• How Yoga Saved My Life (and Sanity)

    Hi! I’m Alison, Al, or Ali and I have been practicing yoga for 13 years. I still can’t do a handstand without my friend (the wall), but that doesn’t matter because the things yoga have done for me are immeasurable. Over the years, my love for yoga, and its many forms, have grown and changed, went silent, went over the top, and made me broke (thanks Lululemon), ALL THE THINGS…..

    I’ve used my yoga practice to maintain fitness or weight, sometimes to ease my mind, for naps in savasana, and at times for a home when my home was less than an ideal place for me. I’ve talked until I’ve been blue in the face to my friends and family about why they should do yoga too. I would say things to them like: “the music is so calming”, “you will build confidence”, “you will meet new people”, but with all this blabber if you are anything like me, you might find that yoga distinctly changes or even saves your life (if I’m being dramatic, as I tend to be :). Let me be clear: yoga can help you through any major life change, good or bad, and gives you the strength and self love that you need. Let me count the ways yoga can help:

    Confidence. Built from our work on the core. Discover that public speaking or meeting new people isn’t that scary.

    Courage. Try something new off or on the mat or maybe the strength to cope with a chronic illness, anxiety, or depression.

    Comfy Clothes. No more jeans because OUCH! How cute are yoga pants with a sweater and boots?

    More healthy choices. To relax, breathing techniques and/or mantras work better than booze or stressing eating. I still like to indulge in a glass of wine every once in a while, but I no longer drink to relieve anxiety.

    Trust. In the universe and your individual journey. A consistent yoga practice can help you let go of anger about the past and fears about the unknown future

    Friends, confidants, business connections. Yoga has introduced me to an entirely new network of friends and yoga is always more fun with a buddy. I have gotten jobs, had a lot of fun, and traveled the world with people I’ve met through yoga. Who would have known?!

    I could go on and on, but I’ll let you experience it for yourself and hopefully you will want to make your own list. Come check out a class with the yoga crew at Pulling Down the Moon (Cassie, Christina, Kellie, Diana, or Me).  Special Holiday Support Editions of Yoga for Fertility available for a limited time (Join me with Rolling Enrollment through January 7th on Mondays at 5:30pm in Chicago, start on Wednesday, November 28th at 5:45pm with a NEW series with Diana in Chicago, or join Christina starting December 2nd at 2pm in Highland Park!)

    We all have our individual styles of this ancient practice and we will help you keep your calm during whatever journey you may be on. Please join us for special Yoga for Fertility holiday support series, Prenatal Yoga After Infertility, and/or private yoga sessions. Register here. Questions? Call us today at: 312-321-0004! Save 20% off Yoga for Fertility this season as our gift to you with the promo code: GIFT20 today!

    Alison Lautz, LCSW, RYT

  • Is it Time To Consider Egg Donation?

    You’ve done it all. Diet. Acupuncture. Yoga. Reiki. You name it. You can only do so much to improve the quality of your eggs, so how do you know when you are ready to move on and use an egg donor to build your family?

    Know your limits

    When you first started on this journey, you probably didn’t think it would take this long to get pregnant. Perhaps you gave yourself a limit as to how many fertility treatment cycles or how much time you would allow yourself to try naturally before considering alternatives. It’s important to create some sort of threshold of what you can handle; not only physically, but mentally, emotionally, and financially as well. A crucial step in this process is feeling like you did everything you could to achieve a healthy pregnancy.

    Don’t rush

    If age or egg quality have been factors for you on this journey then you probably have felt rushed to squeeze in treatment cycle after treatment cycle. The good news with egg donation is that age and egg quality are no longer a factor for you. You may need to grieve the loss of using your own eggs before you can consider collaborative reproduction. This takes time. Try not to rush through the grieving process. Once you’ve moved through those pivotal stages of denial, anger, bargaining, and depression, you are more likely to allow yourself to accept that egg donation is a good option for you.

