22 Things You Should Know About Fertility

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My husband stumbled across this comprehensive list of all the MANY fertility issues you may encounter on your journey to pregnancy. Woah, it’s a miracle any of us are here when there seems so bloody impossible to get pregnant!

Take a look: http://tinyurl.com/ku7xxz3

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Eat Yourself Pregnant

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Zita West, a midwife and fertility expert, believes a good diet ‘forms the bedrock of getting a woman’s body baby-ready and a man making healthy sperm’. In her new book, Eat Yourself Pregnant: Essential Recipes for Boosting Your Fertility Naturally, she explains which foods can help with conception. Fascinated by the role nutrition takes in every couple’s ability to have a baby she came to the conclusion that micronutrients play a big role in getting pregnant – both naturally and through assisted conception – with deficiencies having significant effects on fertility for both men and women. When meeting a couple she investigates their digestion and gut health, toxicity, immunity, and how much their states of mind are affecting their bodies. But don’t worry this book does not eliminate bread, chocolate, cheese and dairy. It is not a faddy diet. The focus is on nourishing the body in a positive, sustainable way.

She explains that mood, weight and hormones can change rapidly according to where a woman is in her cycle. It is possible to support your body’s monthly shifts through your diet. Here are her rules for your cycle.

Phase 1

On the first day of your period when you may feel lethargic enjoy warm, nourishing foods and a diet rich in iron and vitamin C, as these nutrients help to replenish the iron that you lose with your period. Good sources of iron include lean red meat, pumpkin seeds, beans and pulses, dried apricots and raisins, shellfish and dark green leafy vegetables. For B-vitamins include whole grains, lamb, beef, poultry, shellfish, eggs, and dairy products, leafy green vegetables, yeast extract and nutritional yeast flakes. Most fruits and vegetables will provide good levels of vitamin C particularly citrus fruits, berries, kiwi fruit, leafy green vegetables and red pepper.

Phase 2

During phase two of your cycle oestrogen is on the rise as your body prepares for ovulation. This is usually a time when you’ll burst with energy. Foods rich in capsaicin, isoflavones and L-arginine (such as spicy foods, tofu and watermelon) encourage the body to make nitric oxide (NO). This compound helps to dilate your blood vessels, easing blood flow through your whole system, which is good news for your reproductive organs. During this phase, stock up on your B-vitamins, which are important for hormonal balance. B-vitamins also help with healthy cell division. Lecithin will help to keep your cell membranes healthy. Keep eating the vitamin-C-rich foods as this vitamin is thought to increase the amount of water in your cervical mucus, making it more plentiful. For healthy implantation of an egg, the immune system needs to be strong. For this reason, stock up on vitamin D. Exposing your skin to sunlight is the best way to get your body to manufacture this vitamin, but it is also present in salmon and sardines, and in shiitake mushrooms.

Phase 3

Next is the luteal phase of your cycle. The corpus luteum, that produces progesterone to thicken the womb lining, close the cervix and maintain a pregnancy, contains a high level of betacarotene. During this phase, try to include plenty of betacarotene-rich foods, including butternut squash, carrots, collards, kale, spinach, potato and mustard greens.

Phase 4

Lastly, in stage four, if no fertilisation has occurred, your hormone levels start to fall. During this phase you may begin to feel more lethargic again and crave sweet foods. Allow yourself the odd treat, but try to keep your blood sugar stable.

Finally do not forget that substituting foods containing fat with low-fat products, to avoid weight gain is a bad idea as these products often contain trans fats, sugar and sweeteners. Ovulation rates were 38 per cent better among women who used whole milk, a study found.

Wow some pretty amazing advice there. Happy fertile eating!

