Tags: Preconception Nutrition

Important Book: Naturally Knocked Up by Donielle Baker

Naturally Knocked Up
Well-known WAPF foodie and natural fertility expert, Donielle Baker, has a newly released book on natural fertility. I’m really excited about this, friends, because (as Donielle says), going ‘natural’ doesn’t mean ‘doing nothing’.

The book is called Naturally Knocked Up (just like her blog) and covers it all.

Take a look at this title of contents:

1. Natural Fertility

2. Cleansing the Body With Whole Foods

3. Natural Living

4. Exercise for Fertility

5. Natural Family Planning

6. Real Foods

7. Super Foods for Fertility (an aside: Donielle developed our Nutritional Healing checklist on Fertility Flower which hopefully helps you incorporate more of these fertility super foods into your diet)

8. What Not to Eat

9. The ‘Perfect’ Fertility Diet

10. Alternative Therapies for Infertility

11. Stress

12. The Fertility Plan

13. Recipes and Instructions for Real Food and Natural Living

While she was writing the book, Donielle asked permission to use screenshots from Fertility Flower to illustrate points. I’m not sure if those screenshots made it to the final cut but I was happy to oblige.

Get this book as soon as you can! I’m anxiously awaiting my pre-ordered copy from Amazon.

Naturally Knocked Up Book Trailer

A Healthy Treat for the Holidays

By @YourGreenBaby

It is that time of year, a time of sweets and treats.  It is hard on the best of days for most of us to avoid sweets, so I am here to help all of you future mamas, soon to be mamas and new mamas. I have a delicious, sweet treat, which is easy to make, healthy and sure to please.

Chocolate Covered Dates

Medjool dates

Pecans (2 to 3 per date)

Dark chocolate

Sea salt (optional)

***I have not included amounts. The first time I made them, I made ten to try them out. When I make them again, I will be making about forty, for Christmas presents. So use as many dates as you need to for your needs.

Gently open the dates and remove the pits. You will be closing the date up again, so be very gentle.

Gently place 2 to 3 pecans inside each date, where the pits use to be.

Close the date and set aside.

You now need to melt the chocolate. I do this by bringing a pot of water to a boil and then reducing it to a simmer. Put chocolate in a glass bowl and put the bowl in the pot. The water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Gently stir the chocolate as it melts.

Once melted, removed from heat, and dip one half of the pecan stuffed dates in the chocolate.

Place on baking tray covered with wax paper.

When finished dipping all the dates, sprinkle with sea salt and place in the fridge for 30 to 60 minutes.

And that is it, super easy and really delicious. In fact, my inspiration for these came from Justin’s favourite holiday treat – Turtles…chocolate, pecans and caramel, I just switched out the caramel for dates, and believe it or not, it works!

Enjoy!

Kim Corrigan-Oliver is a first time mom and published author. She is a certified holistic nutritionist specializing in nutrition for mom, baby and toddler. She loves good food and to cook. And, she loves to share her passion for all of the above with those interested in learning more about feeding their babies and raising healthy happy children. For more information please check out her website at Your Green Baby.

Other posts by Kim Corrigan-Oliver

Herbs and Fertility

Nutrition Guidelines in the Preconception Period

Cosmetics and Fertility

Good Bugs – AKA Probiotics

By @YourGreenBaby

Probiotics are good bugs or bacteria that live in our digestive tract, and provide us with health benefits beyond belief. Probiotic means “for life” and research continues to discover what else these little “bugs” can do for us.

During the preconception period supporting the digestive tract with goods bugs ensures you are properly digesting and absorbing the nutrients from the nourishing foods you are eating and good bugs also support the immune system.  Better digestion, increased nutrient intake and an immune system which is functioning optimally all means a more conducive environment for conception.

