Erica's New Book Releasing the Mother Load is officially out! Order your copy today!
LEARN MORE
Erica's New Book Releasing the Mother Load is officially out! Order your copy today!
LEARN MORE

February 20, 2024

August 30, 2023

Preparing Your Body for Pregnancy: Unpacking Myths, Supplements, and Infertility Factors

E:
188
with
Leslie Schrock
Author

What You'll Learn

  • The Value of Community and Education in Conception and Pregnancy
  • How Partners Can Get Involved in Preparing for Pregnancy
  • Why Supplements Aren’t Always Helpful in Preparing Your Body for Pregnancy
  • Why Nutrition Matters When Preparing Your Body for Pregnancy
  • Anxiety in Conception and the Perinatal Period
  • How Long to Wait After a Miscarriage
  • Navigating Secondary Infertility

Preparing your body for pregnancy can be confusing. There’s a lot of misinformation online about supplements and fertility, along with well-meaning but misguided advice from friends and family. 

Today, I’m joined by Leslie Schrock, author of Bumpin’ and Fertility Rules, to discuss infertility, preparing your body for pregnancy, and navigating anxiety after loss. 

Pregnancy and a Roller Coaster of Emotions

I remember first finding out I was pregnant and experiencing a roller coaster of emotions. I quickly became overwhelmed with all of the information about what to do and not to do with my body.

All three of my pregnancies were spontaneous, and each came with a similar roller coaster. I also suffered a miscarriage between my second and third. As a result, my third pregnancy was different. I was more hesitant, unsure of whether to let myself get excited. 

The emotional and physical journey of having a baby begins long before the birth—and for the many moms who experience infertility, miscarriage, or other trauma, that journey begins even before pregnancy. 

Leslie knows that firsthand—after suffering an early miscarriage herself, she became pregnant just two weeks later. But that pregnancy ended in a loss—her NIPT showed a fatal chromosomal abnormality called Trisomy 18. She had to abort the pregnancy, leaving her feeling devastated and lost. 

After her experience, she realized resources on the topics of trying to conceive, conception, and pregnancy were either lacking in information or overwhelming with too much information in a non-digestible way. 

She wrote her books to shine a light on the complexities, provide evidence, and offer practical advice from medical providers, parenting experts, therapists, nutritionists, and personal trainers. 

I was so excited to welcome her to the podcast and talk with her about preparing our bodies for pregnancy, coping with infertility and secondary infertility, and how to separate the myths from the truth surrounding the journey. 

The Value of Community and Education in Conception and Pregnancy

Leslie pointed out that we often turn to our support systems when we’re on the journey of having a baby—but not everybody has a community to offer help, advice, and support. Some people don’t have close family relationships or friends who have gone through similar experiences. 

That’s why she wanted to provide digestible information to moms. Every journey is different, and we need access to evidence and advice as a framework for making the best decisions for our family. 

Leslie pointed out that there are many medical complexities, like what she experienced, that are beyond our choice and control. This period of time is often full of nuance, rather than black-and-white decisions. 

There are also things that we can make decisions around. Knowledge and evidence can help us through both. 

We’re living in the age of information—which is a good thing. But it can also be overwhelming. Millennial and Gen Z families want to know how to sort through the information and find what’s relevant to them. They want to know how to prepare their bodies for pregnancy, how to maintain their mental health, and how to invite their partners into the process. 

How Partners Can Get Involved in Preparing for Pregnancy

Leslie pointed out that partners want to be more involved than ever—but are often kept at arm’s length. This occurred often during the height of the pandemic, when partners were sometimes not allowed at appointments. 

There are many ways for partners to get involved at every stage of the process—attending appointments when possible, helping with research, and bonding and communicating with the birthing partner. 

Leslie pointed out that it’s also important to talk about men’s health on a broad scale. Half of infertility issues are rooted in men’s health. Yet moms are often the ones tracking, monitoring, and adjusting their lifestyle habits to promote fertility. 

Leslie said that the issue begins early on. There is a problem with reproductive health education in general—girls are taught very little about their bodies, with minimal education about the menstrual cycle. But boys are taught even less. Men don’t grow up knowing anything about sperm health or what they can do to improve it. 

Men don’t grow up knowing anything about sperm health or what they can do to improve it.

Due to a lack of education and stigma around infertility and health, men often don’t seek help for their fertility issues. But Leslie pointed out that unlike damage to eggs, which cannot be reversed, men have the ability to make changes, treat their issues, and repair their sperm. In fact, lifestyle adjustments can often allow men to improve their fertility naturally. 

