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Over the past decade I’ve immersed myself in the world of holistic healing, gentle pregnancy and birth. Working as a doula has given me the great privilege of sitting with women in their birthing times and witnessing them breathe their babies earthside with grace and power. All of my life, I’ve struggled with hormonal imbalances largely due to trauma. From burned out adrenals, high and low cortisol, to low progesterone, I’ve had to go deep down the rabbit hole of understanding my own body and how to heal it. I learned through trial and error that well meaning doctors and yes, even Naturopaths often operate within their own framework, and unfortunately they don’t have all of the answers. They can provide guidance, but we still need to be the ones leading the charge for our health and well-being.
After spending copious amounts of money on trying to find a solution, I realized I had to take my healing into my own hands. When I was in my very early 20’s, I went to Western Medical Doctors for painful periods and hormonal imbalances and was always offered two things: birth control pills or antidepressants, neither of which seemed like the right choice. I didn’t want to patch over a problem, I wanted to get to the root and actually heal.
Naturopaths all had their own belief structures, some were all about heavy metals, other were about gut-health, and so on. I read dozens of books on hormones and women’s health and changed my approach. No longer did I go to Naturopaths hoping they would know what tests I should run and what I should do next. Rather, I came prepared with my own plan of actions and sought their feedback. Most of the time, this was more effective than going in empty handed and praying for the best. This is how I healed, and I’m happy to pass on some of the things I’ve learned along the way to you.
During the childbearing years, I have learned that it’s always wise to treat the body as if you’re preparing her for pregnancy. A regular cycle and ovulation are some of the most important signs of a vital and fertile body. When our hormones and fertility are optimal, we have more energy for creativity, life, relationships and family. Our health is the foundation from which we can thrive.
Whether you are preparing to conceive, are pregnant, have just had a baby or you simply want to nourish and care for yourself the best you can, below are some of my favourites rituals, products and foods to support you.
1. Ancestral Supplements
Organ meats are the most healing and nutritious ancestral foods on the planet. When I was healing from a severe hormonal imbalance and recovering from a plant-based diet, foods like liver, fish eggs and bone broth became my staples. I came across Ancestral Supplements years ago and began taking their Beef Liver and Spleen Capsules. Liver is nature’s prenatal vitamin and contains everything your body needs to be optimal, a lot more than your typical prenatal vitamin found at a vitamin shop. When friends of mine come over with extreme fatigue or irregular cycles, I usually pull out a ziploc bag and gift them a bunch of Ancestral Supplements Liver or Spleen capsules from my cupboard and ask them to tell me how they’re feeling in a week or two.
These are as close to a magic pill as I’ve found, every person I’ve given these too has reported to have more energy, and even feeling a bit “high” (in a good way) from the nutrients! Now of course you can eat raw or cooked beef liver instead, but for most of us, it’s not that pleasant. I’ve tried blending it and adding it into meat sauces and stews, but it creates a metallic taste that I really don’t enjoy and makes it less enticing to share with guests. Ancestral Supplements are a great solution because their sources are high-quality, the organs are freeze-dried and all of their product are intentionally made and you get to skip eating raw organ meats if that’s not really your thing.
I reached out to Ancestral Supplements last year because I enjoy their products so much and offered to collaborate with them. I only do this when I LOVE a product, and these folks are doing it right. Best products to check out if you’re in preconception planning or pregnant: Liver, Fish Eggs, Bone Marrow, Minerals. If you are postpartum, also check out their placenta capsules. If you want to learn more about their products, the nutritional components and science behind organ meats, click here to go to their website.
If you purchase any of the products below (using the link above) an automatic 10% discount will be applied at checkout. Discount is valid from July 14-July 31st.
Discount Eligible Products:
Grass Fed Liver
Grass Fed Bone & Marrow
Grass Fed Tallow
Grass Fed Placenta
Wild Caught Fish Eggs
Notes about Liver and Pregnancy
From an article by Lily Nichols:
“Many of you reading this may have been specifically warned to not consume liver during pregnancy, precisely because it is rich in vitamin A. This has sparked controversy over the years, mostly because old studies linked high-dose synthetic supplemental vitamin A to birth defects. However, we now know that naturally occurring vitamin A does not exert this toxicity, particularly when consumed with adequate vitamin D and vitamin K2, nutrients that are also found in abundance in liver. This illustrates perfectly why obtaining nutrients from food is far safer than getting them from supplements.
As one researcher points out, “Liver and supplements are not of equivalent teratogenic potential [risk of causing birth defects]. Advice to pregnant women on the consumption of liver based on the reported teratogenicity of vitamin A supplements should be reconsidered.”
