Super Healthy Pregnancy: How to Prepare for One

Posted by on Aug 22, 2013 in Blog | Comments Off on Super Healthy Pregnancy: How to Prepare for One

With the twins arriving any day now, I thought it would be a great chance to talk about preparing for pregnancy.  
 
A big part of my practice is helping women get pregnant and have a healthy pregnancy, delivery and postpartum period.  Back when I was in naturopathic college, one of my mentor’s always said “never recommend anything to a client that you haven’t done (or wouldn’t do) yourself”.  Great advice.  I’ve stayed true to it as much as possible in my work and I was excited to put myself through the healthy pregnancy prep that I’ve had the honor of working with so many clients on. 
By sharing my story, I hope to shed some light on some powerful things you can do now to get ready for YOUR healthy pregnancy!
 
Overall Approach
My overall approach was to create the cleanest (and healthiest) home for our baby as possible.  We should always treat our bodies with love and care, but if there’s ever a time to jump on ahealthy program, wanting to get pregnant is one of them.   Our bodies and diets are the raw materials our baby is made from, so why not give them the best to work with?
 
There is no such thing as starting too early.  Over the last 15 years of my healing journey I’ve received support to improve my overall health, heal my digestion, and resolve painful and heavy periods.  If I still had these issues today they would have both been huge factors to address as part of preparing for my pregnancy.
 
Tracking Your Cycle 
I began charting my cycles using the Fertility Friend iphone app (http://www.fertilityfriend.com/iphone/) during the 6 months before we conceived.  This app is easy to use and has so many useful tools and charts.  
 
Knowing your cycle’s pattern can help you answer these really important questions:
  1. Are my cycles regular and how long are they?
  2. Am I ovulating? If so, what are my most fertile days?
  3. Do I have low progesterone?  (This is one of the most common causes of low fertility)
  4. Do I potentially have a thyroid issue?
I started off simply tracking my cycles, taking note of when my period started and ended each month.  It takes 2 seconds and can give you a general estimate of when you ovulate. Then, I started taking my temperature each morning.  This is the key piece for answering all of the above questions.  Once you’ve recorded your temperature for 3 months you’ll have a good idea of your menstrual cycle’s general pattern.
 
If you’re already undergoing IVF treatments or are just about to, there’s no need to track your cycles because the clinic will be testing your hormones regularly to track your cycle and ovulation. 
 
Detoxifying With A Cleanse
The Environmental Working Group’s eye opening research around fetal exposure to environmental toxins found over 200 toxic chemicals in umbilical cord blood.   This means our babies are already exposed to environmental toxins from our bodies, before they even head out into the world.   Yikes!  The good news is that as mothers- to-be, there is a lot you can do about it and a detoxification cleanse is a great start.
 
During the year before conception I did two 3-week cleanses.  It’s one I work with a lot in supporting my clients and is combination of an anti-inflammatory diet, where you take out the top 10 allergenic foods, along with liver support herbs and personalized nutrients to help move out the toxins released your tissues release.  Both cleanses were also chances to push “reset” on my diet and nutrition.
 
The best time for a cleanse is 3-4 months before conception.  You don’t want to do it too close to conception because detoxing mobilizes chemicals and free radicals out of storage and into your bloodstream before removing them.  This can have a negative affect on egg & sperm quality if it’s too close to conception.  
 
When done early enough, a detoxification cleanse improves sperm and egg quality by reducing inflammation and moving out toxins that can throw off hormones and affect healthy cell division.
 
Seeing Your Medical Doctor
I also checked in with my medical doctor before trying to conceive to have my annual pap smear, breast exam and basic health screen done. 
 
During my assessment, my medical doctor thought she felt swelling of my thyroid gland and sent me off for an ultrasound scan.  Luckily everything came back normal, but if something had come up, I would have wanted to jump on it right away.  Even mildly low thyroid function can throw off fertility entirely.  And, in general, hormone support can take up to 3 months to take full effect.
 
I help my clients come to their medical doctors with a personalized set of lab tests to discuss with them and get a clear picture of their overall fertility health.
 
Getting His Sperm Checked Out
Sperm take between 60-90 days to be made.  This means that if motility or counts are low, it can take up to 2 to 3 months for integrative support to show big results in this important department. 
 
Being in our mid to late 30’s, my husband and I decided to take a proactive approach and have his sperm assessed even before we decided to start trying.  I admit, it’s a pretty keen approach, but something you may want to consider as you prepare to have a baby.  
 
We were happy to find out that everything came back normal, but if it hadn’t, we would have had the chance to take steps to address it.
 
Taking Supplements For Pregnancy
Since most of the time you don’t find out that you’re pregnant until 2-4 weeks after conception, having the basic nutritional support for pregnancy in place ahead of time is something you’ll want to consider.   
 
Once we started trying to conceive, I brought in a good quality prenatal, extra folic acid and anti-oxidant support alongside my typical regimen.  I also visited with my own integrative healthcare practitioner for an objective assessment and to see if there was any other support I should bring in at that time.  My cycle charts showed that there was a very good chance I had low progesterone, and I took herbs such as chasteberry (vitex), alfalfa, rhodiola, dong quai and maca to balance out my hormones.
 
Supplements for supporting conception is super individualized.  Your perfect mix will come from a detailed assessment of what your body’s own unique needs are.
 
Personal Support
The pre-conception time is also a window of opportunity to clear out old baggage as you prepare to be a mom.  In the months before we started to try for a family, I was planning a wedding, was in the process of re-launching my practice in New York and had just found out we may have a potential move to the UK on the horizon.  
 
With so much on the go, I saw a counselor regularly to talk to about what was happening, help me process it, and navigate forward with clarity and an open heart.
 
The Results
I had my IUD removed in early December 2012 and I’m happy to share that two weeks later we conceived our twins!  I believe all of our months of preparing helped make this happen.  At the same time, I also recognize that we could have done everything I shared with you today and still had a long journey ahead of us before conceiving, or done nothing at all and potentially have had the same result.  There is no guarantee.   But, I chose for myself to do everything possible to improve our chances.  
 
If you’re thinking about conceiving in the next few months or year, or are already conceiving I encourage you to consider integrative support.  Sometimes the tiniest changes can make a big difference, like improving your nutrition, or finding out and addressing a minor hormone imbalance.
 
And, if you have PCOS, endometriosis, fibroids or are having fertility issues, you’ll need much more specific support. 
 
If you would like to explore fertility support options that are a great fit for you and book a Health Visioning call with me, please contact Brenda, my Client Care Coordinator at info@drvivianlord.com.   I’m currently booking clients for January 2014 when I’m back from maternity leave.
 
All my best,
 
Vivian