In this article, we explore good nutrition for conception and give some ideas about how to improve your chances of conceiving.
Have you ever heard the phrase ‘you are what you eat’? Well, there’s not many times when this is more true than when you’re trying to conceive. What you eat can greatly affect your health and well-being and can also affect your chances of conceiving.
Changing your nutrition for conception
There’s lots of things to think about when you’re trying to conceive and nutrition is key. It’s important to note that it can take up to three months for changes in your diet to have an affect so it’s worth thinking about this as soon as you consider the possibility of becoming pregnant.
Drink alcohol sparingly (if at all)
You probably already know there is no level of alcohol consumption considered safe for a fetus, but it’s also not great for you if you’re trying to get pregnant. In fact, The American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommends that, if you do drink, have no more than two drinks a day if you’re trying to get pregnant.
If you’re serious about getting pregnant, consider limiting your alcohol intake entirely. Although the odd glass of wine probably won’t hurt your chances of getting pregnant, you may want to cut it out altogether anyway, just in case you get pregnant.
Cut down the caffeine
Like alcohol, a small amount of caffeine probably won’t get in the way of becoming pregnant. Experts generally agree that less than 300 milligrams a day (or about two 250 ml mugs of coffee) is probably ok.
However, caffeine can stop your body’s ability to absorb iron and calcium (both important in pregnancy) so you may like to consider dropping it altogether while you’re trying to conceive.
Going cold turkey on caffeine can cause some nasty side effects though. These include headaches, shakes and irritability, so if you decide to cut down on caffeine, take it easy and cut down slowly. Try replacing caffeinated drinks with decaffeinated options one at a time, while you wean yourself off.
The truth about refined carbs
Our bodies need carbohydrates to run but we don’t need loads of refined carbs such as white bread, pasta and white rice. While they’re pretty tasty, they don’t provide much in the way of nutrients for your body.
Again – cutting back on refined carbs won’t necessarily make it easier to become pregnant, but it has a role to play. The refining process strips grains of key nutrients including B vitamins and iron, both of which are important in conception. Try replacing refined carbs with whole grains where possible. Think whole grain bread and whole grain cereals for breakfast.
Reducing refined carbs is particularly important if you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) (the most common cause of infertility in women). PCOS is a hormonal imbalance that can be made worse through spikes in insulin and eating refined carbs can be a major culprit in this.
Eat a rainbow everyday
Multivitamins can be a great way to add vitamins and minerals to your diet but there’s nothing better than fresh fruit and veg, which are bursting with micronutrients, like phytochemicals and antioxidants.
By eating a rainbow of food each day, you can make sure you’re getting a whole range of vitamins and minerals into your diet. Try gorgeously coloured food like blueberries; red, yellow and orange capsicums; and great green veg like broccoli, spinach and kale. Aim for a minimum of around 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of veggies a day.
The power of fish
Fish really is a superfood as it contains omega-3 fatty acids, which is essential for fertility. Not only are omega-3 fatty acids important for you, they’re also important for your baby’s development and for your well-being in pregnancy. Many sources suggest that you should try and include cold water fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, or herring in your diet two or three times a week.
Do be careful where you source it from, though, as some fatty fish can be high in mercury. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises avoiding canned tuna as well as fresh or frozen swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, tuna steaks, shark, orange roughy, Spanish mackerel, marlin, and grouper because they have the highest mercury levels.
You can also get fish oil supplements from your health shop but be sure to talk to a healthcare provider about how much you should be taking.
Keeping strong with iron
One of the most common side effects of pregnancy is low iron so try loading up ahead of time!
If you don’t each much in the way of red meat, you can easily source iron supplements from a health shop or from your family doctor (or midwife once you become pregnant). However, do make sure that you check with your healthcare professional about the dose that you should be taking. You can also consider asking your family doctor for a preconception checkup to check your iron levels.
Folic Acid and Iodine
Folic Acid is an essential nutrient in the development of your baby’s neural tubes. Taking folic acid pre-pregnancy can reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Iodine is another essential nutrient in the formation of your baby’s brain, and should also be taken preconception.
Taking a pregnancy multivitamin and mineral supplement, such as Elevit with Iodine, can help build up the essential nutrients required and help cover the needs of both mother and baby throughout your entire pregnancy.
Get protein power
Protein is a critical part of a healthy diet but most people rely heavily on meat for their protein sources. Other protein sources such as dairy protein, beans, peas, soybeans or tofu, or nuts can boost fertility and help your chances of getting pregnant. They can also be better for you overall than meat.
Nutrition for conception is really not that difficult or different from general healthy eating. It’s all about making sure that your body has the optimal nutrients for conceiving your baby. Good luck as you prepare for pregnancy!
Now that you have a handle on nutrition in pregnancy, you’ll want to find out more about Good nutrition choices during pregnancy.