Thinking of starting a family? Read everything you need to know about preconception care.
The goals of preconception care in practice are to maximize the health of both males and females, creating ideal outcomes for conception, pregnancy, bubs start to life and lifelong health. These goals are made based on the research that has emerged over the past few decades, showcasing the impacts of specific environmental and nutritional exposures and their role in genetic expression, strengthening the importance of healthy changes three to six months out from conception. The essence of preconception strongly reflects the values of naturopathy to its core, embracing long-term health for people involved and the health of generations to follow.
Preconception encompasses many, many things, and the road ahead varies from person to person. I put forth my knowledge based on the most recent research on maximizing fertility potentials and pregnancy outcomes from various therapeutic interventions. The following factors I take into consideration for couples in a preconception appointment include:
Hormones – ensuring baby maker systems are GO. Reducing risk for excesses/deficiencies of hormones that may impede ovulation, implantation and placentation.
Thyroid function – thyroid is like the battery pack of the body, and if under-functioning, it may affect cycle regularity and trimester one development.
Nutrient status – looking at blood tests to determine any weaknesses that could affect mothers & bubs health for the duration of a pregnancy.
Absorptive capacities – particularly the ability to utilize folate, one of the most important nutrients for pregnancy. Providing active forms of folate, particularly those with genes that limit their ability to convert folate to its active form (you may have heard of MTHFR).
Pre-existing medical conditions – and the management plan alongside pregnancy.
Diet – ensuring no gaps in nutritional intake
Lifestyle factors – support to cease intake of substances that compromise the bodies systems and detoxification capacities, such as alcohol, smoking, and drug use.
Environmental exposures – chemicals in the home or workplace that place pressure on the body's detoxification pathways and oxidative stress, which can impact sperm and egg health.
Weight– fertility outcomes respond very well to weight loss if applicable, but weight gain for people with low body weight is important for healthy hormone production.
Exercise – finding that balance of training that is most safe during pregnancy and finding enjoyment in activity that doesn't compromise pelvis position or drive core body temperature
Stress – preconception is an excellent time to get onto any psychological stress present, especially when life may be about to become a whole busier! A naturopath can help reduce risk factors for stress such as diet, lifestyle, exercise routine, sleep etc.
From the preconception, pregnancy and beyond, I always involve my clients GPs and other necessary medical professionals with an open, transparent approach. It ensures that nothing is overlooked and that safety is paramount. It is in this relationship where we see positive results. At the Sana Co, Jade is one of our resident women's health practitioners. She offers consultations to review all factors listed above. Women who have seen Jade before report on the support they feel from her, especially when couples hold off on sharing the news to their loved ones. She enjoys being a part of all stages of her client's fertility journeys, from preconception, the three stages of pregnancy, post-partum and beyond. One of the best things she loves hearing her clients say is, "I'm pregnant!"