Looking after yourself and your nutrition should be top of your agenda if you’re planning on trying for a baby with the help of fertility treatment. Here, Anya Sizer, Patient Support Co-ordinator at the Bridge Centre, shares her top tips on taking care of yourself before you conceive.
Eating for two needs to start well in advance of those magical two lines appearing on a home pregnancy test. Most experts suggest that a minimum of three months is needed to get yourself in tip-top condition to provide a healthy environment for your baby to grow.
Even if you already think you follow a healthy diet, you could probably benefit from increasing your intake of certain vitamins and minerals. Indeed, one study indicates approximately 74% of women are nutrient deficient. So, for those women facing fertility issues, especially unexplained infertility, it is well worth pre-planning and improving your diet prior to treatment.
Preparing for conception, especially if you are having fertility treatment, shouldn’t be a time of stress. My suggestions are based on improving your life circumstances, which will help avoid added stress at this already difficult time.
For this reason, I always recommend following the 80:20 rule. Make sure you are looking after your nutrition 80% of the time. Look on yourself as an athlete in training and invest time and commitment in yourself. However do this in a spirit of kindness to yourself and allow yourself the occasional treat – you deserve it!
I see far too many women putting themselves under unnecessary pressure trying to get everything right. The occasional piece of chocolate cake will do you the world of good.
Steady energy. Keep to a low G.I diet in order to regulate blood sugar levels and stop insulin spikes. Undergoing treatment can be quite a demanding time and you will need a good steady supply of energy to help you through.
Drink up. Increase your water intake to at least two litres a day. This will help to regulate your hormones, flush out toxins and increase your energy levels.
Protein. Up your intake of protein and try to eat a portion with every meal. This is vital for both egg and sperm quality. If you combine the protein with carbohydrate it will slow down the release of energy and will help to stabilise your energy levels throughout the day.
Healthy hormones. Increase your levels of essential fatty acids, especially Omega 3 and Omega 6 - both are key for healthy hormone levels and foetal development.
Caffeine free. Reduce, or preferably, cut out caffeine intake as it leaches vital nutrients, causes false energy spikes and has been linked to poor sperm count.
Go organic. Where possible buy organic foods - they will contain more vitamins and minerals and will have been produced without pesticides. In high doses, pesticides have links to both poor fertility and unhealthy pregnancy.
Take a pill. Take a multivitamin containing folic acid, as well as an Omega 3 and Omega 6 supplement. The government also advices to take a vitamin D supplement, ideally in liquid form – this aids ovarian function. It’s also crucial for sperm count and motility so it’s a must for men too!
Sleep tight. Make sure you rest. Sleep is incredibly important in the body’s recovery process, hormone regulation and energy levels. Sleep deprivation has been linked to adrenaline overload and Insulin over production and leads to increased stress and cortisol levels, which can affect female hormones and in some cases cause irregular ovulation.
For more information on nutrition or to speak to our new patient co-ordinators, please contact the Bridge Centre on 020 3819 3282 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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