Here are some other wonderful benefits of supporting the digestive tract with probiotics:

  • They improve digestion by stimulating peristalsis, the rhythmic contractions of the large intestine which help to move food through the colon.
  • They act as natural antibiotics helping to fight off bad bacteria in the gut.
  • They are responsible for the manufacturing of B vitamins and vitamin K.  B vitamins are important for energy production and vitamin K for blood clotting.  They also play a role in the absorption of minerals and the elimination of toxins.
  • Using probiotics during pregnancy is linked to a decrease in eczema and other allergies in babies.  A study from The University of Turku in Finland found pregnant women with allergies can reduce the risk of their children becoming sensitized to allergens by regularly taking ‘good’ bacteria.  In a 2008 study pregnant women were given probiotic supplements from the eighth month of pregnancy and their babies were given probiotics for 6 months. The babies were 30% less likely to develop eczema than babies who did not receive probiotic supplements.
  • Probiotics are important for immune health – believe it or not up to 80% of our immune system is located in our digestive tract.
  • Probioitcs have been shown to aid in the elimination of digestive complaints including gassiness, constipation, diarrhea and IBS.
    • Probiotics can also help to reduce symptoms of colic in your baby.  A study published in Pediatrics in January 2007 compared the results of treating colicky babies with simethicone (medication for bloating) and probiotics. The probiotics reduced symptoms in ninety five percent of babies within a week, while only seven percent of the simethicone group had a similar response. Probiotics seem to have a natural pain relieving action on the gut that aids in their usefulness for colic.

Supplementation with a good quality probiotic is suggested to ensure colonization for the digestive tract.  You can find probiotics in some food products including yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh and miso but they will not contain enough to properly colonize your gut and provide maximum benefits.

When looking for a probiotic supplement, it all comes down to numbers; that is the number of bacteria.  For overall health and to support the digestive system look for a supplement providing 9 to 12 billion bacteria per day.  The strains of bacteria you are looking for are Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum. Also look for HMF on the label, this stands for Human Microflora.

If you are new to probiotics, start slowly and build up over a few weeks to a full dose. Taking too much at once can lead to gassiness, bloating, diarrhea or constipation.  Take your probiotics after meals.

Probiotics are live bacteria; they are very sensitive to heat and should be refrigerated. Buy only from a store which keeps them in a fridge and be sure to store them in the fridge once you get them home.

Get your good bugs today!

Kim Corrigan-Oliver is a first time mom and published author. She is a certified holistic nutritionist specializing in nutrition for mom, baby and toddler. She loves good food and to cook. And, she loves to share her passion for all of the above with those interested in learning more about feeding their babies and raising healthy happy children. For more information please check out her website at Your Green Baby.

Other posts by Kim Corrigan-Oliver

Herbs and Fertility

Nutrition Guidelines in the Preconception Period

Cosmetics and Fertility

Treating Seasonal Allergies While Trying to Conceive

By @FertilityFlower

Unfortunately, when your garden starts a-bloomin’ oftentimes your allergies bloom with it. For all you allergy sufferers who are trying to conceive, remember that commonly prescribed and over-the-counter antihistamines can dry up cervical fluid which you need for baby making!

Cervical fluid functions to:

  • nourish sperm for up to 5 days
  • filter out abnormal sperm
  • make the environment within the vagina less acidic
  • provide a means for the sperm to travel through the uterus and fallopian tubes

Without it, it’s exceedingly difficult to determine your fertile phase nevermind the fact that it reduces the conduit for sperm to make their way towards the egg.

If you can avoid taking standard antihistamines, do so. Fortunately, there are some natural remedies for allergy season that won’t interfere with cervical fluid production.

#1 Avoid exposure to the allergen as much as is possible

Close windows (home and car) until the majority of the plume has passed.

#2 Neti Pots

Yes, yes…we all hate them but they work at ridding your nasal passages of the tiny, prickly sea urchin-like pollen particles. Use your neti pot twice daily, flushing your nasal passages with salt water (especially after time spent outside)

#3 Stock your pantry with allergy-fighting foods rich in Omega-3s

Cold-water fish, flaxseed, walnuts are all good sources. You can also use Cod Liver Oil supplements (which have the added benefit of actually improving the quality of your cervical fluid). Stick to between 20,000 and 30,000 UI per day, particularly if you are trying to conceive!

#4 Stinging Nettles

Stinging nettles actually inhibit the production of histamine (which is causing your eyes, nose and every other orifice to leak right now). It’s God’s antihistamine! It comes in capsule form, 300mg, and will provide some relief (albeit temporary). You can also drink it as tea or in a tincture.

