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Recommended Reading: Ina May’s Guide To Childbirth

I was completely blown away by this book and have been enthusiastically recommending it to every last one of my pregnant patients since reading it early this summer. As far as I’m concerned, it should be required reading for all pregnant women, whether you’re planning on a home birth with a midwife or a hospital birth with an OB.

A little background: The author, Ina May Gaskin, is a Certified Professional Midwife who co-founded a community in rural Tennessee in 1970 called The Farm. Sounds pretty hippy-dippy, right? Yeah, it is! But keep reading. These hippies know things that you need to know. Ina May as well and her team of midwives have handled over 3,000 births at The Farm, with astonishingly low rates of c-sections and other intervention (vacuum, forceps, Pitocin, etc). For more information and their complete statistics, here is the link to their website.

I loved this book because the tone is non-judgmental and the facts are laid out clearly to help you do everything within your control to get the best outcome in a situation where ultimately, you must surrender control. This includes surrounding yourself with the birth team that makes you feel the most supported.  Ina May gives you the lowdown on possible birth interventions that may be necessary so that you are already familiar should your doctor recommend them. Having the knowledge before you’re in the situation can greatly alleviate anxiety when faced with needing to make a quick decision.

This book begins with about 125 pages of the birth stories of women who gave birth at The Farm, written by the women themselves. These stories let you see how varied a normal, healthy birth can be. They eliminate the worry that “if my birth doesn’t go this way, something must be wrong”.

Ina May then delves into topics including:

  • Prenatal care and what all those tests really tell your doctor (and which ones you might be able to skip if you desire)
  • Choosing a caregiver- whether it’s an OB or midwife, plus tips on deciding who else will be present at your birth (doula, partner, other family members)
  • Facts on VBAC’s (vaginal birth after cesarean)
  • My favorite chapter: “The Sphincter Law”- it explains how anxiety and fear can actually reverse the labor progress that has been made already, and how to guard yourself against this happening! This is really amazing, useful stuff.
  • Techniques you can easily use to make your labor progress more smoothly and efficiently
  • What actually happens in labor, and what to do once you are in labor (call the doctor? Wait it out?)
  • What Pitocin and epidurals do

To summarize, this book has the ability to make women feel more empowered about giving birth. You’ll also feel less afraid of the unknown and what could go wrong (Ina May has a great way of explaining what could happen without creating unnecessary fear). In my work with pregnant women, I’ve found that everyone has some degree of fear around the process and wants to do everything they can to ensure things go smoothly (for herself and baby).

After reading this book, I truly got the feeling that birth is a normal process that a woman’s body is designed for, and felt inspired to confidently relay this information to my patients!

Can Acupuncture Really Induce Labor?

Over the years I’ve gotten many calls from frantic women (and sometimes their husbands) who are 40 or 41 weeks pregnant, some who are even scheduled for medical induction in a matter of hours. They all want to know- can Acupuncture help you go into labor in order to avoid induction? The answer is yes… and no. Read on, I’ll explain.

The ideal situation is when a woman comes for regular acupuncture (1-2 times a week) beginning at week 36. I call this “Labor Preparation Acupuncture”. I have a few goals with these sessions:

  1. To help with any pregnancy related discomforts such as low back or hip pain, insomnia or swelling.
  2. To use acupuncture points which get the woman mentally and emotionally relaxed and in a place where she feels ready and optimistic about giving birth.
  3. To stimulate acupoints which aid in relaxing and opening the pelvic region as well as influence cervical ripening (dilation and effacement). I also focus on getting the baby into the optimal position, if not already there.

In my experience, women who follow this schedule tend to go into labor more or less on time (and avoid needing a medical induction) and have shorter labors with fewer complications. Acupuncture treatments gently and gradually send your body a message to get ready for labor. Your body is doing this all on its own, but acupuncture helps it happen more seamlessly and helps you to feel more relaxed and ready when the time comes. And YES being mentally relaxed has a HUGE and very real effect on the progress of labor (see this book for more information).

But what about those women who were mere hours away from being induced- can acupuncture help them? I’ve certainly had many cases where I’ve been able to use acupuncture at the last minute to help women go into labor- it’s powerful stuff! However I’ve seen much greater success, by far, with 3-4 weeks of regular sessions leading up to the due date. Rome wasn’t built in a day my friends, and acupuncture is not the same thing as Pitocin (thankfully!).

I’d also like to take this opportunity to encourage all women to utilize a birth doula as well as a postpartum doula. Read more about doulas and what they do here and here. And, the best way to avoid unnecessary interventions in labor (such as c-sections and episiotomies) or to achieve a VBAC? Choose your hospital based on its maternity procedure statistics. In New York State, they are found on the Department of Health’s website here.

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Breath, Mantra & Music: 3 Holistic Ways to Help Improve Your Sleep

The following is a special guest blog post by Maya Benattar, a music therapist and psychotherapist here in New York City. Her website is www.mayabenattar.com. Thanks, Maya!

 

There are a lot of reasons why people may have trouble sleeping- anxiety, stress, too much caffeine, hormonal shifts. We live in a fast-paced society where lack of sleep is often seen as a badge of honor.

If you’ve ever had a sleepless night (or many!), you probably know all too well the feelings that arise when you can’t get back to sleep and you really want to! Sometimes we can do everything “right”- no caffeine after 2pm, less screen time in the evenings, warm milk, lavender- and sleep can still be elusive. Read more

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Lend Me Your Ears: Auricular Acupuncture

Auricular Acupuncture (acupuncture performed on the ear) has an incredibly fascinating history, much of it coming not from China but from right here in New York! But first- you’re probably asking “Wait so ear acupuncture is a thing?” Yes. If you’re a patient of mine you’ve likely had a lot of it. So first, I’ll tell you a little about why I use ear acupuncture, and why you might want it. Read more

Now In-Network With Blue Cross Blue Shield!

I am pleased to announce that NY Chi Acupuncture is now a participating, in-network provider with Blue Cross Blue Shield. More and more insurance policies are covering acupuncture as its recognition as a safe and effective treatment modality expands. The office is conveniently located in midtown east between Bryant Park and Grand Central Station.

If you would like us to check on whether your BCBS policy covers acupuncture, please contact us by phone at 917-546-4637 or fill out the contact form at the right side of the Appointments page here with your name, insurance ID number, date of birth and the provider services phone number listed on your insurance card. Most of the time we are able to verify benefits within 24-48 hours.

Some types of Blue Cross Blue Shield plans we accept are: HMO, PPO, EPO and Direct POS.

For all other types of insurance such as Aetna, United Healthcare and Cigna we are out of network but do electronically submit claims on your behalf.

Each insurance plan is different- some cover acupuncture at 100% with no restrictions, some limit the conditions for which acupuncture is covered or only allow a set number of visits per year, and others do not cover acupuncture at all. If your plan currently doesn’t cover acupuncture, let your HR department know!