Ok, like SO many pregnancies, I actually wasn’t trying to get pregnant….but so it goes. Turning 40 this year, and being in a pretty fresh relationship I had pretty much given up on having a natural pregnancy and a family of my own. I had come to a place of peace with it and was moving on in an exciting new chapter of my work and personal life. Truth be told, was actually trying to avoid pregnancy (I had a copper IUD). That being said, it turns out I did SUCH a good job restoring my fertility, the universe simply had other plans for me and my partner and I welcomed this surprise with somewhat petrified yet open arms.
If you are like me and have been struggling with infertility, irregular periods, anovulation (aka not ovulating regularly) or have lost your period all together here’s a simple road map to help you get back on track and regain your natural fertility.
Achieving a state of healthy fertility means achieving a state of balance and peace WITHIN your body and sometime most importantly in your mind. If you’ve been following this blog you’ll remember this is something I’ve been working on and experimenting with for many years now. If you’re totally new to all of this, I’d suggest checking out these posts :
Basically, as you’ll learn in these posts, after a LOT of physical, mental and emotional work to regain my period after losing it for 10+ years, I got it back after radically changing my entire life. From how I work, how I sleep, how I eat and how I move (or don’t move) my body.
In the two years after getting my cycle back, I’ve been really just cruising. Enjoying long distance running again, big days in the mountains (up to 26hr days!), ski touring a ton and getting fast when skiing uphill again generally I’ve been feeling all around fabulous, spending time with friends, tackling new and different work/school projects and exploring a different side of life.
My cycles started to really regulate despite an increase in activity and last August and I began ovulating most months (except when I travelled a ton, that threw me off, which is normal). When I sit down and really reflect back on what helped me the most I can chock it up to 4 key principles which I’m going to share with you today.
Never go hungry. When you’re truly hungry, eat.
Fuel your activity. When I’m out in the mountains or on runs longer than an hour I always try to consume 100-200 calories/hr and eat a generous dinner (and desert) when I get home.
Eat well. If you don’t really know what that means try following the Core 4 principles of nutrition and eating from the program Baby Making and Beyond This program is great for hormone balance AND pre-conception/pregnancy/postpartum. It also has a great feature called “ Build Your Plate” which will help you with the ever day decisions about how to fill your plate.
Eat carbs….you need them. Eat them. Going low carb for active women INCREASES stress in your body. Or that was certainly the case for me. I eat carbs at every meal.
Don’t care SO MUCH! When I really loosened the reigns, I saw a lot of good things happen to not only my sense of emotional wellbeing but also my hormones. I ate sushi on days I didn’t go for big runs, I ate ice cream 4 days in a row because it tasted good…..after years of saying ‘no’, I decided to say ‘yes, why not’. This didn’t mean binging, it meant enjoying food in reasonable amounts and not fussing too much!
Over the past 12 years I tried EVERY SUPPLEMENT known to man! When I got pregnant I was taking NOTHING (aside from a probiotic)
Did any work? Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t really think so. There are a few however that stand out.
A strong B-complex (taken every once in a while)
Algae based DHA (because I am allergic to fish)
DIM (when my estrogen got too high (common when regaining your cycle regularity), this did naturally bring it back down)
Amino Acids…I see a huge potential here. I experimented with these myself and while I didn’t find I really needed them, I can see how they can make a huge difference for someone EARLY in recovery or for anyone who struggles with anxiety or who is postpartum struggling with regaining hormonal balance following weaning.
Too often in my practice women relying on supplements to solve their hormonal imbalances. Sometimes too much. My suggestion is to supplement wisely under the guidance of a practitioner who DOESN’T sell supplements. If you ever need a little 1:1, you can always send me a note. I don’t sell supplements, in fact, I try to avoid them :)
STRESS and SLEEP:
You really got to get this one in check! For me, taking a BIG break from being an on call midwife was the best thing I have ever done. The reduction in anxiety when KNOWING I’ll have a good nights sleep was immensely powerful and when my circadian rhythm was able to get more normal hormonally, a lot shifted. If you are a nurse or other shift worker struggling with infertility, seriously consider a new job. For me it meant a 70% pay cut….a huge blow. That being said, you only have one body, one life…..for me the choice was clear.
Cope with your stress….whatever that means for you….and don’t just go though the motions. For example, I see many women in my practice who say they manage stress by walking or doing yoga….but really, they are just going through the motions and not letting the activity work it’s magic. If you’re doing yoga or going on a long walk to ‘check it off your list of things to do’, it likely isn’t helping. You need to find a style of restorative yin yoga (not hot or power or flow) that is really going to FILL YOU UP. Never underestimate the power of chanting. It sounds woo woo but it’s true.
Spend time with your friends….enjoy life…..welcome in happiness and pleasure daily. It has value.
When I got pregnant I was doing a lot of activity. I was running the fastest I’ve ever run and when I found out I was actually away at a surf camp surfing 6-8hrs a day! It seems for me as long as balanced my activity with rest, sleep and appropriate nutrition, it had no impact on my cycle (or on my body fat percentage to be truthful). This may not be true for you. Some women are very triggered by too much activity. It’s something you’ll need to experiment with yourself.
Some weeks I ran 100km or ski toured every darn day….. some weeks I ran 10km, swam, did yoga and chilled out….they key here is to balance your activity with your energy levels and great things will happen!
Remember, what worked for me, may not work for you…..reach out to a practitioner who understands and will take the time to really understand what’s going on for you in a truly holistic way. Because, as I aways say, just like snowflakes, no two are ever alike :)