I'm not sure how many people might be interested in how-to-get-pregnant advice from a person who did finally manage to get pregnant but then miscarried. Nonetheless, that is what this post is about today.
First, I'll just say that most of what I did was on the advice of the book we've been following -- Making Babies. I have no idea if the things I did actually led to conception or if they might work for you. But I believe it can't hurt to try.
- Over the course of a year, I went completely organic. Organic meat, dairy, and fruits/veggies. The book says: "Eating organic allows you to avoid the pesticides, chemicals, synthetic additives, and other agents contaminating so much of our food supply and wreaking havoc on our health. ... In terms of fertility, many agricultural chemicals, as well as the hormones given to animals raised for their meat, milk, or eggs, affect hormonal balance. ... Some studies even show that organic foods boost fertility." One study showed that men who ate a diet free of pesticides had sperm counts more than twice as high as those of a group with a nonorganic diet.
- I went on a 21-day raw vegan cleanse about a month and a half before I got pregnant. I’m not positive, but I imagine it’s possible this reset something in my body. The cleanse I followed is in the book Crazy Sexy Diet. It promised to get rid of the acids in my blood, detoxify my body and balance pH. Balancing pH is a big deal in Making Babies, too. As a reminder from one of my previous posts, pH is the measure of acidity or alkalinity in a substance, including our bodies. Making Babies says your cervical mucus needs to be alkaline in order for sperm to survive long enough to fertilize an egg. If it's too acidic, it kills sperm. Furthermore, Making Babies says alkaline foods that will create friendly cervical mucus include fruit, vegetables (especially leafy green vegetables) sprouts and wheatgrass. Acidifying foods include meat, dairy, grains, alcohol, coffee, and artificial sweeteners.
- I took holistic, organic prenatals and B-complex vitamins, flax seed oil, baby aspirin and chlorophyll. The holistic vitamins I take are by New Chapter and available at Whole Foods. Disclaimer: They are extremely expensive. Here's what Making Babies says about some of the supplements I take: "B vitamins are important for the release of the egg and for implantation and embryonic development, making them particularly important in phases 3 and 4 of a woman's cycle. A deficiency of vitamin B has been linked to anovulation (lack of ovulation. ... Vitamin B6 helps the body produce progesterone and metabolize excess estrogen." Additionally, the book says, B12 can improve low sperm counts in men. Flax seed is considered an essential fatty acid, which is crucial for healthy regulation of hormones throughout the body. This supplement (any supplement that has a good combination of Omega 3s and 6s) is considered the most important supplement you can take after a prenatal. Chlorophyll helps build red blood cells and its "high magnesium content ... boosts enzymes that restore the sex hormones. In fact, American farmers have been known to give their cows wheatgrass to restore fertility." The book also says chlorophyll helps build up the uterine lining. I take this supplement in liquid form, mixing it with water. Lastly, there's baby aspirin, which I often take on the advice of my cardiologist because I have an enlarged heart valve and arrhythmia. However, Dr. David, one of the authors of Making Babies, says he advises most of his patients to take baby aspirin because it can improve blood flow to the uterus and placenta and prevent clotting that can interfere with implantation. "Many women have problems with implantation that are hard to detect or pin down, and aspirin can help. It is not likely to hurt the mother or fetus." David advises women stop using aspirin after the first trimester. You should consult your doctor before beginning a daily baby-aspirin regimen.
- Around the time that implantation likely took place, I was doing a lot of walking (at BlogHer). The book says "...the newest research shows that moderate exercise actually benefits fertility. One finding to emerge from the Nurses' Health Study was a reduction in the risk of ovulatory infertility with exercise. Hitting the gym three to five times a week could bring the risk down by as much as 25 percent or more." There are really too many benefits of exercise to mention here. The book does say you shouldn't exercise too intensely, as that can cause you to become anovulatory.
- I’d quit eating/drinking all artificial sweeteners. I’d switched to using agave nectar in my coffee and if I wanted a soda, I had one every few weeks – a real, full-sugar soda. "The artificial sweetener aspartame has been linked to infertility and birth defects, as well as cancer. Everyone would benefit from avoiding it. While you're at it, skip all artificial sweeteners -- they make the body too acidic."
- I cut out tons of gluten. My husband found out he is sensitive to it a little over a year ago, so we really don’t have any in the house. There's nothing in Making Babies specifically regarding gluten, although the book does advise that people with my fertility type cut back on carbs.
- I cut way back on caffeine and was drinking one cup of coffee in the mornings. "Caffeine can decrease the flow of blood to the uterus, which can interfere with implantation. Too much caffeine may increase the risk of clotting and miscarriage. ... Coffee is acidic and can make the body and the cervical mucus acidic, too. Several studies have concluded that coffee (with or without caffeine) diminishes fertility. A recent large Dutch study determined that four cups of coffee a day lowered a woman's chances of having a baby by more than 25 percent." Yikes!
- I sat in the sun for 20 minutes a few times a week, starting in the spring, to get more Vitamin D. This vitamin protects sperm and eggs against genetic damage and supports the production of estrogen. "In some cases, bumping up vitamin D intake to adequate levels can restore ovulation in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome." If you're curious about your vitamin D levels, ask your doctor to test you! My last test showed a severe deficiency.
- One evening on the cycle we conceived, we did our “business” and then I went to sleep right afterward, without getting out of bed. We also conducted some additional business after ovulation, which is a bit unusual for us but may have been the success factor in this case. This follows my friend Michelle’s dad’s method to an extent, although this was before she’d told me about his method. Click here to visit the post about his tips.
What I didn’t do, but thought for sure I would need to do in order to get pregnant, was lose weight. I can't help but wonder if I was in better shape if things would have turned out differently.
I had also completely abandoned tea when the weather warmed up. I’d been drinking raspberry leaf tea for a while but gave that up in the spring. I think I'll re-incorporate that. I'd actually started drinking lots of it before the miscarriage happened in an effort to stimulate the uterus to do its job. While I don't know if it helped, everything did go really well.
In any case, I hope that this helps someone out there who's not sure what might be preventing herself from conceiving. Here's to having fun trying, and trying again.