Vitamin D

As a naturopath I am always going on about the importance of Vitamin D with my patients. Vitamin D is needed to strengthen bone health, to balance the immune system, to help mental health issues especially depression, to reduce inflammation and improve intestinal lining health and is also essential for male and female fertility and pregnancy.

Vitamin D is essential for wellness
Vitamin D is essential for wellness

The reason it is so essential to fertility and getting pregnant is because it is needed to help the body create sex hormones. The correct amount of sex hormones in your body is vital to your overall well-being, otherwise you may suffer PMS, PCOS, and sadly, infertility.

Regulating cell growth is another key function of Vitamin D.

Yale University School of Medicine conducted a study of 67 infertile women, where it was discovered that a mere 7% had normal Vitamin D levels. The remainder of the women either had insufficient levels of Vitamin D or they had clinical deficiency of Vitamin D in their bodies.

Tips for Optimizing your Vitamin D Levels

  • Get 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure daily while the sun is at its highest, between 11 and 3. Even weak sunscreens will block the ability of your skin to manufacture vitamin D. Note that you do not make Vitamin D when sitting behind a glass window.
  • Gradually build up your exposure. Start early in the year (spring), or early in the morning before the sun is strongest and slowly build up the amount of time you spend in the sun. Regular short exposures have been found to be much more effective and safer than infrequent, long ones.
  • The best places to absorb Vitamin D are your inner arms and thighs.
  • After your 15 minutes of unprotected time in the sun, apply sunscreen or wear a hat and light clothing to protect yourself. Opt for sunscreens with fewer added chemicals, look in your local health store.
  • Always avoid sunburn. It is sunburn, not healthy sun exposure that causes problems.
  • Showering: Vitamin D3, an oil-soluble vitamin, is on the surface of your skin and it apparently takes up to two full days before you can absorb this vitamin into your bloodstream. So avoid washing with soap for 48 days after sun exposure. Wash your armpits and groin area with soap but the rest of your body with pure water.
  • Increase your anti-oxidants and omega 3 intake. These nutrients help to protect your skin from sun damage. Eat lots of vegetables and fruits daily, eggs and oily fish (salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines, anchovies and herrings) at least twice a week.

You can ask your GP to check your Vitamin D levels or there home kits that you can buy. I generally recommend to my patients to supplement Vitamin D3, I find that liquid drops are best in 1000iu. The dosage would be dependent on what was going on with the patient. Contact me if you would like further info on this.

Enjoy the sunshine safely 🙂

Zita West affiliated Acupuncturist

I am now delighted to announce that I have become a founding member of the recently launched Zita West Network for Reproductive Health, as an Affiliated Acupuncturist.

ZW_Aff_Acu_Logo_Keyline_POS_ProcessBuilt on the ground-breaking work of midwife, author and fertility and pregnancy expert Zita West and her renowned London clinic, the new Irish network aims to share the unique skills and experience of Zita and her team of doctors, midwives and complementary therapists, with experienced independent acupuncturists across Ireland and the UK. Other health specialists (such as nutritionists, counsellors, midwives and doctors) will also be recruited to the network. The Zita West Clinic is the largest integrated (medical and complementary) practice in the UK specialising in all aspects of male and female reproductive health. It also runs occasional clinics in Dublin on a monthly basis.

All acupuncturist members of the network receive training and ongoing support in Zita West’s comprehensive, holistic approach to achieving optimum reproductive health.  This covers a wide range of treatments and approaches to help boost fertility, enhance IVF, improve pregnancy, enhance birth outcomes and support post-natal recovery.

The Benefits of Choosing a Zita West Affiliated Acupuncturist

  • Wide-ranging Medical and Complementary Health Experience.
    By choosing a Zita West affiliated acupuncturist clients not only get the benefit of their practitioner’s individual expertise but, through them, the training and support of Zita and her colleagues too. The Zita West Clinic works with thousands of women and men each year, helping them to boost their chances of conceiving successfully (both naturally and through IVF) and helping those who are already pregnant to have the best pregnancy possible and the brightest and healthiest of babies. This provides an unrivalled breadth and depth of knowledge to be shared with members of the network and their clients.
  • Exclusive Discounts on Zita West Clinic Services. Choosing a Zita West affiliated practitioner also provides clients with unique access to a range of Zita West clinical services – some of which are available by phone as well as in person – all at special discounted prices.
  • Special Discounts on the Zita West Range of Nutritional Products. Clients of member practitioners are entitled to further discounts on Zita’s best-selling range of premium nutritional supplements for fertility, pregnancy and breast-feeding too (20% off RRP ex p&p). Similar discounts are available on her range of books, CDs, cosmetic products and gift-sets as well.
  • FREE Fact Sheets to Help Boost Your Fertility and Pep up Your Pregnancy