    Make a choice

    Egg donation might not be your first choice, but people choose to pursue this route because it is the best option for them. The first egg donation was a little over 30 years ago, so the process is still very new. It’s a personal choice and one that takes a lot of thoughtful care and planning. There is freedom in choice, but sometimes reviewing all of the options can be overwhelming. Try not to let others’ opinions influence your decision. They aren’t making this choice; it’s for you and your partner (if you have one). When you are ready, you may want to share the decision with a trusted friend or relative. Consider who may be a good person for you to confide in. Remember, once you tell you cannot “untell.” If you don’t feel like you have a good source of support, then you can choose not to tell anyone right now, and that is ok!

    Be proactive

    Fertility treatments are costly, time-consuming, painful, and stressful; doctors and nurses using terminology you barely understand don’t help either. But remember that you are your own best advocate. Ask questions if you don’t understand. Speak up. Take notes. Be the “annoying” patient. It’s better to know upfront than be surprised later. If you are educated and informed, it will give you the power to make decisions that are best for you. If your clinic has a mental health professional on staff, you may want to speak with them. Otherwise, you may want to get a referral to speak with someone privately. Sometimes it’s easier to speak with a complete stranger about what you are going through. There are communities of women just like you. Check out Resolve.org for local, peer-led support groups or nonprofits dedicated to supporting women through their family building journey.

    Stay present

    There is no time like the present moment. Worrying about the future likely won’t serve you right now. You have an important job to do, and that is making sure you are in the best space possible to carry a pregnancy. Take care of yourself. Do the things you love to do and try not to worry about what’s to come. When you find your mind wandering bring yourself back to your breathing. It is a constant cycle of energy you can focus on if you need to regroup. Remember, you’re in control. You’ve got this!

    Photographed by Juan Carlos | © 2018 TK Photography | www.tkphotographychicago.com

    Michelle Duchin began her career as a clinical social worker at one of New York City’s top-rated fertility clinics. For nearly a decade, Michelle provided supportive counseling to individuals and couples considering advanced reproductive technology to build their families. Michelle joined Treece and Associates Psychotherapy as a full-time clinician when she moved to Chicago and sees individuals and couples experiencing a range of issues including anxiety, grief, loss, academic/professional transitions, and more. She received a certificate in Yoga-Informed Psychotherapy, which allows her to incorporate mindfulness and breathing techniques in addition to traditional talk therapy. Michelle also conducts assessments for egg donors, sperm donors, gestational carriers, and intended parents who are pursuing third-party reproductive care. For more information about insurance accepted or services provided by Michelle Duchin, please visit her practice website: www.chicagotherapy.com

    Resources:

    https://resolve.org/ – support groups, resources
    https://www.sart.org/ – finding clinics, stats
    https://www.asrm.org/ – finding professionals
    https://progyny.com/ – infertility benefits

  • Nutrients for Thyroid Support

    Nutrients for Thyroid Support

    By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

    Did you know there a number of nutrients required for your thyroid to function properly? At Pulling Down the Moon, we’re interested in helping you ensure your thyroid is functioning optimally, because thyroid health is integral to fertility. Here are some of the key nutrients to focus on to support thyroid health:

    Iodine is an essential mineral for thyroid hormone production, and 30% of women of childbearing age are iodine deficient. A recent study also noted that women with sub-optimal iodine levels had reduced fertility. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends women who are pregnant take a prenatal vitamin with 150 mcg iodine. To learn more about the impact of iodine on fertility, read this post . Food sources of iodine include seafood, seaweed, meat, eggs, dairy, grains, and iodized salt.

    Selenium is another essential mineral required for the conversion of T4 to T3. T3 is the active form of thyroid hormone. In addition, a few studies have shown that supplementation with selenium reduced the levels of antibodies in people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune cause of hypothyroidism. Food sources of selenium include Brazil nuts, meat, and seafood.

    Iron is also essential for thyroid hormone production. Iron requirements for women of childbearing age are quite high at 18 mg and even higher at 27 mg during pregnancy. Given iron needs are so high, it’s not that difficult for iron stores to become depleted, especially if you are a vegetarian or vegan, because iron isn’t as well-absorbed from plant sources as from animal sources. In addition, heavy periods can make it more likely that your iron stores become depleted. Food sources of iron include meat, poultry, fish, legumes, leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

    It can be difficult to make sure you’re getting enough of these nutrients on a daily basis, thus it’s important to take a prenatal vitamin while trying to conceive and during pregnanct that covers your bases. The Pulling Down the Moon prenatal vitamins ( Supplement Pack while trying to conceive and the Prenatal Pack once pregnant) contain 175 mcg iodine, 200 mcg selenium, and 30 mg of iron to help support your thyroid along with a healthy diet.

