How to make money while on maternity leave – My top 5 ways to make 1000s.

Make money online in the UK.

So you are on maternity leave and you are receiving statutory maternity pay. In the UK this is 90% of your average weekly earnings for 6 weeks and then £145.18 for the remaining 33 weeks (2018 figures). After this you are on your own. What will you do?

With the cost of childcare so high, most new mums cannot afford to go back to work even if they wanted to. This was the predicament I was in after having my two children. If I went back to work full time and put my kids into nursery, I would take home hardly any money once the extorionate nursery fees were deducted. I didn’t want to leave them at such a young age anyway, so I started to wonder if there was something else I could do.

How to stay at home and earn money?

I have always been very independant, especially when it came to supporting myself financially, and I found it very difficult to hand over the reins to my husband. Although I knew I had the hardest job in the world…..being mum of two young kids 24hrs a day, 365 days a year, I still wanted to feel like I was contributing in some way to our monthly income. I started doing some research looking into ways to earn money online from home and I felt swamped with all the information.

I surfed the net for months looking for easy ways to make money on the internet and I tried out all the usual suggestions on most ‘make money at home’ websites, such as answering questionaires or earn while you surf the net. I joined several websites where you answer questionaires e.g. opinion post, swagbucks and Toluna, but I didn’t earn very much at all and it was really tedious. I also attached Qmee to my web browser in the hope I could make money while I carried out my general activities online, but I just wasn’t making any money. I wanted to earn at least a few hundred pound a month and I wasn’t getting close to this using these methods.

After about 3 months of research I found 5 legitimate ways to make money online and I will share them with you.

My top 5 legitimate ways to earn money online:

These are my top 5 ways to make money as a stay at home mom. I have tried all 5 from the list and can honestly recommend each one as a way to make a monthly income.

1. Wealthy Affiliate – My number one way to make money online at home.

Ever dreamt of owning your own online business and working from home? Well while you are on maternity leave, you are in a prime position to start making that dream a reality.

Ever heard of affiliate marketing? I hadn’t until I started researching how to set up an online business. Most people make money online by setting up a website/blog to help people out within a certain niche market. Your niche could be anything you like e.g. pet products, cookery books, holiday destinations, hair products, dieting tips. There are literally millions of niches out there to chose from. Once you have set up your website, written some useful content and started to gain traffic/visitors, your site will move up the rankings in search engines such as Google/Bing and Yahoo. When a website is ranked higher up in the search engine results, the website gains more traffic and gains authority in that particular niche resulting in more visitors.

Once your website has daily traffic and people are reading your content, you can begin to advertise and recommend products e.g. from Amazon or ebay. If someone clicks on a link from you page through to the website and buys something, then you get a commission. The customer does not even need to buy the product you are advertising. As long as they click through to the site from your affiliate link, you gain a commission from whatever they buy.

Sounded pretty straight forward to me but I didn’t have a clue where to start and had no idea how to set up a website, never mind buy a domain name and attach affiliate links to my posts/page to start earning cash. It was then that I started to look into training programs to help me set up my very own website and online business.

I did a lot of reasearch and over several weeks I found a few companies that looked promising, but after reading customer reviews, there were too many negative experiences and the monthly fees were too high. I wanted to spend as little as possible to get started and I almost gave up on the idea.

While at a local baby/toddler group with my two kids, I got to speaking to one of the other mums and she told me she had an online business selling shoes. She told me she was an affiliate marketer and although she was only earning a few hundred pound a month, she had only been doing it for 5 months. Her business was expanding every week with increasing numbers of visitors and customers to her website. When I asked her for some advice on how to get started, she told me about the affiliate marketing platform she uses – Wealthy Affiliate.

Sign up here for free with just an email address.

When I got home I started to do some research into this company I had never heard of before called Wealthy Affiliate! I started to read review after review and there were so many people praising this platform as they were able to set up their own website and earn a great monthly income. I read how Wealthy Affiliate can teach you to set up an online business from scratch with no previous experience necessary. Not only this, but they let you set up 2 websites free of charge.

Members are earning £1000s a month and there are 100s of success stories. Members are quiting their day jobs, travelling the world and earning real money at home from their computer. Sounds too good to be true? You can try it for yourself for Free. 

The FREE Membership – $0

When you sign up to Wealthy Affiliate, you are automatically enrolled onto their free membership plan. You do not need to enter card details and you can get started with just an email address. The free membership is very good and you can learn  how to set up a website and make money from it. They give you free access to Word Press (an online website creation tool) and you can chose a website theme and get started writing content on your very own website. You can set up 2 free websites that you can develop while you complete the entry level course which is a step by step guide containing 10 lessons. You can remain as a free member for as long as you like.

The free membership package is designed to show you what is available for you at Wealthy Affiliate before investing any money. Unfortunately you do not get all the lessons and training that Wealthy Affiliate has to offer with the free membership but it is a great way to see if you really want to set up an online business. Setting up your own website takes dedication and hard work but once you start to achieve results, you won’t look back. If you try it out and like it then there is the option to upgrade to the premium package which I will discuss below.

 

Wealthy Affiliate Free vs Premium package

As I mentioned above, you can remain a free member for as long as you wish, but there will be some limitations. The real perk of using a platform such as Wealthy Affiliate is not only the training, but the community of over 100,000 members that are at your disposal. You can ask members to visit your site, read your content, give feedback and write a positive comment on your posts. All of this gets you ranked higher in google/bing and yahoo. You can talk freely with other members, ask questions, follow members, read 100s of success stories and send private messages. There is also a 24hr live chat option which always has someone who can answer any questions quickly and proves extremely useful.

 

What training is available?

When going premium, all levels of training will be available to you including a 50 lesson ‘Online Entrepreneur Certification’ course and a 70 lesson ‘Affiliate Bootcamp’ course. You are shown countless ways to improve your rankings in search engines to gain more visitors, and you can monitor visitor numbers using a free analytical program. There is also a free research program incorporated into the software which you have unlimited access to. It is called Jaxxy and it helps you to come up with low competition keywords for your site that are searched for often. This is a great way to gain authority within your niche and you will get ranked higher by search engines. You also get access to 100s of training videos which make things a lot more easy to follow and understand.

So how much does it all cost?

A lot less than you may think for your very own online business. As stated above, the free membership is designed to show you what Wealthy Affiate is all about and it will help you to decide if you want to commit yourself fully to the training and your online career. If you decide to upgrade to premium, your first month will set you back just $19.99 for 30 days (£15.30 or €17.20). That is better than half price. You can try out all that Wealthy Affiliate has to offer for 30 days at just 50p a day.

Premium Membership – $19.99 for the first month, then $49  per month thereafter. Cancel anytime hassle free.

After the first month, the subscription increases to just – $49 (£38 or €43) which you will soon see is an absolute bargain with the amounts of tools, training and support you receive. You can also cancel anytime from within your account. There is no need to call or email them. You can leave whenever you want. It is that straightforward. Wealthy Affiliate is my number one way to make money online at home while on maternity leave.

Sign up for free today here.

 

2. How to make money from matched betting.

Firstly, I have never been a gambler and I had not placed a single bet before I started matched betting. Secondly, it is  extremely easy once you have done it a few times and you can earn £100s in risk free, tax free cash. If you are not into sports or gambling on sports, please do not let this put you off. We are not gambling money here. We are just taking advantage of the offers betting sites run to attract new customers.

Free Bet anyone?

Most online bookies or betting sites offer promotions to new customers to encourage them to sign up. This usually involves offering free bets (eg, “deposit and bet £30 and we give you a free £30 bet”). Sounds a bit risky as your initial £30 may be lost? Be assured that there is no risk involved if the steps are followed correctly.

With matched betting we place 2 separate bets in a strategic way so we cover all outcomes of an event (e.g. Win, lose or draw in a football game). We may lose a few pound on our initial qualifying bet, but we can extract around 60-70% of the free bet as tax free cash so can make a good profit.

Guaranteed profit!!!

So in the example above, ”bet £30, and get a £30 free bet”, we may lose £2-3 of our initial £30 we have deposited and bet with. This is no big deal as we can extract around £20-£25 of the £30 free bet given to us by the bookie. We are therefore up £18 – £23. It is that simple.

You can read reviews on trustworthy websites like the ‘Betfair’, ‘Money saving expert‘ and the ‘Guardian newspaper‘. I used a matched betting service called Profit Accumulator who provide you with a step by step guide on how to earn up to £45 from just two sign up offers free of charge! It you enjoy using their service and want to earn more, you can sign up to their monthly subscription for just £17.99 a month. I made over £600 in one month using their matched betting service  and I am also earning money each month from reload and online casino offers including £100 in 2 days during the World cup.

For more information check out my post on ‘Matched betting for Dummies” or click here to go to Profit Accumulator’s home page . What are you waiting for?

3. What is arbitrage sports betting? and how much can I earn.

So I have covered matched betting, but what is arbitrage betting? Once I’d used up all my free sign up offers given to new customers at each bookie, I started to look into other ways I could make tax free cash from sports betting. I wanted it to be risk free once again as I am not a gambler. It was then that I found arbitrage betting.

Arbitrage betting has been around for many years and is completley legal. In simple terms, you are covering all outcomes in an event to make a profit no matter who wins. Arbitrage betting is also known as Surebets or Arbitrage Trading. A ”sure bet” comes about when different bookies disagree on the odds for the same market.

