So, you've decided you want to have a baby. And now you want to get right to it, or maybe you are a little nervous about getting started. Where do you start?
Do you go to your OB/GYN and get a pap smear, ultrasound, and a bunch of blood tests run to see if you pass the tests? Do you order a plastic home testing kit, so you can do everything without going into a lab?
I would never tell you to NOT go to your doctor or to the data if you have a health concern. That would be irresponsible of me, and I won’t do it. But I do want to encourage you to be open to the possibility that fertility doesn’t work the way you think it does, especially not right now, when you've probably heard that environmental toxicity is at unprecedented levels and fertility is declining. And I suspect you want your fertility journey to be good for you, and for your future kid’s life on the planet.
Surrender into being.
It may seem a bit strange, but when you decide that you’d like to have a baby, the best thing to do is take a breath – and rather than immediately starting to focus on the goal of having a baby, and putting actions in place for the baby – start to focus on your own health instead. This "slow fertility" movement may seem counterintuitive if you are a female who is used to charging forward to achieve your goals. It may also be really awful to hear if you already feel like your biological clock is ticking away by the month. However, getting fertile means that you are opening up channels in your body that have never been opened before. Opening these channels involves receptivity – and receptivity requires that you tone down the doing for a second, and surrender into a space of being. And you have to really like where you are in order for that to happen. Yes, this still matters, even if you are over 35 or 40 and are freaking out about your age.
So let’s say that you can resist the urge to let the desired goal of conception take you over, and decide that you are going to focus on your health first. What do you do? Well, what I recommend is taking an inventory of your health, and your partner’s health – specifically, your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health, as well as the environment in which you both live. Get a sense of the place where you are bringing in a new person, and take actions to make this place one in which you love being – where the environment is fertile, your body feels healthy, your emotions can flow, your mind is clear, and your senses are gratified. You are about to build the nest, after all.
Yeah, ok, run the tests too.
I certainly ran all kinds of tests on myself while I was cultivating my fertility in my late thirties. In fact, I ran my own blood work every three months or so because I was doing an experiment on my body with a fasting program I developed, and was curious about how it was impacting my body. I'm really geeky, though.
Go ahead and get whatever tests you need run, but also, do not forget to feel your body. Do not forget to notice how your body is functioning. Do not let the quantity and color of your menstrual blood, or his semen, slip by you. Pay attention to every emotion. Feel where it lives in your body. Don’t try to block it. Notice what happens when you do block an emotion. Eat food that is seasonal. Notice if your skin is dry, or your vagina is dry, or if you don’t seem to be digesting your food well. Have him notice these things in himself too. Don’t ignore the feelings you get when you are around people you like, as well as those people who bring out parts of yourself that you don’t like. Develop a routine of going to bed at a reasonable hour, and practicing your morning routine religiously.
Evaluate the density and quality of your tissues. Are they robust? Is there some inflammation? Dig into any sense of not feeling “right”, and understand exactly what qualities you are feeling. Rest when it’s time, and create more energy when the hours of sleep just never seem like enough. Learn how the breath is also a form of food, and that sometimes less food gives you more energy. And that funky periods are a sign that the soil of your uterus might need a little more attention from you and possibly also a professional.
What’s good for the environment is good for your future kids.
Doesn’t focusing on how your body is functioning in the environment sound like a great place to start? Remember, your ability to conceive, gestate, birth, breastfeed and raise a child is dependent on your mind, body, spirit, partner and environment. You are at the center of this field that is being cultivated for a new being to enter the world through. And feel empowered by the idea that whatever you discover in the process is malleable and changeable with a little attention and intention. That always makes the unknown a little less scary.
I promise you will be happy you took the time to care for your health before you have a child. Ask your partner to do the same. Your future kid will benefit greatly from it.
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Heather Grzych is the author of The Ayurvedic Guide to Fertility and the host of the Wisdom of the Body podcast. A board-certified Ayurvedic practitioner, she bridges the worlds of conventional and alternative medicine to help women and men heal their physical and emotional lives. Heather is on the board of directors for the National Ayurvedic Medical Association and has consulted with doctors, governments, and insurance companies. She offers virtual consultation and trainings on body intelligence.