Why You Should Consider Hiring a Birth Doula

A doula is an excellent addition to your birth plan!

As our patients struggling with infertility finally get pregnant, aside from the joy of finally seeing those two lines, there are many decisions that need to be made. What provider is right for my pregnancy? What type of birth do I want?

Many of our patients have never allowed themselves to consider any of these things for fear of ‘putting the cart before the horse,’ so to speak. So this process, while exciting and wonderful, can be overwhelming and stressful.

One thing we often discuss with our patients, as they get closer to delivery, is their birth plan. It is our desire for our patients to be informed about their choices and have a provider they trust and feel totally comfortable with.  One thing that can really help during your pregnancy and birth is having a doula. As highly trained, non-medical birth experts, they can walk through your needs, fears, desires, etc and help you come up with a birth plan and guide you and your partner through labor.

I asked a trusted doula friend of mine to do a post for our blog about what role a doula can play and why you would consider working with one. So, without further adieu, here is Hillary Ebling with Beautiful Beginnings Doula Services. 

Hillary Ebling, owner of Beautiful Beginnings Doula Services

Congratulations on your pregnancy! I am so glad Sarah was able to help you reach this point! Did you know, she can continue to help you throughout your pregnancy?

I am Hillary Ebling, and I am a birth doula and postpartum doula in Knoxville, TN . I own my own doula practice. Working as a doula, I work with expectant families so they may have the best chance of achieving their ideal birth. My goal is that you feel confident, cared for, and respected during your childbearing year.

As you begin researching how to have a happy, healthy childbirth, you may run across the words “birth doula” and see that this is a person who supports a family during pregnancy and birth. That sounds awesome… but you already spent money on a medical provider, birth location, and higher price tag baby items like a car seat and a crib. You may think a doula is a luxury you should go without. Before your accept this, however, check out these compelling reasons to spend the money on a birth doula.

First, what is the role of a doula?

“Doula” is a Greek word meaning a woman who serves. I’m using a more formal definition of birth doula to refer to a specially trained birth companion (not a friend or loved one) who provides labor support. This labor support includes comfort measures and emotional support. “Comfort measures” means using massage, position changes, water, hot/cold packs, mindfulness, and breathing to help deal with the intensity of labor. “Emotional support” means using reflective listening, positive presence, and reassurance to help increase your confidence and satisfaction of your birth experience.

It is important to notice that doulas play a completely “non-medical” role. Doulas do not diagnose or treat in any modality, nor do we take blood pressure or temperature, fetal heart tone checks, vaginal examinations or postpartum clinical care. What this means as a client, is that you also need a medical provider, whether that is a midwife or a doctor, to attend your birth. In short, your medical providers keep you and your baby safe, provide all medications, deliver the baby, and take care of the mother postpartum, whereas the doula keeps the mother encouraged, comfortable, and confident.

Now that we have clarified the role, what are the benefits of having a doula for my clients?

 

First, a doula is the only team member entirely focused on the laboring parent’s physical comfort and emotional well-being.

Your medical providers attention is inherently split between two different people – exactly as it should be! We all want a happy, healthy mother and baby at the end of a birth. Their training is scientific and this is where their focus should be. Medical providers are often expected to care for multiple patients at a time and usually work shifts of time in the hospital or on-call period.

A doula’s training, on the other hand, focuses on the “art of labor support,” that is, the emotional needs of people in labor, and non-medical physical and emotional comfort measures (as mentioned in the examples above). Our sole focus is on the needs of the mother, not the baby. Unlike medical providers, doulas work with one client at a time. We will join you when asked, either in early labor or later in active labor. We will stay with you throughout, often with only very brief breaks.

 

Second, having a doula can help you have shorter, more satisfying birth with less interventions.

Although the exact reasons for this are unclear, there have been numerous studies showing that doulas help families. The largest systematic review of continuous labor support, reported the combined findings from 20+ randomized controlled trials, including over 15,000 women. These trials focused on the benefits of continuous support (having a support person constantly present throughout labor, not coming and going as family and medical providers often must). Women with continuous labor support are

  • 28% less likely to have a cesarean section
  • 31% less likely to use synthetic oxytocin to speed up labor
  • 9% less likely to use any pain medication
  • 34% less likely to rate their childbirth experience negatively

Why can’t a family member or partner fill the same role for free?

Outcomes were most improved and intervention rates were most dramatically lowered in the group with doulas as their support person, not a nurse, friend, or family member.

But do you need one if your partner is really supportive?

In a perfect world, your doula and your partner work together to give you the best birth possible. We cannot possibly replace the loving, intimate relationship of your partner. We don’t stand in the way of your partner being great labor support – we help him or her achieve it!

