I’m sad that I didn’t have the time to post anything yesterday.  So sorry to my few readers here! Thanks for checking back today~
I’m EXCITED to talk more about empowerment and personal responsibility when it comes to our health and our bodies.  I see completely caring for and protecting our reproductive organs is VERY important for overall body health.  Making sure you understand your cycles and your reproductive self gives you a HUGE boost for being prepared and able to be in control of you!
Right after I had my first son, a sister of mine recommended a WONDERFUL book to me that I think ALL women should read.  Its called…”Taking Care of Your Fertility.”  At first glance, the book seemed boring and uneventful.  But because Chris and I had been discussing birth control and I did not feel comfortable with the majority of the modern techniques, this book seemed like a GREAT way to educate myself and figure out what would work best for ME and my body.
Once I started reading it, I was so glad I did.  I realized I didn’t understand myself, my reproductive organs or what really taking charge of my fertility really meant.  I saw how out of touch I was with myself and my own systems and cycles.  The book truly OPENED my eyes to how to care for my reproductive self and what taking responsibility of that part of me really means.
I learned how to notice the signs of when I am the most fertile by experimenting with my own cervical mucus.  I was taught how to understood my body’s signals before menstruation.  And when I worked with my body through proper nutrition and dietary habits, found relief with chronic PMS, bloating and cramping.  Along with being able to register when I was going to start my menstrual cycle and even how to decrease my blood loss and even conserve that energy loss for more energy for myself.
I am fearful for the reproductive health of most women when the birth control methods we hear about so often can actually be damaging to you and your body.  When you choose “the pill” for birth control, you are actually taking hormonal replacement medications.  I am surprised that we aren’t calling medicated birth control what it really is, it hormonal replacement therapy.  You are stimulating your body to stop producing certain hormones it normally produces that aid in conception and pregnancy.   This repeated process then sets the stage for proper hormone production AFTER they stop taking it.  
I have worked with several women who struggle to get pregnant after getting off birth control.  Part of the reason for this is your hormones then have to shift and rebalance themselves again to be able to function normally as they did before using the pill. 
That may seem all find and dandy but your the one who is hurt in the end.  Menstruation is actually a MIRACLE given to women to aid in the creation of the strongest, healthiest and most vibrant human beings.  Not only does it clean house for the reproductive organs but it also keeps the blood pure and clean of toxic material that might get to the future egg during the next cycle.  This is a PHENOMENAL body process that men don’t have.  Each and every month our bodies, as women, performs its own blood cleansing~  To halt that process only leaves the toxic material sitting in the organs and tissues to then be passed onto your future children. 
Its unfortunate that our society, especially women, promote an idea about menstruation as an AWFUL time of the month.  Not only that….but one that we should avoid like the plague.  If you choose to take “the pill” that halts menstruation for an extended period of time, you are actually thwarting the bodies natural processes for cleaning the inner organs and systems of the body to help create a healthier future child.  
Don’t get me started about the IUD.  I know, there are MANY women who use it to thwart pregnancy.  I still remember researching it and realizing that each and every month, a women could be potentially getting pregnant with the IUD in and the IUD is actually aborting the fetus by disrupting the lining of the uterus to prevent implantation of the egg and sperm.  I know…it can maybe stop sperm from even entering the fallopian tube as well but the fact that a foreign object that also emits hormones to halt ovulation sits constantly in a very tender part of my body seems illogical and hurtful to the human system and truthfully, COMPLETELY unnecessary.
I’m here to tell you….The rhythm method works.  Its been used for 100’s of years to prevent unplanned pregnancies.  It would of been taught from mother to daughter.  It was sacred information that was passed and vital for proper care and treatment of the reproductive organs and the health of future pregnancies and for the creation of a healthy, happy intimate life with a future partner.  
Chris and I have used the fertility awareness method for 17 years now.  All but one of our 5 children were planned.  The youngest, who came 6 years after our son…. whom we thought was the last, was a BEAUTIFUL surprise.  But its not the fault of us not understanding and applying the rhythm method.  A couple of reasons I got pregnant was I hadn’t been checking my ovulation time and we had unprotected sex with full vaginal ejaculation the day after I ended my moon cycle.  Which means….I ovulated early and hence the pregnancy since sperm can stay in the vagina, cervix or uterus for up to 5-7 days after ejaculation.
So below are 2 GREAT videos I’m sharing with you today.  The first one is a cute raw foodist who is taking responsibility for her sexual life by reading the book and tracking her ovulation days.  She shows a AWESOME little device I wish I would of had in the beginning to help tract my cycles.  It seems quite expensive but worth it especially if you are just starting out on the natural family planning method world.  I think it could help to alleviate any concerns that you might be wrong on where your body is at in your cycle.
The 2nd video is actual footage of a women showing her cervical fluid, what it looks like before, during and after ovulation.  If that just totally grosses you out then don’t watch that video.  I wish it was something I would have seen in the beginning.  Though I was lucky enough not to get pregnant, I wish I was able to see what fertile mucus looks like since, at this point, that’s really all I go by when it comes to checking where I’m at in my cycle.  The women who put this video together seems to have an informative website as well so go check that out at www.mostfertiledays.info. 
Lastly, is an EXCELLENT article that gives more ideas into fertility and recommends other books that might be helpful.  She also discusses steps she took BEFORE pregnancy to help set the stage for the new life entering their world.  Make no mistake, what she is describing is CONSCIOUS CONCEPTION!  Taking the steps she states below WILL alleviate future potential problems and concerns.  
In our quest to have another child, I personally have taken all the steps she describes below.  I wish I would of done so with all my other children.  I have found with my last 2 children that taking these steps has aided in my ability to LOVE the pregnancy experience and to find JOY in the entire process of conception, pregnancy, birth and life beyond.
I hope this information spreads far and wide.  I would LOVE to live in a world where each and every young girl who is entering the maturing, ovulating and menstruating phase of life is taught by an older women such as a mother, aunt, grandmother or dear friend to lead and guide her to understanding her reproductive organs and cycles.  That she have the needed support system where she is enlightened and empowered to take responsibility for herself and her body.  Imagine that world…I can promise if each young women was taught this information, the teenage pregnancy rate would drop drastically, along with lessening of STD’s and sexually transmitted diseases.  
Young girls would find joy in their ability menstruate and learn what foods and negative emotions might make that process harder or more hurtful than it needs to be.  Teaching a young girl how to take care of her whole self in every way will train her up to see her creative forces as extremely sacred and motivate her to move forward making choices based in that joy and peace and understanding.
Please mothers….do your part to educate yourself so you can pass this information onto your daughters.  This is a quick way to ensure a greater responsibility of ourselves and the sexual health and well being of all women.
In Peace,


