Your nutritional status before getting pregnant is crucial for a great beginning and progression of the pregnancy. By paying attention to your nutritional status, you can improve your chance of:
- Good fertility
- Easy conception
- Proper development of the baby
Get a head start with a healthy
If you are underweight you have inadequate energy reserves in your body. This can adversely affect ovulation, menstrual cycles and make it difficult to conceive. If you enter pregnancy being underweight, you may find it challenging to put on weight later.
If you are overweight, then you have excess fat stores in your body. Excess fat stores can adversely affect ovulation due to excess male sex hormones and insulin insensitivity. These conditions can reduce your chances of getting pregnant. Not just that being overweight puts you at risk of developing gestational diabetes, high blood pressure during pregnancy and having low birth weight baby/preterm baby.
Diet and fertility
You might be surprised to know that your nutritional status can affect various critical stages of pregnancy including fertility, conception, implantation and organ formation in your baby.
Although there is no special diet for getting pregnant, a large study found a high fertility rate among women aged 24–42 years who had:
- Low intake of trans fat with high intake of monounsaturated fats
- Low intake of animal protein (eggs, poultry and meat) with high vegetable protein intake (pulses, beans and soya beans)
- High fibre foods
- Preference for high-fat dairy products
- High non-haeme iron which is iron from vegetarian sources
Trans fats and animal proteins are associated with infertility due to ovulation problems. If you have problems of ovulation, avoiding these in your diet may help.
Start a folic acid supplement
Talk to your doctor about starting a folic acid (a B-complex vitamin) supplement at the earliest. This is because it can decrease the risk of neural tube defects (brain and spinal cord defects) in your baby by up to 70% if it is taken before you conceive or during early pregnancy.
Don’t forget about the other nutrients
Other nutrients which have been shown to be important for conception and early pregnancy are vitamin B12, B6, A, iron, copper, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D.
Although a balanced diet with a variety of foods will help you get these nutrients, consult a doctor or a dietitian to check if you need to start on a nutrient supplements.
Being physically active will help you achieve a healthy weight and healthy weight improves your chances of a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby.
A long read? But worth an every word towards your journey of healthy motherhood! All the best!!