This post is in partnership with Modern Fertility, a company I have used and loved in my own fertility journey! These findings, statements, and opinions are my own.
In the middle of last year, with Coco’s 2nd birthday right around the corner, I started to think about what I wanted and needed to do to boost fertility prior to trying to conceive again. We always knew we wanted a little space between children, and waiting a little while meant the timing would work out well in terms of navigating motherhood, nursing, and advancing my career.
With our history of two miscarriages prior to Conley, I knew that I wanted to do everything in my power to help boost my fertility and prepare my body for conception. This time, I wanted to take a proactive approach and give myself time to prepare mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
I’ll be honest, it’s scary throwing yourself back into the ring after you’ve experienced loss at that level. As someone who admittedly likes to have control, I wanted to get ahead of any concerns as we entered this new season.
Here are 5 things I’ve done to mindfully prepare to start trying for baby number two.
1. Getting full bloodwork done.
I booked an appointment at our local naturopath and sat down for a full appointment where we discussed just about everything: my cycles, digestion, my skin, diet and exercise habits, our sex life, my work, screen time, and more.
If you’ve never sat down with a practitioner who really listens to you, it can be a crazy and unexpectedly in-depth experience (and you might leave thinking, “Why has no one ever asked me these things before?”)
We also ordered labs to look at my hormone levels, vitamin deficiencies, and my cortisol levels. After our second loss, I had done a lot of these tests, so it was exciting and nerve-wracking to be on the other side of a pregnancy, taking them again to see where my baseline was and how my body was doing on the inside.
Overall, my blood work revealed that I am low in Vitamin D (no surprise there… hey, Minnesota winters), my progesterone levels were low, and my cortisol had vastly improved since our last test a few years back, thanks to better work/life balance and boundaries.
My naturopath said that she wished more women would be proactive about preparing their bodies before they try to conceive and having information specific to your body and systems can be an amazing place to start! Either find a local doctor who can draw your labs or if you want an option where you don’t even have to leave your home, Modern Fertility has a hormone test available that you can take to get you informed!
If you want to get an idea of your overall health, inside and out, getting a full bloodwork screening done can help you see where you’re solid and where you may be lacking. Knowledge is power when it comes to health, this I’ve found to be SOOO true!
2. Try out cycle tracking.
I’ve been a huge fan of cycle tracking for years (aka, tracking the phases of your menstrual cycle throughout the month), and I only got more serious as we approached the timing around when we wanted to start trying to get pregnant.
I was just using the “Health” app on my iPhone (yup, isn’t that super cool that they introduced cycle tracking right on your phone?!) and also wearing the Ava bracelet (which I used prior to conceiving Conley).
I also introduced Modern Fertility ovulation test strips into my cycles just to start to understand and know with certainty the timing of my ovulation. They even have a free iOS app where you can track your cycle and ovulation by uploading photos of your test strips which can help predict your two most fertile days each month.
Even though you can have an idea of a range for when you *may* be ovulating when you track your cycle, the test strips can tell you with certainty whether or not you’re actually ovulating.
Historically, my cycles are longer than the average woman’s 28-day cycle, so with a 30 to 34-day cycle, it can be challenging to really know when I’m ovulating… and that so happens to be a critical piece of getting pregnant.
Fully armed with the ovulation strips to keep track cycle by cycle, I felt confident in our timing of trying, and it helped me to trust my body and its own unique timing.
3. Creating a habit of gentle movement.
When we did our fertility testing years ago, I was really big into CrossFit. I remember my doctor calling me after seeing my cortisol test (the stress hormone) and asking me what I was doing between the hours of 8 to 10 a.m.
I was surprised and told her I was working out. Apparently as a former athlete, I struggle with “taking it easy,” even with something that SHOULD ideally reduce stress (like working out). My test results revealed that my competitive spirit and desire to go hard every day was actually hindering my body and its ability to effectively manage stress.
I started to introduce more gentle movement into my world like yoga, barre, pilates, and even recovery rides on my Peloton! One thing my doctor did recommend was light weight-lifting (not the “GO ALL OUT!” stuff of CrossFit) which can actually help balance your hormones a bit.
Knowing we were going into a season of getting ready to conceive again, I adjusted my workouts a bit to make sure I was getting outside daily, going on walks, and doing light weight lifting without getting too crazy or competitive.
4. Reducing caffeine intake.
Why is this one so simple yet soooo hard at the same time? I’m guessing you’ve been on board with all of my recommendations up until this point. Stick with me here!
I was a 2 to 3 cups per day coffee drinker… and then we bought a Nespresso and it totally changed the way I chose caffeine. One of the biggest ways you can support your fertility is to slow down on things that change the natural state of your body, so I knew the cutback would be coming.
I challenged myself to get down to one delicious cup of coffee or espresso a day and genuinely started to look forward to that one treat per day. I wanted to try to not start my day off with the kick of downing 2-plus cups to force myself into go-mode, but to wake up a little slower and savor my morning brew.
Caffeine can be a contributor to miscarriage, so even knowing that fact for me was enough to cut back dramatically. One staple that helped me with my caffeine decrease was Four Sigmatic products — yes, the ones made out of mushrooms! (No, they don’t taste like mushrooms. Yes, they are delicious.)
Having their Matcha, Coffee, or the Cacao became a way to get a hot drink in my hands with less caffeine (or none at all), and I got to reap the added benefits from the mushrooms! I’ll always be a sucker for tasty hot drinks, but adjusting what I was consuming helped me to prepare and not be reliant on caffeine as I hopefully approach a pregnancy.
5. Doubling down on using clean products.
It’s no secret I’m a huge lover and believer in non-toxic products, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have to do a “clean sweep” of what’s snuck into our world since my last pregnancy! I went through all of our cabinets to get rid of any toxic cleaners, skincare products, make up, and more.
While we live a relatively “clean” life, things like perfume (a guilty pleasure), drugstore sunscreen, fabric cleaners, and more were chemical-laced items we had to find alternatives for.
Don’t let this process overwhelm you — you can go slow and simply replace your old products with better alternatives. But just understand that chemicals can act as hormone disruptors and can impact your fertility. If you want to understand how products can be endocrine disruptors, click here.
To me, awareness and small, doable actions toward making improvements for the sake of my health is everything in this fertility journey. You can’t know EVERYTHING, and that’s the scary part. But with a few lifestyle swaps, you can be more informed and intentional with how you care for your body, and that can be a major benefit to boost fertility.
This post is in partnership with Modern Fertility, whose products have been tremendously helpful in becoming more aware about my fertility and preparing for conception.
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