Pre-conception planning for Mothers-to-be

This Mother’s Day celebrate motherhood with all the love and caring that motherhood brings. Pre-Conception Program photoIf you too would like to become a Mum (and Dad too), here are some thoughts and recommendations from Mr Vitamins  Naturopaths. This tells you how to start the preparation process to ensure the healthiest conception and pregnancy, that will enable you to give your baby the best possible start to their wonderful new life. A Pre-Conception Program to increase fertility and health A Pre-conception program helps you to understand and adopt the right lifestyle choices to maximise your health for a 3-4 month period leading up to when you want to become pregnant. The program has value for both partners – yes that’s right both partners! It is just as important for the future dad to be really healthy, to be able to produce high quality sperm, as it is for the future mum to produce top quality eggs and the right environment in which the fertilised egg can grow.  So the program makes sure you have no nutritional deficiencies, which may prevent this.

So what does a Pre-conception Program consist of?

  • Evaluation of lifestyle choices - diet, exposure to toxins, stress levels, alcohol consumption, caffeine…etc
  • Detecting nutritional deficiencies- such as zinc
  • Maintaining healthy weight range - Healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) is important as being under or overweight can adversely affect fertility rates
  • Designing individual weight loss/ gain programs if required
  • Ensuring general blood tests have been completed by GP before pregnancy takes place
  • Recommending supplements suitable for pregnancy
  • Balancing hormones – PMS symptoms can be a sign of oestrogen dominance
  • Providing techniques and supplements to reduce stress levels if this is an issue
  • Optimising liver function through nutrition and medicinal herbs if required – your liver is important to break down excessive hormones
  • Organising anti-mullarian tests for those over 35 years old - this is basically a test that measures the amount of egg stores remaining in the ovaries
  • Testing for food intolerances if suspected
  • Providing ongoing support throughout pregnancy
  • Organising functional pathology tests if required - these are tests such as saliva tests for hormones, generally something that is not looked at by mainstream medicine. These tests also include hair mineral analysis.

Why would you undertake a Pre-conception Program?

Recent studies are now indicating that those couples that take vitamin and mineral, supplements before conception, have less chance of giving birth to children with deformities and poor health. A recent study by Dr G Koren from the University of Toronto found that taking a multivitamin before and in early pregnancy reduced the rate of childhood leukaemia by 36%. A study by Foresight, The Association for the Promotion of Pre-conceptual Care in the UK, found that of the 1568 couples who took part in the pre-conception program
  • 1,122 babies were born (89% success rate) and with
  • Only 4 miscarriages (approximately 0.5%). This is way below the expected 20% miscarriage rate of 224 from this sample size.
  • They also found those who had previous miscarriages were less likely to have another miscarriage when participating in the preconception program. Although the miscarriage rate was slightly higher in this group (7%) it is still well below the expected 20% of miscarriage.

Why start a Pre-conception Program 4-6 months before conceiving?

It takes sperm approximately 3 months to form and follicles (which produce the ovum –egg) 3 months to mature. So you need this period to ensure that you are developing the healthiest sperm and follicles.

Why choose a Pre-conception Program before contemplating IVF?

If you are looking for the most natural help towards conception you should know that there are no invasive procedures performed throughout a natural fertility program, unlike IVF.  A Pre-conception program is a more holistic approach to achieving conception. In it physical, emotional and spiritual aspects are all explored and it will have far reaching benefits on the overall health of each partner as well as giving your baby the best possible start. IVF is expensive, has only a 30% success ratio per cycle, and has a higher chance of producing multiple births. Having multiple births is not only dangerous for the babies but also for the mother.  With IVF there is also the risk of premature births (lower birth weights), an increased risk of cerebral palsy and even death. IVF is a great option for those who have structural damage to reproductive organs or some other medical condition where conceiving is not possible naturally. If you are one of the few who fail to conceive naturally after completing a Pre-conception program then IVF would, of course, be an option. IVF, in my opinion, should generally be a last option not a first case treatment for fertility issues.

Pre-conception Programs have also been found to reduce miscarriages

It is estimated that miscarriages occur in approximately 20% of all pregnancies. The good news is that miscarriages can be prevented in many cases. Most miscarriages will occur in the first 3 months of pregnancy and are generally a result of aspects present at the time of conception. Studies have shown that couples who participate in a Pre-conception Program dramatically reduce the chance of miscarriage as their eggs and sperm are the healthiest at the point of conception.

How many consultations will a Pre-conception Program involve?

Generally one or two consultations depending on individual circumstances should be adequate to help guide potential parents through until conception takes place – the first consultation at the beginning of a 3-month period and the second consultation at end of this period. Ongoing support is available at any time during the program should you need it At Mr Vitamins our Naturopaths can support you with Fertility and Pregnancy – with support for both women’s and men’s health. Ask  about a program specific to your individual needs. To learn more visit the Ask a Naturopath page.