For further information contact Helena Barker at 086-8163130. Or email helena_barker@hotmail.com or visit www.zitawest.com

Full-fat is good for fertility

This is a topic that I always go through with my fertility patients, please get rid of the low fat foods…! They are more damaging than good. This piece below is from the new Zita West book Eat yourself Pregnant and it outlines the dangers of low-fat foods and trying to conceive.

‘Many women make the mistake of substituting foods containing fat with low-fat products, thinking they won’t gain weight using them. However, for fertility – and, for that matter, for weight management – the principle is flawed. These products often contain trans-fats, sugars and sweeteners.

Artificial sweeteners disrupt the normal hormonal and neurological signals that control hunger and satiety. Many studies have shown that a diet that is high in sweeteners in the end leads to a greater consumption of calories and so to weight gain.

But, weight aside, there is some startling evidence for how low-fat products can hamper conception. In one extensive study in the USA, women who ate two or more low-fat dairy products a day were twice as likely to have problems conceiving. Ovulation rates were 38% better among those who used full-fat milk. One reason for this might be that when the fat is skimmed off dairy products to make reduced-fat versions, estrogen and progesterone are removed too, leaving an unnatural preponderance of androgen’s – male hormones.’

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Scary stuff, my recommendations are to swap all low-fat dairy with organic full-fat dairy, or use alternative dairy products such as goat’s and sheep’s products or coconut & unsweetened almond milks and yogurts. But watch out for soya products such as soya milk, as these may well have a negative effect on fertility.

As part of the fertility consultation I ask my patients to do a 3 day diet sheet. I then make individual detailed nutritional suggestions for the patient to help them conceive.

 

 

 

 

Cervical fluid/mucus/discharge?! How to recognise your fertile window…

I don’t know why but we are always grossed out by discharges and sometimes we fail to see the importance of them, especially when it comes to fertility. As part of my consultation with patients who are trying to conceive I always ask if they are aware of their fertile period? Do they notice any discharge and if so how much and when?

This ‘discharge’ (such a horrid word for such an important fertility fluid!) is vital for conception as it shows that the body is getting ready to release an egg and to aid sperm on their long journey to reach the egg for the magic conception to happen. In chinese medicine this is the time that yin turns into yang, the cooling phase of the run up to ovulation turns in the incubation phase for implantation.

As an acupuncturist and naturopath I am looking to help increase/promote cervical fluids with acupuncture, diet, lifestyle and correct supplements. And obviously to include the couple having sex in the fertile period!

There are lots of misconceptions about cervical mucus, here is some info to help you decipher your discharges…!

Fertile mucus means you are ‘potentially’ fertile.
It’s not the day we see the most amount of fertile mucus (characteristically clear/egg white consistency), it’s the last day we recognise this mucus. If the mucus lasts for 4-5 days this can be key for timing intercourse.

Cervical fluid changes with fertility and goes through a predictable pattern each and every cycle. After you have finished menstruating you should have a period of no discharge at all.

It should then be:
1. Sticky – In a 28 day cycle, this will be around day 7 or so. Your cervix will start producing a sticky or pasty kind of cervical fluid. This is the beginning of the fertile period.
2. Creamy – As your cycle progresses, your estrogen level is rising daily and the water content of your cervical fluid will increase.
3. Egg white – It is called this as it resembles raw egg white. It’s clear and slippery and can usually stretch an inch or more between a finger and thumb. This is the really fertile stuff!! It’s alkaline and keep sperm alive for up to 5 days inside your body.
4. Watery – Sometimes the water content inside a woman’s cervical fluid will be so high that the eggwhite cervical fluid is more like water, it’s clear, slippery and does not hold any shape. You will know it’s there by a very wet sensation in your vagina. This is very fertile cervical mucus is the last stage of the fertile period and suggests that the egg is about to be released.
5. Dry – this happens quickly after the wet period/egg release, the fertile window has finished for this cycle. Some women do experience a water cervical fluid the day before thee period, this is the endometrial lining starting to break up.
Acupuncture, diet & supplements can help increase fertile mucus
Acupuncture, diet & supplements can help increase fertile mucus
Cervical fluid is an incredibly valuable substance that is produced by your cervix. It’s made up of water, sugars, electrolytes and proteins. Fertile cervical fluid keeps sperm alive once it is inside the vagina. It provides nutrients, a hospitable alkaline environment and aids in transportation. Cervical fluid helps the sperm survive, sometimes for up to 5 days while waiting for the egg to be released. It also tells a lot about the state of a woman’s hormones.
 
