This week I’m excited to introduce to you Stefanie Beniek from Family Tree Acupuncture. Stefanie has helped out a number of TCM mamas, with discomforts like nausea or headaches, as well as baby positioning and labor induction! Her office isn’t far from mine, just over by Lake Nokomis. When I visit her for a session, I like to take a stroll by the lake to let it all sink in and enjoy the beauty just steps from her door!
Stefanie Beniek, LAc, Dipl. OM
Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist
Married to my best friend, Tim Hereid, who has continually supported me in pursing my passion for acupuncture and Chinese medicine. We have a wonderfully active and talkative 2 ½ yr old Bjorn and a cuddly dog Chelsea.
I grew up just outside Saint Cloud, right along the Mississippi near a small town called Rice.
We live in the Nokomis neighborhood of South Minneapolis, not too far from my clinic.
Favorite weekday dinner:
We have been on a Mexican and Italian food kick this summer. Trying to cook with as much organic and fresh ingredients as possible is always easy in the summer. Being a former chef and emphasizing food therapy to my patients, I do my best to bring that knowledge into my own kitchen for my family.
Yoga, swimming, biking
Favorite downtime activity:
Reading, going to the beach with Bjorn, spending time outside, learning how to do web design/editing and spending time with my family.
Kate: When did you know you wanted to be an acupuncturist?
Stefanie: When I was finished with undergraduate school, I moved to Maine to pursue my interest in photography. I loved what I was doing, working as a chef at a health food store and showing my work in galleries in Portland but I felt like my life was lacking. I wanted to do something where I was being of service to my community and promoting healthy living. I knew I wanted to work within health care but unsure of what route to take: midwifery, paramedic, shiatsu massage therapist. Then my acupuncturist said to me one day, “Why are you searching when you are so obviously interested in Chinese Medicine? Become an Acupuncturist!” It just felt so right to think I would be an acupuncturist someday. Combining my interests in preventive healthcare, food therapy, women’s health, and serving my community! That was about 8 years ago! So after 4 years of undergraduate work, taking a few years off to explore life, and 3 years of graduate studies, I have a Bachelor’s degree and a double Master’s degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Doing something that I love and feeling successful in my practice is such a joy in my life!
Kate: Have you always worked with pregnant women, or was there something that drew you to work with them during your schooling or once you started your practice?
Stefanie: I always knew I wanted to specialize in women’s health. During my first year of studying Chinese medicine, both of my sisters became pregnant and asked me what they could do to be healthier during their pregnancy. This naturally led me to become more interested in the many benefits of acupuncture for pre & post natal health. I also was lucky enough to intern with the acupuncturists at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. I mainly worked with inpatients on the “women’s wing” helping mom’s on bed rest and postpartum recovery. I also have continued my original interest in specializing in general women’s health. My continuing education has revolved around these interests and soon I will be attending an exciting post-graduate intensive on Chinese medicine for Labor and Delivery!
Kate: Tell me a bit about your practice.
Stefanie: I currently am practicing out of Eastern Shore Natural Health near Lake Nokomis in S. Minneapolis. I am here Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Soon I will be splitting my time between this clinic and the new Blooma in St. Paul! While specializing in women’s health from fertility to pregnancy, postnatal care to menopause, I also see patients for insomnia, emotional health (stress, anxiety, depression), pain management, and digestive issues.
Kate: What is the best part of your job?
Stefanie: In no particular order:
- When patients come back to me for their second visit and tell me they feel SO much better!
- Having a patient who has been coming to see me for fertility, tell me she is pregnant!
- When I get a message that a patient went for an external version and baby was already head down!
- Seeing a labor change for the better with acupuncture and being able support and be part of the wonderful birthing experience!
Kate: What sorts of acupuncture benefits have you seen in your practice for pregnant and postpartum moms?
Stefanie: For pregnancy: emotionally and physically feeling more balance with monthly acupuncture treatments, being able to overcome the discomforts of pregnancy with more ease, and having a healthier labor and postpartum recovery. I have clinically seen acupuncture and Chinese herbs work so well during pregnancy for: morning sickness, fatigue, depression/anxiety, skin irritations (cholestasis, PUPPS, or eczema), miscarriage/threatened miscarriage, back pain, edema, headaches, and insomnia (just to name a few)!
