Infertility comes with many complex emotions. Dealing with infertility and loneliness can be a double strike. From day to day, minute to minute, emotions can range from excitement and joy at a positive test result, a response to medication, or a particular symptom to devastation, sadness, or anger over another failed cycle, miscarriage, or dead end. Through what can only be described as a rollercoaster, one prevailing feeling often shines through.
For many of the couples that come for acupuncture at our office here in Knoxville, their support system is very small, or even non-existent. Other than their spouse, support may only come from a very small group of people; a trusted friend, mother, etc. I can’t think of many other stressful life events that aren’t shared, overshared, discussed, laughed or cried about with a larger group of support people.
And nobody brings over casseroles when you’re going through infertility.
Is social media helpful?
Even in the event one does decide to break the silence and share their situation, they’re often met with well-meaning, but not helpful comments like “just relax,” “my friend took this vitamin, you should try it,” “have you thought about adoption?” Or, worse yet, they slowly drop off their level of communication and effectively vanish from their lives.
What about the other areas of daily life?
And this isolation just doesn’t stop at social relationships. It can extend to work or other hobbies. Living through infertility often means playing a game of “what if.”
Constantly wondering if/when treatment might be successful can create situations where women might put off going for a promotion, changing jobs, etc to prepare for what might be.
Infertility itself can even be a reason to put careers on hold. Sometimes a job might be a good fit for the flexibility needed for fertility treatment, or health insurance at a job might even cover treatment.
Finding a connection.
For some, social media is a great outlet where one can even remain anonymous if they prefer. There are countless groups based on diagnosis, clinic, region, cycle, etc. But when they log off, that connection is gone.
Some couples turn to counseling or therapy to work on communication and coping skills. For others, their place of worship plays a vital role.
Be a support.
I don’t have an answer to solve this loneliness (though I wish I did…), but I want you to know that we hear you and our thoughts are with you. The one thing we all can do is learn from this and be that support to other struggling with infertility.
If we are chosen to be that, maybe they’ll have just a little bit less loneliness as they walk their own journey. Hopefully, over time, with advocacy and more openness, this will all be a thing of the past.
Here in Knoxville we are lucky to have many organizations and support groups that are also willing to help with those struggling through infertility and loneliness. Please reach out and let us know how we can support you.
Check out Theralogix’s new online store with our provider discounts already applied!
Theralogix sells excellent quality prenatal vitamins, CoQ10, our favorite inositol for PCOS and many other supplements.
We wanted to share a link to their online store with our provider discount already factored in so you can order your supplements from the comfort of your own home and not have to hassle with in-office ordering.
Click below to be taken right to the site!
Please see your provider for specific supplement recommendations or with any questions.
We are so excited to share our postpartum recovery kit with you! Most of our mama’s take so much care planning for their birth, the weeks after baby arrives are often neglected. To follow up with our recent post on planning for this time, we’ve put together a kit with our favorite postpartum must-haves!
Sarah, our acupuncturist, developed this kit personally. After the birth of her daughter in February, she tried everything in this kit (and more that didn’t make the cut) and put together something that would really benefit postpartum mamas.
So we’d like to go through exactly what’s in each kit and why it was chosen:
Urban Herbs: Nourish the Mama Bone Broth Herbs:
This herbal mix put together by Urban Herbs is a fabulous addition to a bone broth (or vegan/vegetarian bone broth) to help nourish your body after birth. According to Chinese Medical theory, new mothers should try to consume warming foods in the month after birth. This herbal mix is the perfect way to add extra warming nourishment to yourpostpartum diet. These herbs help support your energy level, sleep, stress, and general recovery after birth.
Tip: Make your herbal broth ahead of time and freeze so it’s ready to go quickly. You can use it as a base for your favorite soups or drink on its own.
Mother Warming is another Chinese Medical treatment that helps the new mother recover after birth. Typically done a few days after birth, the warming, soothing moxa treatment done over your lower abdomen feels absolutely delightful! Moxa, a Chinese herb also known as mugwort, strengthens and tonifies the body. It is wrapped in paper, like a cigar, and burned near the skin to gently warm specific acupuncture points supporting recovery. Mothers love this treatment! There are more specific guidelines in our longer post on Mother Warming.
We cannot say enough good things about this herbal perineal spray from Earth Mama Angel Baby. After birth, using the bathroom can be uncomfortable! You’ll find many women recommending ‘padsicles’ to relieve this swelling. We don’t recommend these as they are often too cold for too long a time and can prevent blood flow and hinder the healing process. Instead, use this perineal spray every time you use the restroom or as needed. It is wonderfully cooling, refreshing, and can support healthy perineal healing. And, as a bonus, if you don’t use all of it before your perineum is done healing, it makes a wonderful after sun toner for your skin!
Tip: For extra cooling, keep it in the refrigerator.
