If you’re battling infertility, chances are you’re scouring the internet, studying countless fertility books and seeking advice from a thousand-and-one experts. Why?
Because once you decide you want a baby, the instinct to procreate dominates your life. It’s all you can think about. And especially for women, it quickly becomes an obsession.
I’ve been there too. Although, I was diagnosed with endometriosis when I was sixteen I was hopeful about my chances of falling pregnant. I thought when the time was right it would happen. I’ve always been conscientious about my health. I ate well. Exercised religiously. And took time out to relax.
So, when my husband and I started trying to conceive and nothing happened, my exhaustive education on natural fertility began. Each month I discovered something new, hoping it would be the missing piece of the puzzle I needed to solve. Three years later we finally conceived our baby boy. Without a doubt, seeing those two pink lines and the moment he was born were the happiest of my life.
I will never know if there was one miraculous remedy that lead to my natural pregnancy. But, looking back on my journey, in addition to obvious therapies like acupuncture, I can see there were a few secrets I wished I’d learned sooner. Little known tips I discovered through years of perseverance.
And if they help one mama-to-be shorten her journey to babyhood I’m privileged to be able to share them.
1. DETOXIFY YOUR REPRODUCTIVE ORGANS
Obtained by pressing the seeds of the castor oil plant, castor oil has been used to aid healing for thousands of years. Applying a warm a castor oil pack is easy, relaxing, inexpensive and benefits three systems within your abdomen:
- The Lymphatic system: responsible for removing waste from cells in our body, the lymphatic system, relies on movement through exercise, as it doesn’t have a pump like the circulatory system. This is one reason a sedentary lifestyle leads to illness. Castor oil packs are another way to stimulate the lymphatic system, helping cleanse the reproductive organs and promote healing of damaged tissues where the pack is applied.
- The Circulatory System: castor oil packs promote circulation bringing fresh oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood to the reproductive organs. Healthy circulation promotes healing, scar tissue repair and breakdown of old adhesions.
- The Liver: your liver removes hormones, drugs, and other biologically active molecules from the blood. If there are excess toxins and hormones overwhelming the liver, they may be stored, in the liver and fat. This can lead to hormonal imbalance which may impair fertility. Castor oil packs can help detoxify the liver.
So, are you keen to start using a castor oil pack today? I loved it and used it as an excuse to lie on the couch, relax and meditate for half an hour (and now I’m writing this post, I’m reminded to start again).
So here’s what you’ll need:
- One flannel cloth (without colours as the castor oil will make it run)
- One bottle of castor oil
- Plastic wrap cut one to two inches larger than the flannel (I often didn’t use this)
- Hot water bottle
- Container with lid
- Old clothes and sheets as castor oil stains clothing and bedding
You can buy all the items separately or there are kits available online, like this one, making it easy to get started quickly.
Follow the instructions in the kit but here are the basics. Soak the flannel in castor oil until it is saturated. Place it over your lower abdomen, cover it with the plastic sheet and apply the hot water bottle. Cover with a towel, lay back and relax for 30-45 minutes. Remove the pack and clean your tummy. Store the pack in a container in the fridge and reuse the same flannel up to 30 times.
Use the castor oil pack daily during the follicular stage (from the end of your period until ovulation). It isn’t safe to use if you’re pregnant or menstruating.
2. INCREASE BLOOD FLOW TO YOUR UTERUS
One simple exercise you can do at home, with your partner, is called femoral massage. It increases blood flow through the reproductive organs which helps stimulate ovulation. It can be done twice daily during the follicular part of your cycle (from the end of your period until ovulation). Don’t perform this exercise if you have your period or think you may be pregnant.
Here’s how to do it:
- Find the crease between your upper thigh and abdomen (along your panty line).
- Using your fingertips, slowly work your way along and locate the femoral artery which you will feel pulsing.
- Press down deeply into the artery until you feel the pulse stop.
- Hold for 30-45 seconds allowing the blood flow to gather in the uterus and ovaries.
- Release the pressure and natural blood flow will resume. You’ll feel a warm rush as the blood returns down your leg.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
- And then gently massage your belly in clockwise rotations nourishing the uterus and ovaries.
