There are times in your life when you’re drawn to particular people. You’re not really sure what it is, but something catches your intrigue and you’re curious to know more. From the moment I came across her Instagram feed, I knew Jessica Hewett from Nuwa Natural Health was one of those people. I wanted to learn as much as I could from this beautiful being, so I sent her an email. Within a few short days, I was standing on the doorstep of Jess’s beautiful Currumbin Beach clinic. With a cup of bone broth in hand, it was there, we spent hours talking all things natural health, fertility and eastern philosophy. Whilst we delved into a number of topics, it was clear Jess’s passion for fertility and women’s healthy was her driving force. Today on the blog I share part of that eye-opening conversation with you.
First things first – who is Jess Hewett?
Jess is a registered Acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine Practitioner who specialises in the realm of fertility, IVF and women’s health. Having completed her Bachelor of Health Science (Acupuncture) degree on a full scholarship, Jess embarked on an international adventure, working around the world in countries throughout Asia, South America and the Middle East. Jess later established her own clinic in England where she really began to delve into her passion of fertility and IVF. In 2015, Jess made her way back to Australia, and later opened Nuwa Natural Health where she is excited to be working in her own practice focusing on the pairing of eastern philosophies and fertility, IVF, pregnancy and women’s health. And if that’s not enough, Jess is currently completing her Masters in Reproductive Medicine whilst running her busy clinic.
In saying all that, I feel ridiculous talking about Jess’s achievements before telling you what a breath of fresh air she is in the realm of fertility. Not only has Jess created a calm and relaxed environment for patients to really unwind and reflect; she also keeps it real, there’s no fluff, there’s no woo-woo, just an in-depth understanding of fertility, pregnancy and post-natal care paired with a female touch in a male dominated industry. Having spent just a few hours with Jess, I can see why her therapies complement western medicine so beautifully, and why her expertise is sought after many IVF clinics in the area.
So where do we start? Jess and I spoke for hours (I probably took up way too much of her time), but here are the highlights.
Jess thank you so much for taking the time to sit down with me. I know fertility is a huge area of concern for my readers, do you feel as though fertility issues are on the rise?
Unfortunately, yes. We’re facing more troubles in the outside world than we ever had before. Not only is our food and water under threat, we’re succumbing to unprecedented levels of stress in all of its forms, mental, physical and emotional.
OK, let’s start there. In my line of work, stress is a major problem; do you find clients are aware of the stress they are under?
It depends on the client. I often find that we’re aware of work stress, but not so much aware of the stress we create around food, exercise, lack of sleep, caffeine excess, emotional stress, wi-fi stress, pollution and the like. Our concept of stress is quite narrow and we’re missing the bigger picture. Couple that with the stress of falling pregnant and many unsuccessful attempts and we’re in big trouble. Thankfully, we’ve been trained to not only help client’s deal with the stress that is associated with fertility challenges, but also help them identify patterns they may not identify themselves.
Do you find the stress of infertility is predominantly carried by the female?
Not in all cases, but in most cases, yes. Women put a lot of pressure on themselves to fall pregnant and when they aren’t they’re often the first one’s in here to receive treatment, believing that they are the weakest link. Infertility is 40% female, 40% male and 20% both male and female, so here at Nuwa, we like to encourage both parties to become part of the process.
Do you find the males are open to the experience?
To be honest – and of course I’m speaking in terms of stereotypes here – men like to problem solve. Including them in treatment not only gives them a job, it also makes them part of the solution and allows them to feel apart of the whole experience. It really is a great opportunity for them and lovely to see, especially because they miss out on so much of the magic and bonding during pregnancy. It may take them a little while to warm up, but they do enjoy the experience.
OK, so we’ve got both couples coming in for treatment and the stress of falling pregnant on the back of their mind, what about the connection between the two?
Absolutely, this is so important. How many pregnancies eventuate out of one night stands? Or couples who’ve spent years trying and then voila, they give up and one drunken night on holidays… they’re pregnant! Forgetting about the desire to fall pregnant and keeping it passionate and exciting only increases your chances.
You mentioned food (I was always going to go there), in your opinion, what are our biggest challenges?
