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Living A Fertility Friendly Lifestyle

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Fertility Friendly Lifestyle

Sadly fertility issues are on the rise. Why is it and how can we slow down or stop that increase?

What if we’re having issues of our own? How can we boost OUR health and fertility?

Natural Health and Fertility Coach – Kathy Payne – puts forward the case for preconception care and self-help.

The challenge

Around 1 in 6 couples in the UK today have trouble falling pregnant naturally. That’s over 3.5 million people. Statistics show sperm count is down and about 1 in 4 pregnancies results in miscarriage.

Fertility treatments are up but success rates are not high and many couples are confused and frustrated by the label they have been given “unexplained infertility”.

If you’re suffering, none of this is a comfort. I know. I really do know.

Let’s not lose heart, though. Let’s stay positive. Let’s take back control.

Easy to say, maybe?

What nature teaches us about fertility

Let’s start by going back to nature.

Mother Nature wants us to thrive not just survive. All species to thrive. She wants us to have babies, healthy babies. So Mother Nature has a few tricks up her sleeve.

Like trying to make sure babies are born when conditions are right …like no threats to safety (in modern life, that’s stress to you and me). And when there’s nutritious food to support conception, pregnancy, birth and strong babies. And there’s a healthy egg, vibrant sperm and a welcoming womb.

Traditional cultures know this stuff. They save the best food – often fish, shellfish, eggs – for newlyweds to boost baby-making.

People who breed and raise animals know this stuff. They choose the healthiest animals, they feed them the best food and provide a great environment to breed and rear as many strong and healthy babies as they can.

They know it’s about conception, healthy pregnancy, safe birth AND a healthy offspring.

What they teach and don’t teach in schools

And I’m not implying that we don’t know this stuff, at all. Some people know it; some people know it because they’ve suffered fertility issues and had to find it out the hard way. Sadly.

In schools, they teach how NOT to get pregnant and strike fear into us that just about looking at someone can make an unwanted baby. But we’re not really taught how to protect and boost fertility for when we’re ready to make a wanted baby.
We’re not really taught self-care for fertility.

Yeah but…

Many of you may be thinking, yeah but we have a diagnosed condition, a known problem. That’s why we can’t get pregnant naturally.

I hear you. There will some people who are better opting for a fertility treatment. Your doctor will advise you on that.  Always maintain a good relationship with your doctor.

If you’re having treatment using your own, sperm and/or womb, It’s still got to be a good idea to give yourself the best chances of success, right?

It’s a personal view, but I don’t think fertility treatment is an easy option. It’s an emotional rollercoaster of tests, drugs, procedures and emotions, with no guarantee of a baby (actually nothing and no-one can guarantee a baby). It’s sometimes tough to get treatment for free and it’s expensive to buy. It’s a boom industry making billions worldwide. It’s filling a need.

I do wonder if a few people go down this route a little too quickly? Maybe, it should be a last option, not the first option. Maybe we should do as much as we can for ourselves, first? Sometimes it does take longer to become parents than we’d like. And it’s not always a straight path. And even if you end up having fertility treatment, you’d be going into it in really good shape.

healthy-lifestyle

Self care

I’m a huge believer in self-care. Not just to protect and boost fertility. To protect and boost health, hormone health, happiness.

Prevention is better than cure and all that.

Now again, a few will say, “yeah but unhealthy people can have kids” and they tell me tales of some bloke down the pub who smokes like a chimney, drinks like a fish and survives on kebabs and he has 5 kids.

Yep, I see that too. Sure, that happens. But what do we know about the health of those kids?

We don’t fully understand the impacts of OUR health and lifestyle choices on any kids we have. Except we know those choices do have an impact. New research is making links all the time.

So self-care isn’t selfish – it’s a benefit to our future children too.

Unexplained infertility

I also feel the frustration of those handed the label “unexplained infertility”. Those who have had tests – even had procedures – and no-one can tell them why they still haven’t managed to fall pregnant. I get that you can feel helpless, confused and angry.

Of course, it could be that no-one found the challenge yet.

There must be cases with no ONE, BIG NOBRAINER thing, but maybe a few less obvious, smaller issues adding up to a problem. Which could mean that it’s solvable.

