Yes, You should eliminate the "shoulds" when trying to get pregnant.

Here’s how.

When we decide it is time to get pregnant, there’s no shortage of information of how to go about it. And if it takes longer than expected, or we run into a medical diagnosis that puts us into the infertility category, the list just grows.

On one hand, this can be helpful. There are lots of avenues and resources to get you to baby.

On the other hand, the list can be overwhelming, conflicting, and stressful.

Maybe you’ve been there. I know I was, and when most of my clients first come to me they have feelings of exhaustion, disappointment, and failure.

Have you found yourself saying or thinking any of these?:

  • “I am doing everything “right,” but nothing seems to be working.”
  • “It didn’t work because I ate or drank <insert “bad for fertility” food or drink here>. I feel so guilty.”
  • “I spent hours last night researching and now I’m more confused than ever.”

When we lose track of the big vision of parenthood and who we are in our pursuit to pregnancy, we begin to micromanage ourselves and our process. We start to live in a place of constant questioning and unknown. We keep doing and going and checking boxes in the hope that one of them might be the ONE thing that will unlock a successful pregnancy.

Take heart, sister. There is a better way.

You can find the combination of tactics, support, resources, and treatments that work for you. You will know when you’ve found it because it will feel empowering, not stressful. You will feel energized, not depleted. Your plan will give you hope and purpose, not leave you feeling empty.

Sound good? Here’s an exercise I do with my clients to identify which aspects of their fertility plans truly help them - and which ones they are doing simply because they feel they “should.”

You will need a pen, at least 3 sheets of paper, and a highlighter, marker, or pen with a different ink color than your main writing tool. (If you’d like a template, download it here.)

(1) Write it all down:

On your first sheet of paper, make a list of everything you are doing, have tried, or are considering trying to do to conceive. Be very honest with yourself about the true purpose or intent behind all of your actions. If there’s a little bit of you that thinks/hopes/prays that a particular action will help you become pregnant - write it down. It counts.

Score each of the items on your list (scale of 1 - 10) on how empowered, energized, and hopeful it makes you feel.

(2) Identify your mama values:

Imagine yourself as a mother. What lessons do you most want to teach your child? What values do you hope to share? What do you need in order to become her? Not just the physical parts, but the emotional and spiritual needs, too. In a separate list, write down a few words that describe the mother you want to be.

(3) Categorize:

Create a chart with three columns: Mind, Body, Heart. Categorize all of your activities from your first list according to which element they fill up for you. You can have activities that fit into more than one column.

Next, review the list of words or values describing the mother you wish to be. Circle the activities that most help you fulfill this wish.

(4) Evaluate:

Look at each column. Which seem off balance? What might you be able to put down or pick up in order to bring more eveness to the three elements: Mind, Body, Heart (or Spirit)?

Then, review where your highest scoring tasks fall. If you add up the scores in each column, are they roughly the same? Do you have a column that is low? High? Do you have several low scoring tasks or a few really high ones? What do you make of this?

How many activities are circled, indicating they align with your values for motherhood? How can those be enhanced or prioritized?

(5) Make a plan:

Based on your evaluation, which new way of looking at your plan makes the most sense for you - aiming for balance between mind/body/heart; by “score” of which make you feel most empowered and hopeful; or alignment with your motherhood values? Perhaps they all line up similarly to paint a clear picture. If not, that’s ok. Choose the organization method that seems most appealing and comfortable for right now.

Identify 1 - 2 adjustments you can make right now that will help shift your plan into the new alignment. Commit to them for a short period of time (1 - 2 weeks is great). Resist the urge to change more than a couple of things right away.

6) Revisit and adjust as needed:

Keep your lists and check in with yourself at the end of your trial period to see how you’re feeling. Go through your new list and give yourself a score between 1 - 10 of how empowered, energized, and hopeful you feel because of each activity in your plan. Compare your new score to the scores you gave yourself at the beginning of the exercise. How have things changed?

If you aren’t yet feeling more energized, hopeful, or in control, review your chart again and see what else can be tweaked. If you chose one organization method - balance, values, or score, consider looking at your chart from a different one. Ask yourself if you are holding on to some “shoulds”. How can you let them go?

This may be an ongoing exercise, but if you stick with it and stay true to what is really serving you, it will help make your path easier. If you feel stuck, ask a partner, friend, coach, or practitioner for their input.

Yes, infertility is stressful. Yes, you can do many, many, things to improve your fertility and reduce stress. I encourage you to consciously evaluate all you are doing. Give yourself the gift of a plan that empowers, energizes, and fills you with hope.

Erin McDaniel is a six-time IVF “survivor” and now mom to two boys. As a fertility coach, she helps women improve their fertility process by identifying and reducing stress points, creating balanced fertility plans, and implementing positive mindset strategies. To learn more, visit MyFertilityCoach.com.

Get proven strategies to improve your fertility journey with the Fresh Start Program from My Fertility Coach. An 8-week course, the Fresh Start Program focuses on key aspects of your fertility experience with group discussion and support to transform your family building experience. The group dynamic will connect you with women in a similar situation and give you the opportunity to build relationships, camaraderie, and support. Pulling Down the Moon readers get $30 off enrollment; use offer code PDTM30. Learn more and apply to join here. https://myfertilitycoach.co m/fresh-start

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