Preparing for Pregnancy

Though I haven’t discussed it much on my blog, pregnancy has been on my brain for well over a year now.

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As I mentioned in my previous post, my history with birth control pills had left me with an irregular, and sometimes non-existent, cycle, so getting things back on track become a top priority for me. The Pill can leave your hormones all out of whack, so the amount of time it takes for your body to regulate will vary based on a number of factors.

The appropriate approach for regulating your menstrual cycle or preparing for pregnancy may vary for each individual, so I can only share my own experiences. You’ll see below that I had to try a variety of things to find out what worked best for me!

Here’s what I tried:

Candida Cleansing. Over a year ago, you may recall that I attempted a pretty strict Candida cleanse. I started this cleanse with pregnancy in the back of mind, assuming that eradicating excess yeast from my body would probably be a good way to get off to a healthy start.

While this approach may work for some people, it didn’t really work for me– at least, not in the context of pregnancy preparedness. Candida cleansing was fantastic in terms of weight loss, but I noticed subtle changes in my body that that I didn’t care for, such as my skin healing very slowly. Because of the very limited diet I was following, I wasn’t getting a wide variety of nutrients or antioxidants. I also found myself missing my period for several months in a row while following this cleanse, and since I knew I wasn’t pregnant back then, I thought it might have something to do with my restrictive diet. The last thing I wanted to do while preparing for pregnancy was lose my period!

Had this been another time in my life, where I was willing to go months without my cycle and power through the detox symptoms, the Candida cleanse might have been a helpful approach for me… but this was not the time for that.

Giving Up Stevia. You may have heard the rumor that stevia should be avoided when trying to conceive, because it may have a natural “birth control” effect on certain individuals. This is NOT to say that stevia can act as a suitable form of birth control (because I know plenty of people who have gotten pregnant while using it), but I wondered if perhaps my abundant use of stevia during my Candida cleanse hadn’t been the cause of my lost periods.

While it was difficult to give it up at first, I eventually stopped using stevia completely, and opted for natural sweeteners like honey and pure maple syrup, instead. I can’t say for sure if giving up stevia had anything to do with getting my cycle regular again, because I made quite a few changes around the same time, but once my period did start to regulate, I wasn’t willing to go back. (I actually did try it again and my period didn’t appear for 2 more months, so I called it quits for good after that.) There will always be stevia available to me again when I’m done having babies, if I so desire, but for now, I don’t feel comfortable using it while pregnant or nursing.

Increasing My Fat Intake. During the time that I gave up stevia, I also decided to increase my fat intake. I consumed no oils or overt fats while on my Candida cleanse, and part of me wondered if I wasn’t getting enough fat in my daily routine to maintain my fertility. I picked up Nat Kringoudis’s Fertilise Yourself e-book for ideas on what I should be eating to prepare for pregnancy, and started eating more coconut oil, chia seeds, avocados, and more to boost my healthy fat intake.

Getting Regular Sleep. This part is SO important. If you do nothing else to prepare for pregnancy, getting regular sleep is a must. I work very early each weekday (my day starts at 6am!), so it became crucial that I start going to bed by 10pm, to ensure that I get a full 7-8 hours of sleep each night. It was a difficult adjustment, since my husband doesn’t wake up as early as I do, but it was well worth it!

Plus, I know I’m going to be missing my regular sleep in the near future… so I might as well appreciate it while I can.

Tracking My Cycle Consistently. As I’ve mentioned before, when I stopped taking the birth control pill, it took over a year and a half for my cycle to come back with any sort of regularity. I had been using the Fertility Awareness Method to track my rather irregular cycles for quite some time, but I wasn’t being consistent enough with the process to really know where I stood.

That’s when I finally committed to the Baby Comp, which held me accountable each morning. (The investment holds you accountable, if nothing else!) While my cycles still wildly varied (anywhere from 21-48 days during any given cycle), I felt like at least the Baby Comp was observing and taking note of the changes in my body, even if I couldn’t understand what was going on myself!

I’m not sure that the Baby Comp tracking my cycle had anything to do with my body finally regulating (perhaps it helped by taking a burden off my shoulders?), but after 6-8 months of consistent use, my cycle was finally regular again.

Relaxing My Self-Imposed Food Rules. There’s something about wanting to get pregnant that changes your priorities in life. For far too long, I was concerned with some “perfectionist” ideals of diet and body image, but as I started to worry about my fertility, all of those superficial concerns flew out the window. Oddly enough, when I relaxed some of my restrictive tendencies, and indulged in the occasional cheeseburger or movie theater popcorn, I found my cycle regulating better. Go figure.

