Lower Back Pain during Early Pregnancy & Beyond
This guest post was written by Dr. Heather Allen. Dr. Allen received her Master of Physical Therapy from the University of Texas at El Paso in 2001 and graduated with her Doctor of Physical Therapy from A.T. Still University in 2009. She is a licensed physical therapist in Texas. Dr. Allen has a varied clinical background with experience in neurological rehabilitation, cardiovascular rehabilitation, and women’s health. Dr. Allen’s current focus is teaching in academia.
It is estimated that at least 80% of the general population will experience low back pain at some point in their life. It is extremely common for a woman to experience low back pain during her pregnancy. This is due to the changes that occur to a woman’s body during pregnancy. First, our center of gravity is altered due to the weight and location of the baby, especially during the third trimester. Secondly, our body produces more Relaxin (a hormone that allows our joints and ligaments to loosen in preparation for childbirth). Thirdly, our abdominal muscles are stretched due to the growing baby and these muscles are unable to provide normal stability. Finally, our movement patterns are altered with all activities of daily living.
Treatment Options for Lower back Pain
Treatment options are limited during pregnancy since it is best to err on the side of caution. Most pain medications are contraindicated during pregnancy. The general rule of thumb regarding treatment modalities is to avoid any modality other than heat or ice near the baby. A recent study by Keskin et al. (2012) indicated that TENS was more effective than exercise and acetaminophen for pregnancy related low back. Therefore, a TENS unit may be a possible treatment option. This is one that we have used and love!
Whether you are pregnant or not, correct body mechanics are very important. If you are picking up a small light object from the floor, you should use a golfer’s lift technique (how a pro golfer picks up a golf ball from the ground). If you are picking up something heavier such as a toddler, you need to squat down and keep the object close to you. It is important to lift with your legs, not your back. If you are carrying an object, you should keep it close to your body. It is important to sit in a chair that has good lumbar support. After sitting for more than 30 minutes, you should stand up and walk around the room. Our bodies are meant to move, and if we stay in static positions for too long, it will make our low back pain worse.
Sleeping During Pregnancy
Towards the end of pregnancy, it is very difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position. After 20 weeks, a woman should no longer sleep on her back or stomach. This can be a challenge for women who normally sleep in these positions. When you are sleeping on your side, you can put pillows between your knees and a pillow behind your low back. Some people also find it comfortable to hug a pillow(s) in this position.
Exercises for lower back pain in pregnancy
There are a variety of exercises that can be helpful throughout pregnancy. Walking is a great way to exercise throughout your pregnancy. Swimming and water aerobics put minimal stress on your low back. Standing back extensions can be very helpful to maintain our lumbar extension. It is important to perform core exercises such as pelvic tilts in standing or sitting. You can perform alternating arm and leg lifts in quadruped. It can also be helpful to trade in your desk chair and recliner for a birth ball. We love this one!
Our core consists of our low back muscles, abdominal muscles, and pelvic floor muscles. As previously mentioned, our abdominal muscles are severely affected by pregnancy. Many pregnant females experience diastatsis recti (vertical separation of the abdominal muscles). The pelvic floor is an often-forgotten component of the core. One purpose of the pelvic floor is to support the internal organs above it, and thus it is crucial to strengthen this muscle group during pregnancy with Kegel exercises. Likewise, strong pelvic floor muscles can assist during delivery.
A women’s health physical therapist can be an excellent resource for treatment of low back pain during pregnancy. Likewise, physical therapists are trained to provide customized exercise programs, posture analysis, and body mechanic training. A physical therapist can also determine if a maternity support belt would be of benefit to you.
Sources: Keskin, E.A., Onur, O., Kiskin, H.L., Gumus, I.I., Kafali, H., & Turhan, N. 2012. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation improves low back pain during pregnancy. Gynecologic & Obstetric Investigation, 74, 76-83.
This guest post was written by Alina Horrocks who holds a Doctor of Physical Therapy.
