When you’re a little girl and fantasize about your future the scenario usually goes something like this: go to college, meet Mr. Right, get engaged, get married, get a job (maybe), buy a house, get pregnant, have babies and live happily ever after – all by the age of 30, right?
Maybe. Maybe not.
For more and more of us, the scenario may be different, and there’s no ONE scenario anymore. We all write our own script.
Mine went like this. I went to college, met a man, went to graduate school, stayed involved with same man, got a job, broke up with college/graduate school boyfriend, quit that job, got another job, moved across the country, kept going up the career ladder with yet another job, bought a house, got promoted again, dated several Mr. Wrongs along the way. At this point I was 30.
I sold my house, bought another house, finally met Mr. Right at age 34. Moved in with Mr. Right, sold my second house, got promoted a few more times for good measure, got engaged, got married, we bought a new house together.
Then – 2 months before turning 42 – we started to try for a baby.
This could mean for many of us – and it did for me – that the getting pregnant part might not be so easy. I was fortunate to be able to conceive my son a month before my 43rdbirthday through an incredible journey of health, wellness and self-empowerment.
I’ve compiled my top 5 tips for what worked for me on my own successful journey through fertility in hopes that they help you in your own efforts to conceive and deliver the baby that you dream of.
GET THE TIMING RIGHT
One of the most important things I learned early on in my journey – and this might rock your world as it did mine – is that you don’t have to have intercourse all the time when you’re trying to get pregnant.
You only need to have intercourse at theright time.
I’d always been taught when growing up that you could get pregnant any time you had intercourse with a boy. I was shocked when I discovered at age 41 that that’s not true. Yes, I was 41 and had been having periods for almost 30 years before I learned this!
I sure hope girls and young women are being taught the truth today but that’s a topic for another day.
So if you want to get pregnant – or even if you are trying to prevent pregnancy but we’re talking here about trying desperately to get pregnant and have a baby – you need to learn how to figure out when that right time is.
Luckily, nature has given us all the tools we need to figure that out and help us nail the timing – and nature’s tools are almost foolproof.
Nature’s tools help us track our fertility signs so that we can nail down our fertile window – i.e., the time to have intercourse to get pregnant.
Those tools – basal body temperature, cervical fluid and cervical position – will help us learn without fail when we’re fertile. You can also learn what is normal for your own unique body, which isn’t the same for everyone. So you’ll always know when ovulation is approaching and when it’s already happened. And this is the most critical information you need to conceive (cue the Hallelujah chorus here!).
It will seriously rock your world.
So obviously, getting the timing right is of paramount importance when you’re trying to conceive naturally or during Intrauterine Insemination cycles. You might be surprised to hear that it’s important during IVF cycles too even though so much of your cycle is manipulated and your doctor is telling you when to do certain things. As I previously mentioned, through monitoring your fertility signs you learn what’s normal for you. You can see right away if something is different or seems off. This is information that could be very important for your treatment.
Through monitoring your cycles, you can be a partner in your care instead of just being a recipient of care. And that’s where you want to be – providing useful information, helping your doctor determine your course of treatment, guiding and influencing the process, being part of making the decisions that will affect you, making sure that those decisions are right and best for you. You’re being an advocate for yourself, and your baby, before it’s even conceived. It’s incredibly empowering.
DO A CLEANSE
The next major area that gives you the biggest bang for your buck in terms of your efforts to conceive is taking charge of your physical health. If you’ve been with me for a while, you know that prioritizing my physical health was one the biggest, most powerful tools that I had in my arsenal to help me get pregnant.
As with our fertility signs, nature has given us the exact tools we need to help us be our healthiest, physically speaking. One of the most powerful of these tools is food. By eating whole fruits, grains and vegetables, as they’re found in nature, you’re going to be your healthiest and feel your very best. And when you eat foods that are in season, you’re giving yourself exactly what you need nutritionally during different seasons of the year.
Even when we eat clean and live a healthy lifestyle, we still need a periodic reboot. We’re exposed to toxins and chemicals on a daily basis, and it can wreak havoc on us. This can affect our fertility since many toxins are endocrine disruptors that affect our hormone balance which is so crucial for fertility.
A cleanse is an amazing tool to give ourselves that reboot, and seasonal whole foods are incredible for gently cleansing our bodies. A whole foods-based fertility cleanse focuses on the liver and uterus, and gives us the opportunity to go inward and facilitate a deeper connection with our bodies and ourselves. Our bodies crave balance with nature and a cleanse can help you get back into that balance.
