I recently shared on my social media platforms the reason I’ve been quiet for the last couple of months. Just before the new year I found out that I am pregnant and at the end of the summer we will be becoming new parents! I had told family and friends but I didn’t want to announce on the internet for fear of tempting fate. But now the cats out of the bag I want to share my story here of how I got pregnant after Hypothalamic Amenorrhea (HA for short).
Where it all began…
For those of you who haven’t followed my blog since the start you might not know that in my teens and early twenties I experienced a lot of hormonal issues. This was actually what drove me to study nutrition and yoga for women’s health and healing my hormones actually ended up being a full life transformation. You can watch the video on this post for the full story but I will just give you a quick summary here.
At around 14 years old, like many young girls I fell into the trap of disliking and trying to change my body. I started dieting without any nutrition knowledge and basically just ate as little as possible each day to try and lose weight. I also joined a gym and quickly became obsessed with burning calories on the cardio machines. I was totally obsessed with numbers and in my naivety I thought that the number of calories I ate in the gym should be equal to the amount I ate in a day. Calories in = calories out right?!
Of course I completely forgot that a human body, and especially a growing teenage body, needs energy just to function. I got quite skinny for my body type, although never underweight. After a couple of years of this behaviour plus one year on the pill, my menstrual cycles stopped. I had had pretty regular cycles since they started at 12 years old so this was unusual for me. Still, for a few years I didn’t care too much and saw it more as a convenience. I went to university and was too busy partying, studying and trying to stay skinny to care.
A diagnosis: PCOS or HA?
Eventually I did get worried and I went to see my doctor but as I wasn’t considered anorexic according to my BMI they didn’t have too much to say. I went for an ultra-sound scan and because there were multiple follicles seen on my ovaries I was diagnosed with “probable PCOS” and was prepared that I’d likely need fertility treatment to get pregnant in the future. Even at 20 with no intentions of having kids in the near future, this was devastating and I remember crying my eyes out when I found out.
Luckily this despair was the catalyst to getting on the path to healing. After I calmed down, somehow I just knew that what I had been told wasn’t true. I knew that my lifestyle was driving this hormonal imbalance and I was determined to find answers and heal my body. I eventually found Dr Nicola Rinaldi via the Seven Health podcast who explained the common misdiagnosis of lean PCOS in women who actually have HA. She described my situation to a tee and finally it was her book that gave me the information and push to start recovery.
Getting my period back after 8 years of HA
Just because I knew the problem it didn’t make fixing it an easy process. I had the knowledge I needed – that eating more, exercising less and gaining weight were the simple actions to get my period back. However, actually putting this into practice consistently took a lot longer. I went back and forward for a few years, gaining weight then losing it. Stopping exercise then freaking out and going back to daily gym sessions. Allowing myself unrestricted eating and then becoming terrified of the extreme hunger and going back to my food rules.
Even though the physical actions are simple, the mental healing that is needed often takes a lot longer. This is what I see in my clients today who are going through this process. What should be easy becomes very challenging when it’s bound up with years of limiting beliefs, the identity you have created for yourself and the life you have built around that. But truly committing to healing means that each time you slip you get back on the path again. And slowly but surely you heal, body mind and spirit.
Healing and life as a cycling woman
I finally got my period back in March of 2017 at 24 years old and after 8 years of HA. I remember exactly when and where I was at this time as it was such a celebratory moment for me! I can’t say things were perfect immediately and I still had a few small slip ups after that. Becoming comfortable with the weight I gained still took time and I often had body image wobbles. But my period was back and came pretty much every month, give or a take a week or two for the next 5 years.
I loved having my natural cycles and finally felt in touch with my lost femininity. I dived into menstrual cycle awareness during this time. I learned even more how to support my hormones and metabolism through my diet, whilst still eating intuitively and experiencing total food freedom. I studied yoga for fertility and this type of practice only strengthened my connection to the feminine energy within me and allowed her to take up more space.
Again this wasn’t a quick transformation but more of an unravelling over multiple years with other teachers and mentors supporting me along the way. Last year I decided to start offering group yoga classes for women and it’s been lovely to also share this practice. Holding space for other women has increased the energy capacity of my heart and womb spaces even further.
Finding out I am pregnant after HA
I’m telling a completely streamlined version of this story otherwise it would take up a whole book! But during these years I also to Greece, changed career path and we all went through the rocky time of the pandemic. Me and my partner just moved house in November last year after living with his mother for two years. Finally everything seemed to be calming down and falling into place. We travelled back to the UK to visit my family for Christmas. Then BAM!
I track my cycles using an app and just before the New Year I realised my period was late. At first I put it down to the travel and stress of moving house and assumed it would just be a few days late. I felt similar to how I would during the pre-menstruum sometimes with bloating, fatigue and mild cramping in my lower belly. But after a week I decided I’d better do a pregnancy test because that was unusually late for me. I bought the test and left it by my bed to do first thing the next morning.
No surprises now but at the time it was a big shock. I was pregnant! I couldn’t believe it because we hadn’t been “trying” to conceive. I don’t like the word accident though as I don’t see anything as an accident. I’m sure that this baby just knew it was it’s time and decided to arrive no matter what. Me and my partner both knew we wanted children, although we had been on the fence about the time because, like many young couples, we had so many exciting plans for our post-pandemic freedom.
Still we were over the moon and decided to tell our close family straight away. Living abroad meant I would have chance to see them face to face for months afterwards and I couldn’t keep the secret that long.
How I got pregnant after HA
I had always assumed that despite having a regular cycle I’d still take a while to conceive. I had told my partner to be prepared for a year or even two until I got pregnant when we decided it was time. Maybe I was just “lucky” to fall pregnant without trying. But I have a feeling that all of the lifestyle changes I made to heal my hormones meant that my body was fertile and ready for pregnancy. I’d been consistently nourishing my body with nutrient dense foods for years, rebuilding my mineral stores and restoring my metabolism.
I’d given up on intense workouts and only moved my body in ways that I genuinely enjoyed and made me feel good. Despite having a busy lifestyle and being an over-achiever, I regularly practiced restorative yoga and meditation to ground myself, reduce stress and allow my body to feel safe and nourished. I listened to my body and paid attention to the phases of my menstrual cycle, taking myself during the pre-menstrual and menstrual phases and supporting healthy ovulation.
Finally, I’m sure that practice and teaching of fertility yoga also primed my womb space and created this cosy, inviting nest that just called in the spirit of this baby. I was doing a lot of breathwork and visualisation, focusing on clearing and energising the pelvic bowl as well as movement to reduce tension and stagnancy from this area. No doubt that all of this helped to create a healthy, receptive energetic space. Or maybe I am in fact just one of the lucky ones – who knows!
Over to you…
If you would like to work with me 1-2-1 to balance your hormones and improve your health, contact me to set up a free discovery call. I am a nutritionist, yoga teacher and women’s wellness coach. We will create a plan tailored to your individual needs and vision for your health. I will then be there for support, guidance and accountability as you work towards your goals!
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