#5 Raw Honey

Raw, unprocessed honey contains 90% of the pollens, dusts and molds that are causing your allergies in the first place. A teaspoon of raw honey, daily, is like a natural  allergy shot.

So, those are just a few natural options for treating seasonal allergies that won’t hinder cervical fluid production.

What natural remedies have you had success with?

How to Build a (Preconception) Smoothie

By @YourGreenBaby

Smoothies are delicious, nutritious and a great addition to any woman’s preconception program. They are a fabulous way to start your day and a fantastic way to squeeze in a wide variety of super foods important for fertility and in trying to get pregnant.

Here are a few tips to building a super powered smoothie:

First and foremost you need liquid. Liquid can be milk (cow, goat, sheep, almond, rice or soy), water, juice or chilled herbal tea (think red raspberry leaf, nettle or red clover). I highly recommend avoiding soy milk and if using cow’s milk, choose raw.

Second, you need some fruit. Bananas are excellent at helping to make smoothies creamy. Berries provide a nutrient punch as well as some sweetness. Melons, peaches, mangoes, apples, pears and so on have all been used successfully in our morning smoothies. Start off with two or three fruits you like and then work on creating new combinations to tickle your taste buds in the morning.

Third, add some leafy greens. Don’t panic; you won’t even know they are in there, I promise. The sweetness of the fruit hides the taste of leafy greens. This is a great way to get a serving of leafy greens into your day. Spinach, kale, Swiss chard, sunflower sprouts, pea shoots and buckwheat sprouts have all been added to our smoothies (not all on the same day of course).

Fourth, add some healthy fats to support fertility. This is easily done by adding some flax seed or hemp seed oil. I don’t recommend adding fish oil to your smoothie – unless you enjoy the taste of a fishy tasting smoothie.

Fifth, add some super foods to boost the nutrients. You can add chia seeds, hemp seeds, ground flax seeds, goji berries, bee pollen, nut butters, seed butters, blackstrap molasses or raw cacao to name a few.

And that’s it, yes there are many other things you can add; that is the great thing about smoothies – you are the creator, so use your imagination, be creative and experiment to find the one you like the best.

A few tips to help you get started:

1) Frozen fruit works very well, helps to thicken the smoothie and give it a milkshake consistency.

2) Always use organic fruit and vegetables, and organic milks to avoid chemicals used in our food production.

3) If your smoothie is too thick, add a bit of water and blend again.

4) Try the following basic smoothie recipe and then begin experimenting to discover new and exciting smoothie recipes.

Your Green Baby Nutrient Blast Smoothie

1 cup milk of your choice, herbal tea (nettle, red raspberry, red clover blossom would be great choices), water, juice or combination

1 tbsp ground flax seeds

1 tbsp blackstrap molasses

1 tbsp bee pollen

¼ cup frozen blueberries

5 frozen strawberries or raspberries

1 banana

Handful of goji berries

1 large handful of spinach or other greens – kale, Swiss chard, etc

Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth. Add more liquid, if necessary, to thin to desired consistency.

***Note: not only for breakfast, feel free to enjoy as a quick and tasty afternoon snack as well.

Got a favourite smoothie recipe? Feel free to share it – the more ideas the better!

Other posts by Kim Corrigan-Oliver

Herbs and Fertility

Nutrition Guidelines in the Preconception Period

The Importance of Preparing For The Journey

Kim Corrigan-Oliver is a first time mom. She is a certified holistic nutritionist specializing in nutrition for mom, baby and toddler. She loves good food and to cook. And, she loves to share her passion for all of the above with those interested in learning more about feeding their babies and raising healthy happy children. For more information please check out her website at Your Green Baby.

Supplement Protocol for PCOS

By @YourGreenBaby

Last month I mentioned three important aspects to dealing with PCOS; the first is to understand each woman is different and unique, second it is necessary to focus on the whole person not just the syndrome and third improving the foundation of health and well being is most important (you can read that post here). We cannot take a one size fits all approach, we cannot treat the symptoms; we must treat the root cause. The symptoms indicate something is wrong or out of balance, we must determine the root of the problem and work to heal that, only then will the symptoms fade. In this process we must also understand the foundation of a women’s health today is not only her future health and wellness, but it is also the health and wellness of her future children. Supporting the foundation with nourishing foods, exercise and supplements is important.

