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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. 

Acupuncture for Pelvic and Back Pain in Pregnancy

Even though I have not experienced the miracle of pregnancy, I can say that I am no stranger to pain. I know pain not only affects us physically, but that it takes its toll on us mentally as well! Having to constantly modify our duties and activities, it creeps into every aspect of our life.

Once my patients become pregnant, their bodies change to accommodate the life that is growing inside. Of course there are going to be associated aches and pains and pelvic pain is very common.

Fortunately, I have had much success treating pelvic pain in pregnancy with acupuncture.  Here are a few snippets from a systematic review of three studies on the success of acupuncture treatment for the relief of pelvic pain in pregnancy (1):

  • In 2000, a study found that the acupuncture group had a baseline of 7.4/10 pain that decreased to 1.7/10 after 4 weeks of acupuncture.  Whereas the control group’s pain only improved from a baseline of 6.6/10 to 4.5/10.
  • In a 2004 study, 60% of women in the acupuncture group reported less pain compared to 14% of the control group. 0% of the women in the acupuncture group required pharmaceutical intervention.
  • In 2005, a study compared 3 groups: an acupuncture group, a stabilizing exercises group and a control group. The baselines were 65, 60 and 63 respectively out of 100. The pain levels decreased to 35 in the acupuncture group, 50 in the stabilizing exercises group and 59 in the control group. Fewer women reported having pain when turning over in bed in the acupuncture group (66% vs 71% vs 88%.)

Acupuncture can successfully treat pregnancy related pelvic pain in less time, without the use of pain killers, and with less intervention than other treatment options!

If you need help with your pelvic or back pain, contact us for a free 15 minute Q & A or to book in with us today!

Reference:
1. Carolyn C. Ee, MBBS, BAppSci (Chinese Medicine/Human Biology); Eric Manheimer, MS; Marie V. Pirotta, MBBS, PhD; Adrian R. White, MA, MD, BM BCh,  Acupuncture for pelvic and back pain in pregnancy: a systematic review , MARCH 2008 , American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology

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

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.

Your DNA Changes With the Seasons, Just Like the Weather

https://www.wired.com/2015/05/dna-changes-seasons-just-like-weather/

Terra Centre for Teen Parents in Need of Boys Clothing

Local charity Terra Centre that helps teen parents is in need of boy clothing BOYS CLOTHING size 18 months – 4 years.
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5 Ways to Stay Healthy this Holiday Season | Holistic Health Tips

‘Tis the season and whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, Festivus or nothing at all, it’s had to stay away from the bad habits that accompany those two weeks in December! You may tell yourself “it’s only once a year”, but on average people gain 1-7 pounds during the holiday season. Also, they generally indulge in too much rich food, alcohol and don’t get enough sleep. And what about the stress that can surround the season? This year be good to yourself and choose a healthier way to celebrate.

  1. Be a designated driver. Not only will you be doing a good service for your friends and family, but you’ll also be skipping out on all of that wine and beer you could have been drinking. Alcohol is not only loaded with fat-causing sugars, it also deters your body from burning fat! It’s a win-win to skip out on the beverages (at least every other party!) And even if you’re not driving, try sticking to a two-drink max at holiday functions and sip water with lemon in between.
  2. Enjoy the season. People can get caught up in the glitz, glamour and materialism of the season which can cause stress and anxiety. Try slowing down to enjoy the season by spending quality time with your family doing something fun outdoors like skating, sledding or looking at the beautiful Christmas lights in your neighbourhood. These moments will help you relax and keep your stress level in check.
  3. Put down the fork! Holiday meals can contain thousands of calories, especially when you pile on a rich dessert after.
  • Here are a few good eating tips:
  • skip or share a dessert
  • skip the roll and butter
  • make sure at least half of your plate is covered with veggies
  • Stop eating when you’re full
  1. Don’t get lazy. Even if you are busy with family functions, make sure you fit in at least 20 minutes of moderate exercise a day. It’s not a lot of time but it’s enough to get your heart pumping and beat off any holiday blues.
  2. Catch some Zzz’s. It’s so important to keep up with your sleep and make sure you get your 7 hours a night. It keeps your body operating the way it should be and refreshes you for your daily dose of holiday cheer.

This year make your resolution before New Year’s and stay healthy the whole holiday season!

Do you want more tips on how to stay healthy this holiday season? Call us today!

 

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