I want to start this post by saying that I am not a fertility expert and I believe that every woman is different and every situation has to be dealt with uniquely with the advice from doctors and health practitioners. But because I’ve been asked a number of times over the past few weeks since I announced my pregnancy, I want to share with you the strategies that I took for my dream to become pregnant to come true.
I have to start by saying that becoming pregnant was one of the most challenging things I’ve done in my life. I am so envious of those couples who fall pregnant easily on their first try, and I have a deep compassion for all those who struggle to conceive for no good reason. I feel for you and know how confusing and sad and depressing it can be to keep getting a negative pregnancy result every month.
Trying to conceive (TTC) can be an immensely stressful and emotional time in your life. I hated that I could want something so badly but that getting that thing felt out of my control and truly in the hands of higher powers.
The first few months of “casually trying” were fun. But then, by about the fourth month when I still got my period, I started to worry. This worry led to a growing anxiety by month 5 of trying to conceive and by halfway through last year I started to really make getting pregnant my focus.
I don’t think there was one single factor that worked in the end, but probably a combination of all of these things plus a stroke of divine timing.
This sounds so cheesy, and it isn’t always possible, but I truly believe that your mindset can be extremely powerful in what it can help your body to accomplish. When I got my period each month, I would cry, and get depressed and wonder what was wrong with me, wrong with us. How could two healthy people not be able to do what other friends were able to accomplish with such ease? Was there something wrong with me? Had I left trying to get pregnant too late, and I was too old? The doctor says my body is healthy, so why isn’t pregnancy happening yet?
It would have been super easy to allow these thoughts to spiral downward, but after sharing them with my husband, he would give me a hug and tell me it would all be ok and remind me that there is a divine timing to these things and that when the time was right, it would happen. I would hold onto this thought and try to keep my mindset firmly positive for the rest of the month, knowing I was doing everything else that I could. It really helped to have a husband who believed unwaveringly that it would happen, to boost me up when my doubts and fears would surface.
Tracking my Cycle
This is something that I have been doing for many years, after I went off using the Pill. I use an app called FMC (Female Monthly Calendar) but there are many similar apps that allow you to track your dates in your cycle, and to note what is going on with your body throughout the month.
I have always felt it is an important part of being a woman to know how my body works, and I have always had a curiosity about how my body feels during the different phases of my cycle. I would say I am very in-tune with my body, and this certainly helps when TTC.
I never wanted to be that crazy woman who would force my husband into the bedroom at a particular time that I knew I was ovulating, and I was very conscious about still keeping things as fun and spontaneous as possible. But I will admit I did always know my fertile days and would always make sure that some action happened on those days, without making it into a big deal. My husband is a highly intuitive man and he would also know at what stage of the month we were at, which I think really helped to keep this side of things light-hearted as possible.
My tip with this is to be aware but not obsessive! Relaxing, allowing and going with the flow of your natural cycle really helps to keep this side of things enjoyable as opposed to clinical and high pressure.
This was a huge one for me. I read some great books and blogs to mentor me with information about the best diet for fertility. I can highly recommend the book Woman Code– for every woman to read, not just those TTC. I also read the blogs of natural fertility experts Heather Rogriguez, Nat Kingroudis and Nicole Jardim for advice about the best foods to eat to boost fertility and to increase the chances of conception.
My husband and I already ate a very healthy, plant based diet with very few processed and junk foods. Almost everything we eat is made in our kitchen from scratch so we always know exactly what ingredients are being used in our meals.
Fresh fruit and veg, whole grains, and beans and lugumes, seaweed, and healthy fats from avocado and nuts and seeds predominate our diet. I started eating specific foods for each phase of my cycle as suggested in Woman Code, and made sure I was getting a heaps of greens through green juices and green smoothies every day. I tried to eat a balanced diet that included fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, plant-based protein, and omegas every day.
Some people have asked me if it is ever hard for me to eat a healthy diet, and I have to say that it actually isn’t. I love eating fresh produce and I love knowing that what is going into my body is helping it to thrive and keep me free from disease. When TTC I had the added motivation of knowing that it was going to help my body to prepare for pregnancy, and that made it even easier to stay on track.
Cutting Out Alcohol
While eating clean, organic and fresh food every day was important, I also think that stopping drinking also helped a lot. Over the past couple of years I have dramatically cut back on my alcohol consumption, so that I would only drink a few times a month. The problem was that I would not just have a glass of wine, it would be a whole bottle over the space of a night, and even if that was just once or twice a month, it left me feeling rotten the next day. I knew it couldn’t be helpful in priming my body for conception.
So I made the decision to stop drinking altogether in a bid to help me conceive. I haven’t had a drop to drink since late September last year and I honestly have not missed it one little bit. I have written about how much better my life seemed to become after I stopped drinking and it really helped my body physically and emotionally.
I love to move my body and if I don’t do some form of movement every day I feel stiff and tired and like something is missing. I have made it my routine to do 30-40 minutes of exercise minimum each day for quite a while now, and I do believe that this helped to keep my body fit and healthy. It also helped a lot for the mental and emotional part of TTC as it is impossible not to feel good after exercising. I was doing light weight training and cardio on the treadmill or cross trainer 3-4 times a week, doing yoga at least twice a week and generally taking Sundays off.
This is where I start to get a little bit woo-woo, but I want to be transparent and to share all that I was doing. I believe in the power of manifestation and my husband is always telling me that I am an awesome manifester. I figured if I can manifest money and opportunities then surely I can also manifest pregnancy.
So I would spend ten minutes every evening before bed, lying on my Yantra mat (an acupressure mat), and I would hold my hands over my belly and I would visualize how it would feel to be pregnant. I would imagine myself with a baby growing inside my belly and how I would look and how I would feel when I was a mama-to-be.
I believe that our thoughts are more powerful than we realise and that visualization like this can be extremely effective in helping to manifest things into your life- not just babies!
I love my Young Living Essential Oils and they are a massive part of my life. In addition to my regular daily protocol I was also using the following oils daily:
- Clary Sage, rubbed over my belly every morning and every night to help prime my uterus
- Lavender diffused every evening for relaxation and sound sleep
- Ylang Ylang rubbed on the wrists and ankles every morning and every night to help promote fertility
- Sclar Essence on wrists, upper-inner arm and ankles every morning and every night to help with balancing hormones
- Progessence Plus on wrists, upper-inner arm and ankles every morning and every night to help with balancing hormones
These oils are known to help prepare the body for pregnancy, to promote relaxation, and to balance the hormones, all very positive things for TTC naturally.
Herbs and Supplements
I think I was going a bit overboard with these towards the end as I was getting more desperate and learning more about different useful herbs to try. At one stage I was taking all of these every day:
- Evening Primrose
- Royal Jelly
- Saw Palmetto
I’m surprised my stomach wasn’t rattling from so many pills! I would say that Maca, Vitex and DIM were the most helpful for really getting my hormones balanced.
I was also drinking a special fertility tea a few times a day. So I was really taking in a lot of herbs and I honestly can’t say which ones helped. It probably would have been better to introduce each supplement one-by-one, but hey, I was getting to be quite desperate for results and would do anything!
I used Fibre Fusion Plus every day (added to my juice) to help my body to cleanse toxins from my system effectively and thus help to balance my hormones.
I asked also my husband to take a men’s fertility multivitamin and zinc to help with his side of things (which he diligently obliged to do to contribute towards his part to the process).
I would order all my herb and supplement supplies every month from iHerb.
Relaxation and Self Care
I am always a huge advocate for relaxation and self-care. Making time each week for just me has always been important but I really made this a priority. Massages, mani-pedis, face masks and time out away from the computer are important rituals for me.
And I have a feeling that relaxing might have been the key for us, for in the end we conceived while away on holidays at a beautiful location, doing what we love every day (diving) and spending quality time together out of the city and away from our work.
Do not underestimate the value in minimising stress when TTC to really prepare the body effectively.
There is a fertility massage that can be conducted to improve fertility, and acupuncture has also been found to assist couples in improving their chances of conception- though I never tried either of these myself (but they were on my list to start doing in the new year if I was still not pregnant).
Jakarta isn’t exactly an easy place to be toxin free, but I tried my best to keep my home free of chemicals, opting for natural cleaners, using all organic skin care and shampoo and eating as much organic food as possible. Toxin exposure can really mess with the hormonal system and keeping that in as much balance as possible by minimisng unnecessary exposure is important for everyone’s health.
A Complete Lifestyle
So that is all that I was doing to help me to conceive naturally. The purpose for all of these things was to try and get my body, mind and spirit in tip-top shape for baby making and the combination of everything eventually worked.
As an otherwise healthy couple, with no known health issues, eating well, exercising, eliminating toxins and using herbs and supplements was a beneficial lifestyle for us.
There was definitely not one single factor, and as I said at the beginning of this post, it sometimes felt like really hard work. It was an emotional and frustrating time. But, it was totally worth it to now be 16 weeks into a very healthy pregnancy that did not require interventions to happen. I have not experienced any negative symptoms such as morning sickness and have felt pretty much on Cloud Nine the entire past 4 months.
I have kept up this lifestyle (in a pregnancy modified way of course) and will continue to follow a plant-based diet throughout my pregnancy (I will write another blog post about vegan pregnancy, as well as being pregnant in Jakarta, in coming weeks).
I hope that this inspires those of you who are also trying to conceive naturally and gives you hope for what is possible for you too. I truly believe that for healthy men and women who for unexplained reasons have fertility issues, then we do have the power to make simple lifestyle changes that can improve our chances of conception without interventions.
- I’d love to know your own experiences with TTC and what worked or what you have been trying to help make a successful pregnancy happen.