Whether you’re trying to conceive or you’re just starting to have that conversation with your partner, preparing yourself mentally and physically for pregnancy involves taking steps that will make you a healthier person. Nutrition is one of the biggest components of health, and it impacts everything – including your fertility.
Exercise, diet, stress, weight, supplements, sleep…there are so many components that all contribute to your health, even when you aren’t trying to conceive. Add basal body temperature and cervical mucus to the list, and it’s no wonder it all seems a bit overwhelming. People often think that weight is synonymous with food intake, and while what you eat does impact your weight, the number on the scale isn’t a good indicator of a healthy diet.
You Are What You Eat
This old cliché is tired but true. Making positive changes to your diet can have a huge, lasting impact on both your fertility and the overall health of yourself, your child, and your family. What can you do to make sure you’re getting enough of the good stuff while foregoing the bad?
- Cut back on the sugar. When you eat sugary foods, your body increases the production of insulin to compensate. This additional insulin can keep you from ovulating and menstruating regularly. Check the nutrition labels, since some things that seem healthy (like vanilla yogurt) can be as sugary as soft drinks!
- Reduce red meat. Red meats don’t help your fertility and can increase levels of bad cholesterol associated with heart disease. Stock up on healthy cholesterols, plant-based proteins, and iron by switching to lentils, beans, eggs, and quinoa.
- Go organic. The research on growth hormones, steroids, and antibiotics is mixed, but why not err on the side of caution during this important phase of your life? It’s good for your guy, too; some researchers have found links between pesticide consumption via produce, and decreased quality of sperm.
- Fat is fine, as long as you’re consuming good fats like those found in nuts, avocados, olives, salmon, and flax seed. Trans fats and saturated fats are not the best choices as they lead to weight gain and may negatively affect a healthy hormone balance.
- Iron and folate are the most important nutrients when you’re trying to conceive (TTC) or in the early stages of pregnancy. Add in some vitamin C, too – it will help your body absorb that extra iron.
Get a Check-Up
A full check-up (including bloodwork) can show you where you’re at with your diet and reveal possible areas for improvement. Get your bloodwork done a week before your appointment with your midwife, and you’ll be able to discuss the results when you arrive. Pay special attention to your cholesterol levels (LDL and HDL), and make sure that you’re in the right zone for each of the vitamins and minerals you’ve been tested for. Ask your midwife for recommendations on ways to improve your diet before you conceive, and you’ll reduce your risk of complications when you finally do see those two pink lines on your pregnancy test.
The Well+Prepared program at Baby+Company was developed to help women become their best selves prior to conception. The program, which is available at Baby+Company in Cary, involves a combination of expert consultations, informative classes, and one-on-one coaching sessions for women who would like to become pregnant. Having a healthy pregnancy starts before you’re pregnant. Why not get started now?