09 March 2017

Can acupuncture help morning sickness?

How can acupuncture help morning sickness?


Morning sickness is a very common ailment during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. Health professionals prefer to call the condition “nausea and vomiting in pregnancy”. This is because it can affect women at any time of the day or night. Whereas some women may feel sick all day long. Traditional remedies include making modifications to diet, resting and even wearing loose-fitting clothes. However, in this post we pose the following question. Can acupuncture help morning sickness? And, if so, how?

What is morning sickness?

Nausea and vomiting are commonly experienced by women in early pregnancy. The prevalence rates are 50-80% for nausea, and 50% for vomiting and retching. The symptoms are most common in the first trimester, between 6 and 12 weeks. However, it can continue to 20 weeks. In approximately 20% of women, morning sickness may last even longer. If vomiting is persistent, it can lead to weight loss, dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Ultimately, in severe cases, it may lead to hospitalisation.

What are the causes of morning sickness?

The symptoms of morning sickness are thought to be associated with rising levels of human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) or oestrogens. Women experiencing nausea and vomiting during pregnancy can suffer considerable physical and psychological effects. The symptoms can affect daily activities and relationships, and result in lost productivity.

The new set of guidelines published by the NHS says that ginger and acupuncture can play a useful role in treating nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.

Can acupuncture help morning sickness?

With regard to the use of acupuncture to treat morning sickness, the British Acupuncture Council offers the following guidance. “During the early stage of pregnancy, huge energetic changes are going on in the body. Acupuncture can help at that energetic level so that nausea subsides. Also vomiting, if there is any, and belching fades away. The sense of smell becomes manageable and energy and emotions return to balance. This enables the mum-to-be to enjoy her pregnancy. The treatment is entirely safe to the pregnancy and generally the sickness will clear up.

Appointments

If you are suffering from morning sickness, why not make an appointment with traditional Chinese acupuncturist Jas Kandola at The Putney Clinic of Physical Therapy. To book an appointment, call 020 8789 3881 or visit the Putney Clinic's online booking system.

Acupuncture during IVF treatment

Acupuncture during IVF treatment. Recent studies have shown that it can increase chances of a successful pregnancy.

Acupuncture during IVF treatment

Western medicine has started to recognise the many benefits of using acupuncture during IVF treatment. There have been a variety of studies that review the implications of acupuncture and fertility. Indeed, recent reports have shown a 65 percent increase in pregnancy success rates when IVF is combined with acupuncture treatments. Those same studies have also shown that rates of live births nearly doubled in cases where acupuncture was used. This is in comparison to IVF patients who received no acupuncture or sham acupuncture.

Why is acupuncture during IVF treatment so effective?

At present, the reason why acupuncture can increase IVF pregnancy success rates is not fully understood. However, ultrasounds have shown that acupuncture can improve uterine blood flow. As a result, this may create a more hospitable environment for embryo implantation.

There is one thing that doctors and scientists appear to agree on. There is a consensus that acupuncture can, at the very least, have a calming effect on patients. The IVF process can be a very stressful time. Therefore, finding ways to relax can be crucial to overall wellness. This is especially important when you understand how stress hormones can inhibit fertility. For this reason, acupuncture can be a great relaxation technique to rely on.

Finally, it is important to remember that acupuncture is not a guarantee that your IVF cycle will work. However, it can be a natural way to improve your chances of success.

Appointments

If you are going through IVF treatment, make an appointment with our resident fertility acupuncturist Jas Kandola at the Putney Clinic of Physical Therapy. She will be happy to explain the benefits of acupuncture during IVF treatment. To book an appointment, visit our online booking system or call 020 8789 3881.

Acupuncture and your menstrual cycle

Acupuncture, an effective method of treating problems in the menstrual cycle




Do you experience bloating, mood swings, headaches, fatigue, or painful cramping before or during your period? These complaints are common during the menstrual cycle, but they are not “normal”.

What is a healthy menstrual cycle?

A healthy menstrual cycle is one that comes regularly, approximately every 26-30 days. There should be no premenstrual discomfort (both physically or emotionally). Neither should there be any pain. Flow should be moderate, needing to change a pad or tampon every 3-4 hours. There should be no clots or spotting over a consistent period of 4 to 5 days. The colour should be a medium red colour, not too dark. Lastly, your period should also end concisely, with no lingering spotting beyond the fifth or sixth day.

How can acupuncture help restore a healthy menstrual cycle?

Girls are typically not well educated about their menstrual cycles. Very often, they will grow up thinking that it is normal to be irritable or in pain or discomfort during that time of the month. Menstrual disorders occur when the body’s hormones become imbalanced. Acupuncture can help restore the balance among the hormones by enhancing the body’s flow of energy. As a result, this will relieve menstrual symptoms. Ancient theorists believe that if the energy flow is correct, then any menstrual disorders are avoidable. Acupuncture has a long history in the management of irregular periods. It is a natural approach to encourage your body to re-establish regular periods, ovulation and to get your hormones back in balance.

Acupuncture at The Putney Clinic with Jas Kandola


Jas completed a degree in Acupuncture from The International College of Oriental Medicine. She has a special interest in fertility treatments and women’s health acupuncture. Jas also regularly treats patients who suffer from stress, headaches, neck and back pain and other repetitive strain injuries. She also has ample experience treating patients with conditions such as asthma, arthritis, digestive problems, postural problems, and carpal tunnel syndrome.


Appointments

If you are suffering from an irregular menstrual cycle and would like to give acupuncture a try, call The Putney Clinic of Physical Therapy on 020 8789 3881 to book an appointment with Jas. Alternatively, you can book appointments online using our online booking system.


26 January 2017

Top 10 reasons to attend a hypnobirthing course



Here are the top ten reasons to attend a hypnobirthing course.

Gain the tools to achieve a positive birth experience

One of the key elements for a positive birth experience is confidence. Regardless of the type of birth you end up having, you can have a positive experience by knowing what you can control. And, of course,  letting go of what you cannot.

Learn to trust your body, your instincts and your baby

From an early age, we have been socially programmed to believe birth is painful. By replacing this fear and negative outlook, you can enjoy the amazing experience of pregnancy and birth. Having the confidence that your body will work effectively and in the way that it is naturally designed to is vital. It is equally vital that  your baby knows what to do too. This confidence will keep you relaxed and calm. It will also enable you to follow your instincts. This, in turn, will guide you to what is best for you and your baby.

Birth without unnecessary interventions

There are always options available. However, without a full understanding of these, it is easy to go along with whatever is offered to you. It is empowering to know what your options are and and how you can make the best decisions for you and your baby.

Endorphins are stronger than morphine

Endorphins are, in fact, up to 200 times stronger than morphine! Reduce the need for drugs by learning how to release these endorphins during labour.

It’s a full antenatal programme

You will learn what to expect at each stage of the birth. As well as understand the ‘system’ and know your options. Having this knowledge will put you in a stronger position to make informed decisions, including where to birth your baby.

Learn techniques to aid relaxation, ease tension and soothe any concerns

You and your partner will learn how to let go of fear and tension, so that, regardless of how your pregnancy and labour progresses, you will be better placed to relax and enjoy the process of both pregnancy and birth.

Practice breathing and visualisation techniques for each stage of the birth process

Practising breathing and visualisation techniques for each stage of labour to make the birth a comfortable and enjoyable experience. It’s good fun and there are a range of visualisation techniques that you can chose to suit you!

Your birth partner will feel more involved

Hypnobirthing partners develop a deeper bond with their baby due to their involvement throughout the process! It also provides partners with the tools and guidance to help them feel more involved during your pregnancy. They will also have an active role in facilitating your baby’s birth. Creating time and space to discuss what you want inevitably brings you closer. And on the big day, your partner will be ready and capable to offer the support you need.

Make friends with likeminded people

Sharing such a unique and special time with those who have the same values can lead to lifelong friendships and support. This will see you through to baby’s teenage years and beyond!

Receive ongoing support

There are many physical and emotional challenges during pregnancy. As a result, I fully understand the need for continuous support during this often uncertain feeling time. The relationship I develop with you whilst on the course does not end as you leave.