I see a lot of patients who are time poor and as such, there looking for ‘fast food’ alternatives to get them by. As a result, they’re either opting for pre-packaged meals and/or preparing bulk meals at the beginning of the week. Prepared meals have no life-force come Wednesday or Thursday and it is that life force is so integral to our health and wellbeing – it’s why we eat food after all. Add to the mix programs like that of Isagenix (can I say that?) and we’ve got a recipe for major reproductive problems.
Is organic food important?
It’s not essential but highly recommended. Unfortunately, organic produce is not always accessible or affordable, but if the client has access to this, then it’s definitely my preference.
What about the use of the Oral Contraceptive Pill, Implanon and the coil? Are they also part of the problem?
Absolutely! Unfortunately I’m seeing women arriving in clinic ready to fall pregnant however have spent the last decade, sometimes even longer, taking any of the above and coincidently, unknowingly living with Endometriosis or PCOS. The use of hormonal contraceptives not only creates problems with hormone balance, it also masks the symptoms of these challenges, and as such, we never really do anything about it until we’re ready to fall pregnant. This can mean we may have to start from a long way back, pushing out the idea of pregnancy by a few months at a time.
So pre-conception care starts way before you’re even considering falling pregnant?
Most definitely. In most cases, the earlier that reproductive challenges i.e. painful cycles, irregular cycles, acne and the like are addressed, the easier it is when attempting to fall pregnant. Taking the oral contraceptive pill at 17 or even younger, is only masking the problem.
OK, say we’re off the pill, our cycles are regular, how much time should we set aside for pre-conception care before we fall pregnant?
Realistically, without any major reproductive challenges, women need 3-6 months, whilst men need approximately 3 months to ensure sperm quality. This all changes with age of course. As we get older, our eggs dwindle in quality and supply. It’s not uncommon for women to start freezing their eggs in their 20’s for this reason.
In their 20’s? Really? Wow, I had no idea!
Yes, it’s much more common than you think.
So where does Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine fit in to all this?
(Laughs) I recently re-posted a picture to Instagram that read: “Acupuncturist: Noun. Someone who solves a problem, you didn’t know you had, in a way you don’t understand. See also wizard or magician”. And that’s essentially what we do (laughs). No, in all seriousness, I see a number of common problems with women who can’t fall pregnant, some of which include kidney deficiency, chi stagnation, blood stagnation or blood deficiency. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are amazing at restoring balance. In addition, we also help client’s identify problem areas (i.e. stressors as mentioned above) and work through them together.
And then there’s IVF. Acupuncture complements IVF beautifully and there was a recent study published in London that proved this. I’ve also found in my own personal experience that acupuncture can assist in maintaining those pregnancy’s that don’t necessarily want to hold, obviously not in all cases, but as a practitioner, I’ve seen a number of cases. Whilst Acupuncture is a wonderful tool, Chinese Herbs can also play an important role however, it’s important that you seek the help of a practitioner who understands the interaction between IVF drugs and Chinese herbs to ensure you’re not creating more problems than it’s worth.
Does your work with client’s continue throughout pregnancy?
Of course.Treatment can address general aches and pains due to baby’s size and position, poor sleep, fatigue, stress, heartburn, and oedema and then of course post-pregnancy! I’m also a strong advocate for post-natal care, something we tend to neglect so often in the western world.
What does post-pregnancy care entail?
Where do I start? I’m a huge advocate for placenta encapsulation and delayed cord cutting. I know not everyone is on the same page here, but I’ve personally seen the benefits and in my opinion, it’s definitely worth considering. Fortunately so are many obstetricians and midwives, with a growing number of them now offering the above services.
Post birth, a woman’s yin is massively compromised and essentially the essence of her blood is also lost, so we work on restoring this balance via the use of Chinese herbs and acupuncture. I also recommend nourishing foods like that of bone broth, vegetable broth, nettle tea, raspberry leaf tea and more…
So you’re a one-stop shop for all things fertility and babies? 🙂 I won’t make you answer that, but I’m most definitely convinced.
Jess laughs and we both sip our cup of bone broth.
And our conversation went on. Like I mentioned before, Jess and I spoke for hours however, before this posts turns into a novel, I have to leave our chat on fertility there. If you would like to know more about Jess and the work she is doing at Nuwa Natural Health OR to book an appointment, you can find her via the links below: