Key nutrients and health tips to understand when you're trying to get pregnant
Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., MegaFood Chief Medical Advisor | March 2020
When it comes to planning, preparing physically, emotionally, and spiritually for pregnancy and motherhood should rank at the very top. Sometimes referred to as conscious conception, pre-conception is a time for looking inward, of letting go, of reaching out and growing. The preparation begins 3-4 months before actively trying to conceive. A time for nourishing your body, your mind and your spirit.
Take a quality prenatal vitamin
Start your prenatal at least 90 days before conception. Pregnancy is a time of rapid growth and development and you want to ensure that you have key nutrients on board before conception. Look for a prenatal that contains 400-600 mcg methyl folate, the active form of folate; a B-vitamin that supports fetal health.*
Choline is also necessary for healthy brain development but studies show that only 8-10% of pregnant women meet the recommended intake of 450 mg per day. Look for a prenatal that provides 200-300 mg per day before and during pregnancy. Other key nutrients that might be low include B6 (especially if you have been taking birth control pills), iron and iodine.
Baby & Me 2™ Prenatal Multi, part of the doctor-formulated multivitamin line that I crafted with MegaFood, was created to include these key nutrients and forms.
Optimize Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps support healthy bones and a healthy pregnancy.* Unfortunately, many women have vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency. I recommend getting a vitamin D test to optimize your levels before conception. The target goal for the blood test is 30-50 ng/ml. If your levels are low, your health care provider will likely recommend 50,000 IU vitamin D3 once weekly for 8 weeks and then recheck your levels. Once optimized, most women do fine taking 600-1000 IU (15-25 mcg) of vitamin D3 per day (which can be found in Baby & Me 2, or in MegaFood vitamin D3 formulas). You can order your own vitamin D test at requestatest.com and share the results with your provider if levels are low.
Get your omega-3s
These fatty acids help support the baby’s healthy brain and eye development.* Research shows that women taking docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega 3 fatty acid, have a lower risk of premature birth and having low birthweight babies. There is also research suggesting that pregnant women taking docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) had a lower perception of stress and lower cortisol response to stressful situations, than pregnant women taking a placebo. Consider MegaFood's Baby & Me 2 Prenatal DHA & Choline that provides plant-based DHA from algae with slow-release choline beadlets in a vegan capsule. Some types of fish are rich sources of DHA, the omega 3 most critical during pregnancy, but many are also high in mercury, which can damage the developing brain. The Environmental Working Group has a list of fish high in omega 3s, low in mercury, and sustainable.
Reduce exposure to endocrine disruptors
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals/substances that interfere with the action of our hormones. These chemicals can be dangerous during pregnancy, particularly during the first trimester. So, reducing exposures before conception is important. Some of the most prevalent are pesticides, bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates, and parabens.
Pesticide exposure can be minimized by eating organic, drinking filtered water and using integrated pest management at home. BPA and phthalate levels in the body can be reduced dramatically, within days, by avoiding the use of plastics in food/beverage storage and preparation (particularly microwaving), and reducing canned goods. Use fragrance and paraben free skin body care products and ensure that you are using safe cleaning products and cookware.
All of MegaFood’s products are certified glyphosate residue free as well as tested for 125+ other pesticides and herbicides. In fact, every product page, including our prenatal supplement line, includes seals which show whether our product is also certified vegan, Non-GMO Project Verified, organic and more.
Strive for a healthy body weight
A healthy diet and regular exercise are important throughout our lives but they are even more important if you are planning on becoming pregnant. Women who are obese are at greater risk for miscarriage, developing gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, and caesarean section (C-section) birth. There are also risks for the baby: premature birth, birth defects, and becoming obese during childhood. Just a 10% weight loss can significantly reduce these risks. For an obese woman (BMI of 30 or higher: calculate your BMI) who weighs 200 pounds, losing 20 pounds over a six-month period is achievable, safe and wise.
Don’t smoke and avoid second-hand smoke
Studies show that prenatal exposure to tobacco smoke, either from smoking or breathing second-hand smoke, is associated with miscarriage, premature birth, lower birthweight babies, abnormal lung function in babies, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Now is the time to quit smoking and insist guests and family members smoke outdoors.
Do a medicine check
There are prescription and over-the-counter medications that can be dangerous during pregnancy, particularly during the first trimester. It is important to tell your health care provider that you are planning to conceive, so that dosing can be adjusted or another drug prescribed. Mothertobaby.org has fact sheets available for drugs of concern, as well as some over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements.
Pregnancy and motherhood brings about many changes in our lives. Change can be stressful. It can also drag to the surface unresolved traumas that we keep hidden. If there are emotional wounds – now might be a good time to address them. This is also a good time to create rituals that can help you manage stress and transition. Meditation, breath work, and guided imagery can be powerful tools during pregnancy and childbirth. Yoga can help enhance the flexibility of our bodies and our minds. Journaling can allow you to express your deepest feelings and dreams. Walking in green places can deepen your connection to the earth. Find those rituals that hold meaning for you and integrate them into your life before conception.
While the recommendations were written for women, many are also highly relevant for fathers-to-be, as well.
And lastly, please note, this information is for educational purposes only. If you are pregnant or considering the possibility of pregnancy, please consult with your health care practitioner for advice regarding the right supplements and health choices for you.
Learn more about the full line of prenatal and postnatal supplements from MegaFood.
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