Next hypnobirthing course at Yoga Mama

The next hypnobirthing course at Yoga Mama starts on Saturday 25 February (12-3pm). This 3-week course, led by Dr Stacy Gandolfi, costs £295 per couple. To book, call us on 020 8789 3881 or visit the Yoga Mama online booking system.

If you would like to learn more about hypnobirthing, why not attend our free introductory talk on Saturday 11 February (1-2pm). To book, call 020 8789 3881 or sign up here.

A birth without pain? The science behind hypnobirthing


Studies have shown that 95% of labour pain is the direct result of the birthing mother’s fear and tension. So what if there was no fear and tension? Does that mean there would be very little pain in childbirth? Well, many hypnobirthing mothers would agree with that. They would claim that any discomfort was manageable without the need of medication.

So how does fear cause a labouring woman to feel pain?


When we experience fear or anxiety, our ‘fight or flight’ response kicks in. We all know that feeling. Think back to how you felt before a test, an interview or meeting your prospective in-laws. While you may not have run away or hit anyone, you would have experienced that rush of adrenaline produced by your body to help you survive the situation if it becomes too scary.

A labouring woman who feels afraid or nervous is not in a position to fight anyone and certainly is not capable of fleeing the scene. Well, not with any speed. However, her body will still produce adrenaline.

Adrenaline causes our hearts to pump faster. It causes all our energy to travel to our essential organs (brain and heart), followed by our arms and legs to prepare us for survival. This means it is travelling away from other organs, such as the uterus. It is no surprise then that during labour adrenaline is very unhelpful. A birthing woman needs energy in her uterus, certainly not in her arms and legs! The uterine muscles are the muscles which push the baby out. And if they have little energy, they will struggle to work effectively and efficiently. When a muscle is striving to work hard but has little energy to help it, it can feel painful and exhausting.

So what if there was no fear and tension during labour?


So what if there was no fear and tension , and the birthing woman was relaxed and comfortable? When we feel calm, confident and relaxed, our body produces oxytocin. Oxytocin, commonly known as ‘the love hormone’, is produced in large quantities when we experience love. It peaks when we fall in love, make love and after birth! However, it is also known as the ‘shy hormone’. We are less likely to produce it when we feel observed. Think of your best orgasm. Were there strangers there, lights shining on you, people telling you what to do?

During labour, oxytocin aids the uterine muscles. If a woman feels safe, confident and calm, and is able to minimise feeling exposed, her body will produce higher levels of oxytocin. This makes the birthing process more efficient and less uncomfortable.

It is at this time that beta-endorphin, another hormone is secreted. Beta-endorphin acts as a natural painkiller, working to block the perception of pain. So, if the mind is calm and relaxed, the body produces oxytocin to make labour efficient and beta-endorphin to make it comfortable.

Hypnobirthing and labour


So being able to release fear and resistance is essential if I want to minimise my dependence on drugs during the birth? Indeed! A key element of hypnobirthing is learning how to release anxiety and tension.

Taking a course will teach you how to become deeply relaxed quickly and easily and in any situation you may find yourself. This is essential if you want to avoid the adrenaline rush and instead encourage the oxytocin to flow. This is possible even if you find yourself in the bright lights of a hospital and under the watchful eye of many a medical professional!

Free introductory talk on hypnobirthing


Join Dr Stacy Gandolfi for a free introductory talk on hypnobirthing on Saturday 11 February, at 1pm. The talk is open to the general public and is free of charge. To book, call us on 020 8789 3881 or visit the Yoga Mama online booking system.

12 January 2017

Yoga may be best to ease back pain



Session on the yoga mat may be best to ease a bad back

By Henry Bodkin

With its catalogue of headstands and one-legged contortions, it might be thought yoga was best left to those of us who are in peak physical condition. However, new research suggests the group of people who could most benefit from adopting the lotus position is those who are immobilised by pain.

Analysis of more than 1,000 adults with long-term lower-back pain found those who practised yoga were most likely to reduce pain and improve mobility. The findings, from researchers in the US, add weight to calls for GPs in Britain to prescribe yoga sessions to ease long-term discomfort.

Back pain causes more disability than any other condition and affects almost one in 10 Britons, becoming more common with age. Because the causes are hard to isolate it is difficult to treat and  patients commonly resort to long-term use of strong painkillers.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) guidelines instruct doctors to consider recommending various aerobic and biomechanical exercises, but there is currently no specific mention of yoga. However, the new analysis of 12 academic studies from the UK, the US and India suggests yoga, as distinct from traditional back exercises, could yield the best results.

The scientists behind the new research are now calling for fresh longer-term trials to understand the full benefits for patients with persistent back pain, as the existing data only relates to benefits after six to 12 months.

Lead author Susan Wieland, from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said: “Our findings suggest that yoga exercise may lead to reducing the symptoms of lower back pain by a small amount, but the results have come from studies with a short follow-up. At the moment we only have low- to moderate-quality evidence for the effects of yoga, before six months, as a type of exercise for helping people with chronic back pain.”

The patients involved in the studies analysed by Dr Wieland had all been enrolled on yoga courses that were designed for their conditions and provided by qualified teachers.

However, the British yoga community is currently riven with uncharacteristic disharmony amid a debate over whether or not to regulate yoga teachers following a series of injuries after students were reportedly encouraged to adopt dangerous positions.

Although yoga teachers who practise in gyms and leisure centres currently have to join the register of exercise professionals, anyone can set themselves up as a private instructor.

“The yoga exercises practised in the studies we reviewed were developed for lower back pain and people should also remember that in each of the studies the classes were led by experienced practitioners,” Dr Wieland said.

She also warned that one in 20 participants (50 patients) actually reported their back pain getting worse after starting a course of yoga.

Derived from a Sanskrit word, yoga aims to “coordinate the breath, mind and body to encourage balance, both internally and externally,” says the British Wheel of Yoga.

But despite its widely acknowledged benefits, it is not considered strenuous enough to count towards the Government-recommended minimum weekly exercise target of 150 minutes of activity, according to the NHS.

However, it is being recommended to elderly people to help prevent the risk of falls.

Published originally in the Daily Telegraph: Session on the yoga mat may be best to ease a bad back

19 July 2016

Yoga and fertility




1 in 7 couples in the UK are affected by fertility issues. There are many factors to consider in both men and women.  These include: endometriosis, tube blockages, Fibroids, lack of ovulation, poor quality sperm,... to name but a few.  However, 25 % of couples tested for fertility problems will be classified as being “unexplained”. This doesn't mean that you cannot get pregnant,  but  that there is no underlying medical reason for it not happening. This in itself can be very stressful and is why many fertility experts will recommend a mind body approach to fertility.
What is infertility?
According to the NHS guildlines “infertility is when a couple cannot get pregnant (conceive), despite having regular unprotected sex” with one in seven couples having difficulty conceiving this is 3.5 million people in the UK.
About 84% of couples will conceive naturally within one year if they have regular unprotected sex ( every two to three days) “ See NHS website for full statistics.
 It is best to get a check up with a GP to rule out any underlying medical conditions that might be preventing a pregnancy and then consider the path and options open to you.
Some things to consider are:
·         Age
  • Weight (BMI)
  • Lifestyle (drinking, smoking, nutrition)
  • Stress

If you are looking to make changes and choose the natural pregnancy route, some of these factors should be considered. Couples who are taking the medical intervention path will also be advised to look at these factors as well.
There are not many research papers on the effect yoga can have on fertility.  Nonetheless,  there has been a lot of research on the effects of yoga/meditation on stress. For some women, chronic stress can affect ovulation by altering signals to the brain. Overly anxious women may ovulate less regularly-The body can go into “fight or flight” mode and may use the energy necessary to conceive ineffectively-Stress has also been shown to lower sperm count in men. Yoga has been clinically shown to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. 

A 2003 study published in the journal Fertility and sterility found that yoga and meditation are helpful adjuncts to fertility treatments. “When women learn to attain physical relaxation she feels better about her body and begins to treat it with more respect-resulting in heathier lifestyle choices” (NB this was not a scientific study but a study by a yoga teacher but deemed worthy of adding to the study list).

