Preconception Care: everything you need to know
As most of us are aware of, there must be a sufficient number of actively moving sperm and a healthy egg from a female to conceive. Additionally, the woman's body must be a state of full function to be able to carry and sustain an egg. There is a significant amount of evidence suggesting that dietary intervention can improve ovulation, conception, and the chance to birth a healthy baby for their entire life and future generations to come¹. It can reduce the risk of miscarriage, infertility, unhealthy babies, and congenital disabilities.
The goal for preconception care is to improve women and male health before conception to reduce risk factors that affect pregnancy outcomes and the health of future generations¹. Treatment at SANA CO. with our fertility guru, Maree Noonan, may include addressing current medical conditions (including being overweight, hypertension, diabetes, depression/anxiety), assessing lifestyle risk factors, providing counseling support, improving macro/micronutrient deficiencies, detoxification, herbal and nutritional supplementation.
When should I begin preconception care?
On average, its take 3 months for the sperm and egg to mature. Therefore during this time before you both conceive, these healthy behaviors are influencing how healthy your eggs are that you produce.
What are some nutrients I should include in my diet while trying to conceive?
While a preconception diet should include a wide range of nutrients encompassing the lean protein, unrefined carbohydrates, and fresh organic fruits and vegetables, some nutrients are more important than others and should be supplemented.
• Folinic acid: (the activated form of folic acid) Necessary for cell division, therefore, making it essential for embryo development. A deficiency can contribute to infertility and neural tube defects of which occur in the month after conception which is why preconception care is vital!
• Iron: Adequate blood serum levels should be assessed throughout your pregnancy as there is a considerable increase in blood volume.
• Essential fatty acids: Men and women, this one is particularly important around the time of conception as 60% of the fats in sperm cell membranes are made up of DHA. As for women, fatty acids improve the cervical mucus that is needed for the sperm to reach the egg.
Should my male partner adopt preconception practices too? Absolutely! In many cases, it is the sperm quality that contributes to infertility. Preconception care for males involving lifestyle and dietary interventions will reduce the damage of the DNA in sperm and prevent the occurrence of chromosomal abnormalities or miscarriage.
1. Tydén, T., 2016. Why is preconception health and care important?. Upsala journal of medical sciences, 121(4), p.207.
Jade Williams is a 4th year Naturopathy student at Souther School of Naturopathy. She is currently seeing patients out of the clinic on their Fitzroy Campus.