Ongoing concerns over vitamin A toxicity from liver consumption are perplexing, considering that deficiency is fairly common in pregnant women. One study found that one-third of pregnant women were borderline deficient, despite having access to plenty of vitamin A-rich foods. This essential nutrient is widely recognized for its role in normal growth and development during pregnancy, including the developing lungs, kidneys, heart, eyes, and other organs.
Even the National Institutes of Health states, “pregnant women need extra vitamin A for fetal growth and tissue maintenance and for supporting their own metabolism.” Certainly, an excessive amount of any nutrient is problematic, and since vitamin A is fat-soluble, it does raise the risk of toxicity. However, given what we know about deficiency and the safety of food-sourced vitamin A, this does not defend the recommendation to avoid liver, our most valuable food source of the vitamin.”
That is only a small snippet of the comprehensive section on liver consumption in pregnancy from Ch 3 of Real Food for Pregnancy. Remaining questions you may have about liver and vitamin A are addressed there, such as the myth that vitamin A insufficiency or deficiency are exclusive to developing countries, the myth that beta carotene and other plant source of vitamin A (provitamin A) can be sufficiently converted into retinol in the body to meet vitamin A requirements, and much more.
I personally recommend 3-6 ounces of liver weekly for pregnant women. Do the math on the vitamin A levels and this will not present any concern over toxicity (more on this in the next few questions; I spell out the math there for you). If you are taking desiccated liver supplements, take note of the vitamin A quantity in your dosage as well as the preformed vitamin A in your prenatal vitamin (or other supplements that are high in vitamin A, like cod liver oil).
I’ve noticed that many brands of desiccated liver have their dosing set to an equivalent of 1 ounce of fresh liver. You can estimate this by comparing the vitamin A content of the product to the amount in fresh liver (reach out to those supplement companies, since dosage, sourcing, and nutrient values can vary brand-to-brand).”
To read the full article and access more evidence click here
2. Ovry Ovulation Strips
Taking LH tests around the time you feel you’re ovulating is a wise addition to tracking basal body temperature with an app like Natural Cycles.When your LH rises, this indicates your body is about to ovulate and release an egg. This is good to know whether you’re preparing to conceive, simple want to know when you’re ovulating to see how optimal your body is, or if you want to prevent pregnancy. I have been taking LH tests off and on for the past 8 years and it’s helped me to see the pattern in my cycles and know where I’m at fertility wise. OVRY strips are my favorite choice because they come with the least packaging, have an inclusive ethos and focus on making tests more affordable. The regular LH tests are like $65 or more a box, and come with giant plastic applicators that end up in the trash. OVRY also has pregnancy tests and male fertility kits.
3. Living Libations
What we put on our skin is absorbed into our bodies. There are so many toxins in regular body products and shampoos which cause all sorts of hormone disruption and imbalances, and even cancers. About 10 years ago I discovered Living Libations at a health conference. The company is founded by Nadine Artemis and her products and wisdom are divine. I’m very sensitive to some essential oils so I personally cannot use all of them, but you’ll find many of them in my own medicine cabinet. I especially enjoy her dental care products, two of which are pictured above. Her Seabuckthorn Best Skin Ever Cleanser is a classic, and very well loved. She also has an array of products for postpartum and baby.
4. Red Light Therapy
Ben and I got a red light from Rouge last year and put it in our bedroom. I took this photo the night we got it and just plugged it in in the living room 🙂 There are so many benefits to red light therapy including lowering inflammation and oxidative stress, healthier skin and more.
I have also seen quite a few mommy bloggers on youtube now who are using their own red light postpartum to heal from vaginal tears. Red Light therapy can also have an impact on the appearance of scars and stretch marks. Personally I’ve found that when I use it consistently, my skin glows. It comes in many different sizes.
If you want to learn more about the benefits of red light therapy, you can visit the Rouge website here.
5. Suggested Reading
Osteopaths can help to correct misalignments in your body and organ system. Sometimes, this even means adjusting your uterus into its optimal position which can help to reduce or eliminate period pain. It’s gentle, and for me that’s the most important thing because therapies like chiropractic have never worked for my highly sensitive body. Working with an osteopath throughout life can be incredibly valuable and help you to have a healthy cycle, and even a more straight forward birthing experience.
7. Rest and Prepare Your Environment
One of the most overlooked parts of preparing the body for conception is preparing our spirit for a huge life transition. While you’re nourishing your body and feeding your mind, remember to rest, spend time in nature and make time for your closest relationships. This is the time to look at any areas of your life that may need tending. Identify who in your community you can call on for support. Have the difficult conversations you may need to have with your partner, and be discerning with who you spend time with. When we step into Motherhood, we will need to be deeply self-honouring with fierce boundaries. Whether you are on this journey in the material reality, or in the spiritual sense, you may benefit from reading my book Becoming the One, and Maiden to Mother by Sarah Durham Wilson.