balanced hormones

Balanced hormones- for more than fertility

The importance of a healthy menstrual cycle

We all know the importance of balanced hormones, but do we really know why? Many of my patients come into my office thinking that the only reason to address hormonal imbalances or menstrual cycle challenges is if they want to get pregnant.

While, if that is a goal of yours, it is essential to address these issues, your menstrual cycle health has so much more to do with your overall health than just your ability to conceive.

Balanced hormones and a healthy menstrual cycle has major roles in

  • Cardiovascular health
  • Bone and joint health
  • Libido (sex drive)
  • Stress management
  • Adequate sleep

to name a few!

Hormone balancing basic

There are a few basic tools and steps I invite my patients to incorporate during their treatment plans to help reach their health goals.

The book titled ‘Womancode’ by Alisa Vitti, is one I encourage all my patients to read. It offers a step by step introduction to hormone balancing. It is easy to read and understand.

I will be elaborating on these steps in this blog series. Vitti breaks it down into 5 simple steps:

  1. Regulate blood sugar levels
  2. Address stress and the adrenals
  3. Proper elimination
  4. Understanding your menstrual cycle
  5. Living in alignment with your cycle energy

Simple, but not always easy

While the information I will be sharing with you about balancing hormones may seem simple at first, it is not always an easy adjustment if you are used to eating, acting and living a certain way.

I will be the first to admit, it is not always easy to see the correlation between these actions and our symptoms. With anything cycle related it can takes weeks, or even months, to notice any change. So, often times you will not see the direct benefit from your actions right away.

However, if you stick to these simple hormone balancing tools, with time, you will start to notice a change in your menstrual cycle, energy levels, and more!

 

 

 

As always, get in touch with any questions of concern you may have, or to book an initial consult either virtually or in person.

Call 1-778-400-6360 to book.

balanced hormones

Third Trimester – Pregnancy Acupuncture

The final stretch – the third trimester

It may feel as if there’s no way your belly can get any bigger, but there’s no doubt about it —  it will get bigger over the course of the third trimester of pregnancy. A lot bigger. Here’s what to expect from your body and your rapidly-maturing baby in these final few weeks.

Some commonly asked questions about these last few weeks

How long is the third trimester?

Week 29 – Week 40 (birth)

How is my body preparing for delivery?

One of the ways your body prepares is as your due date approaches, your cervix becomes thinner and softer in a process called effacement that helps the cervix open during childbirth.  This is a normal, natural process that helps the birth canal (vagina) to open during the birthing process.

Why do I have to pee so much?

As you baby grows, the pressure on your organs will increase, including your bladder.

How is my baby growing?

  • Your baby’s bones are soft but fully formed.
  • Movements and kicking increase.
  • Body fat increases
  • The eyes can open and close.
  • Organs are almost fully developed
  • Lanugo (fine hair) begins to fall off

Symptoms you may experience

  • Your belly button may protrude
  • Hemorrhoids
  • The baby “dropping,” or moving lower in your abdomen
  • Heartburn
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Contractions – which may be a sign of real or false labor
  • Softening of ligaments and joints in preparation of birth
  • Stretch marks

Tips to manage third trimester symptoms

  • Keep moving – gentle walks, a prenatal yoga class
  • Massage- most mums find massage extremely helpful for general aches and pains during pregnancy
  • Acupuncture for labor preparation and cervical ripening
  • Plan ahead for postpartum care. I invite all my patients to pre book their post party visit prior to labour. This ensures if there are any post part symptoms to address, they won’t be put on the back burner. Postpartum doulas are extremely helpful, to help with cooking, holding baby while you shower, offering advice about recovery, breastfeeding etc.

 

 

Stefanie Miska is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist with a practice focus on reproductive care. Call 1 778 400 6360 to schedule a consult.

 

Second Trimester – Pregnancy Acupuncture

Second trimester of pregnancy

The next three months bring lots of changes for your growing fetus and, most likely, welcome relief from early pregnancy symptoms. Here’s everything you need to know to really sail through most women’s favourite time of pregnancy, the second trimester: weeks 14–28.

Once you enter the second trimester you may find it easier than the first. Your nausea (morning sickness) and fatigue may lessen or go away completely.

However, you will also notice more changes to your body.

That “baby bump” will start to show as your abdomen expands with the growing baby. By the end of the second trimester you will even be able to feel your baby move!

Symptoms you may experience

While most mum’s find the second trimester the most comfortable in terms of symptoms or general discomfort, here are some symptoms that you may experience:

  • Heartburn
  • Low back or pelvis discomfort
  • Mild swelling of ankles and feet
  • Varicose Veins

 

What part of my baby is growing?

  • Digestive system
  • Senses: by week 22 of pregnancy, baby is developing senses and is starting to smell, see and hear, and those little eyes are beginning to open.
  • Heart
  • Hair, Skin, Nails
  • Brain

What tests or screening might I need to get?

  • Glucose screening: About one in 10 pregnant women is diagnosed with gestational diabetes, which is why the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that all women be screened for the condition around week 24  to week 28 of pregnancy.
  • Ultrasound/ Reveal the sex of the baby: Usually between 18 and 22 weeks of pregnancy, your doctor will measure the baby, check developing organs, determine the amount of amniotic fluid, and — if you like — clue you in on the sex of your baby.
  • Possibly, prenatal genetic screening: If you haven’t already and if you have certain risk factors, your doctor may suggest a genetic screening
How should I be taking care of myself during these few weeks?
  • Eating a well balanced, nutrient dense and nourishing diet. Think lots of vegetables, health fats and quality protein.
  • Making sure to move your body at least a little every day, gentle yoga, a walk around the block, a living room dance party, increasing blood flow and strengthening muscle tone is crucial.
  • Tracking your weight gain and making sure you have your doctors appointments scheduled.
  • Consider planning a baby moon. Since first-trimester nausea should be quelled (and some airlines put restrictions on traveling later in pregnancy), now’s a good time to plan one last hurrah before baby’s arrival.
  • Continuing on with your regular acupuncture treatments to keep you feeling as good as possible!

 

 

Stefanie Miska is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist with a practice focus on reproductive care. Call 1 778 400 6360 to schedule a consult.

 

First Trimester – Pregnancy Acupuncture

First trimester of pregnancy

For some folks, the first trimester of pregnancy can be the most challenging. With symptoms ranging from extreme fatigue to debilitating nausea, and the sensitive (sometimes secretive) nature of this time can lead to feelings of isolation.

When I work with mum’s in their first trimester, having a safe container to speak openly about their experience is welcomed and often looked forward to.

Some commonly asked questions

How long is the first trimester?

The first trimester lasts from week 1 through the end of week 13 of pregnancy

What part of the baby is growing during this time?

Bones, hair and nails, digestive system, heart, brain, sense of taste and touch, muscle and white blood cells

Is it a Boy or girl?

You probably won’t know if you’re having a baby boy or girl for about 16 or more weeks, but sex is determined at the moment of fertilization.

Some common symptoms during the first trimester

Morning sickness: not all women experience their nausea or vomiting during the morning hours. Symptoms can be felt at any time of the day or night. Some women experience mild symptoms while some require medication to subdue vomiting.

Fatigue: a common symptom (your body is doing some pretty amazing things!) extreme fatigue should be check by your care provider.

Weight gain: if you are feeling more hungry and consuming more calories through the day, some weight gain is completely normal, a greater increase in weight will be noticed later in the pregnancy.

Tips to manage first trimester  symptoms

Rest- if you feel tired, sit down, take a nap, let your body rest. One of the most common complaints I hear in my clinic is about lack of energy in the first trimester, where working long hours, attending many meetings throughout the day, and maintaining our usual social and exercise schedule feels impossible. Listen to your body, yes exercise is important, and letting your body rest during this time is possibly more important.

Eat frequently- eating small meals or snacks consistently throughout the day can help with nausea and vomiting, mood changes and energy levels. Bland, easy to digest foods work well. Think plain crackers, congee, potato soup etc. Always a good idea to keep snacks in your purse, your desk and work and in the car.

