#205 | Six Principles of Holistic Fertility & How to Conceive with Dr. Nathan Riley

March 22, 2023

Dr. Nathan Riley is an OBGYN who understands the holistic picture of women's health. You may remember him from Episode #165 where he discussed autonomous, empowered birth. Today, he joins us to explain why infertility rates are on the rise, especially for men, and gives us the six principles of holistic fertility that are important for healthy, conscious conception, along with the five fertility powerhouse nutrients.

In the second part of the episode, we discuss the aspect of fertility that goes far beyond the standard "temperature" and "timing" approach: the importance of intimate, fun, playful sex for conception. This episode is sure to open your mind and give you the holistic scope you won't get at your IVF clinic. Grab your partner and your baby MOJO and  sit down for an enlightening discussion on fixing fertility.

#165 | The Holistic OBGYN, Dr. Nathan Riley, on Autonomous, Empowered Birth

Nathan Reilly on Instagram

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View Episode Transcript

If you're going to be having a baby, that intuition is just as important to me as your doctor. As any imaging or lab or whatever studies, what I care about is how do you feel right now the problem is you've been so distracted. And that feeling of intuition has been repressed for years by car conditioning within a system that doesn't see that as valid. But I'm telling you, it is valid. And when you close your eyes and it's still you're still there's no distractions, and you try to communicate with your soul, you will get an answer that is so relevant for this fertility journey. It also helps you connect more deeply sexually with your partner, connect with your partner have sex at the most random times of the day, because you just feel like doing it as opposed to I might be ovulating, because maybe that that that call to have sex is actually a sign that you're going to ovulate. Maybe there's more to this than that pee strip, which by the way, don't use the pee strips, guys, you're wasting your money.

I'm Cynthia Overgard, owner of HypnoBirthing of Connecticut, childbirth advocate and postpartum support specialist. And I'm Trisha Ludwig, certified nurse midwife and international board certified lactation consultant. And this is the Down To Birth Podcast. Childbirth is something we're made to do. But how do we have our safest and most satisfying experience in today's medical culture? Let's dispel the myths and get down to birth.

Hey, I'm Nathan Riley. I'm the holistic OBGYN host of a podcast by that name. And I'm a homebirth advocates I take care of people from start to finish from conception all the way through well into their parenting and take care of both men and women, especially as it pertains to fertility. I'm super stoked to be back together with you guys.

Nathan, you were with us in Episode 165. And we are delighted to have you back to talk about another extremely important and underrepresented topic which is fertility specifically from a holistic perspective.

Okay, Nathan. So how do we kick off this conversation with infertility and any thoughts on why it's increasing so dramatically in recent decades?

I think it's really I think it's really important for us to first talk about the male contract contribution to fertility 40 to 50% of couples and by the way, it's it's upwards of 20% of couples nowadays that are reporting struggles with conceiving meaning getting pregnant and having a live birth. So of that usually we focus on the woman especially as an OBGYN, it's all about the woman you know, this neat semen analysis is normal next, like the man gets out of the way, we are now going to to work exclusively through imaging labs and whatnot on the female but 40 to 50% of the time, it's actually the male's contribution that is adequate, that might mean not enough sperm not enough volume of semen. The sperm might have to flagella, meaning their morphology is off they might be not swimming strongly, which is a reflected in a measure called motility. The range of what's considered normal nowadays is a far cry from what it would have been considered normal even 50 years ago. We haven't been looking at semen analysis for 100 years, so we don't have that much data. But suffice it to say that fertility rates around the world are declining. Men's motility and sperm count is declining. And even though your semen analysis says it's normal, through a variety of lifestyle measures, we can up that number up the motility, which is a percentage of sperm that are swimming hard, and progressively towards the egg. We can up those numbers dramatically through some very, very basic lifestyle changes. So first off, the woman in the relationship, yes, we need to get your health out in but that guy you're not off the hook, there's quite a bit that we need to be doing for your health to optimize the likelihood of you conceiving. The other piece of this is that even if you're a healthy 25 year old, it's about a 20 to 25% chance that you're going to get pregnant on any given cycle. That term, the definition of what I just defined is a term called fecundity. If you have a 25% chance, even with a healthy egg that's ovulated healthy sperm, there are 25% chance that's nature's way of regulating the human population. So even at its very best 25% is the likelihood of on a given cycle that you're gonna get pregnant IVF the data around IVF which is in vitro fertilization, meaning they take a sperm they take an egg they let them meet and then once they've created a little a couple day old embryo they transplanted into the uterus. The the the likelihood of that being successful is not much greater than your baseline fecundity So what we all should be thinking about with fertility is number one rates are declining, it's probably due to environmental pollutants, our food systems, our, our general lifestyle, our stress levels, poor sleep, all of that, which we'll talk about. But also when we consider IVF, if you're going to go that that direction, that's awesome. Like, if it comes down to that, that's great. But we are still just raising you up to the baseline likelihood of you conceiving an unnatural cycle.