    Looking for more ways to support your thyroid with nutrition? Make a nutrition appointment today!

  • Tips to Help Stop Stress Eating

    By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

    Imagine this scene. You worked late to finish a project at work. You ordered in some takeout while you were working, and now it’s finally time to go home. You’re exhausted and stressed. When you get home, you start raiding the fridge and cabinets for things to eat. You really aren’t hungry at all since you ate dinner at work, but you’re looking for comfort in the cupboards.

    I think most people can relate to this, and I would venture to guess that most of us have been in this or a similar situation before. In times of stress, we tend to turn to food as a coping mechanism. Food is readily available and processed high sugar, high fat foods tend to give us a quick, but very short-lived, boost that often leaves us feeling worse or just simply that we haven’t acted in a way that is consistent with our long-term goals. No matter how good our intentions are, stress from a variety of sources can tend to deplete our resolve and decision-making capability. In addition to the daily stresses of work, family, and finances, struggling to conceive adds significant stress. People have varying degrees of stress or emotional eating, and these habits can take significant effort and time to change. Here are some tips to help get you started:

    1) Check-in with yourself to determine whether you’re feeling physical “stomach” hunger or “head” hunger. Sometimes our head is telling us to eat even though our stomach isn’t hungry. Physical hunger comes on gradually and is felt in the stomach, and can be satisfied by most foods. In contrast “head hunger,” tends to come on quickly with very specific cravings. In addition with “head hunger,” it may not be very long since you last ate, and your stomach isn’t giving you any hunger cues.

    2) Find alternative coping mechanisms to manage stress and find comfort other than eating. It’s helpful to make a list of things you can do when you want to eat when you’re stressed, but not actually hungry. There are a wide variety of options including ways to simply distract yourself or ways to actually help you unwind and manage your stress. Examples include: go for a walk, take deep breaths, meditate, do a few yoga poses, take a bath, call a friend, read a book or magazine, go outside and get some fresh air, etc. It’s helpful to make your own list of 5 things that you can do when you find yourself turning to food for comfort.

    3) Be kind to yourself. In those moments when you eat something that you wish you hadn’t or feel uncomfortable because you ate too much, practice being kind to yourself instead of berating or beating yourself up or feeling guilty. As much as we think our guilt about our eating habits helps us do better next time, it actually holds us back and keeps up trapped in the cycle of stress eating. Instead, practice being kind to yourself as you would to a dear friend or family member. Then move on, and return to your healthy eating instead of letting it spiral out of control or deciding to restrict at the next meal. Restricting at the next meal only causes the cycle to repeat, as becoming overly hungry combined with stress makes it much more likely that we have a harder time making healthy choices moving forward.

    Reducing stress and emotional eating takes time, so be patient with yourself. Know that progress often comes in fits and starts, and we often take 2 steps forward and 1 step back along the way.

    Need to take a break? Try a four week nutrition, yoga, and coaching dextox program! Learn more about “Spring Cleaning: Using Nutrition and Yoga to Cleanse” and all our community events here .

  • Living in the Present: It is so difficult because all I can think about is EVERYTHING else!

    By Melissa Hinshaw

    Living in the present is no easy task, especially when what we want so badly is in the future. Whether it’s having a baby, buying a house, losing ten pounds, or landing a new job it often feels like life is in front us. It lies in the future. On the same token, we miss the present when we ponder and beat ourselves up for decisions or mistakes we have made in the past. How much time do you spend replaying a decision with, “I should have, why did I, I can’t believe I…” So what does that say about today, the now, the present moment? The present and who we are in the moment are lost.

