In suggesting a three-month period of pre-conception care, the aim is to encourage you to look at all the different aspects of your lifestyle, such as your diet (including the vitamins and supplements you take), levels of exercise, living environment, and stress levels. You aren’t just making it easier to get pregnant and have a healthy baby – a good pre-conception care plan may also help determine your child’s health in adult life because research shows that what happens around the time of a baby’s conception and during pregnancy can increase or decrease the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes later on in that baby’s life.
Your three-month pre-conception plan
Your reserve of eggs was established in your body before you were born, so the number of eggs you had at birth was already set in stone and there’s nothing you can do to change it. However, by following the pre-conception plan for three months, you do have control over the quality of those eggs.
It takes a woman approximately three months to mature the egg that will be ready for ovulation each month, and it takes the man around three months to produce a batch of sperm. Three months is the magic number also because it takes for your body to eliminate completely certain fertility-limiting toxins and increase its levels of crucial nutrients that boost fertility, as well as for you to break your unhealthy lifestyle habits and turn them into healthy ones. How you both live during that three months- how you eat, what levels of fitness you attain, how many toxins you’re exposed to, and so on – can make a significant difference to the quality of the egg you’re maturing and all the sperm your partner’s body is busy making.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to boost your chances of conceiving and having a healthy baby is to eat a healthy diet – this isn’t a diet in the sense of weight loss but in the sense of improving the nutrients you put into your system so that you can balance your blood sugar and maintain a healthy weight, both of which make an invaluable contribution to optimizing your levels of fertility hormones.
Before conception (and throughout your pregnancy), your aim should be to include a good variety of foods with sufficient intake of carbohydrates, fiber, and essential fats, healthy amounts of protein, and lots of water. Make your diet rich in fruit and vegetables; whole grains, such as whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, and wholegrain bread; lots of good-quality protein from organic nuts, sees, fish, eggs, and legumes; and a supply of “good fats”, including extra-virgin olive oil, hemp seeds, and fish oils (eating two servings of organic salmon a week and a handful of nuts and seeds a day will help). Following are the nutrients you need to know about. Some help prepare your body to conceive, others to optimize the health of your developing fetus. All are important for both you and your partner.
Drink fresh and pure Aim for at least six to eight glasses of water a day, more if you’re exercising. Diluted fruit juice, herbal teas, and, of course, water all count towards your fluid intake, but you should avoid carbonated soft drinks, tea and coffee because they unsettle your blood-sugar levels and deplete your body of valuable fertility-boosting nutrients. Tea and coffee are also diuretic, so will dehydrate you.
Boost fertility vitamins Make sure you eat plenty of foods rich in vitamins B6, C, and E, and folic acid. Several studies show that B6 is essential for hormone balance and fertility. Eggs, bananas, peanuts, mushrooms, oats, soy, sunflower seeds, salmon, mackerel, and lentils are particularly good sources of vitamin B6. Vitamin C can help trigger ovulation and, along with vitamin E, may help keep you fertile for longer and improve the quality of your eggs. Vitamin C is found in fruits and vegetables, particularly citrus fruits, berries, green vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. Vitamin E plays a beneficial role in egg production. Food sources include seeds, nuts, egg yolk, oily fish, and broccoli. Folic acid is critical to your baby’s heath – not just in the earliest days of pregnancy but before you even conceive. You’ll find it in leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, nuts, legumes, and whole grains. Vitamin A (or beta-carotene) is a crucial vitamin for male fertility. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables are high in beta-carotene.
Boost zinc Zinc is essential for conception – in fact, severe zinc deficiencies can impair fertility in both men and women (a man needs it to make the head of the sperm hard so it can penetrate the egg for successful fertilization). Get the required amount (about 15mg a day) by eating plenty of almonds, fish, beans, yogurt, oats, corn, eggs, peas, and whole grains.
Eat more magnesium Studies show that a deficiency in magnesium can adversely affect a woman’s fertility. To boost your intake, eat plenty of nuts, vegetables, brown rice, eggs, and sunflower seeds.
Stock up on manganese Good levels of the mineral manganese may help boost the quality of a man’s sperm and will help prevent birth defects in newborns, improve the general health of the baby, and prevent behavior problems late r in life. The best food sources of manganese include whole grains, seeds, leafy green vegetables, green beans, sweet potatoes, onions, strawberries, bananas, apples, and eggs.
Raise levels of selenium Like zinc, selenium appears to be essential for sperm production (tests show that the concentration of selenium in a man’s body is highest around the testes). In women, selenium deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage. Good food sources include eggs, nuts, broccoli, and garlic.
Boost calcium If you’re trying to get pregnant, calcium is important because it’s needed for your baby’s teeth, bones, and nervous system. You can get calcium from dairy products (choose organic, full-fat products, rather than skim), but bear in mind that there are plenty of other, non-dairy sources of calcium. These include fish such as salmon; fruits and vegetables such as oranges, prunes, and leafy green vegetables; sesame seeds; almonds; legumes; and whole grains.
Feast on good fats Saturated fats found in animal meat and trans fats found in processed food are harmful – they can cause hormone imbalance and so reduce fertility. Essential fats, on the other hand, which are found in nuts, seeds, and oily fish, play a crucial role in hormone balance and fertility and the development of a healthy baby. Scientists have found that they’re vital for the formation of a growing baby’s brain, eyes, and nervous system.
Don’t forget the supplements A good multi-vitamin and mineral designed for enhancing fertility acts like an insurance policy because your food may not always contain all the nutrients that you need. Also, when you’re aiming to boost fertility in only three months, a supplement can help optimize the levels of nutrients in your system in the shortest time possible. According to researchers a good quality, specially formulated fertility multi-vitamin and mineral supplement may double your chances of getting pregnant and help you produce better quality eggs.