Transcript: How To Prepare For Pregnancy Holistically
This is a text transcript from The First Time Mum’s Chat podcast. The episode is called How To Prepare For Pregnancy Holistically and you can click on the link to view the full episode page, listen to the episode and view the show notes.
Helen Thompson: It’s a really big deal to bring another human into the world and many of the moms I speak with rush into this journey before planning and thinking ahead with their partner. Preparing for your pregnancy is extremely important and I urge you to think ahead and take steps to ensure you are both in the best of health and in the right mindset.
This week’s guest, Dr. Jane Levesque is a naturopathic doctor who specializes in fertility. Dr. Jane helps her clients plan and think ahead and ensure that they are in good health to minimize the likelihood of problems conceiving. Dr. Jane’s second pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, so she’s been through the feelings of loss, confusion, feeling broken and asking why me?
In this episode, you’ll hear Dr. Jane talk about the importance of preparing your body and ensuring both you and your partner are healthy, the importance of following your intuition and practicing self empowerment to ensure you have the birth experience you want, ensuring you have the right mindset and are in the right space, so you have success and a way better pregnancy
And so much more!
Hello, Dr. Jane, and welcome to First Time Mum’s Chat. I’m looking forward to chatting with you very much, since I’ve not explored the topic of pregnancy and fertility on the podcast to date. I’m also a huge fan of everything naturopathic and love holistic approaches.
Jane Levesque: Thank you for having me Helen. So I am Dr. Jane. I’m a naturopathic doctor and I specialize in fertility. So I find that the fertility space, there is a lot of different kind of angles that you can come at fertility and what my real kind of passion is, is to educate couples, to prepare themselves for pregnancy, so they don’t have to go through the experience of infertility. And usually what I find is when couples are ready to start having kids, they’re ready to have kids, in a month from now.
So instead of taking this approach of, okay, I’m ready, let’s do it. Let’s plan, let’s think about ahead and make sure that both couples are in best possible health, because again, once the biggest kind of issue that I have with couples when they come is they realize that, oh my goodness, I’m gonna have troubles conceiving.
And now it’s this long torturous process of a year of trying or two years having to need medical intervention. And so, working with couples like that, and me, myself, experiencing a pregnancy loss and realizing how little support and how little education there is in the field of preparing yourself and what you can do to support your body naturally to optimize your chance of getting pregnant naturally and then of course have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. So that’s kind of my take on fertility and I can go into why next.
Helen Thompson: Okay, well, thank you for that. It’s always good to have a natural approach to childbirth, cuz I know a lot of moms go into it and are not prepared and they think they are prepared and of course there’s a stress involved in any pregnancy, but the stress involved, if you are not prepared. So you mentioned your take on fertility and you mentioned that you yourself had had a miscarriage. So how would you support a mom who comes to you, who’s had a miscarriage?
Jane Levesque: Yeah, and I would backtrack that a little bit Helen, because I love what you said, how there’s so many things that can go wrong during the pregnancy and the labor and it’s not to scare us, it’s not to freak you out that, oh my God, all of these things can go wrong and you have no control. Yeah and really what happened to me is my first pregnancy, I got pregnant really quickly, but I was so shocked of how sick I was. I missed work because I was so nauseous. I couldn’t sleep for almost three weeks. I had a food poisoning case. I was really close to having to go to the hospital because of being so dehydrated and of course now you’re not just worried about yourself, but you’re worried about this tiny little human that you’re growing and you can’t tell anybody you’re pregnant in that first trimester, which is when all of this happened.
And then I continued to be uncomfortable in my body for the entire pregnancy. I had cold sores and I couldn’t believe how uncomfortable I was and I didn’t do anything to prepare. Now that was my first clue of like, okay, wait a minute. I’ve been in the health and fitness industry for over 15 years now, and then I’d been a naturopath at that point for at least five. So I had all this knowledge and yet pregnancy really threw me off. And my labor was the thing that really did me in. So I realized that, hey, if I’m not doing this, there’s a ton of women who are not doing this as well.
