Planning on a new addition to your
Ensuring that you are getting the best nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle not only enhances your life but as recent studies are reporting you may also be enhancing the chances for your child to have better health for their entire life, not just during the pregnancy. Undernutrition or too much of the wrong types can both be detrimental to the health of your child.
Optimal nutrition also increases your chances of falling pregnant more easily, reduces your risk of miscarriage and complications during your pregnancy.
Key points to consider
1. Optimise hormonal balance
2. Reduce DNA oxidative damage
3. Provide key nutrients for growth and development of the baby
4. Life long health or disease risk profile of your child may commence in utero and influenced by your diet and gut health.
Building better babies begins before pregnancy, with the mother and father’s nutritional status prior to conception also being important. The health of the sperm and ovum involved in creating the foetus are affected by your nutritional status at least 90 days prior to the conception.
Optimising and balancing hormone levels will increase your chances of conceiving. Being underweight or overweight can reduce your chances so a good place to start is to aim for a healthy weight. When hormones are not balanced, ovulation is interrupted. Dietary modification and nutritional supplements can also assist in improving hormone balance and decreasing factors like polycystic ovarian syndrome, hyperprolactinaemia and endometriosis that can contribute to infertility.
DNA damage is another factor that can interfere with conception and increase risk of miscarriage. Studies indicate that ensuring a diet rich in antioxidants reduce these risks and may also decrease risk of complications such as preeclampsia. Many studies have shown that vitamin supplementation prior to pregnancy decreases the risk of neural tube defects.
Optimal nutrition may not only be important for your baby’s health during the pregnancy. Some researchers now believe that the nutrition a baby is exposed to during this period affects your child’s ongoing health throughout life, affecting how their organs develop and the wiring of their brain. In addition to diet the health of the mother’s gastrointestinal bacteria may also play a role in future immunity, disease and obesity risk for your child.
The importance of good folate levels has been well documented for reducing the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Recent information notes that it may be more than just folate that is protective against neural tube defects and other micronutrients and phytonutrients contained in folate rich foods contribute.
Many other key nutrients are important during pregnancy. For instance, low levels of selenium, a mineral deficient in Australian soils, has been statistically linked to a higher risk of miscarriage.
DHA omega 3 fatty acids are also important for brain and neural development.
Iodine is essential to prevent cretinism and healthy thyroid function.
Be aware however, that too much of a nutrient can be detrimental as well. Vitamin A and selenium can be toxic in high levels and as with all supplements, professional advice should be sought before deciding whether to include them in your nutrition plan.
In the 1980’s British researcher David J Barker correlated that the biggest predictor of early onset heart disease, along with stroke and insulin resistance was the birth weight of a person.
“Metabolic Syndrome” is a term generally used to refer to the presence of three or more risk factors including; high blood pressure, raised blood glucose, abdominal obesity, raised triglycerides, low HDL, polycystic ovarian syndrome and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). It is a predictor of increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Life long health of your child
In 2010, Bruce and Hanson commented that metabolic syndrome is increasing along with the obesity epidemic. Epidemiological studies and animal studies reveal that suboptimal nutrition during critical stages of growth during pregnancy increase the risk of developing diseases in later life. Unbalanced nutrition during pregnancy increased the likelihood of metabolic syndrome symptoms developing in the offspring.
If you are planning a pregnancy using IVF or other methods, your chances of a successfull pregnancy also improve when your health and nutrition is optimal.
Optimise ovulation – Improve hormones
Improve health of sperm & ovum
Reduce risk of miscarriage
Reduce DNA damage
Provide key nutrients to optimize growth