Evie is our Moonchild
When Liz and Nigel Spreadbury had difficulty conceiving their second child, they decided against IVF and turned to the Moon for help. Nine months later Evie was born - and no one was more surprised than they were, as FIONA MacNEILL found out
FOR thousands of years the Moon has symbolised magic and mystery. Its gravitational pull affects the Earth's water levels and legends hold it responsible for everything from werewolves to madness. Gardeners are even said to get better results by sowing or harvesting at particular points on the Moon's cycle.

What is less known is that the Moon is also associated with fertility. A woman's reproductive cycle lasts approximately the same amount of time it takes for the Moon to orbit the Earth - 29 and a half days - and the word menstruation is taken from the Latin word for month. For years, midwives have noted an increase in births around the time of a full Moon, although they have never known why.

One scientist, Dr Eugen Jonas, thinks he does. He believes a woman can encourage pregnancy simply by following her own personal "Moon clock", which will tell her when the best time is to conceive, and even what sex the child will be.

No one could have been more sceptical than Liz and Nigel Spreadbury, from Dorking in Surrey, but after they had tried for seven months for a child with no success, they decided that they would give Dr Jonas's theory a go.

LIZ AND NIGEL'S STORY When Liz and Nigel decided to try for another baby, two years after their daughter Katie was born, they assumed it would be just as easy the second time round.

And although it took a little longer on this occasion, after a few weeks Liz was pregnant again.

But just 12 weeks into the pregnancy, they were devastated when a routine scan revealed that their baby had died in the womb. Liz had emergency surgery to terminate the pregnancy and, within a few days, she was back at work trying to get on with life. But although she and Nigel began trying for another baby straight away, seven months later she still wasn't pregnant and she wasn't coping well.

"If someone had told me I'd feel that bad after a miscarriage I wouldn't have believed them," said Liz, 35. "You start to wonder whether you did something wrong and your whole life revolves around your cycle and when you can conceive.

"Because I'd already been pregnant, it never occurred to me that it might not happen again.

"It got so bad that I couldn't even face seeing my closest friend because she was pregnant. I was desperate."

Many women assume they will have no trouble getting pregnant when they are ready to have a baby. But with one in six couples seeking help for fertility problems, many people are shocked to find it's not always as easy as they thought.

Treatment can be expensive, not always effective and some of the procedures can cause as much distress as the pain of wanting a child.

Instead, Liz turned to alternative medicine and sought help from Frances Box, a reflexologist and aromatherapist specialising in fertility and women's problems.

"Liz was very wound-up when she first came to see me," says Frances, the mother of two grown-up sons. "But after a few sessions she was starting to relax. I'm always looking for new dimensions in my work and I'd been reading a book about the Moon and fertility.

"It was fascinating. I phoned Liz and said: 'I know this might sound a bit wacky but I've worked out your Moon chart.' I told her which were the most likely days for her to conceive."

Frances had been reading about the work of Slovakian psychiatrist Dr Eugen Jonas in the Fifties. As a devout Catholic, Jonas was alarmed at the increasing availability of abortion and decided to find a natural method of birth control more effective than the rhythm method. After seeing an ancient Babylonian inscription referring to the Moon and fertility, he decided to find out whether there really was a link between the Moon and reproduction.

According to his research with thousands of couples, women have two fertility cycles; a menstrual cycle and a Moon cycle. The Moon cycle is calculated using astronomical tables to work out the phase of the Moon when you were born. If, for example, you were born under a full Moon, the theory is that you will always be fertile under a full Moon, even during your period.

This gives you an extra chance of becoming pregnant each month and, what's more, where it coincides with the fertile days of your menstrual cycle, you will double your chances. Similarly, he was able to show the times when a woman would be least fertile.

Jonas also believed that if a woman knew the exact hour of her birth and already had a child, he could predict the sex of her next baby.

If she knew her birth time within four minutes, he could predict the sex of her first child and whether it would be born during the day or at night. In addition, for women with a history of miscarriage, he could predict the best times for conceiving a healthy child and was also able to calculate the times when a man would be most fertile.

Clinical trials found Dr Jonas's methods to be 98.5 per cent effective and in 1970 he was nominated for the Nobel Prize. Although he is now retired, he has established clinics in Eastern Europe, Germany, Canada and Australia and offers personalised Moon charts through his website.

Nevertheless, no one has yet come up with definite answers on why the Moon should influence fertility in this way. One theory is that it may cause spontaneous ovulation, which does occur in animals such as cats and rabbits.

"It doesn't seem strange to me at all that the Moon should affect fertility," says Frances. "I come from a scientific background and I know that the Moon affects gravity and the tides.

"It has also been shown to affect electromagnetic fields and we know that women experience a surge in electromagnetic energy for 24 hours when they ovulate.

"What I don't understand is why no one in this country seems to have heard of this. I've seen a lot of people with heartbreaking stories who would try anything to have children.

"Some of my patients are undergoing IVF treatment and they're traumatised by it. They have to take time off work and take a lot of drugs and it doesn't always work. I'm definitely going to try this method again with other patients."

Although Liz and Nigel were sceptical, they followed her advice as to the times of the month they should be trying to conceive and were overjoyed when Liz fell pregnant immediately.

Using the charts, Frances predicted it would be a girl. Evie Elizabeth was born on July 27. She weighed 5lb 14oz. "I'm so pleased it has all gone smoothly," says Liz. "Whenever I get tired or I have to get up in the night to see to Evie, I remember how dreadful I was feeling this time last year after my miscarriage. I think about it a lot, actually. I'm delighted to have another child.

"The calculations predicted we would have another girl," she continues.

"Katie is very pleased because she wanted a sister. I suppose we can never be completely sure that the Moon helped us to have a child but why not?

"If other people are like we were and desperate to have a baby, they've got nothing to lose by trying this method."

Further information can be found on Dr Jonas's website at www.centrum.jonas.com. Frances Box can be contacted at francesbox@ukgateway.net or write to her c/o Life, Daily Express, 245 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 9UX.
c Express Newspapers, 2000

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