If we approached reproductive health differently, offering more support to men, many fertility issues might be more easily treatable. Fertility clinics should also ensure that they are testing partners upfront. 

Unfortunately, the infertility industry isn’t likely to push for change. Leslie pointed out that it’s a cash-pay industry that thrives off of expensive treatments and major interventionist approaches. 

Why Supplements Aren’t Always Helpful in Preparing Your Body for Pregnancy

While lifestyle adjustments are a great first line of defense to prepare our bodies for pregnancy and help us promote fertility, it’s also important to understand the evidence behind what’s actually helpful and what’s not. 

Many people turn to supplements as a solution. We often want a quick fix—so it makes sense that supplements would be appealing. But Leslie cautioned against this belief in supplements. She pointed out that influencers push supplements as a magic fix, but the clinical evidence says otherwise. 

Influencers push supplements as a magic fix, but the clinical evidence says otherwise.

Physical issues like fallopian tube problems or blockages can’t be fixed by supplements. That’s why it’s important to work with a provider to uncover what’s really at play. 

Leslie pointed out that evidence has not shown that supplements are effective. The only supplement you should be taking as a person who’s trying to conceive is a prenatal vitamin with folic acid. 

She said that men and women should be taking a prenatal vitamin starting ideally at least three months before they are trying to conceive. (Men can take just a regular multivitamin, but there are also men’s prenatals available.) 

Why Nutrition Matters When Preparing Your Body for Pregnancy

Leslie also said that nutrition plays a huge role in fertility and overall health. This can be complicated because we’re often bringing in more psychologically with our relationship with food that goes beyond what we’re eating. 

We often bring in more psychologically with our relationship with food beyond what we eat.

The internet will instruct you on very specific diet tips—for example, eat salmon, berries, and nuts to improve fertility, or avoid all refined sugars. But that is a very narrow view on the subject. It doesn’t take into account our culture, dietary preferences, finances, or relationship with food. 

Leslie said what’s more important than strict diets is viewing nutrition as a marathon—sustaining healthy nutrition over time. She recommends the 80/20 rule, where 80% of the time you try to eat whole foods or less processed foods, and 20% of the time you enjoy other foods that you like. If the recommended foods don’t work for you, find an alternative. 

It’s also important to not be too restrictive or too focus heavily on losing weight. Being underweight is just as much of a challenge to fertility as being overweight. Leslie said that neither will preclude you from becoming pregnant but both could cause issues to arise at some point in the process. 

Leslie also pointed out that the need for sustaining our bodies with nutrition doesn’t stop after we have a baby. We need to fuel our bodies and our minds when we have little ones.

How Long to Wait After a Miscarriage

One common question Leslie hears is, “If you have a miscarriage, how long do you have to wait to try again?” The answer is that there is no one answer. 

Leslie said that if you have a DNC or procedure, it’s best to wait a couple of months to heal, while if your body takes care of it you might be able to conceive again quicker. 

But it’s not just about when you’re physically ready—it’s also about when you are mentally ready. 

It’s not just about when you’re physically ready—it’s also about when you are mentally ready.

Leslie said that it’s important to let your mind heal. Pregnancy can be stressful even if it’s healthy and typical, with no major concerns. If you’re carrying any kind of trauma, you might carry that anxiety into the next pregnancy and increase the discomforts and stressors. 

She pointed out that it’s vital to have support—but that support can look differently for everyone. It might look like working with a therapist, practicing self-care, exercising, or any form of mental healthcare. It’s about stepping back and thinking about what feels good to you—not comparing yourself to other people or feeling like you have to pursue a specific thing. 

It’s also helpful to set boundaries if people in your life offer unhelpful advice (like “just relax and you’ll get pregnant”) or toxic positivity (like “It’s in God’s hands”). 

Leslie pointed out that when people say these things, there isn’t malicious intent. But we can exercise boundaries and let them know that what they are saying is not helpful. 

Navigating Secondary Infertility

Leslie also shared that secondary infertility (difficulty in conceiving after you’ve had at least one live birth) is very common, and can often blindside parents. This can arise from physical issues like blockages or scarring, especially after a C-section. 

That’s why follow-up care after childbirth is critically important. Sometimes these issues can be caught early on so we can be prepared for what subsequent pregnancies might look like. 

Follow-up care after childbirth is critically important.

Secondary infertility can also arise from lifestyle changes. When we have children, we often put our needs on the back burner, and we might not have as much time for taking care of our bodies. We don’t get as much sleep and our bodies are often different. This can contribute to secondary infertility in both men and women. 