Get acupuncture- acupuncture is extremely supportive and beneficial for symptoms like fatigue, nausea, stress/anxiety, mood swings, digestion, threatened miscarriage, etc.

 

 

Stefanie Miska is a Dr. TCM, a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist with a practice focus on reproductive care. Call 1 778 400 6360 to schedule a consult.

 

Acupuncture During Pregnancy

Is Acupuncture during pregnancy safe?

Pregnancy is a transformational and exciting time in a new families life. It can bring so many different emotions and symptoms with it. From joy, anticipation, fear and worry, to nausea, fatigue, physical discomfort and more.

The first and most common question we get is “is acupuncture safe during pregnancy?”.

The answer is YES, absolutely.

By working with a trained and licensed care provider, and someone who specializes in pregnancy care, you are in good hands during your pregnancy.

With all the poking and prodding that comes along with pregnancy, getting stuck with needles voluntarily probably seems like the last thing you’d want to do. But when it comes to banishing some pregnancy woes, many moms-to-be sing the praises of acupuncture. 

A few of the benefits of acupuncture during pregnancy:

Acupuncture eases nausea

Pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting are common among women, particularly in the first and second trimesters. Acupuncture helps to ease the severity of these symptoms and support the body.

Acupuncture relieves pain

Women experience discomfort in all stages of their pregnancy, whether it’s pelvic pain, hip pain, lower back pain or ligament pain. Acupuncture is a safe, natural and effective way to improves these complaints.

Acupuncture reduces stress

Stress can have a negative impact on the pregnant body and the development of your baby. Acupuncture helps to calm the nervous system and reduce stress in the body which is beneficial to both mum and babe.

What can acupuncture during pregnancy treat?

During pregnancy, acupuncture has been shown to effectively treat the following conditions :

  • Miscarriage prevention
  • Morning sickness (nausea and vomiting)
  • Fatigue
  • Pregnancy induced hypertension
  • Breech and posterior positions
  • Edema (fluid retention)
  • Constipation
  • Acid reflux
  • Sinusitis
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Pain
  • Induction
  • Cervical Ripening

 

 

Stefanie Miska is a Dr. TCM, a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist with a practice focus on reproductive care. Call 1 778 400 6360 to schedule a consult.

 

 

Preconception Care – Trimester Zero

Planning ahead for the important things in life

We all know the importance of planning ahead for those big, life changing decisions. Like buying a new house, planning a wedding, preparing for your next vacation, yet often times we don’t spend very much time at all, planning for one of life’s biggest journeys – parenthood, and more specifically – getting pregnant. This is called preconception care.

Have you ever considered that most folks spend more time planning their wedding than they do planning to conceive?

Research confirms that the growth cycle of both sperm and eggs is approximately 90 days. So that means, if getting pregnant is something you are wanting or planning for in the near future, taking steps at least 3 months in advance to make sure you and your partner are healthy, is super important.

What is preconception care?

Preconception care is defined as:

a set of interventions that aim to identify and modify medical, behavioral, and social risks to a woman’s health or pregnancy outcome through prevention and management.

These 3 months prior to conception are considered Trimester Zero. An integral part of the pregnancy journey.

What you should be doing to prepare for pregnancy

Some things to include during trimester zero:

  • A good prenatal supplement
  • Family doctor or Naturopathic Doctor check up with lab/blood work
  • Regular acupuncture treatments
  • Limiting stress or incorporating mindfulness technique like meditation or gentle walks in nature

When you received regular acupuncture treatments in preparation for conception, some of the benefits include:

  • More relaxed
  • Stress management
  • Increased blood flow to the reproductive organs
  • Balanced hormones
  • Improved egg quality

Many things impact our health and ability to conceive

When I work with patients who are trying to get pregnant there are many important factors that come into play. Having support from your health care team is one of those integral factors.

We know how influential the external environment and lifestyle can be for your overall health, and the health of your eggs and unborn children. Your genetic material is influenced by these factors so taking pro active steps for you and future baby is essential!

Schedule your consult for preconception care by calling 1 778 400 6360.

