Everyone’s telling you to “just relax and you’ll get pregnant,” or “take a vacation and it’ll happen.” Isn’t that a huge pressure, besides the basic fact that getting pregnant hasn’t proven to be so easy for you? Getting pregnant can be so frustrating when it involves medical procedures, carefully timed intercourse, self-tests and monitoring, medication, and the like. The good news is, even when it seems like your body just won’t mind your wishes, there are relatively simple and inexpensive things you can do on your own to support yourself in your fertility journey.
If you’ve been dealing with infertility for a while, you’ve likely tried or at least considered some alternative medicine or holistic health practices that you hope will help you conceive. Here’s why you should consider some of the more common approaches to decreasing stress and improving overall health, which include:
- Acupuncture is an ancient healing art, part of the system of Traditional Oriental Medicine. It has been used successfully for thousands of years to enhance fertility; you may even find that your physician is able to offer you a referral. Acupuncture is nearly painless – in spite of the needles – and works in conjunction with your traditional treatments. Many acupuncturists also offer nutritional support. Most larger communities have at least one acupuncture school, and their student clinics offer carefully supervised sessions for as little as $20/treatment.
- Nutrition – Decreasing or eliminating caffeine, refined sugar, and refined flour will give your body a rest, reduce stress on your digestive system, enhance your immunity, and make your body an optimally healthy place for both you and a baby. If you’re saying “yeah, yeah, yeah, I know all that – and it’s too overwhelming” – start today with a small change, like switching out regular coffee for decaf, or trading in a soda for some iced herbal tea. Your nerves will thank you too.
- Yoga is another traditional dating back thousands of years. Yoga is said to massage and stimulate or “tonify” the internal organs, thereby leading to increased health. The slower-paced forms of yoga, such as hatha yoga, or yin yoga, are relaxing practices. But in my opinion, the best thing about yoga is that it helps you love and accept your body, precisely where it is today – not where you hope it will be. If you’re daunted by those fancy yoga studios, head on over to your nearest YMCA or other gym for some great introductory classes.
- Meditation can be as simple as closing your eyes and focusing on the sound of your own breath for just five minutes. It can also be a complex and evolving process, if you choose to expand your practice. Regulating your breathing, clearing your mind, and giving yourself time for introspection are all benefits of meditation. If you want more information, do a search for the terms “meditation” or “the relaxation response.”
- Positive Thinking/Mindfulness/Visualization – although these are all distinct techniques, the overlap is that they are conscious ways of re-orienting yourself towards remaining in the present, focusing on what is, and using the power of your mind to create the future – or at least improve your experience of the future. As with meditation, the internet is full of information on these techniques, or you may wish to consult with a mental health clinician who utilizes such techniques in her infertility practice.
Optimizing fertility is an activity in which you, the patient, play a very active role. Of course your doctor will want to know what other things you’re doing to support your fertility, but you can start right now to take steps to improve your overall physical health and state of mind, thereby reducing the stress actively, instead of just hoping that it will happen “somehow.”