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One of the number one questions readers ask me is what they can do during the two week wait, or “luteal” period of their cycle (post ovulation & pre-menstruation) to boost their chances of a successful pregnancy. They also want to know what herbs and foods they need to be avoiding. I’m not a doctor, but I’ve done lots of research and have gotten successfully pregnant twice when the doctors said it wasn’t possible! These are all the tricks I used during the two week wait!
1. Eat blood-building, warming foods, and avoid cold and raw foods. Eat plenty of spinach, kale, collards, and other leafy greens. You might be craving carbs, so now is also the time to indulge in reasonable servings of orange vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, and squashes. Let yourself enjoy whole, gluten free grains like brown rice and quinoa. Focus on getting plenty of plant based protein and limiting your animal protein during this period (as opposed to your menstrual cycle, where animal protein is more useful). And of course, don’t cheat on your overall fertility diet (no caffeine, no booze, no refined carbs, no dairy, no gluten, etc.) . . . here’s a link to the fertility diet for egg health that I’ve used to get pregnant twice against the odds!
2. See your acupuncturist! Needles, moxibustion, and chinese herbs may all help increase the chances of successful implantation and address any particular issues you might have. The Infertility Cure is a great book that can help you with diet and lifestyle changes tailored towards your chinese medicine diagnosis. Also, check out my blog post on finding a great acupuncturist for fertility!
3. Laugh. A lot. Watch funny movies with your honey. Seriously- this study showed that couples who saw a clown or watched funny videos after their embryo transfers were 15% more likely to become successfully pregnant.
4. Visualize success. Seriously. Imagine that perfect egg meeting that perfect sperm and becoming a perfect embryo. Imagine that perfect embryo traveling down the fallopian tube and implanting perfectly in your lush, warm, welcoming uterus. Circle & Bloom makes this easy with their meditation & visualization programs that are tailored for a natural cycle or IUI/IVF. They also have programs for cycles of Frozen Embryo Transfer, Donor Egg, and embryo donation! Consider coming up with a daily mantra or affirmation that talks about your success. You can also obsessively watch the Miracle of Life on Youtube like I did :-).
5. Have sex every day. Or don’t. Do what you want :-). We were trying naturally, and I never quite trusted any ovulation prediction method so we continued to have sex every day post-assumed ovulation just to make sure we didn’t miss our chances. There are also some wild stories of women who ovulate twice in one cycle- again, we didn’t want to miss any chance. Further, there are some studies that show that the presence of semen in the cervix and uterus actually helps with implantation. Now, unfortunately, there is another study that shows that sex decreases the chances of implantation. Neither study is great. So- do what feels right to you. Check out my full blog post talking about this issue!
6. Meditate. Reaching the “relaxation response” during meditation for 15-20 minutes a day has been shown to confer all sorts of health benefits! If you aren’t a practiced yogi there are plenty of ways you can meditate including using a Circle & Bloom fertility program which has meditations tailored to each day of your cycle, using an app like Expectful which is tailored to trying to conceive, or using an awesome gadget like SpireStone which teaches you how to meditate and tracks your progess.
7. Put your legs up the wall! Seriously! The very best yoga pose for the luteal period is Legs Up the Wall. Basically you lie on your back and scoot your butt up as close as possible to the wall and just hang out there. The idea is you are increasing blood flow to your reproductive organs right when they need it. I would do this each night during the luteal period for a few minutes before bed.
8. Exercise gently & do luteal-phase tailored fertility yoga. This time of your cycle is a good time for gentle exercises like walking, yoga, or swimming. My favorite fertility yoga is the Restoring Fertility DVD. They have 4 different practices for each part of the menstural cycle (menstrual, follicular, ovulatory, and luteal). The practices also incorporate some really cool self-acupressure (also tailored to your cycle) to help boost your chances.
9. Don’t go crazy with the pineapple! I know, I know, its a total thing in the TTC and infertility communities. And while it may help if taken right at ovulation, it may actually hurt your chances when eaten later in the cycle. So, if you are determined to do it, here’s how: You take the core of the pineapple and cut it into 5 even chunks. Throw one chunk a day into your smoothie starting on ovulation day. After the chunks are gone, no more pineapple. I only did this once ever, and not during one of the two months I conceived successfully.
10. Switch up your seeds in your smoothie. With my second successful pregnancy I had been seed cycling for about two months. The basic idea is that pre-ovulation you eat seeds that boost your estrogen and post-ovulation you eat seeds that boost your progesterone. So, to boost my progesterone during the luteal period I ate and added to my smoothie sunflower and sesame seeds. Click here for my full fertility smoothie recipe!
11. Keep your feet warm! No time during your cycle is keeping your feet warm more important than during the luteal period! Click here to read my post on how warm feet=warm womb!
12. Act like you are pregnant. This means you should be avoiding all the same things as you would if you were pregnant. For example, ibuprofen and other over the counter drugs are a no-no in pregnancy, so it is a no-no for you during the luteal period. No super hot baths or hot tubs, watch your over the counter meds, no under cooked meat, etc. Also- don’t go dying your hair with toxic chemicals or walking into a nail salon either! See my overview post here on what chemicals and toxins to avoid for fertility, and click here to see all my blog posts on non-toxic living for fertility.
13. Channel your stress for good. If you have a hard time during the two week wait, don’t stress about the stress. Acknowledge it as a sign your power, energy, and fertility. Don’t desperately try to eradicate it. It is you. You don’t have to be relaxed 100% of the time. All of your energy is your life, your fertility, your goodness. It’s all love. Accept, and be. Utilize the energy for gentle walks, yoga, and getting creative. Write, make art, cook, and really use all of that energy!
Want more? Check out my guide for maximizing fertility during your menstrual period here! And, if you haven’t seen it, check out the whole list of 79 Diet & Lifestyle Changes I made to get Happy, Healthy, and Pregnant!