Preconception care is something that’s really overlooked in our culture. So often, women go to the doctor for a preconception appointment and are given the green light after only a few questions. The reality is that there is SO much we can, and should, do to prepare out bodies before trying to conceive a healthy baby.
Personally, I wanted to set myself up for the healthiest pregnancy + postpartum possible! While there are always things that are out of out control, there are a lot of things that actually are in our control which is encouraging to me!
Important: This is NOT medical advice. This is simply a summary of the things *I* did to prepare my body for a baby. You should always consult with a trusted healthcare provider.
We’re typically told we can use birth control up until 1-2 months before we want to begin TTC, and that it won’t cause any issues. No judgement *truly* if that’s what you decide to do. But that didn’t sit well with me!
WHY IS PRECONCEPTION IMPORTANT?
As I mentioned, preconception care is generally overlooked in our culture. If you had a healthcare provider who worked with you to complete a thorough preconception plan, that’s AMAZING. Just know, it’s unfortunately not the norm.
A pregnancy is the biggest change my body will EVER go through, and I felt like I needed to prepare for it the same way I would prepare for a marathon (Not that I plan on running a marathon hahaha).
Preconception care is going to look different for everyone, because we are all different!
Even a normal/healthy pregnancy and birth can significantly deplete a woman of nutrients and minerals. Any additional factors such as morning sickness, food aversions, lack of sleep with further deplete these minerals. Not to mention nutrient deficiency can CAUSE unpleasant symptoms.
I wanted to begin pregnancy with a solid nutritional foundation, setting myself up for the healthiest pregnancy possible.
In my research, most fertility experts (especially holistic ones) recommend making lifestyle changes 1-2 years before TTC. But it’s NEVER too early. I made a lot of the changed I’ll mention 3-4 years in advance. At the time it wasn’t specifically for my fertility, but for my overall health.
SCHEDULE A PRECONCEPTION APPOINTMENT
I HIGHLY recommend making an appointment with a naturopath or integrative doctor – even if an unmedicated childbirth isn’t your goal. These practitioners can dive much deeper into your health during an appointment than a traditional OB or family doctor.
If you’re experiencing abnormal periods, really long/short cycles, heavy bleeding/cramping, missed periods, low sex drive, low appetite – these are all symptoms worth looking into. A symptom is always a sign that something is wrong – we never want to put a bandaid on symptoms!
Nothing I am sharing today is medical advice. It’s simply a compilation of the things I personally did to prepare my body for pregnancy. Always do your own research and discuss any changed with a trusted health practitioner.
I read all of these books, and HIGHLY recommend them all. It’s so important that we, as women, understand our bodies – whether or not we are trying to get pregnant!
The state of our health before pregnancy can greatly impact our symptoms + overall experience while pregnant. It only makes sense that going into pregnancy with nutrient deficiencies would cause us to have a harder pregnancy.
EAT ENOUGH : American diet culture wreaks havoc on women’s fertility. I considered myself a very healthy person, and I always had “normal/healthy” periods. But when I began tracking my fertility symptoms I quickly realized that I wasn’t ovulating every month.
For me, the main culprit was that I was under-eating! I wasn’t intentionally dieting or trying to lose weight. I just had bad habits of skipping meals. Under-eating puts our body into stress. And when our body is stressed it protects us by not fostering a healthy environment to grow a baby.
Within 3 weeks of eating more calories, I ovulated again. My 21 day periods became 26-27 days AND I had wayyyyy more energy. Plus, I actually lost a few pounds! Go figure, right?
NUTRIENT DENSE FOODS : I’m not going to use the words “healthy” or “unhealthy” foods. Because those are subjective to the person reading. But my goal is to always eat food that is nutrient dense, full of vitamins, minerals, protein that my body DOES need, while limiting ingredients that don’t serve my body well.
ALCOHOL : Personally I chose to give up alcohol 6+ months before TTC. It just wasn’t something I felt was doing my body any good!
PRENATAL: A baby takes 10% of the mother’s nutrients throughout pregnancy + birth. I wanted to ensure that I was not only taking a prenatal WHILE pregnant, but also beginning my pregnancy with adequate nutrient stores. If you’re not already taking a high quality (not $10 gummies 😬) multivitamin or prenatal now’s a good time to start.
FOLATE: Most women know that they need folate through their pregnancy. But did you know that it’s actually week 5 (2-3 weeks after conception) that it’s the most needed. Many women don’t even know they’re pregnant at this point making it crucial that you’re taking folate BEFORE that positive pregnancy test!
It’s also important to be taking folate as opposed to folic acid. Folic acid is the synthetic version of folate and it is not absorbed by women with the MTHFR mutation – which is up to 40% of women, and they usually don’t know!
Lifestyle changes are likely the most overlooked in the preconception stage. I’ve been around the natural health world for years and in my experience women almost always begin worrying about the ingredients in their products after their first baby is born.
While of course it’s amazing to want to use non-toxic products with your tiny newborn, it’s also important for yourself!
Conventional products – shampoos, makeup, laundry detergents, pharmaceutical products, etc – can cause a variety of health problems. But one of the most significant to this discussion is that they contain ingredients that are xenoestrogens (fake estrogens).
When we are constantly presented with fake hormones, it throws off our body’s hormonal balance! Most women are estrogen dominant because of this!
If you know you want to have a baby in the next 1-2 years (or honestly ever!), now’s the time to begin making these swaps.
Start slowly. Don’t feel like you have to change everything overnight. But take baby steps towards a natural lifestyle.
A lot of the information I’ve talked about today can be found in these podcasts. I love listening to podcasts every day as a way of learning!
CONSIDER A DETOX
I heavily focused on detoxing my body during the preconception phase. It’s not recommended to do any sort of detox while pregnant or breastfeeding, so this was a priority to me.
I’m not talking about fad juice cleanses – which I DON’T recommend. I worked directly with a naturopath to create a detox that was appropriate for my body + my health concerns.
A key component of detoxing is removing excess toxins. As I previously mentioned, these may be shampoos, makeup, cleaning products, etc in your home. There’s really no sense in doing a detox without removing the products causing the problems.
I did a custom supplement plan as part of my detox, because we determined I had parasites (Also VERY common!)
Other tools + habits I utilized for detoxing were:
- Sweating daily
- Dry brushing
- Pooping everyday (I know, super glamorous, but you HAVE to be pooping regularly to properly detox)
- Coffee Enemas
- Water filter (Drinking water + shower)
- Drinking 3-4 litres of water daily
Obviously not all pregnancies are planner, but I’m assuming that if you’re reading about preconception you are planning a pregnancy in the near future.
I know that planning for a baby can be exciting. Many people get caught up in the excitement and forget that adding a baby is a HUGE change in their life. I’d recommend thinking through how your life will be effected, especially financially!
- Will your current vehicle work with a baby?
- Look into how much you’ll have to pay out of pocket for birth
- Look into parental leave through your job
- Bulk up your savings