What To Know About Nutrition & Preconception
December 30, 2022
Let’s take a look at the role of nutrition in the preconception phase and what women can be doing to optimize their health!
Women who are beginning a fertility journey are put in a position of having to be very delicate and careful with their physical health. Doctors will run many tests to learn about their current health status, will prescribe supplements, and encourage women to stay in “tip top shape” to maximize potential for conception.
I will take a minute here to emphasize that when it comes to fertility, it takes two to tango. And although the woman will be the one to carry the child – the father’s health is just as important in this journey and should be addressed along with the mother’s.
With that being said, there is no one prescribed nutrition path of care for women wishing to get pregnant. The advice is usually to maintain a healthy body weight, take a prenatal vitamin, eat a well-rounded and balanced diet, and stay active. Nothing drastically different from the general nutrition advice you may receive at any point in adulthood. But that does not mean that optimal nutrition does not play a big role at this time.
So what can women concentrate on, nutritionally, during preconception to optimize their health and chances for pregnancy?
- Healthy lifestyle & diverse diet. The aim is to avoid being undernourished or overnourished. Establishing a healthy lifestyle and routine is going to benefit you from day 1 of this journey. This is easier said than done and requires motivation and effort. Start by focusing on food choices. It’s easy to get into a food intake pattern where we are eating the same things every day, with little change. But we benefit more from eating a wide range of foods. The diversity in our diets gives our body the chance to be exposed to many nutrients we need. So take the time to shake it up, and create an eclectic menu with all your favorites.
- Prenatal supplement. The reason it is recommended to take prenatals is to ensure that we are giving our body what it needs to function at its best and so our bodies are ready for pregnancy. Since pregnancy can start unexpectedly we want our bodies to be ready and part of being ready means giving the mom and fetus what it needs from the jump. The big micronutrient focus is on folic acid and vitamin B12, iron, zinc, and vitamin B6. More to come on each of these!
- Be prepared. There are many food and drink rules that are highly suggested to be followed when pregnant, for the safety of mom and baby during that time. Before pregnancy it’s recommended to start preparing for these practices or even begin them. Such as limiting caffeine and herbal tea intake, avoiding alcohol, watching out for undercooked animal products and unpasteurized foods, and eliminating high mercury seafood. To name a few!
- Physical activity. Need for movement is important at any stage of life. It cannot be stressed enough how impactful an active lifestyle is on the health of any individual. At a time when peak health status is needed, consistent physical activity becomes a priority ingredient. Often people will get into a routine and then lose momentum when it comes to fitness. I always say, find the activity you like – because that’s the one you are least likely to lose interest with. Make movement a priority.
- See a professional. No one expects healthcare to be navigated alone. And although at times it can feel like healthcare is inaccessible – there are more and more systems being put into place to change this. New and expecting Moms especially should feel they can rely on the healthcare system to help them during this time. Dietitians are an excellent resource to work with and support you through this journey. To learn more about what Dining With Nature offers – take a look at our Services page.
Preconception is an emotional and delicate time for any woman on a pregnancy journey. Worrying about your health at this time is completely understandable but it should not have to feel like a burden. Concentrate on building a healthy lifestyle that works for you and your family. Explore all your favorite foods, mix it up! Be prepared for pregnancy by taking the right prenatal vitamins and focusing on food safety measures. Experiment with different forms of fitness that you enjoy. And don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional for help and support!