Recently, the word “conscious” has become a hot topic of sorts, and rightly so. Consciousness indicates a desire to move through one’s biggest life moments with a deeper awareness and respect for showing up as best as one can. And, conscious fertility, in particular, is the concept of emotionally preparing your body, mind, and heart for the process of trying to become pregnant or for your pregnancy journey overall. In short, conscious fertility is the process of thoughtfully creating a space for your child to one day inhabit and live. This process can mean doing away with outdated patterns, engaging in tools like meditation, addressing stress, and looking closely at the larger holistic picture. If you’ve been seeking active ways to be more conscious of the environment you’re creating for both yourself and your child, below are a few helpful tips from postpartum doula, lactation educator, and yoga and meditation instructor McLean McGown on the topic.
Think about what you may be bringing to the situation. When you are creating a space physically, emotionally, and spiritually for a baby, uncovering the habits, thoughts, and actions that address what is and is not serving you is always helpful. It’s common for that feeling of “the buck stops here” to often bubble to the surface when a woman is about to have a child. She doesn’t want her innocent infant to carry the emotional baggage that she has carried from her own childhood or family lineage. This can be a liberating feeling and, no doubt, a spiritual practice. Everything from a mother-to-be’s love she feels, her stress levels, the food that she eats, the water she drinks, the alcohol that she does or does not consume, the movies she watches, the music that she listens to, the arguments she may have, the people she surrounds herself with, the work that she does, the car that she drives, the ambitions she holds, and so on come under spotlight. Previously viewed benign details now carry more weight. So, try to take a deeper internal look at what you may be carrying into this newfound journey. If you are in the process of trying to conceive, remember to treat your body and your world as though you are already pregnant. This step prompts a decluttering of your internal system, so that you can create a sound environment both internally and externally for your child. It is important to become the home in which you would want to live.
Try meditation. In looking for conscious fertility tools, meditation can play a pivotal role in dealing with the anxiety surrounding fertility and conception, as well as the massive physical and emotional changes that accompany pregnancy. Society tends to cut women’s lives into definitive sections: A woman becomes fertile. She experiences preconception, then conception. She’s pregnant, goes through birth, becomes a mom. Then, eventually she experiences menopause. The end. Major anxiety can come from any one of these shifts, and the move into motherhood can be extremely scary for many women. Instead of dissecting all of the different stages and dwelling on them, mediation can help you care for and embrace all parts of yourself, and prepare you for changes. After all, each of these significant phases flows into the next, and meditation can be a tool to bring us peace in each one. Practicing meditation helps to feel okay in the present moment, no matter how uncomfortable. In this way, it can also help you move into the space of motherhood prior to conception. There are many twists and turns throughout life, but if you try to be as mindful and healthy as possible, then you know you’ve done all you can do. The work is then to learn to let go and trust.
Try and eliminate stress. You have no doubt heard it before, but the effect of stress on fertility cannot be underestimated. We’ve all heard stories of women who do multiple rounds of IVF to no avail, and once they stop “trying”, they become pregnant. And, what about the couple that decides to adopt after years of trying to get pregnant, then once the papers are officially signed, they too become pregnant. Finally, what about the couple who gives up “trying”, flies to Mexico for a vacation to finally let go, has one too many margaritas and then bam—pregnant. The message here is that perhaps there was too much pressure and anxiety on the body previously to be open to receive. A new study published online in the journal, Fertility and Sterility, found that women who participate in mind-body training have a significantly higher pregnancy rate than women who don’t undergo training: 52% compared to 20%. Alice Domar, principal investigator and director of mind-body services at Boston IVF, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, shares that there’s “a strong indication that learning stress management tools before and during an IVF cycle can have a significant positive impact on pregnancy rates. With IVF, physicians feel their medicines control every aspect of an IVF cycle, and there is no room for stress. My observation is yes, there is.” No matter the details behind why or why not you are able to get pregnant, it is known that excessive stress on the mind and body doesn’t help. Whether you are naturally trying to conceive or using fertility treatments, when one obsesses and tries to control every aspect of conception, it often backfires.
Look at the big picture. Finally, stepping back and looking at the long view, one can see that there are many tools to help your readiness for pregnancy. According to Sarah Jane Sandy, a functional nutrition therapist and women’s health expert, one out of seven couples in the U.S. are currently struggling with infertility. And, it’s not just women of advanced maternal age who are having trouble conceiving. In fact, 44% of women seeking reproductive assistance are under the age of 35. Hormone dysfunction is a root cause of many fertility problems. Issues like environmental toxins, harmful foods, and unhealthy lifestyle habits can also weigh heavily on your fertility. Infertility can also fall on the side of the men. The male’s emotional well-being, sperm count, sperm health, diet, lifestyle, and BMI can all affect the vitality of his sperm and ability to impregnate. There are many variables that contribute to a couple’s ability or inability to conceive. The intent is not to examine all of those here, but rather to encourage you to look at the entire picture and approach pregnancy as a spiritual journey filled with opportunities to heal.
Beyond all the healthy eating, meditation, and inner work, there is another level of surrender that takes place with conscious fertility: the surrender to the divine order of conception and birth. This aspect is crucial in helping women end the personal blame game when they may not be conceiving. Remember: every birth is a miracle. Creating and giving birth to a baby reaches way beyond the science of sperm meeting egg. You will not always understand why things happen. You may not always be happy with the outcome. But, life is a never-ending opportunity to learn, expand, and grow. The path to motherhood is like a fast track to self-knowledge; no work is more challenging or rewarding.
For even more information on TTC, be sure to check out Stress & Infertility, 10 Superfoods For Fertility & Hormones, and 10 Misconceptions About Trying To Conceive Debunked.
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