Cervical fluid helps the sperm in 3 ways:
1. It provides an alkaline environment for the sperm. A woman’s vagina is slightly acidic and hostile to sperm. Fertile cervical mucus is alkaline, like a mans semen, and provides a safe harbour for the sperm.
 
2. It provides sustenance for the sperm while they swim on the way on up through the cervix, to reach the egg in the fallopian tube. The sperm need food along the way and fertile cervical fluid provides the needed nutrition.
 
3. It provides an easy pathway for the sperm to swim through. It also helps filter out irregular sperm so only the most suitable arrive at the egg.
There are many foods and supplements that can improve your cervical mucus such as royal jelly, evening primrose oil, increase your omega 3’s, avocados, olives etc…
I look at each women/couple individually and recommended foods and supplements to go with the acupuncture fertility program.

15 facts you may not know about Acupuncture…

Here are 15 factoids you may not know about acupuncture:

  1. Originally acupuncture needles were not made of stainless steel but of stone, bamboo, and bone.
  2. Studies have shown that acupuncture points have significantly more electrical conductivity than areas of skin without acupuncture points.
  3. Acupuncture can increase the success rate of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) up to 65%.
  4. The word acupuncture comes from the Latin acus, “needle” and pungere, “to prick.”
  5. Acupuncture needles are single use, sterilized and pre-packaged.
  6. Acupuncture is over 5,000 years old and is one of the oldest practicing forms of medicine known to date.
  7. When performed by a properly trained and licensed practitioner, acupuncture is safe and effective, free from negative side effects.
  8. Even though a needle is being inserted into the skin, acupuncture is virtually painless.
  9. Acupuncture needles are a lot smaller than standard hypodermic needles, and they do not draw blood and are not hollow.
  10. Acupuncturists feel your pulse and look at your tongue to gain a better understanding of what is going on inside the body.
  11. Acupuncture is highly individualized – for example, if 50 people with a cough got acupuncture, all 50 people could have different acupuncture points in their treatments.
  12. The benefits of acupuncture are sometimes difficult to measure when using western research because western research depends on a constant variable to measure all data against…something that goes against acupuncture treatment plans.
  13. Licensed acupuncturists attend an in-depth four year program and obtain over 400 clinical hours.
  14. Acupuncture is just one form of therapy used within the medical system known as Traditional Chinese Medicine, which also consists of other modalities such as herbal medicine, nutrition, cupping, moxabustion, tui na and special exercises such as Tai Chi and Qi Gong.
  15. Licensed acupuncturists in Ireland are fully insured and are registered with either the Acupuncture Foundation Professional Association or the Acupuncture Council of Ireland
Acupuncture can help treat many physical and emotional conditions.
Acupuncture can help treat many physical and emotional conditions.

If you or someone you know would like to learn more about what acupuncture can do, please contact me on 086-8163130 or email me at helena_barker@hotmail.com.

I practice in 3 locations, Navan and Slane in Co. Meath and Ongar in Dublin 15.

 

Acupuncture Awareness Week – 3rd-10th March 2014 – Get involved!

Are always curious about Acupuncture? Never got round to making an appointment? Have lots of questions about the therapy, will it hurt? can it help me? what will I experience?

Well this is for you… To coincide with the UK & Ireland Acupuncture awareness week from the 3rd – 10th March I am offering FREE Acupuncture sessions to new patients. The sessions will be at limited times and one session per person on a 1st come basis. This will be a 45 mins taster session where you will get a treatment and I will discuss how Acupuncture would help you.

FREE SESSIONS AVAILABLE:
Ananda Centre, Slane – Wednesday 5th March – 2pm, 3pm & 4pm
Body Therapy Ireland, Navan – Friday 7th March – 10am, 11am & 12pm

Why use Acupuncture?

