Preconception health is not something that many people think about, unless they are having difficulty conceiving, and it goes WAY beyond simply taking folic acid for 3 months before trying to become pregnant (that is very important, but it’s not the whole story).
How both partners eat, exercise, manage stress, take supplements, and avoid toxins in the 3-4 months before trying to conceive, can have a significant impact on the chances of having a successful pregnancy, and healthy baby. Why is that? In women, the egg that is going to become the mature egg for that cycle matures over the 3-4 months before it is ovulated. Women are born with all the eggs they will have in their life, but the decisions you make in the 3-4 months before that egg becomes your baby can have a significant and long lasting impact.
Similarly for men, they produce new sperm every day, but a full sperm regeneration cycle, called spermatogenesis, takes approximately 64 days. What they do in these 64 days largely contributes to the health of the genetic material they will be contributing to their future baby.
There you have it! The “why” help you understand why preconception health is so important! Now I will get into the “how” and give you some practical, easy to implement, tips.
- Reduce/Eliminate Alcohol Consumption- This is for both partners, but one way to think about preconception health is to try and act like you are already pregnant. Moderate intake of alcohol has been shown to inhibit ovulation, and leads to less optimal sperm.
- Stop Smoking- When you or your partner smoke, it restricts blood flow to the reproductive organs, resulting in them not functioning to their full potential. Cigarettes are full of hormone altering toxins that you do not want to negatively affect your baby.
- Minimize Toxins- Think about toxins you may be exposed to in your workplace. Are you using your PPE properly? Is there a way to reduce this exposure? Similarly in your home. If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to make the switch to natural cleaning products. For your body, take a look at your make up and skincare, and move to non-toxic options. Also, this is not the time to start home renovations. New building materials often off gas VOC’s which are not ideal for preconception.
Reduce Stress- Stress creates reactive oxygen species in the body which can damage our genetic material. You want to be able to pass on the best chromosomes and DNA to your baby. Make stress management a part of your day to day life with simple activities like
- Taking 10 minutes of me time a day
- Reducing rushing
- Getting outside for fresh air
- Exercise- Helps to reduce stress, and get your circulation moving! If you are not currently exercising, start small with 10 minutes of activity a day. Choose an activity that you enjoy and you are more likely to stick to it
- Fruits and Veggies- No big surprise here, but colorful fruits and vegetables should be a staple of your preconception diet. Aiming for 5-7 servings of vegetables/day (of a variety of colors) and 1-2 servings of fruit. These help to supply antioxidants which contribute to improved egg and sperm health.
- Healthy Fats- Healthy fats are the building blocks of healthy hormone levels. Get your healthy fats from avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds, and fatty fish.
- CoQ10- This is a substance you may have heard of with respect to heart health. This is because CoQ10 is vitally important for cells in the body that require a lot of energy, like the egg and sperm. CoQ10 can help improve egg and sperm quality and is especially important for those 35 and over.
- Selenium- Vital for proper thyroid function, which is closely related to egg health and proper ovulation. It is also a vital mineral for sperm health.
- Zinc- Also critical for proper thyroid health. Helps with DNA integrity and is a very important element of sperm health.
These 10 tips are great to get you started on the path of building the healthiest baby, but there is lots more that can be done! I offer consults to soon to be parents on how to optimize their chances of fertility, reduce the risk of miscarriage and have their healthiest baby. Click here to schedule your consult. Keep an eye out in the very near future for my online Preconception/Fertility program specially designed for moms in their 30’s
As always, if you have any questions, please post a comment below
Dr Alexis practice in Kanata, and online, and is currently accepting new patients. Click here to book your appointment
Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended health benefits