When it comes to babies, one of my favorite Scriptures in the Bible is, "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward." (Psalm 127:3—NKJV) It's a reminder that, whenever a woman gets pregnant, it's not only a physical manifestation but a very spiritual one too. It's a part of the reason why I became a doula, in fact—to help usher in the miracle of life, as comfortably as possible, for other women; especially Black women. And that begins with conception.
The reality is, if you're trying to conceive, the chances that you will are pretty high if you are between the ages of 20-35. If you're between 35-39 (or if you have some sort of fertility issue), you may need to give it a year. After 40, it's important to speak with your doctor, so that they can tell you want to expect while you're on the journey to make a little one. But no matter how old you are or what the prognosis on the state of your fertility may be, every health expert on the planet can agree on the fact that you need to prep your body beforehand. In order to help you out, I've provided 10 tips on how you can get your system into peak condition for conception.
1. Get a FULL Physical
As a doula, I know for a fact that, one of the things that caused some of my clients to have a difficult pregnancy is they underestimated just how important it is to get a physical prior to trying to get pregnant. That way, you can find out if you're a healthy weight (more on that later), if your hormone levels are balanced (especially when it comes to progesterone) and if there is any genetic history that could pose a few challenges either while trying to conceive or after you do. Something else that your doctor will be able to do is see if you've got any scarring on your fallopian tubes, any pelvic adhesions and/or if you've got an ovulation disorder that you might not be aware of. Also, if you're on some form of birth control, your physician can discuss with you how to get off of it without causing your body to go totally out of wack, while providing an estimate of when enough of the hormones are out of your system so that you can start trying to get pregnant without worrying if it happens takes a little longer than you would like.
(By the way, if you are under 35, give it a year of trying to conceive before getting too concerned about infertility. If you're over 35, have been having unprotected intercourse for at least six months without conception, it might be time to speak to your doctor about it. They might refer you to a fertility specialist.)
2. Eat Foods That Are High in Folic Acid
As far as folic acid goes, this is something that both you and your partner should add more of into your diet.
Because you'll be carrying your baby, folic acid is something that plays a significant role in helping to keep your child's birth defects at a minimum (it can help to decrease your chances of having a premature birth as well). As far as your partner is concerned, more folic acid in his system can help to increase the quality of his sperm.
Taking a folic acid supplement is smart, but you can also take foods that are high in folic acid too. Some of those include dark leafy greens, liver, whole grains, sunflower seeds, asparagus, eggs and citrus fruit.
3. Lower Your Java and Alcohol Intake
If you can't imagine starting your day with a cup of coffee or ending it with a glass of red wine, you might want to consider scaling back on both of those for a while. Since caffeine is a stimulant, consuming more than two cups a day could affect your fertility; that's because caffeine is able to alter your nervous system and constrict your blood vessels. And alcohol? Drinking it can result in ovulation disorders which can make it much harder to get pregnant.
4. Take a Prenatal Vitamin
You probably already know that you should take a prenatal vitamin on a daily basis once you are officially pregnant, but it's also important to add prenatal vitamins to your daily regimen while you're trying to conceive too. The main reason why is because having all of those vitamins and minerals in your system before you get pregnant can lower the risk of your baby having heart defects, limb deformities and even a cleft palate. Your doctor should be able to recommend (or even prescribe) the kind of prenatal that will be best for you. But if you'd like to do a little research on your own, click here.
5. Create a Clear Exercise Regimen
Something that can help to keep you in shape, your joints and muscles limber and toned, along with keeping your stress levels way down (more on that in just a sec too) is exercise. Only, when you're in the process of trying to get pregnant, it's important that you don't overdo it because that is something else that could affect the balance of your hormones. If you already are in a semi-rigorous workout routine, scale that back into jogging, walking, water aerobics or yoga. In fact, yoga is one of the best things that you can do because the breathing exercises will calm you and the positions can help to prepare your body for, not only caring a baby to term, but birthing your child too.
6. Remove Stressors from Your Space
Stress is never good for anyone, but if you're wanting to get pregnant any time soon, you definitely need to make de-stressing a top priority. The reasons why are almost countless. For now, I'll just say that I once read an article that stated 1) women who are stressed out tend to produce high levels of the stress-monitoring enzyme alpha-amylase which can make it almost 30 percent harder to conceive and 2) the more stressed you are, the less sex you may want to have and, as you well know, sex is important to the conceiving process. That's why, during this very fragile time, it's important to cultivate clear boundaries, to get lots of rest and to downsize your life in areas where you know, without a doubt, can trigger you to have feelings of stress, worry or anxiety—whether it's a person, place, thing or idea.
7. Watch Your Weight
Hopefully, you already know that a lot of thin people are unhealthy and a lot of full-figured people are just fine. So, when it comes to this particular tip, it's not about shaming anyone. It's just that, the more pounds you put on, the more that can affect your hormones—including the regularity of your menstrual cycle.
Even though I am a doula, I'm not going to state what an "advisable weight" is. That is something else that you should discuss with your physician; just make sure that you do. You also might want to consult with a nutritionist. Matter of fact, there is a site called The Prenatal Nutritionist that can offer up all sorts of tips on how you can alter your diet in order to get the pregnancy results that you desire.