Our birth culture puts a lot of pressure on partners. A pregnant parent often expects her partner to be knowledgeable – and good – at a host of new things. You may expect your partner to help you emotionally (by providing reassurance, encouragement, and confidence in you) or physically (by encouraging coping mechanisms like breathing and relaxation and providing comfort measures like massage). Lastly, you might expect your partner to fulfill other roles, like updating family and friends of your labor progress. That’s a lot of expectations for one person to handle! For many partners, this may be the first time he or she has ever set foot in a delivery room or seen labor! Add the love your partner feels for you and your discomfort to the equation, and it can be completely overwhelming!

With a birth team of both a partner and a doula, though, we share the weight of these expectations. You will have twice the emotional support and reassurance. We can alternate providing physical support so your partner is less fatigued by the labor. We stay with you if your partner needs a break for food or to update your family. This way, you are never unsupported and your partner can have peace of mind while handling these tasks. We have seen many labors and can use our experience to provide helpful suggestions for new things to try for both you and your partner.

 

Last but certainly not least, doulas provide informational support to the family.

By “informational support”, I mean explanation and discussion of practices and procedures, and assistance in acquiring any knowledge necessary to make informed decisions about your care. We help you find reputable, evidence-based information that will help you make informed decisions about your birth and your new baby’s care.

In essence, a doula doesn’t tell you how you should give birth. Instead, we share information with you so you can make informed decisions and then support you, whatever your choices.

Ok, so you definitely want a doula, but aren’t doulas expensive?

Often, yes – we are trying both to answer a calling and make a living. Although not usually covered by your insurance, some insurance companies will pay a portion or allow you to pay for your doula out of a health or flexible savings account. Contact your health insurance provider for more information about your specific situation.

DONA International’s Vision is “A doula for every woman who wants one”. With this in mind, many doulas offer some way to cut costs. I offer gift certificates so friends and family can donate to help financially (consider asking for this for baby shower presents!!). I also offer a discounted price for families on WIC. I also offer a 10% discount when you buy both birth doula and postpartum doula services. I am of course happy to answer any questions you have about my current options at info@beautiful-beginnings-doula.com or (423)384-6902.

Bottom Line: With all this information in mind, I urge you to consider carefully the benefits and options to offset the cost before you write off having a doula off as a luxury you can’t afford!

Young Woman with Severe Endometriosis Finds Pain Relief and a Solution to Infertility With Acupuncture Right Here in Knoxville

Success found through combination of acupuncture and IVF!

Heather Huddleston is a young woman who has struggled with severe endometriosis since puberty. At the age of 19, she had her first of many surgeries. It was so extreme that the surgeon told her she would never have children—he had removed 2/3 of one ovary and 7/8 of the other.  Drugs and surgery were the solution offered her by traditional western medicine, and she took the solution seeing no other option. She managed to get through both undergraduate and her graduate studies by allowing the doctors to put her body into medically induced menopause to cope with the 10 level pain. She thought this was her only option—even doing as told, her quality of life was greatly diminished.

While finishing her graduate studies she got married. She maintained her treatments. Two years later, she and her husband were eager to begin a family. She ceased all hormonal therapy although she was terrified to come off of the drugs remembering the severity of the constant crippling pain. Yet she knew she had to begin somewhere, in her quest for sustainable good health.

The pain was as bad as ever. She trudged through and she and her husband sought the help of fertility specialists. After being unsuccessfully treated by 2 fertility specialists and undergoing 2 more extensive surgeries she was no closer to achieving her goals. The last surgery was performed by a surgeon specializing in excision and was very thorough even removing tissue from her diaphragm. After she recovered, she went back to the fertility doctor—unsuccessfully.  Feeling frustrated and hopeless, she decided to go back on the hormones and regroup.

A year later, she began to have new symptoms—this time in the colon and bowel. This was quite concerning. After consulting a specialist, she was told that the surgery required was extremely dangerous. He recommended pursuing pregnancy before taking that step. She found a new fertility doctor. She achieved a pregnancy through IVF only to be disappointed with a miscarriage 6 weeks in. As bad as this was, the doctor was encouraged because she had achieved a successful pregnancy. He advised them to try again immediately, this time recommending that she do so with the addition of acupuncture.

She took the doctor’s suggestion and made an appointment with a Practitioner specializing in infertility, Sarah Prater. The hormones that were a part of the treatment protocol caused the endometriosis to flare up resulting in crippling pain. This time both she and Sarah hoped to not only achieve a healthy pregnancy but a measure of relief from the crippling pain—.

Heather went into her first treatment with level 10 pain. After the treatment, she walked away pain free! She was amazed—wondering how long the relief from the pain would last. It not only lasted through the night but continued until her next session and beyond. She never experienced that crippling pain again through the treatment, even though she followed the protocol for the hormones which previously made life almost unbearable.

She continued with acupuncture following Sarah’s treatment plan for her all the way up to the transfer, after the transfer and subsequent treatment. Her transfer was successful—she achieved a healthy pregnancy!

Heather is now 12 weeks pregnant and being released by the fertility doctor to an obstetrician. She is headed to Japan for the next year with her husband where she will continue acupuncture and by God’s grace deliver a healthy baby!

The Power of Hope

Sarah Prater has had the honor of helping many women give birth to happy, healthy babies and has a diverse background that enables her to fully support her patients. Her passion for helping women struggling with infertility led her to found the Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture.  Acupuncture has been shown to increase success rates for women struggling with a variety of issues and conditions associated with reproduction.

Experts Agree

Acupuncture can increase fertility by reducing stress, increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs and balancing the endocrine system, according to several studies and medical research.

According to A recent study from Tel Aviv University, when used in conjunction with Western fertility treatments, acupuncture increases conception rates by 26%.  It found that when combining IUI with Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments, 65.5 percent of the test group was able to conceive, compared with 39.4 percent of the control group, who received no herbal or acupuncture therapy.

A well-known German study done in 2002 followed 160 women who underwent IVF.  Eighty of them received acupuncture as well and 34 of those women got pregnant: a success rate of 42.5%. Of the other 80 women, those who received IVF without any acupuncture treatments, only 21 women (26.3%) became pregnant.

An American study, of 114 women showed that 51% of the women who had acupuncture and IVF treatments became pregnant compared to 36% of women who had IVF alone. Further analysis of the data revealed a much lower rate of miscarriage for the women who had acupuncture as well as IVF.

Sarah strives to stay up to date with current research in her field and is constantly updating her protocols to offer the maximum benefit. Her wide breadth of experience allows her to work cooperatively with reproductive endocrinologists and OB/GYN’s to provide the best care for her patients.

 

Sarah can be reached at:

 www.TennesseeReproductiveAcupuncture.com

Sarah@TennesseeReproductiveAcupuncture.com

342 Ebenezer Rd

Knoxville, TN 37923

(865) 315-3845

Preconception Tips to Help Ensure Your Cycle is a Success: A 90 Day Plan

Help your cycle become a success with these preconception tips!

Many of our patients have been told they have poor egg quality or diminished ovarian reserve, or even poor embryo quality and this is the reason why they are having trouble conceiving or carrying a pregnancy to term. While it is true that your egg health diminishes over time, it is not true that there is nothing that can be done to help support your egg health.

Even if you don’t have any specific ovarian or egg quality issues, helping support good egg health will help increase the chances your cycle will be a success!

The total time it takes for one egg to fully mature is about 90 days. It is during this window of time that we are able to have the biggest impact on egg health. So, we recommend that all of our patients looking to plan a treatment cycle take advantage of this time to prepare and consider acupuncture, supplements, diet, and lifestyle changes to help support their egg health.

 

Some of the main factors affecting egg health are:

  • Diet and Nutrition
  • Blood flow to the uterus and ovaries
  • Oxygenation of your blood
  • Stress
  • Hormone balance

Our three favorite ways to improve all of these factors affecting egg health are acupuncture (of course!), diet and exercise, and specific supplements.

 

1. Preconception Acupuncture:

Each of our treatment protocols (IUI, IVF, and medicated cycles) begins with the recommendation of preconception acupuncture. Preconception acupuncture is treatments given weekly in the 1-3 months prior to any fertility cycle specifically designed to support egg health and hormone balance.

By now, you probably know that acupuncture done alongside a fertility cycle can improve the chances of pregnancy for that cycle. What you may not know, is that acupuncture’s effect is cumulative, much like exercise. Each treatment and treatment cycle builds on the previous. Research done on fertility acupuncture supports this idea. Generally, the more acupuncture one receives, the better the pregnancy rates.

The reasons why acupuncture done in the months prior to a fertility cycle can have an impact on your egg health and the overall success of your cycle are:

  • Dramatically improved blood flow to the uterus and ovaries: This increases the   delivery of oxygen and nutrients, and facilities waste product removal, improving overall egg health.
  • Hormone regulation: Many women notice changes in their cycles during preconception acupuncture: less  pain, more regular ovulation, and normalization of menstrual flow.
  • Reduced stress: Help your body and mind get ready for the upcoming cycle.

