnoea. Increasing physical activity, improving diet, and then sustaining these lifestyle changes can reduce your BMI, improve sperm count, increase sperm motility and reduce your risk for potential long term health problems.
Smoking – considered hot, drying and toxic in Chinese Medicine > drying the fluids, depleting the Kidney-Jing and damages the Lung reducing the body’s ability to circulate Qi. Western medicine research indicates that men who smoke have decreased sperm motility concentrations, plus serious long term health problems. Studies suggest that acupuncture may assist motivated smokers to reduce their smoking or cease smoking completely.
Alcohol – considered sweet-bitter and hot in Chinese Medicine > in small amounts invigorates the blood and dispel cold, however in excess causes toxic heat and dampness > which disturbs the Shen (mind), impairs the function of the Spleen and exhausts the blood and Kidney-Jing. In Western Medicine studies have indicated that alcohol consumption increases the number of abnormal sperm (Joo et al, 2012) and can lead to chronic health problems > liver disease, weight gain, pancreatitis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, depression, memory loss (WHO, 2013). Strategies to reduce (or cease) your alcohol intake will not only improve your general health but also boost sperm production and quality.
Diet – is considered the first line of defence in Chinese Medicine, a balanced diet in Chinese Medicine includes the five flavours > sweet, pungent, bitter, sour and salty > each flavour has a therapeutic property/action. Traditional Chinese herbs are also categorised within the five flavour concept each having its own dynamic therapeutic effect. No one herb is a cure for infertility, each herbal formula is carefully constructed according to your clinical condition and TCM diagnostic pattern. Herbal Medicine for male infertility is usually prescribed for a minimum of 3-6 months, considering spermatogenesis (sperm life cycle) is approximately 2-3 months – treatment for less than 3 months is not considered therapeutic.
Opting for a balanced and varied diet is important step towards a healthy lifestyle. A healthy diet with adequate minerals and vitamins boosts immunity and protects the body from certain diseases > cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and certain cancers (WHO, 2013).
Studies also indicate that men who increase their consumption of cereal, fruit and folate have a marked improvement in sperm count, motility and morphology. Sinclair (2000) also notes nutritional supplements that have a beneficial impact on male fertility, these include > Carnitine, Arginine, Zinc, Antioxidants, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, Coenzyme Q10 and Vitamin B12.
Psychological stress – studies indicate that chronic or prolonged stress affects spermatogenesis (the process by which sperm develop to become mature sperm). Simple strategies for reducing stress > exercise, eat a well-balanced diet, share your feelings with friends and family, have a massage, listen to music, reduce caffeine, avoid alcohol/drugs/cigarettes and ensure you have enough sleep. Research indicates acupuncture has therapeutic effects on stress, anxiety and depression; your TCM practitioner may supplement these treatments with herbal medicine.
By Kevin Redmond – Registered Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbal Medicine Practitioner with the Chinese Medical Board of Australia and a Registered Nurse with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.
Kevin holds a Bachelor of Health Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from UTS and a Certificate in Traditional Chinese Medicine (Beijing, China). Kevin practices at House of Fertility and Healing every Sunday.
Alexander, M. & Hanna, C. 2011, Fertility: out of Range, Panaxea Australia, Seminar Notes, Sydney.
Carlsen, E., Giwercman, A.J., Keiding, N., Skakkebaek, N. 1993, Decline in semen quality fromom 1930 to 1991. Ugeskr Laeger 1993; 155:2230-2235.
Gurfinkel, E., Cedenho, A.P., Yamamura, Y., Srougi, M. 2003, Effects of acupuncture and moxa treatment in patients with semen abnormalities, Asian Journal of Andrology, Dec; 5(4):345-8.
Joo, K.J., Kwon, Y.W., Myung, S., Kim, T.H. 2012, , The Effects of Smoking and Alcohol Intake on Sperm Quality, Journal of International Medical Research December 2,vol. 40 no. 6 2327-2335.
Endometriosis involves the migration and growth of endometrial cells outside of the uterus which induces a chronic, inflammatory reaction that may cause health complications and increase a woman’s risk of infertility. The endometrial cells may colonise any adjacent cells or organs including the pelvic peritoneum, ovaries, recto-vaginal septum, bladder and bowel. Risk factors include early onset of menstruation, allergies, genetics, exposure to toxins in the environment (e.g. xenoestrogens), lower body weight, excessive alcohol consumption and heavy, prolonged menstrual cycles (Vinatier et al, 2001, p.27).
In mild endometriosis, chemicals being released from the endometrial cells interfere with conception or affect the normal early development of the embryo. In moderate to severe forms, scarring can interfere with ovulation and block the passage of the egg along the fallopian tube. It can also prevent the sperm from reaching the egg (Gurates et al, 2003, p.128). Despite this, many women with endometriosis have conceived, carried and birthed children without difficulty.
