A Holistic Approach to Infertility, Miscarriage + Stillbirth

I was honored to write this post for the amazing Guiding Star Twin Cities division of the Guiding Star Project, a non-profit working hard to serve, support, promote + protect the health of women + children. If you have it in your heart or means to support them in any way, please do it!

Infertility, miscarriage and the inability to carry a child through live birth can be times of incredible heartbreak and trial for a woman and her spouse.

While infertility is hard on both spouses, and it is usually much harder on the person who feels "responsible" for its presumed cause. 

A woman experiencing difficulty in conceiving or sustaining a baby through healthy birth often feels as though something is inherently "wrong" with her. She may fall into some unhealthy thinking or feeling patterns related to her struggles. She may entertain thoughts that her struggles are a universal sign that she is not good or worthy enough to mother a(nother) child. Or that she has done something to "deserve" the infertility or loss. Or that she is being punished. She may also feel betrayed by her body, as if her basic identity and right in life -- her femininity, her womanhood, her supposed "built-in" ability to birth children -- have all been taken from or denied to her. 

These thoughts are not only unfortunately untrue and misguided, they can actually contribute to her current difficulties in conceiving or sustaining healthy birth.

Extreme states of mental, emotional + spiritual distress can create visceral responses that affect the physical health of the brain and body, suppressing or even disabling its mechanisms for fertility and sustained fetal development.

A woman's inability to conceive and/or sustain a baby through healthy birth can be a natural, protective, life-saving biological mechanism of her body.

If a woman's body perceives its own life to be threatened, it will hoard and conserve energy + nutrients. Our bodies are biologically designed to prioritize their own survival. A woman's body will not jeopardize her own life. If a woman's body perceives a scarcity of vital energy and/or nutrients, or if it's currently struggling to rebalance internal organs or systems, it may make the decision to disable her capacity for fertility. Her body may feel forced into letting a conceived child go before birth. Her body knows it's incapable of protecting both her life and her baby's, so rather than lose both lives, it chooses to protect hers.

I want to be clear here: the mother is NOT at fault for her infertility or loss of her child in such situations. These tragic events are completely out of her control. She made no conscious decision that led to this and is entirely undeserving of guilt, shame or remorse.

And what's more, she should shirk away from such thoughts/feelings as much as possible. Fixation on her infertility or loss can create additional mental, emotional and physical stress that's even more taxing to her body. It is likely her body is already suffering enough -- from any number of other factors that contributed to the infertility or loss.

There IS hope.

Seeking help from supportive, knowledgeable health professionals can be invaluable in addressing the range of challenges that accompany infertility and pre-birth child loss, commonly including (but not limited to!) diet and nutritional deficiencies, physiological abnormalities, exposure to environmental toxins/hazards, lifestyle stressors, sex hormone imbalances, cycle irregularity, liver or detox issues, blood sugar extremes, thyroid over/underfunction, adrenal over/underfunction, pituitary problems, etc.

Fertility challenges vary in cause, depth + complexity. There is not usually a single, simple solution. Often, it's the slow, continued application of a layered solution that works. 

Many infertile or struggling couple(s) have tried very hard on their own to conceive and sustain pregnancy through healthy birth. They have employed a variety of usual and unusual solutions in hopes of increasing their chances. They may feel hopeless -- but may be much closer than they know to receiving the children they so deeply desire.

I personally understand how hard these situations can be. In my professional practice of holistic nutrition and food therapy, I help clients hold on to the hope and strength they need while we work together to find and implement solutions. We focus on the factors a couple can change, so they may know the comfort of doing everything they can to promote the best possible environment for the conception + sustained fetal development of a child.

In many cases, infertility and child loss start with suffering and morph into unexpected joy -- whether that joy be from deciding to adopt a child in need, or the joy of having the biological child the couple longed for.

Some lucky families even get both -- adopted and biological children!