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Ep 95 Preconception to Postpartum with Eastern Medicine with Jessica Gustafson

Interview with Jessica Gustafson of Reverie Acupuncture to discuss how Eastern Medicine can support the journey from preconception to postpartum.

Jessica Gustafson is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, doula, and birth care giver in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Since 2012 she has been a partner to women through massage, nutrition, traditional and modern medicines, helping them connect with their bodies, minds, and spirits. She interned at Masonic Children’s Hospital, the University of Minnesota Medical Center, and Regions Hospital. After graduating with her masters from NWHSU and receiving her board certification with the NCCAOM, she expanded her practice to support families from preconception through postpartum with acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
When she’s not in the clinic working with patients, you can find her curled up with stacks of books on her couch with a cup of coffee. And if the couch is empty, check the woods; she’s probably out in the wilderness with her husband and daughter.

She is offering 25% off of my new patient intake: WCTC-INTAKE
Jessica Gustafson, L.Ac.
Reverie Acupuncture LLC
968 Grand Ave
St Paul, MN 55105
Instagram: @reverie_acupuncture

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Cynthia Shockley: Welcome to the Well Connected Twin Cities podcast. It’s your host, Cynthia Shockley, and today I am sitting with Jessica Gustav Sin. She is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, doula birth caregiver, and we are so excited to have her as we focus in on family care this quarter. So welcome, Jessica.

Happy to have you here. Thank you for 

Jessica Gustafson: having me. Yeah. So 

Cynthia Shockley: I know you wear a lot of hats, right? You’ve [00:01:00] got a lot of different modalities that you’ve learned and picked up along the way. For anyone who doesn’t know you, do you mind introducing yourself as you would to a potential client? 

Jessica Gustafson: Yeah. I usually describe myself as a birth worker cuz that’s a hat that covers all of it.

I went to school for massage and then I went to school for acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine. And I use those in my birth work. So when I’m talking to someone new, it’s Hey, I’m a birth worker. But by that I mean that I work all the way from preconception through postpartum.

Cause that entire. Journey. , if I was, if I’m gonna use that word, is like super important because every single one of those steps, the preconception the fertility, the pregnancy, the postpartum, all of that is critical for the family that people are trying to build. And 

Cynthia Shockley: this is, A relatively new concept to me, so I was excited.

When you mentioned it on your website, the preconception part for the [00:02:00] beginner when it comes to conception, can you tell us a little more about what that means and why it’s important? 

Jessica Gustafson: Of course. So preconception is this really ancient idea that they’ve done a lot of research on and there’s a lot of science to back it up.

In ancient Indian medicine, in traditional Indian medicine, I don’t know much about Ayurveda, but it you dip your toes in when you’re studying traditional Chinese medicine before someone tries to conceive, they’re supposed to spend about three months as calm as they can, eating the best food that they can, being as happy as they can.

And in some cultures it was actually tied into preparing for a wedding. This three months. Just like absolute bliss before you tried to conceive. And what they have found in doing research is that not only does the egg that you ovulate, not only is that chosen three months before it’s actually released, [00:03:00] but there’s some evidence that the quality of sperm is actually decided about three months before it’s actually produced.

Cynthia Shockley: That is incredible. That people just had this intuitive sense of the timing and now we’ve got the research and the science to back that up and say, oh, that intuition. Yeah, that was spot on . Oh. And I feel like this happens more and more as more researchers are diving into Eastern medicine and, ancient forms of medicine that you so beautifully put in your website that, these exist for a reason.

They’ve existed for 5,000 plus years. And they’re here today because there’s something here, something works. 

Jessica Gustafson: uh, There’s something that I started saying a while back that if it crosses centuries, cultures and countries.

There’s something to it. [00:04:00] There’s something that we need to look in or look at more deeply. And I do, I am really happy to see that there’s so much more modern research going into these things because people weren’t just making it up. We were scientists back then. We just have more tools now.

Cynthia Shockley: Yeah. Amazing. So, You work with preconception, finding that peace, that calm what else is involved with that preconception period? 

Jessica Gustafson: So usually I’m seeing people for about three months. And I’m primarily seeing moms to be, or people who already have had kids but are looking to have another.