A guide for preparing to conceive

Guestpost by Sara Cotner on September 28, 2010 

I recently received an email from a reader requesting more posts about trying to conceive. That in mind, I asked Sara (previously featured here) to share some of her resources. -Ariel

One book Sara recommends is Taking Charge of Your Fertility.

People thought Matt and I were crazy for planning our wedding in “only” seven months. We dodged a fusillade of comments like, “But that won’t be enough time to book a good reception venue!” and “It can take longer than that for the dress to be delivered. And don’t forget about the alterations!”

 We tried not to stress about it too much. Seven months was, after all, enough time to plan a mega party and a friends/family reunion. In the final months, when I started adding completely unnecessary projects to my to-do list (hello, fabric pins and a dog bandanna), I occasionally wished we had opted for an even shorter engagement.

That’s why I found it ironic when I also faced criticism–two years later–for spending too much time planning for conception: “Be more spontaneous. Just start trying already!” and “You’ll never feel ready, so stop worrying about it.”

In all honesty, I’m so thankful that I spent eight months preparing my mind, body, and life for pregnancy before we even started trying to conceive. Unlike my mother who accidentally got pregnant when she was 22 and then raised me as a single-parent, I wanted to create a prepared and intentional environment (although I think my mom managed to do a heck of a good job!). I read countless books, talked with a midwife, watched documentaries, attended a birth fair, and started stalking pregnancy and birthing websites.

Of course all families need to figure out for themselves what kind of preparation (if any) works for them. It’s a very personal decision, and we need to honor each other for forging our own paths (duh!).
As for my personal path, here are some of the things we did to start preparing our life for conception:

  • Destressing and Making Space for Pregnancy: When I started tracking my cycle, I realized that stress was seriously impacting my physical and emotional well-being. Eight months before trying to conceive, I started eliminating unnecessary commitments from my life (and saying no to new ones), practicing deep-breathing techniques, implementing a daily relaxation ritual, and getting to the psychological roots of why I invite stress into my life. I realized that once I got pregnant, I would need time for frequent naps, and I was preparing myself for a potential decrease in my productivity.
  • Getting More Healthy: I analyzed my nutritional intake, my hydration, and my exercise (or lack thereof) and started implementing changes that would better prepare my body for a healthy conception.
  • Eliminating Toxins from Our Life: We sorted through all our cleaning products, bathroom stuff, etc., and made our environment less toxic.
  • Building the Bank: We started thinking through the costs associated with birth and infancy and came up with a plan for saving enough money (without buying into the hype put out there by the Baby Industrial Complex).
  • Figuring Out Insurance and Maternity Leave: Matt and I actually didn’t do this as part of our preconception preparation, but I wish we had! I would have been able to sign up for short-term disability insurance, which would have helped to cover part of my unpaid maternity leave. Now that I’m pregnant, I have a “pre-existing condition,” and it’s too late for me. Argh!
  • Deciding on a Care Provider: There are so many options out there (depending on the community you live in) for prenatal care and birthing. Regardless of whether you want to go the hospital, birthing center, or homebirth route, there are tons of questions to ask and information to take in. Once you’re pregnant, your prenatal care starts, and at that point, it can be stressful to sort through all the information and ask all the questions. Matt and I decided to do all of our research before trying to conceive. We even did interviews and settled on our care provider in advance. When we conceived, we simply had to call her to schedule our first appointment.
  • Strengthening Our Relationship: We took a hard look at how we distribute responsibilities in our household, how we support each other, what problems we’re having, whether we fight constructively or destructively, etc. We started to think about really concrete ways to strengthen our relationship in preparation for the extreme stress that can come from welcoming a new baby into a family.
  • Preparing for the Change: We thought long and hard about the ways in which our lives would change forever, once we added on to our family.


I ended up creating a five-week online course called Purposeful Conception: Preparing Your Mind, Body, and Life for Pregnancy because I wanted to consolidate everything I learned into a more user-friendly format and create an online community for dialogue and support.
However, I also recommend the following books and movies to support a more independent conception planning process:

  • Making Babies: A Proven 3-Month Program for Maximum Fertility: This book lays everything out there for you in such a clear, concise way. It addresses how to get pregnant (through tracking your cycle) and also focuses on ways to prepare your life for conception (through nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction).
  • What to Expect Before You’re Expecting: I know there’s a lot of criticism of the What to Expect series, but I was thankful for this book because there are so few out there that focus exclusively on preconception as its own stage. I found this book to be chock full of interesting recommendations.
  • The Complete Organic Pregnancy: Although this book focuses solely on eliminating toxins from our lives, I loved reading it! It’s a bit overwhelming, but the information is super-interesting and applicable to all stages of our lives, not just pregnancy.
  • Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood: This book has little to do with preconception, but I am so glad I read it before I got pregnant. It’s just too depressing and stressful to read when you’re carrying another life around (in my opinion!). Seriously. It was a bit biased and felt like propaganda at times, but I’m so glad I read this indictment of the “hidden costs and vested interests surrounding pregnancy and birth in America.”

As far as movies go, I haven’t been able to find too much. But here are my recommendations:

  • The Business of Being Born: This movie opened my eyes to a whole new world. Even though it feels biased toward a certain perspective, it helped me realize that there’s so much I don’t know about when it comes to giving birth in America. I highly recommend this film.
  • Pregnant in America: I didn’t like this movie nearly as much as I liked The Business of Being Born (not even close), but it’s still worth watching, since there’s simply not that much out there on these topics.

Definitely find the amount and type of preparation that makes sense for you and your family, and then go for it!