I am a mother of 3. I am also a physical therapist. My background is mostly acute (hospital) care. I’ve shifted from working full-time as a PT, to being a stay at home mom. When I became fully immersed in the “mom world” and was meeting other fairly new mothers, I was surprised at how many of these women were having pelvic floor issues (mainly incontinence).
In my experience as an OB/GYN patient, none of my providers really took any time to explain the importance strengthening the pelvic floor or the correct way to do it. In talking to several friends, that has been their experience as well. Many ended up seeing a Women’s Health specialist PT for incontinence issues postpartum, and they were very surprised at what they didn’t know about their own body and how simple the treatments are.
Women’s Health & Physical Therapy
Having had the advantage of going to PT school, I at least knew a little about my pelvic floor and the Women’s Health specialty within the world of physical therapy. It is a fairly new but growing specialty. But even in school, the amount of curriculum dedicated to Women’s Health and/or pelvic floor issues was minimal. I’ve had to really do a lot of my own research and take some extra courses to learn more.
A systematic review published in 2014 found that “PFMT (pelvic floor muscle training) during pregnancy and after delivery can prevent and treat UI (Urinary Incontinence)”. This research shows the benefit of exercising the pelvic floor, but the problem is that our current healthcare culture doesn’t promote much preventative education in this arena.
What I want all mothers and mothers-to-be to know
I think many women just accept the fact that some urine leakage after having a baby is expected. Many women do experience this, yes….BUT that doesn’t have to be the case. Urine leakage is a dysfunction of the pelvic floor and there is treatment available!
There are physical therapists that specialize in Women’s Health that can help with all kinds of things (urinary and bowel incontinence, breast cancer, lymphedema, pelvic girdle pain, pediatric pelvic health, male incontinence and pelvic health, sexual dysfunction, pregnancy and postpartum, to name a few…). However, you may have to seek them out. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has a Section on Women’s Health (SOWH) where you can look up therapists who’ve been specially trained and certified – look for someone with a WCS after their name (Women’s Health Clinical Specialist). For more info, go here.
Performing a pelvic floor contraction
Think about pulling the whole area from your pubic bone to your tail bone “up and in”. Another description I’ve heard is to “stop the flow of urine”, but actually I think a more accurate description is to “stop the passing of gas”. The contraction needs to include the muscles around the vagina as well as around the anus. You should not be holding your breath or contracting the abs. If you have difficulty doing this or are unsure if you are doing this correctly, you may want to seek out a Women’s Health specialist.
Exercise your pelvic floor
- Quick flicks – contract your pelvic floor as hard as you can.
- Sustained contraction – contract your pelvic floor and hold the tension starting for 5 seconds and working up to 10+ seconds.
- Elevator – contract and lift up your pelvic floor little by little, like you’re going up floor by floor in an elevator. When you get to the top, or your maximal contraction, don’t just completely release the tension. Instead, control and let down the contraction little by little (or floor by floor) until you are completely relaxed.
You can perform these exercises sitting, standing, or lying down. Like any exercise, start small and build up. I recommend 2-3 sets of 5-15 reps of these exercises a day. Perform these consistently, maybe there is something already in your daily routine where you could incorporate your pelvic floor exercises. For example, when you brush your teeth, take a shower, cool down from a workout, nurse your baby, or watch commercials during your favorite TV show. Practice these both during pregnancy and after.
Once you are confident you are correctly contracting the pelvic floor, try doing it while pulling your belly button into the spine (contracting the transverse abdominis). Also, try contracting your pelvic floor while walking or going up and down steps.
Find a Physical Therapist
Try doing these simple exercises on your own and if more help is needed or other issues arise, a physical therapist can really help. Most states these days don’t require a prescription from a doctor to see a physical therapist so you can go directly to a specialist for an evaluation.
Our bodies go through so much during pregnancy! And we give so much to be mothers! My hope is that we can create more awareness in our communities on ways women and mothers can take care of themselves and also to let them know there are people to help.