And what we’re looking to do. Regulate your cycle basically. One of the people that I read a lot of is Dr. Leah Andrews, and she talks about how there are three golden opportunities to rebuild your health in your life. One of them is the postpartum period, which is why I’m always talking about the postpartum period.[00:05:00] 

One of them is actually. You can actually use the period of menopause to rebuild yourself and have really nice golden years. But the one that’s the most accessible to us is the actual time we are menstruating that seven days. Is a perfect time to go in and make sure that our chi and our blood are nice and abundant.

Our yin and our young are harmonious. Everything’s moving well, so we’re making sure that. People are ovulating and their cycle length is nice. Their lal phase is a nice length because that’s really important for conception. And then we’re looking at the quality of the days that they’re actually menstruating and looking at the quality of the cycle itself, those four days, those five days, we wanna make sure.

That it’s a good length. It’s not uncomfortable cuz really you should only be cramping that first day and it should be so minor that you don’t even need anything for it. So we’re trying to get people to that place [00:06:00] of a perfect period as close as we can get it before they start the fertility 

journey Itself. , 

Cynthia Shockley: . Yeah. And I’m familiar with the concept of natural family planning is that what’s happening here is there’s no birth control, it’s just getting that natural hormonal flow or do you work with people with birth control? So that 

Jessica Gustafson: actually depends. . I have worked with quite a few people who are using artificial reproductive technologies, a r t, so that’s when people are going through Medicated iis and I V F because they’ve been having struggles for a long time because acupuncture usually isn’t one of the first things on people’s list for when they’re trying to.

Conceive, I’m usually seeing people pretty far along in the journey. So they’ve been trying to do this for two years, five years. So we have a lot of backlog to go through. So I have done it with people who are on birth control, actively on birth control. And then there are some people some teachers in this field who believe that during the preconception period, [00:07:00] while you are ovulating, you should be using some form of barrier method, or you should be trying.

To conceive during your fertile window. So if you’re using natural family planning or I tend to prefer to refer to it as athermal method because it’s a broader category because that can include things like cervical mucus only tracking or cervical mucus plus basal body temperature tracking.

But you are actively trying not to conceive during that period. It’s the idea because you want to get through that period and get to the end of it and go, okay, now everything is. Perfect. That’s not to say that people won’t try, and that’s not to say that people won’t come to me like a month after we start working together and be like, I’m pregnant.

It’s great. Cool. Let’s move on to the next step. . . 

[00:08:00] [00:09:00] 

Cynthia Shockley: Yes. So next step, right? So now your client has conceived what would be the next steps for how you’re working with this future or current? 

Jessica Gustafson: Okay so someone’s gone through the preconception, they’ve gone through fertility. We’ve gotten conceptions.

So now I actually have it laid out on a spreadsheet . Oh, I love spreadsheets, . I am, I love spreadsheets. But I have it laid out. I have tabs is this artificial reproductive [00:10:00] technology? Are we planning for a c-section? Are we planning for a vaginal birth? What are we doing? I have tabs for all of it.

And the first 12 weeks are laid out on each one of them. And if you were able to naturally conceive and you are not doing assisted reproductive technology and you’ve not had any history of difficulties with pregnancy I would probably start seeing you every other week until 12 to 14 weeks.

Now, if you have had history of difficulties with pregnancy, Let’s say you’ve gotten pregnant before and you’ve had a loss. I actually wanna see you every week, especially if you weren’t able to get the postpartum care after that loss. We wanna make sure that we are supporting you as much as we can until about 12 to 14 weeks, and then we can taper off a little bit.

With assisted reproductive technology, we see you every week until 12 to 14 weeks because you’ve invested a lot of time in money. And emotions into that journey. So we wanna make sure that we’re getting you all the way to that 12 for 14 [00:11:00] weeks. During the first trimester. We’re treating things like morning sickness and the fatigue that first trimester fatigue can really get to people.

We’re treating first trimester issues weekly, and then we kind of hands off for the second trimester unless someone starts to. The symptoms I mentioned And then after that, the second trimester is very hands off.