And so to bring it back, the second pregnancy, I really focused on preparing myself physically. So I did everything and anything that I could. But my husband and I were not in the right spot and that pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. And what I mean by we weren’t in the right spot. Like there was just so much going on, we had a bunch of things going on with our business. The timing just wasn’t right but I was stubborn. I was like, nope, I need to schedule this, I need to plan this out. And the universe, God, whatever you believe in, really just taught me a big lesson of, hey did you really think that you had this figured out? Did you really think you could just pencil this in and do it your way, if you will. I’m doing quotations here, but once I realized I was having a miscarriage, I supported my body through miscarriage too, with natural herbs, some lifestyle things and supplements, and a lot of meditation and just support. I got counseling, I did some grief meditations, and what I will tell women who are going through a miscarriage is that there is a way to do it where you feel empowered. Now I know that that’s a really hard concept to understand because it’s so out of your control. But as soon as I knew I was having a miscarriage, I took it into my hands. So I used herbs for example, and I do this with women now to help stimulate the miscarriage, so it can be natural as opposed to a medical miscarriage. Now, sometimes you need a medical miscarriage, but if you have a natural one, you’re much more likely to recover quicker than you will from a medical procedure because again, it’s a medical procedure versus something that your body naturally did.
And there is a lot that you can do to support your system with a big fluctuation of hormones that happens during the miscarriage and the inflammatory markers that go up in the immune system, up regulation, down regulation. So there’s a lot of things that you can do through diet, lifestyle, supplementation, herbs to support your body physically.
So then you can go through the emotional aspect of what a miscarriage brings on much more. When the body feels physically good and strong, then it’s a lot easier to deal with the mental and emotional components of it. But when there’s a lot going on in the physical body and you’re dealing with this big emotional component that happens with a miscarriage, then it becomes a lot more difficult to recover and to get ready to try again, because that’s the hard thing is to get ready to try again.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, it’s interesting how you say the medical intervention because I’ve never experienced a miscarriage, but I am very open to natural therapies. I would rather go to see somebody like you, rather than going to see a doctor, because you just never know what they’re going to give you and they can stress me out even more.
Jane Levesque: It just depends on who you get. And a lot of the times, I’ve had patients come to me and whether it is they’re trying to get pregnant or they’re going through a pregnancy loss. I have a patient who has been told, she’s gonna have a hard time getting pregnant, cuz she has irregular cycles and she was put on birth control and she’s been on birth control for almost 15 years now and she comes to her doctor and she says, hey, is there anything I can do to prepare? And the doc says, no, don’t worry about it you’re probably gonna have a hard time getting pregnant so if you can’t get pregnant, just come back and we’ll do IVF and we’ll get you pregnant nice and quick.
It’s just like, but we’re bringing a life into this world now. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you do need a medical intervention, right? Sometimes you do and it really depends on how long you’ve been trying, what are your markers, what labs have you done, what’s going on with your partner? But there are so many things that we can do to even optimize that process, because again, the numbers for IVF, nothing is guaranteed, right? You have a 20% chance of getting pregnant with a procedure that’s really invasive and like I said, it’s not guaranteed. It’s really, really invasive and really hard on the system, on the female body because of all the hormones that go into it.
And of course the mental, emotional toll that it takes on you. So and again, I’ve had people who go through a miscarriage and I had a client who they were just like, oh yeah, we’ll just do a D&C (dilation and curettage), when they go in and they’ll scrape out the tissue. So that’s the medical procedure, if you will and then you could also do a medication that stimulates miscarriage. And it’s not to say that it’s not wrong. Like sometimes, but usually a medical procedure or a medication is going to have side effects because every medication has a side effect and you’re just weighing out the pros and the cons and the body knows when the pregnancy’s not viable.