Maybe easily. Maybe even quickly. So why not throw all you can at it and see what happens? What do you have to lose? You have everything to gain.

You never know what tips the balance in your favour.

Why preconception care?

Taking back control means investing in your own care.

It’s also a bit more than just taking Folic Acid. Pretty much everyone knows the importance of folate to a developing baby. The vast majority of women take it before trying to get pregnant.

It’s much more than that, because in the modern world we’re fighting an uphill battle. Food is more plentiful, but it’s full of nasties …additives, preservatives, salt, sugar, GMOs, chemicals. Plants can be sprayed with bug killer and weedkiller. Yep we eat food sprayed with stuff aimed to kill things. Animal products can be laced with growth hormones, antibiotics and other drugs.

I could go on. More food, less nutrition.

It’s a toxic world where the air we breathe, the water we drink, the soils we use to grow food are tainted. We slather on our skins an estimated 500 chemicals each day- some of which are known hormone harmers. The same hormone harmers lurk in our cleaning cupboards and other corners of our homes, offices, garages, gardens.

And don’t get me started on the impact of modern day madness and mayhem – the stress of life in the twenty first century.

I could go on and on about modern life madness and how it takes it’s toll on fertility. Let’s not lose heart, though. Let’s stay positive. Let’s take back control. Let’s actually DO the self-care. The preconception care. The getting baby ready. Getting baby-fit.

I’m super passionate about this stuff. I teach this stuff, even if schools don’t.

So what do I actually mean by preconception care? It’s really a Fertility Friendly Lifestyle.

What is preconception care?

It means giving yourself AT LEAST 3-4 months to get healthy.

At least 3-4 months because that’s very roughly how long it takes for a sperm to develop and an egg to mature.

And the basics of a fertility friendly lifestyle are these….

  • A fertility friendly diet (AND shopping, cooking and storing food for maxing fertility)
  • Fertility friendly lifestyle choices
  • Checking out your general health in case there’s something else that reduces fertility
  • Getting plenty of rest and relaxation to bust stress
  • “Detoxing” your life of the health, hormone and fertility harmers
  • Being aware of your fertile signs and times
  • Knowing when and who to ask for help and what to ask for.

Perhaps this doesn’t sound like rocket science, but there is evidence that these steps can make a difference. Even a BIG difference.

In the UK where I live, our public health service recognises this. There just aren’t the resources to teach everyone who needs it, what they need to know. In detail.

I was trained in preconception care by Foresight – a UK charity – which promotes preconception care to boost health, fertility and improve children’s health.

But information doesn’t mean transformation (one of my mantras).

The rub is you have to actually DO them. You actually have to take control and change your habits to more fertility-friendly ones. And keep up those habits.

No-one is saying it’s easy. That’s why people like me are spreading the word and actively help people work out what they can do to boost their health and – therefore – fertility.

I’m passionate about preconception care… for everyone. Whether you’ve pee’d on a million sticks and wept over negative pregnancy tests or just have a wicked twinkle in your eye and know you really need to clean up your act.

Let’s not lose heart. Let’s stay positive.
Let’s take control.
We got this.
Love, Kathy x

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Good, Good, Good, Good Vibrations

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Good, Good, Good, Good Vibrations

Hi future mama,

We are coming up on the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. and though many of you are tuning in from all over the world and may not be celebrating this holiday; it’s still a good time to take stock of the things we are thankful for.

Unfortunately it’s our innate human survival response to focus on what’s going wrong versus what’s going right. The fight-or-flight response in our brains want to make sure we stay alive and so it is on heightened alert when we worry about the magical, “what if?”

What if it’s too late?
What if there’s something wrong with me?
What if we don’t have enough money?
What if I can’t heal my …. ?
What if IVF doesn’t work?
What if I can’t “figure it out?”

If you’ve been on this journey for any length of time, I’m sure you’re not a stranger to some of these thoughts. It sucks because they’re involuntary. Obviously we don’t WANT to think them, but we do.

Oddly enough if we worry it feels like we are doing something active; but of course from a Law of Attraction perspective, worrying only brings a match to more worrying. It’s so easy to go down the rabbit hole of worry and project our deepest fears into a future that hasn’t happened yet.