I will still see people, especially for pregnancies that have been Determined to be a little bit risky. I’ll see people like every other week. I’ll see them more often if they want to come in, but usually it’s just like a let’s touch base about once a month. That’s probably about halfway through the second trimesters when we start seeing maybe some prenatal anxiety, prenatal depression. We start to see a little bit of maybe physical discomfort. So maybe somebody would start to come in more often. And then third trimester, that’s when I started seeing most people it was in the third trimester. And that’s when we start ramping visits back up.

Cause we’re preparing for the labor. 

Cynthia Shockley: Yeah. I did see on your website that at that

third [00:12:00] trimester mark is when it’s go time, it’s like time to plan for the birth. What’s the agenda? And getting really clear on that. And I know. What I typically think of when I think about a birth doula is someone who’s gonna really help you get clear on your birth plan, and then advocate for that and support you in creating that environment and that experience.

So for you, what is your process in helping women figure out what their birth plan is gonna look like and how it’s gonna get executed? 

Jessica Gustafson: So this also comes off the spreadsheet. This is very good . Usually at about 28 weeks I start to ask questions. My intake form, because I start seeing so many people in the third trimester actually ask, do you have a birth doula?

Do you have a postpartum doula? Are you planning any sort of bedrest afterwards? And since I’m dealing mostly with patients from the Twin Cities birth center, just because I rent from them. So it’s just, it’s convenient. , Most of them are delivering [00:13:00] there and they are planning some sort of bedrest, but like I start to get an idea of what their birth plan and their postpartum period will look like.

If I’ve been seeing someone since beginning of the journey, I usually have a pretty good idea just because we talk about it. At every appointment, it’s just Hey, have you found a doula? Have you considered where you’re going to be delivering? Do you have a meal train set up?

Things like that. And I think that’s where my care differs a little bit from maybe some of the other fertility. And prenatal and postpartum acupuncturists in the area. I specifically went to go get doula training because I found myself in birthing rooms because this isn’t a thing that people talk about, but acupuncture can be used during labor if you have the appropriate training.

And I went to get the appropriate training. I felt so awkward the first time I was in a birthing room. I was like, I am in the way. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m going to [00:14:00] go get some doula training. So I started asking more doula questions and I found when I get feedback from my patients, that was almost.

More helpful. They’re like, I always had someone who had an answer to a question or you warned me about something that nobody else mentioned, and it really set me up for success. 

It’s very organic because it differs from person to person.

What it looks like, ideally, if we’re going from the spreadsheet is we hit about 30 weeks and I say, Hey, start paying attention to your midwives or your ob. If they’re talking about babe being head down, if babes not head down by 32 weeks, we’re gonna do some treatments.

Just to encourage there to be enough space. If babe’s not head down by 34 weeks, we’ll do a breach turning process. . A lot of people think it’s like you come in for a treatment and then babe flips or doesn’t flip, an e ecb which is an external cephalic version, which [00:15:00] is where they actually manually turn the baby.

But it’s actually a 10 day process where people are mostly doing the treatments at home. But that’s one thing that I really enjoy being able to coach someone through because if you get to 34 weeks, there’s a 70 to 80% chance babe will turn. If we can do the treatment at 34 weeks, it starts to go down.

The closer to 37 you get cuz babe runs out a room. So we check in about breach churning. I also check in to see if you’ve installed your car seat. , which is not, related to acupuncture. It’s not related to herbalism, but it is a thing that’s just install your car seat . So we get to 34, 35 weeks.

It’s just we’re just checking in, see how you’re feeling, how’s that low back pain? How’s that round ligament pain? Are you starting to get any heartburn? There was a joke from some of my teachers. They would say that people would get excessive baby, so there’s just too much baby [00:16:00] and it’s just pushing up.

And we was trying to see if we could make a little bit of room or. Like the minor discomforts of the third trimester where you’re just trying to get to the, trying to get to the finish line. And then 37, 38 and 39 weeks are more important to me than 41 through 42. If you get to 42, and that’s because it’s what’s called the birth prep period.

Claudia Sipp Covitz is an amazing acupuncturist in New York. And Debra Bets is a midwife at acupuncturist from New Zealand. And they treat that. 37 through 39 as let’s make sure you have all the resources physically to not only make it through labor the way you want labor to happen, but into the postpartum period as well.

