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An Appointment With: Emma Cannon
December 1st 2014 / 0 comment
The women's health expert and founder of The Fertility Rooms reveals her holistic philosophy and path to success
Emma Cannon has helped countless women on their fertility journey with her unique approach to women’s wellbeing that combines Chinese and Western medicines. Starting her path as an acupuncturist, Emma has developed her integrated practise to include nutrition and a host of other therapies with a focus on bespoke personalised plans. Her success with clients has seen her write three books - including the bestselling ‘The Baby Making Bible’ - as well as opening a London clinic, The Fertility Rooms. To find out how this holistic healer runs her life, and her business, read on...
Why did you decide to specialize in fertility?
Fairly early on in my practice (about 20 years ago) I noticed that patients were falling pregnant quite quickly after coming to see me for acupuncture. These were women who were turned away by their GP's because they hadn't been trying for long enough; they weren't necessarily infertile but they weren't getting pregnant and they were getting stressed. Friends told friends and my reputation grew - at one stage there was a street in Fulham where six friends were all pregnant after seeing me and they named me ‘The Baby Maker’! At a similar time research was also coming out of Germany about how acupuncture could improve IVF outcomes and increase pregnancy rates by up to 50%. It isn't just about the acupuncture though, what I was doing differently at the time was looking at the whole picture: diet, lifestyle, medical history etc. I also found great practitioners to work with to give patients the complete approach.
When was your big break?
In 2010 after recovering from breast cancer I really felt I wanted to make my mark and I got commissioned to write a book called The Baby-Making Bible; it is a book that puts all my principles in a book so that the patient can really engage in their fertility in order to help them have a baby. I still get emails from women saying that this book helped them get pregnant - sometimes when all else failed. Some of the things I wrote about in that book are now mainstream but back then (even 5 years ago) things were very different. I am so grateful that I was given the opportunity to write and put those message out into the world and that they make a difference.
What does an average day look like for you (if there ever is one?!)
I have to look after myself in order to take care of other people. I see about 60-70 clients a week so it is busy but rewarding. I arrive in clinic just off Sloane Square at 8.30am and see my first patient at 9am - I have a beautiful room and it is really serene and calm. I see couples and individuals going through fertility treatment, those trying naturally and then other gynaecology issues. I love clinic and talking to people and helping them find a way forward. I do lots of acupuncture but sometimes it is about looking at a persons health and life and putting together a personal plan for them. During the clinic I have moments of peace while the client is resting with needles in, sometimes they don't want to talk,so these spaces allow me to meditate and clear my mind. It is intense working with couples who are struggling to conceive and having a calm mind is essential for me - I try and teach my patients this too.
I have a regular exercise regime which includes running on Monday, weights on Tuesday and Ashtanga Yoga on Wednesday and Sunday. My husband cooks Monday and Thursdays and I cook the rest of the time. I eat a healthy diet but two nights a week (Monday and Thursday) I just have a bone broth for dinner, I have found in my forties that eating a very light dinner a couple of times a week helps me stay fit and healthy. It isn't just about weight for me it's about being being well and preserving health. I watch a few TV programmes but not too much and normally like to read in bed before I drift off. Weekends are for cooking, sourcing great ingredients, seeing friends and occasionally dancing with my friend Victoria- it's good for the soul!
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love helping patients find solutions. Often it's not what I tell them to do it is what I help them work out for themselves that really brings about the change in health and attitude. Obviously longed for babies are as good as it gets but there are many miracles along the way and seeing people heal is always awesome and extremely rewarding.
Are there any aspects of your job that you find challenging?
Of course, but I believe it is the challenges that give us the greatest opportunity for growth. Who said life would be easy? The times in my life when I have had major challenges have been the greatest teachers of all. I support patients with their challenges and help them to take responsibility for where they are and to help them see the gifts - they are always there. Stillbirth is the most challenging clinical situation and is still quite misunderstood. Couples suffer so deeply at this time and it is so hard for them as very few people understand the depth and darkness of the suffering involved in losing a child. I always feel inadequate at this time but try to offer compassion and kindness to the best of my ability.
I hate the business side of my job - accounts, commercialism and making it all work financially. It's not who I am and I never make decisions based on money - I always go with my gut! I have made mistakes but that is how I learn best!
What are the most common questions you get asked by clients?
Are there any foods I can eat to help me get pregnant?
How long will it take?
How much sex should I be having?
How bad for me is stress?
Who's your team 'me'? Who do you rely on to keep you happy, healthy and sane?
My family and friends are really important to me. Time at home, chilling out and watching a movie or walking the dog are bliss to me. I am incredibly lucky to do something I am passionate about and that sustains me - it keeps me sane. I work hard but I understand balance and that is vital to staying sane. I love my yoga and I have regular acupuncture and other healing. I also never stop learning and I am doing a two year training School for Wizards. It is teaching me that we are all responsible for where we are emotionally and physically in our lives and only we can make the changes needed to live a healthier more fulfilled life. It also teaches us to acknowledge the darker sides of our personality - once we acknowledge traits such as anger, greed and jealousy we can transform them.
I know some incredible healers including everyone from the best consultants to shamans and if I have an issue that needs dealing with I would always prefer to see both a mainstream professional and someone a little more mystically - it's all about balance.
How is your industry changing?
I think there are many people writing about health that know very little and just have a personal interest. This is dangerous and there is so much nonsense written about health in the media. I see women coming to me who think they have it all sussed but are actually very confused, obsessive and conflicted. They read so much, collect so much information and think it all applies to them. It creates anxiety and obsession. On the up side there is far more acceptance of the role of acupuncture and other complementary therapies, many of my referrals come from the medical profession and patients now know that they need the best of both worlds.
The last ten years has seen an explosion in the role of diet which of course is a great thing but although good diet is vital it is not a cure all and it's role can be over egged. The media are obsessed with fads from California; juicing , detox, raw food etc are all emotionally unhealthy and come from a place of control and denial. Actually stress may turn out to be a bigger issue than diet so if being overly controlling with food leads to more stress it isn't a good thing. Eat good food, don't skip meals, mainly vegetables and grains, some fish and meat, avoid processed foods and hidden sugars, cook it yourself and if possible grow some of it yourself. Also eat chicken soup (home made from bones) and add some fermented food to your diet. For me the next ten years we will see how compassion, kindness, happiness, and dealing with emotional issues can transform the health of patients. "The less one obsesses about food the healthier one is".