The journey to have a child can fill you with hope and frustration. The ups and downs come with timing ovulation alongside your busy schedule and wondering if this will be the time — after all this time. The frustration builds until you begin the rabbit hole search down the internet to figure out how to conceive, whether by assistance from western medicine or more holistic means.

Many hopeful moms-to-be prefer going the holistic route. Whether you are just starting to think about fertility or in the midst of your journey, here are five holistic ways to improve fertility in women.

1.   Work Out

Exercise benefits your health in many ways, from improving your mood to boosting your fertility. Researchers have also linked a sedentary lifestyle with a likelihood of infertility. Women who exercise at least 30 minutes a day decreased their infertility risk due to ovulation disorders. However, if you exercise like an elite athlete, tone it down — excessive physical activity also links to infertility.

Moderation is the key to physical activity. That’s why doctors don’t share specific rules for intensity or frequency of exercise. First, the OB-GYN looks at factors like cycles, ovulatory status and age before analyzing physical activity.

2.   Relax and Practice Self-Care

When your stress levels rise, your odds of conception decline due to the hormonal shifts you experience when you feel stressed out. Heavy workloads and schedules affect fertility in women adversely. Women who lift heavy loads and work physically demanding roles have a 9 percent lower egg count than those who don’t, and the reduction in count increases if the woman is obese or older.

Women — if you experience anxiety or depression symptoms, see a therapist to learn more about how to manage your triggers and routine to open up your life to less stress and a bundle of joy. Most of all, welcome mindfulness and acts of self-care into your life. Make time to relax regularly.

3.   Eat Well 

Make your plate colorful and include a variety of food groups. Citrus and Swiss chard contain folate, which regulates ovulation and protects against congenital disabilities. Eating a variety of leafy greens also boosts your magnesium and iron. Berries also have folate and antioxidants, they can help regulate weight, and are a good source of fiber. Remember, those who maintain a healthy weight increase their chances to conceive. Include complex carbs and healthy fats, too!

How do you include healthy foods in your diet when you’re busy? Sneak citrus and berries into your morning smoothie and produce into casseroles, burritos, eggs and salad. Eat the rainbow to get your fill of healthy foods, starting with one type from each food group every week, so you don’t overwhelm yourself.

4.   Monitor Your Thyroid Health

A woman’s thyroid health matters during conception because it helps balance her hormones. When she has hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, she may suffer from fertility issues and can experience miscarriages. As a woman ages into her late 20s, she may experience thyroid issues.

You can check your thyroid by taking your basal body temperature in the morning, which should run between 97.8 to 98.2 degrees ideally— though some sources suggest 98.6 degrees. If it’s lower on a regular basis, you may have hypothyroidism. If it’s consistently higher, it may be a sign of hyperthyroidism. Eat healthy carbs to supplement thyroid health. A holistic doctor can work with you to maintain your thyroid health through herb supplementation and alterations to your diet.

5.   Try a Mayan Abdominal Massage

A prolapsed uterus can cause symptoms in the body that affect implantation and restrict blood flow and nutrients. The Mayan abdominal massage is noninvasive and can help gently move your reproductive organs to a more advantageous position to ease the symptoms.

You can learn the massage at home, and practice it for 10 minutes a day to free up your chi, lymph, blood and nerve flow. Alternatively, visit a masseuse to learn more about the technique, and you’ll get your self-care in for the day.

These five strategies will help women improve their fertility naturally. Women often prefer holistic approaches like diet changes and massage before they seek more expensive and invasive methods. Now, go nom on some folate in your berry smoothie!

Kate Harveston

Kate is a leading women's health journalist and the founder of So Well, So Woman.