    What does it mean to live in the present moment and why is it important? To live in the present moment your awareness is centered on the here and now. There is no worrying about what comes in the future or obsessing over the past. You are living as life is happening around you and in you. Being present or mindful has many benefits that you may not know about. Being mindful can make a relationship more meaningful and intimate. When you are truly listening to someone (being truly present while they speak), not thinking of what you’ll say or do next or why you shouldn’t have spent that money yesterday, you connect. When you are present with someone you are listening, making eye contact and sensing physical clues. All these things increase intimacy. Living in the moment can have an effect on your emotional well-being. When you live in the present you are experiencing life as complete. Life is more satisfying and therefore you can be more peaceful and ultimately happier. Does worrying about what’s happening in three days make you feel good or satisfied? No. It takes an emotional tow on your mind and your body. When you live in the moment you may find yourself doing things in a smarter way without any effort. If you are being mindful you would take a dirty dish and put it into the dish washer or wash it immediately and put it away instead of tossing it in the sink with lots of other dirty dishes. Both take about the same amount of effort but one creates a life of tidiness. It’s done so no worrying about when you will be doing it and no knocking yourself in the future for leaving a big mess. Being present can help you become better at sex. Not obsessing over body image, the towels on the floor, or how badly you want a raise, keeps your mind focused on the real physical and emotional sensations that go along with great sex, and that is truly sexy. Being present when you eat can actually make your food taste better. Honing in on the flavors and textures and the fabulous smells is something most of don’t do on a regular basis. Think about this next time you sit down to dinner. Be there. Smell and taste and savor your meal. It is a completely different experience than simply eating for eating sake.

    Becoming mindful will take some practice. You’ll need to become aware in all that you do. You will need to let the worry voice take a vacation and the regretful voice retire. You will notice what triggers both voices and just the noticing part alone will take you closer to living in the moment. Breath. When your mind winds up in some non-present direction take a deep breath. Remind yourself of the another way to be.

    I think Buddha says it just beautifully…

    “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”

    Get started by trying with one of our FREE events or try yoga !

  • The Egg Freezing Solution

    There has never been a better time to be a woman. In the age of the #MeToo movement, more promising women in leadership roles, and the modern day revolution for women empowerment has provided options for women that in previous generations never dreamed possible. For many, the idea of freezing one’s eggs for use at a later time is growing from unthinkable option to a remarkable thing to do for one’s self. Egg freezing improvements and technology provides women with options that did not exist for their mothers and grandmothers.

    The egg freezing solution pauses the biological clock for women and has gained in popularity, with major organizations and companies providing as part of their employment package. The egg freezing procedure is becoming more affordable with new startup companies like Future Family or Nest Egg Fertility providing fertility-focused assistance to address how patients can afford the treatments. However, it is still a big decision so let’s break down the advantages of freezing eggs.

    FACT: Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have in their lifetime. From around one million at birth, that number decreases to 300,000 around the age puberty begins. The number of eggs each woman has decreases as she ages and significantly drops around 35 years old for the average woman.

    SOLUTION: Egg freezing can collect and save eggs from a women’s cycle that would otherwise be lost and freeze them in time to preserve her biological age for a greater chance of pregnancy at a later time. Eggs that are not fertilized during the ovulation cycle will dissolve and be resorbed into your body. More women will freeze their eggs in their mid to late-twenties, which is recommended by fertility specialists for optimal results. Women in early to mid-thirties are the second most common age group. Both of these age groups are better options than freezers in the past mostly in their late-30s or early-40s where pregnancy significantly declines.

    FACT: There is a growing amount of women pursuing advance education and careers pushing back the timeline for women to start their families. Equally, dating methods have shifted in the social era and world of social media and swiping apps.

    SOLUTION: Motivation for egg freezing can also be social in nature, such as when a woman chooses to delay pregnancy in order to advance her career or because she has not found the right partner. There is not one simple reason why women choose to freeze their eggs. Reasons for egg freezing can vary widely, including medical, social or other personal motivations. In cases in which women might freeze their eggs for fertility preservation medical reasons include a recent cancer diagnosis or a family history of cancer, endometriosis, and early menopause.

    A study published in 2015 concluded that the majority of women who choose to freeze eggs in the absence of presenting medical conditions, do so because they are single and are hoping to buy time in their search for a suitable partner (Stoop et. al 2015).

    FACT: Egg freezing is more complicated than freezing sperm, but has improved tremendously in recent years moving away from “slow freezing” the older way of cryopreservation to “vitrification” the newer egg freezing method approved by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) in late 2012.

