We all know how the age old fairytale goes… man and woman fall in love, there’s a kiss then they get married, have babies and live happily ever after (oh the joys!)… so when things don’t quite go according to plan or we struggle with our health and fertility, we can get pretty annoyed and have no idea why our bodies aren’t performing the way they should.
We can spend months if not years of planning our dream wedding or training for a massive event like a marathon, yet somehow we just expect that our bodies will create a human life without any preparation at all because it’s natural.
Unfortunately though with today’s high speed, high ambition, high caffeine lifestyle it just isn’t the case. It takes AT LEAST 3 months to make a good quality egg and a great batch of sperm so at the very basic level we need to put in that time to make sure our bodies are ready. Pregnancy, after all, is a 9 month marathon… and then you have years of sleep deprivation and loads of emotional changes afterwards that you’re going to want to be in the best possible shape for.
So let me break it down as to where we may be going a little bit wrong…
Yup, preparation to make a great baby is pretty important. Ok so we all know of the friends that “did it once” in a drunken, unhealthy state and the most gorgeous baby ever popped out… BUT… my guess is that they were pretty lucky, may not have had as much stress, toxic build up or genetic stuff going on, so it’s kind of an anomaly. Let’s push them aside for a sec.
It takes about 90 days to form 1 egg and a batch of sperm, and these things need nutrients! If you don’t have enough in your diet, then the egg and sperm won’t have any to keep them healthy. The fertilised egg also needs fuel to keep those cells dividing and to form organs, so if there aren’t enough nutrients for energy, then that process may not be able to continue.
2. Being Burnt Out Before You Begin
Preparation also means getting yourself off the hamster wheel. If you’re burning the candle at every end, ramped up on caffeine, stressed to the max, this is NOT baby making ground. Think about it in an evolutionary sense… your body cannot tell the difference between you running away from a lion, and the adrenalin pumping round your body from a spin or HIIT class / caffeine rush / work stress / home craziness (delete as appropriate). If your body thinks you’re in trouble it’s NOT gonna say “oh yeah, you know what, now IS a good time to have a baby, let’s crack on with it”. You need to calm yourself physically and mentally. Plus, believe me, if you’re exhausted now, 9 months of pregnancy and then running around after a child is just going to wipe you out.
3. Timing Is Off
The timing of baby making is critical… there’s actually a very small window of opportunity that a woman can fall pregnant so it’s kind of amazing it happens as often as it does! The best way to check for your fertile window is to look at your cervical fluid. A woman is most fertile when the fluid is an egg white, lubricative consistency, so make sure you’re checking yourself and having sex during that time. A point to note though is that too much sex may actually hinder you, in that sperm count can decrease if you’re doing it loads… so just have sex every other day instead (think quality over quantity!)
3. Not Getting Tested
If after about 6 months nothing is happening, the best thing to do is to get some tests done (or ideally get some tests done before you start trying!). There’s no point in waiting until you’re a year or so down the line and are under more pressure, just ask your GP to run some basic blood panels. Try and get a full thyroid panel, iron and ferritin and vitamin D, as these can tell a LOT about your health. Even a scan would be great to check everything looks ok. Working with a nutritional therapist who utilises functional testing is an amazing investment too, as we can check your stress hormones as well as your thyroid, oestrogen levels, progesterone, and testosterone (not to mention digestion or nutrient levels if need be)… then a plan can be made accordingly.
4. Not Eating Enough
Annoyingly the message about what’s healthy has become totally skewed and it’s causing a LOAD of problems. For example, diets that include fasting can be great for some people, and usually men, but are shockingly awful for women trying to fall pregnant or with hormonal imbalances! Sometimes you just need to up your calorie intake to boost your chances of conceiving…. It’s that evolution thing again… if your body thinks there’s a famine, it’s not going to be up for baby making! I hate calorie counting with a passion but if you’re gonna make me… women need 2000 a day. That is NOT a day without breakfast and then having salads… that’s 3 good meals at least!
5. Taking A Generic Prenatal Vitamin
Ahhhhhhhhh this gets me SO much. Time and time again I see clients that write ‘folic acid’ on their form because they’ve been told it’s important for baby making. If you haven’t already read my post on the difference between folate and folic acid, please read it now… but basically this is the summary: folic acid is a synthetic form of the nutrient folate, a massive number of people cant utilise it properly, it’s folate that’s needed for fertility, and bloomin health professionals are telling everyone it’s the same thing when its not (annnnnd breathe). Don’t get your prenatal from the chain stores- go to your local health food shop and pick up a GOOD prenatal that has folate OR methyl-folate (i.e. the absorbable form)
The thing is, making great babies needs some prep work and you may have to make a few tweaks to get you on the right track. Give yourself a few months, grab some support if you need it, do a bit of testing with a nutritional therapist, and set yourself up with a plan that makes you feel great!!