To find a sure bet you will need some arbitrage betting software to help you and this comes at a price. It is big business and there are several big players in the sure bet software market. I tried a few of these but it was all so complicated with all the handicaps and different abbreviations for the different markets and it almost put me off. It was far too complicared for someone with as little betting experience as me.

I was thankfully recommended a company called ‘Betslayer‘ on an online betting forum and I signed up for their  Free 7 day trial and loved it. Betslayer is cheaper than other arbitrage betting software at just £49 per month for their gold package and it is so simple to use. You can access the software online with no software download needed and there is tons info on their website to help you get going. The owner of ‘Betslayer‘ is called Max and he is always on hand to answer any questions and there is a great online community that you can compare notes with

Arbitrage betting is ever green and opportunities come up daily for you to take advantage of. You can make a few pound off each sure bet, so if you place 10 bets a day that could make you £20-30 a day,every day for literally an hours work. That soon adds up to £600-£900 of tax free cash each month, every month.

You can see a short video on the Betslayer website by clicking here or you can start your free trail by clicking the link below.

Betslayer free trial

4. Social Trading with eToro trading platform.

Ever thought about buying stocks and shares in big companies like Google or Amazon but didn’t know where to start? Well now trading is at your finger tips with online brokers such as eToro. With trading you need to think of it as a long term investement as you are not going to be making an income from this every month. You need to invest money to make money over a long time period, so never invest more than you can afford to lose. I had a dabble in trading a few months ago and although I made a bit (one trade made me 60 dollars in 10 minutes from a 100 dollar investement in netflix), I was also very silly and lost what I made very quickly.

Those in the industry call it the ’90/90/90 rule of trading’ i.e. 90% of people will lose 90% of their investement in 90 days. This is because they do not research properly before they start to trade. I learnt my lesson very quickly the hard way, but trading is a long term investement and I am confident I can make back the money I lost. I would advise at this moment in time to steer clear of cryto currencies and stocks as there seems to be on a downward trend in recent months and a lot of people are losing a lot of money. Usually if Donald Trump sends out a stupid tweet, US stocks plummet and UK, European and Asian stock markets usually follow suit. When the US sneezes, the whole world catches a cold as they say. Foreign exchange and commodities seem to be the best way to ride out the Trump storm.

The great thing about eToro’s social trading platform is that you can open a free account and start trading virtually with virual money. This way you can open trades without risking your own hard earned cash and see how you go. It doesn’t cost anything and you have around 1 million dollars to mess around with. If it actually really fun and you should do this for at least 6 months before using real money. I cannot stress this enough especially of you have no previous exerience.

Alternatively, you can copy people that are experienced traders. Every trade they open, you open the same (as a % of your investement) and when they take profit, you do to. You can also copy people on a virtual account to see how much money you can make from investing in them. Traders who are copied have to obide by certain rules so they can’t do anything silly with your money and they mostly keep risk to a minimum.

I followed a few foreign exchange traders (Forex traders) and stock traders for a while now and I have settled on a few to copy in my virtual account first and I am doing ok. I would definitely recommend using the virtual account for a few months before copy trading with real money. I cannot stress this enough.

Below I have given my top 4 traders to copy as they have many years of experience and keep risk to a minimim. There are literally 1000s of people you can copy however so play around with you copy trades in the virtual account risk free. You can see traders statistics and monthly/yearly earnings on their profile page and many have their own websites as well giving more information about how they trade and what analysis tools they use. You should find someone that is consistently earning every year and has more good months than bad. Preferably someone that has been trading for a good few years.

Stock traders:

MrThor3374 – Thomas Barson – he has made around 60% on his investement in the last 12 months and has a very diverse portfolio of stocks, currencies and commodities.

DavidGiles – David Andrew Giles – he has made around 33% on his investement in the last 12 months and has 3 yrs of steady results. He focuses on stocks and crypto currencies.

Forex Traders:

goodgoing – Wayne Ryan – This guy is brilliant. He made around 23% on his investement in the last 12 months and has had over 25yrs of experience trading currencies. I trust this guy knows what he is doing and as he doesn’t touch crypto currencies or stocks, he can would be a great addition to your portfolio.

big-profits – Enmanuel De Jesus Bautista Lopez – he has made around 16.44% on his investement in the last 12 months and usually has 60% of his investement in currencies.

Why not open a free account here and give it a go using their virtual account.

5. Making and selling things on ebay.

This was my first online venture and I did quite well as I had the time when I initially went on maternity leave. Being heavily pregnant and then having a newborn to look after can be quite boring and lonely at times as they sleep quite alot. I took it upon myself to try and stay busy. As I am quite artistic I tried my hand at a making/producing unique items and selling them at a profit on ebay.

The first thing I tried was painting peoples pets and celebrities in a pop art style. A customer would send me a photo through ebay and I would reproduce it on a canvas using acrylic paints. I really enjoyed this but it was very time consuming.

I then started making pebble art pictures which I would sell these on ebay. This proved very successful and the pictures where very quick to make and sold very well around fathers day, mothers day and Christmas.

I then decided to hand make gem art pictures which did not do so well. They took a long time to make and unfortunately were a big flop.

My final venture was to make rustic signs for outdoor weddings. These proved very successful but once I had my son I couldn’t find the time to carry on with them.

I know lots of ladies who do very well from knitting baby clothes and blankets in their spare time. They just sit and watch TV or watch their kids playing in the garden and knit.

When you are making something to sell online, you need to come up with an idea that people will like, but that does not take a lot of time to do. Even if something sells really well, if it takes you hours to make then your hourly wage is stretched thinner and thinner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Anovulation – What is it and how can it be treated?

What does anovulation mean?

Anovulation is when your ovaries have not released an egg in a given cycle. It could occur as a one off but if you are not ovulating regularly then this is a serious hindrance to getting pregnant and you should seek help from your GP.

Why am I not ovulating?

There are many causes of anovulation such as weight loss, being overweight, exercising too intensely, hyperprolactinemia (high prolactin levels), premature ovarian failure, low ovarian reserve, thyroid problems and being very stressed. More often than not, the root cause of anovulation leads to a lower level of estrogen, which is an essential hormone needed to induce ovulation. Often you will never really know why you didn’t ovulate on a certain cycle or why you are not ovulating in general but you need to speak to your GP if you suspect it is a regular occurrence.

Symptoms of anovulation.

The main sign that you are not ovulating is absent periods i.e. amenorrhea. You may not know if you are ovulating or not if you have regular periods however. If you want to be 100% sure you are ovulating you can begin to chart your daily temperatures (see ‘Chart you Ovulation’ section) or you can ask your GP to do a blood test around 9 days before your period is due. The blood test measures your progesterone levels which should be nice and high if you have ovulated.

The black line represents progesterone levels which increases after ovulation.

 

Likewise, if you decide to chart your temperatures, a sustained increase in your basal body temperature (BBT) for a 12-16 days before your period is due would indicate you have ovulated.

BBT chart showing ovulation (red vertical line) followed by a rise in BBT. The rise is sustained for 14 days prior to a temperature dip and menstruation.

 

If you are having periods but your progesterone levels and your BBT  does not rise, then it is likely you are having anovulatory cycles. From charting my own ovulation, I know I have had at least one anovulatory cycle at a point when I was very stressed out. This cycle was short (22 days) and instead of ovulating I got my period early and it was lighter than normal.

BBT chart showing my anovulatory cycle. There is no ovulation detected on my chart and no sustained rise in BBT, despite getting positive ovulation tests on two separate occasions..

 

Treatment for anovulation.

If you have been diagnosed with anovulation by your GP and you are trying to conceive then you will probably be referred to a gynecologist who will do further tests and try you on some medication. You would probably be given a drug called clomid which stimulates the body to ovulate and this drug is found to work very successfully.

Clomiphene citrate stimulates ovulation.

How does Clomid work?

Clomid has a similar structure to estrogen and attaches to estrogen receptor cells in the hypothalamus (in the brain). With the estrogen receptor cells blocked, your brain thinks that you have low estrogen in your body. As estrogen is usually released from the maturing follicles on your ovaries, the brain thinks the follicles are not maturing so it produces more follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). The FHS stimulates the follicles to mature and they release estrogen and its levels will become nice and high and will then induce the all important peak in luteinizing hormone (LH). The peak in LH causes the release of the egg from the ovaries. You can only get Clomid with a prescription from your doctor or gynecologist.

How to stimulate ovulation Naturally.

If you are ovulating but not very often, or your cycles are very long and infrequent, there is an alternative natural treatment you can try to naturally stimulate ovulation. To induce ovulation naturally there are several routes you can take. You can take fertility herbs to try to balance out your hormone levels (which I have described in the ‘Fertility vitamins and Fertility herbs section‘) or you can try Soy isoflavones. I have written a separate post on ‘Soy Isoflavones‘ which may be of interest to you.

 

If you have any questions or if you have had any experience with anovulation or Clomid, please share below.

Thanks.

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Soy Isoflavones and Ovulation – the natural alternative to Clomid.

When I was researching how to induce ovulation earlier in my cycles, I kept reading about the prescribed medication called Clomid (clomiphene). This treatment acts in such a way that it stimulates our ovaries to produce more estrogen, which in turn can cause a peak in luteinizing hormone (LH) to its threshold level. This rise in LH induces the release of the egg i.e. ovulation.

How does Clomid work?

