Upcoming Events for New Moms, Pregnant Moms and Women Trying to Conceive

 

Prenatal Events, Prenatal Acupuncture

September is a busy month for us at FLOAT!

Abigail will be guest-teaching a support group, participating in a panel on Prenatal Wellness, and leading an acupressure workshop for couples here at our office.  Read on, and please send any questions to frontdesk@floatchinesemedicalarts.com.

9/9: HOLISTIC SELF-CARE FOR THE POSTPARTUM PERIOD at BINI BIRTH

FirstOutingMamaGnL

Abigail in 2010 with her kids, 2 weeks and 2 years old

 

Abigail will be the special guest at Bini Birth’s New Moms and Pregnant Moms’ Support Group (led by Rachel Myers) on Monday 9/9/13, 12:30-1:45pm.  This group is open to anyone who is pregnant, recently gave birth, or is supporting moms in any way at all!  Babies are welcome.

The Talk: Abigail Morgan, L.Ac, Licensed Acupuncturist & Herbalist and mother of two, will speak about holistic ways to take care of yourself during the postpartum period (birth-12 months), and offer a variety of techniques to bring balance to the crazy-insane-overwhelming time that characterizes the first year of a child’s life.  Whether you are pregnant with your first child, just a few months postpartum, or getting used to being outnumbered, putting Mom’s health first is crucial for keeping the whole family happy – not to mention avoiding postpartum depression, baby blues, adrenal fatigue and Depleted Mother Syndrome.  Come learn tips for what to eat, rhythms to incorporate, and home remedies for boosting Self-Care in the postpartum period.  Abigail will also discuss ways you can prepare for a smoother recovery from childbirth while still pregnant.

Location: Bini Birth, 13743 Riverside Drive, Sherman Oaks, CA, 91423

Cost: $20 cash or check (made out to Bini Birth), same-day, or $110 for a series of 6 classes (every Monday, 12:30-1:45)

More info: binibirth.com or 818-286-3944

 

 9/21: PRENATAL WELLNESS ROUNDTABLE

Event: Prenatal Wellness Roundtable, Prenatal Acupuncture, Fertility Acupuncture

 

I’m so excited to have been asked by Fit for Expecting and The Institute for Girls’ Development to participate in this Prenatal Wellness Roundtable, on Sat. 9/21, 10-11:30am.  (Click on the flyer above to see details and ticket information.)  I’ll be talking about how Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can help with conception, pregnancy, labor and birth.  There will be several other prenatal care providers on the panel – hope to see you there!

 

9/26: ACUPRESSURE FOR LABOR & BIRTH: A COUPLES’ WORKSHOP

Event: Acupressure for Labor & Birth, Prenatal Acupuncture
Acupressure for Labor & Birth: A Couples’ Workshop
Abigail Morgan, L.Ac., Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist and mother of two, will lead a workshop on 9/26/13 from 6:30-9:30pm, on how to support your partner during labor and birth using simple acupressure techniques.  Learn how to use your hands to give physical support to your partner during the birth process.  What points can help reduce pain, soothe anxiety, bring baby down, make contractions stronger?  We will go over good body mechanics for the partner, and do lots of hands-on work to help each couple find ways to use this ancient method to enhance the labor process.  Becca Gordon, doula/childbirth educator/yoga instructor, will co-teach this class and bring a fresh perspective to supporting the birth process.  You will leave with a detailed handout of the techniques we learned in class, as well as questions to discuss with your partner during the rest of your pregnancy.
This class is designed for couples, but we define “couple” loosely; if you’d like to bring your sister/mother/friend/doula instead of a partner, that’s fine with us.  Please be informed that this is not a professional-development class for birth professionals – Abigail offers that workshop at other times – but we do welcome doulas if they are accompanying a pregnant client.

When: Thursday, 9/26/13; 6:30-9:30pm

Location: FLOAT, 800 S. Central Avenue (at Windsor), Suite 302, Glendale, CA 91204.  Parking is free in the garage under our building, but be sure to arrive no later than 6:45 pm.

Cost: $100 per couple (we accept all credit cards, checks and cash; payment in advance is required by 9/19)

Sign Up / More Info: 818-392-8797 or frontdesk@floatchinesemedicalarts.com

We hope to see you there!

 

Post by Abigail Morgan, L.Ac. of FLOAT: Chinese Medical Arts.

Advertisements

What’s in Our Garden?

