Since I specialize in fertility and pregnancy, women come to me when they want to conceive, or when they want pregnancy care. Very few women (or men) come in for conception preparation, although I wish more would!
Conception preparation means getting yourselves in optimal health well in advance of conception, in order to:
- Make a healthy baby!
- Optimize mama’s mind/body health during pregnancy!
- Become healthier parents – physically, mentally and emotionally.
To influence the health of your baby, know that eggs take a good nine months to mature before ovulation, so starting conception preparation a year before pregnancy is ideal.
Conception preparation can help:
• Take care of pre-existing health problems. Our goal is to either resolve these problems, or manage them successfully.
• Get nutrient-dense eating down, so it’s a breeze during pregnancy and beyond.
• Detoxify stored chemicals and toxins. A year or more before pregnancy is the time, because during pregnancy you do not want to mobilize toxins. Fewer toxins in your body means fewer toxins in your future baby!
• Resolve digestive problems, so your nutrient absorption is optimal.
• Investigate and improve your gut and vaginal microbiome. This will greatly influence your baby’s microbiome and immunity.
• Identify your nutrient deficiencies that can affect fertility, conception, and pregnancy.
• Learn effective stress management techniques. Stress hormones are not conducive to conception. Plus, this will help in your future role as parents!
• Get sleep in order. If you sleep poorly, or stay up late and sleep late, change this before pregnancy. You don’t want to take care of a newborn with your own pre-existing sleep dysfunction! Also, your good sleep habits shape your baby’s sleep habits.
• Check-in with yourself emotionally. Do you have a history of depression or anxiety? If so, your risk for pregnancy depression and/or anxiety is higher. Think about this possibility in advance. You may need to wean off medications and find substitutions to manage anxiety and depression. You may need to heal past wounds that could interfere with your mental health during pregnancy or as a parent.
• Get clear on parenting expectations. I encourage parents to communicate about their expectations of themselves and one another as parents. I’ve seen too many couples become pregnant with false expectations regarding their partners. In many cases this has resulted in irreconcilable conflict. Avoid this! Go on a retreat together, have conversations, read books together, or work with a therapist. Spend time together and talk about this big decision and how you both envision it.
What about dads and partners?
Did you know that about 30% of infertility is due to “male factor?” Therefore, it’s great for men to get prepare for conception as well. Sperm takes less time than eggs to influence, so 3 to 6 months may be sufficient.
Specific physical approaches for men to improve sperm quality include detoxification, a nutrient-dense diet, and replenishing nutrients, not in their diet.
Partners can also have conception stress, pregnancy stress, and postpartum adjustment disorder. This gets very little attention. Some of the men and female partners I’ve worked with have benefited greatly by getting help with these issues.
With infertility and assisted reproduction techniques, partners can have a great deal of stress, yet are often expected not to. The same goes with postpartum. There are high expectations on partners. We don’t tend to live in villages of support, and partners often have financial stress, adjustment to being a parent, concern about their partners, and general overwhelm.
What to do?
→ We start with a new patient appointment and go over your history. We discuss how to resolve or manage pre-existing conditions.
→ You do a Functional Medicine blood panel, to check thyroid hormones, blood sugar regulation, nutrients, and anything else important in your case. I’m looking for things that affect pregnancy.
→ I like to do an organic acids urine test, which reveals your detox and mitochondrial function, as well as more about your nutrient status. It also tells us if there is an overgrowth of yeast or bacteria. If so, we do further tests to see what’s growing in your gut that needs treatment or balance. This work needs to take place well in advance of pregnancy.
→ With infertility, PCOS, or signs of sex or adrenal hormone imbalance, I like to do a Dutch hormone panel to guide treatment.
→ We go over your lifestyle habits: food, sleep, mental health, stress reduction, and exercise. We identify what needs to change, and the means to do so.
→ Throughout this process, we gear any nutritional supplements toward your individual needs.
Book a free 15-minute consultation about preparing for your pregnancy!
I welcome your comments and questions below.