Taking the Time to Prepare for Conception


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There is a belief in our culture that the only thing we need to do to get pregnant is to not prevent pregnancy, and if we’re planning ahead, to start taking folic acid.  

There is a lot of fear around getting pregnant when we’re not ready. We talk about pregnancy scares and sit up nights wondering if our prevention method actually worked.  And from that fear of getting pregnant, comes the assumption that we will get pregnant easily when we stop preventing it.

The problem with that thinking comes when we’re ready to get pregnant, we stop preventing and then it takes months or years to get pregnant and we feel like we are broken or it’s our fault.

There is a reality that some women get pregnant the first month they stop preventing, but there is another reality too, and that reality is that it takes months, years and assistance from reproductive medicine specialists to get pregnant.

Changes in the body take time.  It takes time to replenish missing nutrients, time to heal the gut so absorption is possible, time to bring our hormones into balance, time to have ovulatory cycles, time to decrease inflammation, and time to learn when we are most fertile each month.

So, let’s talk about a few reasons to get ready for conception BEFORE you’re ready to start trying.

Coming off Hormonal Birth Control

For some women, their first cycle after stopping the pill, they are able to get pregnant.  For others, their menstrual cycle may take longer to come back. It can take 6 months to a year before women have ovulatory cycles after coming off the pill, AND, ovulation is needed to make a baby.

This may not be information you get from your OB/GYN.  I had one client who asked her doctor’s office if there was anything she needed to do to transition off the pill, and all they told her was to not refill the prescription.

If you were put on the pill to “fix your period”, the truth is nothing was fixed.

The pill took over the regulation of your hormones so it felt like you had better periods, but those were only withdrawal bleeds from stopping the pill for a week.

When you stop the pill, the symptoms you were originally trying to fix will still be there and it can take time to work through what is happening in your body.

Am I ovulating?

When your first start charting your cycle or trying to determine when you are fertile, it can be confusing.  I see many women online trying to determine their fertile window on their first or second cycle. Learning your cycle takes time, because even if you have “regular” periods, there can be some variation each month.

You have to first learn what is “normal” for you, which will look different for each woman.

If you are using an app to chart your cycle, it needs information to make predictions about ovulation, so the more months of information, you put in, the more accurate it will be.  

But there is a drawback to these apps.  They are using an algorithm to predict your cycle based on your information and the information from other women.  I see lots of women who say “my app says I’m ovulating”, but then a few days later the app changes the date of ovulation and they feel frustrated and confused.

Using the app to record your information is a handy way to store it, but you also need to learn what your fertility signs are.  How many days of fertile cervical fluid do you have? How does your basal body temperature change around ovulation? Which day of your cycle do you ovulate?

Then be sure to confirm that you have ovulated, because a positive OPK is not enough.

Gut health and fertility

Hormonal birth control, processed foods, and inflammation all contribute to how well our body is able to absorb nutrients from the food we eat.  These factors make the junctions in the lining of our intestines more open, leading to more inflammation.

Hormonal birth control has been shown to deplete many nutrients such as B vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, selenium, zinc, and magnesium all of which are needed to mature healthy eggs, keep our hormones in balance, and protect the egg from damage.

Replenishing nutrient stores in the body takes time.  First healing the lining of your gut so unwanted particles don’t cross the barrier and then eating a nutrient dense, whole food meal plan to add those nutrients back in our body.

We need all those nutrients to be in our body when we get pregnant, because they are important for egg (and sperm) development, but also for fertilization, implantation and growth of the baby.  If we just start taking a prenatal after we find out we’re pregnant, we have missed a window of development that requires lots of nutrients.

And, as many women experience nausea during the early weeks of pregnancy, having nutrient stores already in place is even more important.  If you are not able to eat that nutrient dense meal plan because you are not feeling well, it is reassuring to know that your body has all that your developing baby will need during that time.

Taking a prenatal vitamin is a start, but you can’t rely on the vitamin alone.  Prenatal vitamins are a supplement, which means they are supplemental to your meal plan and nourishing yourself with food.

Why take the time to get ready for conception?

I completely understand the urgency of wanting to get pregnant.  Once you make the decision to try, you want to start now!

But I also see the frustration and shame that happens when women don’t get pregnant right away, I felt it myself!

When it takes a few months or a year, or more to get pregnant, we can feel like we are broken.  That our body is built to do this one thing, and it can’t even do that. We feel like we are disappointing our partners.  And, every birth announcement from friends and questions from family about “when are you gonna have kids” hurts us deeply and we feel even more broken.  All of which is not helping the process of getting pregnant.

But what if it could be different, what if you took the time, before there was the pressure of “trying” to learn to tune in to what your body needed, to nourish yourself with food, to nurture yourself with the rest and the self-care that you need.  It could be an entirely different experience.

I encourage women to spend at least 3 months before trying to conceive, but in truth, 6-12 months is optimal to make these changes.

If you are thinking about getting pregnant or you have a transfer scheduled in the next few months. Let’s talk!

You can schedule a FREE Connection Call and we can talk about your journey and where you need support.