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I am 1 in 4

October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month

1 in 4 experience pregnancy loss. Thousands of empty-armed parents grieve the loss of their child in pregnancy, at birth or in infancy per year in Canada.

They often grieve on their own, isolated in silence. Because the cultural & social infrastructure to support them is lost in the stigma of the death of their children. The stigma is rooted in our silence.

It wasn’t until I miscarried … twice … each time after trying to conceive for at least a few years.. words can’t describe the happiness & hope I felt with those + pregnancy tests! My love for baby grew each day & week & month along with my breasts, nausea & fatigue. It wasn’t until I lost both pregnancies in a row, that I learned that everyone I knew had either had a miscarriage or was close to someone who had had a miscarriage.

It wasn’t until I helped my dear friend birth her daughter still, and saw her daughter’s lovingly bathed and dressed still little body.. only for my friend to return home to an empty nursery with empty aching arms but heart full of love and nowhere physical to pour it into. Breasts full of milk & no body to nourish…

It wasn’t until I met my other dear friend on one of her first outings, months after she still-birthed her full term son. We went to her local coffee shop, only to be greeted by the young teenaged barista who had watched her belly grow to term, excitedly asking my friend where her baby was…

It wasn’t until these moments that I touched the immeasurability of this kind of grief. And my heart grows with understanding and love for all who ride these waves of grief & sadness & anger & love.. & more..

Is there a particular moment you remember that could help others to understand the depth of your experience? Maybe if we all feel it together – at least for a moment – we can help you to bear the weight of your heart’s sadness… so you don’t have to carry it all by yourself…

Please contact us if you or someone you know needs support with moving through the loss of still birth, infant loss, recurrent pregnancy loss or infertility.

5 Ways to Manage PCOS Naturally

WHAT IS PCOS?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS ) affects 1 in 10 people. It is a common endocrine disorder and one of the leading causes of infertility. It can present with a broad spectrum of possible symptoms, so the medical community formed a panel to come to a consensus.

According to this Rotterdam panel, a PCOS diagnosis is confirmed with the presentation of a minimum of 2 out of the 3 following criteria:

  • Ovulatory dysfunction (which can present as irregular cycles or no cycles at all)

  • Enlarged ovaries with at least 12 follicles each
  • Elevated androgens in your blood-work (which can manifest as excess hair growth on the chin and/or chest as well as acne)


Luckily, PCOS is treatable!

HERE ARE 5 WAYS TO MANAGE PCOS NATURALLY:

1.            DIET:

Insulin resistance, sugar metabolism and weight gain are commonly present with PCOS. A study shows that even 8 weeks of low-starch and low-dairy diet results in weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity and reduced testosterone in people with PCOS.

The following dietary principals help to stabilize blood sugar and decrease inflammation:

– Stick to a carbohydrate – restricted, low- glycemic index foods diet

– Eat regular protein-dense snacks

– Eat plenty of colourful veggies and dark leafy greens

– Combine your fruit with other foods, and avoid eating tropical fruits. Go for berries instead (they have a lower glycemic index)

– Avoid trans-fats and incorporate more healthy fats, like long chain Omega-3 fatty acids found in high quality fish oils or use coconut oil, avocado oil, or extra virgin olive oil

– eliminate inflammatory foods like sugar, dairy, wheat and flour products, processed/ pre-packaged foods and artificial sweeteners from your diet

2.            EXERCISE:

A study shows that structured exercise with three 30-minute stationary bike sessions per week regulates menstruation and improves insulin sensitivity, fertility and androgen levels in people with PCOS.  It has also been shown that exercise improves micro vascular function (blood flow) in the uterus, which is a known cause of implantation failure in those with PCOS.

High intensity interval training has also been shown to improve insulin resistance in women with PCOS, even in the absence of weight loss.

Weight gain is often a presentation of PCOS, but there’s no pressure to become a lean machine to reverse the condition. Even a 5-10% weight loss restores ovulation.

3.            REDUCE ENVIRONMENTAL ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS

Bisphenol A (BPA) is one of the most common industrial endocrine disruptors found in common household products. It is a significant endocrine disruptor in PCOS and has been found in higher levels in people with PCOS.

BPA can be found in high levels in people with and without PCOS. However, in people with PCOS, BPA causes testosterone levels to increase unlike in those without the condition. The higher the levels of BPA in the blood, the higher the levels of testosterone there is too.