As a natural form of healing, acupuncture has the following benefits:
1. provides drug-free pain relief
2. effectively treats a wide range of acute and chronic ailments
3. treats the underlying cause of disease and illness as well as the symptoms
4. provides an holistic approach to the treatment of disease and illness, treating the body, mind and spirit.
5. assists in the prevention of disease and the maintenance of general well-being

free

If you are interested on availing of a FREE session, please contact me on 086-8163130 or fill in the form below and I will get back to you ASAP.

Some Acupuncture info…

Acupuncture Treatments
Acupuncture is a complex medical system that is used to diagnose and treat illness, prevent disease and improve well being. It originated in China more than 3,000 years ago and due to it’s proven effectiveness has been embraced throughout the world. It involves the insertion of extremely fine pre-sterilised needles at predetermined points on the body’s surface to restore health.

Acupuncture can be used alone or combined with Western Medicine or with other forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) such as Herbal Medicine, Moxibustion (Heat Treatment), Cupping, Qigong, (Theraputic Exercise) and Tui-na (Chinese massage).

Commonly Treated Conditions:
The World Health Organization recognizes Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine as a viable means of treatment for a wide range of conditions. Some of the most commonly seen complaints in the acupuncture clinic are as follows:

Infections: Colds, Flu, Viral Infections.

Ear, Nose and Throat Conditions: Sinusitis, Hay fever, Rhinitis, Catarrh.

Dermatology: Eczema, Psoriasis, Acne.

Psychological: Depression, Stress, Insomnia, Anxiety

Musculoskeletal: Arthritis, Sciatica, Pain Relief, Sports Injury, Bells Palsy.

Internal Disease: Asthma, Bronchitis, Blood Pressure, Indigestion, Bowel Problems, Diabetes, M.E., Headaches/ Migraine, M.S, Trigeminal Neuralgia.

Genitourinary/ Gynaecology: Pregnancy, Male and Female Fertility, Impotence, Premenstrual Syndrome, Menstrual Problems, Menopause, Cystitis, PCOS, Endometriosis, Fibroids, Miscarriage.

A typical Acupuncture Session

The practitioner will spend some time discussing your condition and a detailed case history is taken. Your tongue and pulse may also be examined. Total confidentiality is assured at all times.

Number of Treatments

Since each person is unique the number of treatments needed, will vary. Chronic long term conditions will take longer to treat than acute conditions that have just occurred. If the patient is in good health recovery may be quicker.
Also the frequency of treatment prescribed will have an impact. Initially treatments may be administered close together and then become less frequent as the condition improves.The adherence of the patient to the instructions provided can also influence the speed of recovery. Helena will discuss the treatment plan with the patient.

Patient Safety
Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment. Helena uses pre-sterilized, disposable needles. Helena is a fully licensed Acupuncturist and a member of the Acupuncture Foundation Professional Association of Ireland (AFPA) and as such fully complys with association’s code of ethics and best practice.

If you are pregnant or trying for a baby it is important you let your Helena know as the treatment will need to be modified as Acupuncture is used extensively for fertility and pregnancy issues.

2014 Detox and fasting program – Week 2 – eliminate caffeine

6 Week Detox Program finishing with a 2/3 day juice fast – This is a gentle program that will change your lifestyle and make you glow from the inside out.

Week 2 – Caffeine Detox

Well done, hopefully you have survived week one of my detox. Well, how was it? Did you manage to keep away from the white wine?

Even if you slipped up you should carry on with the detox program, as each week is accumulative you will continue to stay clear of alcohol.

This week the item to eliminate is caffeine. This is going to be tougher as caffeine is an everyday item, the main culprits being coffee & tea.

Below is a chart that shows the caffeine content in everyday items:

Item Caffeine (mg)

Coffee, brewed (240ml/8oz) 60-120

Coffee, instant (240ml/8oz) 70

Coffee, decaf (240ml/8oz) 2-5

Tea, black, 5-min steep (240ml/8oz) 60-100

Tea, green (240ml/8oz) 20

Coca-Cola (355ml/12oz) 34

Milk Choc (30g/1oz) 1-15

Dark Choc (30g/1oz) 20

As you can see from this, it’s not just tea & coffee that you have to eliminate from your diet. Sorry the chocolate has to go…! As you may know, green tea has many health benefits but I will come back to these at a later date, for now all you need to know is that it contains caffeine so it’s a no, no.

