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At 8-weeks pregnant, I could just about crawl to the acupuncture office down the street from my New York City apartment. I had been in the throws of morning sickness for weeks and was desperate for any relief I could find.
So I (somehow) made my way over, opened the door, climbed up on the brown chair, and looked at the acupuncturist sitting in front of me in pure, and utter helplessness.
Luckily, she welcomed me with open arms. Asking me about my symptoms, sympathizing with my experience and making feel like maybe, just maybe, I would feel normal again.
After our consultation, she took me into the back room to receive treatment. As I walked through the arch way, I was immediately welcomed with a serene atmosphere. A fluffy comfortable white bed, soothing instrumental music and not even a tinge of a scent to set off my nausea.
It. Was. Heaven.
As I laid there, supported by the surface beneath me, the acupuncturist explained what she was doing and why, as she gently placed needles in my feet, stomach, arms and hands.
She then left me there, for an entire 30 minutes of pure, uninterrupted alone time. And seeing that this was my second pregnancy, and that I had a 3-year-old running rampant at home, this was like a mini vacation for my soul.
Laying there, I settled into a state that I could only describe as meditative. I felt completely relaxed, yet alert. And I felt like I could feel myself healing and rejuvenating from the inside out.
When my treatment was over I felt restored. This experience left me both in awe of this ancient healing practice and completely intrigued by how and why it works.
Which is why, after I got through my first trimester and thankfully out of my daily morning sickness, I reached out to world renowned acupuncturist and founder of The Yinova Center, Dr. Jill Blakeway to learn everything there is to know about acupuncture and fertility.
I hope you find her interview below as intriguing, nourishing and eye-opening as I did.
How does acupuncture impact fertility?
We use acupuncture to do very specific things like bring blood to the uterus to resource a good endometrial lining, or to help resource the ovaries so that they produce a good follicle and therefore a healthy egg. We use it to reduce inflammation too.
But we also use it more generally, like for the emotional aspects of trying to conceive and for treating other physical aspects that could be impacting your fertility, like digestion.
When should you start to do acupuncture treatments for fertility? Should you begin as soon as you decide you want to have a baby or should you begin acupuncture if you have been trying to conceive for a few months and haven’t gotten pregnant?
In a perfect world. I see people before they get pregnant whether they have had problems or not. I believe healthy bodies have healthy babies and healthy couples have healthy babies. So I like to use Chinese medicine to get people “in shape” to get pregnant.
One of the things I tell people is if you are not getting pregnant and if your doctor has told you that they have no idea why you’re not getting pregnant, then Chinese medicine may be a good next step.
If you are preparing to conceive, are there specific times during your cycle you should get acupuncture?
I prefer to see people once a week and I like to build rhythm with a patient. I take them through their cycle, get a ton of information from watching their cycle closely and then I use that information the next month to adapt the treatment.
I tell patients that if you aren’t able to come weekly, coming in just before ovulation and just before your menses is the way to do it.
Is there anywhere on the body that you should make sure you don’t get acupuncture if you’re preparing to conceive?
There are points that should not be used for pregnancy and fertility, for example, we don’t do points on the lower abdomen after ovulation, or at least after implantation.
I think if you find someone who is used to practicing acupuncture and fertility medicine, they will not be doing points that are unsafe for pregnancy on you.
If someone has decided they want to use acupuncture with preparing to conceive, are there any questions you think that they should be asking their acupuncturist?
Firstly you should find a licensed and board certified acupuncturist and herbalist. I think for fertility, it’s important to find someone who is also an herbalist. We use herbs a lot in fertility medicine, to affect hormones and that must be done safely.
I would also find someone whose style you resonate with and who has experience in fertility medicine.
Is there anything that I haven’t asked you that you’d like to share based on your experience?
I would like women to know that it’s not painful. I know it sounds scary, having needles put in you but most of my patients fall asleep during acupuncture treatment, because they get this little endorphin release and they feel really relaxed. Acupuncture can induce a very meditative asleep, even a creative kind of sleep that’s beneficial for problem solving.