 

c-section scar recovery

Acupuncture for C-section Scar Recovery

Acupuncture for C-section scar recovery

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine play an important role in c-section recovery.

The number one reason for surgery in Canada is a Cesarean section delivery, according to the the latest data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).

Like many other prosperous countries, Canada’s c-section rate is rising: 28.2% of births in Canadian hospitals were performed via c-section in 2016-2017.

While there are many potential reasons for why a c-section delivery may be needed (breech, previous cesarean delivery etc), the topic today is how Traditional Chinese Medicine can help with its recovery.

Using a blend of acupuncture, herbal medicine, and moxa therapy, we are able to shorten the healing process, reduce inflammation and swelling.

How does acupuncture help scar healing?

Common symptoms of cesarean scars include swelling, local numbness, tingling and adhesions.

By administering treatment closely around the scar, the acupuncture needles cause what we call ‘micro trauma’. This creates a response in the body that sends increased blood flow, and white blood cells to the area which promotes tissue healing.

Another important piece of these treatments is the use of mugwort, or what we call moxibustion. This topical herbal application is extremely effective at reducing inflammation and swelling, and increasing blood flow.  Post cesarean birth it is used to promote healing and bring warmth back into the lower abdomen. A moxa pole looks like a giant incense stick and it made out of an herb called mugwort.

By using moxibustion, we can help to improve healthy blood circulation and speed up recovery time for both internal and external surgical sites.

When should I start postpartum c-section therapy?

As soon as possible is preferred. While it is never too late to come in for scar therapy, the longer you wait, the required number of treatments may increase.

While every treatment plan is personalized, an example may be once a week starting at 2 weeks postpartum for 6 treatments.

For questions or to book a c-section scar therapy treatment, call 1 778 400 6360.

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postpartum acupuncture

Acupuncture for Postpartum

Why get acupuncture after birth?

Pregnancy and birth are powerful, life changing experiences. Postpartum acupuncture offers physical and emotional support during this beautiful and important transition

In China, the first few weeks after childbirth are called Chan Ru (childbirth mattress) or Zao Yue Zi (sitting the month).

The concept of adequate rest to ensure women are completely recovered from childbirth is an important part of Asian societies.

Also termed the “Golden Month” or “Sitting Moon” this was a time of rest and eating specific foods to assist in recovery for 28 days.

This is not a time for absolute bed rest but rather a time where physical rest is taken at every opportunity, exercise is appropriate (not an exhausting attempt to get back into shape), and a diet that focuses on building blood and energy.

Since this isn’t necessarily possible for many women in this day and age, using other recovery tools (like acupuncture) can help recoup after pregnancy and labor.

Postpartum acupuncture works to support optimal health for mum and babe.

What does acupuncture do ?

Depending on which body points are targeted and where the needles are inserted, acupuncture can,

  •   cause the nervous system to produce painkilling chemicals, or neurotransmitters
  •    jump-start the body’s natural ability to heal itself by resetting the nervous system from its fight or flight activation to rest and digest setting
  •   stimulate the part of the brain that releases feel-good hormones and controls emotions, including depression and anxiety

Is it safe?

Yes.

(really, with acupuncture there are no/minimal side effects or post treatment down time)

Postpartum acupuncture can help:

  • Issues with lactation
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Postpartum depression or “baby blues”
  • Night sweats
  • Decreased energy
  • Mastitis
  • Persistent bleeding
  • Recovery from C-section or traumatic birth

When to start postpartum acupuncture?

Best case scenario is to begin treatments as soon after delivery as possible. For most of my patients, getting out of the house and to a treatment for the first few weeks can be challenging. For this reason, we always pre book a postpartum visit at 4-6 weeks.

It is never too late to begin treatments postpartum, even 1-2 years after delivery. If you are still suffering from symptoms like fatigue, mood disturbances, anxiety, irregular bleeding etc, acupuncture can help!

 

To ask questions or book an appointment, call 1 778 400 6360

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Chinese Medicine for Postpartum Care

Chinese Medicine for Postpartum care

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which includes acupuncture and herbal medicine, has been successfully helping women and their reproductive health for many years. Now more than ever, for postpartum care.