Can I interrupt you for a second? What does this possibly mean that we are often misled into believing maybe that we are infertile when we really are just having too high of expectations on how quickly we should conceive? Or if we maybe have a miscarriage, which we know is very common, also, in a similar percentage 20 25% of conceptions resulted in miscarriage? Is that part of this?

Yeah, I think a lot of a lot of people are left to sit with this notion that they're sterile, right? Like, unless you've had your testicles removed, or your ovaries removed, and they've been or they've been blasted with chemotherapy, or you're one of the very rare women who goes into true, like menopause in their 30s. Let's say, as long as you're making eggs, and you've got healthy sperm, you are not infertile. Now, is it going to be harder to get pregnant? Yes, but we can use the term sub fertility, meaning, hey, it's not going to be as easy of a road for you. And unfortunately, within the medical industrial complex, as soon as you've been trying for 12 months, without any workup, you will very, very quickly so find yourself in an IVF clinic, which is the reproductive endocrinologist, and your out of pocket costs for that whole IVF process is 12 to $15,000. What's available in the middle, that's what I'm trying to do. That's where the great deal of my time is spent trying to figure out how many of these stones Haven't we have we left unturned in order to optimize this process for you.

Nathan, you said a couple of minutes ago, something about doing IVF bringing you only up to baseline. And I'm wondering if you can explain what you meant by that.

So if you if you would look at it, we're using 25 year olds, because that's usually the cut off. You know, like that's really where we say this is where most people, most women in the United States are trying to get pregnant in their mid 20s. So they look at 25 year olds, and most of the data then is reflected as a 25 year old. So your fecundity rate that I mentioned is 25%. Let's say that you do have some issues with fertility, it could be a cyclical issue. You know, like, like a menstrual ovulation issue, it could be something related to the uterus, it could be a male, whatever. That fecundity rate for that couple might be 5%, meaning five out of 100 cycles, you have a chance of getting pregnant if everything else happens, and you time it right and everything else. IVF doesn't have that greater of a success rate than the baseline fecundity of a healthy 25 year old woman and man with healthy sperm healthy eggs.

So what you're saying is basically when you decide to go IVF, it's not. And I think probably most people know this, but it's certainly not 100%. But it's really not even like 70% or 50%, we're talking just bringing you back to the regular baseline of 25% chance on any given cycle that it will happen. Yeah, roughly. I mean, it is closer to that 50% mark. But of course, a lot of women also, as we know, have a fecundity area where it seems like as soon as they have sex after their cycle comes after that back after pregnancy, they're pregnant again. So so all of this is to say that IVF is not a guarantee. And if you're bypassing the steps of investigating why miscarriages or fertility challenges are happening, you're likely going to you're you're you're more than likely going to have a difficult time, even with IVF. And if you get pregnant IVF has an independent risk factor for a variety of pregnancy complications. So it's really incumbent on us as practitioners and for those couples out there with fertility challenges, to really lift up all of those stones, let's investigate everything from upstream causes of this to even in the uterus or in the testicles, like is there something here that we can work on to improve the likelihood not only of conceiving either naturally or through IVF, but also minimizing these independent risks that come through IVF itself by optimizing your health on the on the on all of the levels? We'll get into that?

Yeah, so let's let's talk about some of the most important ways that our lifestyle influences fertility and the ways that you most commonly see lifestyle interfering with fertility.

