Categories > Mind Body Medicine

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.

How does Acupuncture Work for Infertility?

What does Acupuncture do to help or improve Fertility?

Acupuncture improves fertility by increasing blood flow. Doppler studies show that stimulation of specific acupuncture points increases circulation in blood vessels.

Treatments also stimulate angiogenesis – which means that they actually encourage new blood vessels to grow.

Acupuncture also helps fertility by regulating inflammation, balancing hormones and decreasing stress.

Studies show that certain acupuncture points decrease stress hormones and block chronic stress neurological pathways.

Where do the needles go?

Are you considering acupuncture for fertility and wondering where the needles go when you receive the treatment? 

The needles can be placed in the abdomen, chest, back, arms, legs, hands, feet, head or ears.

Needles are ultra-fine and hair-thin. Upon insertion, they feel like a mosquito bite at most.

Here are 3 most commonly used acupuncture points located on the leg, abdomen and head (Translation of point names and meanings from ‘Characters of Wisdom by Debra Kaatz):

1. ST36 Zusanli (To Walk in the Great Strength of Stillness)

This point is located just below the knee and is a storehouse for putting things into action, it gives us extra strength when things are not easy and strengthens vitality.

Studies have shown that this point is therapeutic for inflammation, stress, pain inhibition, perfusion/ circulation, parasympathetic activity,gastric function and ART reproductive outcomes.

2. DU20 Baihui (The Meeting in Grand Unity)

This point is located on the top of the head and is where chaos can be restored to unity, bringing tranquillity and calm.

Studies have shown that this point helps with anxiety, insomnia and ART reproductive outcomes.

3. CV4 Guanyuan (Gateway of Origin)

This point is located on the lower abdomen and opens our inner fertile gardens; it is where the goodness and vitality is allowed in, opening our life to warmth and harmony.

Studies have shown that this point helps with pelvic pain, endometriosis, primary dysmenorrhea, depression and anxiety.

How often do I need to have acupuncture done to improve my fertility?

The effects of acupuncture treatments are cumulative and treatment plans differ depending on each case.

The frequency of acupuncture treatments varies from 1 to 3 times per week for 4 to 12 weeks, depending on the recommended protocol.

How many acupuncture sessions will it take to get pregnant? How long does it take?

The aim is a healthy pregnancy, so we want to create the healthiest embryo and uterine lining as possible. This means we need healthy egg, sperm and lining.

It takes about 4-6 weeks to effectively increase the blood flow of the lining.

It takes about 90-100 days for egg and sperm to ripen and mature in the body before they are released for conception. We know that if we optimize the environment that they develop in, we are supporting them to grow to their peak potential.

So ideally, we want to focus on this key 3-month preconception time-frame to optimize egg and sperm quality while also optimizing blood flow in the uterus. This minimum time frame gives you the best chance of success.

What kind of success rate does acupuncture for infertility have?

Success rates are dependent on so many factors, including age and the nature of the diagnosis.

Studies show that acupuncture support for IVF increases the chances of success by 15-30%.

How much does fertility acupuncture cost?

At Whole Family Health, an Initial Consult is 60-90 minutes long and costs $144. Follow-up treatments are 50-60 minutes long and cost $96 each.

Yoga for Fertility

Does Yoga Help Fertility?

Lately I have been coming across many people that are interested in the benefits that yoga may have for them on their fertility journey. From the direct experience of my personal yoga practice, I have noticed positive changes in my own stress levels and emotional well being. So, what are the benefits that a fertility focused yoga practice has you ask? Here are some interesting facts:

A 2015 study looked at the effect yoga had on anxiety and women going through fertility treatments. The researchers found that after taking a 6 week yoga program, anxiety scores of participants were significantly lower in the yoga group than in the control group.

This 2018 study found the full scope of yoga postures, breathing techniques, and meditation to be beneficial in stress management as couples went through assisted reproductive techniques. The same study found yoga was helpful to reduce pain and decrease anxiety and stress in couples going through IVF.

