Using supportive language to frame your fertility journey
Where Do We Begin When We Treat Infertility?
With an invitation + body trust + acceptance of the mystery. Read the following contrasting mantras and, as you read them, feel how they land on you:
I am doing everything perfectly to achieve pregnancy.
I would like to make my body a welcoming home for new life.
My body is betraying me. Something is broken and wrong.
Hmmm….not pregnant again this month. I trust my body knows best. I’ll continue
to nurture her & perhaps she will feel ready in the coming months.
It is entirely up to me and my doctor to get this body pregnant.
We are in full control of this matter.
I am beginning a mysterious journey and with every step I will practice letting go of
my illusion of control. My body and my intentions are an invitation to life, and at
the same time I understand that something far beyond my own or any physician’s
awareness is at play.
We begin with these contrasting mantras because as amazing as acupuncture and Chinese medicine are for fertility (see list below), we need to start with these reframes. Why? Because, as important & extensive as the list is, I still have found it to be secondary to these reframes I started with.
The approach of “I’d like to invite life” “I trust my body” “I accept the mystery” approach brings calm and joy and consciousness to the fertility journey.
Women come to see us for fertility who have been told to achieve pregnancy, that her body is broken and that the outcome is entirely up to her body and the clinic. Other than this being a terribly callous approach and that in itself being problematic, the physiological and psychological problems with it are that it puts the body into stress. And guess the last thing a body wants to do when it’s under stress? Get pregnant.
Relax, destress and let things happen
You may have heard the phrase “rest and digest” in reference to the parasympathetic nervous system, but what it really should be is “rest, digest and be fertile” because if your body is getting constant messages passed down from the sympathetic nervous system (fight & flight) that it’s under threat – physically, emotionally or otherwise – your body will protect you from conceiving. It is NOT betraying you by not getting pregnant – its actually protecting you. Isn’t that amazing?! Here are some ways you can relax on this journey:
~ Catch a great podcast so you can feel like part of a community like this one: Fertility Friday Pod or The PCOS Revolution
~ Keep it fun with your partner vs technical and medical
~ Repeat after me: I EITHER AM OR I’M NOT. This is a fantastic mantra (in addition to the reframes above) to help you manage the strange mystery in the second half of your cycle and the first 3 months or so of your pregnancy. Saying these 6 words can pull you out of a ruminating, stressful loop and get you back into the moment with surrender.
How acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help
So, you can bet that the long list of benefits you’re about to read is eclipsed by acupuncture and Chinese medicine’s ability to calm the nervous system. To help it return to and learn to exist primarily in parasympathetic (rest, digest, & be fertile) mode.
Here are the medical benefits of acupuncture and Chinese medicine where it comes to fertility:
~ Regulates hormones
~ Normalizes an irregular period
~ Optimizes egg & sperm quality & sperm count
~ Improves ovulation
~ Helps to clear out minor scar tissue blockages
~ Thickens the lining of uterus for implantation
~ Helps the body retain pregnancy
~ Helps mitigate the symptoms of pregnancy
~ Helps to deal with ailments where you’d normally be able to take medicine, but because of the pregnancy you can’t or would rather not
~ Helps improve lactation once baby has arrived
~ Helps mama get her blood and energy back once she has delivered and now is giving her everything to this new life, sleeplessly
So now that we’ve realized our approach to getting pregnant might benefit from a reframe, how about a reframe for your body and how you relate to it?
Relating to your fertility
Reframing can be difficult when you’ve experienced month after month with no positive pregnancy tests or you’ve had repeated miscarriages. This can be truly devastating. I’ve been there myself. Then there’s our inborn human negative bias. The pain we feel plus our evolutionary tendency to focus on what isn’t working can cause us to begin to think that we are broken or that our body is incapable. But it is in these moments when we must remember the body is innately wise and wants only to protect us.
Let’s stop for a second and just marvel at how magical the female body is: born with innate and detailed wisdom around fertility; the gift of being connected to Mother Nature and her cycles; a woman’s ability to create, grow, feed, nurture, and give birth to life itself. And the body ALSO knows just when to keep you from getting pregnant by detecting when you are physically & emotionally under too much stress. Wow. Just wow.
Sadly, as part of the systematic disempowering of women we have been disconnected from our magic as creatresses. We’ve been taught that our periods are gross and to be hidden away, instead of being our 5th Vital Sign. Instead of being taught fertility awareness, we are given synthetic hormones to “manage” our hormones, female “issues,” and our fertility. Women need to know there are billion dollar industries which benefit from making them forget that they were born fertile and magical.
A woman must remember that her body was built for pregnancy and that many of the presenting “issues” showing up as infertility have more to do with the current conditions we live under: stress, exposure to manmade chemicals, nutritional deficiencies, etc. so that her body thinks better of conceiving because the conditions are not good. And yet we are cruel to our own bodies for suffering these consequences.
On this journey we must remember that the body hasn’t failed and you haven’t failed.
The bulk of the fertility journey is a lot of sitting in darkness, mystery, and a sense of feeling out of control. This may sound miserable, but it is good! It is practice because after you have sat in the darkness and wonder of “will I turn up pregnant or not” (which makes the last 2 weeks of a woman’s cycle feel like eons), then you’ll be sitting in darkness and wonder of whether your fertilized embryo is viable (more eons to wait). And then you’ll wonder if you’ll make it past that notorious 3 month mark (another eternity). Then we let down our guards for a bit in the fourth month, but we know there is no guarantee. Not every apple seed becomes an apple tree. There is something (God? Fate? Who knows…) much greater than our efforts and mental reframes at play when it comes to creating life.
So whether a woman is pregnant or not, she is already living with the deep fear that she will lose her young. And oh boy when they are actually outside of her womb….Talk about an opportunity to implement a major mindfulness practice around managing fear and anxiety about your little one getting hurt or lost.
You may be thinking this sounds like anything but peaceful, Leila-scott, but the truth of the matter is – whether you say this out loud or not you, as a woman who can bring new life to this world, feel this. If you’re connected to your emotions you feel this. But, if it stays under lock and key as a dark fearful shadow, that fear can secretly be undermining your peace and your desire to conceive a new life. To name it and begin to bring awareness to it allows for a healthy relationship to it for the rest of your parenting life.
Just imagine the conscious awakening your fertility journey could be with these reframes – and what better kind of parent is there than an awakened, conscious parent.
Taking care of the physical body
Practical tips for those looking to improve their fertility health (because self-care is non negotiable under any circumstances, but particularly if you are eager to create new life in your body).
~ Get enough sleep in a dark, cool, quiet room
~ Eat quality food that actually fuels the health of your whole body (remember your fertility organs are part of your whole body so you’re feeding them too)
~ Manage your stress with meditation & mindfulness practices, perhaps with the help of an expert
~ Have your partner’s sperm count checked
~ Ask your OB/GYN for a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) procedure to make sure that your fallopian tubes are nice and open so egg and sperm can meet
~ Ask your OB/GYN for a basic hormone panel blood test to see where you stand. It can be a nice jumping off point for you and your clinician.
*The Fifth Vital Sign is a great book about fertility awareness by Lisa Hendrickson-Jack. I highly recommend it for both those who want to conceive and those who want to avoid conception.