Relaxed doctor holding a green apple and vitamins photo

When added to the dietary and lifestyle suggestions from last month the following supplement suggestions can play a role in dealing with PCOS:

Multivitamin

A multivitamin is the foundation of any health and wellness program. Women with PCOS may have deficiencies in many minerals and vitamins so supplementation with a high quality multivitamin is important.

Chromium

Chromium helps to maintain normal blood sugar and insulin levels.  It plays a role in carbohydrate metabolism by participating in the formation of a compound called glucose tolerance factor (GTF). GTF increases the action of insulin.

In order for glucose (sugar) to enter the cells insulin much attach to receptors on the surface of cells, GTF initiates this attachment. This attachment “opens the doors” and allows glucose into the cell.

Since the majority of women with PCOS are insulin resistance chromium may play a positive role in addressing this syndrome.

NOTE: If you are currently taking medication for insulin resistance please consult your health care provider before use; chromium can increase the effectiveness for your medication causing your blood sugar to lower too much.

B Vitamins

The B vitamins are necessary and play an important role in energy production, fat burning and hormone balancing.  They also help the liver to process and excrete excess hormones from the body.

Zinc

Zinc play a role in appetite control, is involved in all aspects of insulin metabolism, is necessary for hormones to work effectively and helps ensure insulin works correctly.

A deficiency of zinc has been linked to insulin resistance.

Zinc deficiency is common today due to depletion of this important mineral from the soil. If there is little to no zinc in the soil, then the food grown on that soil will also be deficient.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a role in normal blood sugar metabolism.  A study in 2006 at the Center for Metabolic and Endocrine Diseases in Germany concluded some women with polycystic ovary syndrome had sub-optimal levels of vitamin D.  Low vitamin D has also been clearly linked to insulin resistance and obesity.

In 1992 a study by the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition found that vitamin D supplementation improved glucose tolerance, insulin secretion, and insulin sensitivity in diabetics.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

One of the essential fatty acids (EFAs), we must get this from our diet. EFAs are an important component of the cell membrane around every cell in the body, they are a major component of hormones, they help control inflammation in the body, they help control the stress response in the body, they play a role in the functioning of our immune system and reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and depression, among other roles. Supporting the body with essential fatty acids is important for women dealing with PCOS.

This is by no means a complete list, but supplements I feel are very important in dealing with PCOS and it is a place to start. As I have mentioned every woman is different and a one size fits all approach won’t work, I do suggest taking the time to speak with your health care provider or consult a holistic nutritionist or naturopathic doctor about the best protocol for you.

A question often asked at the onset of dealing with PCOS is how long it will take for changes to occur.  This is a difficult question to answer as every woman is different. Initial changes are great motivators and often go unnoticed – more energy, sleeping better, a decrease in cravings for junk foods, weight loss, etc.  These changes can begin occurring as early as three to four weeks after changing your habits.

Other changes such as the balancing of hormones, return of your menstrual cycle, a decrease in hair growth, acne clearing up will take a little longer. The key is to keep in mind is you are on the right track to restoring and rebalancing your body, the changes will happen, but it will take time. Be patient and success will happen.

Next month I will discuss how supporting the liver can play a role in dealing with PCOS.

Resources:

Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A Balch

The Canadian Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Sherry Torkos, B.Sc. Phm.

www.ovarian-cysts-pcos.com

This is one in a series of posts on the topic of PCOS. Be sure to check out our other posts on the topic:

Understanding PCOS and Recommendations for Nutrition and Lifestyle

The Liver and PCOS

And other posts by Kim Corrigan-Oliver

Herbs and Fertility

Nutrition Guidelines in the Preconception Period

The Importance of Preparing For The Journey

Kim Corrigan-Oliver is a first time mom. She is a certified holistic nutritionist specializing in nutrition for mom, baby and toddler.  She loves good food and to cook. And, she loves to share her passion for all of the above with those interested in learning more about feeding their babies and raising healthy happy children.  For more information please check out her website at Your Green Baby.

