Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Entering the "Pre-mester"

My new books arrived at my local library this weekend, and I am super-excited. I pretty much read Making Babies: A Proven 3-Month Program for Maximum Fertility from cover to cover on Saturday afternoon.

The basic premise is that healthy bodies make healthy babies. I've always loved reading about how to healthify my body/life, so these kinds of books appeal to me. The book also blends ideas from Western and Eastern medicine in really unique ways. I don't know much about more Eastern approaches to medicine, although I am extremely attracted to the idea of looking at health from a more holistic, and systems-based perspective.

Here are my next steps (some of them were ideas from other places, but something in the book reminded me of them):

  1. Really track my cycle. I have long cycles (like 40 days), so this process can be tedious. But I need to do it. I really do.
  2. Get an earpiece for my cell phone. The effects of radiation are still being researched. It's better to be safe than sorry.
  3. Look for books about regulating one's menstrual cycle.
  4. Practice having orgasms in the missionary position, since that position is apparently ideal for conception.
  5. When we are trying to conceive, I should stay put for 10-20 minutes after intercourse to allow the sperm time to do their thing.
  6. Don't use lubrication when trying to conceive.
  7. When tracking my cycle, I should look for a temperature change of at least four degrees. When I sleep in on weekends, I should take off 0.1 degrees for each extra 1/2 hour I sleep.
  8. I shouldn't turn the water so hot when I shower.
  9. I should switch to organic tampons.
  10. Ask Matt to keep his computer away from his lap.
  11. Start taking a leisurely walk every day.
  12. Turn our backyard into a relaxing sanctuary.
  13. Do back-strengthening exercises to better prepare for labor.
  14. Eat "fresh, seasonal, organic food in its natural state."
  15. Eat more quinoa, millet, spelt, and bulgur.
  16. Order organic chicken feed, since they don't sell it in Houston.
  17. Switch to a 3-a-day vitamin rather than a 1-a-day.
  18. Get more plants to help with indoor air pollution.
The book challenges parents-to-be to look at the three months leading up to conception as the "pre-mester." They suggest that you "take care of your body as you would if you were already pregnant." Since Matt and I are talking about starting at the beginning of June, we're pretty much on the cusp of this 3-month period.

I know I can be a crazy-planner, but in this case, I think it's totally justified to embody healthy habits before conception. So much affects fetal development, right from the start. The authors also bring up the Chinese idea that "eighty percent is perfection." In other words, it's okay to not be perfect. Everything in moderation.

The book also delves into "fertility types" (tired, dry, stuck, pale, and waterlogged) and includes a self-assessment (as well as an online assessment for free). However, none of the types really resonated with me.

I'm nervous about my fertility because of past experiences. When I started menstruating, I had a very regular, 28-day cycle. Then in college I went on birth control for several years. When I tried to go off of it because I didn't want to be on hormones anymore, my period didn't come back, even after a year. The gynecologist put me back on birth control pills. I didn't question it because I wanted to solve the problem. My period did come back.

A while later, I tried to go off again, and the same thing happened. I went to another doctor who said, "Are you trying to get pregnant?" I explained that I wasn't. She said, "Then don't worry about it. You'll probably have fertility problems when you want to get pregnant, but don't worry about it now."


My periods finally returned, but they can range between 30-something and 70-something (when I'm really stressed) days. I need to go to the doctor for a yearly pap smear, so I'm going to talk to her about this situation. I also want to find an acupuncturist (even though it kind of weirds me out).

We'll see what happens. Getting pregnant is the kind of thing you can actively work toward but can't really control.

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Sarah said...

I just noticed your link to this blog from 2000 dollar wedding and just thought I'd throw menstrual cups out there rather than organic tampons. They are made from medical-grade silicone and are reusable (which sounds kind of gross but it's not!) I've had my DivaCup for about four years now and I love it, although there are all sorts of brands that are available now. It's a higher upfront cost (mine was about $20) but there isn't all the waste of tampons or the constant purchasing of them. I don't make money off them or anything, I just stumbled across them one day and love it and thought I'd share. Good luck!

Julia (Color Me Green) said...

i don't know how you've been charting, but i use fertilityfriend.com, you enter your daily data online and it helps you figure out when you ovulated etc. i just went off birth control pills recently to use FAM for birth control and i'm very happy about it so far!

Anonymous said...

I second going the menstrual cup route vs. tampons. Love mine!

Urban Environmentalist said...

