Deciding it was time to start trying for a baby was a big decision! A baby! Of my own! This meant it was time to buckle down and get myself mentally and physically prepared to be responsible for another human life.
One of the first things I started fixating on was getting my body ready – I wanted to provide the healthiest, happiest, coziest temple possible for our little fetus so that they could flourish and grow in the best accommodations possible.
Here are some of the things I did to prepare for pregnancy:
1. Doctors appointments: Physical & OB
Once I knew our general timeline, I made two doctors appointments. The first was a physical with my Internal Medicine doctor to make sure there weren’t any pressing health issues because you never know – and small things like a Vitamin D deficiency are linked to infertility/miscarriages and if gd forbid there were any unknown bigger issues, you definitely want to deal with them before getting pregnant.
The second appointment was with my OB for three things, my annual, a discussion about baby planning and a full hormone panel. You don’t have to do a hormone panel before trying to get pregnant, but the correct balance of hormones is essential for a successful pregnancy. I had a hunch something was off, so I specifically requested the panel. Sure enough, my thyroid was out of wack so we took the steps to get it back in order. I’m really grateful that I had the panel before trying because it would have been physically impossible to get pregnant with my thyroid levels which would have caused an unnecessary amount of frustration.
2. Toxin elimination
Toxicity in your body isn’t ideal when trying or while pregnant – or ever really – but especially while trying or pregnant. I’d been living a pretty clean lifestyle but there was definitely room for improvement, so I made those swaps where possible, here are things to consider:
Alcohol: I cut back on my alcohol consumption as it can impact the count and quality of your eggs. Obviously if you smoke or participate in any other drug use, you should curb that, too.
Beauty products: A few years back I read the ingredients of every beauty product I used day-to-day and cut out all the bad stuff (here’s a list of ingredients to look out for) – this is a great thing to do before getting pregnant. This included lotions, face washes, face masks, etc. along with tampons which are often treated with harsh chemicals – I use Cora now which are made of organic cotton and have a BPA-free applicator. On top of that, I switched all my nail polish to 7-or 9-free but have really enjoyed not wearing any the majority of the time to avoid the chemicals all together. It’s still a process but I’m now using about 90% non-toxic beauty products, not including makeup (I’m chipping away at too though), and it feels great.
Why is this so important? They’ve discovered that women who wear makeup and use beauty products on a daily basis can absorb an average of 5 pounds (five pounds!!) of chemicals into their bodies each year. These chemicals being used are proven to cause cancer and are endocrine disruptors which can increase production of certain hormones; decrease production of others; imitate hormones; turning one hormone into another; interfering with hormone signaling; telling cells to die prematurely; competing with essential nutrients; binding to essential hormones; accumulating in organs that produce hormones. Scary stuff!
Cleaning products: We were pretty good about this to begin with, but there was room for improvement. I cleaned out all the remaining harsh toxic cleaners and swapped in the cleanest I could find – here’s a good list.
BPA-free: BPA is an industrial chemical found in plastics and research has shown that BPA can seep into food or beverages from containers that are made with BPA and exposure to BPA is a concern because of possible health effects on the brain and behavior of fetuses, infants and children.
To avoid exposure, I got rid of all of our plastic tupperware and replaced it with glass (like these) along with any other plastic like waterbottles – glass or stainless are great alternatives (I love my BKR). BPA is also found in canned goods so be sure that the canned items you buy are labeled BPA-free.
I already ate pretty clean but I think it’s worth mentioning for the thoroughness of this post that it’s essential. Cut out chemical-filled processed foods, snacks and sodas, and opt for organic, nourishing foods that complete a well-balanced diet. I made sure to increase healthy fats, get enough protein, eat tons of veggies, and drinks tons of water – as hydration is important for fertility.
4. Pre-natal vitamins & folic acid
It’s recommended that you start taking a pre-natal vitamin with folic acid (helps cell division and promotes ovulation) three months before trying so I did just that. If you have the luxury of time, try to adhere to that advice so that your body is full of goodness in advance of welcoming your fetus. If you happen to get pregnant and haven’t started a pre-natal, don’t freak out – just get one ASAP and don’t skip days. I’m taking a prescription pre-natal because they all made me sick, but if I could have, I would have taken Metagenics.