BPA can be found in:
Industrial packaging
Food cans
Plastic bottles
Plastic water pipes
Thermal paper (receipts)
Cosmetics
Healthcare equipment
Children’s toys and clothing

Try to avoid using the following:
Canned food, unless the label says that it’s BPA-free
Plastic, use glass or stainless steel containers instead
Receipts

4.            MINDFULNESS MEDITATION:

People with PCOS have a higher risk of anxiety and depression. This is related to the stressful symptoms of PCOS, associated inflammation in the body and hormone imbalance.

Research shows that a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program significantly reduces stress, depressive and anxiety symptoms, as well as salivary cortisol concentrations while increasing Life Satisfaction and Quality of Life scores in women with PCOS.

5.            ACUPUNCTURE

Acupuncture increases blood flow, regulates inflammation, balances hormones and decreases stress. One study shows that both acupuncture and exercise reduce high levels of testosterone and lead to more regular menstruation in PCOS patients.

Do you or someone you know need help with PCOS? Contact us for a free 15-minute Q & A to find out more about our PCOS Treatment Plan.


Read Kay’s Pregnancy Success story in the face of PCOS.

Exercise Guidelines For Pregnancy

By: Paige Wyatt

Living a health lifestyle has never been more important than while you’re pregnant. Not only are you now responsible for your overall health and well being, but also that of your unborn baby. What we eat, how much we sleep, how much water we drink, our mental and emotional stress, as well as how much we exercise need to be taken into consideration for a healthy pregnancy.

The new 2019 Canadian Guidelines for Physical Activity Throughout Pregnancy has shed a new light on recommendations for prenatal physical activity. Not only can we help to reduce complications during pregnancy but it can also optimize health and wellbeing for both mother and child.

Previous concerns over fetal health during pregnancy have long been a deterrent for prenatal physical activity. The thought of exerting ourselves and potentially increasing our chances of miscarriage, stunting gestational growth, inducing preterm labour, and harming the fetus has caused a lot of expecting mothers to reduce and stop their exercise program. Less than 15% of women are engaging in the recommended prenatal exercise.

But, here’s the truth; these concerns have never been proven by research. Instead we’ve seen a rise in pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, gestational hypertension and large for date babies, which may be the cause of rising maternal obesity.
Physical activity is now being looked at as a preventative and therapeutic measure to reduce pregnancy complications.

WHAT DO THEY RECOMMEND?

• All women without contraindications should be physically active throughout pregnancy
• 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week
• Physical activity should be accumulated over a minimum of 3 days per week
• Aerobic and resistance training achieved greater benefits
• Pelvic floor muscle training (eg. Kegels) may be performed on a daily basis to prevent urinary incontinence
• Exercises should be modified to reduce supine position

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

Women who exercise during pregnancy have a reduced chance of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, gestational hypertension, cesarean delivery and operative vaginal delivery. Exercising while pregnant can also help reduce post partum recovery time, decrease depression and stress levels, as well as overall weight gain.

IS EXERCISE FOR EVERYONE?

No. These guidelines are intended for women who do not have any pregnancy complications. Although exercise exhibits many health benefits there are certain conditions that are considered absolute contraindications. EVERYONE should be thoroughly evaluated by their OBGYN before beginning an exercise program to ensure there are no medical conditions.
Absolute contraindications are as follows:
• Ruptured membranes, premature labour
• Unexplained persistent vaginal bleeding
• Placenta previa after 28 weeks gestation
• Preeclampsia
• Incompetent cervix
• Intrauterine growth restriction
• High-order multiple pregnancy (eg., triplets)
• Uncontrolled type 1 diabetes, uncontrolled hypertension, or uncontrolled thyroid disease
• Other serious cardiovascular, respiratory or systemic disorder

HOW TO START BEING PHYSICALLY ACTIVE DURING PREGNANCY?

According to the new guidelines there is never a better time to start exercising than the PRESENT. Even if you have never exercised before it is recommended to start. If you’ve never exercised, starting gradually and slowly increasing your intensity and frequency is recommended.
Although the more activity you do, the greater the benefit, even small amounts of physical activity have been proven to be beneficial. Exercise can be for everybody! Take a prenatal yoga class, go for a brisk walk, go for a swim, take an aerobics class or get your sweat on by stationary cycling.
Keep in mind that there may be periods of fatigue and discomfort as your body changes throughout pregnancy, and certain activities may need to be modified as pregnancy progresses. Remember, IT’S OKAY TO REST!

THINGS TO CONSIDER

  1. 1. Take it easy! A good indication that you are not overdoing your workouts is by using the “Talk Test.” If you are able to carry on a conversation while exercising it is likely that you are not overexerting yourself.
  2. 2. Always make sure you maintain adequate hydration- drink water before, during and after exercise.
  3. 3. Avoid physical activity in excessive heat and humidity (eg. hot yoga). A thermo-neutral environment is recommended.
  4. 4. Avoid activities that involve a risk of falling, or physical contact that may induce risk of fetal injury (eg. horse back riding, non-stationary cycling, extreme hiking)
  5. 5. No scuba diving.
  6. 6. No high altitudes.
  7. 7. Seek obstetric advice if considering exercising above the recommended guidelines.
  8. 8. Listen to your body and if you experience any symptoms while exercising such as persistent shortness of breath, severe chest pain, regular and painful uterine contractions, vaginal bleeding, persistent loss of fluid from the vagina, persistent dizziness, and faintness that does not resolve with rest STOP physical activity and consult a health care provider.

In summary the new 2019 Canadian Guidelines for Physical Activity Throughout Pregnancy has recommended moderate-intensity exercise during pregnancy to help reduce pregnancy complications and optimize health for both mother and baby.

https://els-jbs-prod-cdn.literatumonline.com/pb/assets/raw/Health%20Advance/journals/jogc/JOGC908_LR-1539864964137.pdf

https://sogc.org/news-items/index.html?id=229

https://www.acog.org/Clinical-Guidance-and-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Obstetric-Practice/Physical-Activity-and-Exercise-During-Pregnancy-and-the-Postpartum-Period

My Favorite Resource For Pregnant Mothers To Be

By Christina Pistotnik

The time between that positive pregnancy test and holding your newborn in your hands can be filled with a mixture of emotions. On one hand you are so excited that you are going to be a mother but on the other hand you can’t help but feel anxious because it is hard to know what you can and cannot do. Some of you invested time, energy, and financial contributions in order to get to this place, and of course you want to do everything you can to safely maintain this pregnancy.

One of my favorite resources that I refer to and suggest to newly expectant mothers is called Motherisk. It is a Canadian site and program facilitated by the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children and they provide evidence-based information about what is and is not safe during pregnancy. I really enjoy it because it is easy to use and contains a vast array of information all on one site. Plus they have a toll free number (1-877-439-2744 ) that you can call and speak directly to a nurse that will help you out with any concerns you may have.

Having reliable resources and specialists to support you during pregnancy is important because it can help ease uncertainty surrounding an important time in your life.

What about acupuncture, is it safe during pregnancy?

Since the majority of my patients start seeing me while in the process of trying to conceive, I get this question quite a lot in my practice and the answer is; Yes, acupuncture is a safe and effective form of treatment in pregnancy. This is because it utilizes the body’s own healing process to help maintain pregnancy by keeping the uterus calm and stabilizing progesterone which keeps the lining secure until the placenta takes over. Plus it helps to minimize uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms which include; nausea and vomiting, aches/ pains, insomnia, and energy issues.
Plus, an added bonus when receiving acupuncture treatments is that it has a very calming affect on the body. Therefor, it can help with stress and anxiety that you may be experiencing during this time.

As an acupuncturist specializing in fertility and pregnancy, I am happy to safely treat you for any of your pregnancy concerns. Call Whole Family Health to book your appointment or learn more about our Fertility Services today!

Moving Forward From Pregnancy Loss: 4 Things That Help

October is Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Awareness Month, and in honor of heartbroken parents, blessed little lost ones, and all dear folk touched by this grief, we recognize this all too commonly shared experience.

We all process this kind of loss in our own way, and in our own time. One of life’s humbling mysteries – sometimes there is an explanation, and other times there is not. Either way, we are left to grapple with that which we don’t have control over, and to practice with somehow making peace with it, while sorting out how to move forward.

Often losses can be isolating, held close and private, locked in the silent hope of the first trimester. Hopefully to be spoken of later, perhaps when a little less emotionally raw.

While later term losses or stillbirths may be collectively grieved; empty-armed parents, navigating how to move forward at the mercy of often unpredictable waves of emotion. Moving through a life unchanged and yet forever changed – buoyed or sunken by the community’s varying depth of understanding and expectation.

It is said that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage by age 35, and once we start talking about it, we realize that everyone knows at least one person who has suffered a loss- if they haven’t experienced one themselves.

What does life after loss look like? There is no right or wrong way to grieve, we all do it in our own way and in our own time. Some of us are de-railed for a short time, and others of us never quite ‘get over it.’ Some of us need potato chips, while some of us need long walks, or both. Whatever it may be, allow the time and space to be with it in whatever way works best.

