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.

 

mittelschmerz

Mittelschmerz – How to tell if you are ovulating

Ovulation Marker #4 – Mittelschmerz

The previous three blog posts have highlighted proven methods of detecting ovulation. The bonus marker for detecting ovulation is mittelschmerz, a German word that means ‘ middle pain’.

While this marker isn’t an accurate (a.k.a official) marker for ovulation, many women experience mittelschmerz around ovulation.

Defining the word

Mittelschmerz: Pain due to ovulation that usually occurs at the midpoint between the menstrual periods. From the German mittel, meaning ‘middle,’ and schmerz, meaning ‘pain.’

Ovulation pain may occur because that follicular growth stretches your ovary before the egg’s release. It might also happen when the cyst actually ruptures, letting loose the egg along with some cystic fluid or blood, which can irritate the lining of your abdomen.

Mittelschmerz pain usually lasts a few minutes to a few hours, but it may continue for as long as a day or two.

How to know if you are experiencing mittelschmerz

While most describe it as a slight pinching sensation, you may experience pain that is:

  • On one side of your lower abdomen
  • Dull and cramp-like
  • Sharp and sudden
  • Accompanied by mild vaginal bleeding or discharge
  • Rarely, severe

Mittelschmerz pain occurs on the side of the ovary that’s releasing an egg (ovulating). The pain may switch sides every other month, or you may feel pain on the same side for several months.

Keep track of your menstrual cycle for several months and note when you feel lower abdominal pain. If it occurs midcycle and goes away without treatment, it’s most likely mittelschmerz.

If you have been keeping track of your other signs of ovulation, BBT, cervical mucus, and position of the cervix, and know you are around ovulation, then mittelschmerz is an added tell, or sign, that ovulation is occurring.

I hope you enjoyed this added bonus marker!

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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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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Cervical Mucus

Cervical Mucus – How to tell if you are ovulating

Ovulation key marker #2 – Cervical Mucus

One of the key markers of ovulation is cervical mucus. You have likely noticed it before, whether you knew it was linked to ovulation or not.

But … what is cervical mucus?

The hormones that control your menstrual cycle, they also make your cervix produce mucus. Thats the gooey stuff on your cervix that comes out of your vagina as discharge.

Your cervical mucus changes in colour, texture, and amount during your menstrual cycle, and especially around ovulation.

Cervical Mucous (also known as CM) increases at ovulation due to the increase in estrogen levels. This helps to create a hospitable environment for sperm.

Cervical fluid can be divided into two categories, peak and non-peak mucous. While both are considered fertile mucous, peak mucous is the well known, stretchy, egg white consistency.

Cervical mucous plays an important role in helping sperm survive longer in the vagina and helping them to move upward to connect with the waiting egg for conception.

Sperm can survive in the vagina for up to 5 days. Knowing when you are ovulating, by observing cervical fluid, can be an integral part of achieving or avoiding pregnancy.

You have likely noticed an increase in discharge around mid cycle, which you can tell by the slippery consistency when you wipe after going to the bathroom, some in your underwear or an overall feeling of increased wetness or lubrication.

Cervical mucus is 100% normal

In Toni Weschler’s book ‘Taking Charge of your Fertility’, she highlights a story about a women who was convinced she was having reoccurring infections every month and would continue to visit her doctor asking for antibiotics. What she did not realize, was that the increase in discharge, which happened monthly, is completely normal, and actually a really healthy part of the menstrual cycle.

Some things to look out for, which may require a check in with your doctor, is discharge that is foul smelling, green or thick yellow.

How to check for cervical mucus

There are three ways you can check your cervical mucous

  • Wipe the opening of your vagina before your pee with toilet paper, check the colour and feel of the mucous
  • Look at the colour and texture in your underwear
  • Put clean fingers into you vagina, and then check the colour and texture of the mucous with your fingers

 

 

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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Cervical Mucus

importance of ovulation

The Importance of Ovulation (and its markers) for Women’s Health

A key marker for overall health

One of the key markers of a healthy menstrual cycle is ovulation, to catch yourself up on exactly what is happening during ovulation, check back to the original blog post here.