Signs and symptoms
Pain is the most common symptom, followed by fertility complications. Pain can occur during menstruation, in the lower abdomen, back or pelvis, during intercourse, ovulation, urination or with bowel movements. Pre-menstrual tension, menorrhagia, irregular bleeding and pre-menstrual spotting are common (Steege et al, 1993, p.100).
Retrograde menstruation is considered the key causative mechanism. This is when menstrual blood flows backwards along the fallopian tubes into the pelvis and facilitates the entry of endometrial cells into the pelvic region, instead of out through the vagina naturally. This is why your TCM practitioner will usually ask you to use pads instead of tampons (Maciocia, 2011, p.850).
Once in the abdominal cavity, these cells develop into small patches or plaques, which grow in size and may develop into nodules. On the ovary, these can increase in size and burrow to form cysts, known as endometriomas or ‘chocolate’ cysts (Clement, 2007, p.252). Surgical treatment of endometriosis such as laparoscopy may increase the chances of pregnancy. Combining surgery with acupuncture and herbs can increase your chances of a good healthy, recovery, and of a successful pregnancy. Before pursuing surgery or drug therapy, assess your options through research and make informed decisions to ensure your endometriosis will be best treated according to your individual needs and requirements (Danny et al, 2007, p.1113).
Conventional medical treatments include pain killers, anti-inflammatories drugs and surgery which mask the symptoms rather than treat the root cause of the disease. Hormone therapy may also be prescribed to you such as the oral contraceptive pill, but this can reduce your fertility (Massan & Killick, 2003, p.351) and reduces your libido, given natural hormone production, ovulation and menstruation will be supressed.
TCM Treatment for Endometriosis
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treats a wide range of illness and disease including endometriosis. It is an ancient traditional medicine where we encompass acupuncture, herbs, cupping, lifestyle, diet and much more. The treatment works with your qi, energy or vital force, that flows between organs in the body in meridians or energetic pathways. Health challenges and disease represent blockages of qi in the body, and can be moved and strengthened to restore your health and vitality with regular treatment. TCM is reknowned for its relative lack of side-effects, being gentle and non-invasive and treats you as an individual, holistically.
Women with endometriosis may present with poor digestion, circulation, blood stagnation and a component of kidney yin or yang deficiency. The kidney energy is responsible for many functions including human reproduction and development, manufacturing blood, creating healthy, shiny hair, along with the reproductive fluids of the vagina and penis. When the kidney energy is too weak to warm and circulate the blood, it will stagnate (Maciocia, 2011, 849). Endometriosis affects women particularly in the pelvic area given the liver channel is sensitive to stress and is responsible for moving qi through the body. Initially, the qi becomes stuck long-term and then this affects blood, given blood will always follows where qi flows (Zhou & Qu, 2009, p.515).
What is Blood Stagnation?
For the body to remain healthy it must be constantly moistened, nourished, and detoxified by an abundant supply of clean, fresh blood. When the blood does not circulate freely, known in Chinese Medicine as blood stagnation, disease may occur. These signs include but are not limited to the following: stabbing pain that is worse when pressed upon, fixed masses on the surface of the body, dark complexion, rough scaly dry skin, dry hair, a purple hue to the lips and finger nails, a dark purple tongue with possible signs of bruising, and a sluggish-feeling pulse (Pitchford, 2002, p.392).
There are two different kinds of blood stagnation manifestations in the body where firstly blood leaks from the vessels and lodges in the tissues, and secondly where blood that has stagnated in the meridians (channels that transport energy and blood throughout the body) and organs. The location of the blood stasis will determine the kinds of symptoms that one experiences. Blood stagnation can also be the result of blood deficiency, where there is not enough blood to circulate and nourish the body, it becomes sluggish and stagnates. Blood stagnation can further be complicated with hot or cold syndromes and qi stagnation, everyone is different. Our fertility treatments and fertility acupuncture almost always target blood stagnation, given women are prone to this every month when they menstruate.
Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs
Numerous studies have theorised endometriosis as being an auto-immune disorder in the body. Acupuncture can improve your immunity, and improve liver function that stimulates the nervous system to release hormones (Mathur, 2004, p.90).
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine can also reduce the stress you face in your life so that energy and blood flow better in the body. Generally acupuncture, gently moves your qi and blood and this reduces the chances of blood stagnating in your body. Your practitioner will be caring and make the best recommendations according to your situation and health goals.
Herbal treatment is paramount to ensure that menstrual blood is effectively moved and discharged in endometriosis. Committing to taking the herbs everyday as prescribed by your practitioner for the length of treatment is necessary. With regular acupuncture and taking your herbs, you should also find that your general wellbeing improves also, such as improved blood circulation in your body, fresher red menstrual blood flow and less period pain (Rubi-Klein et al, 2006, 42). Once you conceive, pregnancy acupuncture can support you through your pregnancy.