Cuz you don’t wanna use up everything you have to deliver the baby and then have nothing. . So that’s what the birth prep period is and what I have found, because labor won’t start until your body is ready. I went through all of [00:17:00] my patients for, I think it was three years, and I picked out the ones that.

I saw just for labor induction because 30% or something of my patients just Hey the birth center told me there’s an acupuncturist here. I need to go into labor yesterday. So can we do this? So I picked out those people and then I picked out the people who did the full birth prep series.

And on average, the people who did the full prep went into labor five to seven days earlier. So it’s important and like still, like Babe was fully baked. They were still full term, it was still like 40 weeks, but they went into labor earlier. And the ones that saw me for postpartum care on average said that labor was easier.

There was one person who was on their third delivery who said, I actually fell asleep in the birth tub between contractions. That’s never happened before. 

Cynthia Shockley: Oh wow. Talk about just feeling [00:18:00] relaxed and at ease, . 

Jessica Gustafson: Yeah. So it’s a really nice thing to be able to do. And then 40 weeks is obviously when Most people call it labor induction or labor induction, acupuncture.

That’s technically a medical term. We can’t induce labor. That’s what midwives and doctors do. So we call it cervical ripening, but that also gives people these images of things that we don’t do. There, there have been people who have told me, oh, I thought you would be like applying something to my cervix.

It’s no, that is way outta my scope of practice. 


Cynthia Shockley: So I [00:20:00] want to actually backtrack cuz you mentioned that when working with your clients, you ask.

Do you have a doula? So are you not typically the doula throughout the process? 

Jessica Gustafson: So most people don’t actually have me as a doula. I took the doula training so that I could be in the birthing room. At the birth center, should they need me or at their homes. I can’t be at hospitals because you have to have permissions at individual hospitals to be able to practice.

. But in general, I’m not people’s doulas they’re looking for someone usually through the internship program at the birth center, or they have someone in mind. I think. I’ve actually only been one person’s acupuncturist and doula, , the whole package deal. And they were a friend, so it was a special thing.

But I do use that training all the time with every single one of my patients. And it was my, [00:21:00] I think I was gonna do it last year, but I had some issues come up maybe this year or next year to do postpartum doula training as well. Mm-hmm. , because, that’s something that I would be better able to do.

Cynthia Shockley: So being able to be there to provide the traditional Chinese medicine care, Support and advising along the way, but making sure that they have a doula that can be their go-to person for other things so that they’ve got a true care team supporting 

Jessica Gustafson: them.

Yes. Someone that they can call at midnight if they need to. Because I am not that person. . , 

Cynthia Shockley: I’ll see you at the appointment. . Yeah. So it sounds like you’ve been able to, through experience, also collect some data, and I do remember reading that in some of your planning, in your spreadsheets that you have, there is a plan for [00:22:00] helping women, not only. have that ripening that allows their body to go into labor sooner, but also for that labor period to be shorter. 

Jessica Gustafson: Yes. So that comes from research I found in both CVIS and Vet’s work. That was from a study in the seventies in Germany actually that found that acupuncture. Not only reduced the intensity of contractions, but the duration of labor.

I would have to go and dig the book out to give you like exact numbers. Was a small study, but they did find that. And the patients who do see me for more of the third trimester than just like a cervical ripening appointment or two Do you find that , if they’ve had labor before, it tends to be a little bit softer, a little bit less intense.

They can relax into it a little bit more. And that’s [00:23:00] such a beautiful part of the birthing process, is being able to relax between contractions and relax into contractions and allow them to happen. Because we’re such a liver cheese stag. Culture we are. So I want to control this. I want to go up against it.

If that’s a thing I don’t want over there, it is going to stay over there. And being able to help people soften into it is really a beautiful part of this work. Yeah. 

Cynthia Shockley: It’s so against the American culture, you see all these shows or movies and doctors are screaming at you to push and and everyone’s screaming and crying and cussing at their partner and.


Jessica Gustafson: I promise people listening to this, if you have not gone through that process, it doesn’t need to be that way. Most of them aren’t that way. . Yeah, 

Cynthia Shockley: because my mind was completely blown when I started talking to some women in more of that integrative care [00:24:00] space, the holistic wellness space about their birth experiences and it.