Clomid has a similar structure to the hormone estrogen and it attaches to estrogen receptor cells in the hypothalamus (in the brain). With the estrogen receptor cells blocked, your brain thinks that you have low estrogen in your body. As estrogen is usually released from the maturing follicles on your ovaries, the brain thinks the follicles are not maturing so it produces more follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). The FHS stimulates the follicles to mature and they release estrogen. Estrogen levels should become nice and high and this will then induce the all important peak in LH and the release of a mature egg.

You can only get clomid from your doctor or gynecologist on prescription.

Maturing follicle on the ovary.

A Natural Alternative to Clomid.

If you discovered that you are not ovulating regularly, or if your cycles are very long and you ovulate late, you can try to induce ovulation naturally with Soy isoflavones supplements. Soy Isoflavones can work as a natural alternative to Clomid. They are phytoestrogens and you can buy them here online for around £16.99 for 90 capsules. They are thought to act in a similar way to clomid by weakly attaching to estrogen receptors in the brain.

Although there is no actual scientific data on the use of soy isoflavones to induce ovulation, there are lots of woman on trying to conceive forums that have tried them and it helped them to ovulate earlier. I was really interested to see if they would induce my ovulation earlier so I gave them a go.

I am not giving medical advice here and you should do your own research. You should also consult your GP if you are on any other medication before trying them. As they are a natural supplement used during the menopause or for symptoms of PMS (Premenstrual syndrome), I thought they would probably not do me any harm.

 

How should soy isoflavones be taken?

All the advice I found online said the best time to take them is at the beginning of your menstrual cycle (just like Clomid) and most women were taking them on days 3 to 7 of their cycle. You can take them on cycle days 1 to 5 or on days 5 to 9, but you will then either produce lots of immature eggs or a few very mature eggs. Taking them on days 3-7 seemed like the happy medium.

Soy Isoflavones should be taken at the same time every day and with food. I suggest taking them in the morning with breakfast.

They should be taken for five days in a row only and no longer. If taken for longer than 5 days in one cycle they can have negative effects on your ovulation and your cycle will be wasted.

The recommended dose for Soy Isoflavones is around 100mg per day, but you should use the lowest dose that works for you. Try and keep the dose lower than 160mgs a day and never exceed 200mg a day.

You can buy 90 x 50mg capsules here and you can take 2 together for 5 days in a row on your chosen days i.e. cycle days 1 – 5, 3 – 7 or 5 – 9.

Warnings: There are certain medications that you should not take soy isoflavones with and antibiotics are one of these. You should also not take soy isoflavones and vitex together.

Do Soy Isoflavones work? I will share my experience with you.

After chatting to lots of women online who had tried Soy Isoflavones, I decided there were enough success stories for me to believe it could work. I decided to try them as my cycles were really long (40 days plus) and I was ovulating really late around cycle day 30. I was hoping they could shorten my cycles by helping me to ovulate earlier.

I tried them for 3 cycles and took 100mg in the morning with breakfast on cycle days 3 to 7.

Cycle 1. The first cycle taking them, I ovulated on cycle day 18 and this was a vast improvement. As I was charting my cycles, I discovered that my luteal phase was only 10 days long.

Cycle 2. The second cycle I took them I had all my fertile signs and a positive ovulation test around cycle day 16-18. I thought I was going to ovulate but I started to spot instead and I came on my period. This cycle was 22 days long and was an anovulatory cycle. I remember being particularly stressed out that cycle as I was struggling emotionally after a miscarriage I had suffered a few months earlier.

Cycle 3. The third cycle I took them, I ovulated on Cd14 and again and my luteal phase was still 10 days long.

The next few cycles I decided to stop using them to see what my body would do. I was concerned that the Soy isoflavones were giving me the short 10-day luteal phase. The next 3 cycles without using soy isoflavones I ovulated on cycle day 22, 30 and 22 and my luteal phase was still 10 days long. This confirmed that the Soy Isoflavones were not causing my short luteal phase. I had seen a gynecologist at this point and was prescribed progesterone and conceived the following cycle.

I cannot be 100% sure that it was the soy isoflavones that shortened my cycles but it was a bit of a coincidence that 2 out of the 3 cycles I took them were the cycles that I ovulated the earliest and were my shortest cycles.

Should you give them a go?

If you ovulate later in your cycle and your cycles are irregular then maybe give them a go. I didn’t have any side effects that I can recall but if you are concerned about side effects then there are lots of information online about them. Also, check out the forums on trying to conceive websites such as baby centre regarding soy isoflavones as there are lots of useful information on there too.

Buy Natures Aid Soy Isoflavones here – 50mg – 90 Tablets for £16.99.

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What is the best water filter for the home? and how can it improve fertility?

You may think it is a bit strange for me to be discussing water filters on a Fertility website, but what you put into our body is very important when trying for a baby and for your future health as a busy mum. When I was struggling to conceive after my second miscarriage, I had a consultation with a nutritionist and he opened my eyes to the ingredients in tap water. I had no idea that there may be 1000s’ of different contaminants in tap water or that there were things added to it. It also never occurred to me that these contaminants could be affecting both my general health and my fertility.

I was in a predicament!!

As our bodies are made up of 60-70% water, it is very important to stay hydrated. If you don’t drink adequate amounts of water, then your body will send its reserves to the more vital organs and your reproductive system may suffer as a result. I was advised to increase my water intake to help improve my fertility, but I didn’t want to consume contaminants that could negatively affect it.  I struggled to know what to do! Could I improve the quality of the water I was drinking? Could I remove the contaminants in tap water to make it cleaner? Or should I only be drinking bottled water?

Is bottled water better than tap water?

                    Versus              

Bottled water versus tap water facts.

Although I am creating this post to highlight the contaminants that are in tap water, I am in no way advising you to stop drinking tap water and reach for bottled! I am hugely opposed to buying bottled water and plastic bottled drinks in general, as well as the 1000’s of other single use plastics we use every day. Plastic bottles in particular are causing an enormous problem within our environment, and we should all take responsibility and stop buying them today. Not only this, but there is a lot of controversy at the moment on whether there is a link between micro-plastic consumption, cancer and fertility problems.

It was in the news recently, that 93% of bottled water samples taken from around the world, is contaminated with micro-plastics. The study by Ornmedia, analysed 250 bottles from 9 different countries around the globe. A total average of 10 plastic particles were found per litre of bottled water, each larger than the width of a human hair. If bottled water contains micro-plastics then most of us are consuming them everyday. The affects on our health from consuming plastic is unclear, but research is currently being carried out with some interesting findings.

Bottled water may leach hormone disruptors.

Most bottled water is made from polyethylene terephtalate (PET/PETE) and may also contain bisphenol A (BPA). Both ‘may yield endocrine disruptors under conditions of common use, particularly with prolonged storage and elevated temperature‘.

Endocrine or hormone disruptors, can affect the level of hormones such as estrogen in the body and how they behave. By either blocking a hormone’s actions or mimicking them, hormone disruptors may throw our bodies off of its normal hormonal balance. Because high estrogen levels can lead to the development of breast cancer, women who are genetically susceptible should try to limit their exposure to these estrogen mimicking chemicals.

High levels of estrogen may also lead to estrogen dominance. ”Estrogen dominance” can cause an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone which can affect a woman’s menstrual cycle, delay or prevent ovulation, and may drastically decrease the chances of conception. It is also often linked to poly-cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

Who knows how that cold bottle of water you buy from a shop has been stored before being placed in the fridge, and how old is it? Months? Years? Has it been warmed and cooled over and over? Does is contain micro-plastics/chemicals? In my opinion, for the sake of your health and the environment, give up bottled water completely.

For more information on how to avoid harmful plastics and how plastic consumption may be linked to breast cancer visit ‘breastcancer.org‘.

What contaminants are in tap water?

So……… now I have covered why bottled water should be avoided, what’s the deal with our tap water? Is it bad for us too? Below is a short list of the types of contaminants that may be lurking in your Tap Water.

This is just a selection of the ones you may have heard of. There are 100s’ more.

  • Chlorine
  • Fluoride
  • Heavy metals such as Arsenic, Lead, Mercury, Cadmium, Radium, copper, Barium.
  • Aluminium
  • Hormones – such as estrogen and progesterone from excreted birth control pills
  • Pharmaceuticals – e.g. hormone medication
  • Recreational drugs
  • Nitrates – e.g. nitrogen from fertilisers leaching into our water system
  • Pesticides/herbicides
  • micro plastics such as Bisphenol A – endorine disruptor.
  • bacteria and cysts

What affects can tap water contaminants have on your fertility?

Not only can contaminants in tap water affect female fertility but it can also affect the quality of your partners sperm. I have summarised a few of the ones which may cause an issue to both you and your partners fertility.

Chlorine and Infertility – Your tap water may not taste or smell like swimming pool water, but it is well known that our tap water also contains chlorine. The presence of chlorine in tap water is a result of it being added artificially to make it clean and safe to drink. It disinfects the water and when we drink it straight from the tap, we are ingesting it.

Consuming chlorine has been linked to reduced sperm motility and sperm count and it could affect implantation of a fertilised egg in the uterus. Chlorinated chemicals may also act as a mimic of estrogen, which could lead to estrogen dominance and breast cancer.

Fluoride and Infertility – Fluoride is added to tap water to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride is present in our toothpaste too but as we spit most of that out, we are limiting our consumption. As it is in our tap water however, we cannot really avoid consuming it. Fluoride has been shown to reduce sperm motility and can damage the head of the sperm cell i.e. the acrosome. As an intact acrosome is needed to penetrate the egg there is reduced chance of conception.