Leslie said it can be helpful to work with your partner on lifestyle adjustments together, to continue to preserve your overall health. 

There’s also value in knowing that we are not alone. Secondary fertility might not be talked about as much, but if you are struggling, you are not the only one. Continue to be forgiving of yourself and don’t hesitate to work with a provider on testing and creating a plan that works for you.

Anxiety in Conception and the Perinatal Period

The period of trying to conceive often lays the groundwork for anxiety. We’re starting to understand more about postpartum anxiety, but anxiety during pregnancy or even through fertility is often overlooked. 

It’s common for this period to come with additional worries and concerns, especially if you’re struggling with infertility or have experienced a miscarriage or loss. But if we veer too far into hypervigilance or are unable to think about anything else, we might be teetering over into anxiety. 

We might feel like we need to over-research or cling to any amount of control we can as a way to ease our anxiety or discomfort. But this can become unhealthy or lead us to blame ourselves for things that are not our fault. 

Leslie pointed out that perfection is not a reasonable goal—humans need a little bit of grace. She went through self-blame and went through grief counseling after her experiences. 

Perfection is not a reasonable goal—humans need a little bit of grace.

But when she was able to find peace and step back, she realized that there wasn’t anything she could have done differently apart from possibly having kids earlier in life—which she wouldn’t have done because she hadn’t even met her husband. 

If we have trouble releasing blame from ourselves or overanalyzing every decision, seeking support from a professional can help. If untreated, our anxiety can persist even into parenting. 

If you’re struggling with anxiety or coping with grief from loss or infertility, our mom therapists are hear to help! Book a FREE 15 minute virtual consult today.

NEWSLETTER

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Tags:

Infertility, Miscarriage

Stage:

Trying to Conceive, Pregnancy, Postpartum

Share Now:

OUR GUEST

Leslie Schrock
Author

Leslie Schrock is an author and angel investor working at the convergence of health and technology. Her breakout hit, Bumpin': The Modern Guide to Pregnancy mixes the latest clinical research with practical advice for working families. Her second book, Fertility Rules (starred review from Booklist), takes the same approach for male and female fertility. She was named one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business, and her work has been featured on CNBC, NPR, Time, GQ, Fortune, Entrepreneur, Wired, The Economist, and The New York Times.

