This post was written in collaboration with Ava Women, however, all opinions are my own.
I have always wanted at least two kids. Our first little man came into our world two and a half years ago, and not only have I never experienced such love, but it only affirmed my desire to continue to grow our family.
That said, conceiving the first time around wasn’t as simple as we had imagined. After months of wacky cycles post birth control, a discovery of undiagnosed Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and countless negative pregnancy tests, we were finally blessed with those two pink lines.
Because of our previous struggles to conceive, and in sense, my naivety in the whole process, I am now much more aware of the importance of understanding my body prior to trying to conceive again. It’s so imperative for us as women, whether we are seeking to grow our families or not, to know how our bodies work, what they need, etc. in order to properly care for them.
So the following are some things I’m doing in preparation for baby #2, in order to do just that.
1. Ditch the birth control. For me personally, birth control not only masked my Hashimoto’s by “mimicking” a period each month, but I also had quite the withdrawal symptoms in the form of acne, cramps and more after coming off of it. I felt like if this little pill could alter my body’s natural state in such a drastic way, was it really something I wanted to be putting into it? Not to mention, if it masked a medical issue before, could it do it again? Needless to say, I haven’t been back on it since we started trying to conceive Asher, and I have no intentions of doing so. For me, this has been a first key step in my developed understanding of what is really taking place in my body while preparing for pregnancy.
2. Know my nutritional needs. Whether you go through your doctor’s office or an independent lab, I would highly encourage all women have a full nutrient panel done several times throughout your life, but in particular, when contemplating conception. I had one done for the first time after Asher was born, and I was blown away by how many vitamins and minerals I was deficient in like calcium, vitamin D, B vitamins and more. Many of these are key things that our bodies and those of our growing babies need to do their jobs effectively, and it was incredibly eye opening to learn that despite a healthy diet, taking a prenatal etc., I still wasn’t getting enough.
3. Fill the gaps. Now that I know what my deficiencies are, I can work toward remedying them through diet and the supplements that I choose to take. I am a full proponent of trying to get as many vitamins and minerals as possible through real, wholesome foods. But, I also appreciate a high quality supplement (in the form of a prenatal or beyond) to fill in the rest. The best thing you can do for yourself is know your gaps, and be vigilant in catering to them.
4. Protect & nourish my gut. As someone who has suffered from a wide variety of gut health issues over the years, let me be the first to say, that gut health truly affects all health. If our gut health is not in check, we are not only often losing out on key nutrients, but are also leaving our bodies more susceptible to illness, infection, inflammation and beyond. Trust me, none of these are things we want to develop at any given time, but especially when pregnant. And to hit this point home further, there has even been research out their supporting a link between the health of a mother’s microbiome and that of her newborn babe’s. Morale of the story – it matters!
5. Know whats going on with my hormones. Similar to understanding my vitamin and nutrient needs, doing a hormone panel has been really insightful. This can again be done through a doctor’s office or independent lab and can look at everything from estradiol and progesterone to testosterone and cortisol levels and more. Our hormones play such an important role in so many functions of our body, including successfully conceiving and carrying a babe, thus, it can be helpful to have an understanding of their current balance within your own.
6. Track my cycles. It wasn’t until we were trying to conceive the first time around that I really payed much attention to my cycles. I think being on the pill kind of lends itself to that, since it makes things more than predictable. But since my cycle returned this time around after nursing Asher, I have been paying a great deal more attention to it. Something that I have been using lately to help me do this even more effectively is my new bracelet from Ava Women. Not only does the Ava bracelet enable me to keep track of my cycles, but it tracks a variety of other physiological parameters like pulse and breathing rate, skin temperature, sleep quality and more by simply wearing it on my wrist as I sleep at night. The other thing that I love about Ava is that by keeping track of all of this data, it actually has the ability to predict the five most fertile days in my cycle so that when we do decide we are ready to conceive, it takes a lot of the guess work out of it, thus, increasing our chances of success. Finding a tool like this has made this piece of prepping for baby a breeze.
7. De-stress. Sometimes as moms, and women in general, this is easier said than done. And I also know that sometimes in the midst of trying for a baby this can also be easier said than done. But the effects of excess stress on our minds and bodies can be incredibly taxing. I’ll be honest, I think in some ways conceiving and even pregnancy were tougher for me than it could/should have been the first time around because of the added pressure I placed on myself throughout the process. So whether it be through exercise, counseling, chatting it out with a good girlfriend, or curling up on the couch with a cup of tea, I’m working hard to seek to ensure I’ve got routines in place to help me find calm amidst the stressors of the day. I’ll admit, this is yet another reason that I am also loving my Ava bracelet as well, as in addition to the benefits I mentioned above, it also measures my heart rate variability ratio which provides me with insight into my body’s physiological stress level on any given day. Having this information alerts me as to when I’m navigating stress well and when it may be time for me to slow down a bit to ensure I’m doing my best to treat my body with the care that it deserves.
It is my greatest hope that in seeking to do these things, we will not only be able to conceive again, but that I will head into the process feeling more ready and confident than ever before in my body’s ability to support and nourish both myself and our future little one. And, I have to say, I am more than eagerly awaiting the day where we are not only able to add to our tribe, but that our first born blessing becomes a big brother to another little miracle as well.
And for those interested in trying out the Ava bracelet to support you on your own journey of growing your family or just learning more about your body, in general, you can use code KRISTA20 to receive $20 off of your first purchase at avawomen.com. Seriously friends, I cannot say enough good things about this device, and its impact on so many women and their families.