And that’s why it’s quote unquote getting rid of it. And that’s another really hard concept to understand, because I really wanna make sure that women don’t blame themselves because that is the first thing that’s gonna go through your mind ,is something is wrong with me, I made this happen, I ate this thing. At that point, it’s just, I don’t wanna say it’s out of your control in that sense, but it is the universe or God or whatever. There is that component where you’re just creating it and it’s out of your hands. You don’t know how the replication is gonna go on.
And there’s a lot that the body has to do in order for the pregnancy to be successful, for implantation and the immune system regulation and down regulation, upregulation. So there’s a lot that we can do to prepare, but then once you actually start trying, you gotta let go and breathe. There isn’t much you can do at that point. And so when a miscarriage just happening, it’s very much a body’s way of saying I cannot sustain this pregnancy. Whether it’s a genetic, right malformation of the DNA or it’s something going on with the female. Like if there’s a blood sugar issue, a thyroid issue, implantation issue, hormones, right and the body just says, I can’t sustain this and it gets rid of it. Now where the empowerment comes in is figuring out, well, why is my body not sustaining this, if this is a natural process, what is going on? That’s the deeper question and most docs just don’t spend enough time with you, right. So they don’t ask those questions. They just kind of say it’s normal. And that’s what happened to me and I had a midwife and they were like, okay, have two more miscarriages and then we can take a look at it.
Yeah not very supportive exactly and it is really hard to go through that on your own. One loss is really painful. I couldn’t imagine going through it again. And then again, and you have to feel ready to try because it very much can happen again because it’s like one replication goes off wrong and now all of a sudden you have an extra chromosome and now it’s not a viable fetus, so the body will get rid of it. Cause our body is very, very smart. And so it’s hard to trust that process, but if you’ve experienced this pregnancy loss over and over again, then we need to look at why, right. What’s happening and usually there’s always a reason. We just need to do the digging and have the courage to look what I call it, under the hood. Let’s look and see what’s causing this as opposed to you know that just was a bad experience, I’ll get over it and then we’ll try again. Cause you can do that, but then again, you’re playing a game of roulette as opposed to, okay now I’ve seen everything that’s going on in my body, I fixed this, I supported these nutrients, I’ve supported these hormones and then we can tell, right? We’re just minimizing risk as much as possible.
Having gone through it myself and I shared my journey on Instagram, I shared my whole journey, meaning I prepared myself for pregnancy and then, okay, look, we found out we’re pregnant and this is what I’m doing in my first semester and of course, I didn’t know I was gonna have a miscarriage, but then once I did, I had to share that component as well and the best thing that you could say to someone when they’re going through a miscarriage, now, it really depends on how close you are to people, right? So people who are more acquaintances, the best thing is I’m sorry for your loss and I’m sorry to hear that this is happening. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to support and so that’s very much of an acquaintance, not a super close friend. A closer friend and again friend versus practitioner is different. The kind of support that you should be getting and family members and family members and close friends this is where you’re just asking, what do you need right? What do you need to help you go through that process because sometimes you need to tune out and watch Netflix, sometimes you need someone to come and make you a cup of tea or stew or whatever. That was one of the biggest things that a friend did for me is that she just came over and we made juice and we just hung out and we watched something on TV and it was really great cuz it just took my mind off. It’s just having somebody there. That’s really what I personally feel like. It’s just having somebody there to support and if you are quote unquote, I wanna say proactive, you’re wondering is there something else to do, then this is where you can go into doing some research. But if you’re a close family member or close friend and you know of somebody that can help, there might be a window in there to say, hey, I think there’s somebody who can help you go through this and to really heal. And then it’s up to the person, you’re just giving options. And sometimes the best thing that you can ask is not what do you need, but do you want to just vent or do you want advice because those are two different things. Sometimes people just wanna vent and you’re just providing a listening ear and that’s all your job is to do and that’s really, really hard.
