Once a couple makes the monumental decision to have a baby they are usually keen to fall pregnant asap. It’s an exciting time! There are, however, many benefits to taking just a little time to look at your health and wellbeing before starting to try and conceive.
Working with a naturopath to improve your health and wellbeing before conception can bring many benefits for both parents and baby. These include:
- Increasing your chances of conception
- Reducing your risk of miscarriage
- Reducing your risk of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes
- Reducing the severity of morning sickness
- Maintaining a healthy body weight during pregnancy
- Supporting your baby’s health and development
- Improving your options for a natural birth
- Improving the quality of your breast milk
- A faster recovery and more energy post birth
Ideally I like to work with couples for a minimum of 12 weeks before they start trying for a baby. Together we look at their diet and lifestyle and where necessary address any underlying health issues such as hormonal imbalance, nutrient deficiencies, environmental toxin exposure and stress.
Establishing healthy eating habits at this stage and establishing good routines and choices around food ensures these behaviors can continue during pregnancy and after the baby arrives when life gets even more hectic.
Many women experience hormonal issues during their teens and twenties which are not addressed until they decided to have a baby. Conditions such as PCOS, amenorrhea, anovulation and thyroid problems can make conception more challenging and may require more treatment before conception is successful, but chances of success are improved with naturopathic pre-conception care.
Ideally women should take a folic acid supplement at least 1 month before conception to reduced the risk of neural-tube defects such as spina bifida. I also suggest women start taking a practitioner brand pregnancy and breastfeeding supplement at this point too. Practitioner brands provide a higher strength and often superior quality of vitamins and minerals compare with ‘off the shelf’ products. They are scientifically formulated to meet the additional nutritional requirements of preconception, pregnancy and breastfeeding.
I have often uncovered vitamin deficiencies in women with long term reproductive health issues and women who have been under a lot of stress. B vitamins, Vitamin D, magnesium, iron and iodine are often depleted and supplementation well beyond an ‘off the shelf’ pregnancy supplement is required.
I also prescribe a pro-biotic for women. This will help provide a healthy micro biome and in turn will pass to the baby via the amniotic fluid, placenta and later via breastfeeding.
Male health is often over looked in pre-conception care with the focus being on ‘mum’ and her ‘eggs’. But research shows that the health of the father’s sperm is a major contributing factors to both the chances of conception and the overall health of the baby.
Stress can be a major contributing factor to fertility. Recent research shows how stress can lead to a increase in the hormones adrenaline, catecholamines and cortisol. These hormones can inhibit gonadotropin releasing hormone which can in turn lead to anovulation in women, reduced sperm count and quality in men and lower libido in both women and men.
As you can see there is great value in taking just a few weeks to look at your health and wellbeing with the help of a naturopath before you starting to try and fall pregnant.
Jean Jarrett practices naturopathy, nutrition and herbal medicine at HealthSpace.
If you are planning a family or trying to conceive make an appointment to see Jean at HealthSpace Burwood on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. Tel: (02) 9745 3700.