8 Essential Things to Consider Before You Get Pregnant
How can I best prepare my body for pregnancy?
Isn't it crazy that we as women are never really taught about any of this stuff as we are growing up? This is a post to help you answer this question with 10 essentials to consider before you get pregnant.
Ideally you want to consider these things as early as possible as we know that the quality of your eggs and sperm is determined by the your overall health 90-120 days prior, but if you have already started trying to conceive, it's never too late to start!
1. Increase your menstrual cycle literacy.
The health of your menstrual cycle is crucial for optimal fertility and conception. If you don't have an understanding as to what is a normal menstrual cycle and what is meant to be happening on a physiological level at each phase of the cycle, I would work towards understanding. In your acupuncture appointments, we will usually check in with your menstrual cycle and check:
the length of your menstrual cycle
the length of you your period or bleed
if you had any spotting through out your menstrual cycle
if you had any symptoms around ovulation, premenstrually or during your bleed (including breast tenderness, feelings of irritability, changes in emotions, period pain, changes in energy levels etc.)
If you are ovulating
The nature of your menstrual bleed (including, the amount of blood, the colour and consistency of blood, if there are clots present, period pain etc.)
I would recommend getting into touch with a registered fertility acupuncturist or fertility specialist to help guide you through this process over just googling all the information. This may help you sift through all the unwanted information faster! Having a better understanding of what is normal and where your body sits in comparison can give you better clarity as to how to move forward to increase fertility, achieve conception and pregnancy.
2. Basal Body Temperature Charting (BBT) and fertility
If you are looking to conceive naturally, this is a non negotiable. Basal Body Temperature charting is the temperature of the body on waking. It can used to increase your chances of fertility as it can help predict the exact time of ovulation, giving you a clearer picture of your fertile window. This allows you to time intercourse accordingly to increase the chances of the sperm reaching and fertilising an egg. You basal body temperature changes throughout different phases of the menstrual cycle and this correlates to the levels of different hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone levels.
It can also give some indications if you are anovulatory, and potential markers for underlying conditions such as PCOS, endometriosis, underlying deficiencies, compromised thyroid functioning etc.
3. Clean eating
Keep it simple! Increase as many fruits and vegetables as possible. Less things in packages and more whole foods. No matter what anyone tells you, diet and nutrients matter when it comes to fertility for both you and your partner.
Here are some dietary tips from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) dietary therapy to start building your general qi (energy) to support fertility:
Cut out raw uncooked foods and cold foods and drinks - cold in TCM slows things down including your digestive organs.
Consume more warm cooked foods and drinks
Incorporate more yellow/orange coloured foods into your diet to support gut health. Although we want more yellow/orangey foods, I would also ensure that your meals look like the rainbow to ensure you get as many different nutrients as possible. The more the variety, the better.
4. Get in contact with a holistic fertility specialist.
Seeing a holistic fertility specialist will support your through the process of understanding your individual picture and why you may be struggling with infertility (this includes fertility specialists, fertility acupuncturist, fertility focused naturopaths and nutritionists). We can also guide you through specific blood tests for fertility to request from your doctor. In some cases, you may need to request sperm testing (semen analysis) and a pelvic ultrasound to eliminate serious underlying causes to your infertility as well.
Moving is important for getting the qi or energy flowing through the body. This doesn't necessarily mean HIIT exercises (not that these are bad, just depends on how your body is presenting and what your body needs - more on that in another post). We are talking more restorative and nourishing forms of exercise - think light walking, yin yoga, pilates.
6. Reduce your stress and seek emotional support!
The fertility journey can be an emotional one, triggering a plethora of emotions including stress and anxiety. In addition, stress has become a normal part of our high paced society. So often that most people are heightened and stressed without even realising it. This becomes a growing problem in terms of conception as research as shown that psychosocial interventions for both partners has the potential in decreasing psychological distress and increasing pregnancy rates (Frederiksen et al, 2015).
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there is a huge correlation between your mental-emotional balance and your physiological balance. Both are required to be in balance for things to flow and function as they should. Acupuncture has been thought to regulate the autonomic system and mechanisms contributing to stress (Li et al, 2013)
7. Avoid caffeine and smoking
Avoid these as much as possible as they have been shown to reduce conception rates, predisposes women to a less healthy pregnancy and may increase chances of miscarriage. According to Lassi et al. (2014):
preconception caffeine intake of >300mg/d significantly increases the risk of foetal loss by 31%
preconception smoking was found to increase risk of congenital heart defects in offspring by times three.
8. Get Acupuncture!
Lang Acupuncture and Holistic Health - Book an Appointment
Lang Acupuncture and Holistic Health is a Brisbane acupuncture clinic located in the western suburb of Jindalee. We have clients that come from all over Brisbane, including Kenmore, Indooroopilly, Graceville, Oxley, Mount Ommaney, Ipswich, Annerley, Milton etc.
Frederiksen, Y., Farver-Vestergaard, I., Skovgård, N. G., Ingerslev, H, J., Zacharieae, R. (2015). Efficacy of psychosocial interventions for psychological and pregnancy outcomes in infertile women and men: as systematic review and meta-analysis. British Medical Journal, 5, 1-18. https://doi.org.10.1136/bmjopen-2014-006592
Lassi, Z. S., Imam, A. M., Dean, S. V., Bhutta, Z. A. (2014). Preconception care: caffeine, smoking, alcohol, drugs and other environmental chemical/radiation exposure. Reproductive Health, 11(56), 1-12.
Li, Q., Shi, G, Xu, Q, Wang, J. (2013). Acupuncture Effect and Central Autonomic Regulation. Neurobiological Mechanisms of Acupuncture, 2013. https//doi.org.10.1155/2013/267959.