Nutrition Guidelines for the Preconception Period

By @YourGreenBaby

Last month I discussed the importance of preparing for the journey of pregnancy and why that preparation is important.  In this post, which is an excerpt from the book I am currently writing on raising happy healthy babies, I will go over some specific nutritional guidelines for the preconception period.  Nutrition is important during the preconception period for two reasons; the first to create the best environment for conception to take place and second to prepare the body for the demands of pregnancy.

The following are some important nutritional considerations:

Include large amounts of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables provide minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, phyto-nutrients, fiber and more, all of which are important in your health and well being. Organic is the best choice for avoiding the many chemicals used to grow conventional produce.  Many of these chemicals are known carcinogens, are detrimental to our health and have a negative impact on our fertility and the well being of your developing baby.  Choose organic as much as your wallet will allow.

Include cold water fish.  Essential fatty acids aid in hormone production, reduce inflammation in the body, form cell membranes around every cell in our body, improve blood flow and play a role regulating your menstrual cycle.  They also play a role in the production of prostaglandins, which regulate functions such as heart rate, blood clotting, blood pressure, fertility and conception.  Cold water fish provide high amounts of essential fatty acids.  Avoid tuna, swordfish, Chilean sea bass, grouper, orange roughy, shark, king mackerel, halibut, bluefish and tilefish due to mercury concerns.  Instead focus on anchovy, mackerel, Pollock, herring, rainbow trout, salmon (not farmed), sardines and smelt.  Avoid farmed fish as it can contain PCBs, dioxins, mercury and other chemicals that can impair fertility.  If you are vegetarian or vegan you can meet your essential fatty requirements by including plant based sources which include flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, hemp seeds and hemp seed oil, chia seeds, sea vegetables, walnuts and other nuts and seeds.

Include whole grains. Whole grains provide us with fiber and many important minerals and vitamins.  Fiber is extremely important nutrient in our diet – it plays a large role in keeping us regular, it helps rid the body of excess hormones and helps to stabilize blood sugar levels, which in turn aids in balancing hormones. It is also beneficial to avoid gluten.  Gluten is a protein found in some grains – wheat, spelt, kamut, barley and rye.  Many people have difficulty digesting gluten and are sensitive to it.  Avoiding foods that cause sensitivity is imperative to ensure your body functions optimally.  Gluten is also known to be very sticky and can block up the intestine, which in turn means things don’t move quite as well through your body – remember we need fiber and good digestion to help our bodies remove excess hormones.  Gluten free grains include quinoa, millet, oats, amaranth, rice, buckwheat and teff and are a much better choice.

Consume high fiber foods.  Fiber as mentioned above helps to regulate blood sugar levels which have been shown to decrease fertility issues by promoting healthy hormonal balance.  Fiber also keeps our digestive system moving helping to eliminate excess hormones from the body. Include a variety of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds in your eating plan.

Choose only fermented organic soy products occasionally.  Although there is no conclusive recommendations regarding soy and fertility some research has suggested some women may be more sensitive to soy than others.  This sensitivity may affect fertility.  Soy also contains phytoestrogens which have estrogen mimicking properties, and can lead to hormonal imbalance.  According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition a small number of studies have shown that high levels of soy can increase menstrual cycle length, decrease follicle stimulating hormone and decrease luteinizing hormone – both important hormones in the female cycle necessary for ovulation.  Soy also contains phytic acid which prevents nutrients from being absorbed.  Phytic acid actually binds to nutrients like zinc or iron for instance and carries it out of the body.  If you have been trying to conceive or have had difficulty in the past I highly suggest avoiding soy.  Be a cautious consumer, soy is used in many processed foods as filler, if you are consuming processed foods read your labels!

Drink lots of water.  Water is necessary to ensure you are effectively flushing toxins out of your body, it ensures your kidneys are working effectively and helps to maintain your hydration levels.  Avoid bottled water; some of the plastics have been shown to contain BPA which can contribute to hormonal imbalances.  And tap water…it has many issues from pesticides to hormones, chlorine and fluoride– all of which are detrimental to our health and fertility.  Your best bet is filtered water.

