I have so much I would love to share about this beautiful miracle pregnancy and first trimester, but I can’t begin to get into any of that without honoring our pre-conception journey. About 2 years ago was when I started having the conversation with my doctors about conceiving. I legitimately had NO idea how this worked, but knew that we wanted to get pregnant in the next year and that there had to be some important information to consider. At the time I had no close friends or family members (in my generation) who were pregnant or had kids, so I really hadn’t gotten to peak behind the curtain before. Unfortunately, for the first year and a half I was extremely misguided by well-meaning but uninformed medical practitioners. It wasn’t until committing to my own learning and finding the right experts, that I was able to get in a place where my body was ready to conceive.
I know there are so many of you who can relate to this story. I want to ask you to please share a comment after reading with your experience/advice to that we can build community and support around this important topic! We all have our own unique journeys when it comes to hormones, womens health and conception. Whether you’re a future mama, mother, grandmother or not planning on having children, let’s commit to respecting and supporting one another where we are at.
**Please know that I am not a doctor and have no medical background or training. These are the things I wish I knew and should not be considered medical advice. Always listen to your own body and consult with your care providers.
TRADE THE BIRTH CONTROL FOR PRENATALS EARLY
If you haven’t read my blog post: “Ditching the Birth Control: What They Don’t Tell You,” I share the challenges that coming off the pill presents. In short, I was assured over and over not to come off of my birth control until about a month before we wanted to conceive. This makes me so upset and frustrated to think about. I honestly CANNOT fathom that there are experts out there telling women this. I am not a doctor, but have now talked to hundreds of women who have shared that they have needed at least 1-2 years to conceive after coming off hormonal birth control, which was the case for me. I literally STILL have not had a regular period since I came off (more on that here), but miraculously got pregnant in the absence of a period. I wish I could shout from the rooftops that most women I have spoken to all agree that our bodies at least needed 1-2 years, NOT MONTHS to be off hormonal birth control. I was told the benefits of going on prenatal vitamins early and started those a year and a half before I conceived. Unfortunately, I was put on the wrong kind- and thankfully switched to the right kind a few months before conceiving. Wrong kind: includes synthetic folate aka folic acid, which can become toxic, especially in those with the common MTHFR mutation (which I have). Right kind: contains methylated folate, which is better for everyone including those with MTHFR (see more under “resources” below).
2. KNOW THAT IT IS TYPICALLY NOT EASY
If I would have known from the beginning that it is common for it to be challenging to conceive and that women who get pregnant by accident or right away when trying are more rare than it seems, it would have helped normalize my experience. I assumed that since we both were healthy, fairly young and the doctors suggested coming off the pill only a month or so before, we would get pregnant in, well… a month or two! Wasn’t it just yesterday in sex ed that they basically convinced us that touching someone of the opposite sex without clothes on would result in a child? What about movies where it seems so effortless and glamorous? NO guys! Society has done us wrong with these false messages. Conceiving a child these days is not usually that quick and easy and everyone needs to know this. Nothing is wrong with you if it takes a while. We live in a world where we are all put on synthetic hormones, exposed to endocrine disruptors and our bodies aren’t as primally functioning as they probably used to be. Just know that if it is taking you time for whatever reason they want to label you with or not, you are not alone!
3. CONSIDER DIET AS A THING, BUT NOT EVERYTHING.
Food is medicine, and there is a LOT that can help when it comes to fertility. Tweaking your own personal diet to optimize your health based on your individual needs is probably going to help more than randomly incorporating a bunch of new foods and herbs. I started by taking herbal tonics from my acupuncturist while also incorporating a bunch of other roots, herbs and foods on my own for fertility. I eventually went to an herbalist/functional medical practitioner, who based on lab work and his knowledge, helped me tweak my diet and put me on supplements. At first I stuck to his advice religiously and still used a bunch of the other herbs. The combination of doing BOTH was actual insanity guys. DO NOT DO THIS! I drove myself nuts trying to get in all these herbs and foods daily and at a low point even had an excel spreadsheet I would pull up in the grocery store. I finally realized the the stress of all of this was causing more harm than good. I ended up stopping all the herbs and just trying to loosely follow the bigger dietary recommendations such as cutting down on sugar, grains and alcohol (still having some to stay sane!) and incorporating more animal protein, especially chicken thighs and eggs (have choline) and collagen.
4. FIND (THE RIGHT) SUPPORT
From pre-conception, to pregnancy to motherhood and beyond, women need support and the right support. I kept quiet about this for so long and it made it feel so shameful. When I finally shared what was happening with family and friends, a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I am most proud of myself though for finding the right experts to help me. I went to 3 OBGYNs before I found one who was patient, centered, open to a more holistic approach and really wanted to listen. I also switched acupuncture locations and practitioners to one that felt like a better fit for me. My most important team member was my functional medical PA/herbalist who acted as an advocate. I was able to have lengthy appointments with him going over my medical records and he had the time to teach me what was happening in my body which was empowering. Sometimes we get comfortable or feel bad being “high maintenance,” but shouldn’t. Whether you are paying through insurance or out of pocket, you are the customer or client who should be being served and catered to. You don’t owe anyone anything except YOURSELF and your health.
5. LEARN TO LET GO
I knew this the whole time, but couldn’t do it. I had heard over and over that when you stop caring, it happens. And guess what? I said F that! This is bullshit because I am never going to stop caring. I hate cliches and it is super cliche and seems like something a smug pregnant person would say. Well I am not going to tell you that anything in the world happens when you stop caring because I will never believe that. But, there is a big difference between caring and clutching. Between hoping and longing. Between manifesting and manipulating. I wish I could explain this to you here, but instead I will share resources (below) that can do a better job. I will also share this blog post: Living in Alignment: The Ultimate Priority, which was also key in clearing (mental/metaphysical) space for the energy needed to conceive a child.
Love the resources on natural fertility from Aimee Raupp. I discovered her through Gabby Bernstein right around the time I conceived and wish I had sooner. She really gets how to blend the need to know science with the importance of taking care of yourself and mental well-being during this time.
Promise I’ll share more on this in the future, but I can’t talk about my fertility journey without sharing a resource on MTHFR. I have a double copy of this gene and no doctors could help me make any connection between it and fertility/pregnancy until I went to my functional med. guy who explained the effects and put me on supplements to help with methylation cycle.
Wellness Mama podcast! She covers a ton of topics, but has a lot of good episodes that relate to hormones/fertility. I really dove into some of her archives blog posts and podcasts when trying to do some of my own research and self-help.
I read these two books while trying to conceive and they helped me flip the switch from obsessing, self-hate and pity and being a control freak to being at peace, letting go and feeling in the flow of life: Letting Go and You Can Heal Your Life
Supportive friends/family… Remember that you need to communicate and ask for help for your friends and family to support you. It is hard for them to guess what is going on and how you are feeling. Articulate what you are going through and what they can do. It may be going to a doctors appointment, helping find a resource or just listening.
Supportive team of health experts! Mine includes: A patient centered, open to holistic/natural approaches OBGYN, Herbalist/PA functional medicine practitioner, acupuncturist and my therapist. Each have played an integral role in helping me on my pre-conception and now pregnancy journey. I am happy to provide specific recommendations for those in Louisville if you reach out to me.