You’ve decided to have a baby, and you may have those butterflies fluttering in your tummy with the excitement of bringing life into this world. Now before you start to think of what colour you want the baby’s room, let’s look at getting you ready for pregnancy.
Here are our tips.
Why should you care about preconception health?
Unless a couple has a little trouble conceiving, little thought is given to preconception care. It's a crucial step that is passed over - even though the events surrounding your baby’s conception can affect their health for a lifetime – for better, or for worse.
Our expert Amanda Teh explains the logic behind it.
“It takes 100 days for an egg follicle to mature and up to 116 days for sperm to be produced. If during that time there are infections, nutritional deficiencies, toxins, or other contaminants in the body, the chances of producing healthy eggs and sperm – and therefore a healthy foetus, is greatly reduced.
Simply put, healthy bodies have a better chance of making healthy babies. So yeah, when it’s put like that it makes sense that both parents should make time for a preconception plan.
When should you start preparing?
While the actual act of getting pregnant can come in the future, start preparing at least four months ahead to maximize the chances of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.  Why? It takes up to four months to produce the eggs and sperm that are going to make a baby.
For the preparations, I’m not talking about losing weight. It's all about ensuring that both prospective parents are in excellent health; free of hidden infections, toxic (heavy) metals, environmental hazards, and excessive stress, and that they are only eating healthy foods.
Visit Your Doctor & Dentist
A full body check-up will be able to catch any health issues that need attention. This will also be the time to speak to your doctor about necessary supplements for you. Since you’re seeing the doctor, get your teeth checked too. Some research links oral health to a healthy pregnancy; women with unchecked gum disease are more prone to miscarriage, preterm birth, and preeclampsia.
Go off the pill
If you have been using birth control pills or the Depo Provera injection, you should have a transitional period of time before you attempt to conceive and just use a condom. Each woman differs in how her body reacts after she stops taking contraception. Some will get their periods within weeks, but some take much longer. This gives you a bit of time to see what your natural menstrual cycle is like – so you can figure out when you’re ovulating.
Clean Up Your Diet
Diet is key to overall health. Consume a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, eggs, meat, and fish. Do you need to buy organic? Not necessarily, but make the best choices you can. When it comes to eggs and meat, look for antibiotic, hormone-free, free-range, and grass-fed options. Although fish is a great source of omega fats, keep seafood to a minimum given the current condition of the oceans.
If caffeine and alcohol are a regular occurrence, you may want to consider cutting back on both whilst trying to get pregnant, and certainly once you are pregnant.
First and foremost, speak with your doctor and discuss which supplements will be best for you. The one vital supplement that you most likely need is folic acid, which helps prevent neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. Other supplements you may be prescribed are Vitamin B12 and omega oils – especially if you are vegetarian; iron and vitamin D if you are deficient.
Often supplements are not necessary if you have a varied well-balanced diet. However, there is still a possibility that your body requires a little more of something depending on various factors – which is why it’s important to talk to your doctor.
Exercise is Vital
During the preconception phase, exercise is beneficial as it naturally elevates your mood and energy levels, it reduces stress and it helps you to sleep better. Your body will be going through a big change, and exercise will help support you through this.
If you already are exercising, you will most likely be able to continue your workouts as usual. If you are new to exercise or have yet to establish a regular exercise routine, look at engaging in moderate-intensity type exercises such as brisk walking/jogging, swimming, hiking, and cycling. Ensure your workouts include strength training, as you will need a strong body to be able to carry the added weight during pregnancy, as well as the strength to carry a baby for many months.
Stress is unavoidable with our current lifestyles. When we get stressed the body releases cortisol, which can suppress ovulation and decrease sperm count. Moreover, stress can affect your sleep, sex drive and throw your diet off, as you reach for comfort food or seek that extra cup of coffee or glass of wine. Here are a few things that can help manage stress: yoga, meditation/breathwork, mindfulness exercises, nature walks, journaling, reading, exercise, energy healing (acupuncture, sound baths), massage. Don’t be afraid to seek support if you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious.
Getting pregnant for some can happen very quickly, and for others, it may take some time.
Set yourself a window frame, for example, four to twelve months. If it doesn’t happen within a year, you can always set yourself a new window. It is often when we least expect it, it will happen.
Decluttering can help to create both the physical and mental space you need when trying to get pregnant. Take a look at your life and remove what no longer serves you. This means that both you and your home may need a good spring clean. When we declutter, we give ourselves more time to take care of ourselves and have more energy for the things that bring us joy, and for making a baby!
Enjoy the process
This may be a lot to take in, but remember there’s no rush. Taking care of our health is something we should be doing, but sometimes may forget because of our busy lifestyles. Now is the time to reevaluate a few things.
After all, the process of preconception care is not about putting extra stress in your life. It's all about giving you a chance to transform your life to prepare for the next level – being a parent and feeling empowered by taking control of your own fertility.
If you are getting anxious as it’s taking a little longer than you hoped for and you are doing all of the above, speak with your doctor to plan the next steps. Most importantly, enjoy the process. Put some trust in divine timing and have lots of sex!
Looking for a natural way to boost your energy and feel like the best version of yourself?
Our Women Wellness package helps you to say bye to those days filled with stress and mood swings, as the more confident, happy, strong, and refreshed version of you takes over.
- Naish, F. and Roberts, J. (2000) The Natural Way to Better Babies. Random House: Sydney
- Maternal caffeine consumption during pregnancy and the risk of miscarriage: A prospective cohort study. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 198 (3), e1-8.. Weng, X., Odouli, R. & Li, D.K. (2008).
- Washington State University. (2015, January 22). Effect of BPA and estradiol on sperm development seen by researchers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 13, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150122145422.htm
- Lathi RB, Liebert CA, Brookfield KF, Taylor JA, vom Saal FS, Fujimoto VY, Baker VL.Fertil Steril. Conjugated bisphenol A in maternal serum in relation to miscarriage risk. 2014 Jul;102(1):123-8. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2014.03.024. Epub 2014 Apr 18.PMID:24746738 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
- Muthusami, K. R. and Chinnaswamy, P. (2005). “Effect of chronic alcoholism on male fertility hormones and semen quality.” Fertility and Sterility 84(4): 919-924
- Zaadstra, B.M., Looman, C.W., et al. (1994). “Moderate drinking: no impact on female fecundity.” Fertility and Sterility, 62, 948–954.
- Augood C., Duckitt K., et al. (1998). “Smoking and female infertility: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Human Reproduction 13: 1532-39. 1
- Boggess, K, Edelstein, BL. Oral health in women during preconception and pregnancy: implications for birth outcomes and infant oral health. Matern Child Health J. 2006;10:S169–S174.
Edited by Hani Gurung Khaursar
Expert: Amanda Teh