I think the number one thing, I'm gonna I'm gonna I'm gonna have to target the guys here, the number one thing that we all have going for us not going for us, I suppose if you're struggling with fertility is this guy right here? You've got four powerful motors in your life. Oh yeah. Sorry, I'm boring people now he's holding up a phone. This is an iPhone, you know, 13, whatever special powers that has. But it's a super computer. And it's putting out this really powerful internet signal connecting to all these towers in our neighborhoods. And most of us keep it on at all times in our pocket, centimeters from our testicles, and talking to the men here, but it's also from women because your gonads are not too far from there. When you do this, we actually know this, we know that these high frequency signals 5g five gigahertz signals, I think that's what 5g stands for, will impact the quality and production of sperm. So the number one thing you can do is to keep your phone on either on on airplane mode or keep it on your desk not in your pocket at all times, this will naturally increase the likelihood of you conceiving that thing alone and you've paid nobody money, you haven't done any advanced testing or anything else. The second thing is that regardless of whether you get functional tests, like the Dutch test, or you get a whole bunch of labs from real one of these really expensive functional lab groups, that oftentimes is very misleading in the very least, but I won't get into that right now. What it really bears down to before you do any of these fancy things are invest in all these great technologies or even IVF. You really owe it to yourself to dial in six key principles, which is your diet, your nutrition, your movement is number two, your hydration, your sleep, your mindset, and your movement, which runs out your breathing. All of those six principles can be dialed in in a variety of ways in order to optimize your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. But even if we're just looking at physical health alone, and you're looking at diet alone, you don't need to go to Whole Foods and start just busting the bank account. There's five, via multivitamins, as I call them in nature that every one of my fertility clients who comes into my program, they all start on organ meats, eggs, bone broth, fermented cod, liver oil and shellfish. Okay, I have a question for you. Because I'm allergic to shellfish and I don't eat, I don't eat meats. Do what do you tell those people? Because I know the I know, just from my own pine business? I do. I do see a lot of couples out there are vegan, vegetarian? Are they to just conclude that they just can't go that route, then upside? Or is there something else that can be offered to them? I think there's so many more people than we realize who Yeah, yeah. Animal free diets.

That's totally true. If you are vegan, and you're struggling with fertility, you need to not be vegan, it for a period of for a period of time, at least for a period of time.

So as bone broth sufficient, if that's all they opt to do.

Yeah, I mean, you can get a lot of these nutrients through leafy greens and things like that, you know, organ meats are hands down the and you can get them in capsules. So if it's something about the flavor or whatever, they're a very well managed very responsibly, raised regeneratively raised biodynamically raised farms out there that will sell you organ meat capsules. So it depends if it's an ethical thing, and you're just determined not to have animal products, it's going to require a far deeper dive into how we're going to get those nutrients to you to your ovaries and gonads in order to produce the most high quality gametes. Yeah, okay. Interesting. So we talked about a little bit about diet, you know, in addition to doing those things, of course, you can always do some additional functional medicine tests. Zinc is really important. Selenium is important molybdenum, magnesium, I mean so many other nutrients. And they may just be deficient in certain key nutrients, like I said, Vitamin K twos and example. So that's one part of this, it isn't all diet, there's movement patterns as well that are critical, if you consider there are nervous inputs and outputs to your pelvis from your lumbo, sacral, and even your thoracic spine at all times. If you have abnormal movement in the little facet joints that minimize or mitigate in some ways, the nervous inputs to your pelvic organs, you may not have adequate blood flow to all of those incredible tissues and with increased blood flow to your ovaries, you may actually see an increase in the number of follicles that's developing every month. This is one way where you can make better eggs. Wow. In addition to diet, so what kind of movement Nathan yoga,

I like to yoga is really good, especially if they're already in adrenal fatigue. Adrenal Fatigue is where you're producing of the three major classifications of hormones that are produced by your adrenal glands which are about plumb sized they sit right on top of your kidneys. You have your salt regulating your sugar regulating and you have your sex regulating, that's the sex hormones, when you're under extreme distress or if you have a very, very high waking melatonin and a low waking cortisol, your your diurnal sleep pattern is disrupted. It tells me that your adrenals are probably skunked. You're in flight or fight at all times. And when you're there, your adrenals are like well, this guy needs to stay alive. We don't have time for reproduction. We got to stay alive, so it, it, your your adrenals intelligently tend to focus on those two categories and let the sex hormones, like let's just worry about that on the back burner for now. So yoga and especially slow restorative yoga can actually hit the movement category. And it's a part of what I call working in it's a term I stole from Paul check. It's working in versus working out, you're not pushing yourself in flight or fight or freeze anymore, you're actually holding poses, opening up the hips, opening up the pelvis, and that really does help to restore a lot of the nervous and and we'll just say perfusate support meaning increased blood flow and nervous system inputs to these vital the vital reproductive organs. I'm using air quotes because the reproductive organs aren't vital and your body knows that so it shifts resources as needed.

Would you agree that the the very commonly seen progesterone deficiency, whether it's inhibiting ovulation or inhibiting pregnancy or maintenance of pregnancy is a result of exactly that the Adrenal Exhaustion the the progesterone, sort of stealing the progesterone away from the sex hormones and using the precursor hormones to protect your fight or flight mechanism?

