In March 2011 Rafaan and I decided that we were ready to start a family and much to our surprise I got pregnant after only 1 month of trying. Sadly that pregnancy ended in a miscarriage in June 2011 and after waiting the two months that were recommended by my care provider we decided to start trying again in August 2011. Well things did not happen as quickly the second time around, it took us 7 months to get pregnant, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t very long, but after having a miscarriage it felt like an eternity and I began to worry that something was wrong. So this is our journey with trying to conceive (TTC), what worked for us and some general preconception health information.
First off let me say that ANY and ALL women who are sexually active should be taking a daily prenatal vitamin, even if you are not intending to get pregnant and even if you are actively trying to prevent pregnancy. The reason for this being that accidents happen. In fact in the US nearly half of all pregnancies are unintended. Prenatal vitamins specifically contain folic acid which helps prevent neural tube defects and in the 2 weeks between fertilization and a missed period those neural tubes have already begun to form, so it’s important that folic acid already be in the mother’s system. Just take a prenatal vitamin in place of a daily women’s multi-vitamin and go about your merry way.
The first thing you should do when you begin thinking about having a baby is to go see your doctor for some pre-conception counseling. You want to make sure you are in the best health possible when you get pregnant and going to pre-conception counseling can help get you there if you aren’t already.
Back to my story: In August we started trying again and at first we decided that we wouldn’t actively try but that we would just stop using contraception and see what happens. Well that plan went out the window really fast after I realized that I was still consciously trying to get pregnant regardless of us wanting to just “go with the flow.” So that’s when I decided to buy a bunch of ovulation predictor kits (OPks) and started peeing on them every day, well despite getting positive reading from the OPKs and timing our baby making sessions around them, I still wasn’t getting pregnant and I started to feel like I didn’t have a clue about my body, and being that my chosen field was maternal and child health, this kind of made me feel a bit lost. A friend of mine recommended the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility, which is an AMAZING resource. I seriously can’t say enough about how great this book is. I believe all women should own a copy of this book because it’s about so much more than just pregnancy. Seriously, take a look! Through using this book I learnt how to chart my fertility cycles and to become in tuned with my body so that I could recognize when I was nearing ovulation. It only took 3 months of charting my cycles for me to get pregnant and during the process I felt really empowered and that I finally understood my body again. For those of you who don’t know what charting your cycles entails, you basically take your waking temperature every morning using a basal body thermometer and you also keep track of your cervical mucus. It sounds complicated, but it really is SUPER simple and easy. If anyone wants more details about how exactly to do it or you have been charting and are confused by what you’re seeing please just leave a comment or send me an email and I’d be happy to help.
I also went to see a fertility acupuncturist, who again came highly recommended by a friend AND did fertility acupuncture work at Johns Hopkins. She put me on 2 herbal supplements; Fertile Garden and Astra Essence and told me that I needed to take 6 pills of each a day. Now I can’t say whether or not these pills actually had an effect on me getting pregnant, but I can say that I got pregnant the first full month I was taking them. The friend who recommended me also got pregnant using these pills not once but twice! The first time it was after 10 months of TTC and she got pregnant the first month she was on the pills and then again the same thing happened with her third child. I have since recommended these pills to a cousin of mine and she got pregnant the first month she used them too. Maybe this is all a coincidence, I can’t say for sure, but what I can say is that you should talk to a medical professional before taking any and all supplements. Don’t self medicate!
Once I got a confirmed pregnancy test reading on April 1st, 2012, I stopped taking the herbal supplements and then tried to be as positive as possible, but actually being pregnant is a whole other story all together, so stay tuned.
Here are some articles for anyone interested in learning more about folic acid as prevention for neural tube defects:
Laurence, K. M., James, N., Miller, M. H., Tennant, G. B., & Campbell, H. (1981 ). Double-blind randomised controlled trial of folate treatment before conception to prevent recurrence of neural-tube defects. British Medical Journal , 1509-1511.
Werler, M. M., Shapiro, S., & Mitchell, A. A. (1993). Periconceptional Folic Acid Exposure and Risk of Occurrent Neural Tube Defects. JAMA , 1257-1261. *Sorry I couldn’t find a free link to the full text of this one*