This guest post was written by Alina Horrocks. Alina graduated from Texas Woman’s University in Houston, TX with a Doctor of Physical Therapy in 2010. She has worked primarily in the hospital setting, helping inpatients regain and improve functional mobility. She welcomed her third child last year and is now using her professional and personal experience to help other moms take care of their bodies during pregnancy and beyond.
This guest post was written by Sasha Ruscheinski to share about her and her husband’s experience with miscarriage.
When my son, Lincoln, was 15 months old, my husband and I decided to try for our second child. We had no idea the journey we were about to go on. Within eight months, we had lost three pregnancies. The first was a missed miscarriage at 10 weeks, the second was an ectopic at 6 weeks and the third was another missed miscarriage at 6 weeks. It was excruciating and has forever changed me. I had been very lucky in my life and had never really experienced a loss. I am married to the only person I have ever dated, so I had never even experienced a lost love before. There were many nights where I would lay in bed and just sob. It felt as though my heart was going to burst through my chest. Losing those babies really took a toll on me. Being able to talk freely about my feelings really helped during the grieving process. I had friends texting me daily to see how I was doing, I was sent flowers on the due dates of the babies we lost and was given a beautiful necklace by my closest friends. Even hugs from friends and family always lasted a little longer. The support I received was amazing and really helped me get through it. When a woman miscarries the support is usually given to her, but what about dad?
I know the saying goes “when a woman becomes pregnant she becomes a mother, when man holds his child he becomes a father”. Yeah, that may be the case for some, but I know that the instant we got a positive pregnancy test my husband started dreaming about our child. He started to envision our life with this new family member. I know that our losses crushed him. He never saw them coming. With the first baby we lost, I had had a feeling that something wasn’t right, but my husband always kept telling me that everything would be okay. It was at our first ultrasound, on his birthday, that we found out the baby hadn’t made it past seven weeks. I will never forget that look on my husband’s face when the tech told us. It was pure anguish, yet the first thing he did was grab me. Men carry such a heavy burden when you miscarry. They are grieving the loss of their child, but they also have a partner that needs major support.
Recognizing Rainbow Dads
Our rainbow baby, Britton, was born on November 16th, 2016. It was one of the best days of my life. Since his birth, I have been drawn to all things rainbow and when I saw the Rainbow Dad shirts from Bryn, I knew I needed to get one for my husband for Father’s Day. When I first picked up the shirt, I looked at the beautiful rainbow and the words “rainbow dad” and I had this wave of emotion just hit me so hard. Even as I write this, my heart is tightening and I can feel tears coming. I had always just seen myself as a rainbow mom and Britton as my rainbow baby. I can honestly say that during our (I initially wrote “my”) miscarriages, I didn’t really give much support to my husband. Our losses completely consumed me, so I never stopped to think that maybe they consumed him as well. I think it is very easy to forget about dad; I know I did.
This rainbow dad shirt made me stop and think. It made me ask my husband about what it was like for him when we lost our babies… a question I had never asked him before. My husband would be the first one to say that his main concern was me; he wanted to make sure that I was okay. He let me cry when I needed to, let me be angry when I needed to be and just sat there in silence with me when I needed it. I wish that I had been able to do that for him, since I know he suffered in silence. I wish I had sat down with him and let him fall apart the way he let me. I wish he was given the same amount of support that I was given. I know he is at a new place in his grieving process, but I know he needed me back then.
People come to me a lot for my advice when they are going through a miscarriage. My advice is always directed at the woman and making sure to give her support. Moving forward, I am going to make sure to remind them to not forget about the dad the way that I did. Dads need to be given the chance to fall apart as well and have someone there to comfort them. So often men want to be the fixers. They want to be the strong man and support their wife. I asked my husband what he would say to another man who lost a baby and his words were simple: it is okay for you to
The Birth Hour also makes Rainbow Kid and Rainbow Mom shirts if you want to match as a family!
