When she was 43, mother-of-one Josephine McDonnell longed for a second baby to complete her
However, seeing the heartache and financial turmoil that IVF treatment had caused some of her close friends, Josephine decided this route wasn’t an option.
After she turned to acupuncture though, the former solicitor became pregnant with her second child Róisín in just three months – achieving her goal without breaking the bank or her heart.
At least 3,000 years old, Chinese healing method acupuncture is used to treat everything from obesity and depression to helping people quit smoking or conceive.
“Many years ago my sister gave me vouchers for acupuncture sessions as a present,” says Josephine (44), who is from Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin .
“It had amazing results on my hayfever. I remember the acupuncturist placing a needle in the side of my nose and I could literally hear the air escaping, hissing out of my nostril.
“I was able to breathe perfectly after that, before I wasn’t able to breath out of that nostril at all.”
At 43, Josephine was trying in vain to conceive for the second time and after seeing three of her friends go through IVF, she decided this treatment wasn’t for her.
“I had Matilda in May 2007 when I was 42, the next year I suffered a miscarriage. I wanted another baby but I did not want to go through the experience of losing one again,” explains Josephine.
"I thought if I'm not meant to have another child, so be it, I’m not going to try IVF.”
Instead, Josephine turned to renowned acupuncturist Beizheng Liu in the Chinese Medical Centre in Dun Laoghaire.
“I had read about Acupuncture as a fertility treatment on the internet, I talked to my mother about it and she recommended Beizheng,” she says.
“She had been in an accident and badly damaged her heel and Beizheng had done wonders in relieving her pain.
"I rang Beizhing, explained the situation and she said you've come to the right woman, I’ve given so many people babies’.
“I started treatment in July, going in for a session initially every week then every two weeks.
“Beizheng placed needles around my hands, legs and feet, it doesn’t hurt at all.
“Acupuncture is an art and a science, it is very precise, for my first two cycles I made the mistake of telling Beizheng that my cycles were regular.
“When I actually took note of my cycles they were anywhere between 22 and 33 days so they were very irregular. It should be 28 days.
"Beizheng very gently told me off and explained that my cycles needed to be regulated in order for me to conceive and keep a baby.
“She explained that I had the wrong levels of progesterone which made it hard for a baby to start and harder for it to hold on.”
That month Josephine became pregnant with her second daughter Róisín who is now 19 months old.
Impressed with the effects of acupuncture, Josephine turned to another source of natural healing during her pregnancy to relieve her of Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD).
In pregnancy the hormone relaxin is released to soften the joints in preparation for birth, but in some women the hormone causes the ligaments to soften and stretch too much and become painful.
“I remember a friend had SPD and was bedridden for the last five weeks of her pregnancy and had to crawl on the floor to the bathroom.
“When I found out I had SPD I went to a reflexologist for it and literally bounced off her sofa after the second session.”
With a newfound respect for natural medicine, Josephine shuns reaching for the antibiotics bottle.
“Róisín had been suffering from eczema so we had her allergytested and found out she has nine allergies including pork.
“My husband said to me ‘actually when she is eating her sausage, she has the sausage in one hand and the piece of toast in the other, scratching her face’ - we should have made the connection there really.
“Now we know what will make her eczema flare up and it has died down considerably from this time last year.
Sunday World Magazine