Anyone who didn’t get pregnant after the first month of trying has heard (or has fiercely Googled) common baby-making advice or words of encouragement. Often pregnancy just doesn’t happen when you want it to, so any amount of waiting will inevitable cause otherwise sane women to seek out and/or shell out ways to speed up the process.
I’ve ranked what I believe to be the big 3 for fertility advice given to me by a wide spectrum of people – including medical doctors. I’m happy to report that some common sense, along with the angel/devil that is Google, can easily dispel all of these fertility myths that are touted as cold, hard facts
1. “Relax and it’ll happen!” or “Stress is the biggest cause for infertility and miscarriage.”
WHY THAT’S BULLSHIT: Uh huh. Finding out you’re pregnant at 16 is a very zen moment in a young woman’s life. And since stress always leads to miscarriage, the miscarriage rate for teenagers is at 100% (whoops, The Almighty Google says it’s only 14% which means 86% of super stressed out teens go on to have healthy babies). And the women who are on their 4th and final round of IVF go into the procedure as relaxed as Bob Marley on a Saturday (happy to report that the world’s number of IVF and ICSI babies has now reached a calculated total of 5 million – all born to mothers arguably at the peak of stress in their lives).
A conceiving or pregnant woman should reduce her stress as much as possible, but the hard truth is that babies are conceived and born no matter what you do (or oddly in spite of what you do). If relaxing were the only factor that contributed to a healthy baby, our species would’ve died out a long time ago or at least have been reduced to only meditating hippies. Since that hasn’t happened, TTC women should relax as much as they can, but know that their worries and fears aren’t paralyzing their uterus – their healthy babies will find their way around that mess that’s going on in your brain.
Jeff Goldblum can explain it better than I can:
“Life, uh, finds a way.”
2. “You’re trying too hard!” or “It’ll happen when you STOP trying! Stop monitoring your cycle and just let it happen!”
WHY THAT’S BULLSHIT: Here’s the thing, a women only has one or two days at most to get pregnant each month – and you want someone to stop monitoring their cycle to get pregnant faster? I understand the intention of this advice again goes back to the “stop stressing about it” rule, but if you want a baby, you’ve got to show up every month and ask for it.
Don’t guess when you’re ovulating – know. Don’t throw out the charts – learn from them. Take them to a doctor when you get confused or concerned. Sure, you could get pregnant without knowing your cycle, and a bit of the romance is gone by baby-making on a schedule, but a lot of the romance is gone when you live in a house with kids, so consider this a preview.
Also, I’m really happy to hear that story about your aunt’s sister-in-law’s friend who got pregnant on vacation while in the middle of adoption proceedings. Great for them. The problem with that is you only remember that story because it’s extreme. You’re much less likely to repeat a story about a couple who tried for many years and it didn’t work out. That whole “getting pregnant when you give up” theory really only applies to a very small percentage of people. You may even have a handful of stories that all end with a couple who got pregnant when they stopped trying, but tell that to the roughly 1/3 of the 1.53 million couples treated for fertility problems who won’t go on to have a biological child. Those 500,000 couples (you’re welcome for doing the math) won’t be very impressed with your five friends.
3. “You need more protein!” or “You’re not eating enough to support the baby! Eat! Eat! Eat!”
WHY THAT’S BULLSHIT: That makes sense and a healthy diet is very important. Just one problem. I hate to go there, but you know those super depressing commercials that show babies with swollen bellies due to extreme poverty and malnourishment? Where did those babies come from? Mothers who are similarly malnourished (and arguably super stressed out about it). From 2010-2012, 870 million people were suffering from chronic undernourishment, but a large percentage of them still ovulated and become pregnant.
Every woman and child should be so blessed to have access to prenatal care and healthy food – and a malnourished mother is at risk for a host of complications including the horrors of fetal and infant death. But the fact is, the most starving of countries is still home to millions of pregnant women and babies. So privileged Americans can stop worrying that we aren’t getting pregnant because we only ate 2 avocados this week instead of 5.
Photo courtesy of Amber Lambert