A Holistic Approach to Conception

A Holistic Approach to Conception

Taking a conscious approach to conception? Doula and Photographer Cara Burns walks us through the months she’s spent preparing herself, her partner, their relationship, her body and mind for conception, pregnancy and parenthood. Her guide to all the elements she’s incorporated is included below, keeping in mind each woman and each couple are so unique and prepare in the ways that are aligned with their circumstances.



Cara shares:

“It's common to spend 12-18+ months planning a wedding, spending many tens of thousands of dollars on this, or a new car, on our education… it's not as common to spend this time or money preparing our bodies, minds, relationship and life for a new family member. I’m always pretty stumped by this.”

So how exactly is she preparing?

Fertility education for herself and her partner

“In 2019 I committed to healing chronic pelvic pain and menstrual cycle pain through acupuncture. I spent the next couple of months (and continue to) learn about my cycle, connecting deeply with it. My partner joined the journey and learnt a lot about my cycle too- this was massive.”


Using nutrition to support fertility

“Our diet has always been pretty good. I'm vegetarian, he [my partner] is pescatarian, we make the majority of our meals ourselves. Beyond this, we’ve reduced our alcohol intake and caffeine consumption, implemented a water filter at home and consciously purchased fruit and veg organically where we could (including from our garden).”


Tailoring our exercise

“He [my partner] is in landscape construction, so is incredibly fit running his own gig, whilst also a surfer and mountain biker. I reduced intense exercise due to my chronic pain, so instead I walk most mornings, stretch every night and swim. We both love snowboarding, so winters are a big season of exercise for us.”


Manage chronic health conditions in the lead up to conception

“My iron has always been low, and after experiencing the fatigue that comes with it, we wanted to get on top of it before pregnancy. Due to monthly blood loss, my diet didn't help much, so an iron infusion was done and I've since kept on top of all my levels.

Chronic pelvic pain led me to explore the possibility of endometriosis through a laparoscopy (after years of exploring other options) as my biggest fear has been dealing with this sporadic and chronic pain [when I’m] postpartum, as it's really debilitating- so that was a priority of ours.”

                                
Taking supplements to support reproductive health

“We both started taking prenatals about 7 months ago. We are both on NAC, omega 3&6, magnesium. I'm also on b12 and a prenatal and [my partner’s] on a B Complex men’s prenatal.”

                                


Adjusting our mindset

“Mindset was the biggest preparation for us. We talked ALOT about our childhoods, our upbringing, our parents. What we hope to carry on, what we hope to leave behind. Understanding how our childhood has shaped certain reactions and beliefs, becoming aware of them.

I'm a psychology major and work as a birth doula, so I feel I'm pretty proactive in this area. Fraser is grateful to follow my lead and meets me in it.

I major in gender, so I feel that's been a potent theme in conversation. Breaking down the gender stereotypes of what this experience will be and I think, through all of this, an unexpected gift has been the ongoing practice of communication. It's an ever evolving challenge but I feel like we understand one another and can communicate much more effectively now than 3 years ago (when we could have started trying). We wanted that to be second nature so we could continue it in the tougher times postpartum.

We speak a lot about what kind of parents we hope to be, what we expect from each other and the relationship, how to prioritise the relationship, what's important for the journey for each of us, what support will we be putting in place.

There's a lot we can do to prepare, but at the same time we are conscious of all that is out of our control, and surrendering to the journey from the very beginning.”


Addressing stress

“A stress-reduced and present approach to living was a goal of ours, so we began our own businesses thinking ahead of the possibilities it brings for our family life... (we work too much and live too little in our modern world)”


Taking a holistic approach to health

“We work with a naturopath. We both have a holistic counsellor, do acupuncture and I see a pelvic floor physio. We hope to set up a couples therapy session to build a rapport and have the support there should we want it.”

There is such a ripe opportunity to support babies coming into the world and to support prospective parents in nurturing themselves and one another. I try to use my work to educate around this space and encourage others to tap into the possibilities here.

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