Eliminate or minimize dairy consumption.  This one may confuse you a little because you have probably heard that you need dairy to meet your calcium needs, especially preconception and during pregnancy.  There are many other ways to meet your calcium needs without dairy.  Dairy is mucus forming and very congesting to our bodies.  It is also important to note that non organic dairy production uses hormones and antibiotics during production, both of which can lead to hormonal imbalances.  When trying to conceive it is best if we are easy on our digestion system, unfortunately for many of us dairy is difficult to digest.  When our digestive system is stressed the other systems in our body don’t work as well.  Your body must use a lot of energy to digest dairy, energy your body needs elsewhere to ensure optimum health and well being for conception.

Reduce meat and poultry consumption and choose organic.  Conventionally raised meat and poultry contain high levels of hormones and antibiotics which can contribute to hormonal imbalances.  We must also consider meat, like dairy, is difficult to digest, using up energy we need elsewhere.  Meat is also very acidifying; an acidic environment is not conducive to conception, sperm like an alkaline environment.  If you are eating meat, keep servings to three to four ounces, consume occasionally and choose organic.

Avoid sugar.  Sugar sends your blood sugar levels on a downward spiral and has a negative impact on your immune system, suppressing it for up to six hours after ingestion. Fluctuating blood sugar levels can lead to hormonal imbalance and therefore affect your ability to conceive.  One of the many ways it does this by causing your insulin levels to raise. When you eat a sugary food, your body needs to release insulin in order to stabilize the level of sugars in your blood. Insulin is a hormone, and when it is constantly saturating your system, it affects all of your other hormones.

It is also important to note that refined sugar requires specific minerals to break it down, the same ones stripped away when it was processed.  Your body can’t get these nutrients from refined sugar so it steals them from your own nutrient reserves so it can digest sugar.  Sugar has been named the “anti-nutrient” for this reason.  The nutrients required for your body to digest sugar are also key fertility nutrients such as calcium, chromium, magnesium and zinc. Think about how much sugar you ingest just by eating processed food, or snacking on chocolate and cookies; you can imagine how low your reserves of these essential nutrients may become.  Sugar also creates an acidic environment in the body, and sperm do not like acidity, they need an alkaline environment to thrive.  Avoid processed refined and artificial sugars.  If you need some sweetness in your life choose natural over refined, include honey, maple syrup and molasses

Eliminate alcohol and caffeine. Alcohol creates a lot of extra work for your body, especially your liver.  Your liver has to work hard to process and eliminate it from your system.  If the body is working hard to remove alcohol from your system it is being stressed unnecessarily, reducing the ability of it to function at its optimum level for conception.  Alcohol also impairs nutrient absorption, suppresses your immune system and can disrupt your menstrual cycle and reproductive function.  If trying to conceive, elimination is best.

Caffeine also negatively affects fertility, and yes I mean caffeine in coffee, tea, soda and chocolate.  While the mechanism for the adverse affect on fertility is not know, one theory suggests that the stimulant affects ovulation by causing changes in hormone levels, which in turn can hamper conception. It is best used in limited amounts or avoided when trying to conceive.

The food you eat has a large impact on your health and fertility.  Making changes to your diet can maximize your fertility, increase the chance of conception and prepare your body for the demanding, yet wonderful journey of pregnancy. Eat well!

Next month a look at herbs that can be beneficial during the preconception period.

*Image – Heirloom Tomato Salad from mnapoleon on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cusegoyle/2601333555/

Resources

The Canadian Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Sherry Torkos, B.Sc. Phm.

Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Phyllis A. Balch, CNC

http://www.fertilekitchen.com/index.html

Other posts by Kim Corrigan-Oliver

The Importance of Preparing For The Journey

Herbs and Fertility

See Kim’s posts on the topic of PCOS:

Understanding PCOS and Recommendations for Nutrition and Lifestyle

Supplement Protocol For PCOS

Kim Corrigan-Oliver is a first time mom. She is a certified holistic nutritionist specializing in nutrition for mom, baby and toddler. She loves good food and to cook. And, she loves to share her passion for all of the above with those interested in learning more about feeding their babies and raising healthy happy children. For more information please check out her website at Your Green Baby.

