In the months before trying to conceive I was a nervous wreck.
Even though I had the tools & knowledge to support my body for carrying a baby, society had convinced me that it would be an uphill battle. It seemed like everywhere I turned I heard stories of IVF, years of unsuccessful “trying”, or an inability to stay pregnant. I became obsessed with the chatter & it drowned out the noise of my own body.
What a dummy.
I’m not saying my fear wasn’t valid, because it was. There are a lot of people out there who are truly struggling with fertility….but we hadn’t even started trying yet! I was psyching myself out for nothing. I just wish I would have continued to nurture my body instead of worrying my mind.
The thing is, our bodies are very wise. They speak to us in ways that we can’t hear unless we really listen. No easy task in this crazy noisy world is it? But if we do, if we take the time to listen we often realize that they are trying to tell us what they need.
what could our bodies be saying about fertility?
There are certain medical conditions that lead to the genuine diagnoses of infertility. For the most part, however, I truly believe that it’s possible that what these “infertile” couples are experiencing is not a loss of fertility, but signs from their bodies that they need a little bit of support before being ready to carry & produce a healthy little human.
check this out…
There is a great association in the U.K. called Foresight. It was founded by Belinda Barnes in 1978. They help people have babies, naturally. They focus on environment, lifestyle, & diet to help support the body in a way that encourages fertility, maintained pregnancies, & healthier babies. It’s truly incredible.
Throughout their years of work they have had a 78% success rate at returning fertility to couples who have been diagnosed medically infertile. They also see much lower miscarriage rates. Clients of the Foresight Program have about 3.5% overall rate of miscarriage compared to the 25% national average.1
A study in 2007 also found that women eating a “fertility friendly diet” (high in vegetables, healthy animal proteins, & whole fat foods, low in processed foods) had a 69% lower risk of infertility due to an ovulatory disorder.2
Exciting isn’t it? The idea that we can empower our fertility lights me right up!
not even thinking about babies yet? GREAT. start preparing for them!
Although our bodies are crazy resilient, healing naturally takes time. Waiting until you are already aching to carry a baby can be a really tough time to be focused on the needs of your body.
The good news is that there are things that you can do TODAY to help your body reclaim it’s right to fertility freedom.
what can you do?
1. keep your food simple.
The most effective thing that you can do is simplify your diet. I know that it’s a loaded topic that an entire blog could be devoted to, let alone a few paragraphs in a single post, but let’s keep this at the most basic level to save ourselves some time. Eat real, whole foods. The longer the list of ingredients, the worse for you!
If home cooking & real food (as opposed to packaged goods) are not part of your routine, then do your best to begin to implement them. Start a collection of fresh recipes to rotate through the week. You can also cook ahead & freeze meals for busy days. Depending on your current diet it may take time to strip it down to the good stuff. Start now.
I cannot stress the importance of this enough.
Our bodies are intricate, delicate, & primal. When we flood them with a bunch of processed, lab created, & artificial ingredients then they have to focus on eliminating those things rather than functioning optimally. Consuming foods that are unnatural to our system may also leach important vitamins & minerals from us. The body does this in order to help it deal with the upset caused by the foreign invaders (in the tricky form of “food”!).
The goal is to eat foods that nourish the body & support optimal health-for you & your future babies.
2. up your nutrient intake.
While cleaning up the diet is a huge step towards building body for baby, years of eating nutrient-leaching foods can leave us with some major hidden deficiencies. Ideally, it would be awesome to get some labs taken of your vitamin & mineral levels just to have a better idea of what to work on. With my first son we were not able to do a lab panel due to the ridiculous expense, but I was tested by hand by an applied kinesiology practitioner, which can be an even better option if your mind is open to it!
Here are some general things that you can do to build nutrient levels, no matter where your body lies on deficiencies:
- eat real salt. Often. That’s right people, SALT. This is not your typical table salt. This is good ol’ from-the-earth, unprocessed, non-iodized, mineral-based salt. These tasty little morsels are rich with minerals & can be used as much as your little heart desires. I always suggest salting to taste because each persons needs are different. A craving for salt is usually a sign that you are in need of minerals…so listen to your needs & let them lead the way.
- add trace minerals to your water! Another easy way to sneak minerals into your life is by using these drops in your water. A good rule of thumb is to add as many drops as it takes for you to taste the mineral liquid. Once you taste it your body is telling you that you have surpassed the amount it needs at that time.
Water soluble vitamins:
These are a little easier to get in. As long as you are eating plenty of whole veggies, fruits, & properly cared for animal meats you should get a good variety. Up those greens for extra support.
These could be a bit trickier to manage. We find fat-soluble vitamins in healthy fats. Unfortunately, a lot of us have been raised to believe that fat is enemy (palm to forehead) whhhhyyyyy!? Fats are crucial not only for survival, but absolutely for baby building. Fat is a huge factor in brain function & even more so in brain development. Check out a few facts about fat soluble vitamins & the babes:
- Vitamin A plays a part in liver, kidney, lung, & heart development. It also protects sperm against environmental toxins, & can lower the risk of birth defects (although some research shows that extremely high levels-above 40,000IU-can be damaging).