Many fertility experts now recommend yoga to their patients who are having difficulty trying to conceive. One leading expert, Zita West, says: ”Any exercise that involves mindfulness, breathing techniques and meditative visualisation has many physical, emotional and mental benefits. Yoga is a calming antidote to any woman consumed by an overwhelming desire for a baby. The resulting stress of which becomes an impediment to conception itself”.
Gentle yoga classes taught  by compassionate teachers who may have chosen to specialise in this area are really beneificial.  Classes that have an emphasis on breath, relaxation, positive mantras and visualization are what can help women who are struggling to accept the situation they are in. Poses/asana that encourage blood flow to the hips, abdomen and heart area should be included in these classes. Teachers who have studied fertility yoga specifically will be able to offer slightly different sequences for different times of the month. They can also include women who are in the two week implantation phase of IVF (a very stressful time indeed for women). Whether you have specific training or not, I think it is worth considering is there enough Yin in a class to balance a yang practice/lifestyle that goes with fertility issues.

Mr Kamal Ojha MD MRCOG of Concept Fertility encourages his patients to our fertility classes – he feels the benefits of alleviating stress and encouraging poses that increase blood flow to the uterus can really help the success rate of Fertility treatment he offers.

Of course some women who have a strong yoga practice already may have to look at letting go of some poses that they love, or consider changing their practice to incorporate some of the aspects already mentioned.
 One of only a handful of certified ashtanga yoga teachers Phillipa Asher wrote an incredibility honest and moving account of her journey and experience with infertility in the wonderful book YOGA  SADHANA for mothers by Shamila Desai & Anna Wise -detailing how the length and intensity of her practice caused her to stop menstruating and reduced the hormones necessary for conception. She describes how she had to find another way “creating a welcoming environment for a pregnancy, rather than pushing her body to its physical limit.” - “giving herself permission to be a bit more relaxed with asana practice”
 Philippa also described being honest with her teacher about this-if you are struggling to get pregnant your yoga teacher may be able to advise and encourage you to practice in a different way-I have heard my own teacher Nancy Gilgoff advise students who are trying to conceive, to practice as though they are pregnant- essentially in a softer way.
I believe women should be encouraged to honour their cycles and their bodies, and it is often in the surrender and letting go that that the “ Shakti” can be found.

Yoga Mama host fertility yoga courses for both students and teachers


Futher recommended reading and websites ;
Fertility yoga a natural approach to conception By  Kerstin Leppert
Yoga and Fertility a journey to health and healing By Jill Mahrlig. Lynn Jensen.
Yoni Shakti By Uma Dinsmore Tuli
www. NHS.uk   www.conceptfertility.co.uk




04 July 2016

How yoga can help with a smoother birthing experience






How yoga can help with a smoother birthing experience.




             
Babies that are well positioned in a woman's pelvis at the end of her pregnancy can have a major influence on her birthing experience and the way her baby is born. A lot of women will work up to 36 weeks in pregnancy, often seated at a desk leaning back in the chair. This seated position can cause the heaviest part of the baby ( the back of the body) to fall towards the woman's spine in the Occipital posterior position (OP) or back to back as it is sometimes called.


Occipital Anterior position (OA)

Babies in the Occipital Anterior (optimal fetal position) have an easier passage through the pelvis. Women delivering in the Occipital Anterior position tend to have shorter and more comfortable labours, with rapid cervix dilation and efficient contractions. There is less likelihood of medical intervention or complications during the birthing process.



Occipital Posterior position (OP)

Babies that are in the Occipital Posterior (fetal back towards the mother's spine) have a much more difficult journey to make. Women delivering babies in an OP position tend to have 'back labour', longer deliveries and will sometimes need medical intervention to assist them.   



How can yoga help encourage a baby to rotate into optimal position?

Using yoga poses that are forward-leaning or that are on all fours, especially during the last six weeks of pregnancy (last two-three weeks with second and subsequent pregnancies) can help create space for a baby to move into an OA position. Yoga poses such as Cat position, hip rotations and pelvic floor rocking can all assist with this optimal fetal positioning and help assist babies on their journey into the world.