Acupuncture truly excels in supporting healthy pregnancies and can help you feel great postpartum. 

Taking care of yourself postpartum

Pregnancy and birth are powerful life changing experiences. Acupuncture can support women through this important and beautiful transition by offering physical and emotional support. Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine works to support optimal health for the mother and every mother should consider acupuncture after having a baby for these balancing and healing benefits!

Postpartum is a special and intense period of our lives. During this time we experience more physical and emotional demands than ever before.

Having a supporting community, including care providers, can be an integral part of this new phase and transitional time.

Postpartum symptoms can acupuncture help with

  • Encourage healthy milk supply
  • Hormonal balancing
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Stress management
  • Prolonged bleeding
  • C-section scar recovery
  • Reduce aches and pains

Why postpartum support is so important

In many other cultures, the fourth trimester, is honoured as a time of rest, recuperation and family bonding. In some countries it is customary for the new mother to spend 30-40 days at home resting while being cared for by her family and community.

Termed the ‘Golden month’ this was a time of resting and consuming specific foods to aid recovery. While 30 days of recovery time may initially sound a little excessive, it was considered essential to compensate for not only the birth but also the total experience of being pregnant for nine months. 

While this isn’t always available to those of us living in the western world, utilizing some aspect of this ancient medicine can be exceptionally helpful navigating this new territory.

Time and time again in my clinical practice, I see the attention and care for the new baby overshadow the need for support for the new mother. In Chinese medicine, there is a saying “to heal the child, treat the mother”. This is an example of the importance of caring for mother, for her health and for baby’s health.

When should I start receiving postpartum treatments?

Leading up to labor, I have all my patients pre book a post party visit for 4-6 weeks after delivery.

At this treatment, we address any of the above mentioned symptoms, or anything else that may be showing up for them. Often, this is the first time mum may have left the house alone, and typically the quiet alone time is enjoyed and welcomed.

If symptoms present themselves prior to that time, treatment will begin at an earlier date.

It is not uncommon to have health issues related to postpartum develop one or two years following your birth. Seeing your practitioner shortly after your birth can help prevent these things from happening. However, if you find yourself six months or a year postpartum and not feeling your best, we would love to help. It is never too late to start seeing an acupuncturist!

 

If you are interested in learning more, give us a call at 1 778 400 6360.

 

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position of cervix

Position of cervix – How to tell if you are ovulating

Ovulation marker #3 – Position of cervix

Believe it or not, the body has a pretty miraculous way of keeping your informed as to what is going on. One of the ways it does this, is by literally showing you ovulation. This changes the position of the cervix.

During ovulation, the cervix begins to show, by changing position and firmness, almost like a flower softening and opening up for reception.

How do I check the position of my cervix?

The only way to check this yourself, is by using your fingers to feel your cervix. This should be done with clean hands (and short nails), a perfect time to do this is in the shower.

It may sound like something only taught to doctors and nurses, but there’s no reason a woman can’t learn where her cervix is and how to notice changes in cervical position.

For the majority of your cycle, your cervix sits slightly lower in your vagina (meaning its easier to reach with your finger) and is a little but more firm, like touching the tip of your nose.

During ovulation, when the cervix begins to show, she gets softer ,like touching your bottom lip, and sits a bit higher up in the vagina (meaning you must insert your finger deeper).

This is one of the ways your body naturally becomes more receptive for pregnancy, by having a closer, more closed off gateway throughout the cycle, and softening and opening up during ovulation when conception may be desired.

Tips for checking the position of your cervix

Some pro tips:

Don’t expect to understand what you’re feeling the first, second or even tenth time you try—this is a skill that comes from practice and patience. Once you learn what the signs are by experiencing the changes in your cervix throughout a few cycles, you’ll be a pro.

When you’re just learning, try to check your cervical position every so many days, even when you don’t think you’re ovulating. It’s easier to find when you’re not ovulating, and you’ll have a better idea of what you’re feeling.

 

 

Book your consult by calling 1 778 400 6360 or if you are not local, we can connect virtually by booking your 15 minute here.

 

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