Your preconception health is just as important as your prenatal health

Motherly Collective

We’re all familiar with the conventional wisdom when it comes to trying to conceive: stop birth control, track your cycle, eat well, avoid alcohol, and once pregnant, live ultra-clean. This supposedly increases your chances of a healthy pregnancy, right? Well… that’s not the whole story.

While these steps are valuable, and pregnancy is indeed a crucial time for your baby’s health, we could be missing the bigger picture. Are we overlooking the vital window before pregnancy: preconception?

The 3 to 6 months before trying to conceive is actually one of the most significant periods for you and your future child. Why? Because this time before conception is when you can truly enhance fertility (improving both egg and sperm quality), boost your chances of a successful pregnancy, and positively influence your future children’s health.

Yet, our focus often shifts to what happens after conception. We fixate on seeing that positive pregnancy test and everything that follows. In reality, our collective lack of emphasis on preconception may be a key reason why many struggle to conceive in the first place.

Here’s why preconception deserves our attention

Your baby’s nutrition starts earlier than you might think

Waiting until pregnancy confirmation to start prenatal supplements might not provide the best foundation for your baby’s development. From the moment of conception, your growing baby relies on your nutrient reserves. It takes time to build these reserves, yet by day 28 after conception, neural tubes are already closing. Focusing on preconception health ensures your body is primed to support a healthy pregnancy from day one. A high-quality prenatal supplement like WeNatal can meet your specific needs during this crucial stage.

First-trimester challenges can set in

Morning sickness and food aversions often make maintaining a balanced diet difficult in early pregnancy. Starting a comprehensive prenatal during preconception helps build nutrient reserves that can compensate for potential deficiencies when all you can stomach is bland food like crackers and toast. This ensures both you and your baby receive adequate nourishment, even when your diet is limited.

Epigenetics may impact your baby’s health

Epigenetics studies how gene activity changes without altering DNA sequences. Both parents’ diet and lifestyle choices before and during pregnancy can significantly impact the baby’s epigenetic markers and long-term health outcomes. Proper nutrition can provide essential nutrients that positively influence your baby’s epigenetic expression, promoting healthy development and potentially reducing future health risks.

Sperm health matters too

We often focus on women when discussing fertility and pregnancy, but 50% of your future baby comes from Dad! Research shows that both parents’ health around conception can influence a baby’s long-term health. Sperm quality is a crucial factor, with some studies linking recurrent miscarriages to chromosomal abnormalities in sperm. The good news? Men produce fresh sperm every 60-70 days, offering a chance to improve sperm health through diet, nutrition, and quality supplements. Studies show that men taking antioxidant supplements can significantly increase the odds of conception and live birth. It’s a compelling reason for men to prioritize preconception health too.

Getting started on your preconception journey

Aim for nutrient-rich eating

Build those reserves by focusing on a balanced diet. Include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats to ensure a wide range of essential vitamins and minerals.

Focus on folic acid

Incorporate folic acid-rich foods like leafy greens, legumes, citrus fruits, and fortified cereals. This nutrient is crucial for neural tube development and can help prevent birth defects.

Seek out iron

Consume iron-rich foods such as lean meats, fish, beans, and fortified cereals to prevent anemia, which is common during pregnancy.

Catch up on calcium

Ensure adequate calcium intake from dairy products, fortified plant-based milk, leafy greens, and nuts for bone health.

Maximize Omega-3s

Include sources of omega-3 fatty acids like fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts for fetal brain and eye development.

Avoid added sugars

Limit processed foods and added sugars when you can. Opt for whole, unprocessed foods to maximize nutrient intake.

Start prenatal supplements early

If possible, begin taking a comprehensive prenatal supplement 3 to 6 months before conception. This ensures essential nutrients like choline and folate are readily available when conception occurs. Remember, modern farming practices have depleted soil nutrients, so even a balanced diet may lack essential vitamins and minerals. Quality prenatal supplements bridge this gap.

Prioritize men’s health during preconception, too

Sperm health is crucial! Research suggests up to 50% of infertility cases may be related to sperm quality. Key nutrients for men during preconception include vitamin E, vitamin C, CoQ10, L-carnitine, and zinc. Consider a targeted men’s supplement like WeNatal to support sperm health.

By embracing this proactive approach to preconception, trust that you’re taking powerful steps to nurture your future family, one day at a time.

This story is a part of The Motherly Collective contributor network where we showcase the stories, experiences and advice from brands, writers and experts who want to share their perspective with our community. We believe that there is no single story of motherhood, and that every mother’s journey is unique. By amplifying each mother’s experience and offering expert-driven content, we can support, inform and inspire each other on this incredible journey. If you’re interested in contributing to The Motherly Collective please click here.

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