Charting Basal Body Temperatures

thCAKNU9AAMany methods exist that help women trying to conceive determine their times of ovulation, including over-the-counter ovulation prediction kits, tracking cervical mucus and charting basal body temperatures. When I was on my TTC journey, I found charting my basal body temperature, more commonly referred to as BBT, to be a very effective and inexpensive way to determine my most fertile days and ultimately led to conception after eight months of trying. All you need to start charting is a BBT thermometer, usually costing between $5 and $10, and a BBT chart, which you can print out from BabyCenter.com (http://www.babycenter.com/0_sample-bbt-chart_7252.bc) or many thermometers come with their own chart.

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Source: Babycenter.com

So what is BBT? Your basal body temperature is the lowest temperature of your body in a 24-hour period. According to BabyCenter.com, before ovulation, your BBT probably ranges from 97.2 to about 97.7 degrees Fahrenheit. Several days after you ovulate, hormones cause your BBT to rise 0.4 to 1.0 degrees until your period starts, when it drops again. If you get pregnant that cycle, your temperature stays elevated. By charting over a month or two, you can start to see patterns of the days when your most fertile and plan your intercourse for those days.

When charting your BBT, it’s important to remember to take your temperature right away in the morning before you get out of bed. It’s also important to know that charting BBT isn’t an exact science, and factors like being sick and not taking your temperature consistently will affect the numbers.

Being Thankful

It’s that time of the year where thankfulness is part of the season. I love it because it really does remind me how much I am completely blessed with! In no way do I ever pretend that I understand the pain and suffering those who are experiencing infertility must feel, but I have had my share of other trials and struggles in this life and have learned one fail-proof way to find relief, even if just for an instant- Thankfulness.

There are so many ways that this can be done, but the idea I find most helpful involves writing those things you are thankful for down on paper. Each night before bed record just one thing that you are thankful for in a journal or on a piece of paper. Keep track of where you have written this. Collect them, maybe in a jar. Add to your list or to your jar. Then, on those really hard days where everything is going wrong, go back and look through your list- shuffle through your jar. Remember all that you do have.  See what you are thankful for in your own writing. Remind yourself that as hard as things get, there is always something to be thankful for- lots to be thankful for!

Just google “thankfulness in overcoming trials”and you will find a plethora of different ideas that can help you keep your spirits up with thankfulness.

Today I am thankful that you allow us to go along on this journey with you. God bless your family this Thanksgiving! Just remember….images-10

 

 

From Transmissions to Infertility Treatments

You might be wondering how a car transmission has anything to do with the topic of fertility, but stick with me and you will see.

Just a few hours ago we loaded up the family in our not-so-family-friendly car to pick up the family car from the transmission specialist. As we were driving home it occurred to me that there is a great parallel to be drawn from my car’s ailments to those facing infertility struggles.

A few months ago my husband and I Changing-Transmission-Fluid-300x225noticed our car was stalling between first and second gears. So, we took it in for our regular tune up, oil change, etc. to see if there were any problems. Nothing was confirmed so the mechanics recommended we see a transmission specialist. After taking the car to the transmission specialist a diagnostic test was run to rule out any major issues. None were found, but the problem still remained. The specialist recommended we first try some basic treatments like having the transmission oil replaced and see if that would eliminate the problem before we moved onto any other services that would be significantly more expensive and time consuming. Since we have just picked the car up we don’t yet know if the new oil has solved the car’s problem, but we took the first and most inexpensive steps before leaping into a complete transmission rebuild or other major repair.

So, how does this story have anything to do with infertility struggles? Let’s look at the same story but now in terms of infertility…

A few months ago my husband and I concluded that we were not getting pregnant in the amount of time we thought was reasonable based at my age. So, I went in to my OB/GYN for my regular check-up to see if there were any problems. Nothing was confirmed so the doctor recommended I see an infertility specialist. The specialist recommended we first try some basic treatments like ovulation test kits and conception-friendly lubricants such as ToConceive to see if that would help us achieve pregnancy before we moved onto any other treatments that would be significantly more expensive and time consuming. Since we have just started using ToConceive along with ovulation test kits we don’t yet know if this new treatment will help us get pregnant, but we took the first and most inexpensive steps before leaping into IVF or other more invasive treatments.

When you notice a problem in your car you wouldn’t go straight to the mechanic and ask them to rebuild the transmission or replace the engine, you would first try to correct the issue with basic, inexpensive treatments. Why should infertility be any different? We want to help you take that first step. Visit http://www.keytoconceive.com to read more about how ToConceive can help you get pregnant!

Ten Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Was Pregnant (Part 2)

If you missed part 1 of this blog, please see the post from Wednesday, February 20th.

