Are you thinking about starting or expanding your family? Congratulations! That big decision deserves some celebration!The weeks or months between now and when you have a positive pregnancy test are very important for you and the father-to-be.
There are important things for both of you to do to make sure your bodies are as healthy as possible before pregnancy.Why the men too? At conception, 50 percent of the DNA is from the father, so his health really matters! Plus, low sperm rates may be connected to a poor diet high in pesticides.<1> It’s important to start pre-conception planning the moment you decide that you want to bring a brand-new human into the world. That way, your body is already in a super healthy state once you’re pregnant. This is a much easier process before the common first-trimester symptoms of morning sickness and exhaustion start.
Try some stress management“You need to be less stressed!” is one of the least helpful pieces of advice I’ve been given over the years. Yes, stress is a strain on our body, but stressing about being stressed out is very unhelpful. Instead, considering adopting some stress-relieving activities. These are tools that can help your body recover from stress and may even reduce your reaction to a stressful situation. Meditation is a great one, but many of us resist it at first (myself included, but now I’m a huge fan). Try the free app “Headspace” for easy 10-min meditations that can teach you all about the process. I found this app helpful even after years of meditating. Gentle exercise, like a walk in nature. Being in nature will immediately reduce all of your stress hormones. There’s something magical about trees, so try to find nature if you can. In Japan, they call it “forest bathing”. A 15-30 min walk each day can make a big difference in your stress level. Watch your worries - your body feels stressed out when you’re in the middle of a stressful situation and when you worry or think about it later. Look at the thoughts that run through your head day-to-day and try to release them. Meditation can help with this.
Important nutrientsThis is a good time for a checkup with your doctor. Of women of child-bearing age, 26 percent are iron deficient. Low B12 levels may cause pregnancy problems.<2> Low Vitamin D levels may also affect fertility. These levels can all be tested through a simple blood test. A good pre-natal multivitamin should be started before you’re pregnant, and extra iron, folate, and magnesium might be needed too.
Eat a healthy dietHave you been thinking about adopting a healthier diet but just didn’t have the motivation? Well, now is the time! You don’t need to be following a vegan, vegetarian, or a paleo diet. Just eat a healthy diet filled with whole foods like fruits, veggies, healthy fat, and protein. Increase the whole foods in your diet and let them squish out all the highly processed/high sugar foods. Your body will thank you with more energy and glowing skin!
Watch your creams and lotionsWe absorb a lot of the chemicals from our skin care products through our skin, including some that can affect your hormones and may promote infertility in both men<3> and women<4>. Check out your local health food store for clean skin care products or visit www.EWG.org to see how your favorite products rank. They’ve tested thousands of products and ranked them from the best to the worst for your health.
Balance your gut bacteriaDuring a vaginal birth, you pass along your bacteria to your baby. This first inoculation begins the important process of creating their microbiome. The health of your microbiome determines the health of theirs. Eating a diet filled with plant-based fiber—like fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds—along with a good quality probiotic supplement is key. Flora’s Women’s Care Probiotic (US/CA) was specifically formulated just for you! It contains strains of bacteria that can help balance your gut bacteria, your vaginal flora, and even help to balance your hormones. This is a great time to get your health in tip-top shape so you can enjoy this amazing process as much as possible!
Lisa Kilgour is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN), founder of LisaKilgour.com, and a faculty member at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.<1> https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28333357 <2> https://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20090302/birth-defects-linked-to-low-vitamin-b12#1 <3> https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-parabens-male-fertility/common-chemicals-in-cosmetics-soaps-tied-to-poor-semen-quality-idUSKCN1AX2C0 <4> https://www.ewg.org/research/teen-girls-body-burden-hormone-altering-cosmetics-chemicals/cosmetics-chemicals-concern#.WtoV_i8ZOu4