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.



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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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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3 Tips for a Springtime Cleanse

Spring time cleanse

To cleanse or not to cleanse seems to be the question come spring time in my clinic.

We know that some detoxing or cleansing methods can be great after a weekend away with the girls or when you have started to feel a little stagnated and backed up. Most often, cleansing programs highlight the benefits on the liver and flushing out toxins that have accumulate over time.

In Chinese medicine, the season of spring brings us into the wood element and connect with the Liver organ and meridian system.


Can you see the connection here? Considering clearing out lingering toxins in the body involves the liver, then spring would be the best time to incorporate some daily cleansing rituals.

Now juice cleanses or fasting may not be appropriate for everyone but there are a few things you can try at home.

Drink warm water with lemon first thing in the morning.

Warm water is more absorbable and easy to digest, especially first thing in the morning when you have been warm and cozy all night. (Please avoid cold smoothies and cereal first thing in the morning, no matter what season!) The lemon flavor is sour which connects with the liver and acts as a mild diuretic to flush out toxins from the day and night before.

Eat an artichoke!

Consuming artichokes can help clear liver heat. The plant also contains a compound called cynarin, which promotes bile production and urination.

Pick some weeds!

You likely know dandelion as a pesky little weed that pokes up through cracks in the sidewalk. Did you also know that we can use all parts of the plant medicinally as well? Considered the ideal liver remedy because it is completely non-toxic and gently restores liver function. It enhances the flow of bile and supports the kidneys during cleansing and detoxification of the liver and bowels. I like to send my clients to the farmers market to pick up some organic dandelion greens to toss into a salad or stir-fry.

Happy cleansing!

Food is medicine – part 10

Its parsnip season!

Admittedly, they are not one of my favorite vegetables, but I am on a mission to find some delicious parsnip recipes! Also, because I have a fridge full of local farm parsnips that I don’t want to go to waste.

While some people think that parsnips are simply white carrots, and while they are from the same family, they are a difference plant species. They have a nuttier taste and typically a larger size than carrots, and parsnip nutrition does differ from carrot nutrition.

What’s so good about parsnips?

Benefits your eyes – high in vitamin C, research shows vitamin C can help prevent macular degeneration

Benefits digestions, prevents constipation – high in dietary fiber, helps things keep flowing smoothly

Beneficial during pregnancy – high in folic acid which aids in prevention of birth defects and fetus health

Improve heart health – high in potassium which acts as a vasodilator and reduces blood pressure, as well as stress on the heart

Try them out in this simple recipe:

  • 3-4 parsnips cut into large pieces
  • 1 head of cauliflower cut into large pieces
  • 1 small yellow onion diced
  • 4 garlic cloves minces
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1-2 cups vegetable broth


  • Roast root vegetables at 350F for 30 minutes
  • Sautee onion until translucent
  • Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes
  • Pour in coconut milk and broth, add roasted veggies and simmer until soft
  • Blend all ingredients together until smooth
  • Add dried herbs (like parsley) to taste and garnish!

Why cupping?

Cupping falls under the medical umbrella that is TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), cupping  is a therapy in which a cup (glass or plastic) is attached to the skin surface to cause local congestion through the negative pressure created by introducing heat (with glass only) in the form of an ignited material.

In the ancient time in China, cupping method was called “horn method”. This name was due to the use of animal horns, which we have now replaced with glass and plastic.

Cupping therapy is warming and promotes the free flow of qi and blood in the meridians.

A.K.A promotes movement and healing in the body.

We have a saying in TCM that when there is blockage there is pain and when there is free flow there is no pain. We will also rarely, if ever use the application of ice. If you have every sprained your ankle you have likely applied ice immediately to stop swelling.

So, imagine that ice, or cold, is restricting and stops movement (swelling). Which is ideal when there is an acute stress response to an injury like inflammation. However, when you are trying to promote movement, repair, and healing, heat is usually better.

Heat can be applied directly with a heat pad, a warming muscle patch, a hot water bottle, or indirectly with a heat lamp or sauna. The warming cupping method can also be used.

In my clinic, cupping is mostly used for aches and pains, usually in the back, neck and hips.

Cupping is also beneficial for digestive complaints, allergies, asthma, cold & flu symptoms.

Cold & flu – TCM meridian theory shows us the most susceptible area of the body to be invade by external pathogens (toxins) is the back of the neck and upper back. Because of this, if someone presents with initial stages of cold or flu, I will apply cupping to the upper back and neck area. Here, I am pulling the toxins out of the body before they can penetrate further and create a full blown sickness.

Allergies & Asthma – based on the meridian pathways and anatomical positioning of the lungs, cupping for these symptoms will also be done in the same area. Cupping over the back of the lungs can help loosen up phlegm congestion and release any heat from the body. This can manifest as a productive/phlegmy cough, wheezing, dry cough and throat, and itchy and congested nasal passage.

Digestive complaints – for digestive issues, I will cup over specific acupuncture points on the back side of the body that connect with the organs and meridians of the digestive system. Occasionally, I will also cup over the abdomen in cases of inflammation and constipation.

Curious if cupping is right for you? Lets chat!

Call +1 (778) 717-2001 and book and initial consultation.


The 12 Meridians - Cupping

Food is medicine part 9

You may know dandelion as the pesky little weed that shows up when you forget to mow your lawn.

It is unfortunate that we try to rid the world of these yellow flowers with harsh pesticides, as dandelions are actually very nutrient dense and the whole plant is edible and medicinally rich.

In Chinese medicine we use dandelion (pu gong yin) as a bitter and cold herb that connects with the liver and works great for intestinal abscesses (or any signs of internal heat) or if there is urinary difficulty (it is a diuretic).  Because of these traits, and the fact that this herb connects with the liver, means that it is often used for detox. You may have heard that the liver stores toxins and should be flushed out.