We aren’t really taught to focus on things going right. It feels irresponsible to the fight-or-flight part of the brain because- what if something falls through the cracks and we miss our chance? Or we just plain forget that there are things in our lives that ARE going right, because we are so consumed with the fear of ‘what if’.

The problem is that we can be looped in a cycle of fear and it can be really hard to pull yourself out of it. The more we try to force our way out of the loop, the more forcing it brings- and we can’t get out of it.

What does this mean for our bodies from a physiological perspective?

Thanks to the Law of Psychophysical Response, every positive thought creates a positive physical/chemical reaction in the body, and every negative thought creates a negative physical/chemical response in the body. So every time we replay a fear or past trauma, the body can’t tell if the trauma is happening in real time or is just being replayed mentally so the body responds as if it’s happening now. This keeps our fight or flight switch on because the brain perceives danger, and if the switch is on, the uterus is off. Not only is it not good for your mental state to keep replaying these fears and traumas, but it’s literally affecting your body too. This is not for you to go crazy being fearful that every thought you think is messing up your chances, it’s to bring awareness to your thoughts- awareness that despite what it feels like there is choice in what you think and what you become a match to. So just as with every negative thought, there’s a negative reaction in the body; so too with every positive thought there’s a positive reaction in the body. So your power is in choosing thoughts that feel better and being compassionate with your brain as it is rewired to think this way. It’s going to take time for it to be consistent, and we can’t go from gloom and doom to euphoria because we aren’t an energetic match to that.

A good way to begin to turn the tide and become more of a vibrational match to the energy and outcome you want is to establish some sort of gratitude practice.

Now let me be clear– being grateful for what IS going right now, is by no means a resignation that this is your life forever, that you don’t get to have your dream and you’re just going to have to deal with the scraps you feel life has given you.

On the contrary!

We cannot be in gratitude and fear at the same time. The energetic vibrations are too far apart. So being in gratitude at least momentarily lets us spend some time away from fear and feeling more peaceful.

Many of us think, “I’ll be so grateful when I get pregnant.” It sounds like a positive thought on the surface, but remember the universe doesn’t care what you’re saying– it’s hearing the energy that you’re putting out. So how that statement actually reads energetically is, “I’m not okay and I can’t be grateful until I’m pregnant, and I’m not pregnant so I can’t be grateful.”

When we are truly in the energy of gratitude for what is going right, we become an energetic match to being more grateful for more things going right. And truly, more things will start to go right- hence more gratitude!

When we are so consumed with Mission Baby, it’s hard to feel like anything is going right, but SO much is! From the epic, to the mundane, we all have things in our every day lives to be grateful for like:

  • supportive spouse
  • still getting a cycle
  • have a place to live
  • ate today
  • supportive family
  • have a job
  • it was nice out today

It’s so important for us to direct energy and awareness to what is going right so that we literally become a match to receiving more of it. Focusing on what you DON’T have, brings more of a match to you not having it. Focus on what you DO have and watch things change.

So what kind of gratitude practice are we talking about here?

    1. A gratitude journal. Get a cool looking journal that speaks to you (mine is leather with a Celtic tree of life embossed on it). Have it somewhere where you’ll see it every day. Each day write three things you’re grateful for/ or that went right today. It’s okay to have the same things on the list for several days, but really dig deep to some of the little or forgotten reasons. We all have so many. Commit to doing it for at least a month (preferably three months). Daily attention to gratitude and acknowledging support from the universe makes you a match to receiving more of it.
    2. If your spouse/partner is open to it, have a peak & valley discussion every night over dinner of before you go to bed. The valley is where you let your brain vent the thing that upsets you, and then the peak is the high point of your day. What happened that made you feel good today. It’s okay to start with things like – it was nice outside today, someone gave me their seat on the subway, I found a parking spot right away, a stranger complimented me, I had a really good sandwich for lunch, etc. Sometimes we have to start here first. That’s okay. The important thing is that we remind our brains that there are things going right all around us. Sometimes it helps our accountability to do this with our partner. If they’re not open, find a friend who you can text your peak and valley to- and maybe they’ll join you.
    3. A mini gratitude meditation. This is much simpler than it sounds and there’s no wrong way to do it. For example, you may want to sit with your eyes closed burning some sage or listen to soothing music. Take a few deep breaths, put one hand on your heart and begin to visualise one thing you’re grateful for. Deep inhale as you think of the thing you’re grateful for, and exhale as you say in out loud. Say each thing three times. Then sit in the feeling of gratitude (versus thinking gratitude), thank whatever your higher power is, and you’re done. This is something that can be done every day and doesn’t take more than five minutes but can be instrumental in shifting your energy.

Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it and even if it’s not that holiday where you are in the world, take some time to sit in gratitude for the abundance and blessings you do have. There are so many. It’s a necessary step to move forward. Lots of love!

A’ndrea is a Reiki Master and Holistic Fertility Specialist and more information can be found on her website fusionfertility.com

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Fertility 360

Rainbow Babies: Tips To Move Through The Joys, Fears And Tears Of Pregnancy After Loss

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Rainbow Babies

Congratulations! You’re pregnant! Everyone around you is excited except, perhaps, for you. Last time this happened and/or the time before that and/or the time before that, the pregnancy didn’t continue. You may have had a miscarriage, a stillbirth or a neonatal loss. You may have felt isolation, grief, anger.

In fact, you may have thought this pregnancy would resolve these feelings when, in fact, you’ve been noticing lately that they’re all still lurking in the background. To make matters worse, you may now be feeling petrified you’ll lose this baby too. Worry, fear and uncertainty are very commonly felt by pregnant people who’ve experienced a loss.

Here are some suggestions to help you move through the challenges and enjoy pregnancy again.

1) It was not your fault
Whatever happened last time, it was not your fault. Not all pregnancies are perfect. Not all births end up in live babies. You did your best. Shitty things happen. It was not your fault.

2) Choose the right health care provider
It’s normal to be emotionally vulnerable. It’s normal to feel anxiety. It’s normal to want a million extra appointments but then simultaneously feel like that high after your fourth ultrasound was too short-lived. It’s also normal to be happy.

Research suggests that pregnant people following a loss do better with care providers that respect their unique experiences. Most often, this can be found in a care provider that provides strong continuity. For some this is someone they’ve worked with in a previous pregnancy. Others prefer to start afresh. Good, consistent professional support that honours your individual experiences is not only important for your personal wellbeing but it also improves pregnancy outcomes.

3) Ask for what you need
After a loss, many people find the need for more personalised care to support them through their pregnancy and birth. If you think you need a more frequent schedule of visits for your own wellbeing, ask. If you want to know how to get reassurance in the middle of the night, ask. If you need them to start the appointment with a fetal heart rate check, ask. If you want an additional ultrasound for reassurance, ask. Take an active role in planning your pregnancy and birth. If you’re not finding your care providers responsive, ask to change to someone else. Research suggests that feeling a sense of control in your journey can help you enjoy your pregnancy again.

4) Build your community
After experiencing loss, it’s not uncommon to delay emotional involvement in a subsequent pregnancy and that’s okay. This is your pregnancy and your baby. You get to decide when you announce your pregnancy to the world. You get to decide how you feel about your baby. However, sometimes this valuable protective mechanism also deprives us of seeking necessary support. Many woman do not get adequate emotional and psychological support to deal with their feelings.

While you may be turning to your partner, he or she may also be processing the pregnancy differently, particularly at triggering times, for they are on their own journey of isolation, grief, anger. Bring those into your community who will be there for you when things are tough. Ask your care provider to connect you with someone who’s experienced loss. Consider seeing if there are any support groups in your area for folks who’ve had similar experiences to your own. Research suggests group support helps diminish feelings of isolation and allows for stronger relationships between partners moving forward.

5) Prepare for your rainbow baby
The vast majority of people who’ve experienced losses do go on to have healthy babies. We call them rainbow babies. For, they are the beautiful babies we welcome into the world after the storm that is loss. Just think: you’re pregnant with your rainbow baby! Find ways for you and your support people to celebrate milestones, even when you’re feeling fears to the contrary. Find ways to do the things that normalise, even if a bit of adaptation is necessary.

