Written by Laila Helena |
Preconception care is about a window of opportunity for you and your partner to optimise your baby’s health, reducing the risk for chronic health issues that are globally on the rise. In fact, by the time you are pregnant, it is often too late to make any significant health changes.
Ideally, I recommend 3-6 months of preconception care. However, this is not possible for everyone, so start as soon as possible, no matter where you are in your fertility journey. 3-6 months of preconception care is recommended because sperm development takes approximately 75 days. Everything you eat and drink three months before conception can positively or negatively affect sperm quality. The same goes for female follicles/eggs, with full maturation taking 100 days. Research has shown that 50% of all miscarriages are due to sperm abnormalities, meaning it is important to encourage both partners to be involved in the preconception care.
The first step to supporting your fertility and preparing for a baby is reducing your toxic burden. Sadly, we find toxins wherever we go. They are in our food, personal products, the air, and water. These toxins greatly affect hormone function and create havoc with fertility, causing fertility issues in both men and women. We absorb toxins by either dermal absorption, inhalation, or ingestion.
A good place to start is by doing a complete audit of everything you put on your skin, hair, face and even intimate areas. Are the products organic and chemical-free? How about the food you eat and drink? Going completely organic is often out of reach for many people. So eating fruits and vegetables from the Clean Fifteen list and avoiding the Dirty Dozen is an excellent place to start.
I also recommend buying organic when it comes to animal products. Animals store toxins in their fat, and your body needs fat to make hormones, so consuming non-organic animal products is counteractive. Finally, avoid eating and drinking out of plastic items can help to reduce your toxic load.
Once you have removed the extra toxic burden, it is time to help remove toxins and excess hormones that may be found in your body. This is achieved by supporting all your detoxification pathways. Your body detoxes via the gut, liver, lymph and urinary tract. You can help your detoxification pathways by eating plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit with particular attention to cruciferous vegetables, drinking lemon water, cold-pressed vegetable, fruit juices, bitters foods, and herbs. Ideally, you want to work closely with a naturopath or nutritionist to ensure you are doing this safely and effectively.
Once you know that your detoxification pathways are clearing excess hormones and you are avoiding endocrine-disrupting toxins, you can start to address your hormones directly. Balancing hormones is a critical factor for optimal fertility and pregnancy outcomes. Unfortunately, hormones can be out of balance due to several factors that usually require an in-depth holistic assessment by a qualified naturopath or nutritionist. Support your hormone production by eating adequate quantities of proteins and fats, assessing any nutritional deficiencies, and managing stress.
Nutritional deficiencies are also implicated in unexplained infertility, miscarriages, foetus deformities and complicated pregnancies. Therefore, it is essential to get pathology tests and a hair mineral test to assess any nutritional deficiencies or imbalances. Once you have had your tests analysed by a holistic practitioner, you can begin any supplements or dietary adjustments required. Nutritional deficiencies can happen due to chronic stress, gut issues, medication use (eg: OCP), breastfeeding, sequential pregnancies and an imbalanced diet.
Keep in mind how stress and poor sleep affect your hormones and ability to conceive. When you are chronically stressed and sleep-deprived, your body will prioritise the production of cortisol (your stress hormone). This means that progesterone or testosterone isn’t made available to produce healthy eggs or sperm. Avoid overlooking this step. Find ways support your nervous system, retrain your brain, and adopt more wholesome habits. Learn good sleep hygiene habits, mindfulness and breathing techniques to bring you back to your centre. Journaling can also be a great way to connect with those deeper feelings, helping you find ways to process difficult emotions.
The last step is about connecting with your physical cycles, your partner and the nature around you. Spend time in nature and aim to move your body for 30 minutes each day to keep your vitality and energy strong. Sync with your natural cycles and become finely tuned to your fertile window. Connect with your partner by doing nice things together, whatever they look like; you both might like slightly different things. Find a balance between doing something you both enjoy and have fun. It is up to both partners to ensure that everyone is doing their part in preparing for a baby.
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Laila Helena BHSc is a qualified naturopath who specialises in helping busy couples ditch fatigue and nagging health issues to confidently optimise their fertility and pregnancy. Ultimately, making and raising healthier babies. She supports infants in their first 1000 days of life – from the moment they are conceived until they have reached two years of age. She is also passionate about fertility and preconception because infertility and chronic health conditions among children are steadily rising, most of which are preventable. Laila uses her holistic investigative skills to find the root cause of any disease and treats it with naturopathic medicine and functional nutrition. Supporting the health of parents, parents-to-be and infants. Her mission? To improve global health one baby at a time.