Those are good suggestions even for people not actively trying to get pregnant or looking to start trying. Might sound a little weird but I've heard that staying well hydrated and minimizing stress are major factors that can shorten your cycle

Anonymous said...

I also had another suggestion as an alternative to tampons. I use them now, but am currently sewing my own cloth pads (they're soooo soft!). I used the tutorial on this web site: http://www.tinybirdsorganics.com/organiccotton/clothpads.html and was even able to repurpose an old terry cloth robe that had seen better days. I know it will be an adjustment to go from tampons to pads, but I think it's an environmental choice I have to make.

Anonymous said...

Just remember that conception may not happen within the first few months after your 'pre-mester.' It sounds like you have a really good head on your shoulders and are probably already well aware of that.

Also, like you, when we first started trying I was open about it with a lot of people because I was optimistic and excited. As the months drew on and intervention has been involved, I realized that I wished I hadn't been so vocal about it at the beginning. I know these things are different for everyone, but you may want to think about how you might feel if after 12, 18 or more months you are still trying and starting to get professional help.

But hopefully all your preventative measures will do their magic and you'll be one of the lucky ones.

Anonymous said...

I also want to say that I LOVE my menstrual cup and cloth pads!

Anonymous said...

i just wanted to let you know that I had the same exact experience as you had on and off the pill.

Really, I just wanted to thank you for writing this blog- because just knowing that others are going through the same exact process and getting told the same exact things from their doctors (while discouraging as that is), it is reassuring to know i'm not alone! I'm excited to hear about all your fertility efforts and especially acupuncture.

Best of luck!

Kathleen said...

I am also in love with my menstrual cup. It's amazing.

Also, if acupuncture weirds you out (like me) you could try accupressure. It's based upon similar methods but no needles.

jillybean said...

Yeah, diva cup.

"Taking Charge of your Fertility" by toni weschler is a GREAT RESOURCE.

Also, to get past the crazy irregularity that followed getting off the pill, I started taking the herb Vitex (Chaste Treeberry) in pill form each day. It has been really great. You can find it in the vitamin section of most health food stores.
Also, raspberry leaf tea and nettle tea are great for overall woman's wellness.
I really enjoy your blog.

Anonymous said...


Conception and pregnancy are extremely personal and mysterious things and depend on a whole host of factors. However the one thing I think you need to remember is to relax... relax... breath... relax and surrender to the mystery of things. Sure being healthy is great at all stages of our lives and most certainly during pre-conception and pregnancy, but maybe pregnancy (and babies) shouldn't be something that we can itemize and control like our budgets or the clothes we wear.

Remember it takes many perfectly healthy couples months and months and even years to conceive (it took us 7 months) but more importantly, it is an extremely special time to be experiencing with your partner. Enjoy the uninhibited love making with your partner enjoy the mystery of life and try as hard as it may be to forget the schedules and diary menstrual calendars because these things really do sap from that deep physical and emotional experience of baby-making (as opposed to baby making practice) that is rare in modern couples lives. Sure these can be great tools when after 6 months or so nothing much has happened. But when it does happen, continue to enjoy that little unplannable miracle that keeps growing inside of you and then outside beside you.

christine said...

I've been reading your blog for awhile now, but this is my first time commenting! I have my 2 cents to share. My husband and I had been trying to conceive for a few months, nothing was happening, then I read the book, "Taking Charge Of Your Fertility." I learned so much!! Mostly that I need to be more patient, things will happen when they're supposed to. But one really important tip, NO LUBE! We used pre seed and it must have worked because now I'm 9 weeks pregnant. So that's my 2 cents, I think I've rambled enough, I'm off to take a nap :)

Good luck on your conception journey!

Anonymous said...

Yep, I'm going to 4th/5th/6th the DivaCup recommendation. Seems like the right fit for you (and for many women, they just don't know about them). I've been using it for 5 years, no leaks, no mess, no dryness, and so much less waste.

Anonymous said...

I would suggest Nina Plank's book _Real Food for Mothers and Babies_. Really eye-opening.

C├ęcy said...

I have irregular periods too (well I did before I started Birth contrl). My chiropractor suggested raspberry leaf tea (mentionned above too). I haven't tried it personnally because well we're not at a stage where we're ready to be pregnant so I don't really want to stop the pill yet. I'll probably try it once I stop though.

Ditto on menstrual cups. I have a Mooncup (uk brand), for what 4 years now. I'm never going back to tampons. I actually enjoy having my periods now. Oh and it's not associated with toxic shock syndrom.

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