Fertility and integrated women’s health expert Emma Cannon shares her top tips for helping you to prepare your body for pregnancy
Every fertility journey is different and for some women, trying for another baby can be difficult – secondary infertility accounts for 30 per cent of infertility cases. When it comes to planning for another pregnancy, getting your (and your partner’s) body and mind as healthy as possible is beneficial all round.
Nourish your body
When thinking about trying to conceive, eating well, as in eating nutritionally optimal foods, may improve your fertility. And then there is the added bonus that when a woman does get pregnant, both she and her baby’s health and development may be optimised with healthy eating habits. Eat a rainbow diet, in other words, a wide variety of foods. Your plate should be mainly plant-based with a small amount of meat per week if you eat meat. Grains which have been soaked well before use, as well as seeds and nuts which are great for your health in small quantities as well as good quality fats and oils in the diet – try olive, hemp, or pumpkin oil. It is recommended that we should eat between five to eight portions of fruit and vegetables per day, with the emphasis on vegetables, as fruits are often high in sugar. It is also worth considering taking probiotics and prebiotics as these may help improve gut health.
Make time for looking after yourself
Life’s busy and stress can play havoc with our ability to rest and relax. Too much stress can also affect our hormone levels ,which subsequently impacts on the menstrual cycle, affecting fertility. The same holds true for men as well; stress has been linked to poor sperm quality.
Emotional health is just as important as physical health, so take some time out every single day to improve your wellbeing. Find something which works for you – e.g. a relaxing bath, baking, reading a book or getting your partner to give you a massage. Meditation is also great for increasing stress resilience, so why not take some time to practise this as it is a great skill to have, not only when you are in the pre-conception stage but throughout pregnancy, labour and beyond.
Get cycle savvy
Adopting a healthy lifestyle is key to getting your body ready, but for conception to occur you have to put yourself in the right situation at the right time. Each woman’s cycle length is unique, so it is important to understand how your own body works, as there is only a small window each month where conception is even possible. The myLotus Fertility Monitor is a new device which is the only product available that quantatively monitors a woman’s personal Luteinising Hormone levels which indicate impending ovulation (the best time to have sex). By being able to identify this, a woman can maximise her chances of natural conception and gain a whole lot on information about her cycle. For more information visit, www.mylotus.com
Getting fit before conception is very important as it will help your body cope better with the demands of pregnancy. Exercise is key to maintaining a healthy weight, which is vital as obesity has been linked to decreased infertility. As a guide, your preconception weight should be within 15lbs (7kg) of the ideal range for your height. If you’re not an avid exerciser, try introducing gentle exercise, such as brisk walking, swimming or yoga. Consistency is key so find a routine you enjoy and make sure you dedicate 30 minutes three times a week. Physical exercise also plays a role in mental wellbeing, relieving stress and releasing endorphins known as ‘happy hormones’. However, be careful not to over-exercise, as extreme exercise can have a detrimental impact on the body; low body fat can stop periods altogether and I have seen an increase in hypothalamic amenorrhea (e.g. menstruation stops due to problems with the hypothalamus) from over exercise. Moderation is key.
Support with Complementary Therapies
Complementary therapies have been used for thousands of years to help heal and correct bodily imbalances. One of the oldest is acupuncture, which works by rebalancing your energy flow and primes the body and has been linked to improved fertility. For women wanting to conceive, acupuncture can be used to regulate hormone function, increasing blood flow to the ovaries and uterus and help to relax muscles which can improve the chance of an embryo implanting. Mention it to your partner too, as acupuncture may also improve sperm motility and optimise male fertility hormone levels.