What you can drink:

It’s all about the herbal tea’s, these days the shops are filled with so many flavours and you will be surprised at how good they taste. I recommend that you get yourself a ‘Tower of Tea’, below is mine, I’ve been an herbal tea addict for a long time and I’m always finding new flavours. My new favourite is from a brand called Clipper and is an Orange & Coconut flavour – tasty.

Tea
Tower of tea!

Side effects from detoxing from Caffeine:

Caffeine is a drug. It’s addictive, gives you a sudden rush of energy and offers you a bit of a high, which is usually followed by a bit of a crash. Once you start to feel the crash, more caffeine is needed to maintain stimulation. But the biggest sign that caffeine is a drug is that when you have a go at detoxing from it, you will experience crazy withdrawal symptoms.

Headaches, nausea and moods so bad…this is what prolonged periods of abstinence can do to the caffeine addicted. Drinking coffee is a ritual and symbol of important, busy people. The more responsibilities we have, the bigger the cup of coffee we need to carry around with us. I never drank Coffee until I started studying to be an Acupuncturist & Naturopath, I think that it was the working full-time and studying that did it. I managed to give up coffee and black tea this time last year whilst doing this detox, I’m still partial to a bit of dark chocolate now and again.
The more stress we have in our life, the more caffeine we drink. It’s a vicious cycle. We need caffeine to keep up with the pace of modern life, but if coffee is your choice, itself actually helps to create nervous energy. Coffee wakes us up and gets us going, but over time this unnatural stimulation of our nerves creates stress levels that wreak havoc on our immune systems, hormones and our adrenals.
It is widely known that caffeine enhances alertness and concentration, but the negative effects are pretty well downplayed. The health risks include inhibiting the absorption of essential minerals like iron, magnesium and zinc as well as B vitamins. Many studies have also linked heavy coffee consumption with higher risks for miscarriages, osteoporosis and heart disease.
Drinking caffeine is a habit that should be gradually given up – especially if you rely on more than one cup each day. Caffeine withdrawal is not fun – for you or for those around you. Here are a few things you can do to help you kick the habit:
1. Drink more water – you can help to flush out the caffeine in your system by drinking a lot more water throughout the day.
2. Try Dandelion and Chicory root blend tea – this tea is a great coffee substitute as it looks like coffee and it still has a rich flavor. You can also add oat milk or almond milk if you prefer it creamy. This stuff is rich in minerals, provides energy and is also known for its detoxifying properties.
3. Get plenty of rest – when you take caffeine away, your body won’t know what’s hit it. Without that false energy, you will most likely feel tired and more lethargic than usual. Be gentle with yourself and honor your body with more sleep and rest.
Good luck this week, any questions let me know…
Helena

2014 Detox and fasting program – for a brighter you…

For those who didn’t attend my workshop last Saturday, have no fear, you can still join in the detox program. Below is some info on detoxing, the benefits of detoxing and fasting and what the program entails. It’s basically a food elimination group detox that accumulates and this week its alcohol that is being eliminated.

6 Week Detox Program finishing with a 2/3 day juice fast – This is a gentle program that will
change your lifestyle and make you glow from the inside out.

If your body is getting everything it needs, i.e. nutrients & minerals, your body can work properly. I work on the encouragement of self-healing and in my practice my emphasis is on ‘treating the cause not the symptoms’ and ‘treating the patient as a whole’. I have mixed views on fasting, these fad diets of fasting for 2 days a week and then eating and drinking as ‘normal’ for the rest give out the wrong impression for a balanced lifestyle. I do praise the benefits of fasting though if it is done properly. It gives your body a break from dealing with everything it has to break down and gives it time to regenerate and heal itself. You can eat during this fast, but only portions of raw vegetables or fruit. Fasting is an integral part of many cultures and done quite naturally in countries around the world. Join me on this 6 week detox programme followed by a 2/3 day juice fast – this will leave you feeling
amazing both inside & out.

The 6 week detox plan is to prepare your body for the fast, it just makes the whole process a lot smoother and it’s an easier transition for the body so it’s not such a drastic change all of a sudden. We all have toxins in our body; they come in in many forms. Toxins are proteins produces by certain bacteria, animals or plants. The main toxins that we are vulnerable to are:
· Exogenous Toxins – Alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, recreational & prescription drugs, additives preservatives, hair bleach & skin creams etc…
· Environmental Toxins – Pesticides, herbicides, solvents, petrochemicals, exhaust gases, carbon monoxide, fluoride, heavy metals etc…
And the list goes on…

The three basic ways to avoid Toxicity are to avoid heavy metals, eat organic food and live in an eco-friendly environment. There are simple ways that we can change our lifestyle that I will go over during the course of this programme.