- Vitamin D plays a part in skeletal development, lung development, & heart health.
- Vitamin E was actually originally named “Fertility Factor X” back in 1992 since lab rats were not able to reproduce without it. Science still does not understand why, but it absolutely plays a role in fertility. Vitamin E also helps to build the nutrient transport system of the placenta.
- less in known about Vitamin K & its relationship to fetal development, but certain Vitamin K dependent proteins are found early on in the skeletal & nervous tissue of the embryo.3
The easiest, purest, & most dense source of natural whole-food fat soluble vitamins is grass-fed & pasture raised animal meats. It’s very important that you are eating the best quality of meat-it makes all of the difference in what you will get from it! Opt for fattier cuts (like 15%) of grass-fed animal meats.
To add even more of these vitamins in, try these foods:
- whole raw grassfed cow milk
- grassfed butter
- oily wild fish
- healthy animal liver
- pastured egg yolks
You may not be ready to implement the foods listed above right away, but I would recommend adding in at least a few of them (as long as there is no allergy) in the months just before you plan on trying to conceive.
Supps are also an option. Although there are different schools of though on supplements, I see them as an extremely beneficial insurance policy. I’d LOVE if we could get everything that we need from our food, but modern farming practices, current standard American diet, & high demand on food makes it nearly impossible. I began taking a prenatal quite a while before trying to conceive. My recommendation is a whole food vitamin with no weird fillers. Here is what I took!
3. purify your environment.
Our fertility feeds off much more than just what we put into our bodies. Our surrounding greatly effect the overall health of our bodies, including our ability to get pregnant.
There are many factors that we can’t control, & therefore shouldn’t obsess over (note to self: STOP OBSESSING OVER THINGS YOU CAN’T CONTROL!) like air pollution & the neighbors wi-fi.
However, there are some things that you can adjust:
This is REAL people! Humans are an ever-changing force of energy living on an energized planet. Any time we are around any other source of energy it affects our bodies. Our systems are actually equipped to deal with certain levels of surrounding energy since the earth gives off its own magnetic fields. What we aren’t made for is the insane levels of wireless rays, ionizing radiation, & abundant electronics that surround us today. Studies have shown higher rates of childhood cancer, miscarriage, & other dis-ease when comparing those exposed to high levels of electromagnetic pollution to those who are not.4 What can we do?
- keep everything wired! Use wired internet, wired house phones, wired headphones for talking on a cell phone, wired speakers, etc.
- be mindful about when you use the cell phone. Keep the phone as far away from you as possible. Keep it away from all major organs, especially reproductive. If you have to hold the phone up to your head or close to your body, wait until the person on the other line has picked up–the signal is very strong when it’s trying to connect.
- use a desktop rather than a laptop, or use a laptop only on a desk. our lap is eerily close to our reproductive organs. Yikes.
- leave the kitchen when major appliances are being used. Everything that uses energy releases radiation while in use. Ovens, microwaves (we chose not to use one at all), blenders, etc. should all be used at a distance if possible.
- don’t sit in front of the tv. As mentioned above, everything that uses electricity gives off magnetic radiation, so keep your distance!
- move your bed away from your wall. There is a ton of free energy roaming through our walls & leading to all outlets, if possible move the bed 6-12 inches away from the wall. Sleep should be a restful time for body & mind.
We also have control over what we use to clean!
Our skin is our largest organ. Because it protects us, it’s easy to forget how breathable & absorbent it is. Most conventional cleaning sprays & scrubs are filled with awful, harmful, & dangerous ingredients. Just like the chemicals in those cleaners break down dirt & grime, they are strong enough to break down our skin & organ tissue. Combine that with some hot steam after scrubbing the tub & your literally bathing in chemicals. Ahhhhhh!
What else can you use to clean?
- distilled white vinegar: using this in different ratios for different “projects” works wonders. I use 1:1 ratio for most everything, with more vinegar for tougher cleaning, & pure vinegar for scrubbing out really tricky stuff (like grime in the shower). It’s non-toxic & super sanitizing. The acid kills it all! I even use the 1:1 mixture for mirrors.
- castile soap: a few drop of this mixed with some warm water creates sudsy goodness without the harmful surfactants. I like to use this for cleaning counter tops & deep “dusting”. It does a much better job of removing “stuck on” messes than vinegar does. We use baby mild!
- soap nuts for laundry: It’s easy to overlook what we use to get out grass stains & post-workout sweat, but our clothes are the one thing in contact with our skin all day. Soap nuts are the most natural solution that I have found. Easy, scentless, & the best part-they work!
- steam mops: I heart my steam mop. I get a really great clean & all I need is water & an outlet.
Whether it be an “air freshening” plug-in, artificial oils, or colored potpourri, most fragrant household items are chemicals in disguise. If you really want a scent-filled home try pure essential oils, real flowers, or whole cinnamon sticks. Cookin’ up something healthy doesn’t smell too bad either!
