• Lifestyle Changes I Made to Prepare My Body For A Baby

    by Samantha Kellgren
    on May 4th, 2018

My friend Samantha Kellgren is a Preconception and Prenatal Health Coach, I asked her to share her experience with her health challenges and infertility... and the lifestyle changes she made in order to help support herself and a baby.

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When my husband and I were ready to start a family, I knew it may not be immediate. I felt I had realistic expectations, that after going off the pill it could take a few months for my period to regulate and to get our timing just right.

 

After 3 months, I had no period, had failed the “progesterone challenge” with my OB twice, and

met with a reproductive endocrinologist to assess any underlying issues.

 

It turns out, I was too fit to get pregnant.

 

In a culture focused on being healthy, losing weight, eating right, and exercising, the fact that being too healthy was unhealthy isn’t much talked about.

 

Hypothalamic Amenorrhea is a prolonged missed period (3 periods in a row) due to excess stress causing a disruption in the brains signal to the hypothalamus which - in short - controls reproduction.

 

The stress of intense exercise, mainly endurance running, and low body fat had thrown off my hormones so much that my period had completely stopped. As much as I loved an intense workout and going for 1½+ long runs on the weekend, I knew my lack of period was a red flag that my body was not actually healthy.

 

I wanted to start our family more than I wanted my lean figure, but it came down to more than just less exercise and more body fat.

 

Here are a few things I did to get my body in a healthy place to get pregnant:

 

Changed my exercise

When it was clear my high intensity and endurance workouts were doing more damage than good, I had to reevaluate what my body needed. After all, no exercise isn’t healthy either, and if my goal was to get pregnant and have a healthy baby, I needed to be strong for that.

 

I cut way back on my running, from around 30 miles a week to 10, and cut out all speed work, opting for a comfortable even pace. Right before our embryo transfer I cut out running completely and only after I was cleared for exercise postpartum did I lace back up.

 

I added more yoga and walking. Opting for slower more mindful exercise allowed me to get the endorphins I craved and muscle movement I needed without overtaxing my body.

 

At first it was hard to let go of my routine, of pushing myself for each workout. But, after a couple weeks I fell into a new routine and looked forward to challenging myself with new yoga poses - hello headstands! - and listening to podcasts on long walks.

 

Added more healthy fats

I needed to gain weight and body fat, but I knew a diet of doughnuts and potato chips was not the responsible way to do so. As a preconception and prenatal health coach, I advocate that “eating for two” starts before you even conceive.

 

I needed to fuel my body with the macronutrients and stores to build a healthy baby. Two major baby building blocks are lean protein and healthy fats.

 

I traded my non-fat yogurt for low or full fat, and loaded the fridge with full fat cheeses (is there anything better?) and worked avocado into any meal I could. It makes a great sandwich spread and is the perfect topping for nearly any chili or stew. Easy peasy!

 

Nuts were another item I stocked up on, putting them in oatmeal and using them as a topper for yogurt, and simply as an afternoon snack. They provided protein and healthy fats in a quick and easy manner.

 

Acupuncture

Immediately after our first failed IUI, I looked up acupuncture for fertility near my home. I had read a ton of posts and studies on how acupuncture has been shown to help boost chances of conception “by reducing stress, increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs and balancing the endocrine system” (source).

 

The great thing about acupuncture - or nearly any Eastern Medicine - is that there are minimal downsides. We see medication ads every day noting long lists of downright scary side-effects, yet with acupuncture there were no downsides I could come up with.

 

I have now been getting acupuncture treatments regularly for over a year and have seen benefits outside of a healthy pregnancy like my Raynaud’s symptoms being noticeably less severe and frequent.

 

Mindset

Mindset is a tough one to truly shift and it’s not something you can force, but it’s an important piece of the puzzle. For me, I was stuck longing for my old race times and my leaner body, and putting a lot of worry and expectations on each fertility appointment.

 

I felt I was somehow behind where I wanted to be, and that each week that passed was wasted time.

 

Then, that changed. Before our second and successful transfer, I stopped caring about getting back where I was, and my focus switched from what I was waiting for, to what I had.

 

I remember sitting on a friends porch on a weekend night with music playing and I was laughing. Genuinely laughing and having a wonderful time. I noticed how happy I felt and that waiting for a baby wasn’t the only thing I had going on in my life. I had so much good around me and I wanted to focus on that instead.

 

It took me a bit to get there, but that shift felt so good. I felt more relaxed and truly optimistic about the transfer and whatever was next.

 

The way I see it, you don’t have to choose between holistic and clinical healthcare. While I ended up going the route of IVF, the holistic changes I made not only contributed to a successful pregnancy, but a longer term healthier lifestyle.

 

Professional services like acupuncture, massage, functional medicine, and chiropractic care can prep your body for pregnancy and help you maintain a healthy pregnancy and easier birth without medical intervention.

 

The best part is that there is no downside, and side effects are primarily positive like feeling better overall, improved sleep, and stress relief.

 

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If you'd like to find out more about Samantha and the work she does as a health coach,

or if you'd just like to dig into some preconception and prenatal support tools- check out her website!

www.simplywellcoaching.com

Author Samantha Kellgren Health Coach

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