That time in your life when you decide you’re ready to grow your family is super exciting – but it can also be really scary! We spend most of our young adult lives avoiding pregnancy at all costs – then all the sudden, we tell our bodies were ready to have a baby on purpose!
I wish so badly I would’ve known then what I know now about how to prepare your body and your mind for pregnancy. There are so many amazing things you can do, even before you officially start “trying.” I did plenty of things to better my chances of conceiving, but not until about two months into the process.
Let me just start by saying, I am an “I want it now” kind of gal. Being patient is not necessarily my strong suit! When Caleb and I started trying I just assumed it was going to happen super quickly (like within the first month). While that can be the case for some people (*cough* like my sister *cough*) it’s not usually that easy for most women.
There are only about 5-6 days during your entire cycle that you can conceive, but figuring out when exactly you ovulate can be a doozy! I remember being upset after only two months of trying (super silly of me in retrospect), but I had seen how quickly some people conceived and I just assumed I’d be the same way. In my eyes, I was super healthy and only 26 years old, so this should be a cinch! But, was I really at my optimal health?!
After two months of trying, I decided I wanted to know exactly what was going on with my body. I feel like if you really want to be pregnant (and I did), then you have to take the journey into your own hands and put in the work! My gut was telling me that I had some hormonal imbalances. I’ve always struggled with breakouts (even when I was eating super clean), and I had very light periods – some months none at all. So, I decided to visit a Naturopath/Functional Medicine doctor.
I live a more holistic lifestyle, so I knew I wanted to go the natural route when approaching pregnancy. In fact, I actually ended up birthing Temple naturally (read my birth story here). In general, I always want to track down the source of any health problems I’m having, instead of just putting a band-aid on them with medicine. That’s a huge part of what Naturopath doctors can help their patients with.
Naturopathy is a form of alternative medicine – it’s basically a more natural and non-invasive approach to your health. Don’t get me wrong, I believe there is definitely a time and place for modern medicine! I just think some people turn to it too quickly.
Long story short, within 3 months of visiting my Naturopath, I was pregnant! I really believe my work with her was the major difference-maker in my fertility journey, so I want to share my experience from the beginning.
Of course, my search for a Naturopath all started with Google. I searched “fertility naturopath DFW” and after looking into a few, I decided to visit Dr. Naumes in Dallas. This was the best decision I could have made for my health. Dr. Naumes started by telling me I must track my temperature each morning with a basal thermometer (more on this below). Ladies, this is the MOST IMPORTANT thing to do when trying to conceive. This tells you exactly when you are ovulating. You can’t just trust the ovulation kits, which were what I was using before visiting Dr. Naumes.
I also learned right away that we weren’t even trying during the right time of the month. The stars need to align just right, and I quickly found that I’m considered a late ovulation. For the best results, you really should start using the basal thermometer months before you’re actively trying. It’s hard to figure out exactly when you’re ovulating, so having previous months to refer back to is super helpful. You can more easily identify trends that way.
My doctor also had blood work done to see if I had the MTHFR gene mutation. I found out I did, and I had no idea what it was and why it would affect my fertility levels. Turns out, MTHFR is a critical enzyme in your body. The type of MTHFR variation I have can impact how well your body metabolizes folate and folic acid, which are both forms of vitamin B9 – a vitamin required for numerous critical bodily functions. To put it simply, those of us with the MTHFR gene mutation have a much harder time eliminating toxins. This can have many scary side effects if left completely unattended, one of them being infertility.
Because I have MTHFR, one of the first things my naturopath did was put me on a great prenatal without folic acid – it has methylated folate instead. Here is the one I take and highly recommend (I take two every day). Your diet is also super important when you find out you have MTHFR. Unfortunately, you can’t just get away with eating whatever you want anymore – your body isn’t as good as eliminating those nasty toxins hiding in some of the junky food we love (including things with lots of gluten, sugar, and dairy).
I could go on and on about MTHFR, but I am no professional. I’m just telling you what worked for me – visiting a Functional Medicine doctor who told me exactly what was going on with my body, getting me one step closer to optimal health! Below I’ve listed the things to either do or avoid prior to pregnancy. Some of these are extra important for those of us with MTHFR, and my doctor also recommended a lot of other things really specific to me and my body’s needs according to my blood work. That’s why I can’t stress my belief in functional medicine enough – it truly changed my life!