5. Stress levels
After I almost lost my husband to a near death experience, I was really traumatized. I’d never had anxiety and generally dealt with stress pretty well, but this was different. For the first time in my life, I found myself overwhelmed with worry, fear, stress and what the doctors defined as PTSD. It was taking a major toll on me health wise, and in fact, it’s what led to an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s which effects the thyroid gland.
I knew I needed to get it under control not only for myself but for the baby I was hoping to soon have in my belly. High stress levels are not good during pregnancy and studies show, can lead to all sorts of issues. I took up a meditation practice (more on that here), saw a therapist, and did a LOT of work to find calm again. Low stress levels and good mental health are really important for pregnancy, I can’t stress (sorry for the pun) this enough.
Consult with your doctor before taking this but I took CoQ10 in the form of Ubiquinol QH in preparation for pregnancy per my doctors recommendation. Coenzyme Q10 (or CoQ10) is a natural chemical compound that we make in our bodies and consume in our diets, primarily from oily fish, organ meats such as liver, and whole grains, that helps prevent toxic overload, fights heart disease and for pregnancy purposes, increases fertility.
7. Uterus superfoods
I read a lot about the different foods and drinks that are beneficial to Uterus health and added those things to my diet. This included pomegranate juice which is said to boost fertility in women by increasing blood flow to the uterus and thickening the uterine lining, and nettle tea which not only cleanses, purifies and oxygenates the blood, but it tones and nourishes the uterus as well.
8. No cleansing
I love a good cleanse, especially the CLEAN cleanse, but the truth is, if you’re trying to get pregnant, you don’t want to put your body through anything extreme like a cleanse. In fact, on the CLEAN cleanse and a handful of others, there are warning labels that you shouldn’t participate if you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant.
9. No dusts, herbs & the like
As a serious wellness girl, I’m all about packing in superfoods, playing with adaptagens and discovering new herbs to boost “insert whatever you need here,” but most of this stuff is not FDA approved. In fact, if you turn over your package of Maca or Ashwaganda, chances are there’s a warning label about birth defects and a second label that recommends you avoid the product if pregnant or becoming pregnant. I found this alarming and put a screeching halt on anything that was in question. Things like flaxseed, chia seeds, goji berries were perfectly fine, just not the heavy duty stuff.
Exercising is important for fertility but too much can have the opposite effect. I continued working out but cut way back and began integrating things that were lower impact that would be beneficial when with bebe in belly. Instead of overdoing it in an intense spin class or leaving overheated from boxing, I started up yoga (but not hot, my acupuncturist (see #12) warned that intense heat isn’t good for your ovaries when trying) and lighter weight training.
11. Cycle knowledge
I got to know my flow by charting it in an app called GLOW for several months. This was extremely helpful bc it helped narrow down the ovulation window which is optimal time for trying. Beyond an app, if you really want to zero in on when to try, you can use an ovulation kit to determine when you’re ovulating or map out your basal body temperature by taking your temperature first thing when you wake up. Before ovulation, your BBT may range from about 97.2 to 97.7 degrees Fahrenheit. But the day after you ovulate, you should see an uptick of 0.5 to 1.0 degree in your BBT.
This is 100% not a must do but because I did go to an acupuncturist who works with women who want to become pregnant, I felt like I should add it. Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medicine treatment that relies on the painless but strategic placement of tiny needles into a “grid-like” pattern that spans the body from head to toe. The needles are used to stimulate certain key “energy points” believed to regulate spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical balance. And, for many women, it’s often just what the doctor ordered as it can help your body function more efficiently.
I saw Dr. Jing in Santa Monica who was great, and part of her program involves drinking really intense teas nightly. They don’t taste great but her combinations are extremely high in antioxidants which helps prepare your body for pregnancy. Dr. Jing also advised against drinking coffee while trying but that wasn’t something I did (I am not drinking it during pregnancy though – more to come on that in another post).
13. Have fun!
Last thing, just have fun with your partner! Whether you spend the time preparing your body or not, try not to overthink it and enjoy one another. That’s what I focused on. It’s an exciting time and one that shouldn’t feel like work (at least not initially, anyway).
Oh, and one more tip, you may want to color your hair before you start trying because if you do get pregnant you won’t be able to do that for a few months.
Hope you found this helpful! If you have any other tips, please leave them in the comments below.