Way better than what I thought birth had to be. Being able to be in a safe place like a birthing center or your home and feeling more at ease there. Having a doula, having that psychological emotional prep work and support, and also knowing exactly what your vision is and. How to make that come true.

And having the right breathing exercises, the right mindset to acknowledge that your body was made for this and you are safe and you are good. And what that does for not only the nervous system, but then your physical body so that it can relax and go through its process in a natural way in an efficient way.

I still remember one of my fellow coaches, She told me that her births had been so peaceful and so beautiful that she actually. [00:25:00] Invited her seven year old daughter for her last one because her daughter she like, somehow at school learned about birth and was terrified at the idea cuz someone was saying, it’s scary and it’s painful.

And so she had been expressing to her mom how she never wants to have a baby. And so her mom’s like, okay, we’re gonna just open your eyes to the reality of what could be. And so she wanted to invite her daughter into the birth experience.

Jessica Gustafson: It can be a really beautiful process and quite a few of my patients will involve their entire family in their home births. And it’s not something I’ve ever actually been in the room for, but it’s so beautiful to hear about at a postpartum visit.

Cynthia Shockley: Yeah. I have heard of doulas that are specifically trained to bring the families in to the birthing experience, to work with children, to prepare them. So it’s really great that things like this exist and these are options that are available. 

Jessica Gustafson: Yeah. . . 

Cynthia Shockley: And so now let’s talk postpartum, cause I don’t think we’ve [00:26:00] dove into that yet.

And I know you’re passionate about this topic. So what is your role in the postpartum chapter of your client’s journeys? 

Jessica Gustafson: Okay this is where I get really nerdy, like I had my before, but the postpartum period is the thing that I am the most passionate about because it’s the part that gets neglected the most, especially in the American culture, Western cultures in general, but we.

Make it a point of pride to be able to go and shop at Target two days after delivery. And that that really shouldn’t be the case. So my role in postpartum is actually preparing people for the reality of what postpartum might look like in those weeks leading up to delivery. Because the preparation is really.

More important than like the moment. So this might sound like it’s going off topic for a second, but bear with me . So the Chinese solar calendar has the season’s peak where [00:27:00] in the Gregorian calendar, in, in the Hellenic calendar that we used the season. Equinoxes and the solstice and all of that.

The Chinese solar calendar and a lot of other ancient calendars actually have like springs starting at the beginning of February and then it peaks where we would start it, right? And then it comes to an end. I see the postpartum periods, pregnancy, fertility, and all of that work the same ways as the seasons.

It. Right in. So we start the postpartum period in my practice at about 37 weeks of pregnancy where we are preparing you for the labor with the intention that you will have the energy to go through the postpartum period. So then we hit the labor. You have your postpartum period. We’re at the peak, right?

We’re at that Equinox starting the season, right? So we started the postpartum period and now we’re actually coming down. We’re. Starting to end the season. So right after delivery, we like to [00:28:00] do what’s called a closure appointment.

I don’t get to do this with a lot of people who deliver in hospitals because they’re still in hospital when it’s recommended to do, it’s 24 to 48 hours after the birth. But if you have delivered at the birth center or you had a home birth you’ll have your visit with the midwives 24 hours later.

And then I show up. And. We can do one of Laura ER’s kidney trauma treatments which sounds a lot harsher than it actually is, but birth is a beautiful process. It is hard on your body. And so what we do is we nourish what’s called you kidney system. In traditional Chinese medicine I like to explain the organ systems as categories of function.

Because they very rarely mean your physical organs. So when I say that we’re treating your kidneys, we’re not necessarily treating your physical kidneys in this case today. Unless you had an issue specifically pertaining to them. What I am actually doing is making sure that we have. [00:29:00] Addressed your hormonal balance as well as we can.

We’re seeing what birth did in terms of your balance of guillen and young, and we’re making sure that we can help your system regulate those hormones as quickly and as safely as possible. Cause we don’t wanna throw you into imbalance the other direction. So kidney trauma treatments address that directly where we’re like, okay how are your adrenals following all of this?