 

2.  Diet, Exercise and Lifestyle:

Diet: A healthy diet can dramatically affect one’s fertility (and overall health!). Taking the preconception time period to focus on eating a clean, whole-food, plant-based diet can help improve egg health. Our favorite general fertility diet comes from a Harvard Medical School research study, but many diagnoses related to infertility, such as endometriosis or PCOS, call for some specialized nutrition.

Overall, the basics of a healthy fertility diet include:

  • Low amounts of saturated fat: Choose plant based fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados, and healthy fats like those found in salmon and other fish.
  • Local, grass fed, organic meats whenever possible
  • Fresh fruits and veggies: We suggest eating foods from every color of the rainbow and making sure at least half of your plate is filled with veggies as an easy way to maximize your fruit and vegetable intake
  • Vegetable protein sources: Try to replace one serving of meat per day with a vegetarian protein source like beans or tofu.
  • Lots of fresh water: Try to avoid water bottled in plastic and stick to filtered when possible.
  • Whole grains: brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat bread and pasta, etc instead of simple, white carbs,
  • Iron rich plants: spinach, pumpkins, beans, tomatoes, and beets.
  • Full fat dairy instead of low fat varieties.
  • Minimal (or no) sugar intake: be sure to watch added sugars and high fructose corn syrup as they can hide in many unsuspecting foods as well as sugary drinks and desserts.

For women who have endometriosis, we recommend following an anti-inflammatory diet. For those with PCOS, a low-glycemic index diet is best.

 

Exercise: Regular aerobic exercise improves the oxygenation of blood and increased blood flow throughout the body. It is also a great stress reliever and helps maintain a healthy BMI, which is associated with higher pregnancy rates. Yoga is also a great way to strengthen your core and help reduce stress.

The preconception time is perfect for implementing a consistent exercise routine as exercise is commonly limited by your doctor during a fertility treatment cycle.

 

Lifestyle: There are many lifestyle habits that can have an effect on egg health. Our top suggestions are the following:

  • Stop smoking
  • Allow personal ‘down-time’ to meditate, read, or just relax.
  • Listen to fertility meditations via Circle Bloom to help de-stress and foster a healthy body/mind connection
  • Work to reduce stress and overwork as much as possible
  • Seek counseling or a support group if you feel it is necessary.

 

3. Supplements and herbs: In addition to a good quality prenatal vitamin, there are some supplements that you can take that will help support egg quality and overall fertility. One supplement that has some evidence showing it’s efficacy is CoQ-10.

CoQ-10 is a vitamin-like substance (meaning our bodies can make some on their own) that functions within the energy production centers, called mitochondria, present in each cell. As we age, the efficiency of the mitochondria declines. The idea is that by supplementing CoQ-10, we can help support this energy production, which is especially needed for high-energy processes like the cellular division involved in egg production and embryo development. There is some preliminary research showing an egg-health benefit in mice and we await further research. CoQ-10 is generally regarded as very safe to take while trying to conceive and most experience no side effects. It also shows some promise in helping support male fertility as well.

Other supplements that we typically recommend are:

  • Fish Oil: high in omega-3 fatty acids to help reduce inflammation in the body
  • Probiotics: to support good digestion and absorption of nutrients.

There are also specific supplements and herbs available for other fertility related conditions such as PCOS, endometriosis, luteal phase defect, male factor infertility, etc and will be recommended as needed.

 

Please call 865-315-3845 or contact us, we are more than happy to answer your questions or set you up for preconception acupuncture! Good luck with your cycle!

 

The One Year Anniversary of The Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture: Wisdom Teeth and Gratitude

Thank you, Knoxville, for a successful first year!

On March 1, 2016 the Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture finally opened it’s doors to Knoxville and the surrounding areas. We are Knoxville’s first and only acupuncture practice specializing in fertility and prenatal wellness. It was my goal to provide East Tennessee with an integrative option for the treatment of infertility and help each of our patients navigate this complex journey. We have officially been open for our patients for one year (and counting) and I wanted to touch on my thoughts for this first year in practice here. 

It was my intention to post this retrospective on the 1 year anniversary of my practice, but I spent the morning driving my husband to and from his wisdom teeth removal appointment. Luckily, all went well, and I was able to fill my afternoon seeing the patents that are truly the heart and soul of TNCRA. Minus the wisdom teeth extraction (who wants to do that!?), I wouldn’t have wanted to spend the one year anniversary of my practice in any other way.

When I think back over the past year, I am completely overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude. I have been humbled by the reception that Knoxville has given to TNCRA. Over the past year I have met many families struggling with infertility and had a chance to help many of them achieve their dream of pregnancy. I have also met many expectant mothers and had the honor of working with them as they prepare to become mothers for the first, second, third, fourth, or fifth (and more) time. I have also met so many others whose passion for working with families during infertility and pregnancy just bleeds through their work: doctors, doulas, midwives, nurses, massage therapists, craniosacral therapists, nutritionists, chiropractors, photographers, lab technicians, yoga teachers, other acupuncturists, counselors, reproductive endocrinologists, ultrasound technicians, OB/GYN’s, and I’m sure there are few I am forgetting.

One thing I kept hearing in my first year of practice here is that it can be hard for people coming from outside of Tennessee to get a successful business going. I have found this completely and happily untrue. Knoxville has an incredibly welcoming atmosphere and a truly wonderful community to support families of all backgrounds on their journey from trying to conceive to becoming parents. I am honored to be a part of this community and look forward to many years of practice here.

So, thank you Knoxville for welcoming me with open arms. Thank you to the other practitioners who have taken time to learn about TNCRA and how we may be able to work together to help support our patients. But mostly, thank you to my patients. You have put your trust in my experience and training during the most sensitive of times and I am forever grateful to walk alongside you on this journey.

I am very excited for the years to come and hope to build upon the foundation that has been laid. I look forward to learning more each year and working with more families. Mostly, I look forward to pregnancy announcements, birth announcements, and holding space (or a hand) for those experiencing a loss or a failed cycle. These moments are truly what drives me to come to work each day. I love my job.

 

5 Reasons to Try Acupuncture for Fertility

5 reasons why you should consider adding acupuncture to your fertility treatment.

 

Are you currently trying to get pregnant or planning to try in the next few months? Have you considered adding fertility acupuncture to your IVF, IUI, or medicated cycle?

You’ve probably read or heard a little about acupuncture for fertility, but maybe don’t know much about how it can help you. Here are our top five reasons why you should book an acupuncture treatment with your next cycle!

 

  1. Increases Chances of a Take Home Baby: Research shows that acupuncture not only improves pregnancy rates (up to 60%!), but can reduce miscarriages leading to an overall increase in the chances of a take home baby! After all, this is what everyone facing infertility really wants! This research is typically done on IVF cycles, but the same mechanisms of action can help improve an IUI, medicated, or natural cycle in much the same way.

 

  1. Improves Blood Flow:  Acupuncture has been shown to increase blood flow to the uterus. This improved blood flow is associated with a better chance of embryo implantation in IVF cycles. It can also facilitate better nutrient delivery and waste product removal to potentially increase the the quality of your follicles and endometrial lining.

 

  1. Hormone Regulation: Over the course of 1-3 months, acupuncture can help to regulate your reproductive hormones. For example, women with PCOS often begin ovulating after treatment with acupuncture. Subtle cycle changes also occur as hormones become more balanced. Changes often noticed during the course of treatment include: increased fertile cervical mucous, a longer luteal phase, reduced PMS symptoms, and even changes in your basal body temperature chart.

 

  1. Reduced Stress: We all know struggling with infertility is stressful. Acupuncture can help you cope with this stress so you can relax and feel normal while going through treatment cycles. It causes a release of ‘feel-good’ chemical called endorphins in your brain that will…. well, help you feel good! You may also notice that you sleep better or have better digestion after treatment as well.

 

  1. Treatment of Side effects: Often when we are treating patients during their cycles, we use points to reduce headaches, nausea, bloating, irritability, insomnia, hot flashes, night sweats, constipation, anxiety…. you name it! Making you feel comfortable during treatment is a huge part of what we do. The way we see it is that, for many couples, success can be a matter of time. Time finding the right medication combination that works with your body and time waiting for the right follicle to develop. If we can make that wait easier, you’re more likely to try an additional cycle or two and increase your chances of success! Additionally, we all know you can’t push the pause button on life while you undergo fertility treatment, so we work to help keep you at your best so you can continue to be a wife, co-worker, student, mother, sister, friend, and/or superwoman!

 

As you can see, combining acupuncture to your fertility treatment plan is a great way to, not only, increase your chances of pregnancy, but to feel more comfortable, relaxed and get a more regulated cycle!

We work with both men and women to find a treatment protocol that works with the timing of their cycles to give you the maximum benefit of acupuncture. Please give us a call or contact us online and we’ll walk you through what is best for your situation. Or, if you’re ready, you can schedule an appointment online now! 

