Acupuncture, Ancient Medicine for a Modern World

Our discussion about holistic modalities would be incomplete without the inclusion of Chinese medicine and acupuncture. These techniques have existed for centuries and more and more women around the world have used them to help them conceive and have a healthy pregnancy. Acupuncture is even used in some New York Hospitals to facilitate a smooth labor. I sat down with Alexandra Garcia, one of the presenters at the Fertility Fair this Saturday, October 8th.

Jamie: Alexandra, tell me a little about yourself?                                                            Alexandra: I am a doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese medicine.  This allows me to use a number of modalities - herbal medicine, cupping, bodywork, and acupuncture - to support my client’s in achieving their health goals.  I’ve worked in dedicated acupuncture clinics and in typical hospital settings.  This experience has give me the perspective to appreciate our good fortune to live a place where we have the ability to mix and match from various medical systems based on our goals and preferences.  In my work as a doctor of acupuncture I encourage patients to learn about all their healthcare options so that they have the power to make decisions based on their personal values and expectations.

J: How did you come to work in reproductive health?                                                                 

 A: In my last semester of grad school as an acupuncture student, I had the opportunity to do a clinical shift at NYU Langone - Brooklyn’s Labor and Delivery Unit. It was such an incredible experience and I’ve actually been working there ever since. It set me on the path to focus my practice on perinatal care. But a real turning point came for me later when my wife and I started thinking about having children. She’s a full time birth doula so, between the two of us we’ve spent a lot of time learning about pregnancy, but hadn’t dealt too much with the “how to get pregnant” question.  As two healthcare professionals we, of course, preceded by doing a deep dive into answering that very question. We organized community groups, talked to midwives and OB’s, went to panel discussions, and read stacks of academic and not-so academic books on the topic. And it was a real eye opener.  In our own journey to become parents, there have been all sorts of emotional ups and downs; discoveries and disappointments.  But there’s been so much growth and empowerment through this journey. And this is what draws me to this work professionally. I want to share with my clients that sense of power behind understanding your body and your choices.

J): What surprises you the most about working with people in the midst of reproduction?

A): Fertility and the desire to have a baby is such a poignant topic. It can be so overwhelming that it feels easier to just turn yourself over to a medical “specialist.”  - And if you’re at the point where you need that support, it can be a real blessing to have access to it - But so many people jump to a place of substantial financial and medical intervention without realizing the spectrum of options available.   I guess we spend so much time in school learning how not to get pregnant, that when we decide we’re ready - if it doesn’t just happen right off the bat - many of us realize that there’s a whole lot about baby-making that’s still just a big mystery to us.

J): In your experience, what is the most important thing that everyone considering becoming a parent should know?                                                                                                                 

 A): Learn to listen to your body and trust your intuition. Both of these are skills that take time and practice but it’s worth it. It puts you - not your fears and anxieties- in charge of your decisions. It allows you to be the expert of you; not just in terms of knowing your body, but also judging the who, what, where, and when’s of your healthcare choices.

Wise advice. Thanks so much, Alexandra. To learn more from Alexandra and our other presenters, please join us this Saturday at the Fertility Fair.


It's Not All in the Genes. Lifestyle and Nutrition Play an Important Part in Conception

Lisa Wplpert AADP , Certified Holistic Health & Nutrition Coach

Lisa Wplpert AADP , Certified Holistic Health & Nutrition Coach

I am thrilled to introduce you to Lisa Wolpert, another participant in the Fertility Fair. The Fertility Fair is taking place this Sunday, October 8th 2:00-5:00pm. I hope you can join us.

Jamie: Lisa, tell us a little about your work.  
Lisa: As a holistic health and nutrition coach I guide clients in finding the best solutions for their health. This involves diet and lifestyle adjustments that are geared towards the individual. I focus on fertility and prenatal/postnatal care as I personally had challenges as I went through these life cycles and find this time interesting as the body goes through so many changes.
J: How did you choose holistic health and nutrition coaching?
L: I received my holistic health and nutrition coach certificate from the Academy of Healing Nutrition. It was a wonderful program that I selected because it had in class seminars with practical cooking lessons I could attend in NY. I love food and now feel confident in sourcing quality ingredients and cooking meals that are both tasty and have health benefits. The curriculum has really changed the way I eat and I am excited to share that knowledge with clients. Like most health/nutrition coaches, I fell into this work because I was trying to find solutions to my own health problems.  Through most of my adult life I had skin and digestive problems, then I had fertility issues. I was not happy with the results of Western medicine and found that these were related and stemmed from diet and a stressful lifestyle, which could be adjusted.  I decided to learn more and wanted to help others through their journey.
J: What did you learn that really surprised you?
L: What surprised me the most is the body has it’s own ability to heal itself and find balances within systems when given time and care. People know instinctively what is needed within their own body,  they just sometimes need to talk it through to realize it and form a plan.
J: In your experience, what is the most important thing that everyone considering becoming a parent should know?
L:Your genes are not the only part of you that is passed onto your offspring. Lifestyle and diet play a large role in how genes are expressed.  Simple modifications you make can improve your health and the health of future generations.

Good Advice, Lisa. Join us at the Fertility Fair on Sunday to hear more from Lisa and our other panelists.



Passion for the pelvis, a conversation with Michele McGurk, PT.

I hope you'll join us on Sunday, October 8th 2:00-5:00 at the Fertility Fair! We have assembled a dream team of brilliant practitioners to answer all of your questions. First up, I sat down with Michele McGurk, an amazing physical therapist who found her passion integrating holistic and highly sophisticated manual therapy techniques that help facilitate reproductive function. Visceral manipulation, myofascial release and craniosacral therapy address the whole body, promoting an optimal environment for conception, pregnancy and delivery. 

Jamie: Michele, how would you explain your work?

Michele: I’m a physical therapist who specializes in women’s health. My approach to evaluation and treatment comes from an osteopathic philosophy using manual therapy skills, I typically treat women who are trying to get pregnant. I also help women who have symptoms during pregnancy, as well as offer post-partum care.

J:Why did you become a women’s health clinical specialist?

M: I’ve always been interested in pelvic health, and these past 17 years, I’ve been fortunate to study with the pioneers in the field.  One thing has just lead to the other, and I now have my own practice in the Park Slope/Gowanus area of Brooklyn. There is a huge need for women’s health services, especially postpartum. That’s why I opted to study for the boards and become a women’s health clinical specialist.

 J: What do you find most surprising about working with people in the midst of reproduction?

M: This isn’t really a surprise, women are having babies older now, but the level of anxiety these individuals go through is pretty intense, not to mention the cost of ART (assitive reproductive technology) if it is needed. I think there needs to be more information about alternative treatments and their benefits, which is why I’m part of the Fertility Fair!  I want to educate the community and perhaps reduce the number of referrals needed for reproductive specialists.

J: What is one thing everyone considering becoming a parent should know?

M: I think it’s important for the mother to mentally and physically prepare herself for delivery. The experience can be a traumatic one for the female body, and for many women this is an unexpected event…our body has an amazing ability to heal but it heals even better with a little bit of help! Please see a pelvic floor therapist after your 6 week post partum follow up.

J: Yes! We need more postpartum follow up, especially for the pelvic floor. Thanks, Michele.

You can hear  more from Michele and our other panelists (including myself) at the Fertility Fair on October 8th. Tickets are available here


Michele McGurk, PT, WCS, PRPC

The story behind our Mama Liberty

When Kip and I decided to join forces under one umbrella, we decided to start with a whole new name and a sparkly new website. I've been supporting families as the Urban Doula for the past 8 years. It was a name I chose because of my love affair with living in the city.  And who personifies New York more than Lady Liberty? Living in Red Hook, I am fortunate enough to have a great view of her just around the corner.  When Kip came up with the idea for the illiustration, I said: "Yes! Perfect!" What better symbol of the freedom to birth than the great beacon liberty herself? At the root of it all, that is what being a doula and childbirth educator is all about. It's about helping families find their way to have their babies. Our Ms. Liberty lovingly cradles her baby all the while still standing as a shining example for all to see.  I want to spread the message that the intrepid inviduals who are choosing parenthood in this city are just as important as the bankers on Wall Street. (In fact, many of them are the bankers on Wall Street.) Parents of New York City - We salute you!

About the artist:  I can't think of a better artist to create our illustration than spunky, native New Yorker Gabrielle Napolitano.  I have known Gabrielle since our own children were babies. She was recently described as "800 watts in a 50 watt package". I couldn't agree more. She is a talented illustrator, web marketer and all around force of nature. I consider myself fortunate to call her my friend.