Your fertility story – where did you come from, and where are you going?

Your fertility story

Where did you come from?

According to that “facts of life book”, you came from your parents!

But where did each one of your parents come from?

From their parents, of course. And where did they come from?

From their parents,

and their parents,

and their parents…

At some point you may lose track of the names of the people who came before you. They were all the parents of the parents of the parents that eventually became your parents. How far back in time do they go?

All of these living human beings, reaching far back from that place in time, all the way through to you, today – all are part of a continuous thread of life that extends so far that nobody alive now knows anymore who was there.

Imagine all of those generations ago – people eating, people sleeping, people worrying about things, rejoicing, planting and harvesting… The sun going up, the sun going down, the seasons changing through the years… This is your legacy. You belong to all of that.

This is all YOUR history. All of those people have lived before you, and because they lived, you have your life today.

Chinese medicine takes the long view – your fertility is a voice in the chorus of the unbroken expression of life unfolding through the generations. The power of those people has been passed on through you, and the power of nature is all around and within you. The view of the universe unfolding into the future through you – embedded within nature, within the continuum of life, is the underlying framework of Chinese medicine.


And where are you going?

When you decided to have a baby, what was your original dream?

Was it “a family” that you wanted? Do you love babies in particular? Did you imagine how it would feel to be a great grand-parent, surrounded by people who are all descended from you and your partner? Did you imagine having a close bond with a teenager, or enjoying a coffee with your grown-up child?

Whatever your original idea, take a moment now to really recall it well, bring it alive in your mind, your heart. Take some time to feel your dream.

This is where you are going.

That original inspiring thought – can you notice how you feel when that’s really alive in you?

Do you feel hopeful? Happy? Trusting? And will you dare to let yourself feel this, right now?

If you’ve been at this fertility thing for a while, you may have started doing what I call “spiralling in”. You may have dreamed about being a grandparent, but as the months go by, not seeing success, you start thinking about simply being a parent. You notice people out with their children in the playground and just wish for that. Then as time goes by, maybe you’re noticing the babies. Just a baby is all you’re asking for. Then it’s the pregnant bellies, just let me be pregnant. And then it’s the pregnancy test – just let me see those two lines or get that phone call from the nurse.

From your original dream, your inspiration, have you started “spiralling in”? Have you felt yourself pulled in towards the yes/no, yes/no – up/down, up/down – am I, or aren’t I this month…

When you’re spiralling-in, how does it feel? Tight? Restricted? Anxious?

Now draw your awareness back to your inspiration – could you feel the expansiveness of that thought? Will you let yourself feel that way again? If you can feel it now, how is it feeling in your body? Light? Open? Like you can take a deep breath?

Did you feel a moment of peace, a moment of calm? Know that this peace, this calm, is always available to you, just beneath the thoughts on the surface.

Write yourself a little note, or draw yourself a picture, to remind yourself of YOUR inspiring dream. Put that note somewhere that you can reach for it any time you are feeling tight, constricted or like you can’t see the forest for the trees.

Remind yourself – this is where I’m going.

And then breathe, and smile to yourself – and let yourself feel your peace, your calm.






Photo: Unsplash

Share this Article

Fertility | Meditation and support program




Circle + Bloom is a meditation program to help your fertility:

  • Natural fertility
  • IVF and other assisted reproduction
  • Pregnancy and birthing
  • Other women’s health and general health issues like PCOS, sleep and energy


The programs help you enter into a relaxed state and contain helpful information and visualisations to help you connect with the physical aspects of your fertility experienced in a calm and empowered way.


It may suit you if

You are looking to gain information to feel reassured but feel overwhelmed and stressed every time you read books or articles on the internet, this program will likely suit you really well. It helps you understand issues such as your ovulation cycle through the relaxation state, using breathing and visualisations.


