First, a small clarification: I am using the terms “conservative” and “liberal” in the quantitative sense; i.e. a conservative or liberal amount of something. My last post was about a “do as little as possible” approach to preconception health, while this one is about the “try to do everything” approach.
So, what are we supposed to do? Cut out everything that is not healthy, including everything from processed foods to artificial hormones (The Pill, forever) and, not least, we should eliminate all unnecessary electronic devices from our homes for fear of “electrosmog” (electromagnetic pollution). I’m getting this from the folks at Foresight, a British organization devoted to preconception health. Much of the information on the sight is actually pretty great. My nutritionist recommended that I check it out, and I have found much of it very helpful. Besides its unfortunate name, which I still think rightly belongs to some group protesting circumcision, what I find most objectionable about this group is, again, all in the language. Why, I keep asking myself, does it seem necessary to couch some good advice (fear of electricity notwithstanding) in all of this fear?
Foresight defines their approach to preconception care as a comprehensive plan aimed at “improving natural health in both parents [in order to] enhance fertility and successful pregnancy.” So far, pretty good. We’ve got both parents involved, here. And since my husband’s gender actually produces sperm daily, while my eggs were made in utero, I think we ought to be concerned about the male side of this conception process. I take issue with what comes next.
“The preconceptual approach of Foresight can help with overcoming some of the issues in connection with conception, pregnancy & birth:
- Low Sperm Count
- Secondary Infertility
- Birth Defects
- Low Birth Weight
- Premature Birth
- Post Partum Depression
- Breast Feeding”
What’s my point? Why am I listening to anyone discussing preconception care if they’re all nutcases? Because they’re not all nutcases. What I’m trying to do here is find someplace in between these two infuriating points of view.
I’ve got to take what I want from both sides. I want vaccines for my kids, because I don’t want them to get the measles. I’m trying to cut out processed foods, because the additives scare me and real food tastes better. I always have eaten whole grains (thanks, Mom and Dad!). I don’t take The Pill anymore because it gives me migraines. I avoid plastics I’m not sure about because I’ve read the science, and it’s good science–bisphenol A causes serious damage. I am keeping my electronic appliances because, well, they’re useful, and I don’t believe in electrosmog. When it came time to buy new mascara, I bought some that looks great and is made without parabens and other scary chemicals. I clean my bathtub with baking soda and vinegar because it looks whiter and scrubs easier and doesn’t burn my lungs. It really is not about fear. I refuse to add fear to my life. It’s about doing what feels good and healthy for my family.
Maybe I will have trouble conceiving and we will get our hair tested for heavy metals, throw out the XBox and wear those pollution masks to filter out most of the air and any passing cigarette smoke we might encounter. I’m not counting on it. The women on both sides of my family have a serious history of fertility. Mom has seven brothers and seven sisters, for crying out loud, with no sets of twins thrown in there. That’s fifteen babies. Yeah. Take a minute for the courageous lade who was my Grandma Celia.
But a lot of things can and do go wrong in pregnancy, and we don’t always know why. We do know that I have a history of anxiety and depression. So I want to do what I can to decrease the odds that something will go wrong, especially psychologically, when we finally decide to try for a baby. It’s also about increasing the odds that things will go as smoothly as possible, in body and in mind, in a way that actually enhances our daily lives. Who doesn’t love the smell of bread baking? I have the luxury of time to bake bread from whole grain flour that is actually soft and yummy. Who doesn’t want a happy digestive system? My husband’s acid reflux has improved so much since we started paying close attention to what we eat. Anyone who has ever had a migraine will understand why it was easy to throw out my birth control (and switching methods! Sorry for TMI but I don’t advocate just throwing caution to the wind!) We’re taking our friends’ advice and ignoring people or instructions that seem crazy. Apparently, this is only the beginning of all that. Bring it on. There’s plenty of common sense in our house. Oh, and thanks for being my rock when I do completely lose it, Nathan. It’s a very good thing that you don’t mind having good sense for the both of us sometimes. I love you.