What are we doing here? And then That’s a nice relaxing treatment to make sure that when your milk comes in it’s coming in well. And helps you from an emotional, perspective to process the birth. Because the first week or so after the birth is just It’s like being in a different world.

Then four to five days after the delivery is when I see most people, whether or not they’ve delivered at the hospital, whether or not they’ve had vaginal birth or surgical birth. [00:30:00] And I’m seeing them for what’s called a womb warming or a mother warming, depending on who you’re talking to. And that’s where I burn mok, which is actually a weed that we’re all familiar with.

It’s mug wart. That has been either compressed into a cigar or I use what’s called smokeless Moo, which is basically Moxi has been burned and compressed into charcoal just to reduce the amount that I’m putting into the air. Cuz a lot of times when I’m doing this treatment, babe is in the room.

Cuz Mom, is still on bedrest. And that helps the uterus return to its normal size. The faster the uterus returns to its normal size, the sooner that bleeding can stop. And that’s the thing that’s really important to me. As a traditional Chinese medical practitioner. Getting that bleeding to stop as soon as possible helps us with the three main things postpartum, which is c.

Lack of breast milk and postpartum depression. If we can get that blood flow to stop we [00:31:00] can usually cut all of that off. Like we, we don’t have to deal with any of those things. And then I like to see people about once a week after. Until the end of the first month. Ideally, I would like to see people till the end of the fourth trimester, but a lot of times with a new babe and going back to work, that’s just not feasible.

But ideally, I would like to see people for those first three months. 

Cynthia Shockley: So I’m stuck on the mug wart smoke. Is there scientific data pointing to this being an effective way to bring the uterus back to size? Or, are there other western modalities, other modalities, period that, that help this?

 Because I have never heard of this before, 

Jessica Gustafson: I do not know of any studies. I could probably go digging for some. Usually the studies that are done in relation to birth for moxa have to do with breach presentation because that is the thing that most people are really [00:32:00] into.

But. The burning of mug work. Is actually as important to traditional Chinese medicine as acupuncture and as herbs. It is one of the five pillars by itself. You can treat a lot with just moxa on its own, but, , it does not have the same level of research as acupuncture because it’s not as recognizable.

 It doesn’t have the same recognition as herbalism because if we can’t compare it to the herbalism that a lot of us are familiar with, there is one branch of herbalism that might have some. Correlation with mug wart and that’s a lot of indigenous peoples of the Americas used mug wart for a lot of things.

. I found this book I would have to dig into that to see what they used it for. . But that said, mug wart in America is a different varietal than the type of moor that I am familiar with that comes from China and . Surrounding [00:33:00] countries.

Cynthia Shockley: And I’m thinking too to do research on something like this would require, putting postpartum women straight through to MRIs and, using all these medical devices that are expensive and so likely there isn’t funding for such research. That definitely comes to 

Jessica Gustafson: mind.

Yeah. So at this point, it’s probably all anecdotal. But we also have how many thousands of years of tradition of using warming methods of various kinds across cultures. . I know that a lot of people will also use Yoi steams. . But steaming herbal, steaming postpartum, that’s another way to do it.

I’m not as familiar with that, so I don’t have as much data. 

Cynthia Shockley: So you’re able to walk with women through their whole process from preconception to postpartum It sounds like a lot of women maybe prioritize this near the end of their journey rather than early on, but you have these [00:34:00] skills that allow people to feel held throughout the entire process with a consistent person, which I think is so cool because.

I’d imagine there’s a million questions that come up and a million things that, you could set intention around and figure out, but you might not think of on your own. So I’m just amazed that this can be an option. 

Jessica Gustafson: I will say that a lot of those women who come to me at the end of their journey and then like opt to do the postpartum thing, they’ll come.

The next time they get pregnant and they’ll be with me the entire journey. 

Cynthia Shockley: Ah. They’re like, this was cool. Let me sign up for the whole shebang. . Oh, that’s amazing. So we walked through this whole journey. From start to finish and all the things that you do to support that.

I don’t think I actually asked you about your journey, what brought you into [00:35:00] the world of birth working? Is this something you always wanted to do what were some experiences that led to you being on this? 

Jessica Gustafson: It was not something I always wanted to do. In fact, when I was in school, I was like, I’m not going, I’m not going to work.

