The Art of Conception: Everything you need to know now about the fertility treatments that work.
The Holistic Approach
A reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist, such as Dr. Schriock, isn’t the only expert who can help you get pregnant. More people are turning to traditional Chinese practices, such as acupuncture and acupressure, for assistance. Acupuncture is one of the oldest and most established healing practices in the world, and many experts believe that, when used in conjunction with Western medicine, it increases a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant by 15 to 20 percent.
On the forefront of this approach is Dr. Angela C. Wu, founder and president of Wu’s Healing Center (wushealingcenter.com) in the Richmond District, whose book, Fertility Wisdom, will be published by Rodale this month. Dr. Wu treats a patient from several months before conception to several months after childbirth. “Think of the body as a garden,” she says. “You must first get rid of the weeds before you plant the seed. You must plant when conditions are optimal for the seed to flourish. I help prepare the garden for planting, and I tend to the seed after it grows.”
During the preconception stage (which lasts about three to six months), she practices acupressure and acupuncture on both the prospective mother and father, and asks them to adhere to a strict diet of specific foods and herbal remedies, and even alter aspects of their lifestyle. Not everyone is prepared for the commitment this involves. “I had to give up my favorite foods, take herbs I’d never heard of, have needles stuck in me on a weekly basis,” says a 43-year-old Berkeley woman who wishes to remain anonymous, “but I followed her regimen and became pregnant in five months, after several doctors had told me there was no hope. Now I can’t say enough good things about her practice.”
Once a woman becomes pregnant, Dr. Wu continues the acupuncture and acupressure treat-ments, mostly during the first trimester. She insists that a particular method of acupressure reduces swollen and bloated limbs in the mother and results in fewer instances of jaundice in the baby after birth.
After the baby has been delivered, Dr. Wu prescribes a combination of herbs to help speed recovery time and cleanse the blood. She also recommends coming in upon leaving the hospital, as postpartum treatments will strengthen the reproductive organs, which may have weakened over the course of the pregnancy and delivery. She performs an acupressure treatment called an “uplift,” which is essentially a lifting of the uterus. “Your body is like a building,” she explains. “The uterus is the base. After you give birth, the base of the building is weak. We must strengthen and lift the foundation back into place.” In doing so, she claims, a mother will eliminate the possibility of postpartum depression and ready herself for future pregnancies.
Dr. Wu believes that when a woman has a difficult time conceiving, her best solution is to combine both Western and Eastern practices. “Often I help women conceive naturally, but when this is not possible, traditional Chinese medicine improves the effectiveness of Western ARTs, and minimizes the difficulties of pregnancy and childbirth.” Dr. Schriock agrees: “Half of our patients, maybe even more, use some form of Eastern treatment. In fact, belief in this technique is so strong, some of our patients head straight to a Chinese doctor for acupuncture immediately after undergoing IVF.”