It’s no secret that Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine safely and effectively enhance fertility, support all stages of pregnancy and provide vital nourishment once the baby has arrived. As an acupuncturist specializing in reproductive health, it’s an immense joy to support patients on their path to parenthood.
One of the most important parts of my job, especially when working with people at any stage of becoming a parent, is to make sure they are empowered by knowledge so they can make well-informed decisions along the way. There is no shortage of opinions on the “best” strategies to prepare for pregnancy, childbirth and raising a child – but so much of it is conflicting, confusing and downright condescending. Let me be clear: the “best” strategies are usually the ones that feel right to you and align with your values and priorities. As scary as it may seem, the most effective way to make decisions concerning you and your baby is to educate yourself with resources you trust and then allow your intuition to steer the ship. These resources can include experienced practitioners specializing in fertility, pregnancy, birth and postpartum care, wise and supportive friends + family, and well-researched books, blogs and articles by reputable sources. Consider these resources your companions and draw strength and nourishment from them whenever you need support. With that in mind, I thought it might be useful to share three books that have become cherished companions for many of my patients as they seek to grow their families. Please note that if the books I highlight don’t resonate with you, I’ve included a few others that may. Again, the most important part of gathering your companions is how they make you feel – are you inspired, uplifted and energized? Or do you feel judged, overwhelmed and discouraged. Follow your own inner compass and you can’t go wrong.
For those trying to conceive, Making Babies: A Proven 3 Month Program for Maximum Fertility, is what I recommend most frequently. Co-written by Reproductive Endocrinologist Dr. Sami S. David and Acupuncturist Jill Blakeway, this book is a fantastic fertility guide and support manual. Combining cutting edge Western medical research with the ancient wisdom of Chinese medicine, it offers a valuable integrative approach to conception. While the authors are certainly not opposed to Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART), they make a strong case for attempting to conceive as naturally as possible before introducing surgical, pharmacological and technological intervention. The information and advice they offer is practical, backed by research and most importantly, doable.
From the Book:
“We are proud of our reputations for helping people find their way through the complicated maze of fertility medicine with compassion and good humor, as well as careful detective work, and we’ve tried hard to retain all that on the written page… What we’re really all about, though, is taking each and every patient seriously and recognizing him or her as an individual with his or her own particular issues that can never be addressed by cookbook medicine or factory-like clinics.”
You might also like:
My favorite book to recommend during pregnancy is Nurture: A Modern Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, Early Motherhood – and Trusting Yourself and Your Bodyby Erica Chidi Cohen. This book is wonderful. It’s a beautifully compassionate and comprehensive guide to pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, early parenthood and more. Erica is an experienced doula and co-founder of LOOM, a community based educational resource for all things related to sex, reproduction and parenting in Los Angeles. Her voice is grounded, wise and free of judgement. The book combines practical information with trimester specific self-care tips, recipes and exercises.
From the book:
“Throughout your pregnancy, birthing, and parenting experience, you might be told that you don’t know what’s best for you or your baby. But here’s the thing: You do. The truth is that at a fundamental level you are already completely prepared for pregnancy and childbirth. Just as your body instinctively knows what to do, your mind does as well. The key is to remember that there is no single “right way” to experience it; rather, every way is the right way. Your experience will be yours alone, and I encourage you to embrace how it might be different from what is perceived to be the norm. The benefits of doing so – of tapping into your intuition, building your confidence in your decision-making, and releasing yourself from the burden of other people’s experiences and opinions – are immeasurable.”
You might also like:
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirthby Ina May Gaskin
And finally, the book I love to share for postpartum support is The First 40 Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing a New Motherby Heng Ou with Amely Greeven and Marisa Belger. This book is a gift. It weaves practical tips for new parents together with delicious recipes to support recovery, connection and nourishment. The key to making the most of its wisdom is to read it duringpregnancy – not once the baby arrives. It requires a bit of forethought and preparation to put its advice to good use and there simply isn’t the time or energy for this while in the haze of new parenthood. Another useful method would be to share it with close friends and family members that can plan and prepare the meals for you. *An important note: take care not to interpret this book as an all or nothing endeavor. Your life might not allow for 40 days of rest and replenishment and that is absolutely fine. Try integrating the principles as best you can while honoring whatever is right for you and your family.
From the Book:
“The first forty days is a period of time unlike any other. It is a short season of life that follows the delivery of your child – an almost six-week-long period that arrives after many weeks of pregnancy and who knows how many hours of labor – in which you recover from birth, your baby unfurls slowly into the world of bright lights and sounds, and together you devote yourselves to forging your relationship outside the womb… This book was designed to be your ally as you move through the first tender weeks with your baby. It was written under the pulsing beat of one guiding question: What does a new mother need to feel supported and nurtured? It’s time to start a new tradition – a movement – of postpartum care: one that honors the past and that will carry us, and our children, more kindly and happily into the future.”
You might also like: