The journey to a pregnancy can look very different, and it is rarely highlighted what the road there looked like. In this post, I, Sara, will share what my Trimester 0 looked like, i.e. the time before pregnancy, and what nutritional supplements and lifestyle changes I made during that time to create good conditions for myself both physically and mentally before starting try for children. We were lucky and it only took four months before I got pregnant in early December 2022. This was not something I expected and I have enormous respect for the fact that it can take significantly longer, which is also completely normal.
We at Womensync have been delving into the topic of Trimester 0 over the past few years. It has been so much eye-opening and important knowledge and tools I have taken with me. Myths have been busted, such as, for example, that egg quality could not be influenced or that it would not be normal for it to take time to get pregnant. At the bottom of the post, I link to the podcasts where we have gathered all that knowledge for those of you who want a deeper understanding.
Preparations for pregnancy
In Trimester 0, you can work with conditions both physically and mentally. It is easy to have ideas about what the path to a pregnancy should look like, so raise and discuss what expectations you have with your partner (if there are two of you), how to think about time horizons and that both parties understand each other's thoughts and have a common picture of the journey ahead can be a good first step.
Mental preparations for pregnancy
Before we started trying, Dan and I had talked about the time horizon on several occasions. One of the biggest insights in the knowledge we have shared about Trimester 0 and trying to get pregnant is that it can take time, and that it is completely normal. It is normal for it to take up to a year, after which it is recommended that you contact healthcare to find out if there are any possible aspects that could make it difficult.
Normalize that it can take time to get pregnant
To be prepared, we talked about how it is completely normal that it takes around a year to get pregnant and that it can also take longer than that. We discussed different scenarios and how it would play out in our lives, in relation to our expectations, our job situations and living situation. It doesn't always take time to get pregnant, but it can also happen very quickly, so the important thing for us was to be nuanced and that both of us understood that.
Set a long time horizon
We gave ourselves a long horizon and actually started trying "before we had thought" so that it wouldn't feel like a big thing with pressure or countdown. When we talked about when the "optimal" time would be for us, we landed on it being in the spring of 2023, but if we were to get pregnant earlier or later, it would also work with our lives and be so welcome.
For me, it was important to set a long time horizon and be aware that it could take a long time as it helped me not to feel mentally stressed. I was also aware that IBS and nutritional deficiencies could get in the way (it doesn't have to though) which is where I started working on balancing. Since my expectation was that it would take time, we started to "flow" at the beginning of autumn, that is, we did not protect ourselves but also did not actively try to dot every fertile day in the first months. After the first two months we were more aware and ticked off a day or more that should be fertile.
Understanding your menstrual cycle and identifying your fertile window
I have always had a regular cycle, which contributed to my being aware of my cycle and its patterns for many years. In recent years the cycle has generally varied in length by 1-3 days from month to month except for two months last year when I had a longer cycle due to various reasons in my lifestyle. I have therefore kept a good track of when my fertile window falls plus/minus a few days. I tracked my cycle via an app and through changes in secretions but have never used body temperature as the cycle has always been so regular. For those of you who do not have as regular a cycle, daily measurement of your basal body temperature can be a very good tool to identify when the fertile window falls. The fertile window is 5-6 days per month, i.e. the days you can get pregnant and they fall before and around the time of ovulation.
Physical preparations for pregnancy
In recent years I have had problems with IBS. During the spring and summer of 2022, I began to make an extra conscious effort to address it ahead of plans to start trying for pregnancy in the coming year.
IBS is a broad "diagnosis" and can be caused by different things and express itself in different kinds of symptoms. What works for you may therefore vary. Below are the things I did to manage my IBS that worked well for me.
Eat a protein- and fiber-rich breakfast every day
I started to be more careful about eating a good breakfast with a focus on protein and fibres/vegetables. My favorites that I alternated between were scrambled eggs with vegetables, Womensync's banana pancakes or Turkish yogurt with Womensync Collagen with berries and nuts.
Cut out caffeine
During this period I started to cut out coffee completely. I have gone from a huge coffee addiction a few years ago to a maximum of one cup per day, which was possible thanks to Chicca Roast . During this time, however, I completely cut out coffee.
Take dietary supplements
I started with some food supplements, mainly coQ10 , Omega 3, magnesium (we have brought all three into the shop now) and vitamin B.
I started avoiding alcohol to a greater degree as my body reacted terribly to alcohol in the last two years, probably because my gut wasn't completely clean. During the summer I therefore chose more carefully when and how much alcohol I drank.