Erica Djossa
Erica Djossa
PMH-C | Founder of Momwell
Erica is the founder of Momwell, providing educational resources and virtual therapy for moms. She is a mom of three boys and a registered psychotherapist. Erica’s work has been featured in the Toronto Star, Breakfast Television, Scary Mommy, Medium, Pop Sugar, and Romper. how they want it.
RELATED ARTICLES
April 29, 2024
April 24, 2024
Understanding and Implementing Responsive Parenting: How to Break the Yelling/Shame Cycle
E:
222
with
Dr. Cindy Hovington
Founder of Curious Neuron
June 5, 2024
April 17, 2024
How to Maintain Friendships (and Make Friends) as a Mom
E:
221
with
Danielle Bayard Jackson
Author
June 5, 2024
April 10, 2024
How Stressed Moms Can Cope: Understanding and Breaking Out of the Stress Cycle
E:
220
with
Amelia Nagoski
Co-author of Burnout
June 5, 2024
March 13, 2024
Understanding Menopause and Mental Health: What to Expect and When to Seek Treatment
E:
216
with
Dr. Heather Hirsch
Founder of the Menopause & Midlife Clinic
June 5, 2024
February 28, 2024
How to Embrace Career Change as a Mom: Finding Your Passion and Overcoming Guilt
E:
214
with
Jess Galica
Career and Leadership Coach, Best-Selling Author
February 26, 2024
January 31, 2024
Postpartum Rage vs. Parental Anger: How Social Expectations Create Overwhelmed Moms
E:
210
with
Dr. Ashurina Ream
Founder and CEO of Psyched Mommy, licensed clinical psychologist
June 5, 2024
January 24, 2024
You’re Not an Angry Mom: Why We Experience Mom Rage (and What We Can Learn From It)
E:
209
with
Minna Dubin
Author of Mom Rage: The Everyday Crisis of Modern Motherhood
February 20, 2024
January 17, 2024
What Causes Mommy Brain? The Role of the Invisible Load on Forgetfulness and Brain Fog
E:
208
with
Dr. Jodi Pawluski
neuroscientist, psychotherapist and author
February 20, 2024
January 10, 2024
Hormone Health and Wellness for Moms: Busting Myths and Understanding Your Cycle
E:
207
with
Dr. Jen Gunter
bestselling author, obstetrician, and gynecologist
February 20, 2024
January 3, 2024
How Parents Can Avoid Information Overload: Maintaining Confidence in Our Decision-Making
E:
206
with
Cara Goodwin
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
February 20, 2024
November 29, 2023
Prioritizing the Invisible Load of Motherhood: Valuing Our Own Time and Letting Go of Mental Labor
E:
201
with
Whitney Casares
Founder and CEO of Modern Mommy Doc
February 20, 2024
November 15, 2023
Breaking Generational Trauma Cycles: Healing Our Past and Moving Forward in Motherhood
E:
199
with
Dr. Mariel Buqué
Psychologist and the author of the book Break the Cycle: A Guide to Healing Intergenerational Trauma
February 20, 2024
November 8, 2023
Is There Such a Thing as Healthy Perfectionism? Reframing the Concept of “Perfect” in Motherhood
E:
198
with
Katherine Morgan Schafler
Psychotherapist and author
February 20, 2024
October 25, 2023
Redefining Postpartum Fitness: Adjusting Your Goals and Healing Your Body
E:
196
with
Amy Kiefer & Krystle Howald
co-founders of Expecting and Empowered
February 20, 2024
October 11, 2023
Embracing the 7 Types of Rest: Why Moms Are Exhausted and What Actually Helps
E:
194
with
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith
Board-Certified internal medicine physician and award-winning author
February 20, 2024
October 4, 2023
Interpreting Newborn Hunger Cues and Sleepy Signs: How to Learn Your Baby’s Needs
E:
193
with
Sharon Mazel
Author of Bite-Sized Parenting: Your Baby’s First Year
February 20, 2024
September 20, 2023
Managing Mom Anxiety: Why Millennial Moms Are So Anxious and How to Overcome Our Fears
E:
191
with
Dr. Lauren Cook
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
February 20, 2024
September 13, 2023
Embracing Power as Moms: Reshaping Dynamics In and Out of the Home
E:
190
with
Claire Shipman
NYT Bestselling Author
February 20, 2024
September 6, 2023
How to Raise Confident Kids: Breaking Cycles of Negative Self-Esteem
E:
189
with
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe
Founder of The North Star Developmental Clinic
February 20, 2024
August 23, 2023
Understanding Sensory Self-Care: How Overstimulated Moms Can Regulate and Regain Calm
E:
187
with
Holly Peretz
Pediatric Occupational Therapist
February 20, 2024
August 16, 2023
Navigating Matrescence: The Roller Coaster of Becoming a Mom
E:
186
with
Dr. Catherine Birndorf
Co-Founder and Medical Director of The Motherhood Center of New York
February 20, 2024
July 26, 2023
The Journey of a Bereaved Parent: Stefania Thomson’s Story of Navigating Grief and Loss
E:
183
with
Stefania Thomson
Bereavement and Grief Advocate
February 20, 2024
June 21, 2023
Myths About Toddler Behavior: How to Reclaim the "Terrible Twos"
E:
178
with
Dr. Cathryn Tobin
Pediatrician
February 20, 2024
March 29, 2023
Birth Trauma Part 2: Facing Pregnancy After a Traumatic Birth
E:
166
with