6. Morning sickness and other stomach issues can happen anytime of day and can last more than the first trimester.

As I think back, I am pretty sure I knew that morning sickness could happen anytime of day, but I was not prepared to be sick all day, everyday for seven months. The other thing that surprised me was that I never actually got sick (vommitting), but was continuously nauseous during my first pregnancy.  Not to get too graphic, but in my experience, I believe constipation was a leading cause for the nausea. Constipation is a normal symptom of pregnancy, but getting it under control can be a challenge. The cause is mainly pregnancy hormones slowing down the digestive process to allow more nutrients to be passed to your growing baby (What to Expect Website). Stool softeners are generally considered safe during pregnancy, but always check with your doctor before ingesting anything when pregnant. The best defense is likely changing some of your health and diet habits.  Plenty of safe exercise, increasing your fiber intake through natural raw fruits and veggies, drinking lots of water and juices (especially prune juice- if you can’t stomach that, I found Plum juice very helpful and delicious), and eating smaller portions more often may reduce your symptoms. If you are not pregnant yet it would be helpful to start implementing these changes in your diet and exercise now in order to go into your pregnancy with a well functioning digestive system.

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Photo from sutterhealth.org

7. Breast feeding may be natural, but can also be very painful or difficult.

First things first, don’t dare miss the breast feeding class offered at your local hospital or through your healthcare provider. My husband and I learned so much during this class that we would have otherwise not known. However, even being as prepared as I could have by reading and attending an evening course on breast feeding, I was not even aware of or ready to face the pain that was to come. Not long after my son was born I realized nursing was not going to be a walk in the park. By the second or third day I was in so much pain I could hardly put him to my breast without crying in agony for the first 10-30 seconds. The lactation consultants were sure I was allowing him to latch wrong and that this was the reason for my pain. But, after having nursed three children now, all until they were one year old, I know the latching was not the problem. With each child it took nearly 8 weeks of nursing until I could finally feed my hungry little ones with no pain during the first 10-30 seconds of each feeding. I did find that using gel nursing pads would bring relief after the feedings as well as using a lot of  Lansinoh (a nursing cream).  In my case, my children were being fed and gaining weight, but I know many moms who could not get their babies to latch on or  they were not getting enough milk. In either case, if you are not completely determined to continue breast feeding for a certain period of time, you may give up before you had planned. Just be prepared if you do experience problems with this natural process.

8. Sleeping (or non-sleeping) issues need to be decided on before the baby arrives.

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Photo from topnews.in

How did the phrase “sleeping like a baby” become a common phrase? Someone without a newborn in their home must have coined it. Our first son didn’t sleep through the night until he was 9 months old, our daughter was closer to 13 months. After our third slept through the night at only 2 months, I was convinced that experience (and an answered prayer) helped significantly. If you are planning on your first child, though, experience is not an option, so the next best thing is reading and seeking advice from those who have experience. There are many great resources and many different methods on how to help your baby learn healthy sleep habits. Some of the more popular ones are Babywise by Gary Ezzo, The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley and Helpint Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Joanne Cuthbertson. It would be extremely beneficial to familiarize yourself with several methods you feel comfortable with because every family and baby is different and each may thrive on a different method. The main thing is to be determined  that you will do your best to implement a plan to help train your baby into healthy sleep habits. As the baby gets older and starts to form routines, it is much harder to change them. Try out different options to see which method works for your family and then stick to it! Do it early before your child is trained in a routine that is disruptive to your family and unhealthy for them.

9. Postpartum depression happens to even the most stable and upbeat women.

I never thought I would suffer from postpartum depression or ‘the baby blues’ because I have always been very emotionally stable and generally upbeat. However, postpartum depression has nothing to do with mental health before a pregnancy, but the changes that occur during and after pregnancy. I was fortunate to only experience this once, with my second child, and it was very mild. Many women experience more severe postpartum depression as long as one year after delivery. The causes of the baby blues include a dramatic drop in estrogen and progesterone as well as other hormones that are produced by the thyroid gland. Changes in blood volume, blood pressure, immune system and metabolism can also cause mood swings (www.mayoclinic.com). Emotional factors such as sleep deprivation (see point 8 🙂  ) and being overwhelmed with caring for a newborn can also contribute to this depression. If you suspect postpartum depression is affecting your ability to function, let someone know immediately and ask your doctor for help. There is nothing to be ashamed of, and likely with help it will quickly pass!