My son at age 4.5, helping me plant herbs and kale in Spring 2013

My son at age 4.5, helping me plant herbs and kale in Spring 2013

Welcome to our new series – What’s in Our Garden?

Here at FLOAT: Chinese Medical Arts, we are passionate about our backyard edible gardens, and we want to share photos, ideas and recipes with you!

Each week, we’ll be posting photos of what’s growing in our home gardens now, what we’re harvesting, what we’re struggling to keep alive, and the recipes we’re using to cook what we’ve picked.  (Today I’ll be talking about passion fruit!)  We also welcome your comments and invite you to share with us what’s growing in your garden.  I have been inspired by my favorite blogger, SouleMama, who has been posting a series called “This Week in My Garden” all summer.  So, a big tip of the hat goes out to Amanda Soule.

We get a lot of questions from patients about how they can work, raise a family and still eat healthy, organic, real food.

We think the best way to do this is to grow your own food and shop at your local farmer’s markets.  (I’ll be taking you through a typical day at my favorite farmer’s market in a blog post later this week.)

I grew up in New York City in an apartment building, so I still wake up some mornings in a state of happy shock that I actually have a garden with a 10 month growing season, and not just the local patch of grass we referred to as Tip-Toe Park (owing to the piles of dog poop).

 

ChardKaleEggplant

Chard, Kale and Eggplant

Garden Options

Some people have their entire garden in containers on a patio or indoors near a window.  Others use a plot of land in a local community garden.  Another great option is the Tower Garden, by Juice Plus+, an aeroponic 5-feet-tall vertical indoor garden that fits in even the smallest apartment.  If you want more information about this, please send an email to frontdesk at floatchinesemedicalarts dot com or ask us about it at your next office visit.

If you aren’t into gardening but you like to eat locally and with the seasons, getting to know your local farmer’s markets is the way to go.  If you live in Southern California, here is a useful guide:  http://projects.latimes.com/farmers-markets.  Those of you who live in colder climates may have a shorter outdoor growing season, but you may still be able to find mostly year-round farmer’s markets, and/or subscribe to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  Tell us what works for you!

In our garden, we don’t use chemical pesticides or fertilizers, but rely on compost and natural methods of pest control.  We never grow genetically modified plants, focusing instead on heirloom varietals that require more maintenance but produce delicious, interesting crops.

We also love to cook; I do much of the planning and cooking for my family of four, and Jacqueline is quite a well-known food blogger and recipe-writer (http://sweetbeetandgreenbean.net).  Heidi, our office manager, has been gardening and cooking for years and often brings flowers or herbs from her garden to display at our front desk.

Involving Kids

Growing your own fruits, vegetables and herbs is one of the most affordable, healthy and holistic ways to feed your family.

It’s also a great way to get picky toddlers and older children to get involved in cooking: when they pick it and help prepare it, they are so much more likely to eat it!  Even organic, heirloom seeds cost just pennies, and you don’t need to have an enormous back yard (or even a back yard at all!) to grow your own produce.

 

My son making a dish of his own creation (in the slow-cooker) with just-picked carrots and maple syrup

 

My kids are 3 and 5, and they are part of the reason I have become so passionate about our garden.  There’s nothing like getting your hands in the dirt, and falling into the zen rhythm of plucking off dead leaves.  It’s one of my favorite ways to decompress after a long day.  When I realize my kids have stopped whining and shouting at each other, I know they must be busy in the back searching for zucchini.  Gardening has also become an amazing way to teach them about where their food comes from, and how to have respect for the Earth.  I have been inspired by the ideas in Sharon Lovejoy’s book “Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots: Gardening Together with Children.”

 

My kids at 2 and 4 with a giant zucchini they picked

 

My son has taken to picking mint and ginger and making his own creative tea when he has a tummy-ache, and my daughter likes to pick lettuce and feed it to her stuffed animals.  They also love love love to help me prepare meals.  When I’m not in a rush, I welcome their help, and give them simple tasks to do (“Go pick some basil and spinach, please,” or for my 5-year-old, “cut these carrots, please”).  When I am in rush, I have to remind myself that my kids’ pace is slower than mine, and though it may take an extra 30 minutes to involve them in making dinner, they will be more likely to eat it and rave about it if they’ve helped prepare it, from garden to plate.

In the upcoming weeks and months, we will be featuring photos of an area of our garden along with a recipe we made with stuff we picked from it.  Please post a comment in the comment section if you have a specific type of dish you’d like to see, or a plant you have questions about.

So now let’s get to the pick of the day, along with a recipe.