And I come from a place where I give a lot of advice to people. So for me to sit back and to listen is really hard, but that’s the person’s process. So you have to respect that, and if they want advice, and if you have advice that you could give, then by all means, feel free to give the advice, but really it should be a professional.
And if you’re a doctor, any kind of doctor, whether it’s a holistic practitioner or a functional medicine doctor or a conventional medicine doctor, if they make you feel like, I don’t even wanna say this because I don’t feel like they’ll make you feel like it’s your fault, but if you don’t feel heard and acknowledged and supported, then always seek another opinion. This is where empowerment comes in. I can’t tell you how many women are like, yeah, my doctor just didn’t do anything so I just went home and it was because that doctor doesn’t specialize in this or he doesn’t know that, or she doesn’t know that.
And it’s like if I go to the gym and I didn’t really like the trainer and then I’m like, I guess I don’t need the gym. No, you still need to exercise, you just need to find something that works for you. So that’s the same, we’ll put our docs on a pedestal and even myself when I was going through my healing journey, not even with miscarriage, but just like when I first got into natural medicine, I went through four different naturopaths before I found the one that really truly shifted me and changed me and healed me for good and I didn’t stop because I knew that there was a solution it was just not the right person.
Just don’t quite get what I’m going through. Yeah, it’s not working for me. So be okay to say that, that’s empowerment, that’s trusting your intuition to say something is off here, I don’t feel supported. I’m gonna see if there’s someone else out there who will listen to me and know that it might not be the second time right or the third. How important is it for you to feel heard and acknowledged and how important is it for you to heal and deal with this issue? And if it’s really important, like if it’s 10 outta 10 or 12 outta 10, then don’t give up on yourself, don’t give up on yourself and you don’t have to have all the answers somebody does, but the bigger the problem sometimes the harder it is to find the solution, right, so you have to search a little bit longer and that’s okay. Be okay with the fact that you’ll have to search a bit longer. It’s also just harder cuz you’re in a more vulnerable state, right?
Helen Thompson: Yeah and you’ve gotta get the right support.
Jane Levesque: And it’s just a vulnerable topic and part of me, sharing it through my social media and I think there is a lot more people talking about their IVF journeys, right and I think that’s really good, but we also need to share the portion before people get to that because when people see that and they really feel the pain for these women and they’re worried that this might happen to them and so can we open this conversation up and your podcast First Time Mums, for me, my first time experience just wasn’t good. My labor was awful, I felt out of control, I didn’t feel like I gave birth cuz medication and all this stuff that I had to push for a really long time and then when I had my baby, I almost couldn’t believe it and I didn’t get this big surge of oh my God, this is my baby and I gave birth to her. I got a bit of almost like this PTSD. I’m like, I don’t wanna go through that again. I always wanted two kids, but that was awful, does everybody go through this?
And that’s where my research really started and it was just like, oh, you don’t have to you can do things to prepare yourself, to empower yourself, to have the birth experience that you want, but there’s a lot of work to be done to get there.
Helen Thompson: And having somebody like you who has the medical side as well as the natural side, I think is to me as a, for me personally would be quite empowering. I don’t particularly like the medical side. I prefer the natural side but as you said, you need to have a bit of both.
Jane Levesque: Yeah, I a hundred percent agree. That’s one of the strength, if you will, of a naturopath is you do understand the medical side, but the thing that we’re passionate about is getting the body to heal and to work as it should, honestly, like that’s all it is. It’s something is blocking it from being able to do what it should. So a pregnancy is a natural process and if that is not happening, my question is always what is blocking that? Even if we’re talking about male infertility, there’s 40 to 50% male factor infertility for all couples, which is a huge number and most women will take the burden on themselves and I’ve had couples who tried for six years and the male never got tested and the female thought she was all off and he didn’t and finally it was like, just test the male and it turns out he just didn’t have good sperm and he had a lot of heavy metal toxicity and all of this stuff. So, I know I kind of went off on a tangent, but there is time for the medical system, but I don’t think it as soon as we need it to be for the only option it feels like for most women that I talk to they don’t wanna do IVF, they feel cornered into it. They wanna have a baby and they’re willing to do anything to do that and if there’s any first time mums listening, who’ve had IVF, the first time to mentally get yourself ready, depending on how bad or how treacherous that journey was to get yourself ready again.