    SOLUTION: The published literature regarding the limitations and potential benefits of these techniques, as of 2015, there seems to be a general consensus in the scientific community that vitrification is the better of the two methods. Most IVF centers nowadays have adopted vitrification as the standard method for cryopreserving eggs, but this is a good question to ask your clinic.

    To start an egg freezing process, the physicians will order a fertility wellness check. The evaluation includes a blood test for Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH test) to predict how many eggs you have left and vaginal ultrasound known as antral follicle count (AFC test) to analyze the number of possible follicles that could grow. When women become an officially an “egg freezer” they are equipped with their own little safe-deposit box of DNA until family-building fits their timeline.

    The concept of egg freezing can be misconstrued in the media or portrayed as desperate act of what baby-hungry women are doing, but after interviewing over 75 women who have electively undergone egg freezing it is remarkable how similar each journey of these women actually take. There is some natural fear or anxiety associated with pre-egg freezing people considering the technology, like assuming that the entire procedure only exists to frighten women and cause undue stress about their fertility and the time they “have left” to build their family, but after each women finished their freezing procedure not a single person regrets making the choice.

    Curious about egg freezing? Want to learn more? Join our #EggClub community and hear what real-life current egg freezers are saying about cryopreservation. I encourage you to visit eggsperience.com website for your girlfriend’s guide and one-stop shop for all things egg freezing. Then don’t forget to listen to the Eggology Club podcast to hear the modern day journey to parenthood of people who have used fertility preservation options as Season 2 launches Spring 2018.

    ABOUT VALERIE LANDIS

    Valerie Landis has been working in women’s health field for the last decade. Her medical career experiences and passion for helping women merged when she founded her educational website eggsperience.com . She focuses on guiding women of any reproductive age through the complex and challenging paths of fertility decisions. Valerie compliments the Eggsperience website by hosting a fertility podcast called Eggology Club to change the conversation around cryopreservation and egg freezing. Valerie provides non-bias and fact-based information to empower women to feel inspired, brave, and act progressively to take control of their future families and protect their fertility. She speaks openly about her own personal egg freezing experience and family planning decisions along with highlighting a collection of first-hand accounts from other women’s fertility journeys.

    Learn more and keep up with Valerie Landis ’s visit her social pages @valeriedlandis | @eggsperiences | @EggologyClub and websites eggsperience.com and EggologyClub .com.

    Learn more about how about holistic health options can support egg quality including supplements , acupuncture , massage , nutrition , and yoga .

  • Supporting Milk Supply

    Have you recently given birth and noticed that you are having issues with your supply of milk? Did you know acupuncture can help with insufficient lactation?

    Image result for milk supply

    Breast milk is the main food source for infants and breastfeeding has been shown to provide many benefits to both the mother and baby. Breastfeeding benefits the baby by increasing the baby’s immunity while decreasing the risk of respiratory tract infections and diarrhea, lowering the risk of asthma, food allergies, type 1 diabetes, and leukemia. Breastfeeding may also help with cognitive development and decrease the risk of obesity in adulthood. Breastfeeding also benefits the mother in a number of ways including better uterus shrinkage and less postpartum depression. Long term benefits that have been seen for mother’s that breastfeed are a decreased risk of breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

    While breastfeeding has many benefits to both mother and baby, there are many women that suffer from a lack of sufficient milk supply. Insufficient lactation usually occurs 2-6 weeks after birth. A decreased amount of milk supply can be caused for a number of reasons. Some examples are a difficult birth, excessive bleeding after birth, history of miscarriage, IVF treatments, multiple children, high levels of stress and tension, and age. The great news is that acupuncture can help increase milk supply. Acupuncture restores the normal breast milk production by nourishing and regenerating the body’s blood supply and fluids that are lost during the birthing process. Research conducted at the Hanzhong Shanxi Hospital demonstrates that specific acupuncture points significantly boosts lactation quantities. This study showed that women who had acupuncture successfully increased breast milk secretion from an average of 49.63 ml to 115.21 ml. In addition to the increased milk quantity, the lactating mothers receiving acupuncture had improvement in levels of prolactin (the hormone that stimulates milk production).

    If you have any questions regarding how acupuncture can help with your breast milk supply or to schedule an appointment feel free to contact the office at 312.321.0004 or you can contact me directly at christina@pullingdownthemoon.com .