Here are some things that will help in the wake of pregnancy loss:

1. Breathe. Studies show that Mindful breathing exercises shift us out of fight or flight and activate our pre-frontal cortex- which is responsible for higher executive functioning. This supports our recovery from traumatic events and helps us to be present with and to integrate these experiences in a healthy way.

Mindfulness allows us to have the perspective we need to see our way through difficult times, without avoiding or being completely high-jacked by the negative impacts of the associated stress. Accessing resources like a Mindfulness class or a Mindfulness App like Headspace have far-reaching benefits.

2. Nourish and renew. Pregnancy loss and stillbirth can be draining both physically and emotionally. Eat replenishing foods, that are nutrient-rich and tonifying. Try to stay away from refined and processed foods, while gravitating toward a whole foods diet.

Stick to warm and cooked meals, especially in the colder seasons. These are more easily digested, and your body doesn’t have to work as hard to metabolize them. Bone broths, which are rich in amino acids, vitamins and minerals are easily absorbed, rehydrating, and fortifying.

3. Follow up. Follow up with your doctor. Especially if bleeding or pain persists or if your energy levels are slow to recover. Your doctor can run standard blood-work to check on hormone and iron levels after a loss. He or she can also determine if there is any indication for ultrasound imaging to ensure that no pregnancy products remain and/or that healing from any procedure is going smoothly.

If you have had more than one loss, your doctor will likely want to run a Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Panel, to rule out any potential contributing physiological factors.

4. Acupuncture. Acupuncture promotes blood flow, regulates inflammation, supports hormone balance, and decreases stress. It helps with recovery from both spontaneous miscarriage, procedures and stillbirths, as well as supports regulation of your cycle after loss.

Treatment plans are individualized, based on factors relevant to your particular case, and can include regular acupuncture, customized Chinese herbs, and a review of recommended supplements, diet and exercise.

If a Western diagnosis has been identified, and/or Western Medical treatment is necessary, we make modifications to support this process. The primary aim is to help your body re-set. Should you plan to create and carry another healthy pregnancy, then we also help to prepare for this, while supporting the mental-emotional process and doing what we can to prevent another loss.

Pregnancy and infancy loss is not uncommon, and the more we speak to it, the better
we are able to understand and support one another. Bless the hearts of those who know
this kind of loss first-hand and bless the hearts of those who love and support them.

 

Dr. Alda Ngo

For more information on how we can support recovery and prevention of pregnancy
loss, please feel free to contact us for a free 15-minute phone consultation.

Morning Sickness and Acupuncture

Morning sickness is one of the hallmark signs of pregnancy but for some women, it can be extremely debilitating.  (more…)

Mitigating the Harmful Effects of Stress

There are times when stress is completely unavoidable, such as a high demanding job, training for a competitive sport event, dispute with your partner or friends, or caring for a sick parent, etc. (more…)

4 Board Certified Fellows of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine at Whole Family Health

Congratulations to Christina Pistotnik RAc, DAc, HHP, FABORM and Monica Patt RAc, HHP, FABORM on your recent certification with ABORM! (more…)

Integrative Fertility Symposium 2016 Highlights

Our team just got home from the 2016 Integrative Fertility Symposium and wanted to share some highlights. (more…)

The Natural Path to Chronic Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

If you’re a woman, your chance of getting a urinary tract infection is extremely high and many can lead into chronic infections that are recurrent, sometimes for years. There are two types are UTIs, bladder infections (BIs) and kidney infections (KIs). I will be specifically chatting about BIs, since KIs should be treated promptly with antibiotics.

UTIs are bacterial infections that are not to be taken lightly. If you have had the joy of experiencing one…you know how incredibly debilitating they are. Common symptoms of a UTI are:

  • Frequent and/or intense urge to urinate
  • Burning sensation when urinating
  • Pain or pressure in the lower back or abdomen
  • Cloudy, dark, bloody, or strange-smelling urine
  • Symptoms of shaky or feeling tired
  • Fever or chills, nausea and vomiting (likely a sign that the infection has gone to the kidneys) 

If you suspect you have a UTI, it is imperative that you head to the medical doctor to get a urine sample to confirm. In younger, sexually active women, sudden onset of painful urination can also be due to chlamydia infection or gonorrhea (rarely), so getting a urine culture as well is beneficial. The majority of UTIs are bacterial in origin so medical doctor’s prescribe antibiotics during an acute episode. Some women who have chronic BIs are given long-term antibiotics for preventative measures. However, frequent antibiotic use, especially in women with chronic BIs, has been shown to alter intestinal and vaginal flora and increase the rate of antibiotic resistance.

