Are you trying to get pregnant? Are you thinking about getting pregnant in the next year or two? Well, you may be surprised to know that there is more that goes in to getting pregnant than just sperm + egg = baby. Or at least there should be.
A woman’s body goes through an incredible transformation throughout the nine months of pregnancy. It houses, grows, and feeds a baby that transforms from two microscopic cells into 6-9 pounds of bouncing baby joy, all while continuing regular bodily functions for mommy along the way. That kind of strain on a body requires preparation! If you want the healthiest baby (and mommy!) possible, there are a couple of key points you need to follow…BEFORE you conceive!
Start With The Building Blocks
A baby is literally formed from your very own cells, so you need to make sure those cells are healthy! Some key nutrients to incorporate into your daily diet include…
Fat – Fat is one of the most important substances you can be eating, both before your pregnancy and during it. Fat is good for brain and hormone development, placenta health, and just plain strong cells! So eat those good fats…like butter, olive oil, coconut oil, fish, animal fats, nuts and nut butters, avocados, and eggs! Keep away from hydrogenated or trans fats (put down that Oreo!) and refined oils, like Canola oil.
Folic Acid – Everyone knows you need folic acid when you’re pregnant, but do you know why? Folic acid is essential for rapid cell division and growth (um, hello growing fetus?). It allows the body to synthesize DNA, and in a growing fetus, it promotes proper development of the brain and central nervous system. Where can you find folic acid? Well, whole food supplements are one source. But you can also find it in abundance in leafy green vegetables, legumes, eggs, baker’s yeast, and liver meats.
Protein – Proteins are the very building blocks that will make up your baby’s body. Without protein, we would all waste away to nothing. The best proteins are complete proteins, which are found in animal meats. This includes wild-caught fish, free-range chicken and eggs, grass-fed beef and bison, and dairy products. Incomplete proteins, which are still beneficial, may be found in nuts, seeds, and beans. You may hear that soy is also a good form of protein, but do not eat it! Soy contains plant estrogens, which greatly interfere with our own hormone balance.
Eating the right nutrients is key, but it does not stand alone in preparing your body for pregnancy. Both mommy and daddy should be sure to remove as many toxins as possible at least three months before trying to conceive. This means avoiding any intake of toxins from the diet, such as alcohol, drugs, caffeine, cigarettes, artificial sweeteners, soy, trans fats, and refined oils. It may also include a detoxification program, if your clinician recommends one. Completing this detoxification at least three months prior to conception will provide a healthy environment for your baby to grow in, and will also ensure that the reserves that your body stores away to draw upon throughout your pregnancy are healthy. Early detoxification is especially important for daddy, because it takes approximately three months for spermatogenesis (or the formation of sperm) to occur.
Note: Detoxification DURING pregnancy should never be attempted unless expressly advised by your clinician and/or physician.
You’ve already heard why physical activity is important for your body (and if you haven’t, check out our Fitness page). Well, all of those benefits are passed right along to your growing baby during pregnancy. However, it’s not a good idea to begin a new fitness program when you are pregnant, because your body is not prepared for that added strain. So, now is the time to get moving!
If you do not already have a regular fitness routine, there are lots of great forms of exercise that you can begin now and continue on into pregnancy. These include walking, yoga, swimming, dancing, or anything else that gets you moving (but preferably not jumping or bouncing).
The best thing you can do to prepare for pregnancy is to tell your clinician! He or she can be sure to prioritize your program so it meets all of the above criteria, and fills in any cracks there may be in your current nutritional protocol. They will also be able to advise you on the best time to begin trying to conceive, as well as how to find the most fertile days of your cycle.