Yoga taps into the parasympathetic nervous system and our “rest and digest” functions. Throughout the yoga practice, the body is able to relax and this allows for a shift in the nervous system that increases circulation throughout the body which is so beneficial in all aspects of health.

Fertility focused yoga emphasizes a slower and more restorative practice that provides the space for the body and mind to connect on a more subtle level. It’s a beautiful combination of body, breath, and mind that will leave you with a deep sense of comfort!

I would love to see you on the mat!

Register now!
For our upcoming 6-week YogaPuncture for Fertility series
Thursdays, Sept 19 – Oct 24
6:15 – 7:15pm
$150

Help for IVF Anxiety

In my own clinical practice, as well as in my own life, I have had the honour to witness acupuncture’s positive effects on anxiety. Nothing beats the feeling of melting into a treatment table and allowing your body to relax under the effects of the needles. All of the whirling thoughts tend to slow down as you feel listened to, cared for and supported. 

Anyone who has been in the vicinity of the life creating processes of IVF know that emotional support can be of huge benefit to the couple undergoing the procedure. For centuries, Traditional Chinese Medicine physicians have observed and recorded how excessive emotions and overthinking can contribute to the progression towards imbalance. What could cause more deeply felt emotions and excessive rumination than the suspense associated with expanding your family through IVF? 

Indeed, previous studies have indicated that 25 percent of women are at risk of clinical distress following an IVF cycle. However, a clinical trial involving over 800 women, aged 18 – 42 and across 16 different IVF clinics, studied how anxiety associated with IVF responds to acupuncture treatment. The study, spanning from 2011 to 2015, showed that acupuncture during an IVF cycle significantly reduced the feeling of anxiety on the day of embryo transfer. (1)

Acupuncturists have a variety of treatment protocols that can help to calm the mind, balance the nervous system and relax the body. Spending time on the treatment table can cultivate your sense of calm and thus help to improve the ease and success of your cycle.

If you are experiencing anxiety associated with your IVF cycle, we can help you. At Whole Family Health, we combine the time tested truths of ancient medicine with cutting edge modern medical knowledge.

If you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our practitioners please give us a call to book in for a free Q & A

Reference: 

1. Smith, Caroline A., et al. “The Effects of Acupuncture on the Secondary Outcomes of Anxiety and Quality of Life for Women Undergoing IVF: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Acta Obstetricia Et Gynecologica Scandinavica, vol. 98, no. 4, 2019, pp. 460–469., doi:10.1111/ aogs.13528. 

Message from Dr. Alda

As is with most transitions – my move from Vancouver last fall was mixed. Although I was sad to leave our west coast community behind, I was excited to know that Edmonton held new adventures. 

It was hard to tear myself away from my Vancouver work family at Acubalance Wellness Centre, an internationally leading integrated clinic. This is where I had nestled in, matured and grown as a practitioner for almost 12 years, mentored by skilful, inspiring and esteemed leaders in the field. 

When I landed at Whole Family Health in Edmonton, I was grateful and fortunate to be welcomed by a lovely community of committed, heartful and motivated practitioners. Transplanting one’s life is always disorienting, yet I quickly felt at home with this genuine and disarming Whole Family Health crew. 

My family and I originally made this move across the mountains, ultimately to be nearer to family. Little did I know that these open prairie skies would truly give way to some expanded horizons..

The time was ripe for change at Whole Family Health. Cecil, after having devoted many years of loving hard work to hatch and grow the beautiful clinical practice, was ready to step away from it and to pass it on. To my delight, Christina and I shared a readiness and enthusiasm to accede to the task.

I feel so blessed and thankful to be partnered with Christina, with her warmth, kindness, and dedication to our field, as well as her long time practising at Whole Family Health, since its beginnings. With our combined 20+ years of practice, Christina’s history and familiarity with the clinic, and my background from the distinguished Acubalance- we are excited to create something special and to continue to grow Whole Family Health into its next stage of amazingness! 