It may not suit you if

You have a lot of knowledge already and are looking for a way to tune into a deeper level of pure relaxation without any content about the fertility process. You may prefer a general meditation program (browse on iTunes) or a Three-Principles approach instead, in order to access your own inner state of calm and wisdom.




I do not receive affiliate payments from any recommendations on this site.

Share this Article

Plant-based diet reduces risk of breast cancer


Here’s yet another study that supports the simple, life-giving foundation that is the plant-based, whole-foods diet…


Having plenty of fruit and vegetables while young is one of the few ways that women can reduce their risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer, according to a new study from the Harvard Chan School of Public Health.





What’s a “risk factor”?

When researchers look at large groups of people, they see trends that seem to go together – correlations. Over different kinds of studies, these correlations show up again and again. Researchers can then say with some confidence that certain things are “risk factors” for certain diseases.

Smoking and lung cancer.

Obesity and diabetes.

Some people can do the risk factor thing and not get the disease. Others can get the disease and not have done the risk factor thing. Health is full of grey areas, unfortunately.

But strong tendencies mean they apply to many people, much of the time. These findings can then be recommended to the general public, especially if:

a) the thing that’s recommended is harmless or generally helpful; and

b) it’s something that people can control (ie eating fruit & veggies) rather than something that’s out of their control.

This study involved following a group of over 90,000 nurses over a period of many years so it’s a high-quality study – how actual health behaviours tend to result in certain health outcomes in actual people over time.


Plant-based whole-foods diet

While fad foods and fashionable eating plans come and go, these kinds of studies are showing, time and again, that the basis of a healthy diet that results in:

  • feeling good in the moment;
  • better fertility, creating new life; and
  • enjoying a healthier old age and probably longer life


is the plant-based whole-foods diet.

If most of what you’re eating comes from the green grocer and not much is coming from packets, you’re doing it! If you can recognise the ingredients on the packaged food as being made of real food, not weird chemicals and numbers, then that’s great too!

So how can you start shifting the balance from packets to fresh food?


Any step in the right direction is a good step

Habits take time, and if a change feels good then you’re much more likely to keep doing it, so take your time and have fun.

Here is your three-step process to becoming a whole-foods person:

  1. Next time you grab a packet of food from your pantry or in the supermarket, ask yourself “I wonder if I can make this from scratch?”.  This is the first step – “I wonder…”
  2. Later on, when the mood strikes you, play with going into research mode. Google: “recipe make [X] from scratch” or “recipe make [X] at home” and so on.  This is the second step – exploring, learning, contemplating, imagining. Have fun with this step! Take your time here 🙂
  3. Later still, when this mood strikes you, take action!  Grab a bookmarked recipe, hopefully you have the ingredients (or nip to the green grocer and get what you need), and have fun in the kitchen!  This is the third step – experimenting through action.


Make it fun, rewarding and enjoyable. Play some music in the kitchen, phone a friend to come & experiment with you, take photos for your Pinterest followers to cheer you on, enjoy an indugent herbal tea or good drop of wine as you cook… whatever it means to you, so that the whole experience is fun, interesting and something you’d like to do again.

And the result?  Well, if you’ve nailed it, then bookmark that recipe and feel really proud of yourself. You’re taking back power into your own hands. Less reliant on corporate producers, free from additives – both listed and hidden ones – and probably creating a tastier version of it too.

And if you, ahem, didn’t quite nail it – well, at least it was fun right? 🙂  There’s no learning without mistakes!  Try again with a new recipe, or try cooking a different thing altogether.  Keep experimenting, have fun and learn from what works as well as what doesn’t 🙂

So, those steps again:

I wonder if I can make this from scratch?

What’s on Google?

Have lots of fun trying it out

Gradually, over time, you will find that you’re increasingly enjoying a predominantly whole-foods diet… real food that you make with your very own hands. And if most of the ingredients are coming from the green grocer?  Then you’ve done it!  You’ve found the recipe for the good life 🙂



Click here for the Harvard Chan website


Share this Article

Red and processed meat – cancer, health and fertility


Evidence has been building for some time linking consumption of animal protein, and red meat in particular, to negative health outcomes such as increased risk of type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease and stroke.

A recent review by the cancer branch of the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicates that processed meats in particular pose a significant risk and should be considered carcinogenic (bacon, lunch meats etc). They concluded that ordinary ie unprocessed red meat is probably carcinogenic, with increased risk of colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancer.

Harvard Chan School of Public Health released a review study in 2012 citing evidence from two large-scale longitudinal studies linking red and processed meats to adverse health outcomes as above, and recommending replacing protein from red meat with other sources such as:

Nuts (19%)
Poultry (14%)
Whole grains (14%)
Legumes (10%)
Low-fat dairy (10%)*
Fish (7%)

The numbers in parentheses () above indicate the estimated reduced risk from using these protein sources as compared with red or processed meat.


Diet and fertility

* For optimising fertility, studies suggest whole milk rather than low-fat milk

The diet recommendations for general good health and prevention of chronic diseases such as those listed above tend to match quite closely with advice for optimising fertility (see below – what is a good diet).

The way I look at this is that it’s not a coincidence:

  1. When the body is working harmoniously, the intelligence of nature is in place to re-create this optimum state via procreation
  2. When the body is working harmoniously, all of the intricate and inter-related systems of the body work in a self-supporting manner, allowing us to reach our full lifespan’s potential
  3. Making changes to “get pregnant” should not be the point. Diet and lifestyle measures that sustain life grant you both 1. and 2. above. You can procreate – create new life, and you can enjoy your family into your old age. It’s very well worth taking on these measures wholeheartedly and enjoying the feeling of living well. It is a gift to you and to your children.





How to start

There are plenty of delicious recipes available online, from vegetarian-only sites to others such as Teresa Cutter Healthy Chef. If you find a site you like, remember to bookmark it so you can return for new ideas – some will let you sign up to receive fresh recipes to keep you inspired. Many sites such as AllRecipes, Taste or BBC Good Food will let you search for vegetarian options or by specific ingredient.

The team at Harvard recommends consuming red meat as you would lobster – just for special occasions, a couple of times per year.


What about iron?

One of the mechanisms of red meat and risk of disease could be haem iron. For a description of the way the body handles haem iron versus non-haem iron (animal vs plant sources), see the Huntly Centre article on Iron. The body’s regulating mechanisms to keep iron levels within safe limits are much more sensitive to non-haem (plant) iron than haem (animal) iron. This article will also help you identify plentiful sources of iron, often the biggest worry for people who are reducing their meat intake.


What about B12?

Vitamin B12 is essential for health and is needed in very small amounts in the human body. It is produced by bacteria, and from there makes its way into certain foods. While meat, fish and poultry are good sources of B12, it is also available in eggs and dairy. For those following a vegan diet (no animal foods), fortified foods are available, such as cereals fortified with B12. This, however, is still a processed food. A better option is savoury yeast/ nutritional yeast, which is a natural whole food high in certain B vitamins and Lotus brand Savoury Yeast Flakes is grown with B12-generating organisms, a good dietary source of B12. Vegans can also supplement with B12  – on an optimal diet and with normal health, this is the only supplement needed by vegans.


What about my energy?

People who cut down on meat intake often feel as though their energy levels drop. There can be a period of adjustment as your body switches on the systems that gather life energy from a primarily plant-based diet. The feeling of living with a plant-focused diet is lightness, and this lightness can be an unfamiliar feeling – lacking a familiar heaviness associated with high meat intake, people can sometimes think they are feeling light-headed or tired.

If tiredness continues, however, this is an indication that the body needs help “recharging”. This is a crucial aspect of how we connect to life, maintaining the flow of life energy and material into and out of the body. The Hunyuan form of Chinese medicine is ideal for recalibrating our “recharging instrument” so that we sleep soundly, wake refreshed and have ample energy throughout the day, feeling clear and calm.