Yes, but it's not it doesn't work quite like that. Without those sex hormones, you're not going to have adequate what's just say androgens. That's the that's the quote male sex hormones. That's your testosterone and DHEA s that travels around the body, including to the ovaries and is converted to estrogen. The ability of a follicle in the ovary to release its egg is dependent on that follicle that dominant follicles ability to convert androgens to estrogen. So if you have too much androgen or too little androgen, you actually can throw this little teeter totter in one direction or the other. What you need is an adequate conversion of androgens to estrogen. You can't have excess androgens, you can't have excess androgens, you have to have this nice balance. So when you're stressed out and you don't have enough androgens traveling around the body, you're not going to have enough of that conversion to estrogen, which is the sort of predominant feature of that dominant follicle that's ultimately going to ovulate. So when we see progesterone low in the luteal phase, it's because they're not ovulating period. You can't have a baseline progesterone in that luteal phase if you're ovulating because the progesterone comes from the corpus luteum which is what remains of the follicle after the egg is released.

So it's all comes back to an androgen deficiency initially. Is that right?

I would say that's a big part of it. But we PCOS, this is what we're talking about really is the PCOS picture, we still don't really understand it. And now it's the PCO spectrum, right, like we know that some people are really on one end of that. And then on the other end, they're just kind of not ovulating, but they don't have the hirsutism, which is the hyperandrogenism. They don't, you know, they're not quite in that full pattern. But again, that high androgen versus low androgen, we're looking at two very, very different clinical scenarios. The adrenals in any state of dysfunction can lead to all sorts of wacky things. But the one thing that you're talking about is called pregnenolone. Steel. pregnenolone is the precursor to all three of these categories. Right? So that lack of progesterone, one of the things we do commonly as vytex vytex helps to not boost your progesterone but it actually sensitizes you to the LH surge and some of these other hormonal pathways that are out of whack for whatever reason. So this is your opening a bigger a bigger can of worms here, but there's a lot of good themes, I think, coming through here. Alright, let's proceed.

Thank you. Moderator.

Okay, so we talked about movement. You know, one of the basic things I always tell people is rocking your pelvis, tucking it and then untucking it, tucking it on tucking it can really help to loosen up your sacroiliac joints, just getting the body to move. I mean, this is your light, the center of your lifeforce energy, your second chakra or your womb space, getting energy flowing through there, whether it's through adequate movement patterns, or it's through these working in patterns. Focusing on the second second chakra can do quite a bit Chi Gong, tai chi, etc. Okay, so we talked about those two sleep we've already kind of hit on seven to nine hours of sleep is really critical. And that's very hard for many of us with young kids and whatnot. So it is what it is. taking melatonin can help but it's not the end all be all we really have to start prioritizing a lifestyle at every level of our society. That that incentivizes more sleep it really, really is critical.

I want to just add a comment on sleep because I was listening just yesterday. to an episode on sleep on the Huberman podcast, and they were emphasizing how critical it is that you go to sleep at the same time every night, because you actually only produce, you actually only produce certain hormones related to sleep, especially growth hormone, if you're asleep during the hours that your body is used to. So if you typically go to sleep at 10pm, every night, most nights or whatever, and then you go to sleep at 1am for a night, you actually completely miss the window of producing the certain hormones to help you sleep. Right? Yeah, no, that's correct. That is true, you get you can only you can't like you can't make up for it later, you can't go to bed and then compensate by sleeping in being diurnal mammals, we can only get deep sleep in the first few hours of sleep, and then we transition into light sleep, REM sleep, and they say we have like, the more physical healing in the early part of the night, and the more emotional healing with the more vivid dreams in the later part of the night or in the early morning hours. So that is, that is a very important point, when you know, sometimes like if my son goes to bed too late, you'll say, Oh, well, I can sleep in later tomorrow. And I'm like, you're missing out on your deep sleep. You. You can't catch up on that.

Right? Right. It's there are sleep aids out there for people that are struggling with fertility. And maybe they do have a vegan diet, and they maybe they're deficient in magnesium or whatever. Supplementing with magnesium actually can be very helpful. You can do it twice a day, or you can take a bigger dose at night. It'll help you go to sleep, but it's not a sedative. People are using Ambiens and Xanax and all this other stuff. It doesn't really get you to sleep it sedates you but your body's not in a restful anabolic state of restoration. So what costs Exactly? Exactly now you have to detox from this stuff you just put in your body? Head? Yes, exactly. Exactly. Yeah, totally.

Sleep hygiene is such an important one. And so many people struggle with it. I mean, like you said, we could be could do a whole nother episode just talking for an hour on healthy sleep habits.

