Written by: Sue Ritchie, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise
There is nothing more soul-destroying than being desperate to have a child and finding that conception appears not to be happening for you. I know. I found myself at 30, single and desperate to have a child. I understand exactly how it feels.
1 in 7 heterosexual couples today are struggling to conceive, but out of those 25% have no medical reason for why it isn’t happening for them. However, when you prepare your mind, body and spirit for conception, it can help to boost your fertility, even if there are physical reasons for why you are struggling to conceive.
I feel it is interesting that we take the time to prepare for many things in our lives – we prepare for a job interview, we prepare for exams, we take the time to prepare for when speaking in public, we prepare for our wedding, to name just a few situations. Why do we do that? We prepare because we want to try to ensure that we have the best chance of success and it all runs smoothly.
It seems though that very little is talked about why it is important to prepare for conception.
Creating a new human being is probably one of the most important roles we have in life, but it is generally something that most of us do not do any preparation for. It’s not our fault, it is just something that isn’t really spoken about. It certainly isn’t currently taught in schools. The focus here tends to be on how not to become pregnant. Young people are not taught about how lifestyle, age and other factors can have a significant impact on fertility. I feel that this needs to change.
The world we live in today is very different from what it was 30 – 40 years ago. Life is very busy, we are constantly switched on, and so many of us are constantly stressed. Our eating habits have changed; everything is about quickness. We have seen a huge rise in the consumption of processed foods, sugar, ready meals and the eating of take-aways. These are having a big impact on our health and our gut health. Our environment has changed. There is just so much more pollution and toxins around us. These all mean that it is more important than ever to prepare for conception, because they all have an impact on our fertility.
What does preparing for conception mean, and why is it so important?
As a human being, we have a mind, a body and we have a spiritual side to us. Each of these elements are connected to each other, and they all have an impact on each other. This means that when you work on improving all of the factors that can have an impact on your fertility, you increase your chances of conception. But that is not all. You will also be giving yourself self-love by nurturing and taking care of yourself, which is just as important.
For me, there are 3 core key areas that you should be focusing on to increase your potential for conception. There are other areas, but I see these as being the most fundamental.
Physical Health including gut health
One of the areas that is rarely considered is just how much power our mind has over our bodies, but research has shown that it has a big impact.
A Harvard Medical School study* measured what happened when women, who were having difficulty conceiving, were given specific support and taught how to manage their thoughts and their mindset. 55% of the women who were taught how to identify negative thought patterns and separate truth from fear, had a baby compared to only 20% for those who didn’t.
When your thoughts are negative, your brain interprets that as a threat and you start to experience real stress symptoms of rapid heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, and a state of heightened arousal. Thinking negative thoughts affects our brain by triggering the same response as stress.
Preparing, learning and more importantly, practicing how to manage your mindset on a daily basis, so that you live life in the positive zone will not only bring a much happier life in general, but it will empower you to handle life’s challenges along the way. It will also have a significant impact on your overall health and wellbeing, which in turn will help to boost your fertility.
The health of your body and the health of your gut, not only has an impact on how easily you might be able to conceive, but it will also have an impact on the health of your baby.
A recent study published in Gut Microbes concludes that what mothers eat while pregnant shapes their gut microbiota composition. That, in turn, has an effect on the composition of their babies’ gut microbial community and on infant growth during the first 18 months of life. The study showed that the first 1,000 days of life are a crucial and a sensitive period in a baby’s life when the foundations for short and long-term health are laid.
The study also found that “During pregnancy, in birth and later in breastfeeding, mothers pass on gut microbiota to their infants, which firstly start to colonize the babies’ guts and then contribute to the more diversification of the gut microbiota. When that early colonization is disturbed, there is an increased risk of developing a range of conditions later in life, including obesity, allergies and cardiovascular diseases.”
We all want, of course, to increase the likelihood of giving birth to a healthy child. So, it makes sense to start preparing your body by ensuring that you are eating a healthy and nutritious diet that is based on natural whole foods and that your gut microbiome is in a good place well in advance of conceiving. This means ensuring that you are eating a diet that is rich in all the key nutrients, as well as ensuring that your body is properly hydrated. It might mean needing to look at reducing weight.