 

How We Use Acupuncture and Moxa to Help Turn Breech Babies

Moxa sticks, pictured above, are a useful treatment in encouraging a breech baby to turn.
Moxa sticks, pictured above, are a useful treatment in encouraging a breech baby to turn.

If you’ve been told by your midwife or OB/GYN that your baby isn’t in the best position for a vaginal birth, you know what kind of stress this can bring on! Most women facing a possible Cesarean section for breech presentation will search far and wide for things they can do to help their baby get into a better position for delivery.

If you end up consulting Dr. Google, you have probably come across others talking about using acupuncture and moxibustion (moxa) for turning breech babies, and you probably have some questions. It is true that we safely use these techniques to turn many breech babies and it can be successful much of time!

 

What to expect: At the Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture we use a combination of acupuncture and moxa to help encourage a cephalic presentation.

  • Acupuncture: We generally recommend acupuncture 1-2 times per week to help encourage baby to turn, reduce stress, and to relax any tight muscles that might be preventing an ideal presentation.
  • Moxa: You will be given moxa sticks and instruction for their use at home. Our protocol involves moxa treatment 2 times a day for 15 minutes for a course of 7 days (or until the baby turns).

After treatment, you will generally feel an increase in fetal movement, and an overall sense of relaxation and well-being. New to acupuncture? Here is what you can expect.

 

When to receive treatment: The ideal time to use acupuncture and moxibustion is between week 33 and 35 of your pregnancy.

Beyond week 35, the chances of success decreases as baby is starting to get larger, but many breech babies have turned in the last weeks of pregnancy or even as labor starts.

It’s best to call as soon as you find out you are breech and discuss your personal case with our acupuncturist. We can walk you through your options and what the best course of action is for your situation.

 

What else can I do?

  1. Swimming: any type of swimming with your stomach down in the water can take the pressures of gravity off your uterus and allow baby to move into a good position
  2. Dance: put your favorite music on and make sure to let your hips rock!
  3. Talk to your baby: Baby can hear your voice and some women have reported success with asking baby to adjust his or her position.
  4. Webster Technique: This is a chiropractic technique that is helpful in turning breech babies. Be sure to seek out someone trained in this technique.
  5. Spinning Babies: The positions on this website can help your baby settle into position and are highly recommended. We also recommend using this site throughout your pregnancy to help prevent breech presentation.
  6. Talk to your doctor about performing an external cephalic version or other medical interventions.

 

What are the chances that it will work?

In one study, where moxa and acupuncture was compared with a watch and wait approach, 75.4% of women treated with acupuncture and moxa had a cephalic presentation vs 47.7% of the control group. Both groups were offered external cephalic versions and results included the successful versions.

 

In addition to the recommendations here, we encourage all pregnant women to take advantage of Pre-Birth Acupuncture starting at week 36 to help get your body ready for labor and help support a vaginal birth. Prenatal acupuncture done in the last weeks of pregnancy can reduce the need for interventions like epidurals and emergency C-Sections.

Please give us a call at 865-315-3845 or contact us online for more information or to set up an appointment. We look forward to working with you!

 

 

Resources:

https://acupuncture.rhizome.net.nz/acupuncture/research/moxabustion-breech/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20430289

https://acupuncture.rhizome.net.nz/acupuncture/fact-sheets/evidence-base-acupuncture-and-moxibustion-breech-presintation/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15280133

http://www.cochrane.org/CD003928/PREG_cephalic-version-by-moxibustion-for-breech-presentation

http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/188144

Case Study: IUI Success After 7 Years. Diagnosis: Endometriosis and Low Progesterone

IUI and acupuncture success after 7 years of infertility!
IUI and acupuncture success after 7 years of infertility!

A 33 year old woman came to our office after experiencing infertility for 7 years. She had a history of endometriosis and low progesterone. Her husband had a history of low motility. She had never been pregnant and was feeling very frustrated.

Her previous fertility treatment included multiple medicated cycles using both clomid and letrozole and two previous IUI cycles. She had undergone two laparoscopies to treat endometriosis. She began fertility treatment in another state before moving to Tennessee, where she began seeing Dr. Doody in Knoxville.

She came to the Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture for her third IUI cycle. She took 150mg of clomid to stimulate follicle development in preparation for the IUI. You can read more about our general treatment recommendations here.

We saw her a total of three times during her IUI cycle.

The first treatment was done on cycle day 6 to support follicle growth and reduce the side effects from the clomid. Supporting the first phase of the cycle and making it as healthy as possible sets up the rest of the cycle for optimal fertility and can help treat luteal phase defect.

