Pre-Conception Prep – What Difference Does it Make?
We should spend as much time and thought preparing for pregnancy, as we do preparing for, and thinking about, our wedding! You are making a complete tiny human. Stop and ponder this for just one minute. Whether you are a man or a woman, what you put into your body, and what you leave out, especially for the 3-6 months before conception, matters.
Fertility itself cannot be taken for granted anymore. The rate of infertility has never been higher. Twelve percent of all women between 15-44 years of age have difficulty achieving or maintaining pregnancy long enough to deliver a living child (CDC). While infertility may now be common, it is not “normal.” Remember, the health of our reproductive cells is a direct reflection of the health of ALL of our body’s cells! Health fertility means overall health!
Is this just a female problem? No! According to the CDC (a very conservative estimate) in 35% of infertile couples, male factors are identified as part of the problem and in 8% male factors are the entire problem. Not only are male factors a big part of a couple’s fertility, but they also greatly affect the health of the pregnancy. Quality of sperm is as much a part of male fertility as quantity! Not only do men have to have abundant numbers of little swimmers, the swimmers need to be as healthy (not having fragmented DNA) as possible, for a healthy child to result. Fathers have the awesome responsibility to contribute 50% of the lifelong genetic potential of the child. If this was not enough, it is now known that the health of the sperm is as much a factor in miscarriages as the health of the egg is.
We are waiting longer than ever to start our families. One third of mothers age 35+ have fertility problems. This now applies to 20% of all pregnancies in the US. Older parents have more health challenges in general and more chronic disease. Age affects fertility and increases DNA fragmentation in both sperm and eggs. Improving health, prior to attempting to conceive a child, can reduce the risk of many health conditions in both parents and child!
Never before in human history have we been subjected to so many toxins. Our bodies have to deal with over 85,000 registered new chemicals which were unknown 100 years ago, not to mention the multitude of unregistered chemicals, and the combinations of various chemicals (which may exponentially increase risk more than the sum of their parts.) The digital revolution subjects us to massive daily EMF exposure. We have more chronic health conditions and more chronic stress than ever before. After several generations of processed food and demineralized chemically treated soil, we are less equipped to deal with all these assaults. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed but there is hope!
What if I told you that there is MUCH you can do to counteract or even reverse this negative picture? The good news is that you are more in control than you know. Not only can you give your baby the best possible start; you can prepare yourself for an easier pregnancy, birth and postpartum. You can give yourself a leg up on breastfeeding and prepare to be a strong healthy parent. Give yourself grace and time to make changes. Don’t stress and don’t forget to recognize and celebrate what you do right. There is no wrong way to make a positive change.
Here are my top five self-care tips for giving yourself and your baby the best possible future:
- Start by eating whole, unprocessed, nutrient dense foods, in as close to a natural state as possible. Eat lots of colors and variety. Take the time to stop, enjoy and thoroughly chew your food. Read labels. If you can’t pronounce it don’t eat it! Avoid GMO’s and pesticides like glyphosphate, by buying organic as much as possible. Low and slow is the best cooking method.
- Make your home a haven from toxins. Check out www.ewg.org for tips on buying the least toxic food and personal care products. Get fresh air into your home whenever possible. Change furnace filters often. Use an air filter, especially at night while sleeping. Turn off electronics at night. Vacuum with a HEPA vacuum bag to remove toxic particles.
- Drink lots of pure water. This simple, free step will revitalize your body, carry away toxic substances and help balance hormones. Aim for half the number of ounces of water per day as pounds of body weight. A good water filter is an excellent investment. Check out: http://www.nsf.org/newsroom/why-is-finding-a-water-filter-so-complicated-weve-got-the-answers for more information on choosing a filter.
- Get the sleep of your dreams! Sleep is when the body repairs all the damage of the day. With good sleep you have more leeway in other aspects of your health. Without good sleep, everything else is an uphill battle. Sleep needs are individual, but almost everyone needs at least 7 hours a night of solid restful sleep (not counting time to actually go to sleep.) Go to bed at a consistent time and get up at a consistent time each day. Make sure your bedroom is dark and cool for best sleep.
- Exercise! Aim for at least 30 minutes of brisk activity at least 4 times a week. Try to find something you enjoy and grab a buddy to work out with. Sweating is a great way to eliminate toxins and prepare for the stress of pregnancy and parenthood. Start slowly and work up, but don’t overdo it. Over exercising decreases fertility. Do not do strenuous exercise within 2 hours of bedtime. Frequent movement may be even more important than regular exercise, so get up, stretch and/or walk around once every hour for a minute or two.
The greatest gift a parent can give their child is the gift of health. Pre-Conception health care is the ultimate preventative health care. It has the ability to positively affect not only the child and the parents, but many generations to come. Even small steps can pay off in big rewards!