I am an acupuncturist, a mom of two wonderful kids, and the wife of a psychologist. I grew up in central Illinois, but have lived in Chicago for 12 years now and have made it my home. I absolutely love Chicago's people, the ever-changing neighborhoods and raising my family here.
2. What was your gateway to TCM?
I became incredibly interested in herbs used in proprietary blends while working at a vitamin distribution company, which compelled me to learn more about herbs and their many health benefits. While researching career opportunities with this in mind, I came across Traditional Chinese Medicine. TCM uses common Asian herbs in variable formulas tailored to an individual's needs. Herbs are one part of a holistic treatment approach which includes acupuncture and lifestyle alterations. I started receiving acupuncture treatments and taking herbal formulas to overcome my anxiety of needles and get a better understanding of TCM. A whole host of my physical issues improved immediately, most notably my premenstrual mood swings and indigestion. I was sold on the validity and breadth of TCM and officially became a student.
3. Tell us a little bit about your practice and your approach to your clients.
I have a very gentle approach. Treatments involve a lot of listening, to my client and to what their body is saying. I want to hear all about their physical and emotional concerns and how those affect my client's quality of life. I feel my client's pulses at the wrists and look at their tongue, both of which are classic diagnostic observations in TCM. Sometimes I will also feel their abdomen for temperature or other variations that give me information about their constitutional tendencies. After all of this listening, I'll insert a few acupuncture needles in appropriate locations. Often, I will not insert them completely, utilizing a delicate Japanese style of acupuncture. I'll monitor the client's pulses during the treatment to ensure improvements. The predominant goal of the appointment is for the client to relax and leave feeling more energized and possibly a little hungry. Hopefully there is also relief to the concerns they are targeting, but that is not always immediately observable. Sometimes, one will notice the concerns have lessened after a few hours or a day or 2. I may also suggest a specific Chinese herbal formula or recommend dietary or lifestyle changes that will help make improvements. I recommend a follow up appointment in a week or two as a way to make sure we're on the right track and to boost the positive effects the treatment provided.
4. When a pregnant woman finds her way to you, what are some issues that she's likely encountering?
Often women come in with a common “side effect” of pregnancy. These nagging discomforts may be nausea, headaches, sciatic pain, heartburn, etc. Acupuncture treatments help relieve these issues, but they also help calm the mind, relieve anxiety, bring more energy to daily activities, and promote a healthy womb for the growing baby.
5. What kind of help do you offer that is unique to pregnant and/or postpartum women?
Pregnancy and the postpartum period are such physically and emotionally intense times. A woman's body and hormones change so rapidly. Acupuncture treatments are calming and grounding. They offer a woman a brief window of time to stop, take notice of her body without judgment, and alleviate nagging concerns. This allows her to put aside worries and bask in the wonder of her changing body and miraculously growing baby. It is allotted time just for her; something the postpartum mother can truly appreciate. Treatments are as helpful emotionally as they are physically.
6. What kind of responses do you see when you work with a pregnant woman/postpartum woman/newborn (do you work with kids?)?
Pregnant women usually report a significant improvement in their complaints after a treatment or two. Acupuncture treatments can help her make it through daily activities with less discomfort and more energy, which is incredibly important during pregnancy. Postpartum treatments are incredibly effective as well. Mothers are often so depleted after giving birth that the energy boosting effects of a treatment feel very profound. Acupuncture brings a more even-keeled emotional state and quicker physical recovery to the postpartum months by balancing hormones and boosting the healing process. The postpartum period can be joyfully transformative when the mother feels supported through and through. TCM can help meet that goal.
I don't currently do physical treatments for children, but I have offered pediatric herbal formulas for issues like teething pain, colic, excessive spitting, etc. My own children have taken TCM formulas from about 2 weeks old.
My goal is to provide peaceful, effective prenatal and postpartum care for women looking for safe, natural solutions to their physical and emotional concerns. In the next five years, I plan to continue partnering with various types of providers to spread the word about the benefits of acupuncture during pregnancy and postpartum. My hope is that mothers think of TCM as an essential component to overall health, as well as a first-line solution to their concerns. In this way, I hope to contribute to many peaceful birthing experiences, enhancing a mother's confidence and well-being so she may bring all of herself to the joy of early motherhood.
8. What's something that you wish you could tell every woman on the brink of experiencing pregnancy and childbirth?
YOU CAN DO IT! You have incredible strength and focus. You were made for this! You are one of the many women who have been giving birth since the beginning of humankind! Listen to your instincts. Believe in your power. Trust and surrender to the process. Relax. You are AMAZING!
9. In my offerings of placenta encapsulation I offer the 'traditional method' of processing which is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine and includes steaming the placenta before it is dehydrated. As a TCM practitioner what is the value of this method?
In TCM, the thermal nature of substances is very important. Our bodies use energy to transform everything we consume. After a physically strenuous and fluid-depleting activity like labor and birth, a woman's body is not at its optimal energy level. Steaming the placenta is one way to break it down before the body has to transform it even further. This makes effective absorption of the placenta easier and relieves a woman's digestive system of extra work. In fact, it's recommended in TCM that everything eaten by a woman who has just given birth be warm in thermal nature to help her rebuild the fluids and energy she has just lost giving birth.
10. What's a favorite quote or song or book that inspires you?
Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin. This book has some amazing birth stories in it from Ina May's early years as a midwife. When I was preparing for my home-birth with my 2nd, these stories gave me insight on how to relax into the process of birth. They calmed me, inspired me, and empowered me to have the most positive birth I could imagine. I believe every pregnant woman should read a few of those stories, if for nothing else than to realize the normality of birth. There are excerpts from this book online at www.thefarmmidwives.org.
11. Anything else you want to say that isn't covered here?
I'm offering a discounted rate of $60 for first-time appointments until August 31st, 2016. Please like and follow me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AshlieMartinLAc! I post interesting articles about the uses of Traditional Chinese Medicine and advertise various outreach events on my page. I'd love to help you through pregnancy and early motherhood and have you as part of my community!