According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 10 percent of women, or 6.1 million, in the United States aged 15 to 44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant each year. In The Ayurvedic Guide to Fertility: A Natural Approach to Getting Pregnant, author and Ayurvedic practitioner Heather Grzych offers a gentle, holistic approach to understanding the physical, emotional, and psychological aspects of fertility based on Ayurveda, or “the science of life,” an ancient form of medicine that originated in India. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.
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A woman with an optimally functioning body has the ability to conceive and birth a child with a suitable partner during the fertile years of her life. If there is no intervention, it’s possible for her to get pregnant from a very young age all the way until she finally goes through menopause. Fertility increases when the conditions in the environment are conducive to the creation and growth of a child, and these conditions can differ case by case because each baby has its unique nature, or prakruti, as does each mother and father. This is the biological norm. No two are the same. Modern medicine refers to the genome, which is a part of prakruti.
Today, modern women are very concerned about the environment, whether this be the stress level in the place where they work, the state of political affairs, or even literally the condition the earth is in. We see people headed out to explore the possibility of bringing life out into space, and we start to wonder whether it could really be so bad down here on Earth that we feel the need to leave the planet.
Ayurveda creates a natural harmony by connecting a person’s inner world (the mind, body, and spirit) with the outer world (the seasons, environment, and larger macrocosm). Ayurveda does this by preventing and reversing disease, improving quality of life, and increasing longevity for the individual’s unique constitution, and it has been doing so for thousands of years. It is absolutely possible to tip the balance toward health, even in a shifting environment.
Furthermore, the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda brings us back to the very simple biological ideas behind how life is created. There are Four Fertility Factors to consider for natural fertility and reproductive health: seed, season, field, and water.
- Seeds are the ovum and sperm that join together and get implanted in the uterus. Seeds are also the intentions a woman has for supporting another life on the planet. They are given a chance only when the conditions are right for them to grow in.
- Season is synonymous with timing: time of life, time of year, monthly cycle, and day. There are optimal times for each woman to have a child.
- Field includes the uterus and other reproductive organs, which contribute to the creation and gestation of a fetus and the nurturing of a child, as well as the larger environment around mother, child, and family. The field is a welcoming home for a new baby.
- Water is what flows through the field to nourish tissues of both mother and child, delivering messages via hormones and lubricating the body for the immense physical changes taking place during the menstrual cycle, gestation, and birth. The water element is a nurturer, a carrier, and a mixer. It maintains the stability of the temperature inside the body so that metabolic processes can take place within their optimum range.
If there is trouble in any of these four fertility areas, conception may become challenging. Mind, body, and environment are all important considerations on the path to getting pregnant. Your partner and larger community environment factor in, but you are prime. You make decisions about whom to bring into your life, what to put into your body, when to explore having a family, and which career choices to make.
To influence the fertility factors, Ayurveda focuses on optimizing a person’s day-to-day routines, diet, and lifestyle with self-care and attunement to the environment. You plant your seeds, and at the right time, in the right environment, and with the right care — you might start “sprouting” a baby. However, the goal here is not just to get pregnant. You also want the rest of your life and health to be going well. Your health is one of the greatest gifts you can give to anyone, including yourself, your partner, and potentially your future baby.
If you have physical issues with your cycles or other key areas of the body, or any mental turbulence about having a child, then it’s time to make healing decisions. It is important to work on resolving chronic issues before you conceive. You want to be in the best health possible when you embark on the path to motherhood because, while it’s possibly the most rewarding experience in a woman’s life, it’s not a walk in the park. Pregnancy and motherhood can make certain physical and mental health conditions worse for some women and even pass on the condition to their unborn babies. For example, a woman with cancer is at risk of the cancer worsening during pregnancy, and it’s also possible for some cancers to spread to the fetus in utero.
Luckily, when babies are born today, generally things seem to develop quite well. Most babies are born with all their parts intact, as only 3 percent suffer any type of major birth defect whatsoever. It turns out that nature is successful in building bodies without much conscious help from us!
Much like a garden, one’s fertility can be cultivated in a natural way with some time and attention. Through identifying the Four Fertility Factors, you will be able to create a healthy, rewarding, and beautiful experience for yourself and your family.
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Heather Grzych is the author of The Ayurvedic Guide to Fertility. A board-certified Ayurvedic practitioner, she bridges the worlds of conventional and alternative medicine to help women and men heal their physical and emotional lives. Heather is on the board of directors for the National Ayurvedic Medical Association and has consulted with doctors, governments, and insurance companies. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit her online at HeatherGrzych.com.
Excerpted from the book The Ayurvedic Guide to Fertility. Copyright © 2020 by Heather Grzych.