1. Aim for a healthy weight
In your twenties and thirties, it is common to have “weight gain”, an extra kilogram or two gained each year, without realizing it. Carrying too much weight increases the risk of pregnancy complications, including Gestational Diabetes, pre-eclampsia and childbirth complications. So, it’s worth trying to shift some of the “extra pounds” before trying to conceive.
A mother’s pre-pregnancy weight also has a direct bearing effect on the birth weight of her baby. Compared to mothers who are in the healthy weight range, overweight or obese mothers are 1.5 to 2 times more likely to have babies with a high birth weight, which increases the risk of complications at birth. the birth. For these infants there is an increased risk of developing obesity, heart disease and type 1 diabetes later in life.
But improving diet and physical activity helps you achieve a healthy weight that’s right for you. For overweight women, a 5-10% loss of pre-pregnancy weight is enough to improve fertility and reduce the risk of weight-related pregnancy complications.
2. Improve your food and drink choices
Increase the variety of foods you eat each week from the core food groups – vegetables, fruits, whole grains, vegetarian foods (including legumes like baked beans, kidney beans, lentils, eggs, nuts and seeds), lean meats/poultry/fish and dairy foods – also boosts vitamins and minerals needed early in pregnancy.
Start by assessing the quality of your diet using the Healthy Eating Quiz and check how it suggests you to increase your score. You can also use the healthy eating calculator linked to the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. This calculates the recommended daily servings of each of the five basic food groups and gives an idea of the daily servings to aim for to optimize your nutrients.
Getting your nutrients from food first is recommended, but some nutrients require special attention before conception and early in pregnancy.
3. Take a folate supplement
folate is a B group vitamin. It is necessary to complete the development of the neural tube, which forms the baby’s brain and spinal cord during the first weeks of pregnancy. This may be before you even know you are pregnant. If the neural tube does not close, it can cause neural tube defect like spina bifida.
Taking a folate supplement (in the form of folic acid) from one month before pregnancy until the end of the first trimester is the best way to ensure that you meet folate needs in early pregnancy.
Choose a supplement with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid. Tell your doctor if you have a family history of neural tube defects as you will need higher levels of folic acid.
A folate supplement is added to the consumption of good food sources of folate, such as green leafy vegetables, fruits, lentils and bread flour, most of which is fortified with folic acid in Australia). Organic bread flour and most regular flours are not fortified, so check the ingredient list on the flour you buy for home cooking.
4. Take an iodine supplement
During pregnancy, iodine is needed to support the development of the baby’s brain and nervous system. Good dietary sources of iodine include seafood, dairy products, eggs and bread flour fortified with iodine (except regular and organic flour).
Although seafood is rich in iodine, some types such as shark and swordfish should be avoided before and during pregnancy as they may contain large amounts of mercury.
In Australia, women planning to become pregnant are recommended to take an iodine supplement containing 150 micrograms of iodine per day and to continue during pregnancy or lactation.
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about vitamin supplements to meet your needs. For more personalized nutrition advice, check out a registered dietitian.
5. Avoid alcohol
All health authorities agree that it’s best to avoid alcohol from the moment you start thinking about having a baby. There is no known safe level of alcohol during pregnancy. Alcohol consumed in moderate to large amounts can cause fetal alcohol syndrome and increase the risk of having a baby premature birth and low birth weight, which increases the risk of the baby having medical problems. the risks to the baby at lower levels are less clear. The safest option is not to drink alcohol if you are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding.
put it all together
Now is the time to start making changes to improve the nutritional quality of your food. And it’s not all about mom.
Future dads can benefit from it eat a variety of nutritious foods, reduce alcohol consumption and lose a trouser size. A study found that overweight men were 1.2 times and obese men were 1.3 times more likely to be sterile. But the good news in our study was that overweight and obese men who losing a few pounds reported better erectile function.
Any improvement you make in your eating habits and lifestyle today will benefit you and your family in the future.