Again – I’m not a doctor. Just a new mama who’s sharing the things that helped her conceive and have a healthy happy pregnancy. I also believe that God has a plan for every single one of us and things happen within His divine timing. Starting or growing your family is such a beautiful time, so I hope these tips can help you or someone you love. Feel free to comment or send me a message if you have any questions or just need some words of support!
Get off the Pill
If you’re on the pill and wanting to try for a baby in the next 6 months, it’s probably best to get off it now. Your body needs a chance to get back to its regular menstrual cycle without any form of birth control interfering with it. Truthfully, I’ll never take it again after learning how hard it is on our body. There’s a good chance you’ve been on the pill since high school or college, and that’s a long freaking time to have synthetic hormones in your system. But, I know that EVERYONE is different and I respect every woman’s decision. Even if you plan to return to the pill post-pregnancy, the really important thing here is just to let that body recover before you try to conceive! Use those first few months without it to figure out exactly when you ovulate/are the most fertile.
Start Tracking your Temperature with a Basal Thermometer
This is my #1 tip for conceiving! Once you decide you’re ready to try, start taking your temperature right away. Each morning before getting out of bed, taking a sip of water or playing on your phone, you should take your temperature.
How and why should you do this? A basal thermometer tracks your temperature even more accurately than a regular thermometer. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND purchasing the Kindara Wink Basal Thermometer (shown in the images above) – my Naturopath told me to buy this one specifically because of how user-friendly it is. Trying to figure out exactly when you ovulate can be confusing, and the Wink makes things so much easier! It’s digital and instantly links your temp with the app on your phone. From the app, you can then view a chart that shows shifts in your temperature that help track ovulation. When you ovulate, your temperature rises, so it helps you identify your most “fertile window.” You can also use it to track your cervical fluid, which is a big indicator of your most fertile days. I actually still use my Kindara Wink for natural family planning because I don’t want to get back on birth control.
See a Chiropractor
My chiropractor Dr. Nicole said, “Chiropractic aims to remove nerve interference from the spine that could potentially be causing a disconnect between the brain and body. While Chiropractic does not treat any conditions or diseases specifically, some women have reported an increase in their fertility and the ability to conceive which may be due to increased and optimized nerve function.”
Not only can regular chiropractic care help boost fertility, but you will also be doing yourself a huge favor when you do become pregnant. In fact, I recommend continuing to see your chiropractor throughout your pregnancy. I know this played a huge part in why I felt so great during pregnancy and why I had such a wonderful birth! My daughter and I go every other week and she seems to love her adjustments!
For those in DFW, I recommend my chiro, Dr. Nicole, at Venn Chiropractic and Dr. Courtney Kahla at Free to Be Chiropractic in Addison. They both specialize in prenatal and pediatric chiropractic care.
Visit a Naturopath
Whether you’re trying to conceive or not, I think functional medicine is worth every penny. Like I said before, seeing a naturopath has honestly changed my life. They will test for food sensitivities and deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, allergies, etc – all info that is critical to reaching your optimal health! You could find out you’re low in Vitamin C (or some other nutrient), and that could be affecting your fertility. In my case, I was low in progesterone and getting on the right food and supplement plan totally changed the way I feel. Since making some pretty simple changes, I can see HUGE improvements in my blood work!
I love Dr. Naumes who I went to specifically for fertility, but now I go to Dr. O’Brien at Complete Health and Wellness and LOVE her and her staff! For DFW people, Dr. O’Brien and Dr. Naumes are both great. I recommend Dr. O’Brien for most everyone unless you really want to dive straight into fertility, then Dr. Naumes is best. Note – Dr. Naumes is much pricier but she is amazing and focuses on women’s health.
Cut Back on Alcohol
Alcohol can affect estrogen and other hormone levels. When you drink a large amount it also affects your basal temperature each morning, so this makes it harder to pinpoint when you’re actually ovulating.
