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As a nutritionist, I am a big believer that health is the foundation of fertility. Anything that you can do to support your overall health also supports your fertility.
When most people think of health, however, they immediately think of the condition of their physical body. Your body is only one part of your overall health status. I find that even with clients who have their nutrition dialed in and their fitness in check, there can still be a missing piece when it comes to their overall health and subsequently, fertility. That missing piece is often their mindset.
Why do I bring this up at all?
Because the fertility and pregnancy complexes are littered with fear and scare tactics. There are so many disempowering messages out there that make women question their ability to get pregnant and to have a healthy baby. It’s all about what can go wrong, rather than what can go right. All of this negative conditioning can really mess with our perceptions and our belief systems around getting pregnant.
Your mind is your most powerful asset. Most people don’t know how powerful they are in creating their own reality. To be honest, I didn’t realize it either until I started diving into the research.
Dr. Joe Dispenza’s book, You Are the Placebo, and Bruce Lipton’s book, The Biology of Belief, are two of the perennial texts on how our thoughts influence our physiology. They both make the connection between what we think and what we experience. In many cases, our bodies operate downstream of our thoughts.
In many cases, our bodies operate downstream of our thoughts.
We can see this phenomenon most clearly through the lens of the placebo effect. A Harvard University article explains, “Contrary to popular belief, patients don’t just imagine placebo responses. Rather, numerous brain-imaging studies have confirmed that placebos cause measurable changes in neurobiological signaling pathways”. More simply stated, patients are not “imagining” a biochemical change; their body is actually producing a biochemical change in response to their beliefs & expectations.
Let’s look at an example. In You Are the Placebo, Dr. Dispenza recounts the story of soldiers who were returning from combat with severe injuries. At one point, the on-site trauma unit ran out of morphine. Without skipping a beat, the on-call nurse injected one of the soldiers with “morphine” and the doctor then proceeded with surgery. Interestingly, neither the soldier nor the doctor knew that the nurse administered saline instead of morphine. Why? Because the soldier’s body made endorphins internally, similar opioid-like compounds to morphine, to combat the pain. His mind believed that he was receiving morphine, so his body responded accordingly by producing morphine-like compounds. Our bodies respond to our beliefs about our bodies.
Our bodies respond to our beliefs about our bodies.
The placebo effect has been shown in cases of neurologic diseases, immune diseases, cancer and mood disorders, to name a few. It begs the question: If your body can upregulate endorphins in response to the placebo effect and impact pain perception…if your body can upregulate neurotransmitters like dopamine in response to the placebo effect and impact Parkinson’s disease…then why would your reproductive system be any different?
In full transparency, we don’t understand all of the mechanisms behind the placebo effect. Maybe it mediates stress? Maybe it mediates hormone pathways? We are not quite sure yet, but we do know that it’s powerful. If it works for neurodevelopmental health and mood health and immune health, it makes sense that it would also play out in reproductive health; because remember, your organs are not disparate systems – they are all one, integrated and interconnected system. What affects one part of your body usually affects many other parts.
Given this, it’s important to ask yourself:
- What is your current thinking about your ability to get pregnant? Do you believe in your body’s ability to conceive easily and carry a healthy baby to term? If not, why not?
- Have you internalized any negative commentary about your age or your health that causes you to question your body’s ability to get pregnant?
- Do you have any negative beliefs (e.g., about your ability to be a great mom, about your ability to juggle your career and your kid, about your partner’s desire for children) that may be sabotaging your baby-making efforts?
Having a baby starts with believing that you can have a baby…and that you are equipped to be a magnificent mother.
Having a baby starts with believing that you can have a baby…and that you are equipped to be a magnificent mother. Everything else follows from there. You will take actions in accordance with your beliefs – so make sure that your beliefs are truly aligned with your goals.
To be clear, I’m not saying that you can just visualize your way to conception without taking any action. What I am saying is that both your underlying beliefs and your daily actions influence your health and therefore, your fertility. If you are doing “all of the things” when it comes to your nutrition and movement and sleep and stress, but not seeing results, then maybe it’s time to look inward and explore any potential mindset blocks standing between you and your future baby.