Though I haven’t discussed it much on my blog, pregnancy has been on my brain for well over a year now.
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.
Note: I no longer use the Baby Comp and prefer tracking my fertility using an app on my phone with a thermometer by my bed. I also track cervical mucus to be as accurate as possible, which I learned about by reading the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility.
I’m not sure that 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?