6 Week Detox program – pre-fasting
· Week 1 – No Alcohol
· Week 2 – No Caffeine
· Week 3 – No Meat
· Week 4 – No Dairy
· Week 5 – No Wheat
· Week 6 – No Sugar
That’s accumulative so you start the 2/3 day fast with none of these in your system, and depending on your diet at the moment it could be shorter than 6 weeks eg. If you’re a vegetarian it would only be 5 weeks.
It looks simple, but it gets tough…
Keep an eye out for my blog posts, I will be giving you encouragement and helpful tips along the way. I will also give you the recipe’s for the juices well in advance and please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need some advice in regard to the program.

The 2/3 day Juice Fast starts at the end of the 6th week
2/3 day Juice fasts are a great thing to do once or twice a year. Spring and Summer are best as in Winter the Qi (vital force/energy) retreats and you need building up.The juices can be a mix of Veg or Fruit juices, and you can eat raw Organic fruit and vegetables throughout the fast just limit yourself to either fruit or vegetables in one day.
Vegetables are the builders and fruit are the cleansers & vegetable juices are best in the morning time.
Here are some examples of some juices but I will send more ideas and recipes in the coming weeks.
· Veg Juices: Carrot, Kale, Celery, Parsley, Beetroot & Cucumber
· Fruit Juices: Apple, Pear, Grape, Pineapple & Watermelon

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Here is some Fasting info:

The body uses up 50% of its energy in digestion. By fasting, that energy can be utilised in other processes such as self-healing, tissue repair and enhancement of cell-mediated immunity. Fasting encourages toxins stored in fat cells and elsewhere to be mobilised into the blood stream to be dealt with by the Liver.
It is important prior to fasting that the main organs of elimination (Liver, Colon & Kidneys) be in an optimally efficient state – this is why the 6 week detox is required.
To prevent your body from going into a toxic overload due to inadequate levels of essential nutrients, the organic fruit and/or vegetables will prevent this. This is the reason that juice fasts are favored over water fasts.

The Important Stuff…
· Long fasts (more than 2 days) should be supervised by a Naturopath
· During a ‘fast’, pollutants are mobilised into the bloodstream as fat stores are used up. A body overloaded with toxins can produce reactions which are unpredictable as the ‘cocktail’ of chemicals hits the bloodstream. Watch out for the side effects.
· Common side effects of short term fasting include: headaches, nausea, coated tongue, dizziness, skin rashes, acne, aching limbs & muscles, feeling colder than usual, insomnia, urine may be cloudy or darker than usual and your bowels may stop functioning during the fast. These symptoms will pass as soon as the waste materials are through your Kidneys.
· Benefits of fasting: Clearer skin and eyes, more energy, increased elimination, decreased pain and inflammation, increased concentration and a feeling of well-being.
· Contraindications to extend fasting (beyond 48 hours) without provisional supervision – pregnancy & breast feeding, severe liver disease or anemia, kidney disease, if you suffer from an eating disorder, mental illness or a chronic condition which needs medication. If you are trying to conceive please contact me to discuss.
· Ensure that 2 litres of pure, filtered water is consumed on fasting days.

So who is with me to start this week? It’s only 6 ½ weeks of your life, you will be completed well before Easter.

Remember if you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

Good Luck!

Helena x

How to get through the two week wait?!

It seems simply amazing that two weeks each cycle can be the most stressful time in a woman’s life when they are trying for a baby.

Since elevated stress levels may prevent conception through hormone disruption, doesn’t it seem practical to find ways to improve your two week wait, thereby increasing your chance of successful implantation and pregnancy?!

Here are some practical tips to help you make your two week wait the most inviting for baby and more enjoyable for you.

TWW
Acupuncture can help implantation, ease anxiety and promote relaxation.

1.      Have some Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment to have during the two week wait. It can help support implantation in the 1st week after ovulation and also help to support you emotionally, to ease anxiety and promote relaxation.