Yeah, yeah, I totally agree. We can put a pin in that one for next time. So we've really covered the three big ones. The other one is breathing. If you're expanding your lungs fully, not only are you oxygenating, and ventilating co2 out, but you're actually helping to stimulate the movement of cerebrospinal fluid up and down your spinal column. Very, very healthy. A very, very healthy practice to be breathing deeply. So if everybody out there listening, take a moment and right now just breathe in fully. In release, it actually makes you feel better in just that moment. So if you can do five to 10 minutes of conscious breathing, I think it's I think this is another critical thing that we're forgetting. Hydration is critical. We just had this spill East Palestine, right, I'm living right on the Ohio River, East Palestine, Ohio, had this big ol chemical spill, who the hell knows how this happened? And it's going to continue happening because we have shitty government regulations of corporations out there. But it contaminated such a large area in the United States that we've just, I just it's Wait, it's in the coming in the mail from Greenfield water, a really nice whole house filtration system. We don't know the consequences of having so much of these chemicals in our water, even if it's one part per million. You know, they used to say Mercury's Okay, at one point per million. I don't want any mercury in my body, right? You want zero? Yeah. Zero. Okay, mean? Like, yeah, okay. One step before your brain not functioning. So you're like, yeah, how this.

Yeah, exactly. So get it get your get filtration on your water, we have an under the sink unit, you know, you don't have to go broke in this whole process. But if you're going to spend money on a brand new TV versus cleaning the water in your house, it might be something to consider. I'm not telling everybody to go out there and go broke, keeping your water in a cold glass or even a terracotta amphora. That's what I've started using in order to aerate it and keep it oxygenated is is another piece but just get your water filtered. And start there. That's what I would say. So we covered everything except for mindset. This is really where we get into the true holistic approach to pregnancy. It's more than egg meet sperm. And even if you have healthy eggs and healthy sperm you are you aren't guaranteed or entitled to have a healthy baby. So the mindset piece, we're getting into the mental space, the words that you use to describe your journey, and to talk to your partner that creates your reality. And I'm not talking about DaVinci is the secret or whatever I'm talking about. very real. If you walk around saying I'm unhappy, you're going to be unhappy, you're going to feel unhappy. Versus I can do this. I'm going to work with a practitioner, I'm going to get pregnant, we're going to have a baby, we're going to really start to manifest that reality. This is not woowoo This is very real legitimate neuroscience, I'm sure Huberman would agree that your body I mean, you could look at the work of Joe Dispenza. Your body responds to the language that you use to speak to yourself. We know Notice in the way doctors speak to birthing women in the hospitals, it throws everything off when a person's not feeling seen or heard or loved. It goes, it's the same for your your own negative or positive self talk is that it's the mindset. Go ahead.

I teach this to my clients as well, it's a really important first step in the whole approach of preparing for your birth. And when you're determining what you want for your birth, which is for each to determine on their own. I then teach them about language, not only the spoken word, but what they're hearing and what they're thinking. And they the easy shortcut is pay attention to every noun, and adjective that you're thinking, hearing, or saying, because those words should be what you want. So if you ask a woman what she wants for her birth, half the time, because we're so aware of what we're afraid of what we don't want, they'll say, I just don't want to feel bullied. Or, or if they're a step closer than that. They might say I want an unmedicated birth. And I'm like, Well, the word medicated. The subconscious doesn't hear negatives, like, no, not. The subconscious doesn't hear those words. So you know, I said, Listen, I would never describe my birth as, as such, I wouldn't say I wasn't scared, and I didn't feel afraid. And I was unstressed. I wouldn't say that. I'd be like, Oh, my gosh, it was casual. It was relaxing, it was intimate. Find the words that you're craving and attach your brain to those words, and avoid negative people. So get get the word fertile in your mind, get the word thriving in your mind, just as with, you know, wealth, you want the word abundance in your mind, it just applies to everything I'm so especially being an OB by training, I'm just so heartened that that's a part of your program, because it's so important. It's full on science, it's on nature, it's you can't you can't fight it.

One thing that I have all of my couples go through is they write a mission statement together. And this is about a third of the way through the program that I take them through, which is called PRP stands for patients reverence and presence. And the reason I included those three words is those are usually the three things you're lacking. You're not lacking interventions and procedures, and medicines and supplements, and all this other stuff, you're actually lacking. A reverence for the process patients for the process presents with the process. And that's really where mindset comes into play. Do you have a connection to something greater than yourself? Do you have some sense that you are here, going through this incredible experience, and the gift of a conception of a baby inside of you is a true gift, you are not entitled to this, that spirit of that baby needs to be invited in? So what is your meditative practice? How? How hard are you on yourself right now, because you guys haven't conceived after a year of trying or five years of trying? Maybe what you needed instead of an OBGYN with a white coat was a not a therapist, but somebody that could just you could just vent out your frustration to, as opposed to giving you the platitudes of like, oh, you know, you can always adopt or Oh, yeah, you know, it'll happen when it's ready, or whatever that is, you know, okay, advice. But the problem is right now you're beating yourself up over this process. You can't continue to worry about this, we need to start having fun. Again, we need to start playing with our partner, again, we need to start connecting again, not only to our partner, but to our self and something greater. That is the invitation for this baby to come in. So a big part of what I do is also the conscious conception piece and starting with that mission statement, you can find soft language, maybe probably could should the word try. Try Yeah, just do it. It's now or never, you only have 90 years on this place, whether you're poor, rich, black, white, whatever, it's your journey. Are you going to own this journey and put on your big, big boy and big girl pants and do this thing? Like let's really do it? Let's not just woe is me walking around and in the victim mentality. And I know this people are probably good, like gritting their teeth over this. But you got to get out of that victim mentality. Like you have control over some of these things. And it starts with how you speak to yourself in the mirror.