I never had anxiety before having kids and even after my kids were born it was mostly normal every day worry not full blown anxiety. Then, when my son was one year old, my best friend’s son was stillborn and full on anxiety kicked in. I was there with her when we found out he was gone and I was one of her go-to people of support in the dark days after her loss. I wanted to be there for her and was glad that she was opening up to me, but it didn’t come without it’s own affects on my mental and physical well-being. I began to have anxiety attacks that manifested in the form of what fell life labor contractions and would last for hours and sometimes days.
I went to therapy for the first time in my life and opened up about not just about the loss of my friend’s son and the affect on me but also issues that came up from my past. I highly recommend therapy to help with anxiety or at the very least talking to someone in your life rather than holding it in. Although, I never felt I needed pharmaceutical drugs, I know there are many people who do benefit from them. In this post I wanted to share some of the things that helped me through this dark time and continue to help me today as I deal with daily bouts of anxiety and occasional anxiety attacks.
Initially I had a really hard time falling asleep as I tried to process what I had just been through and kept putting myself in my friend’s shoes knowing she was suffering and that for whatever I went through it was so much worse for her. I found that falling asleep to a guided meditation was very helpful to me and I ended up recommending it to my friend and she benefitting from it as well. I especially love Expectful if you are in the pregnancy or motherhood stage of life. I also discovered this special headband that makes falling asleep with headphones a bit more comfortable.
This supplement continues to help me immensely with managing anxiety. If I start to feel a little anxious for no apparent reason, I squirt some in my mouth and I notice a real difference very quickly. Warning, it tastes gross but if you chase it with some water, the taste goes away quickly. This tincture, also has motherwort in it and was created by a midwife I know well to increase fertility so if you’re trying to conceive and anxious, I recommend it highly as well!
The mental benefits of even a 30 minute walk are pretty amazing and if you want a more intense workout my favorite free resources are the 7 minute workout app or yoga videos on youtube. If you’re expecting, I’m a huge fan of Knocked Up Fitness which offers specific breathing techniques, yoga and workout routines for pregnant moms.
Getting enough sleep when you’re dealing with anxiety is really important but it’s also often hard to turn your brain off in the evening. My friend loved a relaxation technique that can be found in the Yoga for Grief Relief that has lots of great resources she loved. Basically before going to sleep, while lying down you start at your feet and concentrate on each part of your body being totally relaxed. Repeat in your head, “my feet are completely relaxed,” and once they start to tingle you move up to your calves, thighs, pelvis, stomach, etc. until you’ve done your entire body. She said this exercise helped her not to lie down in bed and toss and turn thinking about everything.
For anxiety at bedtime, my friend also swears by this Eucalyptus spray that her mother-in-law who’s a L&D nurse recommended. It’s pricey but lasts for quite awhile with just one spray on the pillow each night.
Specific Support Groups
My friend shared with me that social media groups help you feel less alone and crazy and the more specific the group is to your own experience, the better. For instance, there’s a FB group for pregnancy after loss specifically for moms of 3rd trimester losses. I imagine that regardless of what is causing anxiety for you, there’s a Facebook group or even local in-person support group that could help.
You’ve gotten your positive pregnancy test! Congratulations! So many feelings set in those first couple weeks—excitement, anticipation, joy, and even some trepidation, fear, nervousness, or being completely overwhelmed. Try to relax, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed and our goal is help ease some of that stress for you! There’s no “right” answer here, so inform yourself so you know your option and then follow your instincts. Whatever you decide in the end, know that you can absolutely do this!
So now what? Here’s some first steps to help you get moving in the right direction.
Think about the kind of birth you’d like
What do you know about birth? What opinions or feelings do you have about the kind of care you’d like for yourself and your baby? Some women know right away, but others take time. Educating yourself will be an invaluable tool when it comes time to deliver. Sometimes it’s helpful to talk to your mom, aunts, cousins, sisters and friends but sometimes it will be up to YOU to figure out what is best for you and your baby. And spend some time listening to your intuition.
Read books to prepare
Check out our favorites for pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, postpartum and motherhood.
Listen to Birth Stories
Not to toot our own horn but we often hear that this is THE most useful preparation for giving birth. The Birth Hour covers all types of birth stories so you can pick and choose the episodes you want to listen to or binge them all and be prepared for any given scenario.