Passion Fruit in the City!

This week, my kids and I harvested the first ripe passion fruits of the season.  Passion fruit are super easy to grow (they do require some  pruning!), and they love full sun.  They will climb on anything, so training them along a fence is the best way to go.  We put our passion fruit plants in from seedlings in March 2012, and they started producing fruit about 4-5 months later.  We had some yummy ones last summer, but this year the yield is about three times as much, and the fruit seem to be ripening more predictably.

Here are some not-quite-ripe passion fruit growing on the vine along our fence:

Unripe passion fruit on the vine

 

And here they are, ready to eat, in my hand:

Ripe passion fruit

Here is the fleshy fruit part inside:

 

Passion Fruit flesh

 

And – the other amazing benefit of growing passion fruit vines are the spectacular flowers we started seeing along the vines this past Spring!  This one just bloomed yesterday:

 

Passion Fruit Flower, bursting through on the vine in our garden today

 

My son will tell anyone who visits our garden that you know the passion fruit are ready when “they’re purple and pruny and look like an old lady’s skin.”

According to Chinese Medicine, passion fruit is cooling and slightly bitter, and is said to calm the Shen (in other words, it has calming and sedative effects).  Which is always a good thing for a harried mama.

If you’re not growing your own passion fruit, look for them at your local farmer’s market or specialty store, especially in the summer.

I missed the chance to snap a photo of the Passion Fruit Ambrosia, but I’ll give you the recipe my 5-year-old came up with:

Passion Fruit Ambrosia (Serves 2)

1 c. organic plain yogurt (ideally, from grass-fed cows)

1 ripe Passion Fruit, sliced in half like a lime

1 T honey or maple syrup

1 T unsweetened shredded coconut

Put the yogurt in a bowl.  Scoop out all of the fruit and yellow fleshy bits (you can eat the seeds!), stir into the yogurt along with the coconut and honey or maple syrup (which helps cut the tart flavor of the passion fruit).  Yum!

What’s growing in your garden, if you have one, and what are you making from it?

Post by Abigail Morgan, L.Ac, mother of two, licensed acupuncturist & herbalist and owner of FLOAT: Chinese Medical Arts.  All photos by Abigail Morgan, L.Ac, all rights reserved.

What's in Our Garden?

My son at age 4.5, helping me plant herbs and kale in Spring 2013

My son at age 4.5, helping me plant herbs and kale in Spring 2013

Welcome to our new series – What’s in Our Garden?

Here at FLOAT: Chinese Medical Arts, we are passionate about our backyard edible gardens, and we want to share photos, ideas and recipes with you!

Each week, we’ll be posting photos of what’s growing in our home gardens now, what we’re harvesting, what we’re struggling to keep alive, and the recipes we’re using to cook what we’ve picked.  (Today I’ll be talking about passion fruit!)  We also welcome your comments and invite you to share with us what’s growing in your garden.  I have been inspired by my favorite blogger, SouleMama, who has been posting a series called “This Week in My Garden” all summer.  So, a big tip of the hat goes out to Amanda Soule.

We get a lot of questions from patients about how they can work, raise a family and still eat healthy, organic, real food.

We think the best way to do this is to grow your own food and shop at your local farmer’s markets.  (I’ll be taking you through a typical day at my favorite farmer’s market in a blog post later this week.)

I grew up in New York City in an apartment building, so I still wake up some mornings in a state of happy shock that I actually have a garden with a 10 month growing season, and not just the local patch of grass we referred to as Tip-Toe Park (owing to the piles of dog poop).

 

ChardKaleEggplant

Chard, Kale and Eggplant

Garden Options

Some people have their entire garden in containers on a patio or indoors near a window.  Others use a plot of land in a local community garden.  Another great option is the Tower Garden, by Juice Plus+, an aeroponic 5-feet-tall vertical indoor garden that fits in even the smallest apartment.  If you want more information about this, please send an email to frontdesk at floatchinesemedicalarts dot com or ask us about it at your next office visit.

If you aren’t into gardening but you like to eat locally and with the seasons, getting to know your local farmer’s markets is the way to go.  If you live in Southern California, here is a useful guide:  http://projects.latimes.com/farmers-markets.  Those of you who live in colder climates may have a shorter outdoor growing season, but you may still be able to find mostly year-round farmer’s markets, and/or subscribe to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  Tell us what works for you!

In our garden, we don’t use chemical pesticides or fertilizers, but rely on compost and natural methods of pest control.  We never grow genetically modified plants, focusing instead on heirloom varietals that require more maintenance but produce delicious, interesting crops.

