Essential Preconception Advice According to Chinese Medicine
Nourish the soil before you plant.
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We prepare our soil to grow our vegetables but have you thought about what it takes to have a fertile body? Before you plant any ideas about having a baby, whether it's your first or the next, here are some preconception counseling tips you can't miss!
"Nourish the Body, Nourish the Mind, and Nourish the Spirit"
Why do we nourish the body?
Did you know that medically unexplained fertility is on the rise? Yes it is, and it is due to our high stress lifestyles, nutrient deficient diets, and overwhelming amount of environmental toxins that are to blame. Chinese medicine stresses taking several months to a year prior to planning or making an effort to conceive. Take the time to examine your lifestyle and understand that not only does pregancy require a whole lot of nutrients and energy, but so does breastfeeding.
Get more "Yin"
In this very "yang" culture of do, do, do, strive, move, empower, etc.., in order to get pregnant we need to return to a "yin" state. Yin is receptive, non-doing, ripe and nutrient rich. We are nature, and just like in nature, if you are going to plant a seed in over-used, dried out or lacking in nutrients soil, you are not going to be able to grow anything. Allow yourself time to rest, do more selfcare, get more reflective, let things go, do less, take charge less and enrich your "yin."
Clean up your diet and get to your optimal weight
During this time of preconception, it is important to eat whole quality foods and take the proper supplementation to nourish the body. Act as if you are already feeding a baby in your belly. If you don't already, start to do a slow-food diet where you are learning to cook and prepare your own meals. Cooking your own food increases your knowledge about food combining for better nutritional habits. The result is better weight management. This is not just a matter of vanity. Overweight women have a higher risk of prenatal and birth complications. The goal is to prevent the baby from also having a host of health problems ranging from allergies, asthma, heart disease and diabetes later in life.
Going organic or at least sticking to the Clean 15 is a head start to cleaning up your food. Studies show that exposure to pesticides leads to lower IQ scores in children. Try and stay away from packaged and processed convenience foods that are devoid of nutrients and instead choose nutrient rich foods such as organic fed meats, pasture raised eggs, whole fat organic milk, butter, yogurt and cheese. Choose wild fish and seafood and unrefined fats and oils such as: ghee, extra virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil cold pressed, and of course organic veggies. Up your intake of fermented foods as this is key to upping your nutrient reserves. Think higher quality meals and take less short-cuts in the kind of food you buy and eat.
It's A Dual Affair of Preparation
If you didn't already know, it takes over three months to mature an egg to be ready for ovulation, therefore, during this time it is truly sensitive to nutritional deficiencies and exposure to toxins. The quality of the egg and sperm is highly important in a successful conception. Your partner and you should take the time together of several months before conceiving to eat a diet rich in whole quality foods and learning how to shop for and prepare these foods gets you both in keeping the same habits once the baby is born. Eating a low glycemic diet will keep your sugar levels from spiking and wreaking havoc on your hormones and liver. Clean up your gut and create a healthy microbiome by taking probiotics. Research shows that when mom has a healthy gut flora so will the baby. And it all starts prior to pregnancy. Both you and your partner can begin these healthy habits and life after pregancy will be a lot easier and healthier.
Reduce your environmental toxins
It's a good idea to start taking a look at your skin care or hair care regimen and the products you use. In Chinese medicine our skin is considered the third lung. It's a large organ that protects us as well as absorbs most toxins. Cosmetics contain many chemicals that accumulate in our blood stream during a lifetime and baby inherits this as well. Begin by looking for clean cosmetics with more natural substances. Use more natural household cleaners too. By checking the Environmental Working Group for a list of safe cosmetics to start using and avoiding, you will reduce your exposure to toxic pesticides. Acupuncturists take pulses and look at the tongue, and for this reason we gather information about the state of your organs. We are able to make a diagnosis about whether detoxifying might be what is necessary to get your body into a better state of health for conception.
Stop taking birth control
Give your body a chance to regulate your hormones and menstrual cycle. There are some excellent herbal formulas in the Chinese Materia Medica that are ideal to help regulate your hormones and nourish the body for what might be out of balance before you conceive.
Research has shown many benefits of acupuncture for fertility, for both men and women. Research has shown that regular acupuncture treatments reduces stress hormones and cortisol levels. Acupuncture also regulates cycles, improves ovarian function, ovulation and the quality of egg and sperm, in addition to increasing egg production. Acupuncture also increases blood flow to the reproductive organs for better chances of embryo implantation. Your only side effect of acupuncture treatments is that it strengthens the immune response and supports your general health. Not bad!
Classical Five Element Acupuncture addresses your underlying constitutional weakness and is key to optimizing your health for a healthy Qi (life force) and ultimately a healthy pregnancy. Probably the best fertilizer around for your soil!