Decide on a Care Provider
Once you have an idea of how you think you’d like to deliver, make the first appointment with a doctor or midwife. Most care providers will want to see you between 8-11 weeks to be able to hear a heartbeat, confirm your due date, and maybe even do an ultrasound. If you decide to hire an obstetrician, many clinics fill up fast, so even if you are only 4 weeks, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment for a simple interview to see if the OB is a good fit for you.
OB vs. midwife can be a tricky decision. If you want a drug-free birth, a midwife is an excellent option. They tend to deal with low-risk pregnancies (what does it mean to be low-risk), spend lots of time with you during appointments and attend to you during the majority of labor. OBs are good options if you think you’d like pain management, a hospital setting for labor and delivery, or have a higher risk pregnancy.
Remember, nothing is ever set in stone. Just make some choices and start interviewing care providers. If at some point during your pregnancy you feel uneasy about your provider, or the hospital, or the policies, or anything else, it’s completely your prerogative to change your mind—they work for YOU! Advocate for yourself, ask questions (and demand answers until you feel comfortable) and follow your intuition. There are always options, and your safety and peace of mind is the priority and both are integral to a successful birth experience.
Buy some prenatal vitamins
That tiny little baby is developing vital organs rapidly right from the get-go. Brain and heart development are specifically important at this stage, and getting enough folic acid in particular can prevent some pretty serious birth defects. By week 8, the fetus structurally has everything that an adult has, even though it’s only 2 inches long. Getting the right vitamins early on helps to ensure proper development. Keep in mind not all vitamins are created equal. A good test is to drop a pill in a cup of water and see if it dissolves. If it does, that means your body will absorb all those important nutrients. If it is still in pill form an hour or two later, get a different brand. These are your new best friends! Start taking those bad boys right away! Theralogix is a brand that we love that offers monthly shipments and their supplements are developed by a team of doctors. (That link will get you 15% off!)
Ditch harmful substances
Say “see you later!” to your favorite cocktail. Pregnancy is a vulnerable time and what the mama gets, the baby gets. Excessive alcohol during pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome and other nervous system disorders so it’s best to give it up for the next 9 months (although many studies show that the occasional glass of wine is harmless). Just talk to your care provider. The same goes for cigarettes and other drugs. Even second hand smoke can do damage to that vulnerable little baby, so steer clear and talk to your care provider about solutions if you need some help cutting back. Here’s a complete list of things to avoid while pregnant.
Know the basics of nutrition
There are a couple of foods that are off-limits for the next little while, here are the general guidelines.
Things to avoid:
Raw or runny eggs
Fish containing large amounts of mercury like mackerel, shark, swordfish.
Limit white albacore tuna to one weekly serving.
Soft, unpasteurized cheeses like brie, goat cheese, or blue cheese. Pasteurized cheese is ok.
Deli meat, unless it is heated up first.
Limit coffee to 12 oz. per day and tea to 2 cups per day.
In general try to eat well balanced meals from all the major food groups, especially fresh fruits and veggies. Have no fear if morning sickness sabotages your best intentions. Do what you can. Your baby will take what it needs from you. Oh yes! You can get used to that idea. This is just the beginning! It is especially important to get the adequate amount of protein each day and to keep your iron levels up. We recommend this protein powder and this iron supplement.
Do some general lifestyle brainstorming for when the baby is born
Will you continue to work? What is the maternity leave policy at your place of employment? Will you want to potentially take some time off work and what will that entail financially for your household? These kinds of questions can be overwhelming and stressful. Don’t rush into anything at this stage. Just start thinking of possible options and you’ll get a feel for things as time passes and you get used to the idea of a baby coming!
Plan on when to tell your boss
This is a tricky situation and there are countless opinions on what to do. Ultimately there is no right solution, but think about the relationship you have with your boss, and how you anticipate them taking the news. Personally, I am a fan of telling them fairly early on. Your body changes can be unpredictable, especially in the early stages. Morning sickness might be pretty rough, and a boss knowing what’s going on can help if you need a few sick days, or to run out to your car and nap during lunch. Try not to fret too much about this one. There are laws protecting women’s rights, so most bosses are forced to be pretty understanding in this department. Again, follow your intuition and break the news when it feels right to you.