We also love to cook; I do much of the planning and cooking for my family of four, and Jacqueline is quite a well-known food blogger and recipe-writer (http://sweetbeetandgreenbean.net).  Heidi, our office manager, has been gardening and cooking for years and often brings flowers or herbs from her garden to display at our front desk.

Involving Kids

Growing your own fruits, vegetables and herbs is one of the most affordable, healthy and holistic ways to feed your family.

It’s also a great way to get picky toddlers and older children to get involved in cooking: when they pick it and help prepare it, they are so much more likely to eat it!  Even organic, heirloom seeds cost just pennies, and you don’t need to have an enormous back yard (or even a back yard at all!) to grow your own produce.

 

My son making a dish of his own creation (in the slow-cooker) with just-picked carrots and maple syrup

My son making a dish of his own creation (in the slow-cooker) with just-picked carrots and maple syrup

 

My kids are 3 and 5, and they are part of the reason I have become so passionate about our garden.  There’s nothing like getting your hands in the dirt, and falling into the zen rhythm of plucking off dead leaves.  It’s one of my favorite ways to decompress after a long day.  When I realize my kids have stopped whining and shouting at each other, I know they must be busy in the back searching for zucchini.  Gardening has also become an amazing way to teach them about where their food comes from, and how to have respect for the Earth.  I have been inspired by the ideas in Sharon Lovejoy’s book “Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots: Gardening Together with Children.”

 

My kids, last summer, with a giant zucchini they picked

My kids, last summer, with a giant zucchini they picked

 

My son has taken to picking mint and ginger and making his own creative tea when he has a tummy-ache, and my daughter likes to pick lettuce and feed it to her stuffed animals.  They also love love love to help me prepare meals.  When I’m not in a rush, I welcome their help, and give them simple tasks to do (“Go pick some basil and spinach, please,” or for my 5-year-old, “cut these carrots, please”).  When I am in rush, I have to remind myself that my kids’ pace is slower than mine, and though it may take an extra 30 minutes to involve them in making dinner, they will be more likely to eat it and rave about it if they’ve helped prepare it, from garden to plate.

In the upcoming weeks and months, we will be featuring photos of an area of our garden along with a recipe we made with stuff we picked from it.  Please post a comment in the comment section if you have a specific type of dish you’d like to see, or a plant you have questions about.

So now let’s get to the pick of the day, along with a recipe.

Passion Fruit in the City!

This week, my kids and I harvested the first ripe passion fruits of the season.  Passion fruit are super easy to grow (they do require some  pruning!), and they love full sun.  They will climb on anything, so training them along a fence is the best way to go.  We put our passion fruit plants in from seedlings in March 2012, and they started producing fruit about 4-5 months later.  We had some yummy ones last summer, but this year the yield is about three times as much, and the fruit seem to be ripening more predictably.

Here are some not-quite-ripe passion fruit growing on the vine along our fence:

Unripe passion fruit on the vine

Unripe passion fruit on the vine

 

And here they are, ready to eat, in my hand:

Ripe passion fruit

Ripe passion fruit

Here is the fleshy fruit part inside:

 

Passion Fruit flesh

Passion Fruit flesh

 

And – the other amazing benefit of growing passion fruit vines are the spectacular flowers we started seeing along the vines this past Spring!  This one just bloomed yesterday:

 

Passion Fruit Flower, bursting through on the vine in our garden today

Passion Fruit Flower, bursting through on the vine in our garden today

 

My son will tell anyone who visits our garden that you know the passion fruit are ready when “they’re purple and pruny and look like an old lady’s skin.”

According to Chinese Medicine, passion fruit is cooling and slightly bitter, and is said to calm the Shen (in other words, it has calming and sedative effects).  Which is always a good thing for a harried mama.

If you’re not growing your own passion fruit, look for them at your local farmer’s market or specialty store, especially in the summer.

I missed the chance to snap a photo of the Passion Fruit Ambrosia, but I’ll give you the recipe my 5-year-old came up with:

Passion Fruit Ambrosia (Serves 2)

1 c. organic plain yogurt (ideally, from grass-fed cows)

1 ripe Passion Fruit, sliced in half like a lime

1 T honey or maple syrup

1 T unsweetened shredded coconut

Put the yogurt in a bowl.  Scoop out all of the fruit and yellow fleshy bits (you can eat the seeds!), stir into the yogurt along with the coconut and honey or maple syrup (which helps cut the tart flavor of the passion fruit).  Yum!

