As some of you might have read, Mr Sloan and I have decided 2018 is the year we start seriously considering having a baby Sloan! This is not because we got the not so subtle hint of being given a pram this Xmas which puppy Gizmo may look to commandeer if we don’t fill it soon, but because this has always been something we both wanted.
We see children as a precious gift. The problem is I am not 25 anymore, I am not even 35… but shhh don’t tell too many people! Even Mr Sloan is no longer 35, so we have decided to apply the principles that I use in my relationship coaching to getting pregnant.
By that I am not talking about how to make a relationship work, I am very lucky we already have a fantastic relationship but how to work on yourself to get in a place where you put your body at the most optimal that it can be so that you give pregnancy the best chance it can have.
Now when looking for the perfect partner this can sometimes take four to six weeks to get yourself back in shape if you were just coming out of a long-term relationship or divorce (it’s quicker for shorter relationships) and if you put in the effort it can be achieved in much less time, but when you are attempting to get pregnant the preparation process is much longer. Some say it can take as long as two years, others say you can be lucky and a three to six month process is enough. This also seems long but relatively is not that long. You see we carry our child for nine months in the womb and some parents look after their child at least 18 years if not more like four or five decades so why would three or six month preparation to have a child actually be considered that long especially when you’re in your 30s.
I decided to talk to someone who could shed some light on what I should be doing and this is what nutritionist and author Fleur Brown had to say about her eight steps you can take to see positive results.
Hope you enjoy
Fleur says “Remember it takes two to tango and two to make a baby. So, both partners should take steps to actively enhance their pre-conceptual care and fertility, when planning to get pregnant. Here are my eight steps enhancing pre-conceptual care and fertility.”
Step 1: Improve your diet – ditch the junk and latch onto eating “proper” food
Your baby will be made up of millions of cells that you contributed to. It is therefore not rocket science to ensure that the fuel you both put into your bodies will create the best possible building blocks for your baby. Cut down on any processed packaged meals and take-aways and try to cook from scratch – even if it simple meals like a quick omelette with lots of veggies (spinach, peppers, mushrooms for example) and a large side salad drizzled with good quality extra virgin olive oil. Eat organic wherever possible to ensure you are not putting a whole load of pesticides, fertilisers and preservatives into your body.
Step 2: Increase your protein intake
Protein intake is very important before and during pregnancy, as there will be great demands made on your body for amino acids (the building blocks) as the baby grows in the womb. You should be eating protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Good sources of protein include organic dairy products (avoid cheese from unpasteurised milk when pregnant), whey protein powder, free range or organic eggs, grass-fed, outdoor reared, free range (or organic) red meat, poultry including duck, chicken and turkey, game, offal, and for vegetarians, nuts, organic tofu and bean and grain combinations and pea, hemp or rice protein powders.
Step 3: Avoid having amalgam fillings and eating tuna
Most private dentists have now stopped using amalgam fillings although these are still used extensively in NHS practices. Amalgam contains mercury – a highly toxic metal that can leech into the body over the years. Avoid having amalgam-containing fillings put in and also, importantly, removed. There is a risk that the mercury in the fillings can flood into the body during the removal process – which can be harmful not just to you but to your baby too. Big fish such as tuna, marlin and swordfish concentrate and store mercury in their bodies from the waters around them. It is best to avoid these fish both pre-conceptually and during pregnancy.
Step 4: Avoid taking antibiotics
Antibiotics destroy the good bacteria in the gut and can set you up for ensuing digestive issues which may cause malabsorption of nutrients from your diet. Having a bountiful level of good bacteria in your gut can in turn enhance the development of the baby’s gut bacteria, which helps boost a health immune system and reduces the risk of developing eczema and asthma in childhood. So avoid taking antibiotics around the time of conception or during pregnancy unless absolutely essential
Step 5: Take a good quality multivitamin
All-round, top-class nutrient status is essential for fertility. Women should take a multi-vitamin that contains at least 400 mcg of folic acid in the MTHFR form – which is a high absorbable form and therefore used effectively by the body. It should be specially formulated for pre-conception and pregnancy. Men should ensure they take a multi that has good levels of zinc to help ensure good quality sperm production. Some of the better brands also contain L-Arginine and good levels of vitamin C to enhance sperm motility. It is best to buy your multivitamin/mineral from a good health food shop rather than a supermarket brand which could be low in certain essential nutrients.
Step 6: Optimise your Vitamin D level
Vitamin D is now thought to be essential for enhancing fertility and a health pregnancy. Ask your GP to test both of you to ensure you have adequate levels. An optimal level for fertility is around 100 nmol/L to 130 nmol/L – if your levels are anything less than this, you will need to take around 2000 iu of Vitamin D to get your level up. Recheck every three months to ensure it remains at a good level and is not too low or too high. Note: your multivitamin/mineral will contain Vitamin D so the amount in that should be take into account before you decide to take an extra Vitamin D supplement.
Step 7: Keep your blood sugar levels stable
Ensure you keep your blood sugar levels stable. If you have energy slumps, or feel you cannot focus or concentrate after long intervals without food, you need to stabilise your blood sugar by having a snack mid-morning and late afternoon – and ensure you don’t skip meals and have three meals a day, which need not be huge but adequate to satisfy your hunger.
Step 8: Avoid alcohol
Alcohol can effect fertility. Both partners should avoid alcohol while trying to conceive and women should avoid alcohol when pregnant. Studies show that women who drink five or less alcoholic drinks a week have lowered fertility and those who consumed more than five alcoholic drinks a week took longer to get pregnant. Men who regularly consume alcohol can have lower sperm motility and concentration, leading to a lowered chance of fertilisation.
Fleur Brown is a Kent-based Nutritionist who has 25+ years’ experience and the author of ‘Beat Chronic Disease’ (Hammersmith Books, September 2017, £14.99). Fertility is one of the subjects addressed within her new book, which is packed with invaluable functional nutrition advice tackling a range of chronic diseases and issues that Fleur has treated over the decades.