What is preconception care and do I need it?
Preconception care is mindfully optimising your health, and the health of your partner in preparation for conception. I always think that if people spent half as much time focusing on pre-conception care as they did planning their wedding, we would have healthier children. Of course, there are always ‘surprise babies’ and in this case you accept the gift without worry, but honestly this is important. It is now widely accepted that lifestyle factors significantly influence fertility, pregnancy and birth including age, illnesses, medications, environmental toxins, recreational drugs, nutrient deficiencies and weight problems. Also, this is not the sole responsibility of the woman, it takes two to tango and men contribute to between 30-50% of infertility cases.
How long does preconception care take?
The optimal time to undertake pre-conception care is 3-4 months. Eggs begin to mature 3 months prior to ovulation and sperm take 72 days to develop. Therefore your diet and lifestyle over the past 3-4 months has determined your current reproductive cell quality today. There may be instances when a longer time frame is recommended including ceasing the oral contraceptive pill prior to conception, pre-existing hormonal conditions or chronic disease or recent exposure to toxic environments or substances.
What does preconception care involve?
Preconception care may include dietary changes to ensure adequate nutrient intake of specific vitamins and minerals that are essential for fertility, or avoiding foods known to cause harm. It may include lifestyle changes to reduce stress and optimise overall wellbeing to support ovulation and conception. Often an environmental detox is necessary to reduce exposure to hazardous substances and behaviours. A naturopath may suggest pathology testing and supplementation of specific nutrients or herbs to optimise egg and sperm health, the uterine environment and be available for foetal development. And, let’s not forget emotional support and connection for the parents-to-be, this is a special time in your life as a couple.