What’s growing in your garden, if you have one, and what are you making from it?

Post by Abigail Morgan, L.Ac, mother of two, licensed acupuncturist & herbalist and owner of FLOAT: Chinese Medical Arts.  All photos by Abigail Morgan, L.Ac, all rights reserved.

Fertility is Not Just for Baby-Makers!

Moxa

Moxibustion (“Moxa”) over the abdomen to help relieve menstrual cramps.

When you walk into our clinic you can quickly tell we treat a lot of fertility and pregnancy.  There’s a wall of baby pictures, Mothering magazines in the waiting room, a stack of children’s books and toys, plus the Pregnancy and Mother’s Milk Tea we offer alongside the traditional green and black varieties.

We still treat a good deal of non-reproductive health issues: back pain, allergies, anxiety, stress and digestive problems, just to name a few.  Occasionally, when these non-reproductive health patients come into the office for the first time they second-guess if they are in the right place.  Sometimes, a patient who is not looking to conceive will ask me if there are acupuncture points I could use to help her to not get pregnant, to which I always reply, “a healthy body is a fertile body.”  Fertility is a reflection of good overall reproductive health, which is something to be celebrated.

The word “fertility” should not be feared by those who don’t wish to get pregnant (or at least, not yet).  Currently, the American birthrate is at a record low: see this recent article in TIME for more on that.

As someone who hasn’t yet had children myself, I understand as much as anyone the desire to choose when to have kids.  But the common approach for women seems to be to ignore their reproductive organs all together until suddenly it is the right time to get pregnant, and then everything is expected to work perfectly, right on cue.  Hormone flows can easily be overridden with birth control pills and menstrual cramps can be hidden with pain killers, but neither fix the underlying conditions that are causing the symptoms.

Oral contraceptive pills are known to cause a number of side effects.  Quite a few women report The Pill causes them to have scanty or complete lack of menses (amenorrhea).  I often hear those patients say “my gynecologist says it’s normal” – in fact, those symptoms are common, but they’re not normal.  A regular menstrual cycle is a strong indicator of a healthy reproductive organs and is very important to pay attention to.

The combination of many years of a neglected reproductive system, plus the decision to wait until later in life to conceive, often leads to problems for women once they are ready, and it is becoming more and more common.  This is why women of childbearing age must start thinking about their reproductive health, whether or not they wish to have children.

Here are 3 simple suggestions to help those of you who don’t wish to conceive (either not now, or never) but still wish to enhance your reproductive health:

1. Educate Yourself

Educate yourself well when it comes to your body; you’re stuck with it!  I recommend women learn about the physiology of their reproductive organs: how everything works, and how to tell when it’s not working well.  Get regular Well-Woman exams (paps as recommended by your OB/GYN, STD screenings, and annual check-ups with your primary care physician).  Make sure you read up on and ask plenty of questions about any medications, vaccinations, contraceptives, or procedures before you give your consent.  If you have any other health conditions (especially a genetic condition, an endocrine or auto-immune disorder), learn about how these conditions may potentially affect your reproductive health.

Taking Charge of Your FertilityTaking Charge of Your Fertility is the first resource I provide to a woman who is hoping to learn more about her fertility.  We have two copies in the lending library of our clinic, but many women find they need one of their own.  It explains all the phases of the menstrual cycle, how to identify your fertile window, and the physiology of getting pregnant.  It is a great resource for both women looking to conceive as well as those looking to avoid getting pregnant by better understanding when they can and cannot conceive.

In fact, I think many of the tools women trying to get pregnant use (such as taking her basal temperature each morning or using ovulation predictor kits) are important tools for any woman wishing to take a close look at her cycle and make sure it is functioning normally.

2. Pay Attention

You know best what is normal and what is not.  Pay attention and keep notes in a journal or calendar, so you can notice the patterns that arise.  How many days does each cycle last?  (We measure cycle length from Day One of bleeding to the next Day One of bleeding.)  Is it regular?  When do you ovulate?  Does it change each month?  What is the quality and quantity of your flow?  How much pain do you experience?  Do any other symptoms arise at the same time each cycle?

Journal by Rory MacLeodRemember that pain and emotional distress are common menstrual symptoms but are not normal; they do not have to be tolerated.

While your symptoms might not be accompanied by a diagnosable condition (such as fibroids, ovarian cysts, or endometriosis), they still indicate there are imbalances under the surface.