If we are consuming too much fluoride then the thyroid gland will uptake fluoride instead of iodine (which is what it needs for normal function). By replacing iodine uptake, fluoride can begin to reduce thyroid activity/health. This may lead to hypothyroidism.

For women, hypothyroidism is often linked to reduced levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which is the hormone that matures the eggs on our ovaries each cycle. It may also lead to an increase in the hormone prolactin (which inhibits ovulation) and a reduction in luteinizing hormone (LH), which is what causes the release of the egg from the ovaries. It may also reduce progesterone levels after ovulation. Hypothyroidism could therefore lead to immature eggs/follicles, delayed/lack of ovulation, a short luteal phase and irregular cycles. Hypothyroidism is also linked to an increased risk of miscarriage.

For men, hypothyroidism can lead to decreased sperm count and motility and sperm defects. Scary stuff!!

Heavy metals and infertility.

The consumption of heavy metals has been shown to negatively impact ovarian and pituitary gland function (the gland in the brain which releases FSH and LH). This negative impact may unbalance our reproductive hormones and cause irregular ovulation, low estrogen and progesterone levels and even anovulation.

Heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic, lead, chromium and cadmium may also lead to a higher incidence of miscarriage. These heavy metals are toxic if consumed even in small amounts and as they cross through the placental barrier, they may accumulate in the tissues of the developing fetus. This can increase the risk of a miscarriage or harm to your babies brain, nervous system and organs.

Heavy metal consumption may also disrupt a woman’s immune response to foreign cells in the body, such as sperm cells and your developing embryo. This may lead to your immune system attacking a sperm cell or fetus instead of seeing it as ‘foreign but friendly’. This can lead to infertility or a miscarriage.

Hormones in tap water.

The contraceptive pill and hormone replacement therapy medication may be excreted via urine, which can flow into our water ways and can end up in our tap water. This presence of hormones in our drinking water can lead to an imbalance of hormones in both men and women.

Several studies have revealed that the feminisation of male fish (i.e. male fish growing female sex organs and carrying eggs) has resulted from estrogen being present in streams and rivers. This is very concerning. High estrogen consumption can lead to reduced sperm count in men and estrogen dominance in women. Both may lead to fertility issues and even infertility.

Pesticides and infertility. 

Pesticides and herbicides are sprayed onto agricultural land and may leach into rivers and streams or may be carried by rain into our waterways. Pesticides and herbicides are known to be endocrine disruptors as they contain Xenoestrogens.

These compounds mimic estrogen and may attach to estrogen receptors in the body. This may lead to an imbalance in hormones and fertility issues. Pesticide exposure has also been linked to conditions such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids and poly cystic ovarie syndrome. Pesticides may also contain organochlorines and these compounds have been linked to miscarriages, birth defects and infertility.

Does tap water contain micro-plastics. 

Yes, unfortunately tap water does contain micro-plastics. However, a study by orbmedia found that bottled water contained nearly twice as many pieces of micro-plastics of 100 microns in size (about the diameter of a human hair) per liter than the tap water samples tested. In addition, most micro-plastics in tap water can be removed easily using ‘Reverse Osmosis’ which I will discuss below. As plastics such as Bisphenol A (BPA) can act as endocrine disruptors, you should aim to remove as much micro plastic from your tap water as possible.

How can you reduce contaminants in tap water?

There are various methods to remove contaminants from your tap water. The most popular way is using a water filter pitcher as they are relatively cheap, take up little space, require no installation and can often be kept in the fridge door. Not only can they reduce total dissolved solids, chlorine, fluoride, lead and mercury but they may remove 80% of estradiol (the major female sex hormone) and larger pieces of micro plastics (which is far better than no filter at all).

Water filter pitchers reviews – What is the best water filter pitcher to buy?

 

BRITA Marella Cool Water Filter Jug review.

 

Price:

£13.92 for jug and 1 filter.

£25.91 for jug and 3 filters.

£39.10 for jug and 6 filters.

£19.95 for 6 replacement cartridges.

Amazon rating: 4.4 stars out of 5.

Filter lifespan: 1 month.

Review: BRITA is probably the best known and most popular leading brand of water filter jugs. It is slim and can fit into your fridge door and has a 1.4 litre water capacity. It is also dishwasher safe (except lid). It will notify you when to replace the filter cartridge and its filter cartridge has a 25 percent finer mesh (than previous versions of BRITA filter) for better removal of dissolved solids. Its micro carbon pearls reduce chlorine and organic impurities which affect taste and odour of tap water while its ion exchange pearls permanently absorb lead and copper and reduce limescale.

Despite BRITA being the leading brand of water filters, they do not remove as many impurities and contaminants of other more expensive and less known brands. I have reviewed two of the best water jug filters on the market below.

 

ZeroWater 5-Stage Dual Ion-Exchange Filter review.

Price: 

£34.99 for jug and one filter.

£29.99 for 2 replacement filters.

Amazon rating: 3.8 out of 5 stars.

Filter lifespan: Varies depending on how contaminated your tap water is (lasts 2-4 weeks) – cleans 25 – 40 gallons.

Review: Zerowater states their filters reduce more impurities than the leading brand (BRITA) i.e. 99% compared to 50% of total dissolved solids. Their filters remove virtually all total dissolved solids while delivering pure tasting water. It reduces Lead, Fluoride, Mercury and Chromium (99.7%) as well as other heavy metals. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that the level of total dissolved solids in purified bottled water should reach 000-010ppm. ZeroWater states it is the only carbon pitcher filter to achieve this level. ZeroWater’s has 5 layers of filters. The first layer contains activated carbon and oxidation reduction alloy, which removes chlorine. It also has an ion exchange stage which removes virtually all dissolved solids such as Aluminum, Lead, Zinc and nitrate. Three further stages remove many more impurities including a 99% reduction of fluoride. ZeroWater filters reduce pharmaceuticals, 99% of Arsenic. Chloramine reduces expected life of a filter, ZeroWater filters and jugs have been independently tested to reduce it. Zerowater is bisphenol A (BPA) free and has an 8-10 cup water capacity.

People reviewing this water filter have complained that they need to replace their filters very often. How often will depend on how contaminated your water is but it can be as soon as every 2 -4 weeks. The lid display will tell you when you need to change the filter and might give off a fishy smell when it needs replacing.

 

Aquagear Water Filter Pitcher – Triple capacity filters review.

Price:

£69.95 for jug and 1 filter.

£49.95 for 1 Replacement filter.

Amazon rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Filter lifespan: Up to 3 months – 150 gallons.

Review: This water filter is expensive but I personally feel it is worth the extra money. It is 100% BPA-free,100% FDA approved, 100% recyclable and 100% vegan. Each filter can clean 550 litres (150 gallons) of water each which is 3 times more water than BRITA filters and 4 times more than ZeroWater. It states to remove 2000% more contaminants than BRITA, including fluoride, lead, chromium 6, chloramines, mercury, copper, Arsenic and chlorine as well as estrogenic pollutants and larger pieces of micro-plastics. It has a 5 stage filter with 2 micron pores which removes contaminants that other filters miss. The filter also keep trace levels of minerals like calcium and magnesium in the water, which ZeroWater filters and reverse Osmosis systems will remove. It comes with a lifetime guarantee and great customer support. If the filter pitcher ever breaks. they claim they will replace it free of charge.

 

Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filtration System review.

 

Price:

£215.99 for Water Filtration System with Alkaline Remineralization Filter.

£104.99 replacement filters (lasting 1 year).

Amazon rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Review: This filtration system is an under sink mounted water filter and water softener. It removes up to 99% of over 1,000 contaminants, including lead, chlorine, fluoride, arsenic, hormones, asbestos, calcium, sodium, bacteria, giardia, viruses, hormones, micro plastics and more. Certified as “Gold” standard by the Water Quality Association (WQA). It has high reliability and low maintenance for several years. Its alkaline remineralisation filter balances pH and reintroduces ionized minerals including calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium. It can be installed easily (do-it-yourself installation) with great customer support if needed. The filtration system fits under a standard kitchen sink and includes all parts for installation. It has clear instructions and a video to help guide you. It comes with a 3-year Manufacturer Warranty.

If you are serious about cleaning your tap water to bottled mineral water standard then this is the filtration system for you. As it removes micro plastics as well, it also exceeds the purity of bottled water.

Feel free to comment below. If you have any filters you think should be added to my list let me know.

 

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The Clearblue Fertility Monitor review – Can it help you get pregnant?

I first bought a Clearblue advanced fertility monitor after my second miscarriage. I wanted to start trying to conceive straight away and as I was not ovulating regularly, I wanted to make sure I had plenty of warning before I did. This is the ”crème de la crème” when it comes to trying to conceive accessories and I will share with you my experience using it.

Clearblue Advanced Fertility Monitor Review.

Before I bought this device I read through lots of reviews on Amazon and they were mostly very positive. It was important to me to read reviews from people who have actually bought the device and used it (with or without success) rather than from review websites who may make a commission from selling it. You can read the Amazon reviews yourself here.

Despite a lot of women stating the obvious i.e. that the machine and the Clearblue fertility monitor test sticks are expensive, lots of customers were getting pregnant using it and so I was confident it worked well. If a gadget works well and could help me to conceive by telling me when I was most likely fertile, then it was worth investing in. The machine costs around £80 which in my opinion isn’t too bad. It is the sticks that Clearblue make their profits from, costing around £28 for 20 sticks (plus 4 pregnancy sticks free).

The machine will ask you to do a test on random days at the start of your cycle and so you may go through a few more sticks in the first few cycles until it works out your pattern. A box of 20 however should last you more than one cycle, with most women using 5-10 sticks per month. This works out at less than £28 for 2 cycles which isn’t that expensive. On a night out I could spend that much on one or two round of drinks.

Amazon rating: 64% of customer have given 4 or 5 stars.

Is it worth the money?

Yes, so many women get pregnant using this monitor as they are so precise and I conceived my son on my 5th cycle using it. I believe it would have worked sooner for me but I was suffering from a common fertility issue and needed progesterone to help with implantation.

Clearblue state that 97% of ovulation predictions are correct (validated with ultrasound). Clearblue also claim that their monitor improves your chances of conceiving naturally by 89%, by detecting more of your fertile days than an ovulation test alone. This is definitely true. You may think I was mad but I was using my ovulation ferning microscope, ovulation tests and this monitor all at the same time and this monitor was by far the most reliable and accurate. There was no guessing, like with some ovulation tests, if the lines were darker or as dark as the control line as it would just tell me if I was fertile or not.

It might seem like a big investment but if you have been trying to conceive for a while with no luck and you think you are not timing things correctly then it is definitely worth a go. You may find that you are ovulating much earlier or later than you thought. This happened to my friend who borrowed my machine and conceived using it on the 3rd month. She was timing things all wrong for nearly a whole year!

How does the Clearblue Advanced Fertility Monitor work?

The Clearblue Advanced Fertility Monitor works by detecting 2 reproductive hormones present in your urine. It analyses the levels of these two hormones and identifies all of your ‘High’ and ‘Peak’ fertility days. The machine may take a cycle to get used to your levels as every woman’s peak levels will differ, but this is another feature which makes the machine so intuitive and reliable. Ovulation tests do not do this. For some women who use ovulation tests they get really strong positives, but for some women they only get lines almost as dark as the control lines and still ovulate. This can be rectified by using several different brands to double check but all this guessing is removed with the monitor. This machine saves you from squinting at ovulation strips, guessing if they are positive or not.

The hormones the monitor detects is lutineizing hormone (LH) and estrogen. LH reaches its peak around 12-24 hrs before ovulation and is what a standard ovulation stick tests for. Estrogen reaches its peak several days before ovulation and is actually the hormone that triggers the LH peak. This is why the monitor is so clever! You get more warning that you are approaching ovulation with the monitor than with ovulation tests alone and it can give you up to 4 days notice. This will inevitably help you to maximise your chances of having sex at the right time each cycle to catch the egg.

Limitations: Only suitable for women with cycles of 21-42 days. Clearblue states that it may give inaccurate results if you have poly cystic ovary syndrome, liver or kidney disease or if you are on hormone replacement therapy. Fertility treatments such as Chlomid, may also elevate estrogen levels and result in more high fertility days being displayed earlier than expected.

How to use the Clearblue Advanced Fertility Monitor?

The machine is quite petite and discreet and the touch screen is easy to use and enables you to see summaries of your charts over the previous 6 cycles. It is very simple to set up and enter data and input when you have had intercourse etc. Each day you check the monitor to see if it is a test day or not and you can even set up an alarm.

The machine comes with instructions on how to use and insert the sticks into the monitor but you can also see a demo video here on Amazon. Basically you dip the tests into your urine sample (I would pee in a container) for 15 seconds. Always hold the test pointing downwards and not upwards as this may affect the results and make sure the machine is switched on and on the correct screen before inserting them. Once the sticks are inserted into the monitor it takes around 5 minutes to read and you then remove the test to see the result. The display will tell you if you are at ‘Low’, ‘High’ or ‘Peak; fertility. If you have high estrogen levels then the machine will most likely give a ‘High’ reading. If you have a peak in LH then it will read ‘Peak’ and you can be confident you will ovulate within the next 24 hrs or so. If the reading is ‘Low’, then it will ask you to do further tests in the days that follow.

Please note: Many women did give poor reviews on Amazon stating the monitor did not detect their peak days, but I suspect they were actually testing at the wrong time of day. It states in the instructions to test in the morning but as I explained in the section on ‘Ovulation tests‘, lots of women do not get their peak of LH in the morning. I always tested later on in the day and it worked great.

Testing for pregnancy using the Clearblue fertility monitor.

In addition to letting you know of your impending fertile window, the monitor may also be used to accurately detect if you are pregnant. There are special pregnancy sticks available to use with the monitor which are included when you buy a pack of the ovulation test stripes. What I did was use a cheap pregnancy test stripe first and if there was a sniff of a line I would test with the machine so not to waste them. There is nothing better than seeing the screen light up in bright letters – PREGNANT!

Things Clearblue could improve:

The monitor is very good and very simple to use, but for someone like me who has charted their cycles for several years, the option to enter basal body temperatures would be an advantage. Also, they should include the option to record other information e.g. if you have fertile cervical mucus or if your cervix feels open/closed. It is not a huge problem as I just used a fertility app on my phone to record this information.

Best place to buy:

Amazon: You can buy the Clearblue fertility monitor and ovulation sticks separately or you can buy the fertility monitor with 20 sticks included which also comes with 4 free pregnancy sticks that you can use with the monitor.

Clearblue Advanced Fertility Monitor Only – £79.99

Clearblue Advanced Fertility Monitor, 20 ovulation sticks and 4 pregnancy sticks – £114.98.

Clearblue Pack of 20 Refill Fertility Tests and 4 Pregnancy Tests: £24.99

 

If you have used the Clearblue Advanced Fertility Monitor or have any questions then feel free to write a comment below.

 

 

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What is an ovulation ferning microscope? And how do you use one?

An ovulation ferning microscope is also known as a fertility microscope or ovulation saliva microscope and you probably never heard of one of these before trying for a baby. I first discovered these when chatting on a trying to conceive forum as a few of the ladies were raving about how useful they were. I was really interested to know how they worked, how one could help me get pregnant and how to use one and I will share what I have found with you. I will also give you a review of the one I bought and used.

What is an Ovulation ferning microscope?

An ovulation ferning microscope is a little hand held microscope that you can use to check if your estrogen levels are high and you are approaching ovulation. As I explained in the section ‘your menstrual cycle explained- the basics‘, the hormone estrogen starts to increase as you approach ovulation. This rise encourages the maturation of the eggs on your ovaries and causes you to produce fertile cervical mucus. In addition, it causes your cervix to soften and open to allow the passage of sperm up to the Fallopian tubes to fertilise the egg. Without a blood test or e.g. the Clearblue fertility monitor, you are unlikely to know for sure if your estrogen levels are starting to increase but with the help of an ovulation ferning microscope you can detect a rise with confidence.

How do ovulation ferning microscopes work?

Well it is actually quite clever. As mentioned above, as you are approaching ovulation you produce increasing levels of estrogen. High levels of this hormone causes your saliva to become more saline (salty) which changes its structure. This change can be clearly observed using an ovulation microscope.

You first need to smear a thin layer of saliva onto the microscope lens first thing in the morning (before you eat or drink anything or even brush your teeth) and let it dry for a few minutes. If you have high levels of estrogen in your system then once your saliva is dry, you will see some crystallisation. These crystals form a ferning pattern if you have a lot of estrogen in your body and indicates you are in your fertile window.

Do Ovulation ferning microscopes work?

Yes, they do work really well if used correctly. The first cycle I used my microscope I was using it wrong. I would use it at random times during the day and I would see a lot of particles on the lens which was probably bits of food etc. and I missed my estrogen peak. After reading up about their correct use and watching a few videos on Youtube however, it worked really well. I would see the odd patch of crystals on the lens at the beginning of my cycle but a few days before I ovulated, Boom!! The whole lens was covered in crystals in the characteristic ferning pattern.

Should you buy an ovulation microscope?

Ovulation microscopes can be very useful and can give you a greater chance of predicting when you may ovulate. They are not 100% accurate and should not be relied upon for e.g. birth control, but they can save you money when it comes to ovulation tests when trying to conceive. I had long cycles when I first came off the pill and I would go through so many ovulation tests every cycle. Once I bought a microscope however, I would only test when I observed a change in my cervical mucus and when I seen crystals on the microscope.

Product review: Babystart Fertil Focus Ovulation Microscope.

Before buying a microscope I read a few reviews and decided to invest in the Babystart Fertil Focus Ovulation Microscope as it was the most rated on Amazon and the comments were mostly positive. I was doubtful that they worked so I didn’t want to spend an awful lot. As mentioned above, I was using it wrong at first but I can now say that it worked brilliantly. It was easy to use and clean and totally reusable so I could test my saliva everyday. As it is the size of a lipstick it is also very discrete and it was easy to view the results through the lens viewer. I used it when I conceived both my son and daughter and as it gave me positive results before even my ovulation sticks, it definitely gave me that extra bit of warning.

Price:£24.99 (Please note that there are cheaper/more expensive ones available).

Amazon rating: 54% of customers gave 4 or 5 stars.

Please feel free to comment below to let me know if you have tried an ovulation ferning microscope and how you found it. If you have any questions on how best to use one, get in touch.

 

 

 

 

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Vitex/Angus Castus/Chasteberry Review Can it help you to conceive?