Occasionally I am weary of this thought process; yes your liver is likely working hard and does filter through toxins, yet that also is part of its function, and your body is specifically designed to do this, on its own, and this “detox” craze can sometimes do more harm than good. Because of the specific functions of this herb it is good to be mindful of what is presenting in your body and if a cold and bitter herb is what you need in this moment.

For example if you have a weak digestive symptoms with signs of cold already (loose stools, undigested food in stools, rumbly/noisy tummy, flatulence with no odor) using dandelion (or extreme detox) may in fact aggravate your symptoms instead of make it better.

Dandelion tea works great as a mild liver tonic.

The liver plays a big role in metabolizing hormones and keeping the liver happy helps regulate hormone balance.

An interesting thing to note is that while the entire plant is edible, each part may contain slightly different properties and uses. The leaves, flower and root are all edible. If you decided to try your hand at wild crafting, it is important to source from an area you know has not been exposed to chemicals, as people will often spray dandelions trying to get rid of them.

“But like all good rebels, the dandelions are irrepressible” Guido Mase

The root is the classic “liver tonic” and blood purifier.

Its bitter compounds can help signal to the stomach that food is coming and helps stimulate the production of bile (helps break down fats). It is also high in inulin (a prebiotic) which helps nourish the digestive tract.

The leaf is a mild diuretic (makes you pee), which can help with fluid retention and edema, it is a good source of potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium and trace minerals.

The French often refer to dandelion as pissenlit (literal translation “pee in the bed”), which is a testimonial to its diuretic nature.

The flowers are often made into dandelion wine and contain a milky latex quality that has been used as a remedy for warts.

Fun fact: dandelions leaves make great pesto! Use them in place of basil for a slightly more bitter flavor that is softened by the nutty and lemon flavors.

Have you used dandelion before? Let me know how you like to use it!

Food is medicine part 8

Raise your hand if you like garlic?

You can’t see me from where you are sitting reading this, but I am over here frantically waving my hands around!

We all know garlic is delicious right? But do you also know that is has many health benefits as well?

In Chinese medicine, we will use garlic often in cooking to enhance flavor with its pungent and spicy qualities. Medicinally, we will use it to kill intestinal parasites, use it topically and orally to expel toxins from the body.

Garlic is a vermifuge.

Meaning it is used to treat intestinal worms in humans and animals.

Garlic is also great for digestion (everything in moderation though). It is a carminative herb, which means it can help with stagnant digestion symptoms like bloating, gas and constipation. Garlic contains inulin which is an important prebiotic (this helps the flora of the large intestine), disrupted gut flora is linked to many health concerns such as inflammatory bowel disease, hormone imbalances, weight gain, and more!

Garlic has antimicrobial, antibiotic, and anti-viral properties and has been used for a long time as a medicinal herb for infections. Garlic poultices (externally applied garlic) were used during the plague in Europe and on soldiers during World War I.

A fascinating trait of garlic for use as an antibiotic is that while pharmaceutical antibiotics wipe out any and all bacteria from the body, garlic not only kills any “bad” microorganisms in your body but it’s also stimulates your immune system (and you would need to take a ridiculously large amount for it to negatively affect the good bacteria).

Garlic has been used for centuries to ward off the common cold and flu.

In Chinese medicine, garlic connects to the lung meridian, meaning for certain lung ailments (like cold, pneumonia, bronchitis etc.) garlic can be very useful.

Fun fact: while travelling around India in 2009, I would carry around a clove of garlic to consume a raw bulb before each meal.

Did you know? You can also eat the flowering stalks of garlic, the scapes. These are great for stir-fry’s and pesto’s, slightly less garlic flavor but nice and aromatic. YUM!

Food is medicine part 7

I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but I do have a strong affinity to chocolate. Due to the fact I have a hard time resisting devouring a few too many pieces of chocolate after dinner I have been on the hunt for better options.

Which brings me to today’s herb: cacao.

Yes, technically all chocolate has cacao in it, but, often by the time that cacao has made it to your store bought chocolate bar, it is not a strong enough percentage to reap the benefits of this magical plant AND is often combined with a whole lot of sugar and other less desirable ingredients.

Most commercial chocolate bars have too much sugar and not enough cacao content to be supportive to health.

So yes, what I am saying is this: cacao is good for you!

Again, moderation, as with everything, is key. Also, with cacao, it is important to be aware of where it is sourced from. Unfortunately, planting and harvesting this plant is often tied to child labor and unfair labor practices.

So, be on the look-out for fair trade and ethically sources products!

Cacao has a very distinct flavor and can take some getting used to. Some like to work their way up to consuming 100% cacao, but try to find dark chocolate that has a minimum of 70% cacao. This information is easy to find and is usually on the front label. Once you are ready, the healthiest way to use this herb in your diet is with 100% cacao, like cacao nibs or cacao powder.

Curious about the difference between cacao and cocao?

Some of cacaos amazing benefits are:

Mood enhancer – well duh, chocolate is delicious! But seriously, with constituents like theobromine and caffeine, it’s a definite pick me up! (use moderately is sensitive to these things)

Heart health – high in flavonoids and antioxidants, improves blood flow to the heart, lowers high blood pressure, prevents clots.

Energy boost – high polyphenol, plus low caffeine content

Blood sugar levels – improves insulin resistance and glucose metabolism

One of my favorite summer afternoon treats with cacao:

  • One frozen banana
  • One cup coconut milk or cream (I like mine thick so I use 85%)
  • Cacao nibs

Place all ingredients in food processor and combine until creamy smooth and enjoy!