Go out to a nice restaurant with your significant other or girlfriends. Eat some delicious food (while you can still tolerate it!), talk all about your dreams for your family and for the baby. Go buy a baby outfit or gift for your little one. And one for yourself too. You’re embarking on an exciting, empowering, life-changing journey. Welcome to motherhood!
This post is sponsored by Theralogix, makers of of the TheraNatal line of nutritional supplements.TheraNatal supplements are specifically formulated to meet a woman’s unique nutrient needs before, during, and after pregnancy. TheraNatal prenatal vitamins contain the nutrients you and your baby need to support a healthy pregnancy. All TheraNatal vitamins are dye-free, gluten-free, and cost less than the typical insurance co-pay. Learn more at theranatal.com. Use this link to get a discount of approximately 15% off your purchase.
This guest post was written by Austyn Smith.
Remember sex ed? All the funny phrases and shocking details that made you and all your 5th grade friends giggle nonstop at recess for the next month?! Good stuff. Important stuff. But I feel like women need ONE more sex ed class maybe around the end of high school or start of college. All about how a woman’s cycle REALLY works. What’s REALLY going on every month in terms of fertility.
When I had a hard time getting pregnant with my first baby, I came across a life-changing book, “Taking Charge of Your Fertility,” by Toni Weschelr. Having taken many science/anatomy/physiology classes in college I felt like I had a pretty good handle on how things worked, but after reading this book I realized how little we are really taught about the amazing work of art that is a woman’s body.
Weschler’s aim is to help women understand their fertility physiology for two purposes:
- To achieve pregnancy
- To practice natural birth control
Using the Fertility Awareness Method for pregnancy achievement.
Many women mistakenly believe they are infertile, when they’ve tried to conceive for 1 year without success. This can be exacerbated by irregular cycles, using the calendar to guestimate ovulation and periods, doctors prescribing clomid prematurely, doctors testing levels at the wrong time, etc. Many times infertility is not an issue, but more knowledge is needed both for patient and doctor.
Let’s start out by mapping out all the hormonal changes that happen during a normal menstrual cycle.
All of these different lines represent different hormones. I once showed this to my husband at a well-timed moment of emotion. It really helped me drive home my point that it’s just hard sometimes!
These powerful hormones are hard at work all doing different things during your cycle, preparing your body for peak fertility. The 3 fertility signs we’ll focus on here are:
- Waking Temperature
- Cervial Fluid
- Cervical Position
- Ovulation Test Strips (This one isn’t really part of the FAM but it’s a great way to back-up your results while you’re getting used to using FAM).
Tool #1—Waking Temperature
A normal pre-ovulatory temperature is 97.0-97.5 degrees. What’s cool is that after the egg has been released during ovulation, there is a big temperature surge, almost by 1 whole degree, (97.6-98.6 degrees) and it will remain high until the period comes…or pregnancy. One tricky thing about basal body temperature charts is that women can mistakenly wait until their temperature has spiked and then think, “Oh, perfect! I am about to ovulate. Time to have sex.” When in reality, the egg has already been released, and optimal conception time was a day or two earlier.
In terms of fertility tools, charting basal body temperature (BBT) can help a woman know IF she has ovulated, and WHEN she has ovulated. This can be a really helpful diagnostic tool if a woman is unsuccessful in getting pregnant. Ovulation can be delayed for many reasons—sickness, travel, stress, excessive exercise, diet changes. If you stop “trying” after the typical 14 day estimate (half of a 28 day cycle), you could miss ovulation entirely if that egg is not released for another 5 days. I once had a 54 day cycle when I was actively trying to get pregnant. Had I not been charting my temp I might have been frustrated at the slew of negative pregnancy tests, but I knew I hadn’t ovulated yet.
