Tag Archives: fertility

Yoga for fertility

I thought I would provide a few tips on how yoga can help in this fertility party a lot of us have going on, or anyone interested in yoga in general. I wrote an article on this for another website recently, so will summarise it here.

It all boils down to your body and mind needing to be in the best shape possible. Whether you want to increase or maintain your health and wellbeing for this time of your life, yoga can be a great aid and companion.

According to doctors, one of the greatest obstacles to fertility is stress, which has been shown to reduce the probability of conception.  Ever heard those stories about couples who had tried for years to conceive and after “giving up” or adopting, have fallen pregnant? I’ve heard those stories too. What yoga offers above all is relaxation, and research shows that participating in a “mind-body” type of program – which is exactly what yoga is – can positively affect fertility.

The classical definition of yoga is that it “stills the fluctuations of the mind”* – when our minds are busy worrying about what might have been or what could be in the future, we lose touch with the present moment, with the body, the breath and the self. Yoga is very effective in pulling you back to the now.

For women struggling to fall pregnant, the stress can be overwhelming. Yoga also teaches that suffering is caused by attachment to outcomes, and this is never more true than when trying unsuccessfully to fall pregnant, or through the slog of IVF treatment.

Yoga for fertility programs generally concentrate on the stress-relieving and relaxing effects of a practice, so if you can find a yoga studio that offers “restorative” yoga, get there quick-sticks. Restorative yoga usually involve using props such as bolsters, blankets, belts and chairs to support some well-known poses so that the body and mind are free to completely relax.

But renowned yoga teacher Geeta Iyengar, daughter of BKS Iyengar, also advocates a number of poses that have beneficial effects on the reproductive system.

Her recommendations include poses that stimulate the thyroid such as

Sarvangâsana

(shoulderstand). Dysfunction of the thyroid gland can upset the balance of the body’s reproductive hormones.

Sarvangasana, sometimes called the “queen of all asanas” (headstand is the king) is believed to directly affect the thyroid, due to the firm chin lock (also known as jalandhara bandha) which increases blood supply. Geeta Iyenagr also says the pose also develops “the feminine qualities of patience and emotional stability”. Anyone need patience, much?

Other poses with similar, chin-locking effects and which are suitable for beginners are setu bandha (bridge pose) and janu sirsasana (head-to-knee pose).

Poses that bring increased circulation to the pelvic region and reproductive organs are also recommended. Try baddha konasana(bound angle pose) and

Supported Supta Baddha Konasana

Image by tarnalberry via Flickr

supta baddha konasana for similar benefits but with the added bonus of being supremely relaxing.

Supported supta virasana (reclining hero pose) also opens the pelvic region and ensures circulation. I find this one almost impossible though as it’s too strong on my lower back – but everyone’s different.

While I can’t guarantee you will fall pregnant by following any of this, it can certainly have a positive impact on your mental and physical health.

If you’ve never done yoga before, I recommend you head along to your local yoga studio to get expert guidance from an experienced teacher, rather than trying these by yourself.

*Yogas chitta vrtti nirodah

PS. If you do want to know more, just leave me a comment. I can “talk” you through a few poses – supta baddha konasana is easy to do at home and really relaxing.

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Filed under IVF, yoga, yoga poses

This week I have mostly been eating…

I take it back, the injections are starting to hurt. My belly has tiny pin pricks on either side of my belly button and is starting to look a little bruised, similar to what I imagine a junkie’s would look like if they  ran out of veins and had to resort to their belly. Sorry, yucky analogy.

They started to hurt last week when my period started and I assumed it was just my pain threshold lowering as it does during my period. I learnt long ago that having a bikini wax at that time of the month is not a good idea. Ouchy! My belly is also really fat – don’t know of this is from the hormones or just because I have been eating lots (lots) of fertility-enhancing foods, such as:

Adzuki beans (ask anyone who practises TCM or acupressure, adzuki beans are a universal panacea)

Sweet potato (low GI, high fibre, yummy and according to the book I am reading, guaranteed to get you pregnant. Well, not by sweet potato alone, but you know what I mean)

Wakame (full of iodione)

Quinoa (strengthens the kidneys in TCM, key to fertility and libido – this last sadly unneeded)

Walnuts (full of B6 which balances hormones)

Beetroot (yummy + boost kidney function)

Asparagus (aphrodisiac – again, sadly unneeded right now 😦 but apparently revitalises reproductive organs. It also flushes the system so should deal with my very puffy ankles – from the Lucrin?? Makes the pee very smelly though)

Sprouts (the equation is:  living food + attempting to create a living thing = baby)

Bananas (Phallic…?! craved them this weekend but they’ll send me broke with the price in Oz right now – $12 a kilo!! Made of gold clearly)

Anything green.

No coffee. Minimal tea.

One glass of wine per week (siiiigh. This is my dosage – the doctor said “three while I’m trying but not together”. Did she mean three in total for the whole time, or three per week?). Hmmm…

All in all I think I’m doing pretty well with eating well. Luckily I’m not a junk food person and like nothing better than a plate full of green vegies. I usually like to wash it down with a a bottle of red, but hey, it’s a minor inconvenience. Anyway, part of this process is about change, so maybe that means changing my drinking habits.

