Melinda Webb has been working in women’s health for more than a decade, using acupuncture to support woman through fertility and birth, as well as hormonal changes including menopause. She’s also a Calmbirth educator, Chinese medicine practitioner and runs breath workshops for men and women.
This year has been both a tough and validating one for Webb. In May the new clinic she had just spent four months fitting out was partially destroyed in a fire. The local community rallied, and she was up and running within weeks in a pop-up clinic set up in a vacant premises next door. She is busier than ever in lockdown, supporting pregnant women (and their partners) during this challenging time. As well as getting the new clinic up and running again for an early 2022 opening.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I’ve been working in women’s health since 2008 mainly as an acupuncturist. I have a health clinic in Balmain, working alongside other practitioners, and we work with women through fertility, leading up to birth and in the post-natal period. I educate couples on Calmbirth. I also do breathwork classes for men and women. It’s useful for people who suffer anxiety or depression, get poor sleep and have snoring issues, have asthma, or find they have fatigue or brain fog. Combining acupuncture and breathwork gets great results. I’m also a doula, although I prefer the term birth coach.
How can changing the breath help?
A lot of people wake up with a dry mouth, which is a sign of mouth breathing. Or they’re not rested when they wake, or they’re lethargic. They’re not waking up feeling rejuvenated, which means not enough oxygen is going to the brain at night.
I work with clients on a nasal breathing technique known as Buteyko breathing. It’s basically teaching people how to breathe again, after sinus problems or congestion as a child.
As a doula and Calmbirth educator, what advice do you have for pregnant women in lockdown?
I say to people, ‘write down your questions’. Women are often going in alone for antenatal appointments and feeling flustered. I spend a lot of time talking to midwives about people in my clinic, making sure there’s two-way communication.
My advice is also to do a lot of research before you make your choice of care provider. Make sure your hospital can support the kind of birth you want.
In non-lockdown times I can go into births and give acupuncture during labour. I teach acupressure for labour and birth and for anyone wanting to learn there’s a free e-book on my website. This can be really useful for pain relief, calming mum, and moving the baby down through the pelvis. It’s also a really great connector for a partner to know what to do with acupressure points.
You also treat women in the transition through menopause. What kind of treatments do you offer for this?
Menopause is such an interesting one. A lot of people talk about night sweats, irritability, anger, hair loss, lethargy. Acupuncture can be an effective treatment. As can Chinese herbs, as well as other vitamins and minerals. In Chinese medicine, we say it starts at age 35 and works slowly. It goes in seven-year cycles, so 42 and then 49 is when it really picks up. It’s good to find out when your mother went through menopause.
How have you been spending your downtime in lockdown?
Since we’ve been in lockdown I’ve been so busy. I haven’t had a lot of downtime. I generally teach Calmbirth (via Zoom at present) three weekends out of four, plus I do breath workshops as well.
People like that they can get changed out of their tracksuit and come and relax for an hour in an acupuncture session in my clinic. People are also not going into the hospital as much, so midwives are sending clients to assist with continuity of care. I had a client sent to me from Tamworth recently, for some acupuncture while waiting to go into labour at a Sydney hospital.
I do leave the house every morning at 5.30am for a walk. I watch the sunrise over the Harbour Bridge from East Balmain and I walk home via Ballast Point. I make sure I do 10,000 steps before I walk back in the door at 7am and I’m in clinic by 8am.
Favourite places in the inner west?
I stop at Little Marionette every morning for a Chai tea. Ballast Point is a lovely place and I love walking the streets of Balmain and Rozelle. I’ve been spending a lot of time this lockdown sitting in my backyard and have been really enjoying reading, listening to music, or gardening to stay grounded.
Melinda Webb’s clinic is located at 145A Beattie St, Balmain. Contact her on 0413 287 799 or via her website melindawebb.com.au.