Holistic preconception is approaching the phase before you plan to have a baby with an attitude of tending to the health of your body, mind, and spirit. It’s an area of healthcare that is not given enough time and attention; however, it’s well documented to have significant impacts on the health of both baby and mum, as well as the relationship dynamics in which the baby is being born into.
It takes approximate 100 days for eggs and sperm to go through a full maturation cycle; thus, this is the guiding timeline for a holistic preconception plan. Holistic preconception recognises that because each partner donates only one cell to a potential baby, both partners must be doing the work as a team. Remember, it’s equally important to prepare yourself biologically as well as spiritually so you’re in the strongest and healthiest place to bring a new human into the world.
I see holistic preconception as encompassing six primary areas so that you’re providing the best ingredients possible to create a new life. I hope this framework allows you to reflect on what areas of your life, health and relationship are asking for your gentle attention to.
1. Knowledge of Your Fertility
Understanding your body’s signs that tell you whether you can or cannot, cannot get pregnant is incredibly valuable. Fertility awareness gives you the tools to understand your fertility and a language to discuss it; both of which confers confidence and allows you to optimise your chances of conceiving.
Tracking your cycle will also provide valuable information about your health, such as:
- Whether you’re ovulating
- If you have any hormonal imbalances
- Whether you have fertile mucus
- Or if there’s enough time after ovulation for a fertilised egg to implant
It also gives some very interesting information that can indicate to you whether medical intervention might be needed or not. And ultimately, it helps you time lovemaking to provide you with the best possible chance of conceiving. This is not about downloading an app that tells you when you’re fertile and when you’re not, it’s you developing knowledge of your own body.
2. Address Underlying Root Causes
Fertility is a byproduct of good health. Thus it does not work to focus on fertility in a healthcare silo. It is a part of the beautiful complex web of all the systems in the body. If one area of the body is struggling, that is going to have an effect on all other areas systems. When your body feels safe, you create optimal conditions for fertility. Reproduction is deprioritised when your body feels under-threat, stressed or undernourished. The key systems that underpin your overall health are:
- Digestive function
- Nutrition status
Understanding your current health vulnerabilities and working on them beforehand allows you to be in the best health possible, as you step into parenthood. Working with a holistic practitioner will help you uncover what these are for you.
3. Optimal Nutrition
Even though this is one of the key root causes, it deserves a category of its own! Adopting a sensible, down to earth approach to food that gives you a diverse range of nutrients is an effortless way for both partners to prepare of pregnancy.
If you and your partner were to do just two things to optimise your nutrition for pregnancy, they would be:
- Adopt the Mediterranean Diet as your nourishment system of choice.
- Take a GOOD QUALITY prenatal multivitamin that includes sufficient iodine, zinc, selenium, methyl folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin D.
4. Herbal Support
Herbs have got a long tradition of being used in the preconception phase, both men and women throughout history and many cultures. The earth has gifted us with many beautiful plants that can promote vibrant health and support fertility.
Plant medicines offer an effective alternative to commercial pharmaceuticals without the possible adverse side effects. It’s important to work with a trained herbalist to guide you on what herbs are best suited for you and also what’s safe in pregnancy.
5. Reduce Exposure to Harmful Substances
In our modern era, we are now exposed to many more hormone-disrupting chemicals, medications, solvents and plastics than our ancestors did. Even though your body is sophisticated at processing and eliminating these, your detoxification system can become overburdened.
When approaching the preconception phase, bringing awareness to reducing your exposure as much as you can, allows you to not worry about the factors that you can’t control. Simple lifestyle shifts can dramatically decrease your exposure to these harmful substances exponentially. These areas include:
- Products you use in your home and on your body
- The food you eat
- The way you prepare and store your food
- Filtering your water
It also encourages you to pull back on unhealthy habits such as excess caffeine consumption, alcohol, cigarettes, certain medications and recreational drugs.
6. Psycho-Spiritual Preparation
Remember, you’re not only preparing to give birth to another human, but also to another version of yourself. Children are often teachers before they are even conceived. When approached with awareness, they bring your life to a different focus. If you listen, you may hear them calling upon you to change the architecture of your life, to awaken a different part of yourself, to address fears, integrate pain or trauma that has not been processed. **Holistic preconception can be a powerful catalyst to become a more integrated and healed version of yourself. **
This element of preconception care can make approaching the other five areas seem downright a walk in the park. It is something to be approached with love and compassion. If this is an area of your health, you know needs some love and healing having a counsellor or therapist will be a precious ally on your healthcare team.
The practice of menstruality is my favourite way of integrating these psycho-spiritual elements of your being as a woman. The menstrual cycle is filled with medicine, gifts and insights that can help you understand these subtler, more soulful aspects of your being. It can also help your partner understand you more too.
May We Prepare for Pregnancy With Sovereignty, Courage and Trust
Over the past seven years of supporting women and couples through preconception, I’ve often witnessed a natural fear arises. Fear that it may not be easy. Trepidation if they’ve experienced fertility challenges in the past or traumatic birth. If this is true for you, I gently suggest bringing your focus to the present. Take each month of your preparation as it comes. And continue this way when you begin trying. If you’re not pregnant in six months, only then a different discussion will need to be had.
I encourage you to bring courage with you on this journey. Courage allows you to tap into the heart of these fears and transform that frightened energy towards hope, action and initiative. Taking a holistic approach to preconception will enable you to see any difficulties that arise as invitations to heal. Welcoming your heart to come into a new rhythm of trust and surrender to this extraordinary journey.
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Resources & References
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