Planning for Pregnancy
Making the decision to have a baby is exciting. While some babies are conceived with ease, other miracles take a little more time to create.
It’s important to talk to your doctor and prepare your body for pregnancy to create a healthy environment for your fetus and prevent birth defects and other pregnancy related problems.
Pregnancy planning should include;
- Check for diabetes, high blood pressure, anaemia, kidney disorders, thyroid diseases, and heart problems
- Tests to determine immunity against diseases such as measles and chicken pox which can lead to severe birth defects in babies
- Blood tests to check for hepatitis-B
- Review of current medications
- Check for hereditary disorders including haemophilia, sickle cell anaemia, cystic fibrosis, and thalassemia
There are many key nutrients and vitamins important for fertility and pregnancy.
Studies have shown that vitamins can improve fertility in both men and women and certain nutrients and vitamins are vital in maintaining healthy ovulation and sperm production.
Ovulation can be affected by deficiencies in vitamin A, vitamin B6, essential fatty acids, zinc, magnesium and anti-oxidants resulting in an imbalance in hormone production and decreased liklihood of conception.
Specific vitamins high in anti-oxidants improve sperm function by decreasing the DNA fragmentation.
Make sure you and your partner get all the vitamins and nutrients the body needs for healthy ovulation and sperm production.
The most important ingredients to look out for in a pre-conception and pregnancy vitamin formulae are:
- Folic acid: a vital ingredient to help lower the risk of spina bifida
- Iodine and fish oil: important for the development of a babies brain
Practising a healthy diet is very important before pregnancy and you truly can eat to increase your chances of conception:
- Steer away from processed foods and choose foods in their natural state
- Try and buy free range meat
- Eat fresh, organic food whenever possible
- Eat fruits and vegetables in a wide variety of colours
- Try to balance your intake to 55% complex carbohydrates, 30% fat, and 15% protein
- Drink 2 litres of water a day (herbal teas are okay)
- Swap simple carbohydrates like white bread, white flour, cakes, pastry, biscuits and white rice with complex carbohydrates like apples, pears, peaches, plums, brown rice and wholegrain bread
- Eat plenty of essential fats (omega3, omega6 and omega9) found in olive oil, oily fish, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds
- Oily fish examples include mackerel, salmon, herrings and sardines
- Fill up on good sources of essential protein including chicken, low fat yoghurt, milk, fish, cottage cheese, baked beans, kidney beans, eggs, tofu and avocado
- Try to chose non-fat dairy products and avoid ice-cream
- Great low GI foods include – apples, plums, pears, peaches, cherries, apricot, grapefruits, all pulses such as lentils and chick peas, green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, mushrooms, onions, garlic, asparagus and wholegrain or rye bread, nuts, and oat biscuits
Things to avoid:
- Caffeine (no more than 2 cups of coffee a day)
- Caffeinated and/or carbonated sodas
- Orange juice
- Alcohol (no more than 5 standard drinks a week)
- Smoking and illicit drugs
- Refined carbohydrates
- Artificial sugars
- High GI foods: French fries, white rice, sugar, honey chocolate, sugared cereals, rice cakes, white bread and rice and pasta, baked potatoes, carrots, parsnip and sweet potatoes
Your weight can affect ovulation and sperm production. For your best chance to conceive, your BMI should be between 20-25 for both males and females. Stay motivated, you really can do it with a healthy eating plan and regular exercise!
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