When my husband and I decided to get pregnant, it was an exciting time. We were about to embark on a new adventure together and since were we no longer preventing pregnancy, I thought I would be pregnant in just a few months.
But that was not to be, after 2+ years of trying, the heartache of my period returning each month, the shame that my body couldn’t do what it was made for, acupuncture, diet changes, and reproductive medicine; our first child was born. For me, it took 2 years for my body to truly get ready for conception. I needed that time to make some big changes to help my body be ready to conceive.
In our culture, we often don’t hear about the preconception time. There is such a fear of getting pregnant when we don’t want to that we assume the opposite must be true. If I stop preventing pregnancy, I will get pregnant easily. We are much more aware of the dos and don’ts of pregnancy, but rarely think about what we can do to optimize our fertility before we even start trying to conceive.
Here are 3 reasons why it may take some time to get your body ready to conceive.
Nutrition Your body’s stores of critical nutrients may have been depleted because of hormonal birth control, eating lots of processed foods, food sensitivities, or poor gut health. All of these lead to nutrient depletions in our bodies. You want to have full stores of these nutrients when you conceive because the first few weeks of development are critical time periods for many organs.
Are you ovulating? In order to conceive, you need to ovulate. Understanding your own body, if/when you ovulate, when your fertile window is, the length of your luteal phase and the consistency of your menstrual flow are all important factors for understanding your fertility. Getting to know your fertility cycle can take time. If you have been on hormonal birth control for years, or even decades, it can take time for your body to begin ovulating again, sometimes as long as 12 months. If there were underlying reasons why you were put on the pill in the first place, heavy periods, bad PMS, irregular periods, the root cause of those problems will still be there when you go off the pill, and the synthetic hormones may have created new imbalances you will want to address.
Environmental Toxins We live in an increasingly toxic world. There are chemicals all around us like air pollution which we can do little about, but there are smaller, daily doses of chemicals which are impacting our endocrine system and hormone balance which we can change. One way to impact our exposure to chemicals is to investigate what we use on our skin, our household cleaners, our cooking tools and our home environment. Removing current exposure is the first step, you can check out the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Database to upgrade your personal care products, transition to homemade or less toxic cleaners, and upgrade to glass storage containers in the kitchen.
The second step is to support your body to get rid of those chemicals which have been stored in our bodies over our lifetime. This type of detox process is not accomplished in a 5 day or 21 day cleanse, though they are a good place to start the process (Check out my seasonal detox here). Many of the chemicals we are exposed to get stored in our fat tissues and it takes time to remove them. These chemicals impact our hormone balance and the ability to get pregnant, and many of them are linked to developmental problems in children, so we want to get detox our bodies before we get pregnant.
The time you take to get your body ready for conception is valuable is many ways:
You have time to build up your nutritional reserves
You have time to get to know your menstrual cycle, when you ovulate and when your fertile time is each month
You have time to detox your body of everyday chemicals which may impact your child’s development and health.
Let me know in the comments the things you are doing to get your body ready for pregnancy. If you want some ideas for nourishing your body for conception, grab your copy of my Top 10 Fertility Foods for Preconception Recipe Book.