TCM Treatments aims to:
Treat the stress, a major cause of the disease.
Move the stagnant blood and qi, which causes pain and infertility.
Use both herbs (taken twice daily) & acupuncture (weekly) together: both play a key role in treating the condition.
Without herbs, treatment is only partially effective.
Depending on the severity and stage of your endomentriosis, the length of treatment may be 3 to 6 full cycles.
Support you to make long-term dietary and lifestyle changes to strengthen your body and vitality.
Making lifestyle changes according to the following along with your TCM treatment allows your body to reduce the stagnation of endometriosis and inflammatory effects sooner:
Take time in life to rest, don’t always rush around.
Wear comfortable clothing that is not too tight.
Practise mind body exercise such as tai chi, meditation, yoga.
During your period: rest, avoid cold foods and drinks especially, avoid abdominal exercises.
Take warm aromatherapy baths (not when you are menstruating).
Essential oils that are beneficial: frankincense, myrr, clary sage, peppermint, lavendar, rosemary, juniper and thyme.
Regularly use a heated wheat bag or hot water bottle on your abdomen and lower back.
Apply warm castor oil packs on your abdomen to activate blood circulation, support the lymphatic system and balance hormone levels. This can be done two to three times daily when pre-menstrual and menstruating.
Avoid all foods which have been treated hormonally, this can cause excessive oestrogen levels and affect your natural reproductive hormones.
Eat mainly organic fruit and vegetables, some nuts, seeds and tofu.
Avoid refined, rancid and hydrogenated oils.
Use oils rich in both linoleic and alpha-linolenic fatty acids such as flaxseed, pumpkin seed, evening primrose oil, extra-virgin olive oil and chia-seed oils, but only if they are recently cold-pressed and refined. Including flaxseed, evening primrose oil & high quality cod liver oil in your diet will increase the benefical Omega 3 fatty acid ratios which are usually deficient.
Include dietary spirulina, a variety of seaweeds and wholegrain, unpasteurised miso soup paste.
Minimise consumption of animal meats, dairy products, eggs, fried, oily, sweet food and peanuts.
Decrease the amount of dietary animal products, except fish.
If you do consume meat, ensure it is free range and organic, not hormonally treated.
Eat fresh walnuts (from the shell), dark greens, saffron and cold crimate crops (pumpkin, sweet potato, turnips, parsnips, carrots, yam).
Foods which are especially good for resolving blood stasis include: kelp, lemons, limes, onions, irish moss, eggplant and bladderwrack (Lewis, 2013).
Become informed, read the packet of what you are eating, does it contain preservatives, additives, processed flour, fats and sugars? If you cannot understand the ingredients then they are probably chemicals. If it has a long shelf-life, it won’t nourish your body.
Exercise, childbearing and breastfeeding are also thought to mitigate against endometriosis.
By Ilana Sowter, B.H.Sc (Acupuncture) graduate from Endeavour College Melbourne, a B.Sc (University of Melbourne) graduate, Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association (AACMA) member and is a Registered Acupuncturist with AHPRA.
Ilana’s mission is to treat, support and empower you to successfully achieve your health goal, and learn priceless information so you will maintain this in the process beyond the TCM treatment. The impossible is possible. She practices here at House of Fertility & Healing Mondays, Wednesdays & Saturdays.
Clement PB. The pathology of endometriosis. Advances in Anatomical Pathology 2007; 14(4):252.
Danny E, Mann CH. A clinical overview of endometriosis: a misunderstood disease. British Journal of Nursing 2007; 16 (18): 1112-6.
Gurates B & Bulan SE. Endometriosis: the ultimate hormonal disease. Seminars in Reproductive Medicine 2003; 21(2): 125-134.
Lewis, Randine (2013) Treatment of endometriosis and fibroids with acupuncture. www.thefertilesoul.com
Maciocia, Giovanni (2011) Obstetrics & Gynaecology in Chinese Medicine (2nd ed.). Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, UK.
Massan MAM & Killick SR. Is the previous use of hormonal contraception associated with a detrimental effect on subsequent fecundity? Oxford Journal of Human Reproduction 2003; 19(2): 344-351.
Mathur SP. Autoimmunity in endometriosis: relevance to infertility. American Journal to Reproductive Immunology 2004; 44: 89-95.
Pitchford, Paul (2002) Healing with wholefoods (3rd ed.) North Atlantic Books. Berkeley, California, USA.
Rubi-Klein K, Kucera-Sliutz E, Nissel H, Bijak M, Stockhuber P, Wolkenstein E. A randomised controlled crossover trial to ascertain if acupuncture in addition to conventional medicine is effective in alleviating pain in endometriosis. Focus on Alternative & Complementary Therapies 2006: 11: 42.