But my question would be have you worked with a naturopath and what kind of lab testing have you done and what have they found and why are you not getting pregnant? And why are your hormones out of balance? Because a lot of people will have out of balance hormones, but nobody’s talking about why those hormones are out of balance.
So you could use all the herbs in the world to try to balance your hormones, but if you’re not treating the root cause of whether it’s a toxicity or an infection, something that’s causing those hormones to be out of balance. And this is where lab testing comes in and we look and we dig and we find answers cuz when you have an answer you’re at peace, you know why and then you have a game plan, right.
Helen Thompson: Yeah it’s interesting how you mention the males as well, because a lot of moms have mom guilt because they think it’s their fault when in fact, sometimes as you say, it may be the sperm count that isn’t strong enough and I think it’s important to do it together as a partner team. You do it together and you both get checked and you both give each other support when the other one’s going through what they’re doing. So that way you are supporting each other to go through it . It takes two to have a baby so it takes two to support each other to have that baby.
Jane Levesque: I’ll have clients who feel responsible for their male’s fertility They’ll feel responsible for the male’s health. So if you feel responsible for your partner’s health and taking care of him and all this, there’s obviously a component of taking care of one another, but if your partner doesn’t take any responsibility, then it becomes a little bit more of this parent child relationship, right and that becomes on the mental, emotional component in terms of couples that I’ve worked with that have fertility issues. The female usually has this parent relationship and whether it’s with her partner or her own parents. So that parenting box, if you will, is already filled, it’s just not filled with a child and breaking that and coming to the same page and making sure you understand, why do I wanna have a baby and what is my current energy bank? Because usually when we parent we take on and that’s a pattern of mine that I had to work really hard on breaking, to not parent my partners before my husband and that’s something that in terms of energy, it’s an energy output.
You’re constantly putting more energy out, out, out and when it comes to growing a baby, that’s the hardest thing that the female body will ever do. It is the hardest thing. It’s the most stressful. And I know people think about stress with the pandemic and finances and all this but it’s like, you are growing a human from scratch.
That’s takes so much energy and so much effort and so many nutrients and so many things to go right. And if we underestimate that, then as alternative practitioners, when we come into fertility webinars and that kind of stuff, one of our greatest wishes is that no woman enters into a state of pregnancy in a state of depletion.
So if you’re constantly putting energy out, whether it’s parenting your parents or parenting your child or doing a bunch at work or not feeding yourself enough, not taking enough rest, right. What is that energy balance doing? And so coming back to the partner, it’s like the partner should take their own responsibility for their own health because having a child it’s not just about getting pregnant and having a baby. Parenting is a real thing and it’s really stressful in the first five years I wanna say, cause I’m still in that five years, but like toddlers are awful. That two to four age is so hard and so you don’t get much of a break.
And then if you have any illnesses in the child, well the parents have to be on the same page. It’s like, oh the dad keeps feeding him this or the mom is doing this. So who is the parent here? And so if you set that foundation before you even have the kids and you make sure that you’re on the same page and you are your own individual people who care and love for each other, but you also care and love for yourself, then you can pass those habits on to your future child. And of course the chance of you being able to get pregnant naturally is much, much higher.
Helen Thompson: Yeah it’s going back to taking responsibility for yourself before you can take responsibility for others.
