Are you and your partner making plans to have a baby? The
preconception period is an important window of opportunity to ensure
you have all of the nutrients required not only to conceive, but also to
nourish the growing foetus, and ultimately deliver the healthiest baby
possible. Preconception care should ideally begin at least three to four
months prior to trying to conceive, allowing adequate preparation time
for both parents to achieve optimal health.
Comprehensive preconception and pregnancy care involves both
parents adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle, as well as appropriate
supplementation to lay the nutritional foundation required to grow a
healthy baby. If having a baby is on your ‘to do’ list in the foreseeable
future, your Practitioner can guide you through an appropriate
preconception and pregnancy care program specific to your individual
Although it takes two to make a baby, the preconception spotlight all
too often falls solely on the mother-to-be. The reality is, however, that
men have more than just a small part to play in creating a healthy baby.
So for the best possible outcome, both partners must be included in
preconception care. Quite often, recommendations will include changes
that a couple can make together, including:
• Detoxification: A professional detoxification program may be
recommended prior to conception to reduce the effects of toxic
exposure on fertility. Preconception detoxification will also protect
the developing foetus from harmful toxins.
• Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet: There is never a more
important time to be eating well than during pregnancy, and the
preconception period is the perfect time to start practising. Eat a
diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein,
while minimising your consumption of sugar, alcohol and caffeine.
• Participate in regular physical activity: Regular physical activity
before and throughout pregnancy offers many physical and
emotional benefits including stress relief, weight control and faster
recuperation following pregnancy.
• Stress less: Stress can be a major underlying factor affecting both
male and female fertility. Minimise the impact of stress on your
and your family’s health by practising relaxation exercises such as
meditation, yoga or tai chi. Ensure you create time to rest and do
activities that you enjoy.
As well as couple-based strategies, there are also gender specific
recommendations when it comes to supporting healthy fertility. For the
mum-to-be, a number of natural supplements may be recommended
during both preconception and pregnancy. A few of these are listed
• Essential vitamins and minerals: During pregnancy, a woman’s
body has additional requirements for many vitamins and minerals,
including folate, iodine, calcium, vitamin D, selenium and iron.
These crucial nutrients have specific roles in supporting a healthy
pregnancy, as well as normal brain and bone development in the
growing foetus. Your Practitioner can recommend a comprehensive,
high-quality pregnancy formula to ensure you are getting all the
nutrients you need at the correct doses during this important time.
• Fish oil: Omega-3 essential fatty acids from fish oils support many
aspects of health, including a healthy pregnancy. DHA, an active
ingredient naturally occurring in fish oil, is vital for the baby’s
brain and nervous system development. During preconception and
pregnancy, it is essential to take only high quality fish oil supplements
that have been specially purified to reduce heavy metal and pesticide
levels that may affect the health of the foetus.
• Herbal medicine: Traditionally, the herb Phyllanthus emblica (amla)
has been safely recommended to support a healthy pregnancy and
may also improve recovery after giving birth. Herbal medicine,
however, should only be taken during pregnancy under the guidance
of a healthcare professional.
Although the female represents an obvious starting point for promoting
fertility and healthy pregnancy we can’t forget about the important role of
the dad-to-be. Healthy sperm are essential for fertilisation to take place
successfully and can also promote optimal birth outcomes. There are
various considerations for supporting sperm health:
• Antioxidants: Sperm are the smallest cells produced by the human
species and are highly susceptible to damage by free radicals.
Free radicals are unstable molecules produced naturally within the
body which can result in cellular damage unless balanced by a
healthy amount of antioxidants, including zinc, vitamin E, vitamin
C and selenium.
• Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10): CoQ10 is highly concentrated in
sperm cells where it functions to provide the energy for these tiny
cells to make the monumental journey to fertilise the egg.
• Herbal medicine: Certain herbs may also support male health in
the preconception period. Tribulus terrestris (tribulus), for example,
has traditionally been used as an aphrodisiac, and more recently
has been found to support healthy testosterone levels which are
crucial for sperm production.
The benefits of comprehensive preconception and pregnancy care extend
far beyond nine months – they last a lifetime. If you are planning to have
a baby in the near future, make a conscious decision to do the best
for your baby and start a preconception and pregnancy program today.
Your Healthcare Practitioner can support and guide you throughout the
journey of preparing for pregnancy so you can truly give your child the
best possible start in life.