With the much celebrated arrival of Prince George of Windsor and the announcement of another Royal baby on the way from Princess Zara, the nation is obsessed with pregnancy and babies. So what can you do if you are trying to conceive but have not been successful, or are thinking about a baby in the future. This article will explain what you can do to improve your chances of conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy.
There are four main areas to focus on,
- your weight
- your diet
- your stress levels
- your timings
Get all four of these things right and you can radically improve your chances of conceiving.
Being overweight or underweight can hinder your chances of getting pregnant. You can use an online Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator to check your weight, by measuring your height and weight it can give you a guide to whether you are in the normal category 20-24.9 or overweight.
Patrick Holford, author of Optimum Nutrition during pregnancy says 'Even moderate obesity classed as a BMI of 25-30 reduces the chances of conception and increases the risks of miscarriage'
Firstly if you are overweight and trying to conceive don't crash diet, your body needs to have optimum nutrition during this time and throughout your pregnancy. Eat the foods recommended below, but watch your portion sizes and increase your exercise levels to a minimum of 30mins 4 times a week.
If you battle with keeping weight on, you need to follow the healthy eating guidelines and up your portion sizes of the right foods - try eating more rice, jacket potatoes, meat and fish to put on weight rather than crisps and chocolate.
Elisabeth Somer, author of Nutrition for Healthy pregnancy likens preparing for pregnancy to preparing for a marathon. Your body needs to have all the vitamins and minerals to be able to sustain and grow a baby. This is a great idea to have in your mind to keep you focused on eating the right foods.
So what should you eat, the University of Milan researched 912 women who had miscarried and found their diet was direct related. The risk was
- 70% lower when the mothers ate fruit
- 50% lower when the mothers ate cheese
- 40% lower with milk and vegetables
- 30% lower with eggs
* taken from P110, Somer, Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy, Owl Books, 2 edition 2002
So make sure you eat fruit and vegetables every day, have dairy products (or fortified alternatives) plus eat eggs 3 times a week.
Former Head of Risk at Hillingdon hospital Diane White adds 'It's important to watch what you drink too, caffeine hides in many of our drinks such as energy drinks, tea, coffee and soft drinks. But you don't need to go cold turkey, cut down your caffeine by adding decaf with your regular brew, try fizzy water rather than your soft drinks, and add more milk to your coffee, as your body will benefit from the calcium.'
Top foods to eat - Good sources of vitamins
Calcium - Dairy products, baked beans, tinned sardines
Copper - Dried apricots, meats, rice, wholemeal pasta and breakfast cereals
Essential Fatty Acids - Oily fish (avoid cod and halibut during pregnancy)
Folic Acid - Breakfast cereals, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, oranges, and yeast extract
Iron - (best when eaten with vitamin C rich foods ) -Meat, canned fish like sardines and pilchards
Magnesium - Whole grains, nuts, legumes, dark leafy vegetables
Selenium - Bread, brazil nuts, fish and some grains
Zinc - (great for sperm mobility, and for a healthy baby) Meat, nuts, shellfish, beans and milk
Remember you need to take a pregnancy multi vitamin, ideally with the extra omega capsules, as this will help replenish any stores of nutrients your body needs, plus give your baby the best start. Your partner will also need to start taking either the male fertility multi vitamins, or a standard multi-vitamin to ensure his swimmers are at their best. Ideally you need to take the vitamins 3 months before conceiving.
Your stress levels
Trying to get pregnant can be hugely stressful, and you need to ensure you are in optimum health both emotionally and physically. It is important to reduce the stress, for both of you during this time, you can do this by incorporating exercise, yoga is particularly good as it helps your mind and body relax. If this isn't for you, then take a walk in the park or have a stress relieving massage and where possible try and spend time together, this is a great time to strengthen your relationship ready for the pregnancy and impending sleepless nights.
Do you know your most fertile time to conceive? You are only fertile for a few days a month, so you need to get it right. You can download free fertility apps that can help chart your cycle or you can buy ovulation kits all designed to maximise your chances of conceiving.
So can it work?
One of my clients Sally was 38 when she came to me, unfortunately she had miscarried 3 times and wanted help. We worked through her diet, and found she had fallen into the trap that most of us had, eating the same thing day in day out. Sally was more on the extreme side, as ate the same breakfast and lunch every day, and it wasn't the most nutritious diet.
The main problem with eating the same thing is your body gets used the nutrients and calories you eat, and in Sally's case it wasn't enough to sustain a healthy pregnancy.
'I had never eaten an avocado or mango before, but Pippa helped me introduce these into my diet, and her tips and tricks for breakfast made it easy to make the changes'.
I worked with Sally on a new diet, making one change at a time, so it was a manageable, introducing variety to her diet and new foods that provided her optimum nutrition. At the same time we worked on balancing her body through reflexology and working on a positive outlook with affirmations and stress relieving techniques. After 5 months, Sally conceived naturally and had a healthy baby boy, who is now a loving boisterous 4 year old.
So try the 4 stages, good luck, let me know how you get on