For half of my life, I’ve worked against my body instead of with it.
In my teenage years, my body was the main source of my unhappiness. I hated my athletic build and yearned to be petite like all of my friends. In my 20’s, I blamed my body when I lost my period for four years, believing that it betrayed me when it stopped functioning properly. When I was preparing to conceive (PTC) in my 30’s, I went to war with my body. I worked out religiously, stressed out about everything I ate, and tracked every move my body made from how its hormone levels shifted to when it was ovulating.
In short, I did everything I could to control my body.
Control, by definition, is to eliminate or prevent flourishing or spreading. As you may know from my previous post, when I chose to stop trying to get pregnant, conception wasn’t far behind. But, what you might not realize is that the process wasn’t just a simple practice of letting go. It was an intentional decision to stop seizing control and to start trusting my body again.
In speaking with women who are PTC on Expectful’s platform, I’ve learned that so many of us look for ways to control our bodies throughout our fertility journey. And of course, sometimes we do need to assist our bodies with resources like IVF or donors, and there’s no doubt that we are lucky to have those options in our life. But, with or without our tools, we must first trust that our body is on our side. We must give it space, nurture it and believe that it can indeed help us create or receive a baby.
After realizing the power that comes with trusting your body, I wanted to share the top three ways I started enjoying my body again and how it made me happier, enhanced my relationships and inevitably, helped me get pregnant.
When I was trying to get pregnant, I taught yoga full time. This wasn’t your typical zen yoga class, it was more of a power flow yoga experience. After every class, my students would be surrounded by a pool of sweat, and because I was demonstrating the moves, I too would feel like I just did a hardcore workout. However, when I started to think about having a baby, I questioned if this physical activity was helping or hurting my chances at getting pregnant. When I brought up my concerns to my OBGYN, he asked me one simple question “Does your body feel good or bad after you teach?” I quickly replied, “It feels great” and he looked at me and said “Then you should probably listen. Your body communicates what’s best more than you think, it’s your job to hear the message.” For the longest time, I thought I needed to have all the answers or that there was a certain set of rules I needed to follow to get my body to do what I wanted, but here, all I needed to do was listen to what it was telling me. This realization not only helped me get pregnant, but it also helped me to navigate my changing body through pregnancy.
Stress & The Body
Stress was a close companion during my PTC journey. Some of it was stress I put on myself, like taking a pregnancy test way before the first day of my missed period, knowing that even if I was pregnant, the test wouldn’t be able to indicate it yet. Some stress had to do with my husband not being as committed as I was when it came to changing our eating or drinking habits to increase our chances of conceiving. Other stressors were related to everyday work or life stresses about money and lack of time. However, when I learned that our bodies are equipped to prevent conception from taking place when we are under extreme stress, (1) I started to be more mindful of reducing it. When I actively started looking for ways I could support my body by decreasing stress, I saw a complete shift in how it functioned and felt.
Positive Self Talk
Throughout most of my PTC journey, I had negative thoughts about my body. I blamed it for not doing what I wanted and treated it as if it was something broken that only I could fix. When I started to think about how our mind and body are connected, I realized that my thoughts about my body being “broken” were sending signals directly to my organs that said “you don’t know how to function properly.” Switching my self talk into thoughts of encouragement, trust and self-love allowed my body and mind to get on the same page and eventually helped me conceive.
These three tools definitely helped me appreciate my body through my PTC journey, and so has my meditation practice. Through Expectful’s guided meditations, I’ve learned to view my body as a team member, rather than an enemy.
In creating Expectful’s preparing to conceive library, it was important to us that we support women through the physical ups and downs as much as the emotional ones. That’s why we have a meditation specifically for trusting your body, as well as ones for helping you fall asleep, relax and connect with your body. It’s my hope that any woman who is in her fertility journey remembers to find time to love her body and have faith in her own unique process.
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Whirledge, S., & Cidlowski, J.A. (2010). Glucocorticoids, stress, and fertility. Minerva Endocrinologica, 35(2), 109-125.