For many couples, little time passes between their decision to bring a child in their lives and the day the pregnancy test comes back positive. Unfortunately more and more couples are having issues getting pregnant, and in a society where we are not used to wait for what we want, this can be hard to deal with. Having a closer look at more traditional cultures can actually give us many answers about how to prepare for pregnancy, which is of great interest for both the child and the mother's short and long term health. Here is what I learned from Ayurveda and that you might want to consider to boost your fertility.
1. Give yourself 3 months to detox and rejuvenate
We are the first generation of women growing up with the idea that taking the birth control pill as soon as we start being sexually active was an evidence. We also usually assume that once off the pill, our body will be ready to resume its "normal activities" right away, and we end up surprised and frustrated that for many, this is not the case. This is a delicate matter, and like many of my friends I was happy for many years not to have to worry about getting pregnant when I didn't want to. What I didn't know back then, is that whenever a pregnancy is contemplated, and especially if you have been taking a contraceptive for a long time, the body needs time to get back into its natural rhythms, whether you like or not.
In Ayurveda, the reproductive system comes last in the chain of the 7 different body tissues (called Dhatus). Our nutritional intake (food, liquids) is progressively refined through each level of tissue metabolism, which then nourishes the next. Thus, the ovum and the sperm being the most concentrated byproducts of the body, their quality depends tremendously on the overall health of the person and their ability to metabolize what is ingested everyday. Just like you wouldn't expect a full grown tree to come out of the ground 24 hours after
planting a seed, you must consider that your body needs time to produce quality eggs and sperm.
How long should you wait to consider yourself ready? In both Ayurveda and Chinese medicines, we consider that 3 months are a minimum, 6 months being even better. This gives you plenty of time to detoxify the body and make sure it receives the nutrients the reproductive system needs to flourish. This can feel like a patience game for some, but in the end, know you are preparing for your best pregnancy and also for a better postpartum.
2. Increase your water intake
In Ayurveda the reproductive tissues (Shukra Dhatu) are made of the water element. Water is also mainly present in the lymph (Rasa) and in body fat (Meda), which are directly affected by the quality of the food and how much water the person drinks everyday. Depending on your Ayurvedic profile the amount of water you need will change, but as a general rule, what I usually see in my practice is a lack of water in my clients' body. This is mainly due to our excessively stressful lifestyle, being hyperactive all the time. Too much stress on a constant basis increases Vata Dosha in the body, aka internal dryness. One way to compensate is by drinking more water, especially warm water as it hydrates the tissues more and stimulates your digestion.
I usually like to remind clients of this simple rule : like increases like. So, to nourish Shukra which is made of water, drink more water. If you are in tune with your body you may see the changes right away : you'll likely experience less discomfort before and during your period, detect a more abundant cervical mucus during your ovulation period, and feel less tired overall. An increase in water consumption is also very beneficial to men as it increases semen production and allows sperm to move more easily. A good rule of thumb to check if you drink enough water is to look at your urines first thing in the morning. If they tend to be dark yellow or amber, then you definitely need to hydrate more.
3. Get the right amount of exercise
Yes, you need to move and if it's not been the case lately, it's time to change your routine. The right amount of exercise will help your body get rid of toxins through sweat, promote lymphatic flow and proper digestion, will increase your sleep quality and also help release endorphins, which affect your mood directly.
One thing to keep in mind though, when looking to get pregnant, is to get the right amount of exercise. So if you are on the other side of the spectrum and tend to over exercise, you might want to take it slow for some time, because all your body needs right now is to rejuvenate. You need your body to feel nourished, supported and strong to care for the baby that is going to grow inside you. If you've been running marathons for the past 10 years and your body is used to it, I wouldn't suggest you stop altogether, but just experiment with a less intense form of training so you see the effects on your body (chances are your periods will change and become more abundant and regular). If you are an HIIT fan, try to alternate with a yoga class and long walks.
This is all about balance and keeping your goal in mind : you are preparing your body for a totally new adventure, and just like for a competition, the right amount of training is just as important as the result itself.
4. Time to take a closer look at your diet
Most people think that Ayurveda is about being vegetarian. It is true that most Ayurvedic protocols promote a plant based diet, as a way to support digestion and cure most health issues. But this is not always the case, and when we talk about fertility, the focus is on bringing the right amount of nutrients that both the mother and the baby will need during and after the pregnancy.
The diet that I suggest to my clients will change a lot depending on their Ayurvedic profile, the season, their lifestyle but also if they have fertility issues or not. But overall when it comes to nourishing Shukra Dhatu, we want to focus on foods that have those same qualities (called Gunas), which are : liquid, unctuous, heavy and sweet. The foods that have these qualities are healthy fats such as ghee, avocados, vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, but also grains, milk, eggs and animal fats. If you mix those foods together with the right amount of fruits and vegetables, you know you are in the right direction.
5. Know that you don't have to do this alone
Emotional balance can be so tricky around fertility and pregnancy. Whether you are just starting on this journey or not, taking the time to observe how you feel and accept your emotions is going to be one of the most important things to do. Practices such as keeping a journal, attending to yoga classes that are more spiritually oriented, or incorporating a meditation practice are as important if not more, than not forgetting to take your vitamins in the morning.
Doctors often focus on the physiology and make sure your body functions properly. But if your intuition tells you that you need to be nourished in a different way, go ahead and talk to your friends, share your worries, find yourself a healer who will actively listen to your story, and don't be afraid to ask for help and advice ! Most women do not talk about the darker side of their own story, whether because we don't want to bother other people or because we don't want to be seen as "weak". What happens when women share their story with each other is actually quite the opposite : there is no weakness nor judgment. All there is is respect, compassion, and connection from the heart. This allows us to come home with a deep faith that anything is possible, and that each day that passes brings you closer to the baby you will carry soon.
If you are looking to get pregnant, I will happily work with you along your journey. I use Ayurveda, yoga, body and energy work as well as meditation techniques from different origins to adapt to your needs.