Friday, May 28, 2010

join the she28campaign!

Please watch this video - all women should have access to clean sanitary pads. I hope this touches you as it has touched my heart.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Using the TENS machine for pain relief in Labour

Some of you might have noticed on our The Pagoda Tree facebook page, the question was asked "how do I use a TENS machine for labour?" Thats a good question! There are several variations in using a TENS. Some of you might also be scratching your head asking "what is a TENS?" TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. The point of the tens during labour is to use electrodes to stimulate the afferent nerves to bring about pain relief. Endorphins are released with the use of stimulation, much like I might use an acupuncture needle. This release of endorphins aids in labour as they are attracted to pain receptors in the body, increasing pain tolerance therefore resulting in pain relief.

There are two types of TENS machines. The conventional & the V-TENS. They differ slightly - the conventional tens uses higher frequencies. The V-TENS is biphasic. Most women will hire a conventional machine.

There must be caution taken in using TENS. It must not be used by anybody with a pacemaker and never placed over the carotid artery, over the ears, near the heart or over cuts. They must also not be used prior to 36 week gestation.

Frequency of the TENS machine ranges from 0 - 200Hz and can be applied anytime during labour, however it will work best in the earlier stages. Its important for the birthing women to be able to adjust the frequency of the TENS herself, so that she can increase it where needed.

TENS is just one way we can assist our bodies in the birthing process. Using water, especially in a bath can be a fantastic form of relief. The buoyancy and weightless of the water allows the mother to be more relaxed. In the first stages of labour it is especially important as it reduces the intensity of uterine contractions and aids the cervix in dilating. Many women will dilate very quickly once in the water! As an added bonus, water can also assist in lowering blood pressure.

If I were to use a TENS machine in labour I would also add specific ear points which are not appropriate for the unskilled person to do themselves - however anybody can apply the pads over the back, and the relief will be substantial. The following is a step by step guide.

1. Make sure to clean and dry the skin before applying the pads.
2. Remove the electrodes from their backing sheet and apply them with care, pressing firmly to make sure they have adequate and complete contact to the skin.
3. You will apply the top pair of electrodes each side of the spine between T10 & T12 (for those who don't have adequate understanding of the spine I have attached an image) & the lower two each side at S2 - S4.
4. Turn the TENS frequency right down prior to switching it on
5. Once the machine is on, the woman can adjust the frequency herself, turning it up as required.

Hopefully some will find the post useful. In the clinic I use alot of pre-labour acupuncture. The TENS machine isn't something we use regularly however for many they find it gives great relief and allows them to move through the stages of labour well.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lets get Physical!

I have been out of action lately. I haven't been able to make it to my regular training sessions at Urban Workout ( and Im feeling it! Its hard juggling work, being a mother and play, but Im really missing the benefits of movement and exercise, and I realise for me, how important it is to make time for it. I was chatting with a patient about this during the week - we shared ideas as to how importance and priority in your life switches, as you feel the need. I NEED to move, I need to get outside and be amongst the trees, birds and make my way to the local coffee shop! So today, I got the pram out and grabbed my lovely friend and we went for a walk. How much better for it I feel, I can't tell you!

There is now evidence to suggest that exercise has an antidepressant effect on the body. This can be especially beneficial for the postpartum mother. Grabbing the pram and getting out and about is an awesome way to get yourself moving as well as being outside enjoying the fresh air and sunshine (another thing that has an antidepressant effect on the body). Benefits of exercise isn't limited to the mother of course, we all share the need to exercise.

Our bodies require some level of movement daily to assist in maintaining overall health. Regular exercise helps to prevent diseases including high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Best of all, adding some exercise to your routine will improve your mood, because when we exercise we release 'feel good hormones' including endorphins, serotonin, adrenaline and dopamine. By exercising we also decrease the amount of 'stress hormones' present in the body (cortisol). Building up cortisol in the body can lead to a host of issues, including infertility, depression, anxiety and other stress related illnesses. It is important to use exercise to move through these hormones and to balance the body adequately.

Time is a factor for most, especially busy mothers and fathers and making the time can be really difficult. As little as 10 minutes each day is enough to 'recheck' your hormones and give your body the daily dose of hormones it requires. Making this part of your daily routine means that you don't need to find the time - its just part of your day! As an added bonus, you will most likely sleep better too! Getting stress under control means that your quality of sleep will also improve and you will have a well rested nights sleep meaning that the day ahead will appear brighter also.

So, for me, I am making myself promise to not go so long without some form of physical activity. I feel so much better just from taking a walk, meeting up with a friend and the icing on the cake, watching the kids roam about the play ground. You see, Olivia got her dose of exercise too, and now she is sound asleep letting mummy blog this to you!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A day at home

Im fortunate enough to be able to have the best of both worlds. I am able to have time at home with my beautiful family as well as work in the clinic, work around my own hours to a degree and create enough time for it all. Sometimes I wish I could do more of both. Spend more time at home and spend more time in the clinic! I guess it depends on how many toddler tantrums I have encountered that day or how many successful pregnancies we have had for that week that might sway which I want more of at that time.
Tuesdays are home days for us. I especially love Tuesdays because I get to enjoy and watch Olivia in action at gymbaroo. I love watching her play and learn. What I also love, is how tuckered out she is by the end of it! We get a good midday sleep on Tuesdays which allows me to get extra work done.
Unfortunately today, Olivia's day sleep was cut short and as a result I was oh so lucky to have Olivia in full swing at the shops with a tantrum (lack of sleep will do this!). It was quite the scene, and she managed to bring in a good crowd of onlookers. All I could do was laugh. Well laugh and bribe her by telling her we would go home to make Banana Bread!
We love baking together, and as Olivia is getting older I am enjoying being able to show her that good food comes from wholesome ingredients. I know she is young and certainly doesn't understand the importance of good nutrition, but I hope that we are creating beautiful memories of making food which we can share together. I know good nutrition is engrained into me, I have my mother to thank for that and by doing this I am trying to show Olivia the same. There is nothing better than warm baked goods fresh out of the oven. I love sharing this with her! And I hope that by passing on our recipe you can do the same with your children.
Our familes health relies on what we put on the dinner table and into the lunch boxes. Good quality food is second to none and there should be no substitute for it. A healthy digestive system is the foundation to wellness. It is the pivot point of our health and feeds our body with all it needs. If we are taking in poor quality food, our body can't be expected to work properly. Be sure to be mindful of this each time you eat, and make the time to create healthy food for you and your family.

