Photo above: Monica with daughter, Annie in 1987

I was catching up on my People magazine reading when I came across an article interviewing actresses about the compliment they’re most proud of. Almost every single one said it was being told they were a good mom or had well-behaved children.

I could really relate to that article, as being a mom has been the greatest gift of my life.

There’s no experience that compares to growing a tiny human in your body, birthing them and raising them over many years until they become independent and productive members of society.  The journey between those two points is fun, challenging and the stuff that life is made of….

But not everyone has an easy time of having a baby. I know what it’s like to not be able to get pregnant.  Almost 30 years ago, it took me five years to have my first and only baby. I went through most forms of infertility treatments, just short of in vitro, until I got lucky.

My reproductive health had always been challenging. Right from the onset of menstruation, as a young teen, I had terrible menstrual cramping and clotting.  Cramps were so intense that I couldn’t get up from my bed two days each month, hugging a heating pad, unable to get comfortable, sweating and exhausted. Even narcotics didn’t help. Every month was a trial and I dreaded the pain and the loss of time brought on by my cycle.

After I married, in my 20’s, even with using birth control I never got pregnant. After five years of infertility I finally started the work up. A hyposalpingogram revealed that one of my Fallopian tubes was actually ripped from the extreme cramping of my cycles, and the other had a large cyst blocking its entrance. I also wasn’t ovulating (which I now know was the cause of the terrible cramping).

Why I wasn’t ovulating is a good question. I believe that the emotional stress of my early family life, which included immigration, resettlement,  (see previous blogs: “Thanksgiving” and “My Heroine”) and trying to be the “perfect child”,  affected my HPA axis, the one controlling my adrenals and sex hormones.

I was put on medication that forced me into menopause in order to shrink the cyst. I remember thinking, “boy, I sure don’t look forward to that stage of life!”  I immediately gained 10#, felt depressed and generally ached all over.  Later I started using a fertility drug called Clomid, which forced ovulation, and happily by the third month I did become pregnant.

Even pregnancy didn’t go smoothly. Three months before delivery I started labor pains. So I was put on bed rest and given a drug to stop the labor. I was permitted an hour a day on my feet. I watched Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew’s wedding from bed. I planned the nursery from bed. I visited with friends from bed.  This was all before internet shopping so I carefully planned shopping trips to buy baby clothes and furniture in the hour I was allowed to be up.

Then, of course, in the end I had to be induced.

If I knew then what I know now I would have done a lot of things differently!  SO this Mother’s Day, here are a few recommendations that I’d like to pass onto you if you’re thinking about getting pregnant:

Preparing for baby involves both mom and dad.  Healthy sperm is just as important as a healthy egg. So these Top Five Fundamental Tips apply to both of you:

  1. Eat clean food, rich in fruits and vegetables and adequate protein. For most women that’s around 80-100 grams/day, which is way more than most women eat.
  2. Get 8 to 10 hours of sleep
  3. Avoid alcohol and minimize caffeine. Avoid fish with high mercury and any chemical exposures.
  4. Exercise at least 3-4 hours/week aerobically but incorporate walking every single day.
  5. Take time out from you busy day to rest your mind away from electronics and create unstructured time in which to relax. And get out in nature every day if you can.

The next Five More-In-Depth Tips are for mom and less often mentioned but just as important:

1.If you’re having any digestive issues check them out before getting pregnant. They’re usually the tip of the iceberg and bear investigation. You don’t want a hidden infection to bog you down with toxins while carrying your precious load.

2. Check your amino acid status. These are the building blocks for every cell in our bodies and often become depleted, especially if you have several babies in a row and tend to eat a low protein diet.  It’s a simple blood test done through our office and easily corrected.

3. Make sure your adrenals are healthy. Sadly, if mom’s adrenals are depleted from too much stress over many years, she will “steal” from baby’s adrenal glands. These babies are then at higher risk of developing allergies and asthma by the age five than the general population.

4. Invest in a really good prenatal multivitamin and multi mineral product. Look for one that gives you adequate minerals to build baby’s body and uses the correct forms of the B vitamins for maximum absorption. Watch for folic acid, which should be in its folate form, 5-LMTHF.
With at least half the population having the MTHFR mutation, it’s especially important that this super important B vitamin be bioavailable to all. Our PreNatal Pro is ideal, providing all the nutrients I mentioned about and more.

5. Add the important Omega 3 fatty acid, DHA, to optimize baby’s brain building for the three months before planning to get pregnant. The first trimester is when brain development occurs so you want this important nutrient to be available in early pregnancy. It also decreases the risk of premature birth and reduces post-partum depression.

We can help you evaluate all of the above issues through functional testing and correct them with targeted diet and supplements, before you get pregnant!  I can’t tell you how important these foundation pieces are to your health and the health of your baby.

Through my own personal experience and my professional training as a nutritionist, I’ve been able to help many women have healthy babies.

This makes me so happy and I think of them every Mother’s Day!