There had to be side effects didn’t there?

So now that I find the injections starting to hurt, I have to do two a day. I started the Gonal-f yesterday and have had a doozy of a headache all day today. I called the clinic this afternoon and asked if I could take pain killers because it didn’t ease all day and I was getting annoyed with it, I never get headaches. The nurse said I could take Panadol only – not Nurofen. I’m glad I asked. I would have either martyred myself through it  or caved and taken a Nurofen, so now I know – Nurofen no-no.

Other side effects experienced so far apart from the splitting headache:

Night sweats – hello menopause! For the first week I just thought I was hot because of the hot water bottle, but it’s the hormones stupid!

A period lasting an entire 7 days and counting. Bored with this now! So on top of the cost of the treatment, I have to pay for extra tampons. phlaaghg.

Cankles. Attractive.

Twitching in the vicinity of my ovaries. I suppose this is a good sign – my diagnosis.

Aforementioned fat belly. Side effect of drugs, not overeating.

A total lack interest in work. Oh – that’s probably just me and my general aversion to work, and the fact that I have more interesting things to read than financial analysis (surely not I hear you cry!).

Belief

I’ve been doing a beautiful 21-day “meditation challenge” through the Chopra Centre and yesterday’s meditation focused on the creator, which obviously really spoke to me.

Belief is so important to achieving your goals. The meditation reminded me that I set my goals, and I am the creator of my world, my reality. The theme of the 21 days is to continually ask the question, “Who am I?” – the eternal question on the spiritual path. So they have been asking – or encouraging us to ask ourselves – “Who am I?”. I have just sat with this question, without bothering to intellectualise it or mentally or cognitively answer it. Yesterday though a few descriptions of myself passed through my mind – daughter, sister, friend, editor, colleague, blogger, lover (whose?). Mother.

Mother.

It’s just there, in me. I am a mother. I didn’t have to think about it, it wasn’t what I thought I should think, I didn’t force it out. It just came. I am a mother. In about 10 months time.

Ooh – and just  quick post script. I just did day 8 of the meditation and this beautiful passage from the Upanishads was quoted, which is so apt for my journey – and all our journeys.

“You are your deepest driving desire.
As is your desire, so is your will.
As is your will, so is your deed.
As is your deed, so is your destiny.”

So our desires can actually be our destiny, if we flow it through our will and our actions, our attention and personal commitment.

So I have the desire, and I have taken the action (the deed), and now my destiny awaits. mmm. Juicy stuff.

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Filed under ART, IVF, pregnant over 40

Biology is a sexist bastard … maybe

Or should that be evolution? Because who said once you reach a certain age you are too old to have children?

I’m going to put my hand up now and reveal myself as ageist and say that maybe there is an age when you are “too old”. Like 60 for example. But that’s possibly because I am not 60. Yet.

There are constantly stories in the media – in the press, on TV – that warn women not to leave it too late. The age usually cited is over 35. So I’m waaaay old.

They go like this:

You are born with as many eggs as you are ever going to get; ergo, your eggs are as old as you are. Old.

The risk of miscarriage increases with age.

Complications during pregnancy increase with age.

It takes longer for an older woman to get pregnant.

An older woman may not even be able to fall pregnant.

The risk of birth defects increase with age.

And yet…

My friend was told by a fertility doctor that she would not fall pregnant without fertility treatment. She fell pregnant at 40 with the aid of … meditation and visualisation. And has a gorgeous toddler now.

There is a story in this month’s Australian Women’s Weekly about a 50-year-old woman who fell pregnant naturally and gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby.

I just wonder if all the statistics are right? How long have these statistics been collected for? Because I have a little theory cooking that goes something like – for the past 40-odd years, woman have been able to control their fertility, with the use of the pill. So how do we really know whether every woman has trouble having a baby after a certain age, when for most of our reproductive lives (until we decide), we are actively avoiding pregnancy and babies.

We spent our 20s and if we’re still single, a lot of our 30s, trying NOT to get pregnant! And we’ve probably never really been told how in fact to get pregnant.

I’ve read an inspiring quote from Dr Christiane Nortrhrup, the women’s health guru, which says, “A great disservice is done when ‘science’ undermines the confidence of an entire group of women (everyone over 35) concerning their fertility … If you’re worried that you won’t be able to have children because of your age, please know that this may not be the case at all.”

I’m just a little bit in love with her now.

Then there are the people (usually women believe it or not) who think it’s “disgusting” and “wrong” and whole host of other vicious words condemning women for being “selfish” and focusing on their “careers” or simply having fun and didn’t get around to having babies. Well excuse me. Look at some online forums, or comments to articles like this (actually just the first one, most of the rest are supportive),  for horrible proof. Or maybe don’t, because you may be shocked.

Strange that the same accusations and viciousness are never aimed at men, many of whom only come round to the idea of having kids in their late 30s.

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Filed under pregnant over 40