For postpartum: again feeling emotionally and physically more balanced and healthier sooner with a couple acupuncture treatments within the first month and postpartum herbs for the first month. I give a postpartum recovery food therapy handout to my patients towards the end of their pregnancy to help them find foods that will nourish their bodies after labor and pregnancy. I have seen acupuncture and herbs be very effective in helping with postpartum depression/anxiety, low milk supply, mastitis, incision healing, hemorrhoids and fatigue.
Kate: Are you willing to join mamas in labor if needed? What sorts of scenarios do you think acupuncture is most helpful for in labor?
Stefanie: I am willing and excited to help mamas in labor! Scenarios that acupuncture is most effective for during labor: delayed labor, malposition of baby causing delayed labor, back labor, exhaustion and stress/pain management.
Kate: Do you also work with babies? How does treating a baby differ from treating and adult?
Stefanie: I generally do not work with babies because there is a wonderful pediatric acupuncture clinic in St. Paul: Pediatric Acupuncture and Wellness.Working with babies is very different from treating adults. If needling is done, the needles are very small and done very quickly (not retained). The Pediatric Acupuncture clinic has a toy room and most babies are treated while nursing, sitting on a parents laps or playing. They also use a lot of tuning fork therapy, acupressure, massage, food therapy, and herbal medicine. Acupuncture for babies is very effective for latch issue, digestion problems, colic, sleep problems, and later for teething, behavioral or developmental issues and helping to build a healthy immune system.
Kate: Sometimes people are worried about seeing an acupuncturist if they’ve never been before. How would you describe what you do?
Stefanie: There are many different modalities to Traditional Chinese Medicine not just acupuncture. I utilize acupuncture, acupressure, cupping, TuiNa (Chinese medical massage), herbal supplements, food therapy and exercise therapy. The first visit we talk for about 30-45 minutes before the treatment so patients have plenty of time to ask questions before the treatment. Most of the time patients either do not feel the needles or feel a small prick, similar to a mosquito bite, with the insertion. Patients rest with the needles in for 20-30 minutes with relaxing music playing. Most people feel a sense of deep relaxation during the treatment mainly because acupuncture stimulates an endorphin release in the body.
I am very interested in helping patients to better understand acupuncture and the approach this medicine has for health and health. So at the first visit, I give an informational sheet about Traditional Chinese Medicine helping to explain diagnosis, treatments, and the different therapies use. At the second treatment, I give a Report of Findings that is specific to each individual patient, outlining their diagnosis in Chinese medicine, recommended herbal supplements, diet therapy and treatment plan.
Kate: How would you say that you are unique from other acupuncturists in the community?
Stefanie: There are many acupuncturists that will treat women during pregnancy however my practice is focused on pre and post natal care, fertility and women’s health. With so many wonderful acupuncturists to choose from in the Twin Cities area, there are few acupuncturists in the area who have this specific specialty. I have focused my studies while in acupuncture graduate school and continuing education on pregnancy and women’s health. Having years of experience treating pregnant women, while working closely with many midwives and doulas gives me a unique perspective on the child birthing process from a Traditional Chinese Medicine approach.
Kate: Do you have any advice you’d like to share with our pregnant readers?
Stefanie: Trust your instincts as a mother! Seek help when you need it, don’t just sit back and suffer physically or emotionally. Your body is going through so many changes that it is essential to take extra care of yourself. Pregnancy is a unique time in a woman’s life for enhancing her health and wellbeing not only for the health of the baby but for her own long term health.
Kate: Do you have any advice you’d like to share with our post birth, new mom and new dad readers?
Stefanie: Postpartum care is especially important for the mother’s long term health. It’s so important to try to get as much sleep as possible and to rest. It’s not important to get up and out of the house soon after baby is born. Take those first few months to get to know your little one and develop as a family unit. After having a baby, every woman needs to find balance once again in her body and mind while caring for her newborn. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help to restore the physical and energetic resources spent during pregnancy and labor working with mom to find that balance.