So what is a “good diet”?

It’s low-tech and simple: a plant-based, whole-food diet.

Plant-based means loads of fruit and veggies as the bulk of each meal, with lots of colour (varied colour means you’ll be getting a good spread of micronutrients).

Whole-food means as close to its natural state as possible. If it could grow, you’re on the right path – for example, you could plant a tomato and get some seedlings but you couldn’t get this from a tinned tomato. You could plant brown rice and get shoots but you couldn’t get the same from white rice (as the germ/seed has been removed). Get your oils from seeds, nuts and avocado (and whole-milk dairy if you choose) rather than adding oils and fats.

Whole-food is the opposite of processed food. For an eye-opening account of the food processing industry, see this article from the Huntly Centre. Also from the Huntly Centre, the human’s anatomical features that strongly suggest we are configured for a plant-based diet and explanation of the meat-colorectal cancer relationship.

Eat to Live is a great book that outlines the nutrient-dense plant-based diet and how it supports optimal health.

Remember the food pyramid, with bread and grains at the bottom? Nutrition organisations throughout the world are slowly revising this image, based on decades of mounting evidence. See the revised Healthy Eating Pyramid below from Nutrition Australia – click the image to go to their site for further information.


Healthy Eating Pyramid | Nutrition Australia

Share this Article

Meditation for natural fertility, IVF and pregnancy


Head to the Be Fertile website for meditations to support you on your baby-making journey.

CDs or downloads are available to purchase and there are sample free meditations too.


We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from women who’ve found these tracks very supportive and nurturing throughout the stress of conceiving and the anxiety of early pregnancy.


BeFertile CD


Share this Article

Charting your BBT for fertility

If you’ve been reading fertility books and websites then you’ve probably come across the idea of charting your Basal Body Temperature (BBT).

How to chart

This simple procedure is really helpful when you’re aiming to conceive.  Over the years of supporting women to conceive, I’ve picked up a few tips and tidbits and am happy to share them here so that charting can work for you too.

Here’s how it’s done:

1. Get a BBT thermometer from the pharmacy.  Special BBT thermometers, sometimes called “ovulation thermometers,” are more sensitive than the usual kind that are used to detect fever.  Ideally you will get a glass one with mercury inside, as they are said to be the most accurate, but really what you need is one that you can use!  If you find the mercury ones tricky to read and have trouble shaking out the bubbles, then please just get a digital one – as long as you keep using the same one then your charts will be accurate enough.  If you do change thermometers then make a note of it on your chart so you can interpret any glitches.

2. Get a chart to record your daily temperatures.  There are now apps (eg iPeriod for iPhone) and websites that will help you predict ovulation dates.  Or you might like to use a spreadsheet on your computer that can produce a nice graph for you.  Other women opt for good old pen and paper versions.  If you search online for “BBT chart celcius” then you’ll find plenty of options to choose from.  The main thing is it’s got to work for you – if it’s something you can do quickly and easily every day, then great.  If you keep forgetting to record your temps because the computer is in the other room then please just keep pen and paper by the bed, and enter the numbers into your computer later.  By the way, I love the charts with lots of room to record all kinds of other events and signs, especially cervical mucus.  But please do make a note if you’ve had a couple of drinks or catch a cold – you will see how these events show up in your chart, so if it’s written down you won’t need to scratch your head trying to figure it what’s happened!

3. Take your temperature at roughly the same time every day, as soon as you wake up.  The idea is that when you start moving, you generate heat.  It’s then impossible to know what your baseline body temperature is.  So before you get up to shower or go to the loo or grab a drink of water, quickly pop the thermometer in your mouth, get your reading, write it down and then start your day.  Something to note – digital thermometers will beep at you.  If this is going to disturb your partner, then you might be better off with a mercury one.  And remember that you’ll need a bit of light to read the thermometer and your chart, so you may need a bedside lamp.  Finally, read the instructions for your thermometer – it should show you where the “heat pocket” is for oral temperatures – under the tongue, all the way up the back next to your back molars.  If you don’t have it all the way in the heat pocket then you might get inconsistent readings.

4. Remember to do this every day.  Before you slap the alarm clock and leap out of bed, remember your temps!  You might find an innovative way to do this, like setting your bedside lamp with a timer switch or putting a note on your alarm clock.  I love memory tricks that the ancient Greeks used to help them remember hours and hours of speeches.  Try this one:  Close your eyes… relax… visualise yourself sleeping in your bed… you hear the alarm and you open your eyes to look at it… you see your thermometer and chart dancing the tango on top of it!!!  Do this little visualisation every night just before you go to sleep.  Why the tango?!?  Well, you can choose a different dance if you like – but if you incorporate movement and novelty into your visualisation then it’s more likely to work.

5. Don’t worry about it when you’re travelling.  Or if the in-laws come to stay, or you’ve got a big project on at work and are doing late nights…  By all means, keep charting.  But big changes to your routine can really impact both your ability to take consistent readings and also the readings themselves.  If you do keep charting please note these factors and take the readings with a grain of salt.  International travel especially makes charting very difficult, with time zone changes and so on.  Just do your best.  Charting is something you do for you, and no-one else.  So do what works for you.

I’m sharing these little tips because it’s amazing how something like an annoying beep, not enough light and so on, can really disturb the process and lead to frustrations with charting.  The idea is to make it as hassle-free as possible.  As you’ll see below, charting is a big step to take and some women will resist it for various reasons.  By removing small obstacles and annoyances, you’re increasing your chances of charting success.

Why to chart
If you’re also seeing a Western medicine practitioner (eg gynaecologist, fertility doctor) then they may have already asked you to chart.  Among other things, you can see when you are likely to have ovulated and it can then help for scheduling tests etc.

In Chinese medicine, we use the chart like we do body symptoms, feelings on the pulse and period signs – it is another layer of information that we can weave into our diagnosis.  Chinese medicine diagnosis is an organic, dynamic process.  You are always changing so the “patterns” of energy in your body are changing too.  As Chinese medicine practitioners, it is our job to read and understand those patterns, so that we can help the body to flow well and remove impediments so it can perform all of those amazingly complicated processes that are driven by the body’s own intricate, sublime intelligence.

When you bring in your chart, we can read things from it like the status of your Yin and Yang, how stressed you are, whether there is stickiness or weakness, heat or cold, and we can decide when and how to address these factors.  The chart is something that you can be taught how to interpret and it brings you inside the process of your treatment.  It can be a very empowering experience and can really give you a sense of control, like you are riding the horse with the reins in your own hands again.

What I love most of all is that women can see how the treatment is helping them by watching their charts improve over time.  Fertility treatment can be a long, hard road.  Because each cycle takes a month, it’s a long time to wait to see if “maybe this is the one”.  If you don’t have a connection with the fluidity and responsiveness of your body by seeing the movements on your chart, then it’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing “success” in ultimate, black-and-white terms.  That is, whether or not this month is the one for a positive reading.

So by following your progress on your chart, you can see that your body is in fact becoming healthier.  As your chart starts to resemble those “textbook” pictures, you can really gain a lot of comfort that you’re doing yourself a great favour by putting in the work now to heal, repair, restore and nourish your body systems.  Your body will become a better environment for a growing baby, and it will also be in better shape as you move through the stages of your life.  In Chinese medicine, fertility work is deep work.  We aim for deep restoration and correction, and this pays off for you in the long run.

