It can be such an exciting time of life when you finally decide to start your own family, but one that can also bring up many questions about your body, your health, & your lifestyle. It’s a big decision! There is a lot of information overload out there, so I wanted to touch on the most important steps you can take to be in your best shape to naturally conceive.
By Sarah Senter, LAc // @medicine_kitchen
1/ Start supplementing with B Vitamins and Minerals
It takes a lot of fuel to create a baby. I mean, a LOT. Make sure you are stocking up on your vitamins, folate, fatty acids, and mineral stores so that your growing baby doesn’t deplete you of the nutrients you need to stay feeling good. Studies link deficiencies in B vitamins and Magnesium, specifically, to morning sickness and nausea during pregnancy.
2/ Eat Whole Foods to Regulate your Blood Sugar
Cutting back on high sugar foods and highly processed foods will benefit your health not only in pregnancy but in life. Regulating your blood sugar is the first step in regulating your hormones – and this includes reproductive hormones! Eating frequently and holistically will help you avoid fatigue, nausea, energy-crashes, and emotional highs and lows during your first trimester and beyond.
3/ Go ahead and Stop Drinking
Alcohol, that is. Or at least cut it back if you tend to indulge more than a couple days/week. One of the things that is shown to aid in not only conception, but embryonic health, is to stop frequent alcohol consumption when trying to conceive. As hard as it may be to give up that glass of wine every night, this is confirmed straight from a midwife friend, Ulrike Schmidt, CPM.
4/ Try Yoga. Or Walking
I mention yoga & walking as they are great moderate forms of exercise to try before and during pregnancy. Leave the heated and high-intensity yoga classes to your friends and focus on more gentle hatha flow style or even yin yoga for those stressful days. You don’t want to push yourself too hard to depletion. My friend Gina Giordano, who is a doula and co-founder of DTI loves walking for mamas-to-be best. She says, “I’m a huge fan of walking! It’s very important to feel the earth below our feet and move our bodies daily. During pregnancy, especially the end when the body is being pushed to the limits, walking can also challenge the mind and body to push past our comfort zone. That’s great practice for labor.”
5/ Use Mindfulness Techniques for Stress
Stress triggers a cascade of hormone production in our bodies that can be counter productive to conception. If you have ongoing stressors in your life, using mindfulness therapies like guided meditation, body-scanning, or somatic experiencing can be hugely beneficial to your mental and emotional (and therefore physical) health. These therapies bring you into your present experience and teach you how to identify your stress response patterns, process them, and move through them in a healthy way.
6/ Give yourself time, especially after the pill
Some women need 3-6 months or more to regulate their menstrual cycle after being on birth control pills or patches for years. Don’t be alarmed if your period is irregular after getting off the pill. Also, keep in mind that doctors don’t even consider the word “infertility” until you have been actively trying to conceive for at least 1 whole year.
7/ If your cycle is irregular, get that synced up!
If you have ongoing irregular periods, seek out some extra assistance in regulating your cycle. Acupuncture can be a great therapy for regulating and normalizing the menstrual cycle, especially when combined with herbal medicine. Once your cycle is on track, your body will be in a much better state to conceive naturally.
8/ Switch to natural skin + beauty products
Most of us are aware that many plastics contain chemicals known to be “hormone disruptors”. What many people don’t know is that many of these similar compounds are used in skin + body products as well. If you are trying to conceive, it’s especially important for you to avoid as many of these substances as possible. Please check your labels to ensure you are not actively using endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in your daily beauty routines.
9/ Eat more warmed, cooked foods instead of raw, cold ones
In Chinese medicine, we consider your Spleen to be an important organ in pregnancy and conception. The Spleen is one of the organs involved in preventing miscarriage, morning sickness, and fatigue. Eating warm, well-cooked, easy-to-digest food keeps the spleen, stomach and uterus warm & nourished, which is especially important during pregnancy.
10/ Treat your body as if it’s already pregnant
When I asked Heart of Gold Midwifery for one tip she would share with mamas-to-be, she had this simple advice. “One of the best things to do is to start treating your body as if its already pregnant, once you decide you want to get pregnant. Or at the very least, make changes as early on as possible. Many of us take liberties with our health in *regular* life, that we wouldn’t necessarily take when growing another human.”