Chinese medicine pays close attention to all signs and symptoms and employs acupuncture and herbs to treat the underlying condition accordingly.  Whether the body needs to be warmed up, blood needs to be moved, or the mind needs to be calmed, these can be simple adjustments with acupuncture treatments, herbal prescriptions, and diet/lifestyle adjustments.

In Western medicine, however, oral contraceptive pills seem to be the tool of choice for most menstrual disorders, despite the fact that the synthetic hormones do not usually correct any underlying problems.  Many symptoms that are mild or considered “within normal limits” are ignored completely.

3. Stay Healthy

Physical Health by Military HealthAgain, a healthy body is a fertile body.

PMS, irregular menstruation, painful periods, or periods with heavy bleeding are signs that something is out of balance.  Pay attention to them.

Do all you can to stay in general health and your reproductive health will follow.  That means eat well, avoid stress and toxins, get plenty of sleep, and exercise regularly.  There are many foods and herbs you can take to improve specific conditions; a Licensed Acupuncturist can help direct you towards what works best for you.

(Post by Jacqueline Gabardy, L.Ac, of FLOAT: Chinese Medical Arts; photo credits: Moxa by Dave Clark Photography, Taking Charge of Your Fertility from tcoyf.com, Journal by Rory MacLeod, Physical Activity by Military Health)

Bringing Sexy Back to Fertility

kiss2012

A kiss in wine country

With apologies to Justin Timberlake for hijacking his term, we’re bringing sexy back to fertility.

Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say we’re bringing sexy back to the Lower Jiao.

What is the Lower Jiao?  In Chinese Medicine, the Lower Jiao refers to the organ systems below the belly button, including the reproductive organs, the kidneys and the urinary bladder.  It is one of three Jiaos, each of which comprises specific organ systems.

The Lower Jiao can also be compared to the Second Chakra.

In Chinese Medicine, an imbalance in the Lower Jiao can lead to all kinds of problems with Reproductive Health, whether the person is male or female, straight, gay or bisexual.

Acupuncturists treat a lot of infertility.

I specialize in Chinese Medicine for reproductive health and the childbearing cycle -I see teenagers with painful periods, pregnant women, new grandmothers going through menopause, and everything in between – but in recent years, my practice has seen more and more patients seeking answers for primary infertility, secondary infertility, sub-fertility and sterility.

In the USA, 1 in 10 couples is diagnosed with infertility.

Infertility is defined as the inability to get pregnant after having unprotected sex for 6 months to a year, depending on the woman’s age.  This does not mean these women will never be able to get pregnant, but it can put a lot of stress on a relationship.

No matter their age, anyone who has tried to get pregnant and found it is a little (or a lot) harder than they thought, tends to suffer from Fertility Fatigue.

Trying to Conceive (“TTC”), with or without fertility problems, can be exhausting.  For many couples, baby-making sex becomes a chore, without any of the spice that sex had when they were trying not to get pregnant.

The Lower Jiao suffers from an identity crisis, as it was ignored for decades and now is suddenly being called on to Make a Baby Already!

Getting pregnant can be (not always) even more challenging for women and men who have experienced early childhood trauma, which gets imprinted in the Lower Brain and has a strong effect on the Lower Jiao.  I will address this in another post, later this month.

Many women who have spent cycle after cycle actively trying to conceive a baby complain of losing their mojo. They feel depleted, fat and ugly. Sex has become rote and boring, just a means to an end, with no end in sight. They want to be pregnant yesterday, and they’re not accustomed to finding something so hard to control: successful, intelligent, clear-thinking women who are accustomed to putting their mind to something and making it happen can be particularly triggered by how hard it is to get pregnant.  They have spent their whole fertile life trying NOT to get pregnant, and now suddenly getting pregnant isn’t so easy.  This can make her feel helpless, anxious and out of control.

Some women whose mojo is doing fine (no libido problems) become distressed when their partner suddenly can’t keep it up.  Or he keeps it up for a few days and then as soon as she reaches her fertile window, he can’t ejaculate.  (He’s not used to having this problem.)  Quite a few men have told me they feel their wife only wants them for their sperm; they start feeling helpless and that makes Performance even more difficult.  It’s too much pressure.

After a year or more of actively TTC without a BFP (Big Fat Positive), couples will often start to argue more.  One partner loses interest.  Maybe he doesn’t want kids after all.  She starts to worry it’s never going to happen.  They forget about Dan Savage’s Fuck First rule (always do it BEFORE dinner/movie/wedding ceremony!), and only have sex with the intention of getting pregnant.  That gets old real quick.