I started working more mentally on dealing with stress. Stress has been probably the biggest underlying factor for my IBS which started while I was studying. The focus became prioritizing taking care of myself, rather than always putting work as the first priority. Things like taking the time to make a good breakfast, going out for a walk and the like were important for me to really make room for.
Sleep 8 hours per night
I also started to focus on giving myself proper sleep with at least 8 hours per night as a goal. Allowing the body to sleep properly is important for many reasons, including hormone production and getting rid of waste products.
These changes made me start to see a whole new balance on the IBS front.
Health test to see any nutritional deficiencies
At the beginning of autumn 2022, I did a health test, mainly to see if I had any nutritional deficiencies considering that it is common when you have IBS and the intestine cannot always absorb the nutrients in what we eat. The health test also checked things like blood sugar, cholesterol, thyroid etc. which looked good. However, the results showed that I was low on iron and B vitamins, two important nutrients for pregnancy, which also explains why I was so tired for a very long time. Fatigue decreased as iron levels increased.
Added more quality meat and iron supplements due to iron and b vitamin deficiency
I started adding more quality meat to the diet and added iron as a dietary supplement where I alternated blood juice and tablets (many people get hard in the stomach from iron supplements which can be good to keep in mind to test what suits you).
Took prenatal supplements
During the autumn, I also started eating Thorne Prenatal, which we also have in the webshop now . We did thorough research after a good prenatal and this contains a good set of vitamins and minerals before and during a pregnancy, such as folate, iron, vitamin B, etc. I ate this all autumn and also now throughout my pregnancy.
For me, supplements were an important part, but of course it is only one part and the real food you eat is always the most important. Earlier in my life I was skeptical about nutritional supplements but after I started taking these (selected based on me and what I needed, this is not necessarily what suits someone else) I experienced a big difference. It also proved in black and white that it made a difference when the midwife's blood test in v.12 showed that my iron value (p-ferritin) had increased from 16 at the beginning of October to 55 at the beginning of February.
Reduced exposure to endocrine disruptors
In recent years, I have also gradually started replacing products in the home that may contain hormone-disrupting or health-damaging substances. These substances can have a negative effect on both egg and sperm quality.
Switched to Womensync's Body lotion and Body Wash
We developed these as a lot of skin care contains questionable ingredients. Womensync Body Lotion & Body Wash does not contain substances such as PFAS, phthalates, perfume or dyes and I have also used these throughout my pregnancy. I have also cleaned out the bathroom cabinet of products in general and have changed the skin care for the face and deo to perfume-free alternatives with good content.
Replaced plastic and Teflon kitchen products
Have replaced as many kitchen products as possible from plastic to glass, stainless steel or wood and changed Teflon frying pans to stainless steel or cast iron.
It is not only the woman's health that is important
An important reminder in the journey towards pregnancy is that fertility is not only about the woman's body. Both egg quality and sperm quality can be affected by lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, exposure to toxins in the everyday environment, etc. My boyfriend was aware of this and when I started taking nutritional supplements, for example, my boyfriend did too. At the same time, you should also remember that it is not necessary to make any changes at all, there are many people who get pregnant anyway.
We were lucky that it only took four months, and although I was very calm in not expecting to get pregnant quickly, after a few months I could still feel a sense of disappointment that it didn't work out "this time either". Although I tried to refocus my thoughts on the fact that it is completely normal that it takes time and it is not anyone's "fault" or something to take responsibility for. I have enormous respect for those who have to wait significantly longer and all the emotions you can wrestle with if it doesn't turn out within the horizon you wanted. We also know that there are many who do "everything right", have tried all possible lifestyle adjustments, but still do not get pregnant, which we have enormous respect for. Sometimes there isn't a clear reason and I feel so much for those of you who have to go through that wait.
Remember that the above is based on my own experiences and are not recommendations for what is necessarily suitable for anyone else, but perhaps something can be of use to you who recognize yourself in similar conditions with, for example, IBS or nutritional deficiencies. For those of you who are on a journey towards pregnancy, I send lots of love, encouragement and cheers!
Deep dive into Trimester 0 and how you can create good conditions for pregnancy:
Womensync Podcast #27 Trimester 0 - supporting the body before pregnancy
Womensync Podcast #28 Q&A Trimester 0
The book It Starts With The Egg by Rebecca Fett