As modern women we spend years, even decades, avoiding pregnancy. When it comes time to make a baby, we can feel a little lost. Our fertile bodies may be unfamiliar territory, and so we look outside ourselves for the right books, information, techniques and timing.
The good news is that fertility is a natural state. In fact, fertility is our own natural state, and so natural that we will always be drawn there. For example, have you noticed that, at certain times of the month, your partner looks much more attractive to you (And maybe you look more attractive to yourself too?), and that sex is more urgent and pleasurable? The peaks of estrogen that accompany ovulation put a spring in your step, as well as produce that stretchy, glistening, cervical mucus that is a super-highway for sperm en route to a ripe egg.
So what can we do to enhance our fertility without getting caught up in techniques, timing and performance? How can we keep the love in love-making as we try to conceive (TTC)?
Here are some helpful tips.
1. Good nourishment
It’s not surprising that we need to be well nourished to conceive. Mother Nature knows this, and withholds conception in times of famine and poor nutrition. Being well nourished before conception may be even more important for the wellbeing of our future babies (including reducing the risks of birth defects- see below) than nourishment in pregnancy. And the bonus is- when you eat well, you’ll feel better too. (By the way, this applies to TTC Dads too). Some basics in good nourishment, organic if possible, include:
- Healthy fats, including nuts, seeds, full-fat dairy, eggs, animal, and saturated fats
- Protein- nuts, beans, seeds, fish, free-range and organic animal proteins
- Fruits and vegetable in a variety of types and colours
(Bonus tip: My “What to eat… when you’re expecting to be expecting” blog has more detail about healthy food when you are TTC
2. Relaxed and happy
Again, it is obvious that reproducing is not a priority for any animal in situations of stress – and may even be dangerous for offspring. Prolonged elevations of stress and stress hormones inhibit conception in women too. This may be tricky, as TTC itself can be stressful, and there are many stories of couples who only conceived after they stopped trying. So, how can you be more relaxed and happy at this time? It might be as simple as regularly taking time for a quiet cuppa, a walk, a warm bath, time in nature, time with your partner, friends, family or animal friends. Write your own list and make sure you do at least one activity that makes you relaxed and happy every day. (Bonus tip- invite your partner to do this too!)
3. Taking care
You have probably heard stories about couples who have adopted a child and soon after that conceived naturally. While there are situations where infertility is a definite problem, activating our caretaking systems may give the hormonal help that switches on fertility for some women in ways we don’t understand. Maybe it’s a signal to the outside world that we will be good caretakers for our babies. Maybe it’s an effect of prolactin, the “mothering” (and actually “fathering”) hormone, which is also essential for fertility. How can you express your nurturing side? Can you help a friend or relative with their baby or small children? Maybe it’s a pet that you can both pour your love into. (Bonus tip: use some of this energy to nurture yourself too!)
4. Enjoying your body
As you nourish, relax and take care, you may notice that your physical body is happier too. More alive. More joyful. Our bodies are our earthly temples, and deserve our best care. Simply taking the time to tune in and ask “What does my body want at this moment?” may give you useful, surprising and even exhilarating possibilities. The work that you do now, tuning into and enjoying your body, will repay you ten-fold in pregnancy, birth, and mothering, by helping you sink into the states of hormonal bliss that can naturally happen at these potentially transcendent times.
5. Discovering your fertile signs
There are many tools and techniques on the market to help you to analyse your body’s cycles, so that you can predict or know when you are most fertile. These can be very helpful but please remember that you are the real expert in your body, and information about your state of fertility is also available directly to you. Just as you know that heavy, full feeling when your period is almost here, you can also read your body’s fertile signs. You might feel ripe and juicy in your body, you might get more attention from men than usual (due to your fertile pheromones), and your energy is likely to be high or rising. You can also observe your cervical mucus, your temperature, sensations in your ovary and other signs. (Bonus tip: see my blog Five Tips for Fertile Fun, and you can also use my One Moon Fertility Chart for a simple tracking system).
6. Trusting your body
As we get to know our bodies at deeper and deeper levels, we begin to trust our own rhythms, desires, and communications. For example, we can trust that we will be maximally interested in sex on the day we are most fertile, even if we have never read a book or charted our cycles. I call this “Mother Nature’s superb design”, which is imprinted into all of our bodies, especially in reproduction. We can also begin to trust our own timing, and the timing of our baby-to-be, rather than being stressed and concerned about how long it is all taking, and whether you are doing it right. This is a great attitude to take into your birthing and mothering as well.
7. Slow down!
This might be the hardest recommendation to hear, but life in the fast lane is not a good place to make baby. Living at breakneck speed has become the norm, and you will need to figure out how to fulfil your daily needs while living at a sane and relaxed pace. Participating in gentle rhythmic activities like walking, yoga, or swimming is a great way to imprint a slower pace on your body. Walking, sitting or lying on the earth, also called earthing, also helps to slow your body rhythms and may have other health benefits. Reducing your reliance on the clock and tuning into other more natural rhythms including your own instinctive needs for food, sleep and activity. Taking an afternoon nap as often as you can may be a good place to start. Again this will be of enormous benefit in helping you to attune to the slower pace that your baby will bring. (Bonus tip: ask your partner, friends, or family to remind you when you are going too fast.)
8. Feel the love
Love is the most transformational energy in creation. The love hormone oxytocin not only reduces stress and stress hormones, it also can be transmitted between individuals, so that being around people in loving states, and with high levels of oxytocin, always feels good. And when you make love, you literally make oxytocin, the hormone of love, which has all of these effects and more, for yourself and your partner. No wonder it feels good. However, as you are trying to conceive, making love might seem like a chore or even a duty. You can use the energy of oxytocin at this time to tune into calm, connection and love, for yourself and your partner. (Bonus tip: make sure you have lots of hugs, as hugging also releases oxytocin.)
9. Inviting your baby-to-be
Trying to conceive means inviting a new person, a new soul into your life and family. Some find that they have an instinctive connection, and even dreams and messages, from their baby-to-be. Whatever your beliefs about “life before life”, you can take the time to reflect on the invitation that you are extending. What can you offer to this new person? What are your hopes and dreams for the new family that you want to create? Are there considerations that you need? With a generous and loving spirit, you can write your baby-to-be a letter of invitation, or maybe create a picture or artwork, however simple, that expresses your invitation. You could also create a ceremony or party. (Bonus tip: do this with, or alongside, your partner and/or others who you want to be involved with your baby.)
10. Extra help
If you feel that you need extra help with your fertility, try natural methods first, including all of the above. There are no side-effects, and you are likely to increase your own health and wellbeing, as well as the future chance of a healthy conception, whether natural or artificial. Conventional fertility treatments do not generally include tools such as nutrition and stress reduction, although they are known to be important in fertility, so you can take this on yourself. (Bonus tip: seek a friendly and holistic-minded health professional who can be your guide on this journey)
More reading and resources
Dr Buckley’s Fertility Chart
Discover your own fertile cycles and patterns with this simple tool.
- Stress and stress hormones reduce fertility (Free article available)
- High quality preconception diet reduced birth defects (Free article available)
- High-fat dairy may improve fertility (Free article available)
- Take Charge of Your Fertility: Comprehensive look at your fertile cycle
- Conscious Conception by JP and R Baker: Wonderful exploration of preconception and “pre-babies”