If you are undergoing assisted reproductive techniques such as IVF/IUI…

Acupuncture and Embryo Transfer Research (1) trials shows that fertility acupuncture before embryo transfer and acupuncture after embryo transfer may improve pregnancy rates by up to 65%.

Acupuncture during this time is highly recommended by many fertility clinics. Two acupuncture treatments are recommended in the two week wait, approx. 5 and 10 days after transfer.

Please contact me for further info on Acupuncture treatments.

2.      Eat to support healthy hormone levels and to nourish a healthy uterine lining

Think fibre to promote healthy estrogen metabolism and digestion. Foods like ground flax seeds, dark leafy green vegetables like kale & spinach, beetroots, whole grains and soaked seeds and nuts.

Next consider superfoods that have been shown to support hormonal balance overall. Maca, goji berries, coconut oil, and cod liver oil. Another way to support hormonal balance is to support liver health with a two very safe and nourishing liver herbs – Burdock root and Dandelion leaf and root.

Create and support a rich uterine lining by eating blood nourishing foods and pregnancy safe herbs. Grass fed meats, free range eggs, salmon, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, quinoa, spirulina and seaweed are all iron-rich blood building foods. Herbal teas which are great are nettle and  raspberry leaf. Consider eating foods that support warmth. As progesterone levels rise, so does your temperature, as you can see in your BBT chart. A warm womb is an inviting womb. Think soups and stews, or adding some warming herbs to foods such as cayenne, ginger & cinnamon.

3.      Note changes in your body, but be realistic with expectations.

Women in the two week wait have high expectations. The thing about expectations, they are deeply filled with emotions and when they aren’t met, the floodgates open. This creates a situation in which stress hormones are at a higher level, which is a signal to your body to prevent conception from happening. It is like a siren going off, “Now is not the time to get pregnant, I need to put my focus elsewhere.”

The most common obsessions for women in the two week are all about a real lack of patience. Yes, there may be signs of implantation, such as a rising temperature, or some slight spotting, or symptoms of early pregnancy such as nausea, feeling more tired than usual, and cramping, but these symptoms are also very common during the luteal phase, as estrogen drops off, progesterone increases and for some women, PMS kicks in.

Ask these questions of yourself:

  • How is knowing if I am pregnant sooner than my expected menstruation beneficial to me?
  • Does noting every slight change in my body during the two week wait make me feel good or does it make me worry about the outcome? Notice how your body feels when you note these changes. Are you holding tension anywhere?

Remember, it is vital to be realistic during your two week wait. Rather than focusing on each little sign, or symptom of pregnancy, focus on nourishing, nurturing and cultivating patience in your life.

4.      Hold off on taking a pregnancy test until the right time.

Early pregnancy test manufacturers want to relieve that anxiety by helping you detect if you are pregnant before your next period begins.

Pregnancy tests detect human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG for short). In the first few weeks after implantation hCG levels double every 48-72 hours. This means that the level of hCG in pregnant women goes from nearly nothing to a lot in just a few days’ time. At 7-10 days after ovulation, a pregnant woman’s hCG levels will be up to 50 mIU/ml. If you must test early find a pregnancy test that can detect a level as low as 25mIU/ml.

You can begin to test at 7-10 days past ovulation. This means you need to be tracking ovulation. If the test comes back negative while testing this early, know it may be a false negative due to very low hCG levels. It may be due to late ovulation. Wait 3 days and then test again. An early negative can also lead to feelings of sadness and depression. So even though you can test this early, it may be best to wait longer, that way you will give the placenta more time to raise hCG levels.

hcg

5.      Avoid certain natural therapies, supplements and herbs.

To encourage implantation, certain natural therapies that manipulate the uterus should be avoided. This includes self-fertility massage & abdominal massage & castor oil packs. All of these are fine prior to ovulation.

If you have been taking herbs or have been seeing a herbalist most all herbs are fine to continue during the two week wait. It is best to continue on with an herbal program (if you are on one) until pregnancy is confirmed. After that, you will want to consult your herbalist and discontinue some herbs in early pregnancy.

Most nutritional supplements are safe to continue until pregnancy is confirmed. Continuing a prenatal vitamin is vital to a healthy pregnancy and will provide your body with enough folic acid to support proper development of your baby and its spinal column in the first few weeks of pregnancy.

Contact me to discuss which supplements you should continue with and ones that you should stop when you have a positive pregnancy result.

