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Sooner or later, every young couple of a certain age will get the question they don’t really want to answer. ‘Which question?’ I hear you cry. ‘The Baby one, of course!’
‘So when are we going to hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet?’ well-meaning friends and relatives impatiently inquire of a newly married couple. And if the couple in question are close to thirty (or more) they will usually also hear the immortal ‘you’re not getting any younger!’ line.
Most will manage to suppress their shock at the bluntness of such a personal line of questioning for long enough to splutter some sort of response. ‘We’re just enjoying married life as a couple for now,’ they might reply, as the hot, prickly heat of embarrassment steadily rises from the tips of their toes to the tops of their heads.
Because fertility queries, and especially from family members, are, quite frankly, on the embarrassing side and, if I am totally honest, frustrating, as family planning is not always a straightforward, linear process.
The fact is that the Baby question is a difficult one to answer because, although they might be optimistic, no couple really knows when or, even, if they will be blessed with children.
It’s a sliding scale, where some couples are incredibly fertile and will be able to conceive almost as soon as they decide to, while others will find the whole process a little, or even a lot, more challenging.
And if you do find yourselves in the middle or latter brackets you are far from alone as current statistics estimate that as many as one in six couples in the western world will struggle to conceive.
The ever rising age of first time parenthood (currently at around 31 years old) is thought (at least if we go by reports in the MSM) to be a major factor in the development of this infertility crisis. However, as many couples of this age (and even way beyond!) do manage to easily conceive and give birth to perfectly healthy babies, there are quite likely other factors, independent of age, at play as well.
So, aside from panicking and heading for the nearest fertility clinic, what to do if you find yourselves in the decidedly difficult position of desperately wanting to have a baby but seemingly not being able to?
Now, I should point out that, a bit like Ross in the classic sitcom Friends, I am not a doctor of the medical kind…
However, I have managed to have three beautiful babies in the (not so short) space of ten years. Ideally, I would have preferred a smaller age gap but the cosmos had other plans!
And besides having days where I cried tears of raging frustration at the unfairness of it all, I did a little (well, okay, a lot of) research and put the following 3-point-plan into action – my way of regaining control over an ‘out-of-my-control’ situation.
1. Eat clean
Processed is out, organic is in!
Where infertility is concerned, there are many, many theories about the causes and solutions. However, the one thing that the fertility experts all seem to agree on is the fact that in order to give ourselves the best possible chance of conceiving a healthy baby, we need to fuel our bodies with the cleanest, most unprocessed food sources available.
And that essentially boils down to cutting out all the ‘fun stuff’! So sorry, folks! Oh, yes, indeedy! No to caffeine, sugar, cigarettes, alcohol and overly processed takeaways and ready meals. Yes to lean protein like chicken and fish; healthy fats, such as avocado and olive oil; organic vegetables and complex carbohydrates like brown rice.
If you can truly commit to making the above changes, as well as giving yourself the best possible chance of conceiving, there will be the added bonuses of weight loss and increased energy levels. Inflammatory conditions, such as PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), are also said to respond well to these dietary modifications.
If there was ever a case of ‘win win’, this is most definitely it!
2. Go clean
Choose the most natural beauty and household products on the market – Clinique’s hydrating jelly is paraben, phthalate and fragrance free 💖
Another point the fertility experts all seem to agree on is the need to limit our exposure to the endocrine disrupting chemicals that are all too often present in our beauty and household supplies.
In one of my earlier posts, Today Mostly Mum was mostly… painting her nails! 💅🏻, I outline a study which revealed the damaging effects the chemicals present in standard nail polishes can have on our fertility levels.
Happily, for nail polish addicts such as myself, there are brands available like Zoya, pictured below, which are free of the most potent of all the chemical nasties.
Zoya’s pretty coral neon shade Bisca is all the more appealing when we discover that…
Its formula is formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl phthalate and camphor free!
Similarly, chemical laden household cleaning products are best avoided. If it’s not entirely your thing to whip up your own all-natural alternatives (it certainly wasn’t mine!), the method range of non-toxic plant-based products, which I have previously raved about (for evidence of said raving, see: Mostly Mum’s Top 6 Family Friendly Products of the week… We can’t survive without these, can you? and Spring Clean – The Sequel), is superb!
Admittedly, these more organic household products are on the pricey side but for an altogether more wholesome cleaning experience they simply cannot be beaten!
Method products, according to the blurb, ‘put the hurt on dirt without doing harm to people, creatures or the planet [and] can even smell like rainbows.’ 🌈 Now that’s my kind of product! 😊
3. Stress less
This third and final point is one on which there is less of a consensus among the experts. However, given my own research and personal experience I am convinced it is relevent.
While trawling through website fertility forums, whenever I would hit a fertility stumbling block, I noticed that many of the women who seemed to be most at risk of suffering from fertility issues tended to be highly driven perfectionists (not too unlike me! 😳).
They were highly goal-orientated and used to achieving their objectives within a reasonable time frame. So, to be suddenly faced with a more complex issue where all the normal rules made no sense was perplexing, frustrating and infuriating. They wanted results and they wanted those results yesterday! 😠
However, a woman’s fertile cycle doesn’t take kindly to being yelled at! While the release of performance boosting cortisol and adrenaline might be beneficial in the workplace, the more delicate balance of the endocrine system is only likely to be adversely affected by such hormonal disruptions. (At least that’s the theory and I’m sticking to it!)
In actual fact, the release of too much cortisol is thought to inhibit the normal ovulatory process. And so, bearing this in mind, it might be worth doing everything within your power to reduce your stress levels when faced with the very stressful prospect of infertility.
In real terms, this might mean literally going to your ‘happy place’, be it the beach or the countryside for a mini-break, or, if this is not possible, it will be necessary to find that ‘happy place’ of the mind through exercise, prayer or even just logging off from the internet for a set amount of time. Do everything you can to protect your peace of mind at a time when you are most vulnerable to the manifestation of every negative emotion from rage to jealousy to resentment and back again.
And when you finally get to cradle that oh-so-precious little bundle in your arms, it will all have been worth it – every tear, every tantrum, every heart-wrenching disappointment, every ounce of self-control that you managed to muster along the way will all be worth it, I promise you!
Baby dust to you all! 🍼
Oh and please tell me all about your trials, tribulations and success stories in the comments section below!
Until next time,
💋 Mostly Mum