Another cool thing about knowing your temps is that after ovulation, the days until your period (the luteal phase) are ALWAYS the same. So once you chart a month or two and can tell your ovulation days, you know you’ll have your period in x number of days (usually 12-16). Helpful right?! This can also be a diagnostic tool, because if a luteal phase is less than 12 days after ovulation, pregnancy cannot occur. A doctor will know the exact treatment for this without you ever having to go through invasive tests.
Directions for taking waking temperature
- Take temperature first thing without even getting out of bed. Try not to move much, except to grab the thermometer.
- Take temperature orally
- Take at the same time every day, within one hour
- Make sure you’ve had three hours of consecutive sleep beforehand, or don’t count that day.
Here’s an example of a typical temperature chart.
Look at whole broad pattern, as temps will vary day to day. When there is a steady surge of temperatures .5 degrees higher than normal, you can know you’ve ovulated.
Tool #2—Cervical Fluid
The environment in a uterus is constantly changing throughout a month, while it is preparing for a potential pregnancy. Different hormone surges affect cervical mucus at various times during the cycle. A typical cycle usually follows this pattern: menstruation, nothing/dry, sticky, creamy, egg white, nothing/dry, menstruation. The most fertile type of mucus is egg white. The book has amazing pictures of different types of mucus to help familiarize yourself with all the types. If you are paying attention, you will start noticing wetness a few days before ovulation, usually on your underwear, and mucus will change. I feel naive to say that I had no idea this was normal! I thought something weird or gross was going on with me and that it didn’t happen to other women. Really it is just a signal to get moving with baby-making! This mucus is an ideal environment for sperm to thrive and move. And while we’re talking about it, most lubricant is toxic to sperm. Your best bet is to use your own fluid but if you need lubricant, use this one that is specifically meant for conception.
Directions for checking cervical mucus
- Start noticing mucus on the first day after menstruation ends. Focus on vaginal sensations throughout day.
- Check before you use bathroom (kegals before helps), about 3 times a day. Notice if it’s on your underwear throughout day. You can look on your toilet paper, on your underwear, or even check internally.
- Learn difference between semen and cervical mucus- what each type looks, feels, and stretches like. Eggwhite mucus is very stretchy, sometimes up to 8 or 9 inches!
- During the most fertile time, things should be wet often down there. Look in the toilet water during fertile time, especially after bowel movement. There will occasionally be some gooey globs of cervical mucus down in the bowl.
It might make you squeamish at first, but I have found this completely fascinating, and it has led to easier conception as a result!
Tool # 3—Cervical Position (optional)
Cervical position is also constantly changing during a menstrual cycle. At the beginning of a cycle, it starts out firm and low, then becomes closed and dry. During the fertile time, it is soft, high, open and wet. Then it returns to firm, low, closed and dry, and then finally, menstruation.
Directions for checking cervical position
Check once a day starting the day after menstruation. Wash hands with soap, and check at a consistent time every day. The most effective position for checking is squatting, but sitting on a toilet is also fine. Just be consistent.
A few other secondary fertile signs include: midcycle spotting, pain in ovaries, abdominal bloating, water retention, and breast tenderness.
Using the Fertility Awareness Method to track these 3 tools all together will give you a broad overall picture of where you stand as far as fertility is concerned. It will help you know when you are nearing your most fertile time (not always accurate by calendar!), and whether or not your body IS i fact getting fertile. You might find that your temp is changing, so you know for sure you are ovulating, but maybe you never have any egg white mucus. That can point you to the possibility that your uterine environment is hostile toward sperm. There are countless clues available from charting these variables every month. It can even help you know if you are achieving pregnancy regularly, but then miscarrying early. Knowledge is power, and the more info you can bring to your doctor the better.
FAM can be a very helpful tool in achieving pregnancy or diagnosing specifics with infertility. I’ve used it for many many years and have loved it. It’s brought me my babies, but equally important has helped me to better understand what’s happening with my body every month, physically and emotionally. And let’s just say- that’s a benefit for the entire family!