**This post has been entered in Fight Back Fridays at Food Renegade!**
This is the next post in the Healthy Pregnancy Series. If you haven’t been following, you can catch up on past articles by clicking the link. So far we’ve been trucking along through first-trimester issues (mostly), but today we’re going to go back and catch up on a very important part: pre-conception and conception. After all, without conception there is no pregnancy.
In our society, infertility is running rampant. Many people are struggling to conceive. In the next few posts we’ll discuss certain issues relating to infertility and how people can overcome it. But in this post we’re going to talk about the ideal situation: what things should be like pre-conception and during conception to improve your chances of conceiving and having a healthy baby.
First, and this is absolutely crucial: if you are not healthy, you should not try to conceive (yet). If you have adrenal fatigue, thyroid conditions, chronic fatigue, unmanaged diabetes, severe obesity, etc. you are not in a position to support a baby right now. It is extremely important to make yourself as healthy as you can before achieving pregnancy, for your health and your baby’s. I know some of you will take offense to this because you really want a baby, and there is no perfect time, and I understand that. I even agree there is no perfect time. But you do not want your health to crash and be unable to care for your baby! You don’t want your baby to have health issues too! It is best to get yourself healthy before you try to conceive. If you want to know what happens if you don’t, you can read what happened to me after Bekah was born (briefly…I was so depleted that I ended up with mono, and even after that went away I had severe joint pain, to the point where I was afraid to even carry her). Besides, I am right there with you. We had “planned” to get pregnant in March! But here we are in September and are waiting until we feel my health is where it needs to be.
So, how exactly does one prepare for conception?
If you know when you would ideally like to conceive more than six months before you intend to try, you can choose to do a detox or cleanse. It is not a good idea to do detox less than six months before attempting conception, because you need to be eating nourishing food to build your body up. Cleanses often involve periods of fasting (or modified fasting, such as “juice fasting”) to break down the toxins in your body. There are several products out there, as well as resources for doing this at home. In general, lemon juice (taken in water), bone broth, and a number of herbs are cleansing and healing.
Less than 6 months before conception, it is your job to eat the most nourishing diet that you can. Don’t count calories, fat, or nutrients; it will only drive you crazy. Instead, focus on the following foods:
*Meat from pastured animals, including organ meats
*Raw milk and butter made from raw cream
*A variety of fish and shellfish (including soups made from fish stock)
*Leafy greens (with olive oil or another fat, please!)
*Cod liver oil (if you take it, buy the good stuff, not whatever you find at your local warehouse store)
Pay attention to any cravings you have and follow those (unless they are for alcohol or sugar; these are signs of deficiencies!). Include plenty of herbs, spices, and real sea salt in your diet. It’s not a bad idea to follow the Pregnant and Nursing Moms’ Diet even in pre-conception.
Your husband, too, should be eating well. His diet will affect the quality of his sperm, which can alter your chances of conceiving and having a healthy baby. Luckily, his production cycles are comparatively short, so even if he switches to a better diet only a couple months before conception it will make a big difference.
I hope it goes without saying (but as I’m often reminded, you should never assume!), but do not take any form of oral contraceptive during your pre-conception phase! You can rely on natural family planning to avoid conception during this time. Oral contraceptives are harmful to you and can be harmful to your baby (which we’ll cover in another post).
When it comes time to conceive, things get fun! Hopefully your cycle is generally regular, and if you’ve been practicing NFP to avoid conception for awhile, you’ll know your body well enough to simply switch things around to try to conceive instead. Here are a few tips for conception:
*Consuming alfalfa, red raspberry leaf, and oat straw or drinking a tea made from them may help
*Drinking real cranberry juice can increase cervical mucus, making conception easier
*Pastured egg whites can be used as a lubricant if needed (please don’t use store-bought eggs)
*Continue your excellent diet
*Begin having sex at least 5 days before ovulation and continue until at least 1 day past. If you are taking your temperature you can be sure when it has occurred. Some say everyday, some say every other. If you are healthy it doesn’t really matter.
*Avoid drinking alcohol during pre-conception and conception
*Don’t start any “new” things during conception (i.e. don’t start kombucha, any detox regimens, etc.)
*I haven’t mentioned prenatal vitamins. If you are consuming an extremely nourishing diet, have been for awhile, and continue to do so, I don’t think you need them.
These are some of the main things to remember. I would also urge to 1) not test too soon, as early negatives can cause stress that you don’t need, and 2) connect with someone who understands what you are going through, whether that is your husband, a group of women, your mother, or whoever you feel comfortable with. Trying to conceive, especially if it doesn’t happen right away, can be stressful!
If you do not get pregnant your first month, don’t despair. Many women don’t. Especially if you are not familiar with your body, it is easy to miss ovulation at first. There are many reasons why you may not get pregnant. But keep trying. Unless you’ve been at it more than six months with no signs of conception, there is no reason for concern (unless you are having other symptoms that something is wrong — in which case, put trying on hold in order to re-assess your own health and work towards getting better). Keep going with your excellent diet and other conception protocol the entire time.
I also believe that we get pregnant in God’s timing, not ours. There may be “no reason” you haven’t conceived, but it is really because God is telling you it is not time yet.
Next week we’ll talk about some major causes of infertility and what you can do about them.
What advice do you have for pre-conception or conception?