The word hopefully that's another weak word. We don't want hopefully we don't want trying. When you mentioned that spirituality component, you reminded me of a conversation I had with a client that for some reason has stuck with me. I was speaking with her after class and she was just in a very fear based place about about her baby, you know, making it here not ending in stillbirth and it's not easy for women because you know better than anyone what happens at the end of pregnancy you can feel really well in pregnancy and then suddenly, you're terrified by your average american OB that if you don't get induced, as if that's the safe route through birth, if you don't get and do something horrible is gonna happen all the rhetoric around baby size and placenta and I remember just talking With her through that, and having been through all the evidence and the education, there was really nowhere else to go. And eventually I just said, Listen, this, this road to becoming apparent this is, this isn't for the faint of heart. And I said, there, whether we like it or not, there is, there is no guarantee, how anyone wishes we could sit here with you and say, we know this baby is going to get here. But I said, Can you just get quiet? Can you get really quiet and ask yourself? Is this baby meant to be here? Can you just find a trust as to whether this baby is on the way and just then surrender to how it's all going to unfold?

You know, you bring up another really, really big part of what I do. Even in my own life, I think we're all kind of in this practice of trying to get to know ourselves. But you know, we throw words like the soul around and spirit, what is the soul, the soul is the thing that goes with you into the next, whatever the next space is, and a piece of it comes back and joins into this collective consciousness, the soul is the thing that's learning. And you have this physical body in order to experience all of the multitudes of the human experience. The interesting thing about the soul is that when you when you're driving down the highway, and you get a sense that there's something wrong over here and you're merging, but you get the sense that maybe there's a car in your blind spot like something was telling you that it's the same as if you're at a bar, and you know, somebody, it's a loud place, but there's somebody looking at you over there, and you can feel it. That intuitive sense is authoritative knowledge and childbirth to steal from the language of Robbie Davis Floyd, if you're going to be having a baby, that intuition is just as important to me as your doctor, as any imaging or lab or whatever studies or I care about is how do you feel right now the problem is, you've been so distracted. And that feeling of intuition has been repressed for years by car conditioning within a system that doesn't see that as valid. But I'm telling you, it is valid. And when you close your eyes, and it's still you're still there's no distractions, and you try to communicate with your soul, you will get an answer, you will get a tingling, it might be a tingling in your fingers, or your feet start to sweat a little bit. But there's a message there coming through that is so relevant for this fertility journey. It really, really is. It also helps you connect more deeply sexually with your partner, babies are invited in when you're having sort of, not obligatory sex based on that that pee strip that turned in the toilet. They have their guard down, they've given this emotional burden to somebody else, their doctor, for example, can tell you how many times that's happened. They do the initial console. And before we start the program, they already pregnant. And part of it is that they've they've they've relinquished that control over the outcome.

That's such an important point. It's such an important point, because it happens. It's not coincidence how you mean, it happens so often that it is not just coincidence. And I love what you said about the you know, making sex not an obligatory act, but actually like really trying to connect with your partner and really just trying to feel into the process. Because what happens is you get told that you have to have sex every three days or whatever, and you're tracking and charting. And it just becomes like doing the dishes. And how do you expect it to work? When the feeling isn't there? Who wants to enter into that? Yeah, that doesn't seem fun, very inviting.

It also reminds me of how many I don't know it's like countless couples declare themselves in fertile spend years investing in an adoption program. And the moment they sign that paperwork they conceive, I have two grand Is that is that happened to you. I've met countless people where that's happened. And they it's kind of sometimes a really cool story where they end up with twins, so to speak. But like what you know, you know, there's something happening there as soon as they relinquish. I also just want to emphasize the value of the point you're making, because at some point in this parenting journey, because this is a lifelong process for us, once we have a baby, we're parents till the end of our days. And the most valuable asset we have is our own intuition. There's never going to be a day in our lives, the rest of our lives, that we're not worried that we're not valuing our child more than ourselves. Why not cultivate that intuition? Now? Why not learn to develop it now? In preconception and conception so we can utilize it through birth so we can utilize it through early parenting when pediatricians are telling us something that doesn't feel right in our gut. It's, it's so much more valuable than anyone you could ever hire, or ask. That's why we say here, everyone, listen to yourself. It's our entire tagline for this podcast.

