How I Improved My chances of Getting Pregnant Naturally
I always knew I wanted to have children ‘one day’.
It was something that I never had to think about to decide my stance on, I was just one of those people that were definitely having kids. In my 20’s I knew I had forever until I got to the point where I had to seriously start thinking about it though, & enjoyed a successful career in Human Resources, & travelling.
In my early 30’s I met my husband, & three years later we got married. We had discussed kids & decided to start trying 3 months after our wedding. I had spent quite a few years correcting a hormone imbalance with my Naturopath, & whilst I knew my levels were now balanced, I warned him that it might take months of trying to conceive (TTC). I think I was more anxious about this than him though!
Trying to Conceive With Naturopathy
I had several close friends struggle to fall pregnant over the last five years, some due to endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome, & others due to poor egg or sperm health. These are things you don’t really think about when you’re 20, & so when you decide you’re ready to try for a baby, you don’t really know your odds, it makes you feel surprisingly vulnerable & unsure.
The Naturopathic & Nutritional Approach To Conception
I think I had a fairly ‘normal’ menstrual cycle as a young adult, & never really thought about it in my 20’s. But the problem was that I never really had an actual menstrual cycle, because I had been on the oral contraceptive pill (OCP) since I was 18, as my GP recommended it to improve my skin. My GP often told me the pill stabilised your period, but I now know you aren’t having a period as such, your body is responding to the break from synthetic hormones & doing its job, but after 5 days of sugar pills you take the next hormone pill & voila, your body’s natural process is put on hold.....& repeat this twelve times a year, for years on end.
After my 30th birthday when my naturopath asked me how long I’d been on the pill, I honestly couldn’t remember, & was shocked to realise it was nearly a decade (other than a few 6 month breaks when I felt my body had needed it).
After reading the effects of the OCP on the body, & the true amount of time it takes to leave your system (not immediately as advised by my GP) I came off the OCP. I had my hormones tested a few months’ later & I had a serious lack of progesterone, to the point where my Naturopath told me that it was highly unlikely I’d be able to maintain a pregnancy should I actually fall pregnant. To hear this was shattering to say the least, particularly at 32. But over the next year I made lifestyle changes, took my naturopathic treatments & tracked my cycle, & I saw my hormones stabilise, along with the myriad other health benefits that came from that.
Baking a Cake & Trying to Conceive
I’ll never forget my Naturopath asking me how I bake a cake. She asked in detail what ingredients I add, when I add them & what my cooking method is. She’s often left of field, but there’s always method to her madness, so I went with it.
After I outlined this she says “Imagine you forgot the egg in step 3. Just crack it on top of the cake already baking in the oven. Would that bake a good cake?”
Of course not, it would taste awful!
She then went on to explain the importance of nutritional health prior to conception, otherwise known as epigenetics. You can have the best flour, butter, vanilla bean & all the other additions you like, but if a key ingredient is missing, the cake will never turn out as well, & adding it at the last minute has minimal impact. I found this fascinating, & then immersed myself in epigenetics, researching & reading everything I could find on the subject.
Fast forward several years on; I admittedly obsessed a little over foods that my husband & I ate, & I cut the little caffeine & alcohol out of my diet. I ensured we were both taking optimal levels of supplemental nutrients to support ideal ova & sperm, & were eating clean, nourishing foods for six months prior. We then decided we were ready to start TTC, & 10 days after my ovulation date I did a pregnancy test (because I couldn’t wait another day!).
Sure enough, I was pregnant!
Pregnancy & Fertility Fears
I was shocked, absolutely shocked, but I shouldn’t have been, because we had both put in months & months of work with our nutrition & improved lifestyle. But there was a seed of doubt due to my initial hormone imbalance, & I really thought it would take months if not a year, particularly as I was 35 years old....the dreaded number 35, where you’re warned your risks increase for pregnancy & birth, & you are told your fertility decreases each year onwards! But the truth of the matter is, if you focus on good fertility health prior to TTC, there’s no reason you are less fertile because you are 37, or 39, or 41 (providing you have not gone through early menopause).
