When Should You Start Eating Better Nutrition

Whenever anyone coos at my children, I always tell them, ‘it takes only nine months to make one.’ Getting pregnant seems easy, or is it not? Why is it then that primary (taking more than one year to Try To Conceive (TTC)) and secondary infertility (taking more than one year to TTC after the first child) are becoming more and more common?

Here’s a little biology refresher course to get our basics right.

A woman is born with two million eggs at birth, left with 750,000 by puberty and only 10,000 of eggs left by 40 years old. A typical monthly cycle averages between 23 and 35 days and ovulation is a gradual process that occurs within a day in the cycle. Not every woman ovulates in the middle of her cycle, or even ovulate every cycle. Knowing when you ovulate matters, as it presents a window of opportunity for the sperm and egg to meet to create a baby.

In contrast, a man has a perpetual ability to produce a constant refreshed supply of sperms and semen. It takes a man four months to reboot himself and his little team of army. Sperms live for three days and under excellent conditions can live up to five days.

Your fertility is dependent on;

  • the health of the eggs and your reproductive organs
  • the body’s ability to produce the right balance of hormones to ‘mature’ your eggs ready for ovulation with each cycle  
  • the health of your body.

If you consider how complicated the process is to get pregnant, it would dawn on you that getting pregnant does not begin with the sperm meeting the egg. Getting our body fertile shortens the trying process, conditions our egg and sperms as best as they can be and this gives our future child the best possible head start in life.

On many occasions, I ask expecting mothers in my talks when they expect to eat better nutrition. During their pregnancy, or when the child is born. Frequently, mothers would tell me they would step up their nutritional watch during pregnancy and let things slide once the babies are born. Less than 5% of mothers would tell me they would embark on a change in lifestyle before they even try conceiving.

Your nutritional status at the actual time of conception is the most important factor in the growth of your baby. A poor diet can slow down rapid growth phase that takes place in the first six weeks of pregnancy.

Lower birth weight babies

(< 2.5 kg) are at greater risk of abnormalities, neurological defects, neural tube defects, three times more than in babies of optimal weight. Both partners should get optimally nourished in TTC stage. Why leave something to chance, when you can do more to change the odds in your favour?

Here is a detailed plan to increase fertility and increase the probability of conceiving a healthy, full-term baby.

1. KNOW YOUR MONTHLY CYCLE WELL

The number of days of your cycle

The day of your ovulation can be estimated with a combination of both Body Basal Temperature tracking and an Ovulation Prediction Kit (OPK)
On the day of your ovulation, your body should produce an egg white cervical mucus which is optimal for getting pregnant. If you do not see this egg white cervical mucus but test positive on OPK, you may want to supplement to produce this cervical mucus.
Have intercourse during the window of ovulation

2. WEIGHT MATTERS

  • Get into the ‘just nice’ range of neither obese nor too skinny
  • Check your Body Mass Index (BMI): Weight in KG / (Height in meters). The ideal is 20-25.
  • A prolonged low fat diet tricks the body that it is in a starving mode and may reduce fertility.

3. LOWER YOUR HOMOCYSTEINE

Homocysteine is a protein-like substance found naturally in the body. The Homocysteine score is best below 6. A low score improves sperms motility and the body’s absorption of nutrients

GET NOURISHED

  • Start taking a prenatal multi-vitamin (for ladies) and a multi-vitamin (for men) 6 months before TTC.
  • Eat Pure Food. As well as sex hormones, our body produces hormones that control the way we metabolise and utilise food. To correct underlying imbalances, restore fertility, i) swap refined carbohydrates and sugar for wholegrains, and more fruit and vegetables, ii) reduce intake of saturated fats from meat and dairy, iii) increase essential fats from oily fish, flaxseed and nuts.
  • Get off the pill at least three months before trying to conceive. Eliminate/reduce alcohol and smoking to protect yourself against anti-nutrients.
  • Increase your intakes of food with omega 3, vitamin C and anti-oxidants to limit the impact of aging.

5. LEAVE 18 MONTHS BETWEEN PREGNANCIES

A study by WHO shows that having babies too quickly in succession slows down the rate at which your baby develops in the womb, and after birth.

6. GET IN THE RIGHT FRAME OF MIND

  • Believe your body is capable of conceiving and carrying a healthy child to full term. Visualise carrying that little cherub in your arms.
  • Prepare as above, but go with the flow.
  • Consider practicising yoga to get yourself in the right state of mind.

Some fertility supplements you may consider:

  • Maca powder
  • Honey
  • Royal Jelly
  • Cinnamon
  • Figs
  • Evening
  • Primrose Oil
  • Spirulina
  • Wheat grass
  • Pomegranate

Pregnancy is the beginning of all things wonderful, hopeful and joyful possibilities. Give your possibilities the best potential start. If you have been TTC with above suggestions, do write in and share with me your journey! Sending you plenty of baby dust.