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Pregnancy and Pre-conception Nutrition

Nutrition_Specialties_Pregnancy_and_Pre-conception_NutritionThere is solid evidence showing that the health of a baby is linked strongly to the health of the mother.  Preconception care involves increasing healthy behaviours of both parents and their living environment and lifestyles, resulting in the optimal health of your baby.

As a naturopathic nutritionist, Shelly addresses the whole person when it comes to preconception nutrition.  This means supporting couples in their goal to have a child, by addressing not just dietary requirements which will optimise their chances of conceiving, but also addresses risk factors and lifestyle changes associated with smoking, alcohol, caffeine intake, body mass and stress as well as diet.  As well as ensuring all key nutrients are being supplied by the diet, Shelly will also address any high risk conditions such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, hormone imbalances, thyroid imbalances, possible necessary weight reduction or endometriosis. Some women may even need to gain a little weight to improve fertility.   All these conditions would be taken into consideration when forming a preconception  plan, as they all can affect fertility.

The preconception plan will also cover exercise.  Moderation is very important.  Too little or too much exercise can affect fertility rates negatively.  Reducing stress is also important, and this may be suggested on a daily basis, using different methods depending on what the individual finds relaxing, but may also include the suggestion of a holiday or even simple daily stress reduction techniques such as music therapy, exercise, yoga or meditation.

The preconception plan would also cover the importance of increasing your chances of fertility by avoiding all contact with herbicides, fungicides, pesticides and other chlorinated hydrocarbons which have been associated with miscarriage and infertility. Activities that include exposure to dust or paint, or paint thinners whilst carrying out home renovations, should be avoided.   For tradesmen, masks and protective clothing need to be worn.

Particular nutrients will need to be added to the diet after the first consultation. Folic acid prevents neural tube defects. This needs to be taken in the 1st 28 days of gestation (and so much be taken before conceiving),  B12 also needs to be added to the diet before conception to prevent neural tube defects.

In men some particular nutrients improve fertility such as CoQ10, and other nutrients such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Beta carotene, folate and zinc are required for improved semen quality.

Dietary requirements during pregnancy include foods that need to be included but also foods that need to be avoided, as some foods can carry bacteria that may be harmful to the foetus.

The main nutrients that will be included in your pre-conception and pregnancy diet are:-

DHA, Vitamin A, Folate, Vitamin B12, Biotin, Calcium, Chromium, Iodine, Iron and Zinc.

Some foods/drinks that need to be avoided are:-

Alcohol

Large fish such as swordfish, mackerel and tuna (due to possible mercury content in large fish)

Due to Listeria, which can cause spontaneous abortion, stillbirth and fetal infection, women must avoid undercooked or raw animal products, smoked foods, pate, meat spreads and soft cheeses as well as unwashed fruit and vegetables.

Caffeine consumption will be monitored as high levels have been associated with low weight babies

Some dietary changes have been directly associated with fertility such as substituting animal protein with vegetable protein in women who are seeking to get pregnant.  Similarly, having low fat dairy sources instead of full fat, and intakes of trans fats, seems to be linked to higher rates of anovulatory  infertility.

Your individually designed diet would include high amounts of antioxidants from a fresh food source daily, and good protein sources such as meats and fish (if eaten),  cheese, eggs, tofu.  Good wholegrain carbohydrates sources would be routinely recommended.

Improve the likelihood of your infant’s health at birth by being healthy yourself.  Shelly will provide the diet and the advice.  It’s simple and easy to follow.

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