Reproductive Health

Find Freedom with Fertility Awareness

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This month marks my 13th month off birth control after 13 years of consistently being on some form of contraceptive. If you are in a position where you absolutely cannot get pregnant know that there are alternatives to hormonal birth control. And they are just as effective. And arguably better for your health.

The more women I talk to the more I realize that we've been led to believe our reproductive functioning only matters if we’re trying to get pregnant or are currently pregnant. As women, we really don’t understand how our bodies work in regards to hormonal health and how our cycles can actually paint a pretty clear picture of our overall health regardless of whether we plan to conceive or not.
I mean if you just think about it, every month from the time we hit puberty all the way to menopause, our bodies are deciding if we are healthy enough to make a baby. Looking back, I find it fascinating and ironic that for something so routinely in my life I was able to brush it off as unimportant. For my entire young adult life I wanted nothing to do with hormones or reproduction or periods. Which is why I went through all the hoops to get on the pill, then the nuva ring and finally the IUD. I wonder how many hours I spent in the doctors office and how much money I’ve spent over the years. Yet, I was completely body illiterate, living in fear some months, and pumping my body full of hormones that had negative emotional and physical effects.
It’s been a paradigm shift to learn about the sympto thermo fertility awareness method. I wish all women had the resources to know the advantages there are to being in the know and in tune with your body in this way. The sympto thermo fertility awareness method is free, 99.4% effective and can get to the root cause of health issues versus slapping a bandaid on it and hoping it magically gets better.
Mostly I wanted to share that healthy, regular cycles are vital to our overall well being. And I challenge you to question the status quo:
Why are you on birth control? 
Do you trust that your doctor has YOUR best interest in mind when it comes to your health? 
#wellnessbylittle #healthyliving#stewardyourbodywell

6 Ways I'm Preparing my Mind, Body & Heart for Children Someday

Photo cred: Stephen Matera 

Photo cred: Stephen Matera 

A while back I shared a bit about my journey through learning and starting to use the sympto thermo fertility awareness method. I decided to be done with birth control about 8 months ago, after 13 years of really going on auto pilot with all things reproductive health ...because who has time to think about that stuff anyway? Especially when you can pop a pill everyday or better yet have a quick and easy medical procedure performed and you don't have to think about it for years.
For me, this has been one of the most empowering lifestyle decisions I've ever made. Doctors are experts in populations but I am becoming the expert of my own body and have the data to back it up. Whether you may be interested in using this method to try and get pregnant or to avoid pregnancy or it's just interesting to you, you should know that it is 99.6% effective and today I can say with confidence and general amazement that this method actually works! 
This is a bit personal but the husband has approved my sharing and we think it could be helpful to folks in a similar spot as us. Currently we are actively avoiding pregnancy using the sympto FAM but we do want children in the future. So I wanted to share 6 disciplines I'm practicing now to help prepare my mind, body and heart for the day we do decide to start trying:  

1.) Start Prenatal Vitamins Early
I've been switching back and fourth between the Smartypants and 365 Everyday Value. Starting prenatal vitamins early can help reduce neural tube defects by 50-70% according to the CDC. These conditions can start to develop within the first month of pregnancy so getting more folic acid and iron early on will give the baby a better chance of developing a healthy brain and spinal cord. 

2.) Regular Exercise
I honestly don't know any better motivation to get healthy than growing a human inside of you. I try to get in 2-3 strength training days/week and 2-3 cardio sessions/week (and yes, walking to ice cream totally counts!)  

3.) Consistent Eating Schedule
My days never look the same and it's not uncommon for me to skip a meal or eat late. Meal prepping has been really helpful so that I have something easy to grab and go on those busy days. I like to make hard boil eggs for a quick breakfast, pack bars for a snack, prepare a variety of different salads for lunches and then we generally cook at home for dinner. Oh and we love munching on Tony's sea salt caramel chocolate after dinner. 

4.) Mental Toughness
When I'm in a workout class I tell myself giving birth will be a lot harder than this. If I think I can bear that kind of pain than surely I can do one more push up. A client also shared with me some wisdom on the body's response to physical pain in labor and described it as "imagine dunking your arms in ice buckets but calmly breathing through the discomfort. If you can experience contractions while not clenching the muscles in your body and holding your breath, that will help." When I go see my favorite waxing lady Deborah at Waxing The City in Ballard, I practice this very method of not reacting to the discomfort. I'm happy to report she says I've been waaaay less of a wuss lately but I will be excited to see if and how this concept translates for me!

5.) Praying for our Future Children
It feels like such an incredible privilege to be able to pray over our future children. I pray for a healthy delivery and baby. I pray over who they will become as adults. I ask God to give them a unique light in this world and use them for as much good as possible in their lifetime. 

6.) Reducing Alcohol Consumption
Man I do like to party but I'm learning I can still party with my kombucha mocktails and rosé errrday in moderation. 

And even though I can be doing all these things now to prepare for a healthy pregnancy, I also recognize that I am not in control of the outcome. It's just the reality we live in. I believe that God is working all things out for His glory and our greater good. Maybe we will have infertility issues, maybe our future baby will have a major health issue - regardless I think there is wisdom in preparing our hearts, our bodies and our minds the best we know how and trusting that the Lord will meet our needs along the way.  

I love this stuff and if any moms have anything they want to share I'd LOVE to hear!

Cheers and for now we'll just be practicing over here! *que "mine" by Bazzi*

Sympto-thermo Fertility Awareness Method

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I wish I would have known years ago that there is a natural birth control method out there that is 99.6% effective. Like many women I’ve talked with, I first learned about women’s reproductive health in middle school, which looking back was a very fear based education. One of the prominent things I remember learning from sex-ed was that if you have unprotected sex, you will get pregnant. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I was unaware of how scientifically inaccurate that claim actually is. 
I recently posted about going off birth control after 13 years. Thankfully, during that transition I was able to enroll in a 5 week course with Grace @fearlessfertilitythat educated me on exactly how to use and interpret the sympto-thermo fertility awareness method (FAM). The four basic principles are: 
1.) taking your temperature every morning
2.) checking your cervical fluid
3.) checking your cervix
4.) charting this information
The sympto-thermo FAM is simply observing your body’s natural fertility signs. It’s not the same as natural family planning, the rhythm method or simply knowing your body well enough to tell when you’re fertile. This method has been an empowering lifestyle choice and I wish more people knew about it. While doctors are experts in populations (and often eager to prescribe) we can be the expert of our own body. Women are not all made the same. I am able to make informed health care decisions because I know what normal looks like for me and have the data to back it up. 
A couple BIG shout outs go to @buggycastro for introducing me to sympto-thermo FAM and Toni Weschler’s book “Taking Charge of Your Fertility.” If you’re curious to learn more this is definitely where to start! 
Secondly, Grace owner & educater @fearlessfertility has been an incredible wealth of knowledge and a valuable player in building my confidence for choosing this method as a lifestyle. I won’t say it’s easier than other methods but it’s much more rewarding, healthy and empowering. Often times I’ve found the less convenient, harder road in life can end up being more fulfilling in the end and that is definitely true for me here. 
#wellnessbylittle #stewardyourbodywell#FAM