I know this is a sensitive topic. I write this simply to tell you my story and give some advice from a nutritionist’s perspective. I also understand that everyone’s journey to pregnancy is really unique and can be difficult and emotional. Today’s post is pretty personal. In sharing it, I hope that it helps anyone at this phase in their life (or who eventually will be). Sorry it’s so long!!
I’ll start by saying it didn’t actually take us that long to get pregnant, but it also wasn’t immediate. It was about 4-5 months. Prior to us even deciding to have a child, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant (for no logical reason). In reflecting on why this was, I realized I don’t think I fully trusted my body. Since getting the parasite and having Celiac disease, I’ve always felt like I had a more sensitive system. What I felt my friends or peers can sometimes ‘tolerate’ whether it’s eating out, alcohol wise or even just lack of sleep, I sometimes can’t, even though I’d consider myself healthy now. I also have a history of wildly uncomfortable periods (cramps like none other) and back in the day, some hormonal imbalances, which I talk about here. All this to say that I was in my own head about my fertility and should have trusted myself more.
Prior to starting to try to conceive, I tested my hormones. This is a test you can do from home that looks at your salivary and dry blood hormone levels. Being the nutritionist nerd I am, I wanted to know where things were at. I looked at my cortisol, my sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone) and my thyroid hormones. My cortisol was slightly off (hello entrepreneurship) and my progesterone a bit low (a chain effect of the cortisol being off). Overall though, nothing major. I wondered at one point if given the painful cramps I got whether there was any sort of endometriosis, but I had none of the signs from a clinical standpoint (no high estrogen, etc). I addressed the cortisol and progesterone, though I wouldn’t say they were 100% by the time I got pregnant.
I also started taking a prenatal (among other supplements) about a year before getting pregnant. I take the Thorne Prenatal which I like because it has the active form of folate, l-methylfolate, which is thought to be more bioavailable than folic acid. About 40-60% of the population has a genetic mutation that impairs the conversion of supplemental folic acid to its active form, l-methylfolate, so in my opinion, it’s best to just take the active form!
Plus, according to this research, women who had l-methylfolate in their prenatal supplement (vs folic acid) had significantly higher hemoglobin levels at the end of the second trimester and at delivery, and therefore lower anemia levels.
More on the supplements I’m taking for pregnancy in another post.
In chatting with clients and friends, it can be really frustrating to not be pregnant on the timeline you “want”, though it’s a great exercise in letting go of some control. My thoughts are to get ahead of what you CAN control - like your hormone levels - before you really want to start trying. Hormones also don’t change overnight. With my clients, it takes a good three months to have things balance out and three months once you’re already trying can feel like an eternity.
What are signs of hormone imbalance? Well, there can be many but here are some of the most common:
If you’d like help to test and balance out your hormones, click here to book a time to learn more.
When we weren’t pregnant after a few months, there were a few other things I did. I’m definitely not saying you need to do these, or that they for sure contributed to us conceiving, but I do think they helped.
For 4+ years straight, I’ve felt like I’ve been hustling non stop with HEAL. It’s a slight fear based hustle that I think everyone with their own business understands. A mentor of mine described it as this fear that at any point in time the whole business could fall apart. Haha, not realistic, but also a common feeling I think.
Adam and I have a pretty great lifestyle. We travel a ton given both of our work schedules being so flexible, and I’m sure that on Instagram it looks like I barely work. However, other than our 2 week honeymoon, I’ve never not worked on vacation, since starting my business 4 years ago. Also, it tends to be on mind a lot, even if I'm not working. It’s still amazing to get to travel and work, so this isn’t a complaint, it’s just me more acknowledging that I came to the realization that I maybe needed to better unplug and worry less about my business. Shockingly, in putting in more boundaries with my work/life balance, the business still grew and nothing fell apart. ;)
Stress can be a big factor in getting pregnant.
This experience was really interesting for me, and I think it had a major effect at least on my period symptoms, and potentially on pregnancy (though of course, who really knows!) There isn’t much research on it compared to testing your hormones, but I think it’s worth explaining nonetheless.
Mercier therapy (as taken from the website of my practitioner, Sheryl Baniulis), works under the premise that organs don’t function well without blood flow. “Without this constant moving and filtering of blood, organs and other body structures would eventually suffer, and functions would be inhibited. It's no different with the female reproductive system.”
According to Sheryl, “In the same way that we massage muscles to restore circulation and break down adhesions, we can massage the reproductive organs to restore blood flow, and encourage optimal functioning to promote a healthy conception and successful pregnancy.”
After a few sessions with Sheryl, I had the most pain free period I had had in years. And then a few more sessions and I was pregnant (all in all about 6 weeks). I realize there are many other factors (which I’ve stated above), BUT I wouldn’t be in the field that I’m in if I didn’t believe that every little thing helps.
Mercier Therapy concluded a four year, evidence based research study in September 2012, indicating an 83 percent pregnancy success rate. The abstract, “Mercier Therapy Helps Infertile Women Achieve Pregnancy” was published in the spring 2013 edition of Midwifery Today. Lucky for me, Sheryl is also an incredible RMT so is covered on my benefits!
There are so many factors that play into pregnancy, and you may be that person that is pregnant the first time you try!
What you eat, what you think and how much you move will have the largest impact on your hormones to begin with. It’s incredible the power that food has.
For example, something as simple as an undiagnosed gluten sensitivity can impact fertility, due to the inflammation, the lack of absorption of nutrients, and possible autoimmunity. A recent study found that undiagnosed celiac disease may be the reason unexplained infertility in 5.9% of women.
Or, take the statistic that the prevalence of infertility in women with Hashimoto’s was 47%, vs the average 7.5%-24% range. Hashimoto’s, as I write about here, is often completely manageable through diet, nutrients and lifestyle!!
Or, the study that certain pesticides on fruit and vegetables can impact fertility.
I could go on, but I won’t. Don’t go at this alone. Seek out an expert and do it in advance. If you’d like to discuss options of working together to improve your health (fertility or not), click here to book a time to chat at no charge.