Preconception Care- A Holistic Approach
Are you planning to get pregnant?
There are a few things to consider before getting pregnant and I'm sure you have many questions about how to do it naturally, what to eat, what to take, and how to best prepare yourself.
The preconception period is the time when a woman optimizes her health and in turn, creates a welcoming environment for fertilization and fetal growth.
As a Holistic Nutritionist, I take a holistic approach and focus on digestive health, mental health, energy, fitness, and nutrition.
Each couple has specific needs and I prefer working with them for a minimum of 4 months or 6 months when coming off the pill due to the depletion of folate, B6, zinc, magnesium,
With 4 or 6 months, we have enough time to stop unhealthy habits, learn healthy habits, support the body in detoxification processes, resolve digestive imbalance, balance hormones, and provide the body with necessary nutrients for the development of a baby.
In Canada, roughly one in five first-time births are women over the age of 35. Aside from age, other causes of female infertility include polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis, fibroids, autoimmune disorders, and lifestyle factors, affecting the quality of the egg themselves.
That's why here a few key areas we need to work on:
Changing lifestyle habits including
- stop smoking
- limiting alcohol and caffeine
- getting good quality sleep
- exercising regularly
Coming off the pill or being exposed to Endocrine Disruptors (ED) can cause hormonal imbalances and therefore reduces the chance to get pregnant. I recommend supporting liver function and detoxification pathways to improve healthy hormone levels.
Your gut is a host to a vast population of bacteria, the microbiome including your Estrobolome. The Estrobolome is a collection of bacteria in the gut which is capable of metabolizing and modulating the body’s circulating estrogen. Improving gut health is crucial to ensure healthy estrogen/progesterone levels and proper nutrient absorption for the development of the baby.
Nourish the body with important nutrients is vital and important in any preconception period. Micronutrient deficiencies have been associated with significantly high reproductive risks, ranging from infertility to fetal structural defects and long-term diseases (Cetin et al., 2010). Diet is recognized as one of the major environmental factors influencing the development of embryo and fetus, as well as maternal health (Keen et al., 2003).
This is why it's so important to ensure adequate intake of methylfolate, methylcobalamin, zinc, magnesium, iron, vitamin D, DHA Omega 3 through food and supplements and following a Mediterranean diet.
Lastly, Blood Sugar Regulation is very important for hormonal balance. Every time you eat carbohydrate-rich food your pancreas sends out insulin to balance blood sugar levels. Insulin is a hormone that controls the amount of glucose in your bloodstream at any given moment. In women, evidence shows that a high dietary intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates is associated with a significantly increased risk of ovulatory infertility (Chavarro et al., 2009). Following a diet low in refined carbohydrates and sugar reduces the risk of inflammation and oxidative stress in the body, which is known to damage both egg and sperm cells and lead to poor reproductive outcomes. This means working toward getting all or most of our carbohydrates from the “complex” category in combination with enough fiber, protein, and healthy fats in our diet to slow the absorption of carbohydrates and help regulate our blood sugar and energy levels
This may seem overwhelming and that's why I recommend working with a professional to feel fully supported. Start with small, simple, consistent changes mixed with self-compassion, and the change you are looking for will happen.
I Cetin1, C Berti, S Calabrese. Role of micronutrients in the periconceptional period Human Reproduction Update, Volume 16, Issue 1, January-February 2010, Pages 80–95, https://doi.org/10.1093/humupd/dmp025
Keen CL, Clegg MS, Hanna LA, Lanoue L, Rogers JM, Daston GP,
Oteiza P, Uriu-Adams JY. The plausibility of micronutrient deficiencies
being a significant contributing factor to the occurrence of pregnancy
complications. J Nutr 2003;133:1597S–1605S.
Chavarro, J., Rich-Edwards, J., Rosner, B. et al. A prospective study of dietary carbohydrate quantity and quality in relation to risk of ovulatory infertility. Eur J Clin Nutr 63, 78–86 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602904