Q: Talk about your involvement in WeNatal (advising), why you’re such a big fan and how it’s helped you personally?
For years and I always wanted to get involved in this side of the business since getting pregnant- supporting brands, female founded brands, women with a mission. When I met Ronit and Vita and their mission, I knew that they were focused on the ingredients themselves in the prenatal, I wanted to hear more. Ultimately, I decided to not only back them, but to advise them and to support them because they have personal experience in dealing with miscarriages and infertility issues.
I didn’t have my first child until 35 and a lot of us can become business focused and focused on our career. And then you meet your person and then you think, OK, I want to have kids and then maybe you’re told you have diminished fertility or that you might not have the chance of having a child and that’s a scary time.
So when they [Ronit and Vida] told me about their mission to not only support egg health but sperm health, and we went into the science of that, I was all on board!
What was really important to me, because I had had the opportunity to advise other prenatal brands, was that they were really focused on the most recent research. And that is so important to me when it comes to this type of a journey. Because if we aren’t getting the most potent levels of the nutrients we need that we’re missing from either our soil health or the food that we’re eating, it can make a difference. I was really excited to support however I could and I love the team of advisors at WeNatal.
Q: What are some tips to keep in mind during preconception?
When you think about fertility and having a baby, you want to think about what would keep you from being able to have a baby or cause a miscarriage- like chromosomal abnormalities. And that’s going to happen with oxidative stress.
We are all living, we are all constantly in contact with things that are stressing our body- phone in my back pocket, flying on an airplane, microwaves, radiation, if you have a drink of alcohol or you have sugar, if you’re around someone who’s smoking- we can really start to stress out about all the things that are going to impact our fertility because living is stressful.
I don’t like to focus on that because if you’re struggling with fertility, that can be all consuming. And we create our own stress and lack of sleep.
I say where is your power for your fertility? And your power comes in when you take a look at your life and you say, how can I increase the antioxidants that are breaking down my eggs or my sperm quality (everything that is colorful). When you can think about your plate, think of the rainbow. It’s the fiber rich veggies, the polyphenol rich berries, it is getting outside and grounding in nature.
Instead of focusing on everything that needs to be removed from your house. Just have your power, own your power.
- Q: What are some things that couples can do to optimize fertility and preconception health?
The reality is for a lot of us, we are having children later and that is going to impact your fertility as well. There is a gradual decline in your 30s towards your 40s. But a lot of people get scared when they start to try and they don’t get pregnant right away. I just turned 40 and what I don’t think we realize is at 40 years old, I have a 7% chance of conceiving in three months. And everyone talks about this fertility cliff at 35.
- I think one of the things to look at is what’s in your home, what’s touching your body, what you’re cleaning your house with. These are going to be things like endocrine disrupting chemicals and forever chemicals.
If you have the Think Dirty app or the EWG app, you can actually scan your products and get a rating and you’re going to want a green rating for most of your cleaning supplies. A great brand is Branch Basics. I have no financial affiliation with them but I clean my house with it, or you can use vinegar as a cleaner. These cleaning products that have a lot of chemicals for example, are filled with forever chemicals that end up in our blood supply.
- Then you’re going to want to look at what you slather on your skin. The largest organ of our body and there is such a thing as transdermal medications because we absorb them. Everything you’re putting on your skin can be absorbed. So simplify by looking up, which scores best on the EWG skin care products.
- Then really the most important one is what you’re ingesting. I always think about what I can add versus what I can subtract. Without stressing out about when you eat out, I always say control the controllable which is in your home. And in your home, you can up the nutrient density and lower your chemical exposure of the things that you’re putting in your mouth by opting for brands that are pasture raised proteins. I love a brand called Force of Nature. They do a great job when it comes to even blending and organ meats would be which we can talk about too, like grass fed ground beef, they’ll do 20% organ ground into that. So you’re getting an increase in all your fat soluble vitamins, really great for fertility.
- Next you want to think about produce- those antioxidants that fight the oxidative stress of just living life. You want to choose organic when you can or even just chat with your farmers market or local CSA box. A lot of the time being certified is expensive. So even just having the conversation with your farmers market vendor- “What are you guys using for pest control?” And a lot of times there isn’t as much as you would expect and finding those and those vendors is pretty key. When looking to save a little money, organic feels expensive, frozen is a great option!
I’ll tell my clients to buy the bags of frozen broccoli. If you put them on a sheet pan and put them in your oven for 20 minutes, you’ll dehydrate the water. Then add olive oil or the oil you’re using and your seasonings and it’ll taste just like roasted. That is a key tip anytime we do berries in our house. We only buy frozen and throw them in a smoothie or even over like your favorite coconut or or yogurt that regular cow dairy yogurt that you love that’s a great way to get those protective nutrients in.
- When it comes down to it, our soil quality has diminished over time and the nutrient levels in our food aren’t as high as they were for having kids later. So obviously a prenatal that’s going to give you a potent dose of the nutrients you need for fertility is key!
Q: What role do men play in TTC? How can lifestyle choices enhance their fertility?
They’re 50% of the equation! I think it’s really critically important that WeNatal is here for all of us today because like we said earlier, we’re getting pregnant later in life and sperm quality is really impacted by oxidative stress. I’ll talk from personal experience…
Fertility is impacted by the food choices that we make and it’s impacted by the stress levels a man is experiencing. So with Chris [husband], it was before WeNatal with Sebastian, I did have him on CoQ10 and curcumin and antioxidants because he lived a very stressful life as a corporate attorney. You can’t really control all that stuff and food makes a lot of us feel good.
So we [husband] did this thing where if I made a salad or I made us a veggie, he had to have a side veggie too. And that’s what he does with our kids because he doesn’t feel as calm to sit down to a meal when toddlers are screaming at him. So we have a pact that he’ll sit down and eat the salad and the veggies and model that behavior because in research it shows that actually your children’s eating behaviors follow the father more than the mother. So I give him the responsibility.
Those small choices matter. Getting antioxidants and to protect sperm quality is really important and then if you are later in age, and you’ve been trying for four to six months, it would be important to get everybody checked out.
- Q: What are some of the fertility blockers that could be harmful to fertility, and pregnancy health?
Things that might be fertility blockers, that I think would be good to know for both parties since men are also 50%, not only marijuana, but alcohol is going to play a role in that as well. When it comes to male fertility, we’re talking about hot Jacuzzis, radiation from airplanes and exposure to that. It can feel heavy for example if your job requires you to fly, but we can all learn to have boundaries and say no to things we don’t want to do.
There are certain things that we just are going to come in contact with, so focus on the positive of what you can control. We know the causes of miscarriage include low iron levels like being iron deficient, not necessarily anemic, but even iron deficient. Looking at your thyroid, low thyroid, is a player in a miscarriage. It’s important to get ahead of it and have an understanding of where your levels are, where vitamin D and B levels are.