Holistic: relating to or concerned with complete systems rather than with individual parts.
Prior to the birth of my daughter or even the thought of conception, I embarked on a journey to improve my health. I sometimes call it getting “pre-baby body ready.”
My journey included optimizing nutrition, exercising, supporting my gut and reproductive health, tending to my mental and emotional wellbeing, eliminating environmental toxins, and facilitating my body's ability to function as it was designed.
And in my approach to my own fertility, I sought to create an environment that would establish a lifetime of health for myself, my family and our baby.
As a mother and a naturopathic practitioner, I am a firm believer in a holistic approach when trying to conceive.
Why a Holistic Approach to Fertility is Better
Before a gardener sows their seeds in the spring they take care to cultivate the richest, most fertile soil. They spend time nurturing the soil. Why wouldn’t we do the same with our body prior to creating our precious baby? Why wouldn't we take the same steps to make room for a healthy body, pregnancy, birth and postpartum period for ourselves and our family?
For most women, the idea of fertility and preconception care starts and ends with prenatal vitamins.
But when it comes to creating a new life, examining each parent’s health as a whole can have a great impact on creating a healthy pregnancy.
Holistic fertility and preconception preparation is about nurturing the mind/emotions, body and spirit to establish the most ideal environment for creating and cultivating life.
While much attention is placed on mother’s health, we know that the health of the sperm is equally important as that of the egg and womb.
This means both parents should place equal importance on the preconception period. I mean when you really think about it why wouldn't we need to consider the father's health? He does contribute important genetic information as well!
For this reason, both egg and sperm need to be addressed with the intention of increasing fertility and minimizing exposure to toxins.
To give both the egg and sperm time to mature in an optimal environment, you want to begin preconception care at least 6 months before you begin trying for a baby.
Holistic Fertility & Preconception Care
In my practice, we focus on the whole person and take an individualized approach to fertility and preconception care.
As women, we all have different needs that must be addressed in order to improve our hormones and our health. A one-size-fits-all approach is neither effective, nor advantageous before baby comes.
The following are the major areas we focus on in my practice to support women. I understand that navigating your health can feel complicated and confusing at times. I'm here to help!
Optimize Your Hormones
Establishing amazing hormonal health is a must for healthy fertility.
By evaluating history and data in the context of your story we can begin to understand what systems may be imbalanced and where the root of your symptoms may be found.
Using gentle and natural therapies is the most ideal first step to restoring balance to your hormones and optimizing fertility every cycle.
Find ways to not only begin reducing stress in your life, but also effective ways of coping with stress.
Stress is inevitable and once your little one arrives there will be new stressors that you have not experienced before. By finding ways to manage your stress you will create a better balance of hormones in your body, release tension rather than storing it and increase your likelihood of conceiving.
Finding ways to minimize stress before baby arrives also decreases your chances of developing postpartum mood imbalances like depression, which by the way is hormonal also.
Real Whole Food Diet
Switching to a real whole foods diet will help improve your overall nutrition and ensure you are minimizing unhealthy fats, carbs, bad sugars and sources of calories. To be frank, there's just certain food you should not be eating often when trying to create a healthy ecosystem for a baby.
Now more than ever, women are entering into pregnancy nutrient depleted with a number of nutrient deficiencies. Because of the demands of pregnancy and nursing, it is near impossible to build your nutrient stores once pregnant.
Eat well now because there is no telling what that first trimester will bring for you.
Nausea is a common complaint in early pregnancy. Many women struggle to eat enough calories, let alone nutrients. This is one of the many reasons prenatal vitamins are recommended for women wishing to become pregnant or are pregnant.
And let me tell you, quality prenatal supplements matter!
Most conventional store-bought vitamins are trash because they contain synthetic fillers, vitamins and minerals. These are not real and not the best option for you.
Look into herbal prenatal supplements to ensure you're getting real nutrients and feeding your body the right stuff. Especially if you're already nutrient depleted.
Support Natural Detox
We live in an environment where our bodies are constantly bombarded by chemicals and toxins that must work to be detoxified, which can create additional stress on our system...especially when we're not supporting our body's removal process.
Our body, for the most part, is capable of moving out many of these substances that do not belong. By supporting our body’s innate ability to detoxify we create a system that is fully functional and in a state of ideal health.
Eliminate Environmental Toxins
As women, our personal care products and home environment is the number one place we are exposed to chemical toxins. Every. single. day. Let's not even bring up some of our work environments we frequent daily too. Yikes!
Look at cleaning, beauty and personal products as these may contain chemicals that are toxic to your body and have the ability to disrupt your hormones.
Limiting exposure and removing these products from your personal environment will benefit you and your family for years to come. This is an important step that a lot of women overlook during their fertility and preconception stage.
Optimizing Gut Health
Mom's microbiome is baby's microbiome. It is literally your lineage that will be passed along for generations to come.
A healthy microbiome is essential for your health and baby's immune system.
In addition, gut infections that are undetected can create nutrient deficiencies, cause hormonal imbalances, increase inflammation and inhibit your ability to become pregnant or maintain a healthy pregnancy.
As part of my holistic fertility approach, we explore digestive health and often include laboratory testing.
Comprehensive Lab Testing
Comprehensive lab testing can help you establish a baseline for your health and give you direction on ways you can improve.
In addition, common nutrient deficiencies can be identified and corrected prior to conception. This will help you determine which prenatal vitamins are best for you as well.
Depending on the current state of your health, there may be nutrients that your body specifically needs beyond what the general prenatal vitamin can support.
An individualized approach is needed in all aspects of health, but especially before pregnancy.
Explore Resources in Your Community
Look for lactation groups, baby wearing classes, prenatal yoga, nutrition classes, & mom and baby groups in your area.
You may not feel you need these resources, but you’d be surprised at the amount of information you can learn through these groups and how much support you can find in answering questions or just having a conversation.
Find What Resonates With You
There are many types of health care practitioners available to work with you in becoming pregnant. There is also a great deal of advice on how to become pregnant, how to be pregnant and how to be a parent, but what really matters is that voice inside of you.
There are many paths that lead to the same end result and for an approach to be effective it must be something that fits you as an individual.
Cultivate your intuition now and you will find that it will serve you once you welcome your baby into this world.
I'm Here to Help
By taking a holistic approach to your preconception health you can address the mind, body and spiritual aspects of motherhood and be better equipped to address the unforeseen issues that may arise.
Holistic preconception care helps create healthy mothers, which in turn helps create healthy, happy babies...a better world for us all.
Motherhood is one of the most amazing adventures and you can help yourself enjoy it by taking care of your body and your needs prior to conception. It doesn't have to be too stressful.
Our hormones and our health can feel confusing and knowing where you should start may not be clear. I get it.
Holistic Herbalist, Nutritionist, Naturopathic Womb Alchemist & Women's Health Educator