    Christina is available in Chicago Wednesday mornings, Buffalo Grove Wednesday afternoons and Saturdays, then starting on May 22nd, she will be available in Highland Park on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

    Christina Livas L.Ac.

    * https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4325417/

    ** http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1773-acupuncture-boosts-breast-milk-production

    ** https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0254627208600382

  • Finding Your Ground on Mother’s Day

    By Cassie Harrison

    Depending on where you are in motherhood journey, Mothers Day can raise a dichotomy of emotions. Those of us who find ourselves lost in thought on this day or for any of us who want to spend less time in our heads, finding a yoga practice that focuses on grounding your root chakra, muladhara, will take you out of your head and guide you to reconnect with the earth and find peace from within. When this chakra or energy center is open and flowing freely we feel connected to something greater than ourselves, more secure and well… grounded.

    Now that spring finally feels like spring (thank you, Chicago weather!) you can take your practice outside and get down and grounded with the earth. Little else will ground you as fast as standing barefoot on the ground; no mat, no shoes, and a fresh pedicure. Do not despair if this is not an option, a quiet location inside will do just fine, but consider removing your mat, aka barrier between you and the earth. This practice need not be difficult, look for asanas that keep your feet or bum (it is right next to your root chakra after all!) secure on the ground.

    Try the following – Sukasana (easy pose). Upavistha Konasana (wide angle seated forward bend). Tadasana (mountain). Virabradasana (warrior) I and II. Prasarita Padottanasana (wide angle forward bend). During your practice focus on the points that are contact with the ground, this will help you feel a deeper connection to it. Now breathe… Obvious right? Not really, our attachments to our devices or need to be in control tends to leave our minds tight from took much thinking. Finding your breath is the quickest way to send the all clear signal to the brain and the body will quickly follow suit. Try not to fly though your yoga practice and instead slow down and be mindful of each posture, holding each for several breaths; focusing on being calm and steady, soon you will begin to take on those qualities. Making this practice a daily practice will have long lasting effects.

    I hope your feet land on the ground this Mother’s Day. Let us take care of you this holiday with special events just for you including a FREE yoga class in Chicago or virtual wine sip webinar. New yoga classes are also available!

    Namaste.

  • Does Iodine Deficiency Reduce Fertility?

    By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

    A recent study, the first of its kind, investigated the impact of iodine deficiency on fertility. Iodine isn’t a nutrient that you hear very much about, but it’s essential for proper thyroid function. The thyroid is the master regulator in the body, governing metabolism in all the body’s cells. In addition, during pregnancy, adequate iodine is essential for baby’s brain development. About 30% of women of childbearing age (who aren’t pregnant) aren’t getting enough iodine. This study measured levels of iodine in the urine of more than 450 women as they were starting to try to conceive and looked at how long it took these women to conceive. (Iodine in the urine is considered to be reflective of the iodine status of the body.)

    The results: A whopping 44% of women had iodine levels below sufficiency and 23% where moderately or severely iodine deficient. Women who were moderately or severely iodine deficient were 46% less likely to get pregnant per cycle than when with sufficient iodine levels. This is a striking result and definitely points to a need to ensure you’re getting enough iodine while trying to conceive. Iodine deficiency may cause your thyroid to not function optimally, which impairs fertility.

    Iodine is in a variety of foods including seafood, seaweed, meat, eggs, dairy, grains, and iodized salt. Vegetarians and vegans are most at risk for iodine deficiency. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends women who are pregnant and breastfeeding take a prenatal vitamin with 150 mcg iodine in order prevent iodine deficiency. Both Pulling Down the Moon prenatal vitamins contain 175 mcg of iodine, so either would be a great choice to ensure adequate iodine intake. It’s important to note that certain types of seaweed are very high in iodine, and people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis should avoid high iodine intake, as it may make Hashimoto’s worse.

    Are you wondering if you’re getting enough iodine and other nutrients in your diet to support optimal fertility? Book an appointment today with one of our nutritionists.

    Reference: Mills JL, et al. Delayed conception in women with low urinary iodine concentrations: a population-based prospective cohort study. Human Reproduction. 33(3): 426-433.

  • 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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