Springing into Fertility: Pregnancy Prep!
The sun is shinning, the birds are chirping – spring is in the air! And after reading last weeks article, you and your partner have decided to start trying to have a baby. Awesome! But now what? Besides the importance of timing sex, what else can mom-to-be do to benefit yourself and your unborn little babe?
First, it is best to give yourself 3 to 6 months before becoming pregnant to prepare your body. It is important to chat with your health care provider about diet and lifestyle, as well as any additional requirements your body may need. It is helpful to write down any questions you may have, regardless of how silly they may sound and bring the list with you to your next appointment.
Check out below for my top 6 tips to prepare for pregnancy.
1. Stop the oral contraception pill
OCPS should be stopped a minimum of 3 months and ideally 6 months prior to conception. This medication decreases many vitamins and minerals, including zinc and folic acid, which are important for proper fetus development. OCPs also increase copper and vitamin A, which can be teratogenic to the fetus. These vitamins and minerals can be rebalanced with a good prenatal supplement (see below!)
2. Get on a good prenatal supplement
Not all prenatals are made equal! Dosage and ingredients can vary between brands. It is important to take folic acid before know you are pregnancy and throughout pregnancy. It is the most important vitamin to prevent congenital anomalies such as heart defects, urinary tract anomalies, oral facial clefts, neural tube defects and limb defects. The dose should be at least 400mcg per day. Some women also have a need for an increased folic acid dosage, so speak with your health care provider if you are unsure. Prenatal supplements also contain other ingredients such as zinc and vitamin D.
FYI - Some prenatals can be constipating due to type of iron used. If you are having issues with this, consider switching to a different brand.
3. Take some essential fatty acids (fish oils)
During pregnancy, maternal levels of essential fatty acids decrease as they are being used to help the baby grow and develop. Supplementation of a high quality fish oil may decrease the chance of premature delivery. On the other hand, remember to keep dietary fish consumption to a minimum due to mercury content and risk of parasites.
4. Decrease your stress level
I know, easier said than done… Cortisol is an important hormone in terms of regulating our stress response on a daily basis. Either too high or too low cortisol levels can be associated with infertility and early miscarriage. For easy at home ways to decrease stress, try as little as 10 minutes of daily meditation, weekly yoga or exercise and getting a good nights sleep.
5. Limit caffeine and alcohol intake
Caffeine has a longer half-life for fetuses, which means it takes them longer to clear it from their system. While moderate caffeine consumption (<200 mg per day – 8oz cup of coffee on average contains 95mg of caffeine) does not appear to be a major contributing factor to miscarriage or preterm birth, higher consumptions can cause complications. Daily caffeine use can also decrease our adrenals ability to regulate cortisol properly. Drinking 4+ drinks on one occasion during pregnancy can affect brain development of the baby. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy also puts your baby at risk of developing fetal alcohol syndrome, which affects 1-2 in every 1000 live births. If you consume alcohol on a regular basis, taking this time to decrease consumption will allow you to have an easier time stopping when you become pregnant.
6. Stop cigarette and recreational drug use
Various toxins can cause harm to the developing fetus. Cigarette smoking and recreational drug use should be stopped before becoming pregnant. Tobacco use has been found to have many negative side effects including low birth weight, premature birth, still birth, pregnancy complications such as placenta previa, as well as difficulty conceiving. Prenatal exposure to cannabis has been shown to affect the baby’s cognitive development and lead to behaviour issues and attention deficits later in life. Heavier use has been shown to reduce fetal growth and lower birth weight.
This article is not meant to replace medical advise. Please see your health care provider for an individualized assessment and treatment plan. If you are currently looking for an ND to help with your pregnancy journey, I am accepting patients in Hamilton ON. Send me an email to email@example.com or check out my website at www.doctormargotnd.com