When choosing body care products it’s best to avoid:
- anything with ingredients that contain a number
- anything with ingredients that you don’t recognize or can’t pronounce
- any fragrances
- laurels, parabens, sulfates, petroleum, dimethicone, & phenoxyethanol to name a few
If you aren’t sure, do a quick internet search for a specific ingredient & make a decision based on what you find!
4. keep the extra stuff out.
As I mention [somewhere] above, when our bodies are busy eliminating things that are unnatural to them they are not able to focus on proper functioning.
Every once & a while I’ll find myself wondering why a relatively healthy couple might have a hard time getting pregnant while a drug addict is carrying her sixth baby. The truth is, every person is so different. We are all born with certain genetic predispositions that are manipulated by our lifestyle choices. It can be hard to understand why our own body may be more sensitive than another, but we can use it as a gift. We can empower ourselves with tools & resources to support our bodies to the best of our ability. Let’s look at some outside additives that we can eliminate to help increase fertility:
- alcohol: Although it’s rough on both men & women, alcohol is particularly detrimental to male reproduction. Alcohol is a direct testicular toxin. It effects sperm count & motility & has been found to cause morphological abnormalities in sperm. In fact, studies show that 80% of chronically alcoholic men are sterile. Needless to say, even a few drinks a month can affect sperm health. 5
- mild pain suppressants (like advil/asprin): slows down function by preoccupying detox systems
- pesticides: although they travel by way of food, they are not a food! Pesticides are intended to kill living things. We are living things!! Aim for organic when possible.
- caffeine: although the natural health world is a bit torn on coffee, caffeine is still an additive. Cutting it out can increase the optimal flow of our detoxification system, & ease the demand on our bodies.
5. be mindful of the water that you drink.
Water is so important & so overlooked. I wish it wasn’t so, but our tap water is so heavily laden with chemicals, & even some bacteria, that it’s not fit to drink. What’s in water?
- fluoride: added to water. Not natural. Sourced from industrial plants as toxic waste.
- chlorine: used to kill germs. Harmful to our body tissue.
- lead: from pipes & such. Toxic heavy metal
- arsenic: from industrial waste runoff. Toxic substance.
- hormones/prescription drug residue: from urine of people taking medication/hormones/birth control. Finds it’s way back to water & filtered into tap.
Each & every substance above can have a negative effect on your reproduction & overall health in general.
What are better options:
- reverse osmosis, carbon filtered water, with trace minerals added back in
- pure, untouched bottled-at-the-source artesian & fresh spring waters
- bottling your own fresh spring water. Check out “Find a Spring“!
THAT’S IT!! GOT IT ALL?
I know this post is a bit lengthy, but I just really, really, really want to help you make babies!!
I lied about that being the end. OOPS. One more thing!!
Although I seriously recommend starting to prep your body for babies ASAP (no matter when you plan to make one), I want to note that the 4 months before “trying” are SUPER important. It takes about 2 months for sperm to develop from the day that they begin being built. The 90 days before ovulation is an important window where female eggs come to maturity before use. The extra cushion is because real change takes time. Those 4-6 months pre baby makin’ are a huge window of opportunity to cut out any & all toxins & add in as much nutrient dense food as possible. The hubby likes his beer, so even though we had prepared in other ways, we cut everything out for the 6 months before juuuuust to be sure that the mature sperm & eggs would be as healthy as can be!
CHEERS to flourishing fertility & lot’s of healthy babies.
- Barnes, Belinda. Beautiful Babies, Fabulous Families, Wonderful World: For 30 Years, Restoring Natural Fertility and Creating Happy, Healthy Babies. S.l.: Foresight Association Promotion of Pre-conceptual Care, 2012. Print. ↩
- Chavarro, Jorge E., MD, Janet W. Rich-Edwards, Bernard A. Rosner, and Walter C. Willett, MD. “Diet and Lifestyle in the Prevention of Ovulatory Disorder I… : Obstetrics & Gynecology.” LWW. Obstetrics & Gynecology, Nov. 2007. Web. 05 Dec. 2014. ↩
- Fallon, Sally, and Thomas S. Cowan. The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care. Washington, DC: New Trends, 2013. Print. ↩
- Barnes, Belinda. “Electromagnetic Pollution.” Beautiful Babies, Fabulous Families, Wonderful World: For 30 Years, Restoring Natural Fertility and Creating Happy, Healthy Babies. S.l.: Foresight Association Promotion of Pre-conceptual Care, 2012. N. pag. Print. ↩
- Barnes, Belinda. “Excerpt from The Adverse Effects of Alcohol on Reproduction, by Tuula E Tuormaa.” Beautiful Babies, Fabulous Families, Wonderful World: For 30 Years, Restoring Natural Fertility and Creating Happy, Healthy Babies. S.l.: Foresight Association Promotion of Pre-conceptual Care, 2012. N. pag. Print. ↩