It’s like hitting the reset button on your body which can have an amazing effect on your fertility.
I did my first cleanse a month before I started trying to conceive. I lost a little weight but the most powerful shifts I felt were in my mood, mental clarity, quality of sleep and feeling good in my own skin. It felt so good that I knew I wanted more. So I did another cleanse 3 months later. The next thing I knew, a year had gone by and I had cleansed every season.
And I got pregnant with my son a few months after that.
I know that periodic cleansing helped me improve my physical health, but it also helped me create the space in my body and my mind to conceive. Now I offer seasonal cleanses for my clients. My spring cleanse, Renewal for Fertility, will be available very soon!
MAINTAIN PROPER PH BALANCE
One thing that taking care of your physical health will do is help you maintain the proper pH balance in your body. You might remember the old pH scale from your high school chemistry class. It’s a scale from 1 to 14 and measures how acidic or alkaline a solution is.
What does this mean for your health? If your body is too acidic, you’re more prone to chronic illness and disease. If it’s too alkaline, some of your body’s functions, like water absorption or metabolizing food, may not work correctly.
Your pH can also affect your fertility. If your body is too acidic your cervical fluid will be too, and acidic cervical fluid is hostile to sperm. Instead of helping sperm get to where they need to go to fertilize the egg, as cervical fluid is supposed to, acidic cervical fluid will kill the sperm instead. Nobody wants that! So make sure your body’s pH is in a desirable range.
Ideally you want your pH to be in the 7.3-7.4 range or the middle of the scale to achieve the proper balance. Luckily pH is quick and easy to monitor.
If you find your pH isn’t where you want it, food is yet again one of the most amazing tools you have at your disposal to help you get your pH back on track. Be sure you eat alkaline foods like green leafy vegetables, avocados, beans, lentils, nuts and berries, and avoid eating too much of acidic foods such as red meat, dairy, sugar and processed foods.
USE A SPERM-FRIENDLY LUBRICANT
A challenge for me in trying to conceive at an advanced age was the lack of cervical fluid. I just didn’t produce as much as I did when I was younger. This is common as women age and estrogen levels decline.
It might be common but it makes conceiving a lot harder, and it’s really frustrating. You see, the sperm need cervical fluid to help them get to where they need to go, to the fallopian tube where the egg is waiting to be fertilized. And the egg will only live so long so the swimmers need to get there kind of fast.
If you don’t make much cervical fluid, or if you just want a boost, lubricant can do the job. But you can’t use just any old lube. Many lubricants actually contain spermicide, meaning they kill sperm, which is exact opposite of what you want.
You want a lube that’s sperm-friendly, that won’t kill the sperm and will be effective in helping the sperm get to the egg quickly. I recommend Preseed; it worked like a charm for us, but there are other brands out there.
TRUST YOUR INTUITION
This is a big one. A lot of this journey requires you to be in tune with yourself, your needs, what feels right for you. If you’re not used to checking in with yourself, this is a skill you’re going to need to learn.
There are so many ways you can learn to develop your intuition. Journaling, mindfulness, meditation, visualization, affirmations, the list goes on. Luckily there’s no “right” way to do this so you can really be creative and experiment, and you’ll find what works right for you.
It’s so important to do, though. When I first saw a reproductive endocrinologist and had my testing done, he told me that he recommended donor egg IVF as my best chance at getting pregnant and having a baby. As I processed this news, I just knew on an intuitive level that this wasn’t the right path for me to become a mom. It just didn’t feel right on a cellular level.
I had to find the courage and strength within myself to tell my doctor – the medical expert – that I didn’t want to follow his recommendation and try to conceive with my own eggs – which he said wouldn’t work.
You have lived in your body your entire life. You have known yourself your entire life. No one knows you like you do. This self-knowledge powerfully complements the medical science and expertise that your doctor brings, and the importance of this cannot be overstated.
In some cases – like mine – this self-knowledge, brought about by intuition, can override the science and statistics.
It’s your job to make sure that what your medical team lays out for your treatment plan feels right to you, that it passes the gut check. And if it doesn’t, speak up, ask questions, and seek alternatives or second opinions if necessary until it does.
Your fertility, and your baby, depend on it.