Posts Categorized: Fertility and Women’s Health

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What Nobody Talks About During Pregnancy: Your Postpartum Health

Prenatally, we tend to focus on mom and how she can optimize her health for her benefit and the benefit of the baby. However in the postpartum period, our culture seems to completely focus on baby and mom’s well-being is forgotten. This attitude is also reflected in postpartum medical care in the USA. Generally, the baby goes for their first pediatrician visit just a few days after birth, but mom’s first visit with her OB isn’t until a whopping 6 weeks after the delivery!

Thankfully, recently there has been more media attention to this problem (see this great guide in the New York Times). The American Academy of Pediatrics has even recommended that new moms be screened by their child’s pediatrician for postpartum anxiety and depression. In my and many others’ opinion, this is a positive step, but more support for new moms is needed. Until healthcare systems in the USA begin providing appropriate levels of support to new parents, you must develop a plan for your postpartum health during pregnancy. After the baby is born it will likely feel much too overwhelming.

Postpartum Changes

Many physical and emotional changes can bring uncertainty to the post-delivery recovery process. Physically, constipation, urinary incontinence, breastfeeding difficulties, incision pain and pelvic floor pain can be present. Emotionally, mood fluctuations can be quite normal, but often women need support in determining if their emotions are normal or are a cause for concern. The earlier postpartum mood issues are identified, the more effectively they can be treated. The bottom line is this: if you aren’t sure if the symptoms you are experiencing are normal, seek help from a therapist, midwife or your OB and they can tell you. Ask for as much help as you need.

Below are some categories of experts I recommend familiarizing yourself with. Find a local practitioner, reach out to them in the third trimester (or earlier!), and keep their contact information handy in case it’s needed. You shouldn’t be expected to do it all on your own and many times even with lots of support from friends and family, an expert’s experience and care can make a huge difference.

Resources:

Mental/Emotional Health:

I recommend finding a therapist who specializes in treating postpartum mood disorders. It’s best to establish a relationship with a therapist before giving birth so that you are not overwhelmed with the task of finding someone while you are taking care of your new baby. Have one session with them during your pregnancy so they are familiar with your history, and you can make sure you feel comfortable with their approach.  Keep in mind, new dads/partners often experience anxiety and mood issues after the birth as well- it may be helpful for them to follow the same approach.

See The Seleni Institute, The Motherhood Center and Postpartum International for articles and information.

Pelvic Floor Experts:

In Europe and many other places, pelvic floor muscle rehabilitation is standard care for new moms, whether they delivered vaginally or via c-section. It can help with urinary and bowel problems as well as abdominal muscle separation called diastasis recti.

In NYC, I like Beyond Basics PT, Shift Integrative Health and The Functional Pelvis. Even if you aren’t in NYC, check out their websites for lots of informative articles. I also recommend reading Heal Pelvic Pain by Amy Stein, MPT.

Lactation:

If you choose to breastfeed, know that most moms do have issues at some point! It’s a very good idea to have a lactation counselor available for questions- both for initiating breastfeeding and how to stop once it’s time.

See La Leche League to find a local support group, and here in NYC I recommend Boober, Leigh Ann O’Connor and The New York Doula services.

Newborn Care Specialists:

Commonly known as baby nurses, these are experts who provide in-home care focused on the baby, so you are able to get more rest.

The New York Doula and British American Household Staffing both are highly recommended.

Postpartum Doulas:

As compared to a Newborn Care Specialist, who focuses on taking care of the baby, a postpartum doula focuses on taking care of you. Many are also lactation consultants so can help you with breastfeeding, but also will help with preparing healthy meals and whatever else will make you feel nourished and taken care of.

I recommend The New York Doula, Baby Caravan Doulas, Kin Doulas, and Amber Star Merkens.

Books:

The First Forty Days– an excellent collection of recipes and tips for preparing for the period immediately after childbirth, this is also a guide on good self-care practices throughout pregnancy.

 

 

 

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Is Acupuncture Safe During The First Trimester? Here’s The Evidence…

Many women who are newly pregnant ask me whether acupuncture is safe during pregnancy- specifically during the first trimester. They really want to try or continue acupuncture for a variety of reasons, but are quite mindful of avoiding anything that could put the pregnancy at risk.  I can say it is safe without hesitation, not only from my nearly 10 years in practice but from all the years of experience of my teachers and mentors. However I completely understand that women, their doctors and midwives want more than just anecdotal evidence. So without further ado- here are the studies which I feel should put your mind at ease. Read more

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Special Event: Acupuncture To Benefit Planned Parenthood

On Saturday, March 25th from 11-3pm, you’ll get a relaxing acupuncture treatment at my midtown office in exchange for your donation to Planned Parenthood. The recommended donation is $50-$150 per session.

Event FAQ’s:

Sign me up! How do I get on the schedule?

Awesome! Click here to make an appointment. I’m expecting that all slots will fill up, so unfortunately won’t be able to accept walk-ins that day.

How do I make my donation?

I won’t be accepting donations directly- instead, you have a few options:

  1. Go to my Planned Parenthood Fundraiser page and donate online. I’ll be able to see that you donated, and you will then be all set for the day of your acupuncture session.
  2. On Saturday the 25th, I will have donation forms that you can fill out at the office. You can write in your credit card info OR bring a check, and I will mail all these forms together to Planned Parenthood.

Since you are making the donation directly to Planned Parenthood, you are able to get a receipt from them for tax purposes.

I can’t make it for an appointment that day, but still want to donate!

Thank you! Please go to my Planned Parenthood Fundraiser page where you can donate online.

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Listen Up: Your Cervical Mucus Is Trying To Tell You Something

Vaginal discharge, cervical mucus, leukorrhea- it all refers to the same thing. Hereafter I’ll refer to it as “CM” (cervical mucus). It seems that generally speaking, women I see in my practice either are quite unaware of what changes in their CM mean or are worried that any CM is a sign of infection.  I hope this article will help to de-mystify your discharge and, just maybe, make you feel a little amazed by it. Possibly even happy to see it? By knowing what to look for and what it all means, you can feel more empowered and make better decisions. Read more

Managing PCOS Naturally

What is PCOS?

PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It’s an endocrine (hormonal) disorder characterized by infrequent or absent periods, multiple cysts on the ovaries, obesity and high levels of androgens (such as testosterone and DHEA-S), which leads to excess facial and body hair, hair thinning or male pattern baldness and acne. Many PCOS patients have insulin resistance, which means that your body isn’t able to properly absorb and process sugars and other carbohydrates. Other complications include type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, depression and difficulty becoming pregnant. Read more