Herbal Sitz Bath:
According the Earth Mama Organics website: Take care “down there” with herbal compresses filled with organic herbs traditionally used to soothe and comfort “down there” during pregnancy or after childbirth. Packed in easy-to-use, individual herbal sachets, each one is perfect for one use. The compresses can be cooled and gently “tucked” to help ease those pretty places, or use the brewed infusion to make postpartum padsicles or use as a sitz bath. Which is kind of like making tea for your nethers. Which is a totally lovely and perfectly polite thing to do.
Imperial Tonic Recovery Herbs:
This Chinese herbal formula from Evergreen Herbs is an adaptogenic formula designed to support recovery after childbirth. It helps boost energy levels, support the immune system and healthy blood production, and promote general physical and psychological wellness. Generally, this formula is recommended 1-2 weeks after birth and taken for about a month to promote optimal recovery.
Earth Mama Angel Baby has, again, knocked it out of the park. Many mothers will claim this the best nipple cream on the market. While breastfeeding should not be painful (if it is please seek the care of an independent IBCLC), a good nipple cream applied after breastfeeding can keep nipples from drying out or cracking.
Tip: This is also an excellent salve for cuts and scrapes and make a great lip balm.
So there you have it! All packed up in a cute little storage bin perfect for the nursery, our postpartum kit is a great way to get your postpartum recovery off to a great start! After all, your body, mind, and spirit deserve to be celebrated after your transformation into a new mama!
Postpartum recovery kits are available in the office or online. We do ship, if needed. These also make a great gift for a friend or loved one!
Mother warming is a treatment given to women in their postpartum time to support recovery from birth. Mother warming also helps to increase energy, and support healthy milk supply. Mother warming is usually done as part of the Chinese Tradition of “Sitting the Month.” This is a system of postpartum recovery involving a full month of staying in bed, nutritional recommendations, and herbal supplements. While that does sound a bit strict, postpartum recovery is often overlooked in planning for a new baby. Women are praised for “bouncing back” quickly, but this can come at an overall cost to health and wellbeing and we believe there is something to be gleaned from revisiting this tradition, modernizing it, and making it your own.
The process of mother warming is very simple: Moxa, dried mugwort, is burned near the skin and warms specific acupuncture points. This supports the healing process and feels absolutely wonderful to the mother receiving it Mother warming is typically done at least once in the days and weeks after birth and often continued throughout the postpartum time.
When To Do Mother Warming
Vaginal Birth: For a vaginal birth, you can do your first mother warming treatment 3-4 days after birth.
Cesarean Birth: If you gave birth via Cesarean, you can begin your mother warming about 2 weeks after birth.
After the initial mother warming session, it is typically done as needed throughout the first 3-4 weeks postpartum. Please consult your acupuncturist for specific guidance on how to perform and when to begin mother warming.
Contraindications to Mother Warming
Mother warming can be done safely for most women. However, avoid mother warming if you have an infection of any kind (incision, uterine, or even a cold/flu). Consult your acupuncturist for advice on when to begin or if you have any questions.
Your acupuncturist will give you detailed instructions along with a moxa stick to use. Mother warming kits come as part of our postpartum recovery basket along with everything else you’ll need to get your postpartum recovery off to a great start! These kits are available in the office or online.
If you have any questions, please contact us, we’re happy to help!
There is a saying in Chinese, “zuo yue zi,” or “Sitting the Month” that refers to the idea that the month following the birth of a baby is a sacred time reserved for rest, regeneration, and bonding with your new baby. After all, birth is an incredibly transformative event, it is rather silly to expect your body, mind, and soul to bounce back to normal activity in a short period of time. In fact, this rush to get back into action quickly is not healthy and can lead to a much longer recovery period.
Unfortunately, our society idolizes women for bouncing back and rushing back into work, life, exercise, and their pre-baby bodies. Celebrities, likely with extreme diet and exercise regimens put forth by their teams of professionals, often are the examples of this unattainable image.
If this isn’t your first child, you know how tough those first few weeks can be. Your newborn is dependent on you for everything and you are working so hard to figure out what each cry means, teaching yourself how to breastfeed or quickly make bottles while your baby gets more and more upset, and, all the while, expected to feed yourself and maybe sneak in a shower. The whole thing is exhausting and can be emotionally draining.
In China, women are encouraged to “sit the month” after birth and remain in bed with baby. Family, partners, and friends take care of the house, cook nourishing meals, and ensure the mother gets the rest she desperately needs. I think we should take a lesson from China and incorporate these theories into our postpartum plans.
During pregnancy, you likely found yourself researching, downloading, and revising your birth plan until it was a perfect vision of what you wanted for your birth. The time after baby comes is often ignored. We should, in fact, be putting at least as much effort into the weeks following baby’s arrival to allow for space for healing and recovery.
Aside from a much needed list of delegated tasks, desires, meal trains etc, a plan should be worked out to allow you to get the rest and recovery you need and the time you want to bond with your new baby.
