Preconception plans – why should we do this?
Is Preconception a New Idea?
Preconception is not a new idea. It has been around as early as the Roman Empire times, even though it may have been more basic, such as not drinking alcohol and the same occurred for newlyweds in Greece too. They knew that alcohol would have an effect on a foetus. There are references in the bible too, about avoiding alcohol and clean eating, so it is definitely not a new idea.
More than 60 years ago showed the importance of eating a whole and raw food diet, and this helped achieve the best reproductive outcomes. Plenty of studies have been done of animals with deficiencies of certain nutrients too, and with these deficiencies came malformations. A nutrient deficient mother could have a lengthy and difficult labour.
Foresight is a UK based association for the promotion of preconception care, and over the last 18 years it has shown that the months preceding conception, if both parents eat a nutritious diet, follow a healthy lifestyle avoid environmental toxins and infections, it will improve their fertility. Not only will it do this, but it will decrease the risk of miscarriage, premature birth or stillbirth, or giving the baby a congenital defect.
Are there any studies which demonstrate the effectiveness of preconception health care?
There have been studies conducted by Foresight in conjunction with Surrey University, and published in The Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine 1995. Although there may not be many studies done, the results are defiantly well worth the work. There is plenty of clinical work offering significant results, and even though as of yet, there are no exact statistics, work is underway to assess the overall effectiveness of these.
What are the benefits of preconception health care?
The benefits of preconception health care are endless! This is the ultimate form of preventive medicine that we can practise. The benefit of preconception care means you will be more likely to have a successful healthy pregnancy, with less morning sickness, digestive issues, aches and pains and sleepless nights. An easy non-prolonged birth, with less complications or need for a medical intervention. A baby that is happy, sleeps well and feeds well. Baby will be alert and happy. In effect a “better baby!”
What are the most important aspects of preconception health care?
The best time for preconception health care is 3-4 months, and during this time the following things will be addressed:
- Improving nutritional status though eating a well-balanced wholefoods and vegetable high diet, reducing processed foods and additives.
- Improving your lifestyle with activities and exercise.
- Cleaning up the environment that you live and potentially work in, this could involve a detox aspect.
- Supporting your body to detoxify and become a healthier functioning hormonally balanced body.
- Staying positive and stress free is a very important part of preconception plans.
- Feeling in control of your body and choices, planning a conscious conception.
How long before an expected pregnancy should we practice preconception health care? Why?
As mentioned above, ideally it is best to practise preconception health care for 3-4 months, and longer if you can.
Sperm take 16 weeks to mature and the ovum (egg) approximately 14 weeks. If one or both of the parents have hormonal or sperm health issues, you need this time and sometimes longer to correct these issues. During this time both the sperm and the ovum could be affected by many different aspects in our lives, and could lead to many health concerns such as asthma, skin conditions, and some more serious conditions too. Therefore spending the time to plan and be as healthy as we can be, will be the best gift you can give yourselves and your baby.
When working with Fertility clients, I need to work with the couple, and they will both receive a plan to help support their personal requirements with preconception, and together as a couple for a healthy lifestyle and environment too.