For the last two weeks, we’ve been hearing the story of Cesar and Dayna. Dayna struggled with infertility after bearing multiple healthy children. Read more here and here. Their story has a happy ending, though I’m all too familiar with the fact that not every infertility journey ends with a healthy pregnancy.
I’m not a doctor, and I don’t diagnose, treat, or prescribe. I’m a health coach who helps women rebalance their bodies and correct underlying dysfunction. And that’s what we did for Dayna. As you read in her story, correcting underlying dysfunction is a lot of hard work! It takes a long time. It can be frustrating when you’re waiting for a baby, and still there are no guarantees.
The principles I share here can be applied to any chronic dysfunction in the body. Certainly, we would have to tweak each protocol to the bioindividuality of the mother (and sometimes the father, too!) But if you’re struggling with any sort of hormone imbalance, you can begin to put these principles into practice.
At FDN, we call these steps our D.R.E.S.S. protocol. The protocol is actually patented as it is so effective.
You can take my free course to learn more about the protocol here:
I’ll break it down for you as well, with the specific interventions we did for Dayna in order to make her body feel safe and nourished enough to support a healthy pregnancy.
Diet is not everything, but it is the first step we address in the protocol. Usually, busy moms sprint through their day and don’t have enough time or energy to prepare themselves healthy and nourishing meals. Carbohydrates are eaten for a quick energy boost, fiber is low, and micronutrients are missing.
Dayna went on an ancestral, high-protein diet. Females need about 80-120 grams of protein each day. This number increases during the fertile years. Babies require lots of protein and amino acids in order to grow healthy and strong!
Dayna ate meat two to three times each day. She rapidly began to feel more energy, and her mood swings started to balance out. She would batch cook each week and prepare nutritious foods for herself and her family. She could tell if she did not eat enough protein. We removed simple carbohydrates from her diet as her blood work showed that her fasting blood glucose tended to trend high.
This happens to women whose bodies are under stress for long periods of time. The stress hormone cortisol is a glucocorticoid and releases stored glycogen into the bloodstream when the stress response is (constantly) activated. Consistently elevated blood sugars due to stress can start to cause insulin resistance, which messes with the endocrine system and can throw the thyroid and adrenals out of whack. Both the thyroid and adrenals need to be healthy in order to experience easy fertility.
Here’s what Dayna had to say after one of our sessions in 2020:
that was really enlightening what you explained with the hormone pathway( which I know that you have already explained it to me before, more than once , but this time it clicked. hahah Somethings take me a few times to hear , in order to fully grasp it 😂 ) Also just how important animal fats are as well how that cortisol steals the estrogen . All makes sense!
Also I realized that I wasn’t eating a totally balanced diet , I would leave out the coconut oil or sometimes even the ghee so I’m changing that at as well .
I have been eating less fruit , and eating the less in sugar fruits as well . What do you think would be a general good number to stay around when eating sugar in grams for the day or even per meal ? I’m not eating processed sugars but even something as fruit or maple syrup or honey .
She took ownership of her diet quickly. It impressed me that she made her nutrition a priority and never made excuses as to why she could not follow her diet guidelines- even while homeschooling five young children!
Here’s an example of a meal plan like Dayna implemented:
Oh, but this was hard for Dayna! She had been experiencing sleep issues for so long. She thought this was normal for a mama of five young children. It’s certainly common, but it’s not normal.
Our bodies work so hard. They need to rest hard, too. It’s during sleep that the body is creating healthy pregnancy hormones, releasing cellular waste products, and cleaning the brain.
Dayna had been waking up multiple times a night, sometimes to go pee and sometimes just because her body had woken her up. This interrupted sleep made her exhausted during the day, though she was never anything but joyful and cheerful.
After testing, we added proper hormonal support in order to help her neural pathways rewire for sleep. We worked on her circadian rhythm by having her spend large amounts of time outside as often as possible.
Getting her diet optimized helped her sleep slowly get better.
But the one thing that helps sleep the most is switching the body over from fight or flight mode to rest and digest mode. Activating the parasympathetic nervous system more often than activating the sympathetic nervous system is necessary for quality sleep. If our bodies are constantly primed for a fight or to flee, it makes sense that we won’t sleep well. We are primed for the next stressful event. To combat this, we had to work on calming Dayna’s body down.
We used magnesium, calming B vitamins, progesterone support, and quiet time. Dayna already lived an active prayer and Bible reading spiritual life, but she learned to rest during her quiet time. She was an active participant in calming her nervous system down.