So here are our tips for navigating your postpartum time:
1. Rest: Your body just went through one of the most single transformative times of your entire life. Give it a break! You nourished and grew a new person, birthed that person, and took on a new role as a mother. This is an amazing feat and it takes time to recover from and get acquainted to your transformed life.
For the month after birth, rest as much as possible. Lay in bed with your baby, sit on the couch with your baby, sit outside with your baby. Spend time staring at your baby and, of course, catching up on your favorite Netflix shows. If you feel like getting up and walking a little, by all means get off the couch, but listen intently to yourself. If you feel any soreness, increased perineal pressure, notice an increase in your lochia (the bleeding you will have postpartum), or have any discomfort back off and get back on the couch.
Spend time skin-to-skin with baby. Skin-to-skin was likely something you remember from your birth plan, but the benefits of this go well beyond the hour after birth. Skin-to-skin can help support good breastmilk supply, help baby regulate body temperature, and facilitate bonding. So, put on a robe or button up shirt, cuddle up, and enjoy!
Limit guests: I know everyone will want to come see the baby, but give yourself a few weeks without a stream of well-intending friends and family. Allow those who will take on a task, laundry, dishes, etc, and tell everyone else to come back later. Entertaining, or feeling like you have to entertain, cleaning your house, and preparing snacks is a lot of unnecessary pressure while you’re becoming familiar with your new role. Additionally, your new baby does not need the exposure to the coughs and sneezes your guests might bring.
2. Eat warm nourishing foods: One very big part of Sitting the Month is proper nutrition to replenish your body and support your recovery. The Chinese recommend a diet of warming foods and herbs. Some examples of things to add to your diet are:
Ginger: Use in soups or teas. Caution: Occasionally ginger can increase bleeding, so if this is the case for you, stop using it.
Wam spices: Use cinnamon, cardamom, chile, etc for cooking.
Bone broth (or vegetarian/vegan bone broth): with added warming spices or herbs.
Mushrooms: you can add these to your soups and broths for benefit to your immune system.
Eggs: These are a great source of protein and are great for pregnancy and postpartum support.
Red raspberry leaf tea: to help regulate hormones and reduce your uterine size back to normal.
Water, water, water! When your milk comes in you will find your thirst increases quite a bit. Combat that by increasing water consumption. This will also help reduce water retention and prevent headaches and muscle cramps.
Avoid cold foods: ice water, smoothies, ice cream, salads, raw veggies/fruits, etc.
3. Perineal Support: Whether you gave birth vaginally or not, you will notice some perineal soreness.. If you’ve had stitches or minor tearing you will definitely have some discomfort or even pain as your body heals.
Say No to Padsicles: We recommend against the ‘padsicles’ you might find on Pinterest. That much cold placed right on tender, healing skin can reduce blood flow, increasing overall healing time. Instead, if you’d like to use something cold to reduce swelling, wrap an ice pack in a towel, so the cold you feel is more cool. Combine with an herbal perineal bath and/or spray to speed healing.
Perineal sitz baths: A sitz bath made from healing herbs can increase healing time and soothe your sore perineum. You can also use these herbs in a bath with epsom salts for extra relaxation.
Perineal Spray: Earth Mama Angel Baby makes a fantastic herbal perineal spray that will quickly become your best friend. The combination of herbs in this spray is soothing, cooling, and can help promote healing. Use every time you use the bathroom or as needed. If you have any leftover after healing, it makes a great after-sun face toner!
Prevent Constipation: Your first bowel movements after baby can be really tough, especially if you’ve had any pain medication or dehydration causing constipation. Taking magnesium or a stool softener in the first week or so can really help make going to the bathroom much more comfortable. Also, make sure you are drinking enough water, as this, of course, will help.
4. Lactation Support: So many women wanting to breastfeed go into it assuming it is a natural and easy process. And, for some, this is absolutely true. For others, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. It is so important to have an ally for your breastfeeding journey. They can make sure you are getting accurate, up to date information. We recommend a prenatal breastfeeding class and a visit from an independent IBCLC in the days after birth to check for tongue/lip ties and check baby’s latch to help support breastfeeding. Check out our resources page for our favorite lactation consultants. Many will do home visits, so you don’t even have to leave your house.
5. Mother Warming Ritual: Moxa, made from the leaves of the mugwort plant, is used to gently warm points along the lower abdomen in mom’s who’ve given birth vagainally or through a Cesarean birth. This is typically done about 3-4 days after birth and promotes healing, milk production, and alleviates discomfort. It is used on an as-needed basis after the initial warming.
This is a great way for partners to help out with postpartum healing.
6. Acupuncture: There are so many benefits to a course of postpartum acupuncture. We can begin work on restoring your body, support healing, and help treat any issues you might be having with breastfeeding, digestion, sleep, anxiety/depression, etc.
Our recommended postpartum protocol is just 3 weekly visits starting at 2-3 weeks postpartum and as needed after that.
We look forward to working with you during your pregnancy and into your postpartum time! Please give us a call at 865-31503845 or contact us via email with any questions!