Repeat the exercise up to three times twice daily preceding ovulation. Dr Randine Lewis, author of one of my favourite fertility books, The Infertility Cure, has a wonderful video on her site which shows you exactly how to do it. Click on this link to watch the video.
3. NOURISH EARLY PREGNANCY
During our three year fertility journey I experienced 2-3 months where I suspect I miscarried an early pregnancy. Having endometriosis means I’m at risk of being both estrogen dominant and relatively low in progesterone, which is essential in holding a pregnancy and nourishing a developing embryo.
Progesterone maintains the lining of the uterus making it possible for a newly fertilized egg to attach and survive. It also improves fertility by making cervical mucus accessible to sperm and prevents the mother’s immune system rejecting the embryo.
I worked with my Naturopathic Doctor to check my hormone levels and started using natural progesterone cream from ovulation (Day 14) through until the first day of my period. I used it for three months before falling pregnant. Once I was pregnant I continued using it under the guidance of my naturopath throughout the first trimester to ensure a healthy pregnancy.
Topically applied natural progesterone cream, as opposed to oral progesterone, is the most effective way to balance progesterone levels. It’s important to check the cream you use is U.S.P grade and that it doesn’t contain mineral oil which can be estrogenic. Natural progesterone cream can be especially beneficial for women with endometriosis and PCOS.
Here is a helpful video by Hethir Rodriguez, Natural Fertility Practitioner, on the use of natural progesterone cream for fertility.
4. RELEASE EMOTIONAL BLOCKS
The subconscious mind is unbelievably powerful and if you’re facing infertility you need to have it on your side. Similar to a filing system, the subconscious mind stores our experiences, thoughts and emotions for future use. Most of the time it helps, but it may also hinder.
Top athletes are famous for tapping into the power of the subconscious. By imagining scoring the winning goal they improve their chances of success.
And by imagining ourselves falling pregnant, we too, can improve our chances of conception.
In the Mind Body Fertility Connection, James Schwartz, explains how subconscious beliefs may block conception. He suggests old emotional injuries can create obstacles, which may disrupt a healthy reproductive system. Studies suggest hypnosis may increase chances of conception for women undergoing IVF by up to 50%.
I saw a clinical hypnotherapist, specializing in fertility, for six sessions and it was a game changer. It helped me tackle subconscious blocks, helping me feel more in control and pulling me out of a dark place back into the light.
If clinical hypnotherapy isn’t possible for you, Circle and Bloom have a wonderful series of audio hypnosis tracks specific to each day of your cycle, which I can highly recommend. I listened to these while I had acupuncture and found them both relaxing and empowering. Whatever stage of your fertility journey you’re on I highly recommend some form of hypnosis.
5. BE YOUR OWN BEST FRIEND
This can be a tough, lonely road. We beat ourselves up and get caught in endless spirals of negative self talk. We blame ourselves and feel inadequate. We ask, why me?
So, I urge you to protect yourself from the trap of self depreciation. Your body is capable of miracles and one day, in the not to distant future, it will give you the greatest gift of your life. It will nourish your baby and prove you are powerful beyond belief. Talk to yourself as if you are talking to your best friend.
What would you say to her if she were going through your struggles?
Research shows infertility causes the same levels of anxiety and depression in women as cancer, heart disease and HIV+ status. So, don’t underestimate what you’re going through. Don’t belittle it but also don’t surrender yourself, don’t become a victim.
Be kind to yourself. And to your marriage. Give yourself a break whenever you can. If you need a change of scene, go away for a weekend. Have a massage. If you’re on a strict diet but just need a piece of cake, have it. My acupuncturist once said to me, “It matters what you do most of the time, not what you do sometimes”. Not only is it true but being kind to ourselves helps us stay the course.
WHEN YOU’RE GOING THROUGH HELL KEEP GOING
The greatest secret is YOU. As impossible as this journey may seem at times you will fall pregnant because YOU will find a way. You won’t stop until you do and you’ll be a better parent because of it. You’ll appreciate your baby beyond belief and the struggles of parenthood will be easier for you as your child will be a constant reminder that miracles are possible.
I wish you all the best on your journey and please reach out if you need some support.
In the meantime be kind to yourself. Love yourself. Be patient and amazing things will happen.