The second treatment of the cycle was done the morning of the IUI itself. This treatment helped to facilitate ovulation. Acupuncture has been shown to be an effective means of ovulation induction and we like to use it along with the trigger shot.

The points used for the first and second treatments followed a modified Stener-Victorin protocol. This protocol has been specifically shown to increase blood flow to the uterus and is used successfully to improve IVF cycle success and regulate hormones.

The third treatment of the cycle was done 6 days following the IUI to support implantation, reduce uterine contractions, ease stress and support healthy progesterone levels. The points used for this treatment followed a modified Paulus protocol. The Paulus protocol is commonly used before and after embryo transfer during an IVF cycle and has been shown to improve pregnancy rates.

She received a positive pregnancy test about a week later. Her HCG levels rose an appropriate amount between her tests. The pregnancy was confirmed by ultrasound, and has been going well for mom and baby.

We are very excited for her success and hope the rest of her pregnancy goes well!

If you’d like to add acupuncture to your upcoming IUI cycle, call or contact us and we will find a protocol that is best for your cycle! 865-315-3845

My Visit with Dr. Donesky and The Fertility Center: Knoxville, TN

Last week, I had the opportunity to share how fertility acupuncture can benefit those undergoing IUI and IVF with Dr. Donesky and the staff at the Fertility Center. The Fertility Center has offices in Knoxville and Chattanooga.

First off, Knoxville is so lucky to have Dr. Donesky and crew. They truly love their work, and it shows. Although, I have to say that all of the clinics, doctors, and staff in Knoxville that I have met with are really wonderful. We are a very fortunate community!

At my presentation, I explained how acupuncture can be utilized as a complement to any fertility cycle. We went over our IUI and IVF protocols and I presented some of the research that our protocols are based off of.

My main job as an acupuncturist to someone going through fertility treatment is to support the doctors’ efforts. When done in combination with IVF/IUI, acupuncture can improve pregnancy (and live birth rates), reduce miscarriages, reduce side effects of medications, and lessen the feelings of stress. The protocols are all based on each patient’s cycle timing and unique situation.

We talked about acupuncture’s safety during pregnancy and it’s usefulness during the first trimester for morning sickness and even, possibly, miscarriage prevention.

It was a really fun meeting and I am looking forward to working more closely with them and the other clinics here in town. I am grateful to them for having me!

It is my hope that more cycles will be done using acupuncture as a complementary therapy!

If you are struggling with infertility, please consider getting a work up from a reproductive endocrinologist. Having answers will help you make an educated decision on your best path towards parenthood.

Preventing Miscarriage with Acupuncture

Acupuncture can be helpful in preventing miscarriage from certain causes.
Acupuncture can be helpful in preventing miscarriage from certain causes.

Finally seeing those two lines on a pregnancy test is a long-awaited, and rightfully celebrated, moment for all of my patients! This joy can quickly become sadness if the pregnancy is not viable. Miscarriage is a very common occurrence with 10-25% of all pregnancies ending in miscarriage. The most common cause of miscarriage is genetic abnormalities that cause the embryo to be non-viable. Other causes of miscarriage can include:

  • Hormonal abnormalities: PCOS, low progesterone, diabetes, etc
  • Lifestyle issues: smoking, excessive alcohol use, excessive caffeine, drug use,exposure to toxic substances, etc
  • Maternal age: the prevalence of genetic abnormalities increase with age
  • Thin or low quality endometrial lining
  • Immune system issues
  • Trauma: generally only very severe trauma leads to miscarriage
  • Structural abnormalities in the uterus: adhesions, polyps, septum, etc
  • Blood clotting: anti-phospholipid syndrome

For less than 1% women, miscarriages can become recurrent. This is typically diagnosed after having 3 miscarriages. A thorough workup is done to try and find out the cause and determine what treatment is appropriate. Fortunately, many causes of recurrent miscarriage are treatable. Even in the case of genetic abnormalities, like chromosome translocation, preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) can be utilized in combination with IVF to help decrease the chance of miscarriage.

 

What can I do to prevent miscarriage?

There is a lot you can do on your own to help prevent miscarriage. Much of this work involves managing chronic illness or hormonal imbalances and modifying complicating lifestyle factors. For example:

  • Quit smoking as soon as possible in your conception journey
  • Limit coffee and tea to 1-2 cups daily
  • Maintain a healthy BMI
  • Seek the help of your physician in managing diabetes, PCOS, or other health problems
  • Eat a healthy whole-foods diet high in fruits, veggies, and protein and low in sugar and processed foods
  • Limit exposure to toxic chemicals or environments
  • Avoid dangerous situations or activities where severe trauma may occur 

 

How Can Acupuncture Help?

