Nutrition and Trying to Conceive
There are certain things to ask yourself before considering having a child, and whether it is your husband or partner in life, there are certain things to consider.
Are You Eating Properly?
The health we are in before pregnancy can certainly have a negative or positive effect on our bodies. Are we eating right? Have you spoken with your ob-gyn about the possibility of losing or even having to gain any weight? Should you begin an exercise and nutrition program? Are you getting enough folic acid, fiber and other nutrients in your body?
Your doctor may want you to change your eating habits, start exercising - even begin taking prenatal vitamins. These things will help to ensure not just your baby - but YOU are getting all of the nutrients you need.
When Do I Begin To Change My Diet?
As soon as you can, begin to eat a more healthy and well-balanced diet. In preparation for pregnancy, four months before conception is a good time to start to eat healthier. Begin weaning your body off of caffeine products like coffee, chocolate, and soda. Try to eliminate smoking (including second-hand smoke) and alcohol from your life….even artificial sweeteners. If your doctor suggests taking a vitamin supplement - don't wait - take them, but in addition to eating a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Why Do I Have To Give Up Coffee?
Health studies have shown that increased amounts of caffeine do indeed lower a woman's chance of conceiving, and she doesn't necessarily have to drink more than a couple of cups per day. It is thought that the stimulant in coffee affects a woman's ovulation - yet will help your partner's sperm mobility - because it changes hormone levels, which directly affect trying to conceive. Be careful of hidden caffeine if foods like Mountain Dew and pain relievers such as Anacin and Excedrin. Read your labels!
What Else Should I Stop?If you are smoking, drinking and/or doing drugs it is imperative that you stop. These are all things that are detrimental to the health of your unborn baby, and you should discuss with your doctor the best way to handle these lifestyle issues and how they will affect your pregnancy.
Do I need any specific things in my diet?
Foods low in fat, high in fiber should be on the top of your list when eating healthy. Folic acid is also important, and your body should be taking in no less than 400 mcg per day. Good sources of folic acid or vitamin B are your prenatal vitamins, dark leafy veggies, fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, and other citrus, nuts, beans, wheat bread and cereals like Cheerios. These are all excellent sources of folic acid and should become daily parts of your diet.
Supplements That Can Help Improve Your Fertility
Here are five important fertility supplements and what they do for you when you’re trying to get pregnant:
- Vitamin C. Vitamin C is an important nutrient for keeping your immune system up. There is also some evidence to suggest that Vitamin C may help out with some women who have ovulation problems.
- Folic acid. Not only is folic acid an important building block that your body is going to need when your baby is growing, but it can also help with your partner’s sperm count and sperm motility.
- Vitamin E. For men, vitamin E may help out when there is a low sperm count situation, as well. It can also be beneficial for a woman when she’s trying to get pregnant.
- Black Cohosh. Black Cohosh, as well as Blue Cohosh to a lesser extent, are thought to be able to help with the production and functioning of hormones. There is some evidence to suggest that they aren’t especially safe during pregnancy, however, and so you should only take blue or black cohosh during the first part of your cycle, prior to ovulation.
- Evening Primrose Oil. This essential oil is thought to help the functioning of the cervical mucus and therefore help with fertility. Here again, this one should be only used during the first portion of your cycle, before you ovulate, as it may cause contractions of the uterus.
What exactly are prenatal vitamins?
Prenatal vitamins are vitamins your OBGYN will prescribe to pregnant women. If you are actively trying to conceive, then tell your doctor and they will most likely get you started on them as well. These are multivitamins containing larger amounts of iron, calcium and folic acid. Taking multivitamins will not match what your prenatal vitamins contain, since women who are pregnant need greater amounts of specific vitamins, especially folic acid. Included in the vitamins listed above, your prenatal vitamins include:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Panthothenic acid
- Vitamin A
Though the FDA has no clear set guidelines regarding these vitamins, please don't discount the importance of your prenatal vitamins. They are not only for you - but help reduce your baby's risk of birth defects, like spina bifida.
Any foods I SHOULD eat?
There are no foods SCIENTIFICALLY proven to increase your chances of fertility. Except maybe one. Oysters. Some scientists recommend oysters because of its zinc content - and if you have been reading up on your fertility - you may know that zinc deficiencies hinder BOTH men and female fertility. But a well-balanced diet will do more for your overall health and fertility chances than trying to eat one or two specific foods.
Your doctor can help you pinpoint anything lacking in your diet - and it is up to you to fill those voids, and eat a healthier diet. Try a variety of foods, so you won't get bored. Try and get all your food groups in daily, including bread, vegetables, fruit, dairy and meats low in fat.
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