If you think you’d feel isolated attending a regular childbirth education class, sign up for a private one instead. Read positive books about pregnancy, childbirth and parenting. Do the silly things you always imagined you’d do. Be determined to maintain hope: your rainbow baby is on the horizon!

If you want to find more support you can contact Rishma via her website www.rishmawalji.com

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Mental Health

We Asked A Former IVF Patient What Is It Really Like To Go Through IVF?

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What's it really like to go through IVF

“What Is It Really Like To Go Through IVF…?” As a former IVF patient, it’s a question I have been asked frequently.

It’s a loaded question. Almost everyone knows that it can be a dark place for some, and a miracle for others. For me, there is no straightforward answer. So I decided to write my journey down in a metaphoric story as a way of explaining it…

Imagine you’re standing at the foot of a huge snowy mountain. The kind with jagged rocks and impenetrable inclines that makes you feel queasy looking up. It will take you months to climb and if you make it, the duration will take you through the seasons, changing you as a person along the way.

You’re prepared for the journey, it’s all you’ve thought about for months. You hold your personalised three-month plan in your hand. It’s oddly exciting. Milestones will have to be met along the way and you will need to pass all of them in order to progress. It’s all about you now, everyone who knows seems still, waiting for news.

Your positivity gets you going. You feel all zen-like with motherly instincts kicking in already. There’s baggage you have to carry uphill – let’s call it a 15-kilo backpack representing the weight of your parents’ dreams to become grandparents. You are weighted down by drugs too, brown paper bags filled with hormone pills, vitamins and vails for injections.

You crack on, shield up, sword outwards prepared to battle anyone who tries to knock you off the baby path to utopia. Thousands of woman have walked this trail before, and they made it just fine.

Let’s think about that utopia for a moment; imagine on the other side of this mountain is a life with a family. You catch a glimpse of another you. In this imaginary place, you are holding a tiny delicate version of yourself. You become someone else entirely responsible and in the process form a love that only real mothers can understand.

You have a mild sense of that, but it’s only imaginable at this stage. You aren’t quite there yet…

The climb begins and you stop for breaks, telling yourself that you are still strong, healthy, in control and age doesn’t mean a thing – even at 40 you feel 29. A routine begins to form and as you make progress you begin to allow yourself small treats of wonderings. You have a photocopy in your back pocket of the blastocyst – your baby in its most primitive form. What might my future look like if this works? Boy or girl?

The mountain gets snowy, some days it seems impassable. You wonder why you have to go to such lengths when others don’t have to. It’s unfair.

Climb, climb, climb…stab with needles.

Weariness takes over and your mood changes. You want to be alone. You don’t want to be alone. But you are alone. You fight yourself and enter into a new kind of torture, the torture of hope.

The control you thought you had is now out of your hands.

You are more than halfway there and have reached a critical stage. You feel like you’re winning. Everything is on schedule, you are doing what you are supposed to be doing. But it has become all-consuming and it’s taking its toll on your body.

Months pass by as you climb, climb, climb. “It will be worth it” is a mantra you find yourself saying over and over again the rockier it gets.

The path evens out, and even the weather casts a bright ray of sunshine on you. The top is nearing and it seems that unwavering positivity is driving you to the top. Mummy club here I come. You congratulate yourself and sit on a smooth rock to look at the utopia below before descending.

In an instant, you are cast from that sunny rock to your bathroom toilet peering at the pregnancy stick you just peed on. Three months to get to here.

It feels like all your efforts have been for nothing and with it, you tumble backwards, down the mountain. All the energy and drugs it has taken for your body to get this far has been wasted. You are a shell of who you were and as you tumble backwards your heart detaches from your chest.

At the bottom you sit bruised and exhausted, you feel you are a complete and utter failure. The grieving process for an embryo that never fully formed, begins. Why did my embryo not stick? Did I do something wrong? How do I tell the others?

This pilgrimage can only truly be understood by those who have hiked this mountain. When I meet other IVF couples there’s a silence that says it all. We’ve been there, our own silent war. But for some, the end goal is still worth persisting, no matter what it takes.

Personally – I have endured this journey five times and each time, I never made it even close to my utopia. The reality is that IVF is a lottery – almost impossible to win. I just hope that the next girl going up there is going to make it back down the other side.

Written by G.C.P

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