What does a healthy pregnancy actually mean?
The outcome of pregnancy is a mother, baby and a family unit. To have a healthy pregnancy we also want to have a healthy mum and healthy baby at the end with a partner that feels included and empowered to love and protect the new family unit.
‘Healthy’ does not just mean physical health, it is also emotional health. And that is for the whole family unit. There are many adjustments that take place when having children. Your life goes through dynamic change from being egocentric to now being responsible for the emotional and physical welfare of a new being that is totally dependent on you for the next 18 years and perhaps beyond.
Parenthood – the reality check
It is a reality check when you think of it. So many people when they are in the desperation of wanting to have children will do it at any cost without thinking of the consequences. The consequences of not being healthy is usually reflected in the health of our sperm and eggs.
Your fertility report card
Fertility is a report card of your health and if you are not getting pregnant or miscarrying then what is the reason behind it? Nature is saying no.
Too often all the focus is on the woman. It is something in her that is broken. She is the one that can’t get pregnant. She is the one that keeps miscarrying and cannot hold a baby to term. Women often bear the responsibility of fixing herself while her partner keeps up with his bad habits of working too hard, living in stress, not eating the right foods or getting enough exercise, smoking and drinking alcohol and so on. This is reflected in his sperm. Yet is she the one having to repair her body after miscarriages or failed IVF cycles. Making a baby takes 2 people.
So when he says his sperm is fine – ask what percentage of his sperm is normal. And is 4% of healthy sperm really a good result? Really? That is 96% abnormal sperm. It is a bit like Russian roulette!
Even if you are going through IVF you still want to start with the best possible quality sperm and egg.
The questions you need to ask yourself
What is your health like, and the health of your partner? Are you in the best possible health? What is your lifestyle like? Is it sustainable?
What do I mean by sustainable?
Sleep – Do you fall asleep and get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep and wake up refreshed ready to start a new day.
Energy – Do you have energy that lasts the whole day, or are you reaching out for a sugar hit to get you through parts of the day?
Living in tune with nature – do you start to wind down as the sun sets, and does your energy build to start the new day.
Diet – Is you diet full of life sustaining foods such as fruit and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and protein sources? Protein and fats are the building blocks of our body. We need fat for the proper development and functioning of our hormones.
Work Life balance – Each day is broken up into 8 hour segments. 8 hours for sleeping, 8 hours for work and 8 hours for play.
Are your needs being met? – Do you even know what your needs are? It might be time with your partner, family or friends. It might be time alone to assimilate the day. It is a good idea to sit down and assess what your needs are for a healthy emotional state. See if they are being met or are there things you need to change.
Emotional health – having children can take your all and it is very challenging. There are so many adjustments that take place. It is really easy to feel overwhelmed and not feel like you are coping. If you have a baby that cries all night and you are not getting any sleep for days how are you going to cope?
What do we look for when treating fertility?
There are 2 parts of fertility treatment – the woman and the man.
The woman – our goal is a healthy menstrual cycle – it is the report card of health. A healthy period goes for 4-5 days, 3 days of good flow, red blood, and no pain. There is no pain around ovulation, no PMS symptoms. In fact did you know that a healthy period comes and goes with no disruption of your life. If there is pain or other symptoms the body is not in balance. We aim for 3 balanced menstrual cycles to know the body is in a good state. Basal body temperature is also used as a tool for fertility as there are optimal temperatures for getting pregnant. Too hot or too cold environments have an effect on fertility. We want a healthy egg and a healthy environment in the uterus for the baby to grow and thrive.
The man – sperm is affected by temperature. That is why it is stored in a sack outside of the body. The testes need to be at a temperature of 32° C. If the testes are too hot it causes abnormality in the sperm. There are 2 aspects of the perm – the structure, how is it formed; and the motility, how it moves. Both these aspects need to be healthy to conceive and hold a pregnancy.
Being a fertility detective
If you are not conceiving , or having recurrent miscarriages we look at the why, and address this. Nature is saying no and we ask the why. What are the ingredients needed? What changes need to take place? It may be simple solutions, it may be complex. Being a parent is for life. You want to give the best possible start to your baby’s life.