About Me

Yoga changed my Life and it's just too good a thing to keep to myself! I have been practicing yoga since 1995 and am a certified yoga instructor. I teach a combination of classical Hatha, Ashtanga and Vinyasa Flow. My teaching style is safe, compassionate and challenging at the same time. I teach at a number of studios, and also offer private and group lessons!

In addition to my schedule, I post other writings here, about yoga and Life in general. For private or group lessons, contact me at: workofheartyoga@gmail.com .

Friday, July 10, 2009

No baby yet, but acupuncture rocks...

Hello my yogis and yoginis, are you ready for a Looooong Blog?


So, no baby yet. I keep thinking she'll come early, but my midwives tell me not to get my hopes up! And yes, I said midwives.

"Whaaaaaatt??!!" you may ask. Or not.

Many people assume that because I am a yoga instructor I have a completely "alternative lifestyle" (whatever that means) or am against Western Medicine... Well, you learn something new every day, right? So, first I'll tell you how my husband and I decided to do a home birth, and then I will tell you why this needle-phobic gal now loves acupuncture...

Some of you know that my husband is actually a family medicine doctor, (he just finished residency, YAY!) I also grew up in a family with a doctor and nurse who also had good ethical centers and open minds. So, I've always been comfortable with western medicine, but have also been exposed to complementary and alternative medicine. I have approached both with healthy skepticism and curiosity. I ask questions, I read stuff. So sue me.

I've always seen western medicine doctors, and did so through the beginning of my pregnancy and planned to have a hospital birth like most people. However, for the first time, something seemed off. I kept feeling like I was being "treated" for an illness. The short 5-10 minute visits with my doctors felt rushed, I hardly ever felt comfortable asking questions if I even had time to remember that I had questions to begin with. Not to mention, the doctors and staff were a little more testy than I was used to. Our health care system sets it up to be like this; docs have to see a huge volume of patients, and OBGYNs get sued more often than other doctors, and have to spend a ton of money for liability insurance. On top of that, their patient-base, namely pregnant women, are more hormonal and emotional than say, the average patient. And they have a right to be, because after all, they ARE having a baby, not buying a pet fish. It's an emotional thing. That creates the potential for a really tense situation.

Granted, some OBGYNs are more mellow than others (as are some pregnant women.) And I know some really fabulous OBGYNs that are friends of mine as well, but weren't doctors I could see for my own pregnancy (insurance being the main issue). They are highly trained surgeons, really. They are trained for every possible worst-case scenario! And thank goodness they are because that's what makes them so good at dealing with higher risk pregnancies. We are lucky to live in a country with such skilled physicians and to have the options that we do with prenatal, delivery and postpartum care.

A quick disclaimer: I would NEVER judge ANY woman for the kind of care and/or delivery she chooses for herself. Some are more comfortable with a doctor in a hospital setting, some aren't. It is a highly personal and private decision, with many factors that contribute to the decision-making process. And I believe that all births are important, special and life-transforming experiences, and that women should just be open and supportive of each other regardless of how they experience all of this and to be supportive of the women who can't or choose not to go through pregnancy or child birth, period. In addition, I'm not trying to give OBGYNs a bad rap. There are some AMAZING docs out there, but they are hard to find when all you have to go on is a list on your insurance website. And unless you can pay more out of pocket, some of them are hard to get.

In any case, I tried a number of docs, and none were working out for me personally, especially with the constraints from my health insurance. Let me pause here and say our health care insurance industry sucks. It needs MAJOR reform. MAJOR. It sucks for patients and it sucks for doctors. However, had I found a better match for my personality and health philosophies, I probably would have stuck with one. But I didn't so here's what happened.

My husband and I did some research (it was actually his idea) and I interviewed a number of midwives and birth centers, etc. We found a group near us of Licensed Professional Midwives and Nurse Midwives that we really liked and trusted. The group of midwives is called Sacred Entrance and the full range of services they offer is called The Sanctuary.

I have LOVED my prenatal care there. So far, we plan on doing a home-birth, although that plan is a flexible one - if there are any complications, they have a back-up or collaborating doctor at Cedars Sinai and I would be transferred to the hospital. How would they know if there's a complication? Well, they aren't just a bunch of long-haired hippie women that come in with potions and pixie dust... the midwives, who are highly trained, have delivered hundreds of babies and follow a normal prenatal care schedule. They basically check all the stuff a doctor does, AND give nutrition an extra emphasis. To the birth, they bring a monitor for the baby's heart beat, they have oxygen, IV's if you need one, anti-hemorrhage medications, and they are all certified in neonatal resuscitation, suturing, etc. For low-risk pregnancies, it's really very safe - and they remind you that home birth really is for low-risk pregnancies. They are VERY clear that OBGYNs handle higher-risk pregnancies and are trained to do so, and they do not hesitate to refer you out if there's any indication you might have a complication. If you'd like more info, check out the website for our midwife group: http://www.sacredentrance.com/ go to: Birth Center - Enter site - Birth Center and then look at the resources under Additional Information (especially the FAQs document.)

In any case, we dig them. They are very skilled, professional, yet it all feels homey, and they take at LEAST a good hour for each appointment - they care about your diet and exercise which are HUGELY important for a healthy low-risk pregnancy. They refer any high-risk pregnancies to their collaborating Doctor at Cedars Sinai, as I mentioned before. Even if someone wants a hospital birth or needs to have one because they are higher risk or have complications, The Sanctuary/Sacred Entrance still offers a range of other services for prenatal care, massage, acupuncture, nutritional counseling, mommy groups, birthing classes, lactation specialists etc.

They are very supportive of women having options and making the right choices for them. In short... they are just the coolest. I am excited about my birth and fast approaching parental-hood, and the folks at The Sanctuary have helped me prepare to be open to whatever I need to happen during my labor.

So, this brings me to my next topic. Acupuncture.

I have always had a fairly intense fear of needles. As a kid who had strep-throat all the time, I had to have a lot of blood tests and was poked a lot with needles. It was traumatizing particularly because I have small veins which meant they generally had to stick me multiple times to get what they needed.

In any case, I've never really researched Eastern Medicine or Acupuncture and so I don't really understand how it works. However, at The Sanctuary, they have an acupuncturist and I found out I could get a few appointments as part of my birth package there and I thought, "hey, I'll try it and see what happens." I was having a lot of low-back and hip pain that even my long practice of yoga wasn't completely addressing. (Yes, even practiced Yoga instructors are not immune to some of the hardships of pregnancy. It's very humbling.) In any case, I was told that acupuncture might help me have less discomfort AND sleep better.

It sounded like magic. And it kind of is.

I met Emily Bartlett, LAc. I think that stands for Licensed Acupuncturist. She did a comprehensive interview with me about my aches and pains, my needle phobia, and then showed me the needles and how they worked so I wouldn't be so scared. Also, we had a funny conversation about organic vs. regular mattresses in which she alluded to the fact that our professions can be bombarded with some non-practical "hippie dippie" ideas that can alienate people with lower incomes. I thought she was hilarious for using that term "hippie dippie," and strongly appreciated her down-to-earthiness.

Anywho, she gave me this mini 20 minute massage first, that I swear, was like butter. It was so relaxing and amazing. Then she went ahead and put in some needles in all sorts of weird spots, like one in my forehead, and a few in my hands, near my knees, and a number at different points in my back. I could barely feel them, it didn't hurt, and then she told me to relax and breathe deeply for a while. She left me with a bell in case I started to freak out or needed to pee or anything. I completely fell asleep after about 10 minutes of deep breathing. She came back about 20-30 minutes later and took all the needles out (which again, I barely felt) and told me to drink lots of water and take it easy for the day.

I slept better than I had in months that night, I had no back or hip pain for a few days, and felt very mellow that night and the next day.

I have gone back every week for the last month or two, and have had a great experience every time. I still don't understand how it all works; something about each point connecting to certain physical, biological functions as well as mental and emotional ones and helping the energy flow between them better. All I know is that I feel much better after I leave her office.

Emily also offers Holistic pediatric care for kids and has a website: http://holistickid.com

She's a really balanced practitioner and a really down to earth person. If you were ever curious about or wanted to try acupuncture, I'd highly recommend her. You should definitely go to her website and see what she offers.

And don't worry, you'll all see pics once the baby comes.

I miss you all very much and I hope you are doing well, and are continuing your yoga practice! Take care and see you all soon!



aprilsdad said...

Hey! Yoga lady! Why no pics of you and your baby, doing, say, "Downward dog with puppy growling", or "Cobra on a coiled cobra" or "Stork pose, having been visited by the stork."

Tony M. said...

Great post, April. I really enjoyed it - despite the fact that I'm a single man with no intention of every breeding.

Hope you're well. We all miss you. Best wishes!

Unknown said...

Hi April,

I enjoyed reading your posts a lot and it's great to get updates on your life during your absence from the studio.! I'm only a college student but it was interesting to read about the prenatal care options you've chosen ;]

I hope you and the baby are doing well. Miss you lots!

Jenny T

Anonymous said...

Hi April,
I miss you over at Your Neighborhood Studio and I've been thinking about you, so decided to see if there was any news on your website. So glad to see there was!! When is your due date? It must be soon.