We're always hearing about what to do (and even more often, what NOT to do) during pregnancy, but what about the months leading up to falling pregnant? As we know, what we eat plays a huge role in our health, and, so too, having a well-balanced diet and optimal health can greatly increase your changes of falling pregnant.
I always tell my clients to consider the process of pregnancy like growing vegetables in a garden – the quality of the soil before the seed is planted will have a huge impact on how the plant develops as it grows. Likewise, it is so important to ensure your body is in its optimal state before thinking about growing a baby in there. Science shows us that it takes 3 and 4 months respectively for females’ eggs and males’ sperm to mature. This means that the egg and sperm that may get fertilised today were created in whatever condition your body was in a few months back.
In order to achieve optimum health leading up to conception, it is vital that we address all aspects of our health. As such, here is a list of things that you and your partner can do to improve your fertility as a couple and enhance your future baby’s health:
Stick To Whole, Unprocessed Foods: Not only are these foods easier for your body to digest, but they also pack far more nutritional value and contain far less unwanted ingredients like trans fats, excess sugars, preservatives and artificial additives which can detract from your overall health. Make sure your diet is sufficient in fresh fruit and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, healthy fats and of course, plenty of water
Eat Plenty Of Fruit And Vegetables: It goes without saying that fruit and vegetables are invaluable for ensuring optimal health. In regards to fertility, fruit and vegetables are particularly high in vitamin C – a nutrient which helps to stimulate ovulation in women and improves males’ sperm count. Fruits and vegetables that are highest in vitamin C include oranges, kiwi fruit, blueberries, lemon, capsicum and even parsley. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and cabbage (to name a few) also greatly support your liver health, helping your body to remove toxins and function most effectively
Increase Your Fibre Intake: There are so many aspects of our health that are improved with a high fibre diet. These include more regular bowel movements, more effective excretion of toxins, more stable energy levels, healthier gut bacteria (and the list goes on). For mums-to-be, having a high-fibre diet can help to regulate blood-sugar levels and in turn, greatly reduce your chance of developing gestational diabetes once you fall pregnant. The best source of fibre is always vegetables, but it can also be found in fruit and complex carbohydrates like wholegrains and legumes
Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Iron: Iron is one of the most important nutrients before and during pregnancy as it is vital for foetal development and growth. Our bodies all absorb and store iron differently, so it’s really important that you’ve got a good understanding of your personal daily iron needs before it’s too late. Iron is most bioavailable from meat, but other sources include legumes and beans, nuts and seeds, dark leafy greens and whole grains. Eating smaller portions, avoiding tea and coffee 30 minutes before and after meals and squeezing lemon juice on your food will help your body to absorb the iron far more efficiently
Load Up On Zinc: This nutrient is particularly important for male fertility as it triggers the production of male sex hormones and also significantly increases the production and quality of sperm. For women, zinc promotes healthy foetal development, with sufficient zinc stores being linked to a decreased risk of complications during pregnancy. Zinc can be found most abundantly in seafood, eggs, red meat and nuts and seeds
Check Your Thyroid: Thyroid health is often overlooked in couples trying to fall pregnant. Our thyroids are responsible for so many functions within our bodies, particularly our hormones. Having an underactive thyroid can compromise how we produce sex hormones – for women, it can prevent ovulation, while for men, thyroid function is directly linked to sperm production
Reduce Stress: Let’s face it – trying to fall pregnant can be very stressful.
Stress impacts our health in so many different ways; firstly, stress affects our behavioural patterns – you are far more likely to engage in unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking and binge eating when you’re stressed. Stress can also greatly reduce libido, which we obviously require a lot of in order to reproduce. Our bodies are generally very good at handling stress, but we can often become overwhelmed, particularly when big things, like pregnancy, are on the forefront of our minds. When we are stressed, many other aspects of our physical health such as our immune systems, our hormone production, thyroid function and blood -sugar regulation can become compromised leaving our body in a sub-optimal state. Studies have shown that stress can have just as much of an effect on your chances of falling pregnant as your physical health does, so it’s really important to recognise your main sources of stress and start implementing strategies to reduce them before trying to fall pregnant.
If you’re thinking about getting pregnant but want to start improving your general health first, make a booking with Amanda now so that she can help you get started today!