It can take some time for your body to start benefiting fully from the changes you make in your diet and if you need to make major changes it is often best to do that gradually. That way it can be easier to make the adjustments you need to make. If you have been taking the contraceptive pill, it will take some months for your body to get back into the normal rhythm, so you do need to build that into your expectations on when your body might be ready to conceive.
In today’s world, we have a situation where so many of us feel the need to be switched on and connected 24 hours a day. Constantly checking our emails, mobile phones, feeling the need to be constantly available in and out of work. There is a tendency to be trying to fit a million and one things into each and every day, with quiet time for relaxation and rest taking a distinctive back seat in priority.
In light of this, you are more than likely to be living in a constant state of stress. Stress is a huge factor for so many people in today’s increasingly busy world and I personally know all about that. Up until around 10 years ago, that was me. Unfortunately, when you are continuously stressed and living in a state of fight and flight, it doesn’t create the right environment for conception for women, but it also has an impact on male fertility too. Stress impacts your physical body and your mental wellbeing and disrupts the natural balance of your gut microbiome.
When you are in a constant state of fight or flight it is like you being back in caveman times and you are being chased by a saber-toothed tiger. You are going to need put all your effort into running as fast as you can to get away from the tiger and live to see another day. Your body responds by shutting down any system that isn’t necessary for survival and that includes the reproductive system.
Preparing for conception will mean that it is important to review your current lifestyle and look for areas in which you will need to make some adjustments. Making the changes may not be an easy process. They are likely to need time and getting support can certainly help. But there is another factor, if you are constantly busy, filling every minute of your day with doing something, energetically you are not allowing any space for something new to come into your life.
The environment in the world has changed significantly over the last 30-40 years and there are many elements of this that are impacting our bodies, our health and our fertility.
Chemical pollution is a problem and this affects us inside and outside of our homes. It has an impact on the foods we are eating due to the increased use of pesticides. It also includes the chemical products that we use in our homes and our gardens. We also need to be mindful and careful of products that we use on our bodies, some of which contain harmful chemicals as well as the use of plastics that contain BPA’s.
With the rise in the use of mobile phones and Wi-fi, we now need to take into consideration EMF radiation, as scientific studies are showing that these have an impact on fertility, and in particular, on male fertility.
The important thing is that with awareness, you can take steps to reduce your exposure to these environmental factors. Also, when your body is healthy, and is being fed the right sort of food, and is kept properly hydrated, it is in a much better place to handle the elimination of toxins.
The Good News
Like everything in life, taking the time to prepare can lead to a greater chance of success. Also, the great thing is you do have the power in your hands to increase your chances of conception. It just requires a commitment to take the time and effort to prepare yourself for probably one of the most important jobs in life.
There is no greater joy for me than seeing couples step up in valuing themselves by wanting to significantly improve their health and wellbeing, both physically and mentally. Not just because they want to boost their fertility and increase their potential for conception, but because it is going to make such an improvement to their enjoyment of life in general and together. Plus, it is going to increase their chances of having a healthy baby.
To me, and I hope that you will agree, the biggest benefit is that you will step into parenthood as a happy, healthy, positive couple who truly enjoys life. Given that children learn so much from the behavior of their parents, what greater gift could you give your child.
*Source: Journal Fertility and Sterility (2000)
Sue Ritchie, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Sue Ritchie is a sought after Fertility Coach who is passionate about helping businesswomen who are struggling to conceive to boost all the areas that underpin fertility so that they increase their potential for conception even if they are undergoing IVF treatment. She takes a totally holistic approach that includes mind, body and spirit. She covers areas that are generally not considered by medical professionals, simply because they are not part of their expertise, but are nonetheless important if you are looking to conceive. She loves to see her clients up-leveling all areas of their life, so that they go through this journey in great health and with a positive mindset, leading to a happy, joyful life where they will be empowered to become the best parents they can be.