One lesbian mom I know who conceived via in-home self-insemination (i.e. the Turkey Baster Option) has advised some of her straight friends to just get the guy to hand her his sperm sample in a cup so she can save him the stress of having to perform at the same time every month.  She said it’s pretty nice to be able to separate the Getting Pregnant Part from the Making Love part.  I think this is really cool.

Clearly, there are a lot of Lower Jiaos that need re-tuning.

So, how do we bring sexy back to the Lower Jiao?

Here are 9 things you can do to bring sexy back to your Lower Jiao.  (9 is a magic number in Taoist thought.  I like 9.)

 

1. GET ACUPUNCTURE & TAKE HERBS

 

Room 3 at FLOAT: Chinese Medical Arts

Room 3 at FLOAT: Chinese Medical Arts; Photo by Samuel Morgan Photography

 

Of course I’m an acupuncture junkie: I’m an acupuncturist.  I love getting it, I love giving it.  There’s nothing quite like an Acu-High.

For so many reasons, Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine are very effective at enhancing fertility and preventing miscarriage.  Among other functions, acupuncture relieves blockages of Qi and Blood in the uterus and ovaries, increases follicle count, boosts the uterine lining, makes IUI and IVF work better (increases the rate of take-home babies), reduces drug side effects, and combats stress.

Acupuncture is also great for helping women and men reconnect with the sexual, reproductive energy located in the Lower Jiao (and in the body in general).

There are many, many points that acupuncturists use to treat infertility patterns, but I’ll give examples here of just a few points I use frequently:

Ren 4 / Conception Vessel 4 (Guan Yuan): this point is translated as “Gateway to Original Qi,” or “Gate of Origin.”  It’s located between the navel and the pubic symphysis, on the midline of the body.

DU4 / Governing Vessel 4 (Ming Men): this point is translated as “Life Gate.”  It’s located below the spinous process of the second lumbar vertebra.  It is the #1 point to nourish the Kidney Yang, and it’s also great for lower back pain.

ZiGongXue, or “Palace of the Child.”  This is my favorite point location name.  This point is used to treat any type of problem in the uterus, including painful periods (dysmenorrhea), infertility and uterine prolapse.  I also find it helps to regulate ovulation.

Give yourself a belly massage.  Gentle massage in clockwise circles on your lower abdomen can help to circulate energy in the Ming Men (also known as the Dan Tien), and stimulate many of the acupuncture points in that region.  This is something you can do by yourself or with your partner.  It’s best to do in the proliferative phase of your cycle, not in the luteal phase (when you may be pregnant).  Use a nice organic massage oil and maybe some of my favorite lavender essential oil.

Qi Gong is also a terrific practice for removing blockages in the Ming Men and the Lower Jiao in general.

 

2. AVOID FERTILITY FATIGUE.

 

Don’t, for goodness sake, have sex every day all month, or even every day for two weeks.  This drains your Kidney Qi and Jing, and that of your partner.

The Kidney system is one third of the three main organs of female reproduction: Kidney, Spleen and Liver.  We need the energy of the Kidney, Spleen and Liver Organ systems to be flowing freely in order for conception to occur.  Too much sex with the pressure to get pregnant can end up backfiring by exhausting your partner’s sperm and depleting your receptivity to said sperm.

It’s also not so effective to have sex only once per cycle and expect to get pregnant.  Although this is certainly how a lot of Bonus Babies are made (oops!).

So when should you do it? The Fertility Awareness Method (charting your cycle) can help you and your partner figure out when to do the Baby Dance.

Become familiar with how to understand your cervical fluid.  The days that really count are the five days before ovulation and the day of ovulation itself.  Printing your chart and showing it to your fertility acupuncturist is helpful in allowing him/her to see patterns according to Chinese Medicine, and time your treatments and herbal regimen accordingly. But I do have some patients for whom charting the cycle causes a lot of stress.  Listen to your intuition and follow it.

 

3. EXERCISE.

 

Find something that works for you and stick with it on a regular basis.

Qi Gong, Tai Qi and Yoga are great ways to circulate Qi between acupuncture treatments, or if you’re unable to find an acupuncturist in your area.

Exercise increases blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, boosts serotonin levels, helps you shed unwanted extra pounds, and just makes you feel good.

I know it’s really hard for moms with one or more kids at home (who are struggling to conceive again) to find time to exercise.  Barter babysitting with other moms, or bring the kids to a gym that has free childcare. Just make it happen.