So often you hear the bad news on fertility, or other peoples’ struggles, & that fear just sits quietly in the back of your mind, without you even realising it. But the good news is that proactive action really does make the world of difference in matters of health, particularly fertility!
The Reality of Birthing
It was Christmas Eve when I couldn’t fight the urge to pee on the stick, & I was giddily happy.
My mind was racing a mile a minute, wondering how I’d tell my family & friends. Then I realised I didn’t know the actual process going forward, whether I needed to get a blood test to confirm, when you go & get your scan, when you need to book your hospital, yada yada.
I decided to google these elements & I got lost for hours down rabbit holes so far ahead of myself it wasn’t funny. It was early, very early in my pregnancy (10 days to be exact), & I knew I had to keep a level head until we reached the safe zone of 12 weeks. Once we were past that point, I relaxed so much, & really enjoyed my pregnancy. I didn’t have any morning sickness; it was truly a wonderful time.
The one thing that was scaring me was the thought of birth. I had such a strong fear of it that in my 20’s I was certain I was going to have a caesarean, because I was terrified of a natural birth.
Interestingly enough, now in my mid 30’s I wanted everything to be as natural as possible, & did a Hypnobirthing course to remove the fear aspect, & learn how to manage the surges as well as I possibly could.
Whilst I was a little unsure initially, I cannot recommend this course highly enough – if it managed to get me through this without an epidural, it can get anyone through it! I was also thrilled to get in to the Birth Centre at Royal Brisbane Hospital. They were sensational, & whilst it got a little scary at the 25 hour mark, my little girl gave a loud cry when she arrived, & I couldn’t be happier with our care, particularly hers.
The midwives were truly incredible, shout out to team 1!
Featured on The Essential Life
The First Day of the Rest of Your Life
We’re now the proud parents of an 11-month-old, how time flies!
We’ve had coughs & colds, & conjunctivitis, but consider ourselves to have got off lightly with illness so far. Sleep has only just started to improve, thanks to a 3 night stay at the Ellen Barron Centre where they train you (not the baby) to listen to the cries & let your bub learn to self settle.
I wish I had got a referral at the 6 month mark when her sleep regressed, rather than battling through the 6 or 7 times a night I would get up to feed her back to sleep. Seriously, if you’re in this boat, do yourself a favour & get a referral from your Child Health Nurse, IT. IS. LIFE. CHANGING!
I’m now working out what her first birthday party will look like, which of course is just a fun day playing with her friends for her, & more of a celebration for mum & dad that we made it through the first year! Having children is hard work, & the first year is hard, because just as you work your bub out, next month they change it up & there’s a different challenge to work out. But I’d endure a thousand sleepless nights for our little doll, there’s nothing like it in the world.
The jury is still out on whether there’ll be a second bub though, stay tuned for the deliberation on that one!
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About The Author - Tonia BARTON
My name is Tonia Barton, & I am a new mum. My gorgeous husband & I have been blessed with a gorgeous little girl who is full of mischief & curiosity. I am a qualified Naturopath, Nutritionist & Western Herbal Medicine practitioner.
A special interest of mine is researching degenerative conditions, along with the cutting edge treatments being trialled & used to delay onset of such conditions. This is largely due to the fact that in my 20's I learnt that my mother had Huntington's Disease, which is currently an incurable neuro-degenerative brain disease. Unable to accept there is no cure or treatment of any kind to delay onset, I started researching & fell in love with the concept of Naturopathy.
My Passion is women's reproductive health & fertility. Our bodies are an incredibly complex system, & every one of us have a unique composition. There is no "one size fits all" remedy, which is why I love natural medicine. It allows for an individually tailored solution to ensure the best outcome & resolve underlying causes.
After having our first child, the importance of health & preventative medicine has increased tenfold.