Importance of Preparing for the Journey

By @YourGreenBaby

There are many important journeys we take in our lives; as women we are so very fortunate to be able to experience the wonderful and amazing journey of pregnancy.  During pregnancy you are building a baby, a human being, from scratch; it really is amazing.  Preparing for this journey before you conceive sets the foundation to support a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Once you have made the decision to have a baby it is important to take some time to nourish and prepare your body for the amazing journey ahead.  The choices you make prior to conception will have a dramatic impact on the health of your baby.  Give yourself a minimum of three to four months of optimum nourishment before trying to conceive.  Taking this time will be beneficial for a number of reasons, including:

Building nutrient storage for pregnancy – during pregnancy your growing baby will take the nutrients it needs for growth and development from you.  A lot of the necessary nutrients your baby will need will come from storage within your body, especially in the first few critical weeks when you don’t know you are pregnant.  Ensuring you have optimum nutrient storage before conception will allow the baby the very best nutrition while ensuring you do not become depleted.

Conceive with greater ease – by supporting the body with proper nutrition you increase the chances of conceiving.  The food we eat is the building blocks for our hormones.  Antioxidants in the food we eat provide protection for the egg and the sperm from free radical damage, damage that can affect the ability of either to do its job effectively.  A healthy nutrient dense whole foods diet supports the body in reaching health, balance and fertility.

Healthier pregnancy – being in an optimum nutritional state before conception leads the way to a healthy pregnancy with fewer complications. This only makes sense, if you are in an optimum state of health you are better able to handle the demands pregnancy will make on your body.

Give birth to a healthy baby – by preparing and supporting your body pre pregnancy with proper nutrition you are paving the way to delivering a healthy baby.  As I mentioned earlier your baby will take what it needs from you to support its growth and development; if you are not properly supported nutritionally your baby will have inadequate building blocks to build his foundation — the very foundation that will support his health and well being forever.  Nutritional factors play a role in about 10% to 15% of low birth weight babies.[i] At school age, children who were born with moderate low birth rate are more likely than children of normal birth weight to have mild learning disabilities, attention disorders, developmental impairments, and breathing problems such as asthma.[ii] Supporting your body preconception will ensure the health and well being of your baby long term.

Recover more quickly after birth – superior nutritional status not only ensures you are ready to build and support a baby for forty weeks, but it also ensures you have the raw materials for healing and recovery post delivery.

Minimize child’s risk of future adult health issues – many studies are now linking adult health issues to mom’s health and diet preconception.  It is difficult to imagine that what you eat before you even conceive can have an impact on the health of your child 30 years from now, but research keeps pointing in that direction.  The Journal of Physiology July 2009 showed that maternal nutritional history predicts obesity in adult offspring independent of postnatal diet.[iii] We know that obesity sets us up for many other diseases such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol and diabetes.  Eat well now to help ensure the health of your child at birth, through childhood and well into adulthood.

Support energy and vitality – when you eat vibrant healthy foods full of energy you will feel vibrant, healthy and full of energy.  A well nourished body functions at its best; it has the required nutrients to perform the day to day processes that occur within our body.  A body functioning at its best sets the stage for conception, a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

The importance of preparing for pregnancy cannot be underestimated; it is a challenging journey your body must take, and taking the time preconception to prepare will, as you can see from the above, set the stage for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Other posts by Kim Corrigan-Oliver

Herbs and Fertility

Nutrition Guidelines in the Preconception Period

See Kim’s series on PCOS:

The Liver and PCOS

Supplement Protocol For PCOS

Understanding PCOS and Recommendations for Nutrition and Lifestyle

Kim Corrigan-Oliver is a first time mom. She is a certified holistic nutritionist specializing in nutrition for mom, baby and toddler. She loves good food and to cook. And, she loves to share her passion for all of the above with those interested in learning more about feeding their babies and raising healthy happy children. For more information please check out her website at Your Green Baby.

*Picture is ‘Vegetables Market’ by EyeFlyer on Flicker http://flic.kr/p/4GdTZr


[i] Wu Wen “Canadian Perinatal Health Report” (2003)

[ii] Shiono & Behrman “Low birth weight: Analysis and recommendations” (1995)

[iii] Davenport & Cabrero “Maternal nutritional history predicts obesity in adult offspring independent of postnatal diet” (2009)