Nat & Livvi's Banana Bread

1 cup of spelt flour
1/2 cup of organic self raising flour
1 tsp of nutmeg
1/2 cup honey
3 ripe organic bananas
2 free range organic eggs
1 tsp good quality vanilla essence or vanilla bean
125gm melted butter

Grease and Line a loaf tin
Mix dry ingredients together
Melt butter and mix in with dry ingredients.
Add beaten egg
Add mashed Banana's, honey and vanilla essence and mix well.

Pour into loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes or until skewer comes out clean!

Enjoy warm from over with a smear of organic butter! Delish!


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Depression, postnatal or otherwise....

So many have requested me to talk about depression in this entry. When I started thinking about it, I thought it would be useful to talk about not just depression but post natal depression, since from a TCM point, they are not dissimilar, with the exception of when the depression occurs.

Post natal depression can usually be linked back to a mothers birthing experience, where pathologically she lost too much blood or was deficient prior to the birth. Depression not linked to pregnancy is not too dissimilar in that it is a result of organic imbalances in the body, most commonly the heart. Now from a western sense this does not generally mean there is anything physically wrong with the heart as such, but more the influence and lack of vital substances, blood and qi may be having on the heart.

The heart is very reliant on receiving adequate blood (both TCM and Western physiology wouldn't disagree). From a TCM perspective, the heart houses the mind and governs blood. If the heart becomes deficient, and there isn't adequate blood supplied to it, the person will begin to feel depressed, anxious most commonly also experiencing insomnia and fatigue. A range of other symptoms will also become evident, including lack of motivation, loss in libido and general feeling of guilt. When at this point, a person continues to push on through the condition can worsen, and since each organ is reliant on the next, a host of other symptoms will arrive as a result of other organ contribution (or lack of). This is where TCM excels because at this point, different pathologies will present, and if each individual isn't treated in a specific manner, the patients recovery may be slow or absent. Most commonly, no two cases of depression are the same simply because no two people are the same. Treatment needs to be individualised otherwise it will not be effective.

Outside of treatment, a patient who is experiencing any type of depression will benefit greatly by making healthy changes to their lifestyle. Exercise is extremely important as it assists in moving through 'build up' of hormones which may contribute to emotional problems. Adding an Omega 3 to the diet is also equally important. Multiple studies have shown that a diet lacking in Omega 3 will have greater incidence of depression. Not any Omega 3 will do however, be sure it is good in quality; not derived from farmed fish. A good Omega 3 will cost more than others - don't waste your time with bad quality supplements. Finally, Eating a diet rich in colourful and green leafy veggies is in my opinion necessary for all individuals to receive adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals. This is necessary to keep our bodies in working order. If the body isn't getting all this, it cannot be expected to work properly.

We are lucky enough in the clinic to be able to support women not only through their pregnancies but also provide ongoing care. This allows us to be able to prevent postnatal depression, especially when there is a history of emotional problems as well as treat depression in general. With the use of careful diagnosis, acupuncture, herbal medicine and most recently wholistic mentoring we are able to guide women through these periods, ensuring they can go on to enjoy their families and most importantly be happy in their own bodies.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Second time around... more stress, more pressure?

"So when is the next one coming along?"
I actually think I have been asked this question four times today. And as for yesterday, at least twice. If I tally it up for the week we are probably sitting at at least 20. Thats a lot of asking! Now, I assume I may get asked this question more than most because of the line of work I am in, and honestly, I don't mind. However, what I can appreciate is how stressful this question may be to those who are trying without success second time around.

The first time we enter pregnancy, we really don't have much insight or experience with what lies ahead, simply because we have never been in that situation before. Some of us are fortunate enough first time round to not necessarily 'try' to conceive and others the journey has been longer, but the fact remains that the second time around, we do have some idea as to what will lie ahead.

What also differs second time around is that you have a child already. You spend endless hours looking after them and the meeting their demands which is a strain on the body. We may still be waking to them overnight (surely Im not the only one) and in many cases our bodies don't quite feel the same as they once did.

Add to this associated fears going into the next pregnancy and you have yourself quite a large bundle of extra added stress! Now many specialists will argue that stress will not cause infertility. I would go as far as saying that it might be, in my experience, the number one cause (aside from structural problems). Stress affects our bodies, right down to the cellular level - a proven fact, which demonstrates to me that stress, be it emotional or physical and even that which we aren't conscious of has a great impact on our reproductive health. Don't get me wrong, I do not think that there is just one factor that has a negative impact on our fertility, overall health is just as important.

We are having amazing breakthroughs in the clinic with assisting patients deal with emotional and physical factors. Using TCM to support the body as well as wholistic techniques to facilitate the 'offloading' of stress is proving to deliver amazing results.

Its not always possible to remove all pressure, but teaching your body to cope and process thoughts and feelings will enable you to approach the next pregnancy with an open heart and an open mind. The lack of sleep and the endless questions from others will still be there, but the effect they have on you may be less as you learn to 'de clutter' that what makes you stressed!

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