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Sponsored By: The Stork® OTC
Stress affects just about everything in our lives, if we let it. When it comes to getting pregnant, stress is a doozy. Now, whether the stress came before or after the decision to try and conceive, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that dozens of research studies show that stress can impair everything from ovulation to menstruation to fertility.
A scholarly article titled “Stress and Other Environmental Factors Affecting Fertility in Men and Women: Overview” compiled study data on stress in relation to fertility, and found that it can negatively affect both men and women when trying to conceive.
The article suggests that women who experience severe or chronic stress are more likely to suffer from amenorrhea, a disorder in which the menstrual cycle disappears for long periods of time. Additionally, men who experience extreme stress are more likely to have a lower sperm count.
Lowering the chances of having stress-related infertility is important in improving the chance of conceiving. As a fertility and women’s wellness expert who has helped hundreds of women conceive, I’m offering my top five tips on the best ways to manage stress when you are trying to get pregnant:
1) Appreciate where you are NOW.
Gratitude and appreciation go hand in hand, so however you want to look at it, works. I encourage you to focus on being happy, grateful and appreciative with where you are in your life — right here, right now.
What I see clinically with my background as a neurobiology research scientist, is that many women and their partners get into the “I’ll-be-happy-when-I-conceive” mode. And, this attitude doesn’t serve you. Rather it can breed anger and resentment towards your partner if conception does not come easily.
Neither of these emotions help your stress levels, nor will they help with conception. Get in the habit of finding things in your life — right here, right now — that you appreciate and are grateful for.
Take Home Tip: Write down five things per day that you currently appreciate in your life. Shifting your attitude to one of gratitude will greatly improve your health.
2) Use food as a tool to nourish your fertile body.
Yes, your body is fertile. Inherently it knows how to get pregnant, and the food you eat is one of the best ways to nourish its innate ability to conceive. When it comes to getting pregnant, there is a lot of talk about egg quality and ovarian reserve, which refers to the number of eggs your ovaries have left.
The truth is, there’s not much we can do about ovarian reserve, but there is plenty we can do about egg quality. Every woman that walks into my clinic, no matter how old she is, is very concerned about her age and her egg quality.
Eating in moderation is important, especially foods that have been modified. Women who eat low-fat dairy products in excess are 85 percent more likely to have infertility issues caused by ovulation malfunctions than those who eat less than one serving of low-fat dairy products each week. This was reported in a prospective study of dairy foods intake and anovulatory infertility, a study associated with Harvard University.
Another researcher, Jeffrey Smith a leading national expert on the dangers of genetically modified organisms, revealed some disturbing things about herbicides like Roundup. They have been shown to be directly linked to endocrine disruptors which cause hormonal imbalances, and reproductive failure or inability to conceive.
In order to conceive a healthy child and carry to term, you need to limit your toxic load, which is putting a lot of stress on your body, and eat food that will nourish your body, not compromise its health.
Take Home Tip: Focus on eating foods that are organic, non-GMO, fresh and nutrient-dense, meaning they provide the most nutritional bang for their buck. Try foods like pastured eggs, avocado, nuts, green leafy vegetables, grass-fed animal products, healthy fats and organic grains.
I know that everyone is talking about meditation these days. And, there’s a reason — it works. It is one of the best ways to limit the stress impact on your body. If the thought of meditation stresses you out, then keep it simple by making it work into your current routine. Meditation just means to sit still, quiet your mind and breathe.
That’s it. I like to look at is as “chill out and check in with your body” time. It really is that simple.
Take Home Tip: Find a few minutes (three, five, 10 or 20) each day to sit still and just breathe.
4) Don’t put your life on hold.
I see this a lot in my practice, where women will pause their life until they get pregnant. This doesn’t work. Alternatively, it causes a lot more stress and impatience.
If something comes up like a new job, a fun getaway or a big move — do it. Don’t wait, especially if it is something that makes you happy when you think about it. As I stated, happiness, gratitude and appreciation all go a long way when it comes to getting pregnant.
Take Home Tip: Live for each day, not for the “when I get x” moments.
5) Let go and believe.
By this I mean, accept and surrender to where you are right now, in the process of trying to get pregnant. Yes, I realize, this is much easier said than done. But, getting to the emotional space of knowing that you are doing all you can and believing in your body’s ability to conceive when it is ready, is key.
One of the first questions I have for a new fertility patient is, “Do you believe that you are going to get pregnant?” Ninety-nine percent of the time, the answer is “Yes.” So, if you believe as well, then it is time to let go.
Rather than focusing on getting pregnant, shift your attention toward being as healthy as you can possibly be, for out of optimal health blossoms your body’s wisdom about how to conceive.
The truth is, the moment we let go and surrender — the stress dissipates. This isn’t an overnight process, but rather a daily practice.
Take Home Tip: Trust and believe in your body’s ability to conceive and use this daily mantra: I believe in my body.
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Reviewed July 7, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith