Why is preconception health so important?
The foundation of pre-conception health is a healthy balanced diet. We know that an expecting mother needs a varied wholefoods diet to allow for the increased needs during pregnancy, but most women are not meeting the RDI through diet alone. Inadequate nutrition, particularly in relation to B vitamins, zinc, iron, vitamin D, choline, iodine, and folic acid during pre-conception and pregnancy poses significant risks, including impaired foetal development, preterm birth and low birth weight. There has also been evidence that of a poor diet seen in the long-term effects in postnatal depleted mothers who’ve had their nutrients stripped due to inadequate nutrient consumption pre-conception and during pregnancy.
Pre-conception nutrition is highly important, and this begins around 3-4 months prior to conceiving. The reason for this is due to the eggs taking roughly 85-90 days to develop from the time they are recruited from the waiting pool to the time of ovulation (if they are so lucky). During the 90-day period, before an egg reaches full maturation, the eggs undergo several changes while preparing for ovulation. During this period the eggs are affected by both healthy and unhealthy influences. There are certain factors that contribute to egg health such as hormonal balance, nutritional intake, stress, exposure to toxins and exercise.
Pre-conception or the months leading up to conception is a good time to get your health in optimal shape. Getting blood work done is key to determining if there are any underlying nutritional deficiencies or areas of health that could use some work prior to conceiving. In an ideal world the key timeframe for getting your body ready for pre-conception health for both males and females is 90 days or 3 months prior to conceiving and to give your baby a great bill of health and a great pregnancy. However, if this isn’t ideal, then don’t stress over it.
The following are some recommendations to ensure that you’re setting yourself up for prime conception:
- Ensure you’re having at least 1-2 servings of vegetables with each meal. This ensures that you’re obtaining vital minerals and vitamins from your food, as well as fibre and phytochemicals.
- Reduce or eliminate your level of inflammation by reducing your consumption of junk foods like refined carbohydrates (opt for complex forms like wholegrains, starchy vegetables like potato, pumpkin, kumara), trans fats, fast foods
- Reduce or eliminate your consumption of alcohol and/or smoking.
- Reduce your levels of stress from all possible factors.
- Reduce or eliminate your exposure to any environmental toxins that could potentially harm you or your foetus.
- Obtain blood tests to assess your current nutrient status and health of other key body systems.
- If in doubt, treat your body like it’s already pregnant, as these are the key things to stay away from.
If you would like some assistance with your pre-conception health or access to practitioner-grade supplements, please get in touch to see how we can support you through this special time.