The Essential Fertility Recipe
“What do I need to DO to get pregnant? Is there maybe something I can eat to improve my chances?” After having answered this question for countless couples, I have come up with my own “recipe” that I have come to think of as being fundamental ingredients to start cooking that bun in that belly. My philosophy around fertility is to support the mind, body and spirit to create a healthy baby. In other words, we must nourish the soil on all levels before we plant the seed.
FOUR FUNDAMENTAL FERTILITY INGREDIENTS
1) FERTILITY DIET
I cannot stress the importance of diet enough when it comes to creating a healthy body. After all, if we do not have the fundamental building blocks in place, how do we support growing a baby? The Acubalance Fertility Dietandvideoare both available for free on our website and goes over in detail how and why you should be eating a good mix of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Here is a curated list of recipes that I find myself recommending over and over again.
Brussels Sprouts Sidekick
2) ACUPUNCTURE WITH A CERTIFIED FERTILITY ACUPUNCTURIST
You’ve done your research and have heard about acupuncture being a good adjunctive therapy to increase your odds of falling pregnant. However, did you know that there are specialties within the scope of Traditional Chinese Medicine as well? Choosing your acupuncturist is just as important as finding the right specialist in your Western medical care. After all, if you have a broken bone, would you go see your cardiologist for reconstructive surgery? Probably not. You’d want someone with the years of expertise in your particular area of health. Your scrutiny when it comes to your adjunctive care should be no different. Luckily, we’ve made it easy for you when it comes to finding a fertility acupuncturist. That’s because, there is a specialized group of acupuncturists certified by the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine (ABORM). Practitioners certified by the ABORM are passionate about supporting couples struggling with fertility. They have completed additional training and pursue continuing education to ensure that they are up-to-date on the latest research and advances in the field of reproductive medicine and health.
3) THE RIGHT SUPPLEMENT PLAN
One of the most frustrating things about the fertility journey is the tendency to get lost in the Dr. Google Machine in the attempt to come up with the perfect supplement program for yourself. “Which prenatal brand is the best? Should I be taking maca? Or Vitex? What the heck is the difference between folate and folic acid? What in the world is CoQ10?” The realm of supplements can be confusing because what worked for your BFF Jane to help her get pregnant may not be what you need in your medicine cabinet. In fact, because many of the supplements for fertility health have direct effects on your hormones, something that worked for BFF Jane may actually be detrimental to you and your body. This is where enlisting the help of a licensed medical professional is important.
4) MIND-BODY INTERVENTIONS AND SUPPORT
Our bodies are actually equipped to prevent conception from occuring in times of extreme stress. When we are in sympathetic (or fight-or-flight) mode, it releases high levels of adrenaline and cortisol which can inhibit the release of GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone) which is responsible for the stimulation of sex hormones. This may suppress ovulation in women, reduce sperm count for men and lower libido in both men and women. In other words, stress, including the stress from trying to get pregnant, might be preventing you from falling pregnant.
The importance of the mind-body connection is so important, especially when approaching a case of “unexplained fertility” because, I often find that this is the piece that is missing for many women.Often, a woman with the “infertility” diagnosis is reduced to a series of numbers: How many eggs were retrieved? How many were fertilized? What is her AMH? While all these pieces of information are important, they do not describe the whole picture or experience of the patient. The temptation is to treat the body and only the body because we can track numbers, but how do we track how the patient feels? And more importantly, why is it important?
There have been many studies that demonstrate that Mind/Body interventions such as meditation, counseling, group work can impact conception rates as well as reduce signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety that can be associated with conception difficulties. For example, A study published in Fertility and Sterilityillustrated that women who participate in a mind/body program for stress reduction while undergoing IVF treatment have a significantly higher pregnancy rate than those who do not (52% versus 20%).
In my years as a fertility acupuncturist, I have been honored to witness the vulnerable and beautiful journeys of many women on their path to creating a family. I came to realize that there is a real need in the community for a safe space to process and digest the emotional ups and downs that come with infertility. I have gathered my years of specializing in women's health and fertility to create the Empowered Fertility Workshop. This workshop is a weekly 5-week series that can be joined at any time to process the emotional side of the fertility journey to shed light on the dark challenges and to recognize the gifts that many women find along the way. The workshop incorporates mindfulness techniques, a yoga/meditation practice to release tension and an optional group share.
Kathleen Lee FABORM, R. TCMP, L.Ac. MTCM