Why women don’t chart
You might be reading this because you just cannot get started.  For some reason, every little thing gets in the way of you charting.  Or you started and did it diligently for a while, then haphazardly, then lost interest as you couldn’t see the point any longer.  Maybe you are worried that it will show up something terrible, and you may then need to submit to a battery of tests and investigations, and so it feels better not to know.  For other women, charting can feel too intrusive, too clinical, too mechanical, not at all romantic.  You might feel like you have just started out on your fertility journey and are in the “let’s see what happens” stage.  Or maybe you’ve been charting for too long and you just want a break.

That’s fine.

If you are looking to Chinese medicine for fertility support, a chart can be great.  It can help your practitioner to fine-tune your treatment, and it can help you to feel empowered and motivated.

But the beauty of Chinese medicine is that we rely on naturalistic observation – what we can see, hear, touch.  Modern sources of information like XRays and temperature readings are great as they provide more layers of information, but if we don’t have them then we can still give you excellent treatments.

This is all about you.  What works for you, is comfortable for you, and gives you what you need.  Your treatment plan is all about you, what you’re looking for and what fits in with your lifestyle, budget and availability.  You can go as intensively or as lightly as you wish, and vary this as often as you need.

If you’d like more information about charting or are interested in how Chinese medicine fertility treatment can help you, then please don’t hesitate to


Share this Article

Apple and Goji Berry Crumble (Gluten-free)

This warming dessert will fill the room with vanilla and spice aromas.  It’s gluten-free, low in fat and has no cane sugar.

This is the version I made, adapted by using what I had at hand, based on Teresa Cutter “The Healthy Chef”.  I really wanted to use goji berries so I had a look at a very decadent Apple Goji Strudel recipe to see how to include them – that recipe uses plenty of brown sugar and butter, if you’re that way inclined!

It’s apple season – they’re fresh, juicy and plentiful and great value.  Goji berries nourish the Yin of the Kidney and Liver, making them a great winter food.  They’re good for Kidney-based conditions such as lower back pain or fertility issues, and they are especially known to benefit the eyes and vision.


4 large fuji apples, cored and cut into chunks
125 ml orange juice
Zest from 1 lemon
120g dried Goji berries, rehydrated *
1/2 cup almond meal **
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
20g plain-flavoured oil (I used rice bran oil)
25g honey

Combine the apples, orange juice and lemon zest in a saucepan.
Cook over a low heat for about 20 minutes until the apples are soft and liquid has evaporated.
Fold the Gojis through the warm apple and place into a baking dish or individual ramekins ***.
Combine almond meal, coconut, oil, vanilla, cinnamon and honey until all are coated.
Sprinkle over the apple and goji.
Bake in a moderate 175 C oven for 20-30 minutes until golden.
Serve with honey cinnamon yoghurt and enjoy! ****

* Goji berries are now in many health food stores but also at Chinese supermarkets – there are several in Dee Why.  The Chinese name is Gou Qi Zi (pron “Go Chee Tze”).  They look like red sultanas.  To rehydrate, soak in boiling water for 5-10 minutes.  Strain and sip the soak water – it’s a powerhouse of antioxidant, Yin-nourishing goodness!

** A great place to get almond meal is Saini Emporium in Dee Why, an Indian grocery.  It’s a treasure trove of beautiful spices, curry pastes and curious goodies!  Everything is sold in bulk quantities so it’s excellent value.

*** I accidentally cooked my Gojis with the apple.  It still tasted great, but they will be prettier if folded in as per the recipe as they lose some redness when cooked.

**** My preferred supermarket yoghurt is Farmers Union Greek Style Natural Yoghurt as they use S. Thermophilus and L. Bulgaricus cultures, which are supposed to be best for the intestinal flora (1).  Add about half a teaspoon of cinnamon and a heaped teaspoon of honey to a cup of yoghurt (adjust to taste).  I also had some liquid left over from the cooked apples so I reduced this to a syrup and added to the yoghurt, which gave a subtle citrus zing!

(1) See the Specific Carbohydrate Diet website at http://www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info/

Share this Article