In addition to being paramount in conception, ovulation is ALSO important for the health of, your bones, cardiovascular system, and your overall endocrine (hormonal) system.

After reading the blog post ‘The ovulation phase of the menstrual cycle’ , you now know what is happening in your body, the next question is … how can you tell if you have ovulated?

How to tell if you have ovulated

There are three key markers (plus a bonus one) to help you tell if your body is ovulating, and if so, when it is.

The four markers of ovulation are :

  1. Basal Body Temperature or BBT / cycle charting
  2. Cervical fluid/mucous
  3. Position and firmness of cervix
  4. Mittelschmerz

 

The top three are markers, that if use correctly, are very accurate ovulation predictors.

One of the things I always educate my patients on is the importance of presence over prediction. While most often, the cycle tracking apps we have on our phones, or when we are planning ahead as to when we can expect our next period – it is usually based on past cycles and using that old data to predict what will happen and when, during this upcoming cycle.

Your whole menstrual cycle, and especially ovulation and your period, is a report card of the last few weeks, or months, of your life. There are many factors that may change the duration of one or more of the phases of your menstrual cycle, and tuning into that is more important than what date you ovulated last cycle.

Disruptors of healthy ovulation

Things that may disrupt regular cycle patterning are:

  • Travelling
  • Changing time zones
  • Daylight savings
  • Stress (this includes good stress like planning a wedding or going on vacation)
  • Lack of nutrition / change in diet
  • Illness

Observing ovulation during your cycle is important for understanding your body and your overall health.

It is an easy way to keep track of how your hormones, your physical and emotional body are doing.

 

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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ovulation

Ovulation Phase Of The Menstrual Cycle

What is ovulation?

Ovulation (the Ovulatory phase) is the shortest phase and lasts for 2-3 days.

Ovulation is when a mature egg is released from the ovary, pushed down the fallopian tube, and is made available to be fertilized.

Approximately every month an egg will mature within one of your ovaries. As it reaches maturity, the egg is released by the ovary where it enters the fallopian tube to make its way towards waiting for sperm and the uterus.

The lining of the uterus has thickened to prepare for the fertilized egg. If no conception occurs, the uterine lining, as well as blood, will be shed.

The shedding of an unfertilized egg and the uterine wall is the time of menstruation.

The interlude – ovulation

The dominant follicle in the ovary produces more and more estrogen as it grows larger.

The dominant follicle reaches about 2 cm (0.8 in)—but can be up to 3 cm—at its largest right before ovulation (6,7). When estrogen levels are high enough, they signal to the brain causing a dramatic increase in luteinizing hormone (LH).

This spike is what causes ovulation (release of the egg from the ovary) to occur. Ovulation usually happens about 13-15 days before the start of the next period.

During this time, if the egg comes in contact with sperm, it is fertilized. So keep in mind that during these days you are most likely to get pregnant (remember to use contraception).

The egg will survive for 12-24 hours and will either be fertilized or will die. Your cervix becomes soft, moves up higher and opens. It moves up higher to help the egg get the best sperm – the sperm have to swim farther to get to the egg. Your cervical fluid is very clear or viscous egg-white fluid, with lots of elasticity. 

Hormones during ovulation

The two main hormones from the previous phase, estrogen and testosterone, continue to ride to their peak levels, enhancing all the benefits you enjoyed during the follicular phase.

You may notice you look, and feel, more attractive, and more confident. Your senses may feel heightened, your vision, smell and taste. You also may notice an increase in libido, or sexual arousal, again – mother nature doing its part to ensure procreation.

What to do when you are ovulating

This is a great time to connect with your sexual energy and put it towards connecting with your own body and energy, or with your partner. Ovulation phase is the optimal time to be putting energy outward, to connect with new friends and relationships, to make future plans, and plan public speaking or networking events.

This is also the best time in your cycle for high impact and intensity workouts.

