I’m talking about a holistic approach to preconception; not merely in terms of our health but perhaps in more significant and far reaching ways that may change even our priorities in life; once we are responsible for a new individual.
At the end of the day this is the biggest decision any of us have to make, because unlike so many other choices we have in life, this one can’t be undone!
So hoping I haven’t talked myself out of too much work here….! what things can those hoping to be parents consider in order to be as prepared as possible?
Assuming you are on the same page as your partner re wanting children, and that you’ve decided the time is right for you both, the next big consideration is making sure you are both as healthy as possible.
It will mean thinking about and possibly modifying your diet. Ideally you should aim for a BMI between 19-25 but even losing or gaining some weight if you are bigger or smaller before you conceive can significantly improve your health once you are pregnant. And as you can see these things apply equally to the men!
The DoH recommends a folic acid and Vitamin D supplement for women who are trying to get pregnant.
Limit or even cut out alcohol
Stop smoking and taking recreational drugs.
Consider your physical activity both at home and as part of a typical working day. Even a short walk every day can have huge health benefits; reduces the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers.It would be also beneficial to address any back or pelvis alignment issues the woman may have, this could be done by a physiotherapist, osteopath or chiropractor, before getting pregnant.
Assess things such as stress factors in your life and access methods that can reduce these, such as exercise, meditation, or even getting some professional help from GP or therapist; as mental health issues can tend to get more severe and problematic during pregnancy, for men as well as women.
An appointment with your doctor can assess things like your weight; blood pressure; any underlying medical condition. You may want genetic counselling if there are conditions in either partners family that could be inherited.
Occasionally more extensive tests can be undertaken by either or both partners such as hair analysis, blood tests and infection screening. This would detect any abnormally high levels of heavy metals or mineral deficiencies; low iron levels in the blood (anaemia) or any infections which could treated prior to pregnancy such as chlamydia. The organisation Foresight, find them on www.foresight-preconception.org.uk can be a particularly helpful resource here.
It can be helpful for the woman to stop using hormonal based contraception and instead use barrier methods, to allow her menstrual cycle to re establish a normal pattern.
Next month I will give some suggestions of other factors that you may like to consider before you embark on the most amazing adventure that is Parenthood!!