Last week, I shared on social media that I’m pregnant again. I’m currently in my 2nd trimester and we’re expecting a boy this spring. On episode 827 of the podcast, Chris and I talked about this new pregnancy and what changes I made to allow my body to conceive as quickly as possible. I shared a bit about my supplementation routine before getting pregnant and I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the best supplementation during pregnancy.
Today I thought I’d share what changes I made after Dagny’s birth to help my body prepare for another pregnancy as well as what changed after we conceived baby #2. None of this is medical advise. What works for me might not work for you and might to be best for you. Please consult a qualified health professional for your own care.
Not all of these recommendations are supplements, but I think lifestyle and sleep are even more important than supplementation. Some, but not all, of these links are affiliate links. Rest assured that I wouldn’t use or share anything that I don’t wholeheartedly believe in.
Supplementation Before Pregnancy
It’s important to note that prior to conception (and quite honestly, since conception) I was in a very difficult hormonal and emotional place. My first daughter was born via c-section on March 6th 2020 and she died traumatically and unexpectedly on March 20th 2020.
Because of my age (I’m 37 as I write this) and our desire to have a large family, we knew we couldn’t wait long before trying to conceive again. However, the odds weren’t in my favor due to the physical and emotional stress I was under.
One month after Dagny’s birth I started seed cycling. My menstrual cycle had not yet returned by my dear friend Dr. Beth Westie encouraged me to help my hormones normalize by treating April 7th as a hypothetical “day 1” of my cycle and add in the appropriate seeds.
Seed cycling couldn’t be easier. I simply added the appropriate seeds to my daily breakfast smoothie (more on the smoothie shortly). You can get these 4 seeds anywhere, but it’s important that they are raw and unsalted. I strongly encourage organic. I use the brand Terrasoul and I buy them in bulk (2 pounds at a time) and store them in glass jars so it’s easy to see when I need to re-order.
My first period after delivery started on May 9th (Mother’s Day – that was a mixed bag) and at that point I started temperature charting. If you’ve read any book on conception, accurate temperature charting is a fairly reliable way to indicate when you have ovulated. The downside, of course, is that your temperature rises after ovulation, not before. By the time you notice the temp increase, the fertility window is largely closed. Either way, I did it daily to get a sense of how long my cycles were and on what day of my cycle I was ovulating. The key to accurate temp monitoring is to take your temperature before you get out of bed and at the same time each morning. If you get up and go to the bathroom first or if you check a few hours later on the weekend than on weekdays, it won’t be very accurate.
A couple weeks after my cycle resumed, I decided to complete a DUTCH test. Essentially, this is a dried urine test evaluating your hormones. Even if you have a regular period, you likely won’t conceive if estrogen & progesterone are out of whack. You might not even ovulate, even if you’re having a regular period. (DUTCH testing is incredibly valuable even outside of fertility concerns. It’s a great tool for any and all hormonal concerns or for weight gain/loss challenges.) Dr. Beth and I chatted about the DUTCH test and my results on episode 804 of the Primal Potential podcast.
My DUTCH test results showed that estrogen and progesterone looked fantastic but cortisol (one of our stress hormones) was off the charts. Essentially, with stress levels that high, my body wouldn’t allow for post partum weight loss or conception. Lowering stress became my #1 priority and focus.
The lifestyle changes I made to control stress were probably the most significant adjustment I made in this process. At the recommendation of Dr. Beth Westie, I adjusted my morning routine to optimize rest and relaxation for the first few hours of the day. No, this was not easy. First, when you’re deep in grief, rest and relaxation seem impossible. Second, I do my best work in the morning. Not getting right into it was very uncomfortable. But, I did the best I could. Progress is the goal; perfection doesn’t exist.
I’d start my day with a cup of tea on the couch. I’d read a little bit, pray, meditate, sometimes even watch mindless or humorous TV shows.
I made sure to eat breakfast within 30 minutes of waking as extended fasting can be an additional stressor on the body.
As best I could, I tried to minimize other forms of stress. I can’t say I was super successful here as grieving the loss of a child, running a business and navigating an unprecedented global pandemic and quarantine are all stressful. But, I think any improvement matters and I certainly made every effort. For example, some family phone calls stress me out. I stopped answering them.
I added in some expensive self-care, too. Really, healing my body and having a healthy family matter most to me so I was willing to take on these investments, knowing they wouldn’t be “forever” add ons. They included:
- Massage twice a month
- Chiropractic adjustment twice a week
- Acupuncture once a week
I believe all these changes helped tame my body’s stress response.
Though I’m not sure this is an exhaustive list as some things were added for just a week or two and then discontinued, but these are the predominant supplements I added to either lower stress or prime my body for conception:
Daily Breakfast Smoothie – I’m including this under “supplements” because this is where I packed in a bunch of supplements in one tasty morning drink.
- 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
- 1 cup frozen cauliflower rice
- 2 scoops plant protein (I prefer chocolate)
- 1 scoop mentabiotics (this is a probiotic blend that focuses on hormone balance and stress resilience)
- 1 scoop greens powder (these phytonutrients help your body combat physical stress and promote healing)
- 1 tbsp cashew butter
- 1 tbsp each seeds for seed cycling (based on where I was in my cycle – for hormone balance)
- 1 tbsp maca (for hormone balance)
- optional: 1/2 banana
(As I’ll discuss below, after conception, I made a couple changes to this smoothie but I still drink it daily. I just no longer include the seeds or the maca)
Mood+ – this is a blend of adaptogens aimed entirely at lowering cortisol and helping my body adapt to stress. I took 2 capsules 3 time per day.
Kids Mood – a different blend of adaptogens that works on the stress response from a different angle. This is a pixie-stick like powder and I took 1 packet twice a day.
Multivitamin – if you don’t have adequate vitamins and minerals, none of your body processes can function optimally
Probiotics – this blend is specifically for digestion & immunity
I also purchased and started wearing the AVA bracelet. This is a tracking device you wear only while you’re sleeping that monitors temperature, resting heart rate, heart rate variability and respiration to help you predict your fertile window. You have to be consistent in wearing it every night or else your predictions will be inaccurate.
We found out that I was pregnant exactly 6 months to the day that Dagny was born.
Supplementation During Pregnancy
Since then, things have changed a little but not a lot.
Let’s start with the easiest part – what was I doing that I stopped doing when I got pregnant?
- I stopped seed cycling. I do often toss a handful of sunflower seeds in my morning shake because they’re super nutrient dense but there’s no cycle to seed cycle with.
- I also stopped taking Maca
- Stopped wearing the Ava bracelet
- While I’m still trying to ease into my day more gently, I’m not as rigorous about not working for the first few hours of the day. I probably get to work about 60-90 minutes after waking.
I now go to the chiropractor twice a month but that will become more frequent as my pregnancy progresses. I still get a massage twice a month and I haven’t been to the acupuncturist since getting pregnant but I will add that back in within the next few weeks.
I’ve also added a a couple supplements
I still do my morning shake at least 6 days out of 7 because it feels great to know I start the day with all those critical nutrients, I just no longer add the seeds or the maca.
The primary lifestyle shift since becoming pregnant has been sleep. When I was pregnant with Dagny, I had a lot of trouble sleeping. Between struggling to get comfortable and getting up to go to the bathroom, I didn’t get much sleep at all. In this pregnancy, it’s actually been a lot worse because I’ve been having traumatic nightmares. For that reason, I’ve been going to bed earlier and allowing myself to sleep later because I need more cumulative time in bed due to broken sleep in the night. On average, I’m in bed by 9 (but there have certainly been some 7 and 8pm days) and I’m getting up around 6.