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Preconception Nutrition - why + when?

One thing about Motherhood that I know for sure is this - you

are not in control of much. Not much at all!

However, before the transition to Motherhood - there is something you can control and change for the better. Your health!

Preconception care has a large impact on your pregnancy and your baby's health.

The most critical period of time for nutrition is 2 months before conceiving. However, we all conceive at different times. There is no guarantee for everyone to fall pregnant 2 months after deciding they want a baby.

This is why I believe, if you have made the decision you want to start a family - then your time for preconception care begins Now.

Now is time to get in touch with me, or someone else who works in Preconception Nutrition who can help you with what pathology tests to have, to analyse your diet, to assist with meal planning, nutrition status, support medications/past medication side effects, to coach you through changes and new habits.

Preconception care is important as there are many essential nutrients your body and your baby requires for a healthy pregnancy, and to help reduce pregnancy risks. Body composition is another important factor for conception. A healthy body weight will have a higher chance of conception. Studies suggest women with a BMI of >27 had 3.1 times the risk of infertility compared with women with a BMI of 20-25.

Obesity at conception increases the likelihood of pregnancy issues such as gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, induced labor and cesarean section.

Women who are underweight (BMI 19 and under), will often have low birth weight infants and her preconception weight can put the mother at risk of preterm birth. In addition, women with low body weight are at a higher risk of developing anaemia in pregnancy. Often women with body composition of body fat 17-20% will have issues with ovulation and menstruation, thus are struggling to conceive.

During the preconception phase, there is an opportunity to get your iron levels, B12 and folate at an optimal level for growth and development of your baby. Not only is this crucial, but many women who end up with shocking morning sickness, or even worse, hyperemesis gravidarum (hg) are unable to swallow any supplements. So your stores before conceiving will be critical! Folate levels are most important during first trimester, studies have confirmed folate is required to reduce the risks of neural tube defects.

Iron levels are also crucial in the early stages of pregnancy. Once you conceive, your heart has extra work to do. So much so, it grows by 12% (!) As the haemodilution increases, your iron requirements rise significantly from 18mg/day to 27mg/day. It can be extrapolated that a woman who had low iron in her first trimester, will typically have low iron come third trimester. So not only is iron important during preconception phase, but important to be mindful of during the entire conception journey.

I recommend never self prescribing. If you are taking any medications, the best person to speak with about this and your plan to conceive, is your GP. It is your GP who will advise you if you need to be on a different dose for safety, or if your meds require anything extra for pregnancy such as folate (this is particularly true if you're on epilepsy medication).

There are SO many prenatal vitamins out there. I have gone through them to find the BEST and whilst there are loads to choose from, I have selected 3 that I prefer to prescribe to my clients. This is something I can talk more about with you in a 15 min discovery call.

The take home message -

If you want to start trying for a baby, the best time to start caring for your nutrition and health is now.

Give yourself a minimum of 2 months before starting to try, once you have been correcting nutrient deficiencies and optimising your health status.

Want to know more? Book your free 15 minute discovery call.

Yours in Optimal Health

Jennalea x

References -

Zimmerman, M 2001, Burgerstein's handbook of nutrition: micronutrients in the prevention and therapy of disease. Thieme, Stuttgart, Germany.

Mahan, L Escott-Stump, S 2008, Krause’s Food & Nutrition Therapy, 12th ed. Saunders Elsevier, Canada

Kumar, P. & Clark, M. 2009. Clinical medicine. 7th ed. Saunders Elsevier, Edinburgh

Shils ME Shike, M Ross, CA Caballero, B & Cousins, RJ 2006, Modern nutrition in health and disease. 10th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore.

Stazi, AV & Mantovani, A 2002, ‘A risk factor for female fertility and pregnancy: celiac disease.’ Gynecological endocrinology, Vol. 14, No. 6, pp. 454-63.

Huang, H. L., Zhou, H., Wang, N., & Yu, C. Y. (2016). Effects of antiepileptic drugs on the serum folate and vitamin B12 in various epileptic patients. Biomedical reports, 5(4), 413–416.

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