Are you thinking of having a baby? Studies indicate you should begin making changes in your diet and lifestyle from 3 months to a year before you conceive to ensure a healthy pregnancy. (1)
The earlier, the better. Start learning all about preconception nutrition to make your pregnancy not just hassle-free, but a beautiful experience.
What Is Preconception Nutrition?
The process of providing or obtaining quality food that is necessary for making a woman’s body healthy before pregnancy is called preconception nutrition.
Importance Of Preconception Nutrition Plan:
Women need to be healthier before becoming pregnant. Because only a healthy woman can ensure a healthy pregnancy, and subsequently the birth of a healthy baby. Some foods, habits and medicine of the mother even before conception, can harm the baby both within the womb and even in its later stages of life. Most pregnancies are not planned. Therefore, preconception care is a much-neglected concept but that which needs to be reinforced time and again.
[ Read: How To Get Pregnant ]
Must Do’s In Preconception Period:
Here is a list of some lifestyle and dietary changes you need to bring in your reproductive ages in life in to ensure a healthy pregnancy.
1. Stop the consumption of alcohol, street drugs, and smoking, if you have any of these habits.
2. If you have any medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, obesity, epilepsy, dental issues, etc., it will be better to bring them under control before planning pregnancy.
3. If you are under any form of medication, talk to your doctor.
4. Try to avoid coming into contact with toxic substances or environmental contaminants which can cause an infection in you.
5. Follow safe methods of family planning and birth control.
6. Screening for and treating sexually transmitted diseases should be done by one of the couples and make sure not to transfer the infection.
7. Also, it would be good to talk to your doctor about the genetic history of both you and your partner. (2)
8. Optimize nutrition intake through a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains and high protein foods.
9. Food safety is as important as the quality of the diet. Consuming foods contaminated with chemicals like methylmercury or toxoplasma even before pregnancy can cause harm to the fetus.
10. Cut caffeine intake and pick up activities to become both physically and mentally active. (3)
[ Read: Prenatal Vitamins During Pregnancy ]
Dietary Supplements For Pre Pregnancy Nutrition:
Preconception care should be tailored to the specific needs of each woman. However, your doctor is likely to throw light on the following dietary supplements much before you get pregnant.
1. Folic Acid:
Have folic acid capsule of 400 to 800 g every day, as per your doctor’s prescription. Folic acid is known to reduce the incidence of birth defects in the fetus. You can obtain it from either fortified foods, supplements or both. It would also be good to take a folate-rich diet.
Women of reproductive age should attain the recommended calcium intake levels. If dietary sources are inadequate, it will be good to take supplements.
3. Essential Fatty Acids:
Women who wish to get pregnant soon should be encouraged to eat a diet rich in essential fatty acids which include omega 3 and omega six fatty acids. Therefore, it would be wise to pick a good amount of seafood in the diet. Avoid fish like shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish due to its high mercury content.
[ Read: Foods To Avoid If Trying To Get Pregnant ]
If you show a deficiency in iron, chances are you will have anemia, an undesirable condition in pregnancy. Therefore, considering the benefits of a good perinatal outcome, your doctor will advise you to include more iron in your diet early on itself supported by supplements.
A dietary intake of 150 micrograms of iodine is essential during the preconception period to avoid the incidence of any related complication in pregnancy. (4)
A nutrient that enhances the production of semen and testosterone in men and ovulation in women include zinc in both your and your partner’s diet to enrich fertility. Oysters contain high levels of zinc and can, therefore, help in keeping the reproductive system functioning well. A daily intake of 15 mg of zinc a day is desirable.
Hope you understood how important is nutrition before getting pregnant. You would want to do everything to make your baby happy when she finally arrives in this world. So why not let’s start the preparation early on? Have you started making changes in your pre-pregnant body? Tell us how.
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