8. Limit Toxin Exposure
Something that can make conceiving (and carrying a healthy baby to term) difficult, that isn't discussed nearly enough, is how important it is to limit the amount of toxins your body is exposed to. Because indoor air pollution is 2-5 times worse than outdoor pollution, be sure to open up your windows sometimes and to also take walks outside. You might want to switch over from perfume to essential oils because synthetic fragrances also have toxins in them. When it comes to the water that you drink, make sure that the plastic bottles are BPA-free. If you get your hair relaxed, you should lay off of that too. Oh, and you might want to consider having a nail tech come into your home and only getting a regular manicure as well; the fumes in nail shops, along with the toxins in acrylic and powders, can also be counterproductive to your conception goals.
9. Schedule Your Sex
Making a baby can be a lot of fun. But I won't lie to you, when you're intentional about conceiving, a little bit of sex scheduling needs to happen too. Yes, this includes investing in an ovulation kit and making sure that you definitely engage in unprotected sex when it tells you that you are your most fertile. But honestly, because sometimes our cycles can be all over the place, many fertility experts recommend having sex no less than 3-4 times a week (every other day, if you're up to it). Not only can it increase your chances of getting pregnant, but semen can also help to develop your embryo once you actually are; especially in the very beginning stages of conception.
10. Consult with a Doula
While this might seem like a shameless plug, it isn't. I'm merely shouting out doulas (birthing assistants) because there is documented proof of how beneficial they can be. Studies show that the presence of a doula, not only provides emotional support, but they help to decrease your chances of having a C-section, the need for Pitocin and, they can help you to have a natural-as-possible birth (if that's what you so desire). Because a lot of doulas tend to come onto the scene around your third trimester, they are also able to provide you with tips on how to make your final weeks more comfortable and healthier, for both you and your baby. And that's actually why I recommend consulting with one before you conceive as well. There are all kinds of tips and "tricks" that we know that you may only hear from a midwife; things that can help get your body ready and better prepare for your pregnancy. So, definitely consider at least meeting with one to ask questions about conception and the stages of pregnancy. It can make all of what you're about to embark upon so much easier for you. For info on how to find a doula, check out DONA.org.
Want more conversations like this with other mamas and expectant mamas? Join the xoTribe members community to connect with mamas around the world.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Black women are not a monolith. We all are deserving of healing and wholeness despite what we've been through, how much money we have in the bank, or what we look like. Most importantly, we are enough—even when we are not working, earning, or serving.
Welcome to Black Girl Whole, your space to find the wellness routine that aligns with you! This brand-new marketplace by xoNecole is a safe space for Black women to activate their healing, find the inspiration to rest, and receive reassurance that we are one small act away from finding our happiness.
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September is National Self-Care Awareness Month, so for my girlies who have been putting off self-care, here’s your opportunity to start. Self-care means exactly what it says: taking care of self. Why is it important? Well, many of us have busy lives that may include careers, family, and activities that consume us daily. Taking some time for self regularly can help prevent depression, stress, anxiety, and burnout.
In February 2023, Future Forum polled 10,243 people in six countries, including the U.S., and 40% said they are experiencing burnout, and 46% of that number are women. According to CNBC, many factors contributing to burnout include companies demanding employees return to the office, hiring freezes, and layoffs.
Psychologist Debbie Sorensen explained to CNBC why women and millennials are experiencing burnout in higher numbers. “We haven’t had time to recover from the trauma of what we’ve been through the last few years,” she said. “Women and young people, in particular, are putting an immense amount of pressure on themselves to keep going, keep working, no matter the cost.”
As women, particularly Black women, we tend to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. Other people's problems become our problems, and then we are expected to show up to work and show up for our family and friends with a smile on our faces. Whew, chile! What if we are having a bad day? How are we supposed to cope if we have to be everything to everyone? Well, here’s your sign to make time for yourself, especially on the days when you are feeling down.
Below is a list of self-care ideas for when you are having a bad day.
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Spend time in nature
Sometimes something as simple as surrounding yourself with trees, grass, and/ or water can improve your mood exponentially. The American Psychological Association’s (APA) research shows that spending time in nature can improve attention, lower stress, and reduce the risk of psychiatric disorders.
Got to a Spa
There’s nothing like going to a spa. You can relax in a sauna, get a massage, and just be. According to research, massages help release serotonin and dopamine, which are often referred to as “feel good” hormones, that will instantly perk you up and have you going about your day with a smile on your face.
When was the last time you did arts and crafts? Drawing a picture, painting, or even coloring can help you discover your inner child, thus boosting your mood. Purchase an adult coloring book, or go to a paint-and-sip class by yourself, or you can make it a group activity and bring your besties.
Look your best
The old saying, “When you look good, you feel good,” didn’t just come out of thin air. There’s some truth to it. The Kentucky Counseling Center shared a link between self-care and feeling good. “Self-care regimens are extremely important not just to stabilize your day but to make you feel great. Simple things like getting a facial, taking care of your hair done, or exercising can make you confident because when you look good, you also feel good,” according to its website.
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There’s a reason why it is suggested that you breathe when you begin feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. Breathing brings oxygen back into your body, and WebMD reports that it can decrease the fight or flight response that happens when you are stressed.
Spend time with babies
I don’t know about you, but nothing makes me smile quicker than a baby, especially a smiling baby. If you’re the same way, then spending time with a baby or babies may help put you in a better mood, too.
Last but certainly not least, do nothing. There’s nothing like laying in your bed and not being forced to do anything. Stay in this moment and use this time to relax and replenish your energy.
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