Kayleigh Summers
Clinical Social Worker
February 20, 2024
March 22, 2023
Birth Trauma Part 1: How Birth Trauma Impacts Our Family Decision Making
E:
165
with
Kayleigh Summers
Clinical Social Worker
February 20, 2024
March 15, 2023
Real Self-Care for Moms: Why Mindset Matters More Than Massages
E:
164
with
Dr. Pooja Lakshmin
Psychiatrist
February 20, 2024
February 8, 2023
Overcoming Mom Guilt: Rewriting the Motherhood Contract and Charting Your Own Path
E:
159
with
Libby Ward
Founder of Diary of an Honest Mom
February 20, 2024
December 28, 2022
Coping During Postpartum with No Family Support: When Reality Clashes with Expectations
E:
153
with
Emmalee Bierly and Jennifer Chaiken
Founders of ShrinkChicks
February 20, 2024
November 23, 2022
The Mental Load of Motherhood: How to Address the Imbalance of Household Labour
E:
148
with
Gemma Hartley
Journalist and Author
February 20, 2024
November 16, 2022
Surviving the Baby Witching Hour: How to Cope With Colicky and Fussy Babies
E:
147
with
Dr. Whitney Casares
Pediatrician
February 20, 2024
November 2, 2022
How To Deal With Toxic Positivity As a Mom: What To Do When Someone Invalidates Your Feelings
E:
145
with
Whitney Goodman
Marriage and Family Therapist
February 20, 2024
October 19, 2022
Returning to Work After Maternity Leave: Navigating the Emotions, Difficulties, and Challenges
E:
143
with
Dr. Cassidy Freitas
Marriage and Family Therapist
February 20, 2024
October 12, 2022
How to Know if You Have Postpartum Anxiety: Red Flags to Watch for in Pregnancy, Birth, and After Baby
E:
142
with
Dr. Sarah Oreck
Reproductive Psychiatrist
February 20, 2024
October 5, 2022
Protecting Maternal Sleep: The Relationship Between Sleep Deprivation and Postpartum Depression
E:
141
with
Dr. Nicole Leistikow
Reproductive Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist
February 20, 2024
September 21, 2022
Encouraging Independent Play: Why Unstructured Play Matters and How to Foster It
E:
139
with
Susie Allison
Founder of Busy Toddler
April 25, 2024
August 31, 2022
Why Does a Messy House Give Me Anxiety? How to Stress Less About Cleaning and Keep Your House Functioning
E:
136
with
KC Davis
@domesticblisters on TikTok and Founder of Struggle Care
February 20, 2024
August 3, 2022
Overcoming Postpartum Depression and Anxiety: Why Support Matters and How to Find Resources to Help
E:
132
with
Dr. Wendy Davis
Executive Director of PSI
February 20, 2024
July 27, 2022
Overcoming Working Mom Guilt: Why Moms Should Never Be Ashamed to Be Ambitious
E:
131
with
Lara Bazelon
Law Professor and Author
February 20, 2024
February 16, 2022
What is Matrescence? The Transition into Motherhood (And Why Being a New Mom is Hard)
E:
108
with
Dr. Katayune Kaeni
Perinatal Psychologist
February 20, 2024
February 2, 2022
Discover Your Personal Core Values
E:
106
with
Dr. Cassidy Freitas
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
February 20, 2024
January 26, 2022
When Mommy Rage Strikes: How to Prevent and Control the Anger
E:
105
with
Dr. Ashurina Ream
Founder of Psyched Mommy
February 20, 2024
January 5, 2022
Sleep Training Doesn't Have To Be Scary
E:
102
with
Dr. Aubrie DeBear
Founder of Baby Sleep Dr.
February 20, 2024
January 19, 2022
Carrying the Mental Load: How to Redistribute the Burden and Give Moms More Freedom
E:
104
with
Eve Rodsky
New York Times Bestselling Author
February 20, 2024
January 12, 2022
Baby Blues vs. Postpartum Depression: How to Spot the Signs So You Can Seek Support
E:
103
with
Dr. Kristina Deligiannidis
Reproductive Psychiatrist
February 20, 2024
December 29, 2021
Decluttering: The Secret of an Easy to Tidy Home
E:
101
with
Katy Wells
Declutter Expert
February 20, 2024
December 22, 2021
100th Episode: Erica’s Husband Tells All
E:
100
with
Frenel Djossa
February 20, 2024
December 15, 2021
The Pressure to Get It Right
E:
99
with
Dr. Jen Douglas
Psychologist
February 20, 2024
November 24, 2021
Overcoming Gender Disappointment
E:
96
with
Dr. Renée Miller
Clinical Psychologist
February 20, 2024
November 17, 2021
Adding a Sibling to Your Family
E:
95
with
Bryana Kappadakunnel
Family Therapist
February 20, 2024
November 10, 2021
Regulating Your Nervous System
E:
94
with
Dr. Quincee Gideon
Psychologist
February 20, 2024
October 13, 2021
Momming With ADHD
E:
90
with
Dr. Melissa Shepard
Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist
February 20, 2024
October 6, 2021
Supporting NICU Moms
E:
89
with
Kristin Reinhart
Registered Social Worker
February 20, 2024
September 29, 2021
Alcohol, CBD, and Cannabis While Pregnant and Nursing
E:
88
with
Dr. Jennifer Lincoln
OB-GYN
February 20, 2024
September 22, 2021
Working As A Mother
E:
87
with
Dr. Courtney Tracy
Founder of The Truth Doctor
February 20, 2024
September 8, 2021
Caring for the Postpartum Brain
E:
85
with
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor
Neuroanatomist