By Neema Savvides
Is planning for a baby the ultimate New Year’s resolution for you and your partner? If so, preparing your body for pregnancy with a post-Christmas detox could be the key to successful conception.
1) Focusing on your diet
Improving your diet is key to your baby making plan, and it’s wise to cut back on the crisps and unhealthy snacks says nutritionist Neema Savvides.
“Reducing your sugar and salt intake is hugely important as a high level of insulin within the body will affect ovulation and hormone levels. Fat in food is an issue that should also be addressed. Ignore low fat product alternatives as they can actually be more harmful.
This is because they reduce the amount of healthy fats absorbed into the body which are required for the production of hormones, leading to an increase in ovulatory infertility. However, replacing them with full fat foods and drinks can lead to an increase in weight gain, interfere with ovulation and potentially lead to a lower quality hormone being produced.
So it is important to eat in moderation and find the right balance.”
2) Eat plenty of fruit and veg
Eating lots of fresh organic foods such as fruits and leafy vegetables will help you to absorb some of the antioxidants and nutrients that are beneficial when trying to conceive. It will also reduce the amount of pesticides being ingested into the system which have been shown to have a negative impact of fertility. Zinc, selenium and vitamins B, C and E should also be worked into the diet.
3) Take regular exercise
The advantages of regular exercise are endless! Great reasons to dust off your trainers include: reduced stress levels; regulated hormonal activity; increased strength and a better night’s sleep. Exercise also plays a fundamental role in maintaining a healthy body weight which is essential for conception.
A low or high BMI will prove to be a barrier when trying to conceive. There are certain conditions which will cause obesity and lower fertility levels such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It’s important to address your size as reducing this by just 10% will have a huge effect on your chances of becoming pregnant, as well as helping to improve the effectiveness of fertility treatments.
4) Take a folic acid supplement
You will be advised to take 400 micrograms (400µg) daily of folic acid from the time you stop contraception until week 12 of a successful pregnancy. Folic acid helps to prevent your baby developing serious problems of the brain and nerves such as spina bifida.
5) Limit your alcohol intake
When you’re trying to get pregnant it’s best to really limit your alcohol intake – it has also been shown to affect a man’s sperm count. Even in small amounts, alcohol may harm an unborn baby so it’s particularly important to refrain from alcohol in pregnancy. If you choose to drink alcohol at all during this time, limit the amount to no more than two units of alcohol, once or twice a week.
Mr Muneer, consultant urologist and male infertility expert from the Harley Street Fertility Clinic comments: “When trying to conceive, it is important to remember that what you put into your body will have an impact on the effectiveness of your body, both negatively and positively. Your everyday actions such as diet and activity will also have a direct influence on the effectiveness of your sperm, so it is important to address any areas which need improving in order to give yourself the best chance of conceiving naturally.”
6) Cut back on smoking
An ever popular vice to give up for the New Year is smoking. There’s a lot of logic to this because smoking, in addition to being the cause of many other health problems, can also increase a woman’s chances of miscarriage and lower a man’s sperm countand motility. Director of Harley Street Fertility Clinic Dr Venkat concurs:
“Smokers are more likely to have fertility problems than non-smokers. If you’re a heavy smoker, your risk of fertility problems is increased even more. This is because when you smoke, more than 7000 chemicals spread throughout your entire body and all of your organs. These chemicals hinder the ovulation process, damage eggs and sperm motility.”
7) Have regular intercourse
More than eight in 10 couples will become pregnant within the first year of trying for a baby, if they have sexual intercourse two to three times a week without using contraception. Some people believe that timing sex to be close to ovulation is the best strategy for getting pregnant, but having regular sex every two to three days prevents the pressure and stress that can occur if you try to time it with ovulation. Stress on either partner is known to affect the chances of conceiving.
If you and your partner have been trying for a baby for a year without success, visit your GP.
So, try making these simple lifestyle changes as not only will you be healthier, but they could help you to transform yourself. After all, a New Year’s resolution is not just for January but can be for life!
About the author: Neema Savvides has a Diploma in Nutritional Therapy and is a fully qualified member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT).