When I share that my husband and I prepared for 18 months before even trying to get pregnant, I am usually met with wide eyed stares and a sense of bewilderment. Preparing for pregnancy isn’t really a thing. Most couples just start trying or some get pregnant on accident. But both Sebastian and I knew we wanted to take a different approach.
This was our rationale: We spent 18 months preparing for our wedding, pouring over every detail to ensure it was the most perfect moment. It required so much time and energy for ultimately a single day. So if we can invest such focus and dedication for a party, it seems obvious to take as much care if not more when creating a human.
In addition, like all parents, we wanted a spectacular and healthy child. With the rise of autism, autoimmune diseases, ADHD and a slew of other childhood illnesses, we inherently knew it was our responsibility to make sure we were our best selves in order to increase our chances of having the best outcome.
If we took time to prepare for pregnancy and treated it like a sacred experience, we felt like we were more likely to have a healthy baby and birth. I didn’t just want to wing it or have a “let’s try and see what happens” approach. I wanted to be involved, an active co-creator, to prepare not just my physical body for pregnancy but also my mind, emotions, home, finances, marriage – overall my entire life.
Cause really, what is more important than creating another human life, one that you are fully responsible to raise and nurture? Why not stack the odds in your favor?
So with that perspective, my husband and I undertook many months of preparation, sacrifice and dedication to our unborn child. In a way, it was prenatal parenting because our first thought was always what was best for baby. I am well aware that this can seem a bit intense but for us, it was an absolute must. Plus, based on all my research, it is well documented that couples who prepare for pregnancy have a higher likelihood of not only getting pregnant easier but also experience a more positive outcome than younger couples who do nothing. To us, that was reason enough.
To keep it simple, our approach was two-fold. We aimed to reduce our toxic load while optimizing our nutrition.
Here are the 10 things that we did:
1 – I saw an Eastern + Western doctor. Once we committed to the idea of preparing for pregnancy, the first thing I did was see two doctors with very different perspectives. I wanted to get a sense of my present condition to identify any blind spots I may have had. I felt great being an active vegetarian but I sensed something was a little off and I wasn’t sure what. Interestingly enough, they drew similar conclusions. I was protein and B12 deficient and needed to adjust my diet.
2 – I changed my diet. After 7 years of being a die-hard vegetarian, committed to the lifestyle, community, approach and belief system, I started eating conscious meat, fish and eggs. This was not without some shame, resistance, fear and worry. It took me a while to accept that, for whatever reason, my body didn’t do well without animal products and in order to ensure the proper development of a pregnancy, I needed certain foods to fill the gaps. So I started eating local, organic, grass fed and finished meats, humanely raised eggs and wild fish. To be honest, I noticed an immediate difference in my energy and metabolism.
3 – I started taking proper supplements. Working closely with my homeopathic doctor, we were able to address my B12 and protein nutritional deficiencies in addition to my diet change with proper supplementation to help replenish my stores. I also started taking a probiotic, vitamin D and cod liver oil for future baby brain health! I opted to do this instead of a prenatal vitamin because I prefer individualizing what is needed rather than taking a general multi-vitamin, one that is likely not easily absorbed.
4 – I also increased my fats. Good fats that is! So necessary for pregnancy, I made sure to include a wide range of them in my diet, incorporating a serving at every meal. Coconut oil, avocados, ghee, grass fed butter, olive oil plus some nuts and seeds like walnut and pumpkin seeds.
4 – I got my husband involved. Mamas, don’t be fooled. It’s as much on the male as it is on you! I wasn’t going to do all this prep without my husband taking steps too. He IS half of the equation! So Sebastian also saw the homeopathic doctor for a check-up, committed to eating better, drank less alcohol, stopped eating hot dogs (temporarily!), made exercise and yoga a priority and built a business that he loved and felt fulfilled by. We often think of pregnancy being a woman’s thing but Sebastian loved playing an active and engaged participant in the preparation process.
5 – Movement became a top priority. I have always been dedicated to fitness and yoga but making sure I exercised became a top priority. My new motivation was to be in top shape for pregnancy which made getting my butt in gear much easier. I also diversified my workouts – yoga, strength training, biking, walking and cardio all played a role so that every day I had a different focus to work on and improve. (And good thing I did because I would have never survived my 70 hour labor had I not been in shape!)
6 – I started taking herbs. After making sure I was eating a diet to optimize my nutrition, during my second trimester, I started to make herbal tea infusions that not only provided additional vitamins and minerals but also help to tonify the reproductive system. It was also a great way to ensure proper hydration. My favorites were red raspberry leaf, oatstraw and nettle.
7 – We cleaned up our home. Although we had a pretty conscious household, I dug a little deeper and got rid of any toxic cleaning + beauty products, many of which can be endocrine disruptors. We tossed anything we didn’t need and created space but having less things. We also invested in a high quality air purifier, hooked up a water filtration system for our faucets and showers and signed up for a water delivery service.
8 – We reduced our exposure to radiation. This was super challenging because radiation is everywhere but we managed to keep our phones on airplane mode at night, power down electronics when not in use and put EMF blocking stickers on our phones. I also used a radiation blocking case for double protection. Sebastian made sure to not rest his electronic devices on his lap and I tried my best not to keep my phone in my pocket. Not gonna lie, this still proves to be the most difficult!
9 – We found health care providers that we trusted. As a doula, I knew I could choose either an OB/GYN or a midwife for prenatal care. I was clear that I didn’t want to wait until I was pregnant to scramble and find a doctor. This was a huge, often underestimated decision because I believe your care provider must match your philosophy and approach to birth. So months before becoming pregnant, I found a pair of midwives that really jived with my soul and who I instinctively knew would be perfect for my birth. This brought me much ease because when I did find out I was pregnant, I already knew who to call!
10 – We got our finances in order. Though this wasn’t something that optimized our nutrition or decreased our toxic load, it was by far one of the biggest gamechangers. We worked with STASH, a wealth management system geared for young people. They helped us prioritize our goals, automate our expenses, save for retirement, create a solid maternity fund (since I am self employed, I do not get any kind of maternity leave!!) as well as make conscious investments and feasible plans to achieve our long term dreams. For me this was a huge step because it allowed me to not stress over the months I wouldn’t be working. Less stress makes for one happy mama!
I know these 10 steps may seem crazy (who prepares for almost two years?!) but again, for us it made sense to take the time to get ourselves in the best place possible. Although you can never be totally ready, we were AS ready as we would ever be. And lucky, all of our prep worked because I got pregnant with ease and had a fantastic pregnancy and beautiful, healthy baby.
Keep in mind that even small steps add up and if you don’t have 18 months to prepare, don’t worry! You can take one or two months to get your body, home and finances in order. Every bit of preconception efforts counts!
And if you need support of guidance or are looking to learn more about pregnancy preparation, please feel free to contact me. I am adding a new offering to my business, 30 minute coaching calls to help you get clear on the steps needed to prepare for the greatest adventure of your life!