Pre-conception Health Habits for Women
There is so much you can do before you are pregnant to ensure a healthy pregnancy. One of my favorite fertility experts has often explained to the importance of creating healthy habits to enhance fertility at least three months before conception. Since the follicles in your ovaries are develop on a 90 day cycle, what you are doing during at this time will impact the egg that is released during ovulation three months later. Here are some quick tips on what to do and what not to do to support your fertility and preconception health:
Habits to create
Healthy nutrition– you are the first source of nutrition for your baby. The more easily nutrients are absorbed into your body, the more you will be able to share with your baby. In fact, folic acid is an essential component in helping to form the fetuses neural pathways during the first trimester. Be sure to take a quality prenatal with 1000 mcg of folic acid. Consider additional sources of calcium and omega fatty acids. In general eat an abundance of whole grains, colorful vegetables and fruit with lean sources of protein and drink lots of room temperature water.
Exercise– getting daily exercise is vital in helping to optimize your weight, flood the body with fresh oxygen and blood, reduce stress and enhance your mood. Exercise should not be overexerting, so consider adjusting your program to include gentle walks, yoga for fertility, dancing and other activities you enjoy. Gentle exercises can help to induce the relaxation response which is essential to fertility.
Sleep– if you are not currently getting eight hours of shut eye per night, now is the time to start. Studies continue to prove the immense impact that sleep has on your health including hormone balance. According to a study from the University of Texas Health Science Center “melatonin could become an important medication for improving ovarian function and oocyte [egg] quality.” Melatonin is produced complete darkness and staying up at night, sleeping with lights on or even turning lights on to go to the bathroom may impacting menstrual cycles regularity as well as egg quality.
Menstrual cycle awareness– in Toni Weschler’s Taking Charge of your Fertility she educates women on how to chart their cycles to gain insight on patterns of ovulation, fertility and menstruation. When preparing to conceive, this information can be incredibly valuable for both you and your doctors.
Optimize your weight– as many as 12% of infertility cases are a result of weighing too little or too much. Changing your lifestyle and dietary habits can help to bring you to your ideal Body Mass Index (BMI). In woman who are overweight, weight loss as little as 5-10% can be helpful in restoring fertility.