10. Hair Loss is a delayed side effect of childbirth.

About three months after delivering my son, I started loosing chunks of hair and having small bald spots near the front of my forehead. I was scared to death! What was happening? Did I have the early signs of a terrible illness? Turns out it is completely normal. I would really have liked to know that before I was panicing in the shower as clumps of hair clogged the drain. According to babycenter.com, once again hormones are to blame for this strange phenomenon. Increased levels of estrogen prolong the growth stage of hair causing more hair to stay put on your head while pregnant. When you aren’t pregnant you loose about 100 strands of hair a day, but during pregnancy those hairs stay around longer. After childbirth, your estrogen levels fall and more hair follicles shed in a shorter period of time until your hair finally returns to its normal thickness about 12 months after delivery.

Was any of this new or insightful for you? I would love to hear your feedback!

TTC? Watch What You Put in Your Mouth!

A healthy diet and lifestyle is important for all us, especially those TTC. We’ve compiled a list of helpful articles that offer suggestions on foods to eat to help you conceive, boost your fertility and make you overall a healthier person.

Red AppleCheck them out!

10 Best Fertility Superfoods to Help You Conceive

Tackling Male Infertility? The Solution Could Be in Your Diet

What To Eat When Trying to Conceive

Six Ways to Boost Fertility Through Nutrition

Trying to Conceive? Try Raspberries!

Ten Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Was Pregnant (part 1)

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We are completely bombarded with information and education in our society today about all sorts of different topics. How then could I have not known some really crucial information about pregnancy, childbirth and newborn care during my first pregnancy? Well, I don’t  know! However, I will share the things I somehow missed with you in hopes that you are better prepared than I was when it comes time for you to have a baby.

1. Your pregnancy and child birth experiences may not be like your mom’s.

Ok, this probably sounds silly, but I guess I bought into the old-wives’ tales that your pregnancy generally follows the same pattern as your mothers. As  much as I loved having my mom involved in my pregnancy and childbirth, our pregnancies couldn’t have been more different. My mom loved being pregnant and was never sick for more than a few weeks with each pregnancy. I was sick for the first 7 months with my first child and therefore did not love being pregnant! My mom gave birth naturally to my brothers and I with little problems (not to mention delivering me breach without drugs!).  I labored all night, eventually with drugs, and ended up only 6 cm and a baby with a dropping heart rate. This brings me to my second point…

2. During childbirth classes, pay attention to the C-section information.

More than 32% of American babies are delivered by Cesarean Section (childbirthconnection.org). Many of these are emergency C-sections, giving the mother little time to wrap her mind around what is going on before being wheeled off to the operating room- that is unless she has prepared herself for the possibility of this outcome before hand. The birthing classes my husband and I attended did cover C-section deliveries briefly, but I payed little attention thinking surely I would be able to deliver vaginally. When news of my impending C-section came, I was shocked, upset and half asleep as they operated. If I had better prepared myself I think the birth of my firstborn would have been much more monumental and exciting. Be prepared for whatever circumstances may occur during delivery by studying up on both vaginal and cesarean deliveries!

3. Be prepared for negative comments.

I still vividly remember leaving the family dinner table in tears as some of the older members of my husband’s family voiced their disapproval of the name we had chosen for our son. Of course now that our baby is almost 7, everyone loves him and his name, but it wasn’t so easy at first. I was surprised at how free many people- even strangers- felt sharing their opinions regarding how I should and shouldn’t do things related to pregnancy- many with negative undertones. Be prepared for this and figure out ahead of time how you will handle it before you have an emotional breakdown (on account of your hormones, or course)!

4. Ultrasounds can be misleading.

You have probably heard stories of pink nurseries waiting at home while a baby boy is being placed in the arms of very surprised parents. Ultrasounds are not fool-proof and can be misleading in several areas, not just the baby’s gender. In our case, my son’s ultrasound’s readings showed a possible case of down syndrome. As a result we were scheduled for a second, more advanced ultrasound a few weeks later showing no health problems in our baby. Apparently his organs had not been developed enough and showed false-positive results for several birth defects. According to one article, this is a fairly common occurrence and can really go either way. Ultrasounds are subject to human error and can show either false-positive or false-negative results (Livestrong.com). Be sure your doctor, not just the technician, has the opportunity to go over any results that you are not comfortable with.

5. The Quad Marker Screen is just a screen- don’t bank on the results without further testing.

The quad marker screen is a blood test given to a woman who is pregnant to predict the likelihood of potential birth defects in the baby. This test is only a screen and has a high rate of false-positive results. Because of the uncertainties of the test, after consulting with your doctor you can opt not to have it.  According to WebMD.com, 50 out of 1,000 women will have a quad screening that indicates an increased risk for having a baby with a birth defect. Of those 50, only 1 or 2 will actually have a baby with a birth defect (WebMD.com). Just be aware of the inaccuracies of this test before agonizing over the results which very well could be proven incorrect after further testing.

Please come back for part 2 next Wednesday!