 

4. GO ON VACATION.

FamilySquaw

My family on vacation in Lake Tahoe

 

How many couples do you know who were struggling to conceive and as soon as they finally “took a break” and went to Cabo, they got pregnant?

The reason for this is often because when we detach from outcome –when we stop wanting it so much – we get out of Fight-or-Flight mode (Sympathetic Nervous System) and get into Rest-and-Digest mode (Parasympathetic Nervous System).

If you can’t afford a vacation, take a Staycation.  Even one day off work at the end of a weekend can allow you and your partner time to shut off the phones, email, social media and catch up on sleep and conversation.  Imagine that!

When the hormones of stress stop surging in your bloodstream, it allows the hypothalamic/pituitary/ovarian axis to work better, improving your chances of getting pregnant.

 

5. ADDRESS THE SHAME.

 

We all have shame.  Brene Brown, the brilliant researcher and storyteller, defines shame as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.”  (Watch her ground-breaking TED talk, “Shame and Vulnerability,” here.)

Brene Brown also says that “shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.”

I think this can be applied to the fertility journey.

The transition of going from being an independent woman (married or not) to a mother involves the most massive change you will undergo since you were born.

Becoming a mother again – if you have other children – is also an enormous change.  Trauma from a previous birth (surgical or vaginal) can affect fertility.  The challenges of caring for young children and simply trying to find time to have sex with your partner, let alone deal with fertility issues, can be a major trigger for anxiety and stress.  It can also trigger PTSD and bring up what I clinically refer to as Shit From the Past.

It is crucial that we trust we are capable of the change involved in getting pregnant and becoming a parent.  (Note: there are of course many ways of becoming a parent- becoming pregnant is only one of them – but the biological parenting part is what I’m discussing here.)

Many women have sublimated shame from the past, which may be lodged energetically in the Lower Jiao.

Talking about it, writing about it, praying or meditating about it, seeing a therapist, getting acupuncture, are just a few of the ways we can address shame.

To borrow the words of John Bradshaw, let’s start the process of healing the shame that binds us (in this case, binds our Lower Jiao) in order to open ourselves up to conception, a healthy pregnancy and ecstatic birth.

LucyBirth

Me, my second child, Lucy, and my husband, about 1 minute after Lucy was born at home.

This is not to say that you must have totally recovered from shame or trauma in order to conceive.  Not true.  But it can be helpful to bring these issues to your awareness so you can let go of some of it.

Ask yourself what works for you?

 

6. PRACTICE DETACHMENT.

 

Stop trying so hard. Really. You’re having sex in your fertile window, eating well, exercising, resting at the end of the day, refusing to work on the weekend (you’re doing that, right?), taking your herbs, getting acupuncture and charting your cycle, meditating…

Whew!

Just writing that list is exhausting.

“What more can I be doing?” is a common question my patients ask.

“Detach,” I say.

It will happen when it happens, and you truly have no control over when that will be.

Even if you’re doing IVF, there is no way to select the cycle during which you will get pregnant.

Detach, while still encouraging your body to be a garden ready for the new plantings.

Use mindfulness techniques, meditate, try self-hypnosis.

Take Chinese tonic herbs to calm your Shen (ask your acupuncturist).

Detach.

 

7. EAT REAL FOOD.

Stew

This is a blog post for another day – if you’ve met me, you know I have a lot to say about food! – but for now I’ll leave it at this:

Eat local and organic whenever possible, and prepare your own food.

Food is love.

Two excellent books on eating well are “Real Food for Mother and Baby” by Nina Planck and “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon.

 

8. SLEEP!

 

Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night, whenever possible.

If you have a toddler and/or older children at home, this is a tough one.

I can relate: my kids are 2 years apart and I’ve been breastfeeding for 5 years straight.

As my friend and fellow acupuncturist Luke says, “Sleep is my drug of choice.”

Whatever it takes, prioritize a good night’s sleep.

 

9. FIND YOURSELF SEXY.

This may seem silly, but find ways to enjoy yourself – not only so you feel sexy to your partner (if you have one) but so you seem sexy to yourself.

Enjoy the process of opening the Palace of the Child.

So go do it already.

Get your sexy back.

 

Post by Abigail Morgan, L.Ac, owner of FLOAT: Chinese Medical Arts.  Photos by Abigail Morgan, Dave Clark Photography, Samuel Morgan Photography, and Sara Pereira.   All rights reserved.