Scans Glorious Scans

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So I caved again. I decided that the wait for the final scan (scheduled for 37 weeks) was too far off and I needed some reassurance that the baby was well. So yet more money was spent on yet another neurotic moment. However, as I told my husband, surely my peace of mind is priceless. Aptly named the reassurance scan, it did just that. Thankfully all is well and my fear that the placenta had been failing or was detaching from my uterus lining were unfounded. The little one looked well, has hair and is in the head down position ready for action. Now I must just plough on through the remaining 6 weeks. Not long now…When will I actually believe that there might be a baby?

Progress

EGG_2565177b Yesterday the UK government set out new draft regulations which will allow donor DNA from a ‘second mother’ to be implanted into a defective egg. Mitochondrial donation, known as the “three-parent” baby technique, was deemed not to be a genetic modification that would, as critics feared, lead to the “slippery slope” of designer babies. MPs discussed the issues of medical ethics and scientific terminology at length and reached a pleasing decision.
Mitochondria is a part of the cell cytoplasm outside the central nucleus where chromosomes are located. They convert glucose to something called ATP, which is the universal energy currency of each and every cell in the body. Around one in every 200 babies born in the UK has a severe mitochondrial disease. Although rare, the disorders can be passed to future generations through the maternal line. Examples of mitochondrial diseases include conditions that cause muscle wasting, nerve damage, loss of sight and heart failure.
This is a brilliant development for families affected by mitochondrial diseases. I am thrilled that those with genetic abnormalities will have the opportunity to have the healthy children they so desperately want.

Time For Action

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I am reluctant to accept that a baby is coming. I just won’t believe it until I have a healthy baby safe in my arms. Recently people have kindly urged me to pull myself out of my denial for a moment and order some baby stuff. I always said I wouldn’t order a thing prior to the babies arrival but in a moment of insanity/sanity my husband and I went out and ordered everything! Cots, prams, baths, car seats and so much more. None of it arrives until week 36 weeks so I don’t need to deal with a flat full of stuff for 3 more weeks. However next weekend my husband is going to wallpaper the nursery. The whole thing is pretty terrifying.

It just feels as though I will soon wake from this dream and there will be nothing. No baby. Just a fantasy I indulged in.

1 Year

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My last pregnancy lasted 21 weeks. This one has been 31 weeks (so far). So I have now been pregnant in total for a whole year, with, as of yet, nothing to show for it. So when I say I am eager for this baby to arrive I really, really mean it! The pregnancy has been filled with plenty of stress, anxiety and fears and they will not end until I have a healthy baby in my arms. So time, please hurry the hell up!

EDC Damage

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Hormone-mimicking endocrine disruptor compounds (EDCs) are commonly used in the toiletries, cosmetics and medications that fill our bathroom cabinets. However, alarm bells have been ringing loudly this week as it is being widely reported that these EDCs come with devastating side effects, which include increased rates of testicular cancer and infertility. Now the Nordic Council of Ministers has gathered medical evidence from several countries and quantified the economic impact of EDCs in the hope of expediting an EU ban on the chemicals—a ban which would be the first regulation of EDCs in the world.

Michael Warhurst, of campaign group Chem Trust states:

“Companies should focus on developing and producing products that don’t contain hormone disruptors and other problem chemicals. This will give them a competitive advantage as controls on these chemicals become stricter around the world—and as consumers become more aware of this issue.”

Perhaps we ought to consider the products we use more carefully when so much is at stake. My husband and I went organic months ago to avoid pesticides. We bought ‘safe’ shower gel and tried to reduce the amount of toxic plastic in our home. Now I may take a closer look at the cosmetics I use.

Paranoia of the Moment

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The relative calm following the scan has invariably dissipated and my new anxiety centres on my sleeping habits. I know I sound totally mad but I have read and been told that it is not advisable to sleep on your back, my sleeping position of choice. Experts recommend that pregnant women not sleep on their backs during the second and third trimester because of the weight of the growing uterus and baby pressing the vena cava, the main vein that carries blood back to the heart from your lower body region. If compressed, it can interfere with optimum circulation. Instead it is advisable to lie on your side.

