8 THINGS I’VE LEARNED ABOUT FERTILITY
There is so much conflicting information about fertility and pregnancy and so much of it is anxiety inducing! In my years of practice, I have worked with many women going through the cycles of conception and pregnancy, and I have learned a great deal from the experience. So, I wanted to share a few things that may alleviate some of the anxiety. I am not a Doctor, or even an expert, but I have helped many women through this process and have made some observations:
- It is not difficult to get pregnant. I want you to remember all the years you have been desperately trying NOT to get pregnant. The years of multiple methods of birth control and fear of slipping up. Your body was made to do this. You have to trust it. If it is in balance and you are in good health, you will most likely not have trouble getting pregnant.
- Your body must be in balance. Do you have acid reflux? Insomnia? Digestive issues? Anxiety? High blood pressure? Aches and pains? These are all signs that something is out of balance. Basically, any health issue you have is a sign of imbalance, and you must consider the health of all your organs, not just your reproductive ones. Our bodies talk to us all the time, and we rarely listen. One of the best things you can do while trying to get pregnant is listen to your body and feel where and when things are out of balance. And treat that first.
- It takes 6-18 months. This is a biggie. It’s going to take way longer than you think, way longer than you want. But that’s how long it takes. What you do today impacts your cycle 3 months from now. So, if you start eating right and sleeping more and going to acupuncture and taking herbs now, you should start trying 3-6 months from now. It takes time to prepare your body for this! You need lots of Qi and Blood and nutrients and rest and time to figure out what your cycles are doing. Know this going in. Be patient, trust your body, and enjoy the prep time!
- Enjoy the prep time. The 3-6 months before pregnancy are my favorite! It is the time for unadulterated self-care! You 100% must take care of yourself first if you want to get pregnant. It is a necessity not a luxury. So, have fun with it. This should be a joyful time, not a stressful one. It should be like some sort of extended personal baby moon. Make time for massages and naps and crappy TV and novels and very low impact yoga and nesting and eating pretty much anything you want. Because….
- You can’t be on a diet. If you are trying to get pregnant, you can’t be on a diet. You need somewhere around 20% body fat for optimal fertility. And your body needs healthy fat, protein, and carbs to build the resources it needs to create a human being from scratch. You cannot do this on green juice and salad. Healthy eating is not one size fits all. There is a big difference between a cleansing diet and a building one. And you need to be on a building diet. You do this by eating lots and lots of healthy fats and cooked veggies (not raw) and adding carbs back into your diet and upping your red meat intake (if you eat meat, if not I would recommend some blood building herbs). Think comfort food. Think stick to your ribs. Healthy of course, but real substantial food to build strength and endurance, as if you were training for an athletic event...because you are!
- You are not too old. If you are healthy and still getting your period, you can get pregnant. The widely used statistics on fertility and age are so ridiculously outdated they are almost obsolete. Take a peek at this article about how most of the statistics used today are from data gathered in 1700’s France -- a time before antibiotics, birth control or even electricity. In my own practice, I have patients getting pregnant naturally well into their 40’s. Naturally. Without intervention. And consider all of the additional fertility treatments we have at our disposal today from IVF and IUI to acupuncture and herbs, and take a breath -- you have some time. And remember….
- Stress is your biggest obstacle. The biggest obstacle that I see in my own practice is stress. Basic neurology dictates that our central nervous systems are either in “fight or flight” or “rest and digest”. When in fight or flight, all bodily functions not directly related to our ability to survive are switched off. Non-essential bodily functions include digestion, immune function and you guessed it, reproduction. One of the best things you can do while trying to conceive -- perhaps the most important -- is find ways to alleviate stress. That is going to look different for everyone. It may mean working less, or turning your phone off on the weekends, or cultivating a yoga or meditation practice, or gardening or spending time alone. Truly, whatever works. But spend more time in “rest and digest”. Not only will you have an easier time conceiving, but you will improve your overall health.
- Acupuncture and Herbs can help. From the simplest ways to the more complex acupuncture can be instrumental in bringing your body into balance. It helps reduce stress, balance hormones, and with herbal support, can help build the resources you need for pregnancy. It has also been shown to be effective partner for IUI and IVF treatment -- recent studies show a 26% increase in conception rates when acupuncture is used in conjunction with western fertility treatments.