Are you planning a pregnancy? The decision to embark on starting a family is huge and it is important to consider your current health status before doing so.
There is sufficient evidence today that supports the benefits of preconception care for both the health of the mother and the future baby. The preconception period can influence your chances of falling pregnant, maintaining a healthy pregnancy, and having a healthy baby.
It takes roughly four months for a woman’s egg to mature before it is released at the time of ovulation, this means that at an absolute minimum, preconception care should begin four months prior to conception or attempting to conceive, in an ideal world the longer the better.
Preconception care and the ability to influence the quality of the egg and optimise pregnancy outcomes for the mother is multifactorial. Dietary intake and nutrient stores of the mother are crucial in ensuring that the developing baby can take what it needs whilst the mother can maintain what she needs to support her body throughout the pregnancy and beyond.
A comprehensive preconception blood test should be the first step in your preconception care plan, this will allow your health practitioner to individualise your preconception plan and make sure you aren’t heading into pregnancy with any deficiencies or complications.
Dietary and lifestyle modifications leading up to and throughout pregnancy can significantly reduce the risk of pregnancy complications and birth defects. Whilst every woman’s preconception care plan will look different based on her individual needs, and although certain areas are out of our control such as age, genetics, family history of disease and environmental exposures, there are certain areas that we can control, the non-negotiables that I like to focus on are:
- Comprehensive pathology for both partners
- A high-quality prenatal supplement for both partners
- Additional supplements depending on individual needs
- A wholefoods diet, with a focus on quality protein, healthy fats and an abundance of vegetables and fruit, learn more about foods for fertility here
- Incorporating regular movement into the daily routine
- Stress management techniques
- Abstaining from alcohol
- Reducing caffeine, refined sugars, and processed foods
- Limiting exposure to endocrine disruptors found in cleaning products, hair, and body products
Pregnancy is a precious time, a time of rapid growth and development. For this growth and development to occur as nature intended, we first need a healthy body to facilitate and maintain the process. If you have the time, invest in this period, invest in your health and the health of your future baby.
“A large body of evidence supports the concept that human pregnancy outcome is significantly influenced by the nutritional status of the mother. The consumption of “poor diets” has been associated with an increased risk for pregnancy complications, including gross structural birth defects, prematurity, low birth weight and an increased risk for neurobehavioral and immunological abnormalities after birth.”
- Dr. Janet Uriu-Adams, University of California, Davis
By Alexandra King
Accredited Clinical Nutritionist BHSc
alexandraking.com.au | @_alexandraking