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Fertility Talk: IVF and Acupuncture

Going outside of the box and embracing acupuncture just might raise your chances of getting pregnant.

Fertility Talk: IVF and Acupuncture

Being a planner can be an amazing quality. You know what is going to happen when, and there is no getting around it. Except sometimes life just doesn’t pan out the way you intend. Especially when it comes to bringing a new little one into it. There are factors like the health of your reproductive system, stress levels and age that are barriers you thought would never be an issue.

We’ve heard countless stories from beautiful friends and peers whose roads to being a mom were long and hard, so the issue of fertility is one that we hope to tackle more as time goes on.

After hearing many success stories from friends who introduced acupuncture into their fertility regimen--particularly combining acupuncture with IVF treatments--we decided to sit down with Dr. John Zhang, founder and director of New Hope Fertility Center, and Christina Burns, founder of Geneseed Acupuncture, to discuss why the two can often have more success when combined.

Here’s what they had to say:

For people that are hesitant about trying acupuncture during pregnancy, what might convince them?

Most of the data available suggests that acupuncture is safe in pregnancy. We do however encourage the person to do their research and be comfortable with their acupuncturist. Acupuncture has been practiced for thousands of years on pregnant women and can be very helpful in maintaining the pregnancy as well as relieving many types of discomfort that arise during pregnancy (i.e. nausea, reflux, sciatica, fatigue, headaches, insomnia etc.). There are many doctors of Chinese medicine that specialize in gynecology and obstetrics and are therefore well-versed in how to treat a pregnant woman. With these practitioners, you can expect maximum benefit.

How much more successful is IVF when paired with acupuncture?

Acupuncture has been shown in numerous studies to double the success rates when used in conjunction with IVF.

How does acupuncture help in conjunction with IVF treatments?

Acupuncture helps reproductive health and fertility by circulating vital energy and blood to the organs. It can help improve the response to medication, or mitigate the side effects of certain medications, and it can reduce stress associated with IVF (which may have a negative impact on fertility). Acupuncture can also relax the walls of the uterus and increase receptor sites for the embryo, enhance the thickness of the uterine lining, etc.

By using acupuncture, fertility should increase as fresh blood circulates in the pelvic area and ovaries, and helps strengthen the body holistically. So acupuncture promotes natural fertility and helps IVF as well.

How can acupuncture help with fertility on its own?

Acupuncture for fertility often focuses on regulating the menstrual cycle and balancing the reproductive system to create a fertile environment and enhance fertility chances. It balances hormones, helps resolve issues relating to ovulation or anovulation, and enhances the uterine lining.

Acupuncture can also help reduce autoimmune issues related to infertility or recurrent miscarriage, lower stress levels (as cortisol may interfere with hormonal balance), and adjust the length of the menstrual cycle, for better development of follicles in the follicular phase and ensuring adequate progesterone levels in the luteal phase. Finally, it can lessen the inflammation associated with endometriosis and treat insulin resistance (which may affect ovulation and/or general fertility).

How soon into the IVF process should you begin acupuncture?

As soon as possible! Preparation beforehand is preferred. Ideally one would start 3-6 months prior, however, you can still get great benefits from starting during the cycle.

How often should treatments be done?

Treatment protocols vary depending on the individual. Your acupuncturist will create a treatment plan for you. But typically, patients see their acupuncturist 1-2 times per week, with special considerations given to the timing during an IVF cycle.

Are there any dangers in getting acupuncture done during pregnancy?

Like all procedures, there are always potential risks, but it is very unlikely that acupuncture would cause any harm during pregnancy. Acupuncture stimulates your body's ability to heal and balance and does not force it to do anything it would not do naturally.

The most important thing is ensuring that the acupuncturist is qualified, experienced and knowledgeable in treating pregnant patients. It’s preferable to have one who is specialized in women’s health and definitely someone who is licensed by the state where you live. Always ask for proof of licensure and references from patients when selecting a practitioner. Also ask them about their experience in treating pregnant women. If it seems limited, then it is advisable to find someone else.

Is there a certain kind of diet that would create a trifecta with acupuncture and IVF?

Diet is case-specific depending on the individual. But in general, it is best to avoid foods which tend to aggravate hormonal balance such as fried foods, sugar, gluten, alcohol, non-organic foods, farmed fish, low-fat dairy and caffeine. Further considerations are made according to the patients individual case, so it’s best to consult a qualified practitioner.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.

$79

Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.

$30

Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.

$32

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.

$37

The Snoo bassinet

Snoo

Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!

$1295

Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.

$59.99

Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!

$46.99

Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.

$259.00

Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.

$27.95

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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