Every conception story is unique, so when it comes to family planning, pregnancy can still come as a surprise. Unplanned pregnancies account for almost half of all pregnancies worldwide, and despite the assumption unexpected positive test results are reserved for teenagers only, we couldn’t be further from the truth. New research has found unintended pregnancies amongst teens account for only 11% of these pregnancies in Australia. It’s in fact women aged 25-29 who are the most likely to have an unplanned pregnancy, closely followed by those aged 30-34 and then 35-39.
A La Trobe University led study has found more than one quarter of pregnancies in Australia are unplanned, with almost one third of these pregnancies ending in abortion.When birth educator and yoga teacher Yahna Fookes discovered she was pregnant before she knew she was trying, she connected to her own birth story and her innate wisdom to connect to the pregnancy, and help inform her decision of whether or not to continue with it. She shares an intimate telling of her unplanned pregnancy experience with moode, and explores what she would do differently the next time around.
TW: Unplanned pregnancy.
moode: Sunday is the beautiful result of an unplanned pregnancy. Tell us more.
Yahna: It was shortly after my 32nd birthday. I went off the pill for the first time in years to give my body a break and she was conceived three days after. A really big shock that totally threw both of us in the best way. My acupuncturist knew well before I did, as she said, “get off your herbs,” without explanation. It’s amazing how soon they can feel both heartbeats through sense checking your pulse.
moode: How did your own birth story and early life experiences influence your decision to keep this pregnancy?
Yahna: Being female and adopted, this pregnancy allowed me to rewrite history. If you’re adopted and reading this, you’ll understand what I am talking about but yeah, having your own kids is very triggering and makes you face your demons, cultural identity and your soul in the most confronting ways.
For context, we had travelled to Korea a few months before and I had connected with the orphanage I was from. This was a huge emotional shed that needed to happen. For the first time in my life, I was fully rooted in my history, Korean culture and who I was. It was such a spiritual awakening for me in so many ways. Living in alignment with my whole self. So maybe it was this that allowed my body to conceive?
moode: How did your conception experience impact your connection to pregnancy and the early days of motherhood?
Yahna: It was not until we found out she was a girl that I really started connecting to the journey of motherhood. We never talk enough about the mental health or emotional state we are in during conception and I think this is a big piece of the puzzle. Raising kids is confronting work and if you don’t know yourself, like really know yourself, then how can you nurture your kids to find their identity? We are complex beings that hold a rich history of intergenerational trauma, sisterhood wounds and a wealth of experience in our bones and cells. This has to count for something, right?
moode: If considering pregnancy again, would you approach conception differently the second time around?
Yahna: I exclusively breastfed for over two years so my body is just making its way back home. But if I were to go it again - it goes without saying, preparation is essential, and worth investing in.
Next time around I’d absolutely consume a wholesome diet. I’m a big believer that you are what you eat, so good food no matter how broke we are is a non-negotiable. I am a culprit of skipping breakfast, though, which is not ideal. A high protein-based breakfast helps to manage the levels of cortisol produced throughout the day- a must in keeping the body in a flow of equilibrium and helping manage our flight/fight system.
I’d definitely take a good prenatal like moode’s The Prenatal in the lead up to conception, alongside regular acupuncture visits. I’m a massive fan and believer in traditional Chinese medicine, it’s changed my life (and is therefore heavily integrated into our Radiant Birth course) I’d like to get my body strong again and reset my nervous system. Parenting a three-year-old is a lot.
I’d also get back into a more regular practice that has fallen short during motherhood. I mean no wonder I got pregnant so quickly, I used to go to yoga like 5 times a week and eat glorious meals around the clock and meditate on the reg (oh, to have time back). Parenthood and pregnancy alter the shape of your spine dramatically and the general alignment of your body, so being strong is a must!
Male health is important to note here too. I’d like to preface that my husband hasn’t touched a drink for over seven years after going to a spiritual retreat. So his sperm is very healthy and unaffected by toxins. I’ve read the quality of male sperm has deteriorated by 60% over the past 40 years, and alcohol is the number one killer of sperm health. Men have to do the work too, so I would encourage male partners and sperm donors to cut alcohol to prepare for pregnancy.
Moving consciously and thoughtfully through pregnancy is something I value, and unpack in my work as a birth educator and founder of Radiant Birth.
Want to hear more from Yahna- Read her thoughts on 'Conscious Conception and Mindful Practices' here
Yahna Fookes is the founder of Radiant Birth- a three week immersive birth workshop hosted by her in Naarm that brings together birth education, yoga, traditional Chinese medicine and nutrition for mother’s in waiting.
Imagery of Yahna and Sunday thanks to Ilsa Wynne- Hoelscher Kidd.