Vitex and Fertility.

When I first came off the pill and wanted to start trying to conceive I met my first hurdle…….no period. After 3 months I went to see my GP and we did blood tests. My prolactin levels were slightly high so this could have been the reason and all my other reproductive hormones were the low end of normal. I felt like I wanted to do something pro-active to try to balance out my hormone levels and so I started to look into the use of fertility herbs. I kept seeing the fertility herb Angus castus AKA Chasteberry or Vitex so started to do some research.

What is Vitex?

I have mentioned Vitex in the section on ‘fertility herbs and fertility vitamins’ but I felt I needed to give it its only post as I am sure this herb in particular has helped me to ovulate more regularly and Vitex has helped me to conceive 4 times.

Vitex is a very popular fertility herb which has been used for 100’s of years to improve fertility as it helps to balance out a women’s fertility hormones. It helps to support the pituitary gland which regulates the sex hormones released by the ovaries which results in a more regular period and therefore more regular ovulation. This in turn brings about a more predictable fertile window to try to conceive. Vitex can increase the amounts of luteinizing hormone (LH) produced before ovulation which may also boost our progesterone levels after ovulation. As progesterone helps us to maintain a healthy uterine lining for longer this is very important for implantation.

Does Vitex help fertility? Here is my experience.

I read lots of positive feedback and reviews from women who had tried Vitex so I decided to give it a go. I didn’t ovulate for quite a while after starting it (2-3 months) but as fertility herbs can take a while to work, I was quite sure that the Vitex was having a positive effect. My cervical mucus would start to intermittently resemble the fertile egg white cervical mucus (which was an indication I was maybe fertile) and I would get positive ovulation tests here and there. Before taking Vitex my cervical mucus was always scant and sticky and my ovulation tests were always negative. I was charting my cycles at the time using my basal body temperature so I knew when I finally ovulated and I managed to conceive.

I had a chemical pregnancy but with the help of Vitex I ovulated again 2 months later and conceived again. This also ended in a miscarriage at 12 weeks but I felt that at least I was getting somewhere. I carried on taking Vitex and over the coming months my cycles got shorter and more regular which gave me more chances to try for a baby which was great. I finally conceived again after 6 months and now I have a lovely little boy.

Was it all just a coincidence?

When my son was 6 months old my cycles returned and as I knew I wanted to try for another baby quite soon I started to take Vitex again straight away. I was ovulating irregularly (between day 15 and 30) but my cycles were shorter and I managed to conceive my daughter the first month of trying.

When my daughter was 6 months old my cycles returned again but this time I had no plans to try for another baby. I therefore didn’t start taking Vitex again or any other fertility herbs/vitamins. My first 3 cycles were really long again (35 plus days). I was not ovulating until around cycle day 32-38 and my luteal phase was very short at just 7 days.

The above chart shows I ovulated on cycle day 38 and my luteal phase was only 7 days long. I decided to start taking Vitex again, along with Vitamin B6 100mg (as part of a vitamin B complex) to see if it could help.

The first two cycles taking Vitex and Vitamin B6 I still didn’t ovulate until cycle day 32 and 33, but my luteal phase lengthened to 9 days which was something at least.

Above is my March – April 2018 chart after I had been taking Vitex for 2 months. I ovulated on cycle day 33 and my period arrived 10 days later giving me a 9 day luteal phase. I spotted for 3 days before it arrived.

I was doubtful that my luteal phase would lengthen much more than 9 days however this cycle I got a pleasant surprise. Not only did I ovulate on cycle day 19 but my luteal phase has astonishing lengthened to 14 days with no spotting. This is the first time this has happened while I have been charting my ovulation (in 4 years). As I have always suffered from a luteal phase defect i.e. a luteal phase of 7-10 days, and usually spot for 2 days before my period arrives, this difference is unbelievable.

So not only has the Vitex and Vitamin B6 helped me ovulate around 2 weeks earlier than in my previous 5 cycles, they have helped my body establish a completely normal luteal phase in my last cycle. When I conceived my two children I had to use progesterone to increase my luteal phase as it was too short. If this is the new ‘normal’ for me, then I would not need progesterone treatment to conceive again. I am looking forward to seeing if I will ovulate earlier again this cycle and if my luteal phase is still in the normal range.

Can you take Vitex during pregnancy?

Research suggests that Vitex is safe in early pregnancy and may actually can help to prevent early miscarriage through its positive effects on our progesterone levels. It should be stopped after 12 weeks however to prevent early milk production. From 12 -14 weeks the placenta takes over the production of progesterone so it is no longer needed anyway. If you fall pregnant and are concerned then it is best to speak to your GP to be safe.

Vitex works best when taken over a long period of time and depending on the individual but can take a while to take effect (up to 6 months). It helps to give long term balance to a women’s hormone levels so patience is needed. It should be taken once daily in the morning on an empty stomach (half an hour before breakfast). The suggested dose is 1000mg day but you will struggle to buy this dose in any health food shops in the UK. You can only buy them at 1000mg online.

  

Vitex should not be used alongside prescription fertility drugs such as chlomid or that contain hormones e.g.progesterone.

For more information on the benefits of Vitamin B6 and other Fertility herbs and Vitamins check out this section.

If you have tried Vitex or Vitamin B6 yourself then please comment below to share your experiences or if you have any questions then feel free to ask.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Fertility Blog!

I am going to use this section to discuss all things babies…..from getting pregnant to preparing for the birth, from to birth inductions to recovering from a c-section or forceps delivery. I will discuss to the things you truly need for your baby once it is here and give honest reviews of the products I have tried and tested. I will tell you what was in my hospital bag and how I managed to turn my daughter from the breech position to head down twice. I hope you enjoy my blog page.

Trying to conceive abbreviations – what do they all mean?

Can the female orgasm help you get pregnant?

Early signs of pregnancy.

Progesterone and Fertility.

How to increase cervical mucus naturally – Top 10 secrets revealed.

 

 

 

 

 

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Trying to conceive after miscarriage.

Trying to conceive after a miscarriage.

If you are reading this section, it probably means that you have recently suffered a miscarriage and you want to try to get pregnant again asap. Firstly let me say I am so sorry for you loss. There is no one that understands the pain a woman feels after going through a miscarriage than a woman who has been there herself. I had two miscarriages while trying to conceive my son and going through this experience has tainted both my successful pregnancies with worry and stress and has affected me in a way that no other event in my life has.

I would compare a miscarriage to losing someone that no one else knows. Grieving for someone that no one else knows. No one can understand the pain that you feel. Not even you partner can come close to understanding what you are going through and neither can you parents, siblings or friends. They worry about you but they do not grieve for you lost baby for years after the miscarriage and as long as they think or see that you are OK about it, they are OK about it. Below I will discuss what to expect after a miscarriage in both physical and psychological terms. I will tell you how I coped and the things I did to try and get pregnant again asap after my miscarriages.

My miscarriage story.

My miscarriages took place in 2014 and I honestly believe I will never get over the stress of trying to conceive after having a miscarriage. No matter how many times I was told how common they are it still begs the questions ‘why me?’ It doesn’t matter if you miscarriage occurred really early on or later in the pregnancy, you still started to imagine what that little baby would look like, what sex it would be, what you would name it and what would it be like. It was still you baby no matter how developed it was and the pain is much the same and the thought of having to start all over again is deflating and heartbreaking.

My first miscarriage happened very early on. I got a positive pregnancy test 11 days after I ovulated and I came on my period a few days later. It was classed as a chemical pregnancy which makes it sound like it wasn’t an actual pregnancy but it was no matter how short lived it was. I was so disappointed and sad.

My husband pointed out that the fact that we could get pregnant was such a positive thing and I started to feel better the more I thought about it. I was fertile and my husband’s sperm was working. I was reassured that my body was working as it should and I could get pregnant. I started to think positively for my next ovulation and was determined to once again catch the egg which I did.

I got a positive pregnancy test 12 days after I ovulated and this time it stuck. A little too well as it turned out. I had been to see my midwife at 7 weeks and my 12-week scan was booked. Everything seemed to be going very smoothly and I even developed a little bump which of course was only bloating at this point but I loved it. Everything was fine until around 9 weeks or so and after that my whole positive attitude towards the pregnancy changed and I was super paranoid that something was wrong. I would wake at night and start googling about women going to their 12 week scans and their baby not being alive. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I also took a few pregnancy tests around this time which were instantly positive and I started to chart my morning temperatures again to make sure they were still high. All of this behaviour was very strange when I think about it and it was like I knew in my heart that something bad had happened.

I was exactly 12 weeks pregnant when I found a little bit of blood in my underwear. I had no cramps or other signs of a miscarriage but I was still very worried as the blood looked fresh. My midwife had said that brown or pink discharge is OK so this was a worry. My 12-week scan was 4 days away so we went to the hospital. They gave me a scan in the early pregnancy unit and I will never forget the heartbreaking words ‘I am so sorry but you baby has no heart beat’. The sonographer said my baby looked around 8-9 weeks old. I was totally devastated. It was what is called a ‘missed miscarriage’ which means my body hadn’t realised the baby had died and carried on with the pregnancy for 3-4 weeks. Eventually I would have miscarried naturally but at that point my body had not recognised that there was a problem. The Dr said that it is more than likely that the baby had a chromosomal problem and although the heart would have started to beat at around 6 week gestation, it stopped a few weeks later as the fetus was not viable.

