Whether you are trying to conceive naturally or you are undergoing fertility treatment, the period of time before you conceive gives you a window of opportunity to evaluate your nutrition and general lifestyle.
Preconception: The window of opportunity
The 3 months prior to conception are thought to be the most influential. During this time, immature eggs, known as oocytes, mature enough to be released during ovulation and sperm cells to develop before being ready for ejaculation. You and your partner's nutrient intake greatly influence's the quality and efficiency of this process and the opportunity to create a healthy pregnancy.
Over and above providing the healthy foundation stones, dietary changes and improving nutrient stores may also help to correct factors that may be affecting your ability to conceive such as low sperm count or hormonal imbalances during the menstrual cycle.
Nutrition is the foundation for you and your baby
Studies have shown that couples who have made changes to their diet and lifestyle improved chance so healthy conception by 80% but research has shown us that the benefits extend way beyond a healthy conception and pregnancy. Indeed, your nutritional status during the preconception period is now understood to sow the seeds of health for your growing baby in infancy, such as reducing risk of atopic conditions such as asthma and eczema, as well as chronic health conditions in adulthood such as diabetes.
Nourishing your nutritional status at preconception can also influence milk production during breastfeeding and reduce the potential of post-partum depression.
Should I use supplements?
It is now medically accepted that certain vitamins and minerals can increase your chances of getting and staying pregnancy by supporting hormone balance, healthy egg and sperm development. However, increasing research is showing us that today's environment is not as fertile-friendly for both plant and human as it once was. Much of the foods we eat have been grown on exhausted soil, intensively farmed, picked before ripe and travelled many miles from source before reaching our plates. As a result, a large proportion of our food is lacking in much needed trace minerals and vitamins. Studies have shown that couples who took nutritional supplements to support a healthy diet, had quicker conception rates than those who did not.
The Folic Acid debate
Folic acid is in the 3 months before and during pregnancy is advisable to reduce the risk of neural tube defects. However recently concerns have been raised about the use of synthetic Folic acid in supplements and the body's ability to metabolise it in this form.Folate crosses the placenta only in the form of the naturally occurring isomer, not as synthetic isolated folic acid and the use of food-sourced folic acid (such as those found in Food-State Supplements) is considered favourable by many for this reason.
Beyond Nutrition: The influence of stress
Getting as healthy as possible during the preconception window is about nourishing your body and your mind. Stress is not the preserve of the over-worked as often thought of. In fact, under-achieving, dissatisfaction with where you are in your life, under and over exercising are all potential 'stressors' to the body.
When your body experience's stress it adopts a 'fight-or-flight' response. This triggers the release of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. This affects digestion, blood pressure, circulation and brain function and over time, other areas of health such as hormone balance and nutrient levels. Supporting my clients in managing their stress levels is a primary focus with many of my clients in clinic.
If you do not have the resources to see a qualified Nutritional Therapist you may want to consider following my fertility programme. I have put together the plan to support you and your partner with the nutritional tools to nourish your fertile soil. It includes our Food-State Fertility formulation for Men and our Food-State Fertility formula for Women as well as a High Strength Omega 3 for both of you. You will also have access to a downloadable booklet with information on what, when and how to eat to build your preconception foundation as well as recipes and detail on environmental factors to be mindful of.