If you are using natural progesterone cream, you will most definitely want to continue using it through the two week wait. If you suddenly stop using it, this may signal your body to miscarry due to a sudden drop in progesterone levels.

6.      Move slowly, rest more, nest and nurture yourself.

You deserve it! Note how you are feeling during the two week wait. Rather than focusing on symptoms you associate with early pregnancy or PMS, notice where in your body you are holding tension. You will notice you may be clenching your jaw, stomach, or holding your shoulders higher. These are all signs of held stress. Taking time to nurture you is going to help reduce stress and help you focus on creating a healthy environment for baby.

  • Take naps and go to be earlier. Elevated progesterone levels make you sleepier, so sleep more.
  • If you love to exercise, down shift. Swap running or spin class for yoga and brisk walks.
  • Nest. This means nesting for your womb with the suggestions above and actually making your home environment more inviting for yourself.
  • Nurture yourself, get a gentle massage, book a lunch outing or an easy walk with your friends. Avoid big outings, stay close to home.

7.      Trust and believe in your body.

If you carry doubt, shame or emotional baggage surrounding your body and its ability to carry to term, how can you expect to get pregnant? Be open and receptive to change your thought patterns about yourself and what you believe about what you deserve in life. Negative thought patterns shut down healthy circulation, while altering hormonal balance. This doesn’t create a healthy situation for conception, implantation and pregnancy. How can any woman expect to invite a new life in and expect it to stay if she doesn’t believe her first home for her baby (her body) is a fabulous place to be?

Affirmations, meditation, counselling and journaling can help you to deprogram old beliefs about yourself and upload new, positive ways to think about your inner self and body.

The best way to cultivate patience in the two week wait is to be proactive in changing how you think and feel about yourself and your body! Trust and patience doesn’t happen overnight, so be gentle on yourself as you begin to shift how you approach and move through your two week wait.

References:

(1) Acupuncture and Embryo Transfer Improves Pregnancy Success Rates

“Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy” by Paulus W et al, Fertility and Sterility 2002 Vol 77, pg 721-724

In this study, 160 patients who were undergoing ART and who had good quality embryos were divided into the following two groups through random selection:

80 women had acupuncture before embryo transfer and acupuncture after embryo transfer whilst 80 women had embryo transfer without acupuncture.

The results showed clinical pregnancies documented in 34 of 80 patients (42.5%) in the acupuncture and embryo transfer group, whereas pregnancy rate was only 26.3% (21 out of 80 patients) in the control group.

“Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: systematic review and meta-analysis”,by Manheaimer E et al, British Medical Journal 2008, pg 336-545

In this study, that combined the results of seven trials involving 1,366 women in an attempt to provide a clearer picture of the benefits of acupuncture for embryo transfer.

They found that, looking at all the research together, women who underwent acupuncture were 65% more likely to have a successful embryo transfer compared with those who underwent a “sham” version of the treatment, or had no extra treatment at all. (BBC, 2008)

Acupuncture Improves IVF Pregnancy Rates and Live Births

“Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: systematic review and meta-analysis”,by Manheaimer E et al, British Medical Journal 2008, pg 336-545

This same study concluded that current preliminary evidence suggests that acupuncture given with embryo transfer improves rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing IVF.

www.early-pregnancy-tests.com/early-pregnancy-test.html

http://natural-fertility-info.com

How to improve your Fertility? – Male & Female

There are increasing number of couples who are having difficulty conceiving, this is due to many factors. I help treat fertility issues in both male and female partners with Acupuncture and Naturopathy, here is some information that I go through with my patients to make sure that they are at peak wellness when they are trying for a baby.

Helena Barker ~ Acupuncture & Naturopathy

What is Fertility?

Fertility simply refers to a couple’s chances of becoming pregnant. If you are fertile, than there is a good chance that you will become pregnant at some point in time. Though pregnancy may not happen right away, if both a man and a woman are fertile, they will conceive a child eventually. Certain factors play a key role in determining fertility. In order for a woman to be fertile she must produce a viable egg during each monthly cycle. In order for a man to be fertile he must be able to produce strong and healthy sperm that can fertilize this egg. Numerous factors play a part in these roles including your diet, lifestyle and stress management. Keeping in mind the following guidelines, they will increase both your chances of conceiving and improve the health of your baby also.

Start a 3 month plan incorporating Diet, Exercise…

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Fertility acupuncture, pregnancy acupuncture, women's health, hormone balance, migraine, pain relief