Her outside time and leisurely walks started paying dividends. As her blood sugar balanced out, she stopped waking up so frequently to urinate during the night. Her sleep was not perfect by any stretch, but it was getting better.
Swollen lymph nodes were so common for Dayna that she didn’t even mention the fact that this was an issue for her util we had been meeting for many months.
To combat her swollen lymph nodes and impaired detoxification, we added in rebounding on a mini trampoline a few times a week. This gets stagnant lymph fluid flowing freely. The lymph nodes in the back of her neck started to feel less swollen and painful after a few weeks of jumping, and she liked the feeling she got after a rebounding session. It seems like when lymph can flow freely, so can endorphins. Most of my clients feel happier after bouncing on a trampoline.
We also added daily walks outside. The purpose of this was not for “exercise” necessarily, but for movement and for stress relief. She also began to love her daily walks, and enjoyed the time in nature and with her children.
Only the client knows the extent of their own stress levels. So many of us try to hide the emotional, physical, mental, and psychosocial stress we are burdened by.
Our bodies struggle with the stress of food sensitivities, hidden viral infections, low thyroid function, and immune system imbalance. Dayna suffered from all of these issues.
As a homeschooling mom of 5 and a busy wife, she also had the unrelenting stress of being a caretaker. On top of this, she and her husband were dealing with the stress and pain of walking through the grief of multiple miscarriages.
She was not sleeping well, and thus she was building up layers of nutritional debt as her body got more and more depleted.
So. much. stress.
We focused on nutrition, breathwork, naps quiet time, outside time, and what I call Leisure Time. We have all forgotten about Leisure Time. Every moment of every day is busy, busy, busy. We feel guilty for reading a book or taking a nap or laying in the sun.
We worked on doing all of these things, and while the stressors were not removed, Dayna soon started to feel more resilient as she was truly building resilience in her body and brain.
Despite what you might have heard, there is no supplement or even supplement protocol that will cure infertility. I wish there were, but it’s not possible.
Supplements are meant to be just that- a supplement to an area of deficiency in the body.
Every single person is different, so if you’re struggling with infertility or a related hormonal disorder, don’t just rush out and duplicate Dayna’s supplements. Likely they won’t work as well for you.
We test; we don’t guess. This is the hallmark of both FDN and also functional medicine. It’s powerful stuff.
We had to address some insufficiencies in Dayna’s body. We added Vitamin D, progesterone, DHEA, magnesium, B vitamins, and more.
If it’s possible to get deficient nutrients through diet, that’s really step one. We added liver and thyroid in whole food form as Dayna’s body needed these things. We really amped up her protein and produce, which began to meet a lot of her needs for B vitamins, zinc, iron, and amino acids. Her body began building the foundation of nourishment it needed to house a baby safely.
Will this work for me?
As I shared earlier in this series, we have had 4/5 healthy pregnancies after miscarriage in my practice this last year. That’s a small but significant sample. However, it’s that last “1” that pushes me and drives me. I know the ache and longing every mama has for a healthy baby, especially mamas who have had the heartbreak of infertility.
That said, these principles are solid. They are tried and true and tested, and they work. However, there are no guarantees. The body is weird. You can do everything right and still the Lord may close the womb.
I would just encourage those struggling with infertility to begin with that foundation of nourishment. Eat plenty of whole, protein-rich, nourishing foods. Rest with intention. Prioritize sleep. Get out of your own head. Remember that busyness is not a badge of honor- it’s a cultural trap that slowly degrades your hormones and your sanity. Say no.
As one of my favorite period educators says, Your period is your body’s monthly report card. If you are struggling with menstrual, hormonal, or fertility issues, look to your month. Are you sleeping enough? Eating enough? Resting enough? Getting outside enough? Laughing enough?
It takes 100 days for a new ovarian follicle to reach maturity. You have about 100 days, or three menstrual cycles, to change the entire trajectory of your hormonal status. So many wonderful things can happen in that time! There are no guarantees, but know that balancing your hormones is a power that is absolutely within your grasp. As a practitioner, I work no magic. I educate and empower and the client does all of the hard work. With nourishment, time and God’s grace, the body often sets about repairing itself. It wants to be in balance.
If you are struggling with infertility, consider options besides in vitro. Work on your own health and nourishment first and see what happens. You might not always achieve the end goal of a healthy pregnancy as we don’t always know what God is doing in our lives. But you’ll be healthier and more balanced, and that is a beautiful gift to give yourself.