Guest blog by Karlyn Quinn.
Deciding to try for a baby is a monumental moment for a couple and especially for the woman who is about to embark on the exciting, beautiful, and sometimes terrifying journey of pregnancy. There can be so much build up and excitement in the beginning once the decision is made to start trying, just to lead to a prolonged waiting period.
It always seems some people get pregnant right away, but in reality, most women aren’t quite so lucky. According to reproductive endocrinologist Albert Yuzpe, only 40 percent of women under the age of 37 with no known fertility problems will conceive within the first three months. Though percentages increase in the months following, it still leaves nearly one in ten women still waiting for a positive pregnancy test after one year of trying to conceive.
The stress and worry that comes along with waiting can actually hinder your ability to get pregnant. Infertility researcher Alice Domar believes that our bodies are smart enough to know that periods of stress are not ideal times to carry a child.
What’s the takeaway? Developing a self care routine while trying to conceive could be the stress-reducing boost your reproductive system needs. To help, here are five of our top self care tips if you’re struggling to get pregnant:
Be kind to yourself
Learning self-compassion is a great place to start getting your mind and body peacefully aligned. Every day, particularly in the morning (or whenever you’re feeling stressed), try to focus on taking slow and intentional breaths in and out. While doing this, repeat positive affirmations like:
- I am taking care of my mind and body in order to welcome a baby
- My body is designed to create life
- I am patient and at peace with my body
- I am capable of creating and nurturing life
The more you repeat and focus on these affirmations, the more you will truly understand that your body is not the enemy. In addition to nurturing positive thoughts, give yourself permission to make time for the things you love. Whether it be singing, making art, or binging an entire series on Netflix, don’t feel guilty for spending time doing the things that make your soul happy. Your body will thank you.
Get in a clear mental space
Getting into a clear mental space will help filter out negative thoughts, reduce stress, and boost your mood, allowing your brain to signal messages to your body that it is a good time to get pregnant. As we know, stress affects our bodies in several ways when trying to conceive, from decreased sex drive, to fluctuations in weight and even hair loss. Though reducing stress will help negate all of these side effects, it’s not realistic to feel positive all the time. However, you can work to get ahead of stress side effects by talking through your concerns with a counselor or doctor. If you’re experiencing hair loss due to stress, there are many options to help control excessive shedding. Consider taking a multivitamin with biotin — you’ll be happy to have it on hand post-pregnancy.
Pay attention to what you’re putting into your body
Is there a connection between your diet and fertility? Perhaps. Researchers at Harvard found that nutrients like folic acid, vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, and healthy diets (like the Mediterranean diet), were linked to positive effects on fertility in women who were trying to conceive naturally. Meanwhile, foods that women are normally told to avoid when trying to get pregnant like vitamin D, dairy, soy, caffeine, and alcohol, appeared to have little to no effect on fertility. Diets rich in red and processed meat, trans fats, potatoes, sweets, and sugary beverages, on the other hand, were found to have negative impacts on fertility.
Despite whether or not certain foods enhance or hinder fertility, practice self care in the form of intentionally fueling your body. The better you eat, the better you’ll feel both physically and mentally.
Make your health a priority
Staying active prepares your body for pregnancy and also helps to maintain that clear and positive mindset. While intense, rigorous workouts may not be the best when trying to conceive, other exercises like walking, mild cardio, and especially yoga can keep your mind clear and may even increase blood flow to the uterus. Certain yoga poses even work to strengthen the pelvic floor – important for bearing a child.
If you choose to implement a yoga routine, use that time to focus on your breath and to repeat the positive mantras mentioned above. Most of all, be kind to yourself no matter what. This is an emotional, beautiful, and powerful journey – don’t try and go it alone. Let people in, listen to your body, and do what you need to fill up your cup. Hang in there, you’re doing just fine.
Karlyn Quinn is a women’s health advocate dedicated to empowering women to take control of their personal health through telemedicine.