Jane Levesque: If you’re a people pleaser, you’re gonna try to please everybody else before you please yourself. And to flip that around again, some of the infertility cases that I worked with, the biggest thing that the women will have an issue with is boundaries. They’ll have a hard time saying no, no to their friends, no, to work projects, no to gatherings. They don’t wanna do no to their parents, whatever. They’ll have the hardest time saying no. Or when they do say no, they feel super guilty and all of that is energy depletion. If you go to an event that you don’t wanna go to, you have to put on a face and then you’re gonna eat and drink things that maybe you don’t really wanna do.
That’s more energy that comes out of your system and that was the big lesson for me through my second pregnancy and into my third is that, hey, you could do all the things physically, but if mentally and emotionally, you haven’t dealt with some stuff, you’re not ready. And mentally and emotionally sometimes it’s bigger than the physical and I would argue that it is. It’s just hard to prove that.
Helen Thompson: Yeah and as a naturopath you can help support people with that. Is there anything else that you would like to add.
Jane Levesque: The message that I really wanna scream from top of the mountain is to just get yourself ready. It’s a really big deal to have kids and I wish somebody told me that when I was getting ready to get pregnant and I wasn’t getting ready to get pregnant. We just decided, okay, let’s just do it and see what happens and I wish somebody said, hey, do this, do these steps first, prepare your body, make sure you’re healthy, make sure your partner’s healthy, make sure you’re in the right space because not only will that set you up for success, but you actually have a way better pregnancy and you know, a very different experience.
So don’t wait for the bad experience. Do it now. And if you’ve had a bad experience, that’s okay. Learn from it, so then you could do something different, right? I just don’t want anybody to wing it when it comes to having kids because if we understand what it is that we’re truly doing, which is bringing another human into this world, who’s gonna be just like you and I, walking around, trying ,to find their passion, trying to find their purpose, just trying to make their way in this world, if you as a parent, both of you as a couple, are not only healthy, but also mentally and emotionally feel connected and feel like you’re on the same page and you are ready to dive into this, you’re gonna do so much better and your child will do so much better. You’re gonna feel so much more connected with your child and so, don’t wing it, get yourself ready.
Helen Thompson: That’s very, very good advice coming from somebody who’s experienced it. So thank you so much for all your pearls of wisdom and how can moms find you?
Jane Levesque: Yeah, for sure. Instagram, I have Dr. Jane Levesque. I also have a Facebook group that I’ve just started with incredible content. The Facebook group is called Dr. Jane’s Natural Fertility Support group. I have a podcast modern health with Dr. Jane and if you are looking to do a DIY, a do it yourself program, I have a fertility 101 program that basically just helps you know exactly what you need to know to prepare yourself for pregnancy. The things that I wish somebody told me, like, here’s what you should eat, here’s what your partner should eat, here are supplements you should take and when you should start taking them, here are the labs that you should ask your doctor to run cuz sometimes docs won’t run and you’re like, hey, can you run these things for me? If you’re a do it yourself person, and then how to set your environment up for success.
So there’s a lot of environmental toxicities, how to clean up your environment, really for yourself and your partner, but then of course for your future baby and to set you up for success. So if you have show notes, we can throw all those links in there and then my website has my story and how to book a call with me, that kind of stuff. And that’s again, just DrJaneLevesque.com.
Helen Thompson: So thank you so much for being on the podcast. I really enjoyed talking to you.
Jane Levesque: Thank you, Helen for having me, it was a blast.
Helen Thompson: I hope you find what Dr. Jane shared about pregnancy and fertility, as fascinating as I did. You’ve probably gathered from this episode and others, that I’m a big fan of naturopaths and their focus on looking at the cause instead of just the effect. I regularly consult one where I live and find them far more approachable and often more methodical than a doctor.
I think a holistic approach is needed when it comes to this whole topic, considering not only your physical, but also your mental state. I strongly encourage you to check out Dr. Jane’s website, Instagram and Facebook presence and I’ve included links to all of these in the show notes, which can be accessed at MyBabyMassage.net/podcast/079.