Acupuncture can be a very useful for assisting in the prevention of miscarriage when not related to chromosomal abnormalities by treating many of the common causes of miscarriage. Acupuncture can be helpful in the following ways:

  • Increasing the thickness and quality of the endometrial lining
  • Helping regulate hormones
  • Helping to treat PCOS 
  • Reducing uterine contractions in early pregnancy
  • Improving uterine blood flow to help prevent blood clots
  • Regulating the immune system
  • Stress reduction

What does the research say?

Research on acupuncture and miscarriage is very promising. One recent study on acupuncture done along with IVF showed a 50% decrease in the miscarriage rate.

Another study suggests acupuncture may even be a potential supportive treatment for threatened or recurrent miscarriages due to its beneficial effects on serum cortisol and prolactin levels during IVF.

Acupuncture’s known effects on stress are also a possible mechanism by which miscarriage rates could be reduced. According this same study, it is possible that stress in very early pregnancy may cause overactivity of the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian axis leading to reduced progesterone levels. In reducing this stress, progesterone levels may stay higher.

 

When should I start acupuncture?

Acupuncture can be started at any point along your journey. Some basic recommendations are here:

  • If you are pregnant: We recommend acupuncture weekly through the first trimester to support blood flow to the uterus, reduce stress, and support progesterone levels before the placenta is fully developed.
  • If you are trying to conceive: Generally, it is recommended to begin acupuncture 3 months prior to conception for most causes of recurrent miscarriage. This allows the treatments to affect overall cycle health, hormone balance, and egg quality as it takes 90 days for an egg to prepare for ovulation. However, the effects of acupuncture are beneficial at any stage of your journey, and accumulate over time. We see many women while they are actively trying to conceive naturally or with fertility treatment. We have protocols for IVF, IUI, medicated cycles and couples trying naturally.

 

Please give our office a call to discuss your specific situation or to schedule an appointment. We are more than happy to answer any questions you may have. We wish you the best of luck!!

 

 

References:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/jacquelinehurst/acupuncture-to-support-fe_b_5958722.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3342918/

http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-complications/miscarriage/

http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq100.pdf

http://natural-fertility-info.com/increase-egg-health

http://eastwindsacupuncture.com/acupuncture-in-ivf-linked-to-lower-miscarriage-and-ectopic-rates/

 

Pre-Birth Acupuncture: Helping Prepare Your Body for The Best Birth Possible

Here's a quick guide to Pre-Birth Acupuncture
Here’s a quick guide to Pre-Birth Acupuncture

If you’re nearing the end of your pregnancy, you’ve undoubtedly spent many hours day-dreaming about the upcoming birth of your baby. The last few weeks of pregnancy are a really exciting time! You may have even written a birth plan and discussed your wishes with your doctor or midwife. Many of you will desire to have a vaginal delivery or may even be trying to avoid using any medications during labor and trying to do everything you can to help ensure your birth goes according to plan.

In addition to keeping healthy and active during your pregnancy, there is one more thing you can do in the final weeks of your pregnancy to help encourage a healthy delivery. Pre-Birth acupuncture is helpful in preparing your body and mind for labor and delivery.

 

What is pre-birth acupuncture?

Pre-Birth Acupuncture is a series of 4-5 weekly treatments beginning at week 36 of your pregnancy that are designed to help your body go into labor on time and to labor to progress normally and without complication once it begins. It is not labor induction and will not bring on labor. The baby is in control of his or her arrival date.

Pre-birth acupuncture reduces the need for epidurals, emergency C-sections, and reduces the time you spend in active labor. Overall, vaginal birth rates increase in women who receive these treatments.

 

What does the research show:

  1. Reduces the time spent in the first stage labor (period of time between 3 cm dilated and full dilation) by an average of 2 hours
  2. Reduces the number of inductions in frist time moms by 43% and 35% in all others
  3. Reduces rate of epidural usage by 31%
  4. Reduces emergency C-section rate by 32%
  5. Increases vaginal birth rates by 9%

 

In addition to these benefits, this is a great time to address any stress or symptoms that you might be experiencing in the last few weeks. Acupuncture can be useful for swelling, back/hip pain, acid reflux, headaches, and many other common pregnancy symptoms. We can even use acupuncture to encourage breech babies to turn!

We recommend these treatments as a standard part of our prenatal acupuncture protocol, and many women choose to start prenatal acupuncture in these final weeks to help make their birth plans a reality.

Give us a call with questions or to set up your pre-birth treatments today!

 

References:

https://acupuncture.rhizome.net.nz/acupuncture/research/prebirth/