They gave me 3 options. I could have what is called a D&C (dilation and curettage) which is when they give you a general anesthetic and remove the baby for you, I could have waited and let the miscarriage happen naturally which could have been days or even weeks later, or I could have a pessary inserted which would dilate my cervix and bring on a miscarriage within 24 hours. I opted for the pessary and went home to have the miscarriage. I actually ended up in hospital for a few days as I bled too much but that is a different story. The whole ordeal left me completely devastated, confused, stressed and weak and I had no idea how stressful the next 6 months would be.

What I did to cope after a miscarriage?

It took me 6 months to conceive my son after that second miscarriage. Month after month I would go through the same ordeal of my period arriving and not knowing why I wasn’t getting pregnant again. One by one my friends would fall pregnant or someone would know someone who was pregnant and I could spot a pregnant woman a mile away when I was walking around town or the shops. It was the hardest time of my life. Scan photos, bump photos and friends moaning about pregnancy symptoms on Facebook made me want to delete my account. Instead, I would write ‘congratulations!’ and immediately unfollow them. I didn’t want to be around anyone with kids or anyone that was pregnant as it was just too painful and I needed to protect myself. I also avoided alcohol completely as if I got drunk I would break down in tears.

One of my friends who also had a missed miscarriage around the same time went out and got a tattoo in their babies memory but I don’t have any tattoos so it wasn’t really something I wanted to do. Another of my friends managed to have a little ceremony in her local church but I am not really very religious. Instead I bought a little necklace with a heart charm with baby footprints  to represent my lost baby and I wore it constantly. I wore it throughout the pregnancy with my son and even gave birth wearing it. I only removed it once I got home from the hospital. I felt if I had something to remember the baby by it would help me and it did. I also mention this as I have bought several of my friends who have suffered a miscarriage the same chain and they said it really helped them to get through it by having something that represented the baby. Because they helped me so much I decided to start selling similar charms here at My Fertility. I have a wide selection available and you get 3 charms for just £2.49p or if you would like a bracelet or key-ring with your charms they are just £2.99p. Take a look at my selection here.

Baby memorial keepsakes – Bracelets, key rings and Pendants.

How I took control of my fertility.

My second miscarriage happened in the June 2014 and by the November I was starting to freak out. I had read that most women get pregnant within 6 months of a miscarriage and it had almost been that long for me. I was doubting I would ever have a baby and became quite distressed. I was ovulating more regularly but I would come on my period early and I had a lot of spotting before it arrived. I started to take a bit more control and I did a lot of research on fertility vitamins and herbs and I had a consult with a nutritionist. I also went to see my doctor and got the ball rolling on why I was spotting so much after I ovulated. My doctor really didn’t have a clue but did some swabs of my cervix and blood tests, all of which were OK. She just said to relax and keep trying which was really unhelpful.

I asked to be referred privately to see a gynecologist which cost me £130 and it was the best money I had ever spent. The gynecologist didn’t really think there was a problem but agreed to give me progesterone suppositories to try after my next ovulation. I used them from 3 days after I ovulated and I had no spotting at all and got a positive pregnancy test at 10 day after ovulation and now I have a lovely little boy. Progesterone treatment was my savior (see section on The Luteal Phase). I started to try to for baby number 2 when my son was 11 months old and used progesterone again and I couldn’t believe it when I conceived the first month. My daughter is now almost 1 year old.

How to cope with a pregnancy after a miscarriage?

After a miscarriage all you want is to be pregnant again and you may think that everything will be fine once you get pregnant but it is far from the truth. Trust me when I say that a miscarriage changes your thought processes when it comes to pregnancy and you become an irrational mess. When you first get a positive pregnancy test after a miscarriage it makes you so happy for maybe a few hours. Then panick sets in and you start to become paranoid that you will miscarry again. I begged my Dr for an early scan but she refused. She was totally unsympathetic to my concerns and said that probably all is well and I remember thinking ‘ I bet she has never had a miscarriage’. I ended up paying for an early scan privately at 7 weeks and despite seeing my sons heart beating and being told everything looked good (which was obviously amazing) it only calmed my nerves for about a day. I then started to think ‘well my last baby died at 8-9 weeks so this baby could die too’. It wasn’t enjoyable at all and it was super stressful and I was extremely paranoid.

By 9 weeks of the pregnancy I’d had enough and decided to buy a Doppler machine. I had read about them online and watched videos on Youtube.com of women picking up their babies heart beat from as early as 8 weeks gestation if used correctly. I bought one along with some ultra sound gel and I gave it a go.

At first I couldn’t find the heart beat and I panicked. I could only hear the placenta which is a whooshing sound and the rate will match you pulse. After a few minutes of scanning I heard another heart beat of a much faster rate. It was going around 160 beats a minute and my pulse was around 90 so I knew it was my son’s heart and not mine. It was very faint but it was my son’s heart beat and it was the best sound I had ever heard in my life. My son was alive and I could listen to his heart when ever I liked.

                                                                           

Be Cautious – Dopplers are not for everyone and you need to do a bit of research on how to use them properly during early pregnancy or they can cause more stress than reassurance. Your uterus is behind your pubic bone at the early stages so the baby is well hidden. You are almost searching around the level of your groin area. Do not start high up as you will not hear anything. Dopplers do not cause your baby any harm if they are only used for a few minutes at a time and are not used repeatedly every day. There is no evidence they are unsafe but the ultra sound waves can heat up tissue so they should be used infrequently during the early stages of pregnancy just in case. I would check my son’s heart for a few seconds once I got good at finding him and only once every 3 days or so.

When I went into the 12 week scan I was relaxed and confident everything was OK as I had heard my babies heart beating only an hour or so before. If I hadn’t had the early scan or the Doppler then I would have been super stressed and extremely anxious about having another missed miscarriage. I definitely advise going for an early scan especially. I used the Doppler until I was around 20 weeks pregnant because at this point I could feel him move around every day. This is basically how I got through the pregnancy with my son after my two miscarriages. When I got pregnant with my daughter (using the progesterone treatment again) the stress and anxiety was just as strong at the beginning. Once I heard her heart beat using the doppler at around 8 weeks I was reassured she was OK and I went into the 12 week scan confident again. I was living in Spain at the time I conceived my daughter and they do scans much more regularly there so that was also helpful to keep me calm. Having my son around also distracted me as he took my mind off any negative feelings that crept in by keeping me busy and making me smile.

Once I got past the point where if I went into early labour, my babies had a good chance of surviving, I really started to enjoy both of my pregnancies. The first 3 months are the toughest but once you know everything looks OK the chance of a miscarriage is really small. Despite knowing that most miscarriages occur in the first few weeks and no matter how many people tell you to relax and everything will be fine, you just can’t be 100% sure. There will always be a feeling of doubt which is completely normal and all you can do is literally take one day at a time and try to enjoy it as much as you can.

How does miscarriage effect you?

Miscarraige is an event that will affect the way you think about pregnancy throughout the rest of your life. I want to be pregnant constantly, despite the stress and I feel jealous when someone announces a pregnancy to me. I want 3 or 4 kids while my husband is happy with just 2 so I have accepted that I won’t be pregnant again but it makes me really sad. Once I got past the first 3 months or so and once I got my bump, I was so proud to show it off and I when people would ask me about my pregnancy I loved to talk about it. I loved that feeling that my baby was in my belly safe and protected and he/she was mine and I would soon get to meet him/her. I loved lying on the sofa of an evening watching and feeling my babies move inside my belly. Pregnancy is the most amazing experience and I treasured every second like most women who have suffered a miscarriage. I think if I fell pregnant quickly and had no issues at all then I would probably of moaned about how I was feeling and what was going on with my body. I would have taken the whole experience for granted which would have been a shame. Instead, I embraced every part of both my successful pregnancies and every day I was thankful for. Even the nausea I took as a positive sign everything was OK.

When you get pregnant after a miscarriage you will worry and be anxious and this is completely normal. You do however see pregnancy and having a baby in a completely different light as you know how precious it is. This makes it even more amazing and also helps you to accept the changes to your body once you have given birth. Your vagina will never look or feel the same and you boobs may sag and you may have stretch marks but your body has given you the greatest gift and you should be proud so of it. It has managed to produce the most beautiful little person who is all yours. That is pretty amazing! So once you do fall pregnant again try to embrace every day and try not to worry as hard as that seems.

When can you start trying to conceive after a miscarriage?

This is an individuals choice and your doctor will tell you to wait a few cycles to let yourself recover but for me I wanted to start trying straight away and I did. I was not successful for 6 months after my second miscarriage but I know of lots of my friends who conceived the cycle after theirs. As long as you are emotionally ready for another pregnancy you can go ahead. That feeling that you just want to be pregnant again as soon as possible is overwhelming so more than likely you will want to try as soon as possible anyway. Trying to conceive after miscarriage can be really difficult and frustrating. Some women are lucky enough to fall pregnant again straight away but for some it can take longer as they can experience irregular menstrual cycles. This can be really distressing especially if took you a while to get pregnant in the first place. If you have tried for more than 6 months and feel you are unable to conceive after a miscarriage then go and see your doctor.

How to get pregnant after a miscarriage?

Trying to get pregnant after a miscarriage is basically the same as trying before it happened but you will probably put a lot of pressure on yourself to get pregnant fast. Remember that if you managed to get pregnant once you will more than likely get pregnant again within 6 months. You can improve your chances of getting pregnant by monitoring your fertile signs and using ovulation tests so you have sex at the correct time. Charting your temperatures can also help if you want to make sure you are ovulating and you can pin point when. Your cycles can be a bit messy after a miscarriage as your hormone levels normalise again and to what extent will likely depend on how far along you were when you miscarried. You need to be patient with your body as it has gone through a lot of stress both physically and mentally. When your body has recovered and is ready for another pregnancy, that is when it is more likely to happen.

How long after miscarriage can you conceive?

This question should be ‘when do you ovulate after a miscarriage?’. Annoyingly after a miscarriage you will probably still have pregnancy hormones in your system for a few days or weeks depending on how far along you were when you had it. I had positive pregnancy tests after my 2nd miscarriage for 2 weeks and it was a strange feeling to be hoping for a negative test so I could try to conceive again. This is because if you have pregnancy hormones in your system, you will not ovulate. Don’t waste ovulation tests straight after a miscarriage as a positive ovulation test is common and is unlikely to mean you are about to ovulate. This is because the hormone they are measuring is similar in structure to the pregnancy hormone and they cannot distigush between the two. If you have pregnancy hormones in your body it is likely that you will get a positive OPK.

Once my pregnancy tests were negative I called this cycle day 1. If you ovulate normally after your miscarriage it is possible to get pregnant straight away. Often it takes a few cycles however as things get back to normal. Sometimes you need one or two periods for the lining to shed properly from the miscarriage. Then your body can start to build up a healthy lining ready for implantation. The second cycle after my miscarriage I lost some weird grey tissue which was rubbery in texture. It was obviously some tissue left over from the miscarriage that needed to be expelled. Part of the sac maybe.

Are you more fertile after a miscarriage?

I have read up a lot about this and most information says you are particularly fertile within the first 6 months after a miscarriage. Although at first I took this as a positive statistic, the closer I got to that 6 month mark the more anxious and stressed I became. Thinking that my fertility would suddenly decrease after the 6 months mark seems like complete nonesense to me now. Most women get pregnant within the first 6 months after a miscarriage because a high percentage of women get pregnant within the first 6 months of trying in general. It is often reiterated by midwives after you give birth that you are more fertile after having a baby and you need to use protection but I believe that if you are having unprotected sex for 6 months the likelihood of getting pregnant whether you have just given birth, just had a miscarriage or never had a baby before is pretty similar if you do not have any fertility issues. The point is, try not to stress about this statistic or read too much into it as every women is different and your body will react and recover differently from a miscarriage than others. Hopefully you will be one of the lucky ones and conceive within 6 months but if you don’t then try not to worry and keep the end goal in sight. It will happen for you at the right time.

What if you can’t get pregnant after a miscarriage?

If you have had a miscarriage and are struggling to conceive again it will seem like the end of the world. It will be all you think about and you will probably become totally obsessed and stressed about getting pregnant again. Please bear in mind that the majority of women get pregnant again within the first 6 to 12 months after a miscarriage which sounds like a long time but it is likely to be sooner. If you have been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant after a miscarriage and you are not charting your ovulation then start now! You can then can go to see your doctor and tell them you are ovulating and having sex at the right time so there must be something else going on.

Things to consider.

– If you chart your temperatures you may find that you are ovulating earlier or later than what you thought so you may be having sex at the wrong time.

– If you conceived once then it is unlikely that there is a problem with your partners sperm but you may want to discuss getting him checked too and you can improve his sperm quality in the mean time (see fertility vitamins and herbs section).

– If you had a missed miscarriage like me and you had a D&C (dilation and curettage) then you may want to ask for an ultra sound or hysteroscopy. This is because a D&C can sometimes cause adhesions and scaring in your uterus that can inhibit implantation. I read up about this and this is why I opted against the procedure and went for the pessary to bring on my miscarriage.

– If you chart your ovulation and you are not ovulating then it is also time to go see your doctor. They can give you medication such as clomid to stimulate ovulation and help you conceive.

– You may discover like myself that you have a luteal phase defect and you can then ask about progesterone treatment.

– You may be stressed out causing an imbalance in hormone levels which can affect when and if you ovulate and can shorten your luteal phase. Your hormone levels are unlikely to re-balance until you are not stressed anymore which will probably be when you are pregnant again. This is a catch-22 situation and it might be time to look into alternative therapy such as reflexology or acupuncture. You may also want to start doing some light exercise to try and counter balance the stress hormones with endorphines and seretonin. This is what I had to do to bring my stress levels down and it worked wonders.

– It is worth looking into you diet and making sure it is healthy and balanced. There is some information in the section ‘Causes of long menstrual cycles and delayed ovulation’ about nutrition and a fertility diet. You and your partner should cut down on alcohol and if either of you smoke you should stop. Not only does smoking decrease egg quality but it also affects sperm motility, quality and quantity. You want his swimmers to be as healthy as possible and preserve your egg quality for as long as possible. There are usually solutions to any problem that you come up against when trying to conceive after a miscarriage and of all the sad stories I have heard over the years, 100% have ended with a successful pregnancy. Just remember at all times that if you got pregnant once you can get pregnant again! It doesn’t matter what is going on with the women around you and try not to compare yourself to them. Try to block out any negative feelings towards anyone you know that gets pregnant as this is unhelpful to you and can increase your stress levels. It is highly likely that you will be pregnant again soon so keep the faith.

Multiple miscarriages.

It varies from country to country but if you live in the UK the NHS will not help you until you have had at least 3 miscarriages. This seems very unfair and extremely frustrating and stressful if you have had 2 miscarriages and your doctor cannot refer you for tests. Trust me I have been there. If you have a third miscarriage however, then they may be able to do tests on the fetus to check why it passed away and to do some genetic tests on you and your partner as well. It is important for you to go to your GP and start the ball rolling straight away so you do not have to go through a 4th and you can get the issue sorted. Often reoccurring miscarriages happen to women who are 35 years or older as their egg quality can be lower than what it was when they were in their 20’s.  There is a great book called ”it starts with the egg” if you want to read up about how you can improve your egg quality in a few easy steps, helping you to get pregnant and hopefully prevent future miscarriages.

I will also write a section about ‘natural killer cells and miscarriage’ in the section on ‘Fertility Problems and Fertility Tests’ as this can be a reason for recurring miscarriages and one of my friends had this issue.

Some success stories:

I have a friend who after 4 miscarriages and no help from her GP paid privately to see a specialist who did some basic blood tests to start their investigation. Her white blood cell count (was extremely high causing her body to reject the pregnancies. She was put on steroid treatment and is now pregnant.

I have another friend of the famiy who had 9 miscarriages in 5 years and was eventually referred down the IVF route as it was unexplained why she was conceiving and not keeping the babies. She was on the list for IVF and conceived again and now has a healthy 3 year old.

There are so many stories I have heard over the years about women (often close friends) having miscarriages and despite the pain we all feel after going through one or several, they really are very common especially as we get a bit older. But there are things that can be done to help to support a pregnancy and eventually the end result is usually a healthy pregnancy and a happy and healthy mum and baby. Do not despair as you will get there in the end. You just need to start to take control of the situation, be firm with your doctor and if you are not happy with their advise I suggest you go private and speak to a specialist. The GPs at your local surgery are general practitioners and they know a little bit about a lot of conditions. You need to speak to someone who knows everything about one thing i.e. – fertility issues and how to get you pregnant. In the UK, once you have seen a private doctor they will refer you back onto the NHS for any tests that they suggest so it will be just the consultation that you pay for and trust me it is well worth the money in the long run.

Helping others who have had a miscarriage?

When I lost my second baby I joined a forum on ‘baby centre’ and I got to speaking with 12 ladies on there that had all had a miscarriage around the same time as me and who all wanted to start trying to conceive again straightaway. We supported each other through the toughest of times without even meeting. I am now friends with all 12 women on Facebook and 3 of them I am quite close to although our locations have stopped us from meeting in person. One of the girls got pregnant on her 1st cycle and three got pregnant on their second. All 12 of us got pregnant again within 8 months of our miscarriages and successfully carried our babies to term. All of us were in our early to late 30’s so this is quite a good success rate. In addition, almost every one of my friends who has either been trying for their first baby or second baby has experienced an early miscarriage (chemical pregnancy) so when my doctor told me they are common, she was right. Unfortunately it is just all part of our trying to conceive journey.

As a rainbow follows a storm and gives hope of things getting better you will more than likely get your ‘rainbow baby’ after the storm that has come upon you.

Share your story – I have found by sharing my story with other women it helped them to open up to me. I initially kept my miscarriages a secret and felt very lonely that I had no one to really talk to who had been there themselves. Once I had my son I started to tell friends about it and from there it all changed. From that moment one of my friends got pregnant they told me first. One of my friends told me before she even told her husband and mum. Women seem to open up to you about their worries once they know you have had a loss and you can be there for them if the worst happens to them too. I have a friend who I had not been in touch with for years but through a mutual friend I heard she’d had several miscarriages so I contacted her. Once she knew I had been there too we got to talking every day and she said it truly helped her get through it. She now has a 1 year old. The point I am trying to make is if you have a miscarriage don’t be scared or ashamed to open up to you friends and family about it. Let them be there for you. You never know if one of them has been there themselves and can really help you. Also, if you hear someone who has had a miscarriage then reach out to them. Just to say you are sorry for their loss and that if they need to talk you are there. They will truly appreciate it. You can use the comments section below if you want to chat to me or the other women reading this section.

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