Yeah. What's the premise of everything? But so it's interesting that we're having this conversation around this point at the closing of the episode when we have these, you know, four or five or six steps, however, any we talked about leading up to this, but this right here is number one, like this has to move to the front. Because no matter how you eat, how you sleep, how you exercise, I mean, we all want to be told like X, Y, and Z, do this, this and this, and this will happen. But even if you do all those things perfectly, if we don't take care of this one, those things aren't gonna work as well. So move this right to the top of the list. And this is the hard one. Yeah, this is really the hard one, because this is the one that takes all the self reflection.

Yeah, I mean, there's a lot of people out there that are, you know, in the scientific, they're like, here's what the data says about nutrition and this and that, well, nutritional science is some of the poorest science out there, because it's all based on self reporting. So drawing conclusions definitively as to what's happening on a cellular level, when you eat this many carrots versus this many bananas or whatever is just like, it's just like people rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, you know, it's like, the chairs look better this way or whatever. Meanwhile, there's a giant hole leaking in the in the Hall of your ship, whether you believe you can or you can't, you're right. And whether or not you're loving yourself and your partner, or if you even feel safe in your relationship. If you don't feel safe in your relationship, why would this baby feel safe? Now, let me put a pause there. Women get pregnant, in, in, in really, really nefarious ways. So of course, this is not applicable to every pregnancy that ever happens. But there is, in my own, I'll just say in my personal experience, when you get people, I have a 10 day connection challenge. And it starts with like hand rubs foot rubs, dancing together, date night, whatever. There's one that's like genital massage, but you're not allowed to orgasm, like you're going to reconnect like your teenagers again. And I would bet you that with those juices flowing with that actual sort of divine union of you just flowing with one another, I guarantee that that is going to increase the likelihood if you're struggling with fertility, that does not mean that babies don't come through for unknown reasons in rape and other scenarios like that. So I don't want to diminish that. But what I'm saying is definitely true. In my practice, we're looking to create the optimal scenario. Right, exactly. To increase the likelihood of all the stars being aligned.

Yeah. Yeah. And you know, we don't really know always what's holding us back. And when you say safe, we're not just talking about do you feel physically safe in your relationship? But do you feel emotionally safe? Do you feel deeply understood, connected to this person?

Yeah, I mean, could it be as simple as something on the more subconscious level is holding back from getting pregnant because you don't feel secure enough in your finances? Or where you are or whatever, like, nobody cares about how much money you have? Or your fame? Or how successful your podcast is? How do you feel when you look in the mirror? If that's not an order? Well, that doesn't seem like a very great environment for a baby to come through. And this is part of the reason that so many women who don't seem to care at all, they are just happy and comfortable and living keep getting pregnant. And you might be frustrated, because you've you see them on Instagram and see them on Facebook. And part of it is that they've gotten their mind out of it, and they're leading with their heart. Focus on you. Do you connect with your partner have sex at the most random times of the day, because you just feel like doing it as opposed to I might be ovulating? Because maybe that that that call to have sex is actually a sign that you're gonna ovulate. Maybe there's more to this than that P strip, which by the way, don't use the P strips, guys, you're wasting your money. You're not not all that useful.

Yeah, and it's, it's like so many other things that we have developed this prefrontal cortex. And it allows us to think it allows us to judge and make decisions, and it's very valuable to us allows us to project into the future and analyze the past. But it's not where our bodily experiences belong. It's not where you want to even be during a yoga class, you don't want to be like in 234, you know, you want to feel your body, you want to feel the blood flow to the muscles that are getting some attention in that pose. And there is something to be said for just relinquishing the body to the sexual experience then like, oh, where's the thermometer? Let me take my temperature. Come on. We gotta get this in, as you said, and let it be said it's taking the fun out of it. Yeah, like, what a concept that this should actually be a fun process. Right? We've forgotten that.

Yeah. Yeah. And like what's more fun than having sex but it becomes not fun when you're just calculating when to do it like the babies are byproducts of the fun. This is how it was all designed initially.