Now, I certainly don’t mean to imply that eating a cheeseburger = fertility health, but I do think the fact that I relaxed my overall perspective greatly helped me find a healthier physical and mental balance. The last thing you want to do while trying to prepare for pregnancy is stress–> because our bodies aren’t likely to want to reproduce if they perceive any sort of “threat” to our environment. Relaxation is key, in all aspects of your life.

Massage Therapy. I found that scheduling bi-weekly massages were also an effective relaxation strategy. Before my cycle regulated, one of the only ways I could get my period to start was by getting a massage. It was surprisingly effective, like clock-work!

I wish I had been more “scientific” with my approach, to narrow down if just one of these actions was the catalyst to getting my regular cycle back, or if they needed to be done in combination for an effective result. However, with less than a year left before we wanted to starting a family, I felt that I needed a varied plan of attack for a better chance of success. This combination of actions eventually worked for me, but I couldn’t say if they all contributed to the final result or not! Like I mentioned above, I can only share my own personal experience in the hopes that it might help someone else on their own journey.

If anyone else is struggling with a similar issue, I wish you success in finding what works for you, too!

Reader Feedback: Any other tips or suggestions to share in regards to preparing for pregnancy? 

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Meet Megan Gilmore

Hi, I’m Megan. A former fast food junkie turned certified nutritionist consultant, trying to make healthy living as easy as possible. I believe in eating delicious whole foods on a regular basis to help naturally support the body’s detox organs— no juice fasting required. (Unless you want to!) If you make one of my healthy recipes, tag @detoxinista on Instagram or Facebook so I can see!

22 thoughts on “Preparing for Pregnancy

  1. Lauren

    I found that, personally, regulating my thyroid was crucial in regulating my cycle. I was on natural, low dose thyroid medication (for an underactive thyroid) for years when I began to have symptoms of HYPERthyroid. Though my tests came back normal, I began reading up on it and discovered that too much thyroid can actually lower your estrogen levels. This rang true with me, so I went off of it gradually and within a short period of time, found my cycles regulating. Not too long after, I found myself pregnant!

    I loved reading all of your thoughts, especially about keeping a balance in life. 🙂

    Reply
  2. Sara

    Thank you so much for this post. I went off birth control 3 years ago and have not gotten my cycle since. Everything checks out fine when I go to the doctor so the only solution they offer is to force it to come which I refuse to do. Do you know if protein also plays a role in this and how much healthy fat did you try to incorporate each day?

    Reply
    1. Jen

      Sara, I’m reading “Making Babies” right now, written by a reproductive endocronologist and a licensed practitioner of Oriental medicine, so the book is all about combining Eastern and Western approaches, and they have some really good and interesting advice about increasing fertility. I would definitely check it out – they are totally against the over medicating to “fix” fertility problems (such as lost periods) unless it’s absolutely necessary, and point out how few doctors these days actually look for the reason for infertility before prescribing drugs.

      Reply
  3. Mandy

    My husband and I tried to conceive for a year and a half after I stopped using birth control, and I even went as far as taking clomid, which resulted in a pregnancy, but ended in miscarriage. After that, I was determined to regulate my body in a healthy way. I used the FAM outlined in Taking Charge of Your Fertility, and I also followed all the guidelines for my fertility type in Making Babies (as Jen mentioned) along with acupuncture treatments. I was pregnant in two months. My sweet baby boy is almost 15 months old now!

    Reply
    1. Marissa

      I know this is an old post, but holy cow I could have written it word for word. I am in my second cycle past my MC (first; first conception on first cycle of Clomid). I haven’t yet gone back on Clomid because I am too afraid of having another MC. Just started working with an acupuncturist and recently read Making Babies. Reading your post has given me the inspiration to really take the Making Babies treatment plan seriously now. Thank you for sharing and giving me hope!!

      Reply
  4. Kristen @ MIX | Wellness Solutions For A Balanced Life

    Great post, and you’re doing all the right things! I was on the pill for close to 10 years, and it completely messed up my body. After 4 years of irregular periods, testing, Clomid, eating the “right” (wrong) things, you name it, I finally took a completely natural approach, gained a few extra pounds, eased up on the workouts, and like you, relaxed a LOT of my self-imposed rules. Three months later, I was regular, pregnant, and went on to carry and birth a healthy baby girl. Once I had her, I had a hard time getting my cycle back to normal (I nursed for about 15 months), and found myself (likely) too thin and exercising too much, although I was eating all of the right things even more so this time (a LOT of real healthy fats like grass-fed butter, coconut oil, eggs, etc., and bits of clean/wild fish and grass-fed meat). My thyroid was a bit on the low end too (like Lauren stated, is so important). Once again, I eased up on the exercise, gained a few pounds, gave myself more permission (this is key due to the stress factor), and am now due with #2 any day now. It’s a very VERY fine balance and every body is different (there is no “one way” of improving fertility). I wish you all the best!