Fertility , I thought I was going to work oncology because most of my internships were , like at U M M C I did bloodborne cancer and solid mass cancer. I worked in the bone marrow transplant unit, Masonic Children’s and working with the pediatric cancer patients there.

So I thought that’s what I was gonna do. And it was funny because one day I was out. I lived in St. Paul at that point, and I was walking by Health Foundations, which is what the birth center was called. And I turned to my house and I said, I’m going to work there one day. And then it was out of the blue.

And then I I didn’t really think about it. And then we got pregnant and I started getting care at the birth center because it’s [00:36:00] like, it’s right near our home. It’s the experience that I want. And I ran into one of my upperclassmen her name was Jenna and she was the acupuncturist and phlebotomist there cuz she had some separate training and at.

35 weeks. She was like, it’s been really lovely seeing you again. I really liked when we were in school and it’s been nice watching you through this journey. I just wanna let you know I am leaving I’m going up to Brainard and she works at a birth center up there now. And I asked are they hiring?

And she said Uh, but that they might rent out a space. So at 35 weeks, it’s like, I can restart my business. I can completely revamp my bus. It’s fine. A lot of people who are pregnant do this where they’re like, I can have two babies. And they’ll have the physical baby and then they’ll start a project.

I’ve seen it in a lot of people, but at 35 weeks I was like, yeah, I can start a business. I went and changed my old massage business name to [00:37:00] something acupuncture related. Got all of my paperwork up to date and at six weeks postpartum, I brought my baby in a carrier to the birth center and opened up the doors to the community.


Cynthia Shockley: my goodness. , fun fact, well connected was also started when Alex actually was pregnant herself, and she always says, it’s like my baby and well connected are twins. Like they grew up together. . Yeah. That’s 

Jessica Gustafson: how these things happen. I it happens so often and 

it’s something that people don’t talk about. But this, there’s just this surge of creativity where you’re like, I want to make things . I’ll make things . 

Cynthia Shockley: Oh, that’s so interesting. And you know the name of your business, rere Acupuncture. Where does that come from? It 

Jessica Gustafson: actually comes from an Emily Dickinson poem.

Hmm. Make To make a prairie, it takes a flower and one bee, a flower, a [00:38:00] bee, and a revere. The revere alone will do if bees are few. And Revere Acupuncture started as a blog. Way before I started the business and I was telling myself that if I just start talking about the things that I love about traditional Chinese medicine, about the things that my teachers gave to me and asked me to take out into the world to show that it’s not like an antiquated medicine that there’s a rich cultural history.

That has been a tradition that has developed into a modern science as well. If I just talk about these things and live the dream, now one day I will have the business that has all of this behind it 

Cynthia Shockley: that was a goosebump moment, Jessica and, oh you’re, you’re living it. You’re doing it. I am. Congratulations,[00:39:00] . I’m so grateful that you started planting those seeds early on and look what’s grown. You’ve been able to help so many people in their birth journeys, and like you said you’re advocating too through your work for traditional Chinese medicine and all the things it can do to support us.

So thank you for your time and energy today. I’m so grateful that we got to connect and that others can hear from you. I wonder if there was one takeaway that listeners walk away with, what would you hope that would be from this convers? 

Jessica Gustafson: Um, I hope that people will start to think of the entire journey as like a period of seasons as opposed to events and milestones.

We tend to look at fertility. , like conception is the milestone in birth as the milestone when really we need to think about [00:40:00] everything that leads up to conception, the care through pregnancy, and then the care through postpartum all the way till the end. And start to think of. Your menstrual cycle as one of the things that can tell you a lot about your body and whether or not it’s hard for you to get care.

Now, if you’re thinking about trying to conceive in the next six to 12 months just look at what is normal for me. Did it change? How long is my cycle? How long is my lal face? Start to get in touch with your body cuz your menstrual cycle. your friend, and we don’t treat our menstrual cycle with the respect that she deserves


Cynthia Shockley: Oh, that’s beautiful. I know I definitely learned a lot in our conversation and I’m just so grateful. So thank you. Thank you 

Jessica Gustafson: for having me. This was really fun. I told 

Cynthia Shockley: you it’d be fun,


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