It was the spring of 2009. I sat down in my doctor’s office with trembling hands. Ben and I had decided we were ready to become parents. I’d stopped taking the Pill. I wanted to know what I should be doing to prepare my body for pregnancy.
My doctor listened to me as I explained my situation. She was silent for a few moments after I’d finished.
“Well,” she said. “You can start taking Materna.”
She thought a little more. It seemed like no one had ever asked that question before.
“I can test your blood to see if you need to renew your rubella vaccination.”
I agreed to it. I was just so relieved she wasn’t requiring a pap smear.
She took a vial of blood. I walked out. The next time I visited the grocery store, I picked up a bottle of those hard, pink tablets.
A year later, I still wasn’t pregnant.
By the grace of God, around that time I stumbled upon Natural Family Planning through my fellow marriage bloggers (I was writing for Project M at the time). I came across Naturally Knocked Up, which introduced me to the world of Nourishing Traditions and the Weston A Price Foundation – an upside-down world where saturated fats were good for you, whole grains were harmful unless soaked, fruits were overrated, and the best foods were alive with bacteria.
Through vigorous research, I learned and learned about my body. I got to know my cycles and learned to identify hormone problems just by observing cervical fluid. I discovered whole foods and herbal supplements and ancient wisdom about fertility and food.
I was becoming well-steeped in the knowledge of traditional foods when I finally, almost two years after that doctor’s appointment – to my heart’s exuberant joy — became pregnant and carried to term an extraordinarily healthy little girl.
* * *
Now that that little girl is running and jumping into toddlerhood, and my body is starting to return to its old rhythms, my mind is wandering to thoughts of Baby Number Two. This time, though, I’m in a whole new place.
I know how I want to prepare my body for pregnancy.
I am not, by ANY stretch, and expert on the matter. But a friend asked, and I thought I’d offer an overview of how I’m prepping my body for a second pregnancy. (For the record, that’s how little provocation it usually takes to get me to write about something. Just ask. Even if only one person cares, I probably will.)
I have no idea whether or not God will bless me with a second pregnancy. If he does, it might take years. His timing is not my timing, I have discovered.* But in the meantime, I want my body to be as ready as possible. I’m taking steps to make sure, in the event of a pregnancy, that my body is well-nourished and ready to support another life.
Here’s what I’m doing, and why.
(If you’re interested, you can follow my Future Babies pinboard, too.)
Step One: Re-Acquainting Myself with my Rhythms
Fertility awareness helped me to identify low progesterone levels, which helped me to pinpoint what kind of supplements I needed to naturally improve my fertility.
Now that my cycles have been coming back, post-partum, I’m getting to know my body again — both to help me identify any problems and to help me and Ben to determine when would be the best time to conceive.
I will admit, I haven’t been all that vigilant with my observations and charting thus far. I’ve only been casually tracking – mostly because I’m not all that anxious to either conceive or postpone a pregnancy at this point (I’m fine either way), and also because I can tell my cycles aren’t quite back to normal yet. My little girl still nurses a LOT. And I used to rely on my basal body temperature quite a bit to identify my fertility peak, which is pretty much impossible when you co-sleep with a toddler who still wakes up a couple of times at night. But I’m becoming vaguely aware of what’s going on.
I’ll get more serious about charting when I get more serious about conceiving.
Step Two: Supplements
I’ve been doing some research about what supplements to take in preparation for a second pregnancy. Most of my decisions have been based on this post from Wellness Mama (as well as this one about morning sickness).
My two main concerns at this point are (a) making sure my baby would have enough of the right nutrients, and (b) preventing morning sickness.
(For the record, I didn’t have terrible morning sickness with my first pregnancy. It was bearable. I only vomited once. But so many friends had it way worse the second time around; I want to be prepared, if at all possible.)
The supplements I’ve started:
We all know how folic acid is important before and during the first trimester to prevent neural tube defects. Only, folic acid is very difficult for the body to assimilate. That’s why I’m taking folate, which, according to the bottle, is “body-ready.”
A number of articles (Wellness Mama, Mommypotamus, Modern Alternative Mama) suggest that morning sickness may be (among other things) the consequence of a magnesium deficit. Apparently most people are low on magnesium and could benefit from supplementation anyway.
It seems that magnesium can be hard to absorb when taken orally, though. (Most of it passes through, which can cause diarrhea). So the best way to absorb magnesium is through your skin.
That’s why I bought Magnesium Oil and have been taking it transdermally for the last couple of weeks – in other words, I’ve been spraying it onto my skin. (Apparently, you can make your own magnesium oil, which is a lot cheaper.)
Just yesterday, I got my magnesium in liquid ionic formin the mail, so I can begin adding it to my food as well in tiny amounts (to avoid the whole diarrhea thing), and working up from there.
One thing that is supposed to make magnesium easier to absorb is Vitamin D. Which leads me to my next supplement . . .
I’d been reading about this stuff since I first got into the whole Nourishing Traditions thing. But I was reluctant to buy it because
(a) it’s dang expensive, and
(b) it sounds disgusting. I didn’t want to sink a bunch of money into something I’d never actually take.
But I’ve been SO CURIOUS for SO LONG, and I finally felt there was a little room in our budget, so I ordered a bottle.
I’d read it was amazing for boosting your immune system, so I wanted it in the house for the cold and flu season. It helped that I wanted to start prepping my body for pregnancy as well, because I knew that The Weston A. Price Foundation recommends it as a superfood during pregnancy for proper development of baby’s brain, bone structure and more.
Fermented cod liver oil is a great source of Vitamins, D & A and Omega-3s, which are all important to a growing baby’s development. And, like I said, Vitamin D is essential for proper absorption and use of magnesium in the body, which I’m also taking.
I got the butter oil/cod liver oil blend, in the flavoured gel form — cinnamon tingle. Dr. Price is quoted as having said that high-vitamin butter oil and fermented cod liver oil together “work like magic” to boost your immunity and help improve your overall health.
(I got most of my information from here, if you want to read more).
So you’re wondering how bad it tastes? Not bad at all! It tastes like slightly funky cinnamon hearts.
The trouble is the texture. Swallowing down a glob of gelatinous fat — cinnamon-flavoured or not — is inevitably going to be a little tricky. But I don’t have an overly-sensitive gag reflex, so as long as I chase it with a bit of coconut oil/cocoa/honey fudge, I’m OK. (The fudge doesn’t mask it or anything; it just acts as an incentive.)
* * *
OK, this post is getting ridiculously long. I’ll just say that I’m still interested in some kind of natural, whole-food multivitamin, in case I’m missing anything. But I feel like I’ve got the essentials nailed. I’m considering this homemade herbal multivitamin tincture. But I might still go with some kind of commercial capsule, if I can find a good one. (Nothing with synthetic vitamin A, though.) Any recommendations?
I haven’t even gotten started on diet — how I’m eating lots of healthy fats (mmmmm, butter) and protein, plenty of vegetables, cultured foods, raw milk and homemade bone broth. But I’m not changing anything in my diet — this is the way I always try to eat now.
What are your thoughts? Have you done, or are you doing, anything to prepare for pregnancy? Anything you’d like to learn more about?
*See the comments for an interesting discussion of whether God blesses us with pregnancies.
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