Naturopathic approaches should be strongly considered in cases where chronic BIs are still a problem. Naturopathic doctors can treat acute, single episodes of BIs, but you want to be under the supervision of a doctor since these infections can quickly develop into kidney infections, which are very dangerous and can only be treated with antibiotics.

Housekeeping Rules for your lady parts:

  • If you were ever told to wipe from front to back after using the washroom, listen! This is a key factor in preventing recurrent BIs.  Since the urethra (where you pee) is located close to the anus in women, bacteria from the large intestine are in perfect position to escape the anus and invade the urethra. Some women have shorter urethras allowing bacteria to ascend more easily to the bladder, making them more prone to BIs.
  • Another housekeeping tip is to urinate after sex. Having sex can introduce bacteria into the urinary tract, again causing an infection in the urethra.
  • Avoid vaginal hygiene products (ie. douches), which can be irritating to the urethral area and alter the vaginal flora.
  • Research has shown that wearing cotton underwear can reduce the chance of UTIs since it is more breathable.

Dietary recommendations:

  • Increase your intake of water to ensure you are peeing regularly to flush out bacteria and prevent their adherence to the urethra.
  • Add in some UNSWEETENED PURE cranberry juice (not the Welch’s cranberry or any “cranberry cocktail” drinks). It is a known anti-adhesion agent, meaning it can prevent the bacteria from setting up shop in your urethra. It can be found in different forms: juice, tablets or capsules. You want to be drinking about 250-300ml/day, which you can dilute in some water since the pure cranberry juice can be quite tart. Cranberry juice is also safe and effective for the prevention of UTI’s in pregnancy, which is important since they tend to be more common.
  • Your GUT and VAGINAL flora are key players in preventing recurrent BIs, therefore keep your diet low in sugar and high in fiber, specifically from dark leafy greens.
  • To reduce the susceptibility to bladder infections it may be necessary to address and remove food sensitivities.

Supplement Recommendations:

  • Probiotics: can help keep the vaginal and gut flora balanced. You want to make sure the probiotics specifically contain the Lactobacillus species. One of my favorites is the UltraFlora’s Women’s by Metagenics that contains a 50:50 blend of Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus reuteri, once/day. This targets healthy vaginal flora by increasing the number of beneficial lactobacilli. Lactobacillus generates an acidic vaginal pH and interferes with the adhesion of common urinary bacteria. Vaginal probiotic suppositories have been used weekly and shown to reduce the incidence of UTIs after 12 months.
  • D-Mannose: a simple sugar that acts similarly to cranberry in that is prevents the adherence of bacteria. It can be used for treating acute BIs and for prophylaxis in women prone to recurrent infections. It has been shown to be more or just as effective as antibiotics when used for chronic BIs but with a much lower incidence of side effects. A general dose is around 2 grams of powder/day during an acute infection.
  • A healthy immune system can help the body resist infections. Specific vitamins I recommend are Vitamin C. Studies have shown that it increases the release of nitric oxide in the urine, which acts as a bacterial killing agent against the most common bacteria that causes UTIs, E.Coli. General dose is around 1-2grams/day. Vitamin A and Zinc are other common recommendations for supporting the immune system.

Herbal Recommendations:

  • For acute bladder infections, berberine extracts (found in various plants – Hydrastis Canadensis and Berberis vulgaris) have significant antimicrobial activity. It inhibits the growth of several bacteria, including resistant E.Coli (common in chronic BI patients). Berberine can also act as an antimicrobial to treat dysbiosis (altered bacterial flora in the gut), which can indirectly reduce the occurrence of BIs since dysbiosis can increase the incidence of BIs.
  • Other great anti-septics used in acute cases are: Uva Ursi and Yarrow. Can be done as an infusion/tea so they can be flushed through the urinary tract. The addition of marshmallow root can be added if symptoms of burning are present. These preparations can also be taken in capsule form.
  • If stress is associated with your chronic BI, it is beneficial to incorporate herbs that specifically work at supporting your stress response while ensuring your immune system stays in check.
  • Just a note: recurrent bladder infections are common in postmenopausal women due to the decrease in estrogen and its role in maintaining healthy vaginal flora and mucosa. There are many herbal recommendations that can help support this hormone imbalance and important to address these changes to reduce the reoccurrence of UTIs.

This information given is not to discourage antibiotic use, since in some cases it is absolutely necessary. It is to provide you with more preventative strategies and other naturopathic alternatives for treating chronic UTIs, all of which have much lower side effects compared to long-term antibiotics.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment at Whole Family Health, please contact us today!

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