I’ve been a huge believer in acupuncture ever since college. I used to be allergic to pretty much every strain of grass and tree – it was AWFUL, especially since I grew up in the country around tons of farming! I was on tons of allergy medicine and always felt really inflamed. I decided to try acupuncture about five years ago and I can’t believe how much it helped me! We focused on my allergies and now I don’t take any medication and never have reactions, even when we’re at my parent’s ranch.
When we began trying for a baby, I let my acupuncturist know and she focused on strengthening all my hormones so my body could support a pregnancy. She would muscle test me and found that my main struggle was low progesterone levels, which was critical to know moving forward.
Acupuncture is also great for relieving stress (which is so important when you’re “trying”). I swear I go into this deep sleep during each session. I always leave feeling so refreshed and energized, so to say I’m a big believer would be an understatement!
Right now I go to Dr. Zhang in Plano, Texas. I highly recommend her to those in the Dallas area. She is pretty old school so she doesn’t have a website, but here is her contact info: Dr. Sherry Zhang
We should obviously all be eating as many whole, real foods as possible, but this is especially important when trying to conceive. You need to feed your body with healthy fats, grass-fed organic proteins, lots of vegetables and fewer complex carbs (fiber and starches- bread, rice, oats, peas, etc). Try your best to eat mostly organic food – you don’t want those added hormones or pesticides when you’re trying to get pregnant.
Filtered Water and Less Plastic
You should be drinking TONS of water out of BPA-free glasses and bottles. BPA is a synthetic form of estrogen commonly found in store-bought plastic water bottles, and it can lead to hormone imbalances. Drink as much as you can out of safe containers because according to my naturopath, all that water will help the sperm find your egg!
You should really start taking a prenatal before you even begin trying. Make sure your prenatal doesn’t have synthetic folic acid. I recommend Thorne Prenatal which has the active form of folate.
Check Your Man
It takes two to tango, ladies! You need to make sure your man is taking care of himself and putting his health first just like you are. Truthfully, the month Caleb and I conceived, he was hardly drinking. This is where I’ll mention again that if you really want a baby, you have to commit and make changes to your health. That means your man needs to get on board and focus on his diet, sleep, etc. Also, if you’ve been trying for awhile, you should look into getting his sperm checked. It might put your mind at ease to know what’s going on with him, too.
Begin Drinking Pregnancy Tea
I love this one from Traditional Medicines. I recommend one tea pack a day. I love adding some lemon juice and/or raw honey to mine!
Cut Back on Caffeine
This is extra important if you have MTHFR. They have found that drinking too many caffeinated beverages is linked to early pregnancy loss.
Don’t Workout Too Hard After Ovulation
You don’t want to mess up anything that could be brewing! I know that’s crazy, but if the sperm and egg are working to create a viable pregnancy, you don’t want to be jumping or sweating too much. Let your body rest and take it easy!!
You need to start taking note of this (which you can do in your Kindara Wink App). Honestly, you will become very in tune with your body through the whole “trying” process, and this is super important to keep track of.
Self-care is so important. I know this is easier said than done, but try not to stress during this time and realize that everything happens in divine timing. Use this moment in your life to take care of your body and nourish it in every way possible. Go enjoy a long walk or treat yourself to a massage! Find something that helps you relax and brings you joy.
There is a reason we always hear doctors talk about the importance of sleep. It is crucial to your body functioning at its best! My naturopath was super intense about making this a priority for both my husband and me. She felt that in the beginning, Caleb was not getting nearly enough sleep. Good sleep means your body is at its best and your hormones are more likely to be balanced.
Books I Recommend
Woman Code: I have learned so much from this book. It talks about hormonal symptoms and teaches you how important diet and specific exercise is during your different “cycle phases” each month. Outside of the book, you should really read all about Alisa, the creator of FloLiving and the writer of Woman Code. There are tons of testimonials on her website about how she has helped women conceive! I keep Woman Code by my bedside and refer to it regularly. I also LOVE her period tracker app, My Flo.
Taking Charge of your Fertility: Another very informative book that has helped thousands and thousands of women get pregnant.
Making Babies: a 3-month program designed to help women get pregnant!