Improving your fertility – ideas from an acupuncturist

“Trying for a baby consumes you.”

An emotive quote from a friend when I told her I was writing this article. Stress becomes overwhelming; add to your normal professional and personal pressures new ones. Checking your cycle, trying to affect nature, being on an emotional roller coaster, supporting your partner when you are in bits, coping with those around you who seemingly fall pregnant and give birth effortlessly… It’s not easy!

Please read these suggestions, but of paramount importance is to relax. Keep a perspective on life, have therapies such as acupuncture and massage to chill out and see the bigger picture.Modern life takes its toll on our bodies. When women want to get pregnant it makes sense to prepare and give your body the best chance it can have. Working all hours, playing hard and coping with poor sleep and less nutritious food is par for the course in our world.

Rest and relax more. Could you work a little less? Cut down on commuting by working from home? I realise this and other suggestions may not be achievable. However we don’t have an endless tank of energy and ‘Jing’ inherent life force so treat it with respect and don’t let the ‘bank go into the red’ but build your reserves. Do you sleep enough? Insomnia is an increasing problem and worth its own article. To summarise we should aim for 9 hours a night.

“Yin and yang balance” translates as rest and movement. Think about enjoying a busy work session then nurturing with quiet time and avoiding extremes. A balanced mind and quiet time can be found in an oasis of noise with meditation and relaxation techniques, yoga and Tai Chi. Avoid too much stimulation of the brain when appropriate and spend time in nature observing life and growth. Exercise hard if you enjoy it but have plenty of stretching and rest and don’t go to extremes. How about a bracing walk in a wood or paddling in the sea and breathing in those ions?

Eat the best food you can afford. Know its origin, buy organic or local produce, could you grow salad leaves in a windowsill box for example? Nourish yourself with simple home cooked meals. A quick bowl of vegetable soup or a free range egg omelette. Are you taking a specific supplement (bee pollen and royal jelly are good enough for the queen bee!). Could you sprinkle seeds over salads and use nuts as a snack? The Chinese believe superfoods for fertility include chicken, duck, seaweed, fish eggs, bone marrow, kidney, oysters, artichoke leaf, nettles, oats and raw milk. Drink plenty of (filtered) water and herb teas and minimise caffeine, alcohol and processed foods.

Try new fruits and vegetables including a rainbow of seasonal ones. Barley, millet, quinoa, tofu, fish, dark beans, legumes and dark berries, asparagus, dairy. However if you or your partner feel heavy, sluggish and tired it might suit you to avoid dairy and bananas for a while. Don’t follow extreme diets and avoid recreational drugs. Don’t use aluminium foil or cooking utensils and choose fresh rather than tinned foods.

Reduce your to-do list and say “No” more. Lessen your exposure to technology and devices as much as possible. Avoid fumes from nasties such as glue, dry cleaning and petrol if possible. Leave the office at lunchtime for a walk round the block.

Keep warm, especially around the abdomen and in the first few days of your period. Wrap up to protect your body from cold, damp and wind. Don’t walk barefoot around the house but wear socks and footwear. Warming foods include cooking fruit, making vegetables and leaves into soup and adding cinnamon, chilli or ginger but don’t go for a full on fiery curry (it’s that extreme again). Start the day with hot water and squeezed lemon or lime.

You and your partner’s health overall must be your top priority. Sleep well, eat well, balance rest and activity, and use supplements and therapies to support your process.