In an ideal world, we should take three to six months to prepare for pregnancy. This might seem like a novel concept but preparing the body for pregnancy has shown to improve all facets of fertility and pregnancy. Preparing for pregnancy essentially means getting the body as healthy as it can be prior to conception. Aspects include stress management, hormonal corrections, strong mental health and making sure that your body is detoxified and that you have the correct nutritional status. A correct nutritional status improves the likelihood of conception, a healthier pregnancy and improved health of the mother and child.
To think of it another way, when the sperm cell meets the egg cell, that is the beginning of the new child. It roughly takes three to four months for an egg and a sperm cell to develop. Their development is influenced by your body's health. So if we drink, smoke, party like there's no tomorrow and eat nothing but take-away, this is going to affect the quality of the new cells.
'What a woman eats BEFORE she becomes pregnant affects her child’s health for life.'
'Mother’s nutrition before she becomes pregnant is ‘super-critical.'
The American College of Obstetricains and Gynaecology recommend this type of approach a minimum of 90 days before conceiving. A recent study from the University of Southampton has identified this principle as a cornerstone for public health. The study identifies that correct nutritional status of the expecting mother can improve the long-term health of the baby.
To pin down the effect of a mother’s diet on health, Professor Prentice studied women in rural West Africa, where the marked seasons lead to distinct changes in the foods eaten. Professor Prentice measured the nutritional status of the group as well as the DNA of the new-born babies. Crunching the results together showed a clear link between a woman’s diet and her child’s genes. Crucially, it was what she ate before pregnancy that was important – not what eaten when carrying the child (but obviously this is important as well).
We all know that folic acid is important before and during pregnancy. Folic Acid is but one nutrient and B6 and B12 are as important when it comes to preventing neural tube defects. Omega 3 and choline have been shown to improve the IQ of a child, when consumed before pregnancy. These can also prevent against post-natal depression.
As a note, that isn't covered by the research, it is critically important that the man pays close attention to his pre-conceptual diet. There is a simple fact that we tend to overlook when it comes to men and fertility etc. Men supply 50% of the DNA for the developing child through the sperm cells. So, for the men out there it is also worth noting that 50% of infertility diagnosis' are male related and also, 50% of miscarriages are male related (because of faulty DNA in the sperm cell).
Tips to help the preparation:
· Stop smoking and avoid second hand smoke.
· Reduce alcohol. Relatively moderate alcohol intake of 5 units every week is linked to poorer sperm quality in otherwise healthy young men suggests research. (DrinkAware)
· Eat better. For the first time researchers have confirmed that women who eat a poor diet before they become pregnant are about 50 percent more likely to have a preterm birth that those on a healthy diet. (University of Adelaide)
· Consider nutritional supplements.
· Healthy weight : women with a BMI of 40 or more were 46% less likely to conceive on their own. Obesity in men lowers testosterone levels. (Journal of Human Reproduction)
· Reduce stress if possible: men who feel stressed more likely to have lower concentration of sperm. 29 percent lower probability of pregnancy for highly stressed women. (Journal of Fertility and Sterility)