As my husband and I established our relationship we agreed to make a family with the criteria that we would not use artificial intervention if pregnancy did not work for us naturally. With these two criteria we researched and developed our preparation plan. I am writing this post to share some of our journey.
Over a year before we tried to conceive I read What to Eat Before, During, and After Pregnancy by Judith E. Brown.
Judith has impressive accolades to be considered an authority on this subject matter but respects the reader enough to cite a lot of sources through her chapters. I have a science-trained mind and I loved being able to access peer-reviewed literature and other established sources if I wanted more information on a topic. I need to revisit this book for the during and after aspect now but it helped a lot with the before, including what to look for in vitamins.
I was still not off of birth control as 2009 rolled around but had planned to give my body about six months off of them before trying to conceive. The next key book I read was Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough for EVERY WOMAN whether you are trying to get pregnant or you are planning to never have children. This is an empowering book that details the fertility awareness method and basically how our bodies work. Using basal body temperature, cervical mucus, and/or cervix position you can learn a lot about what is happening with your body. It is not the rhythm method that states that at day 14 all women ovulate, this is not true, this book teaches you to chart and interpret what is going on with your body. This book was especially humbling considering I taught Human Biology at a university and the syllabus-outlined section I did on female human reproduction paled in comparison to this book.
By late February of this year I decided it was time to go off the pill. The timing was perfect for me, I was one month into a 17-week level I yoga teacher training program. I had a great sense of body & mind awareness going on and was living really clean in terms of food and experiences. I went off the pill and made sure to be more consistent about taking my pre-natal, calcium citrate, complete EFA, and extra folic acid vitamins. We were going to start trying for a baby about six months after I went off birth control so this was time to get serious.
The third book I picked up was Master Your Metabolism by Jillian Michaels.
I am not a regular viewer of The Biggest Loser and was not always enjoying some of the celebrity trainer personalty rhetoric that trickled through some chapters, but this is a fantastic book. If you have questions about your endocrine system and repairing it naturally but may not have the formal education about all the hormone components I highly recommend this book. I was reading it because I am considered technically overweight and was a little concerned about potential feedback loops being generated by excessive fat retaining an unbalanced proportion of estrogen in my body. I had not seen an endocrinologist and was never told by a medical pro to be concerned about this, but with the way my mind works I like to be cautious. I recommend this book for anyone trying to become pregnant, that could lose some weight, or is not able to maintain their weight as easily as they would like. Fit and trim Jillian chronicles how even she wrecked her endocrine system by eating non-natural, overly-processed foods.
Between late February and late August I took my vitamins and basal body temperature almost daily. My husband even read parts of Taking Charge of Your Fertility and would read my temperature while I kept my eyes closed in bed. I charted with fertilityfriend.com then ovusoft.com (as a beta tester for Mac platforms). We trended the high cervical mucus I had immediately (which is a great sign you could get pregnant) but we held off because my temperature showed my progesterone levels were not that high (which is a component to keep a viable embryo as it implants). As the progesterone went up, about three months later, my cervical mucus was dry. By the end of the six months I had healthy cervical mucus again and so much confidence in my high progesterone levels that we figured it was time to start trying to conceive. The basal body temperature charting was how I was able to track my progesterone.
During our six-month wait time my husband and I also altered our diet to be more alkaline, more balanced since many of us have non-neutral blood in our system as a result of the kind of modern diets we share. My husband also was taking a male potency vitamin in addition to extra folic acid.
Just before we tried to conceive I was also able to see an OB/GYN for a pre-conception check-up. Besides the regular check-up I also ordered standard work ups for diabetes and cholesterol just to be safe. I tried to see the doctor three months beforehand, but the practice I was joining was so busy I had a four-month wait. I feel like I got lucky on this point because we would have had to wait if there were any underlying medical conditions I was not aware of.
At the end of August I was busy with a multi-day prenatal yoga teaching certification and tried to rush home before I was out of my ovulation window, but we had just missed it. At the end of September we were starting a vacation towards the end of my ovulation window and figured we would have to wait another month before we gave it a solid try, but it worked with one attempt. We know how fortunate we are to have become pregnant within a month of first trying.
For us we were both healthy and my menstrual cycles were regular with ovulation at day 14 and a 12 day luteal phase. I am lucky to be this regular considering I was on birth control hormones for over a decade. My story is textbook ideal and not everyone has these fortunate results, that is a BIG reason why I recommend Taking Charge of Your Fertility. As women we are told our bodies should be doing X, Y, and Z like all our bodies are the same but for women struggling with infertility this is obviously not the case. This book is amazing in helping to explain why sometimes our cycles do not work like clockwork.
I hope this post does not offend you if you have had issues with fertility. I am just sharing my experience with my road to fertility. My husband and I both did a lot of research and prep because we agreed to avoid the clomid and IVF route as a personal choice for us. Everything we did was in an earnest effort to up our probability of conception with no guarantee it would work out. I recommend these books in the hopes they are useful for someone, even if just as a jumping off point for further research.