    Reply
    1. Laura

      Kristin, This sounds like what I need to do but I am so afraid to give up on the workouts and let up on my “self imposed” rules. I want to when I say it out loud, but I know I have a true obsession (or whatever you want to call it) with this and can’t let go. Once I am pregnant, I would be fine gaining the weight, but before- I just can’t let myself do it.

      Reply
      1. Sarah Hernandez

        Laura,
        Be careful with this “I’ll be fine with gaining weight once I’m pregnant” thing. I have and have had for 4 years a true obsession with exercise, weight, body image, you name it. I said the same thing when I was trying to get pregnant. It was NOT easy to gain even one pound. It killed me. Long story short.I put my son’s health at risk to stay slim while pregnant. BOTTOM LINE: If you can’t get happy with relaxing your weight standards now…don’t think it’s going to be any easier while have that precious kiddo inside you. All the best, x.

        Reply
      2. Kristen @ MIX | wellness solutions for a balanced life

        Laura, I hear ya girl (been in that same EXACT) mindset, and speaking from experience, it’s NOT conducive to conceiving. Trust me. The body is an incredibly intelligent being and will allow conception given the right circumstances. It’s so hard to ‘let go’ and let yourself gain weight, but honestly, the best thing you can do. You might also notice you ‘feel’ better (mentally and physically) because you’re not as stressed out about eating right ALL THE TIME or getting in your workouts ALL THE TIME. Again, I’ve been there. It’s so hard – soooo hard – to let go, but honestly, the best thing you can do for yourself and your baby. Wishing you all the best! 🙂

        Reply
  5. Sabrina

    Thank you so much for this post! I have been struggling with infertility for 7 years. I found out that I had thyroid cancer and just had surgery to remove my thyroid and treatment for the cancer. In a month, I will go in for a scan to see if it’s “officially” gone (6 months later). I am pretty sure that that was the cause of my infertility. I will be starting AGAIN to try to get pregnant in a few months. So, any natural tips I can get to help me along are so much appreciated!

    Reply
  6. Jennie

    Also try acupuncture if your periods are irregular. Fine one that specializes in pregnancy and controlling periods are a must to conceiving.

    Reply
  7. Jana

    Thank you so much Megan! I wish you three all the best.
    Maybe giving up Stevia is a crucial thing when it is up to get a lost period again. When I started a “cleansing lifestyle” with green juices, smoothies etc. four years ago, I lost my period, like many others too. I tried anything from relaxation to hormone yoga, natural herbs, reducing workouts or increasing my fat intake and still I was bleeding not more than 1-2 times a year. My hormones were perfect, I took some blood tests too. And then one day, just following intuition, I googled “Stevia” and read that women in the primal forest used ore use Stevia for birth control.
    16 days after giving up stevia completely (I used to have about one teaspoon of liquid stevia every day…), it was there again: my period! The following three months (without stevia) I had an absolute regular cycle, and still have. Stevia is a sweet thing, but it seems for some women to have an effect on the fertility. Now that I have a real chance to conceive, I rather think of getting a sweet baby instead of having a sweet cup of tea, when my cravings are too pertinacious.

    Reply
  8. Kellyann Sykora

    Thank you for this post! The strict eating habits and intense exercise is a mental frame of mind I am having trouble changing. Even though my husband has pushed for this change (no periods, being underweight for 2 years now), I’ve let these superficial issues get in the way of continuing our family. It’s good to hear examples of woman who have eased up on “healthy habits”, and the good that has come from it. Healthy is a balanced life and it’s good to be reminded of that sometimes!. 🙂

    Reply
  9. Christen

    Does anyone know anything about Xylitol in relation to fertility? I’ve recently been using Xylitol in place of stevia (just because, no specific reason). My husband and I will be trying soon for our 3rd child and this Stevia fertility thing is new to me. Thanks.

    Reply
  10. Kim

    Hi –

    I wanted to know if anyone can offer any advice. I went off birth control in September. I had my period due to the end of the pack. It has now been 51 days and no period. I have been on birth control 10 years. I’m 32 and very healthy. Has anyone had this experience? Is there anything else I can do to help?