 

 

Book your consults 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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ovulation

Your Menstrual Cycle – The Follicular Phase

What is the follicular phase?

After the last day of your period, your body prepares for ovulation, this is the follicular phase.

Signals from the brain tell the ovaries to prepare an egg that will be released.

Here, a hormone called follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) stimulates your ovaries to produce a matured egg.

This maturing process produces estrogen, which makes the lining of your uterus thicken with nutrients and blood, so it will be able to provide the egg with the support it needs in case of pregnancy (the lining of the uterus must be thick in order for an egg to implant)

During the period, the pituitary gland (a small area at the base of the brain that makes hormones) produces a hormone called follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).

FSH tells the ovaries to prepare an egg for ovulation (release of an egg from the ovary).

What is happening when you are in the follicular phase?

It’s known as the Follicular phase because your pituitary gland releases a hormone called Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH).

FSH stimulates the follicles in one of your ovaries to mature.

FYI-these follicles contain your eggs.

The pituitary gland then starts to release Luteinizing Hormone (LH), which is responsible for making ovulation actually happen.

Only one of these follicles will “ripen” and become mature.

During this time you will notice that your cervical fluid takes on a wetter consistency. It typically looks creamy.

What are hormones doing during the follicular phase?

Your estrogen and testosterone levels remain low in the beginning of the follicular Phase but gradually increase as ovulation gets closer.

Both estrogen and testosterone start to boost your energy, mood and brain skills. You start to feel more confident, powerful and are willing to take more risks.

High estrogen also makes you braver, more confident and ready for a challenge. You’re thinking quickly and learning new facts and skills more easily.

During this cycle week, you’re more coordinated and have faster reaction times, your verbal skills peak and you’ve got a sharper memory.

Testosterone starts to stimulate your libido while at the same time making you more impulsive. Estrogen makes your skin look and feel better. It also makes you feel more extroverted and pushes you to be more social and to connect with other people.

When that happens, it tends to make you more impulsive, daring and competitive. Your libido is high all during your week 2, however, when testosterone spikes, it boosts your libido even higher.

On a primitive level, all of this is done to help attract a mate for the next phase of your cycle.

(Read Your Menstrual Cycle Simply Explained here)

What to do when you are in the follicular phase of your cycle

The follicular phase of your cycle is a great time for brainstorming and problem solving. It is the perfect time for creating new projects, and socializing. You can increase your activity level and experiment with something new.

 

 

Need some help understanding your menstrual cycle? Connect with me here to see how I can help you.

 

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period

The Menstruation Phase Of Your Menstrual Cycle

What is happening when you are on your period?period

The first day of bleeding is considered day one of your menstrual cycle. On this day, the hormone progesterone plunges, which causes the uterine lining to shed, AKA “your period”

Each menstrual cycle starts with menstruation (the period). A period is the normal shedding of blood and endometrium (the lining of the uterus) through the cervix and vagina.

A normal period may last up to 8 days, but on average lasts about 3 to 6.

The first day of your period is the start of your menstrual cycle. The reason you might experience menstrual cramps during the first days of your periods is that the uterus lining breaks down and sheds. In order to do this, the muscles of the uterus contract (to help push the blood and tissue down) which can cause cramping.

You begin menstruation- old blood and tissue from inside the uterus is shed through the vagina

Why energy is lower on your period

During your first week, estrogen starts out at its lowest point and begins a steady climb. For the first day or so of this cycle week, the low level of this hormone combined with period-related aches and fatigue may make you a bit quiet and have you preferring to stay close to home.

This is why it is important to rest while you are bleeding. This can be counterintuitive to how society and your schedule is structured. While it may seem less productive for those few days while bleeding, if you allow your body space to rest during this time, your overall productivity will be greater.

What exercise to do when you are on your period

This is a great time to keep your to- do list short, and your calendar clear.

By honouring your body and its rhythms, unwanted symptoms tend to be less.

Simple and gentle movement like yoga, deep stretching, or a walk out in nature are great things to schedule during this time. Strenuous activity should be kept for the other few weeks of your cycle.