So this week I have tried to train myself to sleep on my side. Easier said than done! Despite building a fort out of pillows that encourage me to sleep on my side, and which have left my husband with a very small patch of bed space, I have woken up in the night on numerous occasions to find that I have made my way onto my back again. Then, in a panic, I have tried to reposition myself. This has lead to some very disturbed sleeping patterns.
How can I change my well established sleeping position? How on earth does anyone sleep on their side? It’s so uncomfortable! Did you change your sleeping position? Or, as I fear, am I bonkers?

All Clear

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Sunday night was a pretty restless one. The scan fears were back. In fact my plan of going into work for an hour before the scan backfired spectacularly when I burst into tears moments before leaving home. I stayed at home instead.
At the hospital we had an agonising wait followed by my standard fear of actually looking at the monitor. Thankfully the scan was a big success. The doctor said that he was confident that the baby was healthy and had not developed the condition our last baby had suffered from. To say we were relieved was an understatement. The baby appears to be totally normal. We are thrilled.
Now while that eliminates one fear I entirely expect some more panics along the way. Certainly until I can feel the baby move. Another milestone down though. Now I am focusing on getting to 20 weeks. Phew!

New Year, New Beginning

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Tonight is the start of a new year for me as it is Rosh Hashonah, the Jewish New Year. It is a time for family, honey cake and hope for the year ahead. As I stand in synagogue I will pray for happier times in the forthcoming year. Each year we ask to be inscribed in the book of life for a good and sweet new year. I hope our prayers are answered and we will be blessed with a healthy baby. My faith has been tested more this year than ever before and I hope it will be renewed in the year ahead. Happy New Year to you if you are celebrating, and happy new beginning to you if you are just in need of a fresh start.

Fertility MoT

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According to yesterday’s press busy city workers are to be offered £200 fertility ‘MoTs’ during their lunch breaks. The one-hour test will assess women using 3D ultrasounds and blood tests, while men will be offered a detailed analysis of their semen for £90. Up to 4,000 IVF cycles will also be offered each year by the Create Fertility centre, which opens in London later this month. Professor Geeta Nargund, who founded the Create Fertility centre said: ‘A woman’s fertility potential can be assessed in an hour.’

Interestingly, Professor Nargund claims that they will not offer conventional IVF where drugs are used to stimulate the ovaries. Instead they will offer natural-cycle IVF, in which a woman’s egg is collected following her natural cycle and replaced in the uterus after fertilisation. The clinic will also offer mild-stimulation IVF, in which a lower dosage of drugs is used.  She said the treatment is safer, less expensive and is able to be repeated over subsequent cycles. Her business offers three cycles of natural-cycle IVF for £5,900, while three cycles of mild-stimulation IVF costs £6,950.

However Gedis Grudzinskas, an independent consultant gynaecologist, warned that results are much lower in natural cycles than when drugs are used.

A Mini Sigh Of Relief

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So the scan on Monday was, as predicted, an emotional affair! I was anxious beforehand but I was not expecting the surge of tears that came as I lay down on the bed for the scan. I suppose it was a painful reminder of the last awful scan which took place in that same Fetal Medicine Unit. When I apologised to the doctor for being a crazy person he said very kindly, and perhaps dishonestly, that he’d seen worse.

Once I had overcome the initial shock and sobbing I just waited and watched intently for the doctors reaction. Having decided not to look at the monitor, all I could do was grip my husbands hand and hope things looked normal. My husband, braver than I, did look. I glanced over occasionally.

We knew that at 12 weeks the baby would be too small for a conclusive assessment of the babies health and that that was not likely until 16 weeks. However our excellent doctor is a specialist in the early detection of birth defects and he told us that based on the early examinations he feels confident that things seem well. The doctor stressed that he needs to scan me again next week and until he can look at things more closely he won’t know with enough certainty.

Next week we should know more. It’s a good first step. And we feel very confident in the care of an Israeli-educated specialist (probably the world’s finest) and a kind and compassionate midwife. For now we can take a mini sigh of relief.