    Reply
  11. Tia

    When I went off birth control I waited 6 months before trying to get pregnant. My cycles were 38 to 42 days long! (With a 10-14 day period!) I went to the dr to have hormone levels checked after 3 months unsuccessfully trying to conceive. It was found that progesterone levels were too low! The dr said she did not think I could get pregnant without drugs. It turns out I WAS actually pregnant!!! I found out a week later. It turns out she tested for progesterone too early! I have a handsome 20 month old boy now. The thing is, i ended up with pre eclampsia and emergency c section and our son ended ip having 2 birth defects (piloric stenosis, life threatening but fixed with surgery, and the other minor and also repaired with surgery.) i cant help wonder if there is a posible correlation. He is the most handsome and wonderful kid ever and developmentally ahead of the curve in every way and i am beyond glad we had him! DH and I are currently cleansing for round 2. (Gentle cleansing so as not to eliminate neccesary nutrients for fertility but 90 days at least being as healthy as can be before trying. My cycles became more “normal” (30 days, when my son was weaned. I also noticed it is easier to tell my fertile signs. I am not all over the place with false LH surges etc like coming off birth control!! It takes time, but its worth it to quit birth control far in advance!

    Reply
  12. Marcela

    Hello, brings me much comfort to see that Im NOT the only one that goes crazy with the what should I/what should I not. My husband and I have been trying to conceive for a year & a half. I’m a diabetic type 1 controlled. My TSH was high 8.9 and have been treating it with my endocrinologist with Synthroid. Recently I found that after taking the med my TSH level is at 2.9 still a bit high (2.9 is fine if I was in third trimester). Im due for a re-check on April 8th. God willing it will be at normal range. I jumped the gun a while back and had an insemination done. Failed. It was devastating, I got my period on Thanksgiving. The Dr I was being treated by back then should have re-evaluated my diabetes glucose levels and I remember his words “the only thing that concerns me is the lining of eggs is too thin” but I thought I was on my way to motherhood. I’m also a Crossfitter. I work out Monday thru Thursday 5:30-6:30PM. Its been circling in my head if I should cut down. I’ve cut down on adding weight. I just do what feels comfortable, not much weight, & safe. As of New Years I’ve decided to take a more calm approach and not drive myself crazy. I’m being treated by a very good fertility Dr. Once all my levels are to par and I don’t get pregnant naturally we will be moving forward with a 2nd insemination. I have Faith and I know God already have our child in hands. Some people say wait and let God do His work and I agree. I feel Insemination is an option God gives couples like us. Thank you

    Reply
  13. Stephanie

    This blog has really given me hope:) I got off birth control in June after being on it for 10 years and have not had a period since. My doctor put me on progesterone and nothing happened. My blood work came back and she said I had Hypothyroidism as well as having low estrogen. I’m currently taking thyroid medicine to get my levels correct. I’ve been eating more, drinking soy milk, and taking Evening Primose. I don’t even know if that will help.
    I’m trying to relax more and hope my next blood tests come back normal…This journey feels like it will never end:(

    Reply
  14. nee

    I want to get pregnant but fail. i workout regular 30 min zumba or aerobic. my period is sometime 26 or 28 or 30 days! i use protein shake as post workout. so i dont know why i am not pregnant. also i eat chocolate cookies almost daily or Lindt my favourite, so that is why i exercise to burn these calories. some day i dont exercise due to sleep less about 2 hours and cant sleep due to warm or dry face disturb. also i suffer back disc which affect my sleep that is why i regylar exercise to help strength pain back.

    Reply
  15. Hannah

    Hi Megan,

    Thank you for this helpful post – it has set off an interesting thread too! I too am trying a candida cleanse as I’m sure this is a problem for me (it has been on and off for a long while). At the same time I’m taking a natural fertility supplement and COQ10, eating greens, avocados, healthy fats (coconut oil, olive oil, organic butter, meat & oily fish, some nuts), eggs & good things for a fertility diet. We’ll see whether it works – and at any rate I know I feel better for it. At 43 I’m at the top end of the fertility scale, so the diet would not be the only factor in whether I get pregnant or not…

    I think there’s a lot of sense in reducing stress about your weight. That was the one thing that bothered me about a candida diet, which is why I’m being careful to consume plenty of fats. I have lost weight but not too much. I’m just doing low-level exercise as well, nothing too high-impact. And relaxing – walks, meditation, self-massage, drawing mandalas, work on self-acceptance.

    By the way, has anyone else heard that soya may have a dampening effect on fertility as well? I saw this on Hethir Rodriquez’s natural fertility website but it makes me wonder how come the Chinese seem to do perfectly ok while consuming tonnes of the stuff?!

    The book ‘Making Babies’ sounds good, I’ll try to get a copy.

    Health and happiness to all 🙂

    Reply
  16. Rach D

    I just wanted to add, that I’ve had great success myself in regulating my cycles with a blend of herbs called Fertilitea (no, not a sales pitch! I’m not an affiliate). I think it’s the vitex that really helped to regulate, but I’ve used over the years whenever I get irregular ( I struggle with symptoms like PCOS) & I get right on track. (great also if you’re wanting to conceive)

    Wanted to share with you & your readers 🙂

    Rachael @ Diamonds in the Rough

    Reply

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