 

 

 

Book your consults 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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Am I the right acupuncturist for you?

We are so glad you are here! By landing on this page you have taken the first steps on your wellness journey and we are honor to be a part of it.

When you are looking for the ‘right’ acupuncturist, there are many things to take into consideration:

Is this practitioner qualified & licensed to perform this modality?

You should always be seeking out a practitioner who has completed the required training and licensing in their modality, someone who is in good standing with their regulatory body.  All licensed acupuncturists in BC should be in good standing with the CTCMA .

Acupuncturists, herbalists and Dr’s of TCM have all completed thousands of hours of training, ranging from 3-5 years of school followed by rigorous national board exams. That is a lot of years and hours (over 3500) to be jammed into a weekend course for other non-licensed healthcare practitioners.  So, to be safe, it is always best to go with the best qualified practitioner in the field, and if you want someone using acupuncture needles on you, then the most qualified is a Licensed Acupuncturist

Is this practitioner qualified for the services you require?

Acupuncture is becoming more popular and more mainstream. As this ancient medicine becomes a household name, with it, more and more practitioners are using this modality in their other practices. Chiro’s, Physical Therapists (physios), Naturopaths and Medical Doctors can take elective courses to add ‘needling’ to their list of offerings.

This usually takes course over a weekend program lasting only a few hours. In comparison to the strict training in acupuncture school, this is very limited. It is always best to ask what training has been done to find out if it is best suited for your individual situation. It is our opinion that needling (acupuncture) should be done by a registered acupuncturist.

Does this practitioner have a specialty?

Legally in British Columbia, acupuncturists are not allowed to state that they specialize in anything. However, many will have a practice focused on a specific demographic. It is through advanced training and continuing education that practitioners narrow their focus of treatment.

That being said, if you are in pain, seeking out a practitioner that has trained more specifically in sport rehabilitation would be a good option. We have a special focus on digestive health, women’s health, reproductive health (including but not limited to painful periods, PCOS, endometriosis, fertility, pregnancy support)

Do you like this practitioner?

Often clients seek alternative modalities after not receiving the care they wish they had from their primary care provider. Past experiences with other healthcare practitioners have left them hopeless and frustrated. It is important that you feel safe and heard with your acupuncturist. It is also important that you feel comfortable talking with your acupuncturist and feeling free to ask questions Your acupuncturist is working with you to help you get the results you want. This is a joint partnership, and yes, that means you need to participate.

At Ritual Medicine Acupuncture healing is the ultimate priority, it takes both you, the client, and the practitioner to get the best results. That means, it is your responsibility to take your own health into your hands.

Are you ready?

If you nod your head yes to the majority of these statements, then you’ve found the right Acupuncturist in Victoria…

  • Your health is one of your top 3 priorities.
  • You are seeking a private, quiet, welcoming retreat to decompress and recharge with each acupuncture session.
  • You are eager to learn and implement new ways to help support your health.
  • You are willing and able to invest a minimum of 60 minutes per week to acupuncture therapy.
  • You are open to dietary and lifestyle modifications and herbal therapy.
  • You believe that stress, modern-day living, or past or present trauma could be related to your current state of health.
  • You are seeking long-term holistic wellness for mental, emotional, and physical health rather than looking for a quick fix or magic bullet.
  • You feel stuck, stagnant, or paralyzed in your life, and are searching for a means to move forward, gain momentum, and reignite your creative spark.
  • You believe that treating symptoms is only a “band aid” approach and is ineffective at attaining wellness.
  • You are open to address past and current emotional situations or trauma which could be impacting your health.
  • You are willing to address possible addictions (self-medicating, overeating, overworking, alcohol, etc.) that could be affecting your health.
  • You are seeking an Acupuncturist who focused on digestive health and women’s health. Your available times for treatment are compatible with Ritual Medicine Acupunctures office hours.

Does Ritual Medicine Acupuncture sound like a good fit for you?  If so, schedule today, and I look forward to joining you on your journey towards better health and happiness.