It has been a perfect constellation of conditions that I should find myself in this auspicious position. I am deeply grateful to my mentors, some of the leading experts in the field, my patients and colleagues from Vancouver, from whom I have learned immeasurably- all of whom have afforded me the confidence to move forward with this endeavour.  

Also deep gratitude to Cecil who is entrusting us with his baby – the living, breathing and growing clinic that he has grown from his heart. I feel so lucky and honoured for this opportunity to work and to co-create with the sweet and impressive Whole Family Team, and to extend my professional roots in Edmonton as my family and I settle into our new home here. We are charmed to be living in a wonderful community of down-to-earth folks, under this expansive and limitless sky of possibilities…

With love from Dr. Alda

Message from Christina

To the amazing, wonderful, and dedicated patients of Whole Family Health:

This past couple of years has been quite the ride for me. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows; there were some trials and tribulations (I’ll spare you the gritty details). However, it was all worth it because it led me to this point in my career.  I am proud to say that I am entering a partnership in taking over ownership of Whole Family Health! I feel so fortunate that I will be doing this alongside my esteemed colleague Dr. Alda Ngo.

As most of you know I have been at Whole Family Health since it opened in the winter of 2010. This is where I started my career and I am incredibly thankful to Cecil Horwitz, the founder, for taking a chance on a new acupuncturist fresh out of University and showing me what it takes to be a successful practitioner. He taught me the importance of constantly upgrading my skills and inspired me to become an accredited reproductive health specialist, by becoming a Fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine (FABORM). I will always hold Cecil in high regard for his pioneering work in educating the public and medical community in Edmonton on the value of integrated medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine for reproductive health.

Dr Alda and I are looking forward to building on the strong foundation that Cecil has created and introducing some innovations of our own that will make the operations of the clinic easier for the practitioners and access of treatments easier for our patients.

Honestly, being a part of Whole Family Health’s future is a dream come true. I get to do what I love by continuing to treat patients and fulfilling my career goals of being a clinic owner- all at the same time!

I have to say that I love what I do, mostly because of my patients. You have honoured me by making me a part of your incredible life stories and health journeys.   I look forward to continuing to be your healthcare provider and sharing in your journey to health and wellbeing.

I am truly excited to see where Dr Alda and I will be taking Whole Family Health in the future. Stay tuned, because we have so many great ideas and a shared vision about what this beautiful clinic can become.

To The Future!

Cheers!

Christina Pistotnik

HHP, R.Ac., FABORM, OBAAM

Message from Cecil

To my valued patients:

I want to thank all of you who have shared your stories, your personal lives, your hopes and your fears with me over the past eight years. It has been an incredible honour to be able to treat you and to get to know you. When I started eight years ago with just a few needles and some treatment rooms I had no idea what to expect. You have all taught me so much and the last eight years of running and practicing at Whole Family Health have been some of the most rewarding years of my life and career.

As you may know, I have been experiencing some personal challenges in the past few years and have decided that it is time step back from the clinic and take some time to recharge and rebalance myself.  I will never let go of my licenses or credentials as I am a caregiver at heart. But it’s time for me to explore some other passions and dreams. I’ve been inspired by you, my patients, to embark on this new journey and I’m pleased to be leaving you in the capable hands of my dear friends and colleagues Alda and Christina, who are taking over the Whole Family Health practice.

When I started to think about passing along my practice, I wanted to be sure that my patients would have the very best of care. I could not think of two more capable, knowledgeable, caring and intelligent practitioners. It is much easier to leave, knowing that the practice will continue to thrive in their hands.

Sincerely,
Cecil Horwitz

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.

Mindfulness Meditation Class

Mindfulness Meditation: the art of seeing clearly what is happening and how we are relating to it.
(more…)

Mindfulness Meditation Class: Self­-Compassion and Presence

Want a moment of calm? Who doesn’t! Let’s face it, we are getting busier, doing more for others and less for ourselves. But, there is a way to create a moment of calm in your busy week, that’s right just for yourself. (more…)

Next Page »
Call Now ButtonBook Now