That's exactly right. That's exactly right. You know, one final thing I know we're running out of time. But one final thing that we're the way that I sort of elusive, kind of strip the layers of the onion way to see where People are out as I have asked people what is the archetype that you embody now and what is the archetype that you wish to embody after you have this baby. And the responses from the man and the woman are oftentimes very different. So that you know, they both might be you know, whatever archetype and we could look at Jungian archetypes, it doesn't really matter. The point being it's a it's a type of way you want to show up in the world. The man is oftentimes looking to become the Explorer because it currently he's, he's like, annoyed with his job or not happy with finances or whatever. He's just desperate for adventure. The mom, the woman, and the couple will oftentimes say something like, I want to, I want to be the nurturer. I want to be the gardener I you know, they use all this language about growing things, and he's off there in outer space climbing, you know, Kilimanjaro, the point of the exercise is you guys are not even on the same page. One of you is not even really understanding what this whole transformation is going to look like for you oftentimes the man sometimes also the the woman actually, sometimes it's flipped. The point being that both of you need to understand that this is a tremendous transformation of spirit that you guys are both inviting in. And if you're not both on board for that transformation, that kiddo up in wherever those spirit babies are hiding out might get a sense for that. And it may require you guys to really do some some personal interpersonal work between you to really for my for me and my wife, I had to say out loud, things are going to change and I like set it like with gritted teeth. And sure as hell things are very, very different from our life in Southern California years ago. But yeah, so just kind of leave with that because I actually think that's a really helpful exercise that anybody can do if they're on this journey.

And one final word for the man out the men out there, take that cell phone out of your pocket, less bike shorts, less cannabis use. If you're smoking a lot of cannabis, it can actually impact your sperm quality. CBD is a little different, but stop smoking pot all day. Get that cell phone out of your pocket less bike shorts, lose your underwear altogether if you can. Less prolonged frequent sauna use. And get your night nutrition dialed in oysters and mussels for the men three cans per week. That is my I swear by it go to 20 bucks a week. You're not popping pills and all that you're just eating oysters. If you're cool with shellfish, no underwear. Come on. No underwear, lose them lose those underneath the underwear. Okay, Nathan now everybody wants to know guy go around.

Like how does anyone go around like that?

I'm not even know I did when we were on our journeys get away with murder, don't we? Yeah, I do have underwear on guys. Thank you for asking. When we were, we were initially on our journey. And I was getting frustrated with this by myself. I lost my underwear and stopped biking to work every day. And my sperm motility and count went up. I will also say like the whole reason that I think that these that I'm so determined to help people with this is that when we were struggling, I thought we were like having fertility issues. And we already knew we weren't going to do IVF and IUI. But my wife eventually could see how frustrating it was to me and she was like, Honey, why don't you let me take care of it. And she knew her cervical fluid and whatnot. And at some point, she you know, I was coming home and just so frustrated and one day she said, Hey, let's go out for drinks and we were at a bar and she got the whatever, get pictures together did that kind of thing. And the camera person that she grabbed said 123 were pregnant. And I was like we're pregnant. How do you know and she was like, I took a test you know and and that feeling the rest of the evening for me was absolute exultation. It was like the greatest relief this a burden came off of me. And I want other people to be able to have that experience. It is possible. There's a lot in your control. There's a lot of things that aren't in your control but you do have doctors that can help you with that. I think we've covered a number of things that people can at least start to work on and if you want more support you can reach out to people like me.

Thank you for joining us at the Down To Birth Show. You can reach us @downtobirthshow on Instagram or email us at Contact@DownToBirthShow.com. All of Cynthia’s classes and Trisha’s breastfeeding services are offered live online, serving women and couples everywhere. Please remember this information is made available to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is in no way a substitute for medical advice. For our full disclaimer visit downtobirthshow.com/disclaimer. Thanks for tuning in, and as always, hear everyone and listen to yourself.

We're all creative We all have the ability to just put something on paper that looks pretty to us in the moment. And that is really kind of ironed out of you kind of needed out of you and you're training. So much so that you get to a point where you're a full fledged, you know, fellow of a cog, blah, blah, blah board certified. And you've never really been incentivized to be creative to use the right side of your brain. I'm left handed, which is actually very unusual in medicine surgeons are never left handed. So when the attendings were teaching me they had to do it. They were like, I don't know what you're doing there but I think it's right because they're not used to seeing the left looks about right cut there. You're good. You're probably fine. That's exactly right.

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About Cynthia Overgard

Cynthia is a published writer, advocate, childbirth educator and postpartum support specialist in prenatal/postpartum healthcare and has served thousands of clients since 2007. 

About Trisha Ludwig

Trisha is a Yale-educated Certified Nurse Midwife and International Board Certified Lactation Counselor. She has worked in women's health for more than 15 years.

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