The Role of Nutrition in Preparing the Body for Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a significant and intense undertaking for your body, which makes it incredibly important to make sure your body is prepared both for your sake and your baby’s. Afterall, your body is your baby’s home until they are born. During your nine months of pregnancy, not only will your baby need nutrients to grow and develop, but your bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and immune system will all be affected by your pregnancy. So a good diet, proper nutrition, and healthy habits are crucial for preparing your body for all the changes on your journey to motherhood.
The Critical Time Before Pregnancy
While better health should always be a goal to keep for yourself, you want to be as healthy as possible before you conceive. Both your diet and your weight can impact conception as well as your pregnancy. If you’re not eating healthily and/or you are underweight/overweight, this can negatively impact conception. Do your best to establish a healthy diet and achieve a healthy weight before you are pregnant to be optimally prepared for conception as well as the 9-month marathon that we call pregnancy.
Before you are pregnant, eating a diet full of fast foods, sugar, and chemicals tends to cause low-grade inflammation in your body that can impact fertility. So limit fast foods, highly processed foods, or anything loaded with added sugars, preservatives, or chemicals as much as possible. This applies to your partner’s diet too, since chronic inflammation can impact sperm quality as well as the actual conception process. Instead, opt for whole foods, lean proteins, and plenty of vegetables and fruits in your diet.
Here are a few guidelines you can follow:
- Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits. We recommend 7+ servings a day. Vegetables and fruits are rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
- Eat whole grains. Grains like wheat, quinoa, oats, barley, and rye are excellent sources of fiber.
- Avoid saturated (animal) fats. Instead, aim to include oils high in monounsaturates such as olive oil and sunflower oil as well as foods rich in healthy fats such as avocados and salmon.
- Try plant-based proteins. This includes legumes, tofu, tempeh, chickpeas, and more.
- For those who eat meat, choose lean proteins. Lean proteins include chicken breasts, white fish, pork loin, lean cuts of beef, and egg whites.
When you are preparing for pregnancy, there are also key nutrients like vitamins A, C, D, and folate, calcium, and omega-3s that should be in your diet. These nutrients not only support your wellness, but they also help support the growth and development of your baby in various ways. You should try to get these nutrients either in your meals or by taking a daily prenatal supplement. For more details, view our blog on finding the right prenatal vitamin.
Both being overweight as well as being underweight can impact fertility. Having a high body fat percentage can lead to chronic inflammation and hormonal challenges, both of which can result in challenges to getting pregnant. Being overweight also puts you at higher risk of many pregnancy complications, especially gestational diabetes, and could lead to complications with labor and delivery. So the time to achieve a healthier weight is NOW—before you get pregnant.
Look at a BMI chart. If your weight isn’t where you want it to be, now is the time to do something about it. Our Shaklee 180® program is a clinically proven plan that can help you lose the weight you want to by losing body fat while preserving muscle, which helps keep your metabolism strong.
Supporting Egg Health
Another factor to consider when preparing for pregnancy is the health of your eggs. Fertility is affected by egg quantity as well as quality, the latter meaning the probability of embryo implantation. However, egg quantity is pretty much out of our control. Your egg supply is totally dependent on your age, because females are born with all the eggs that they will ever have. They lie dormant but decline until puberty when you lose about a thousand per month during the ovulation process. So by age 35, you have only about 6% of your original egg supply remaining. This makes egg quality increasingly important as you age. So, you can’t change the number of eggs you have, but you can affect their quality.
Here are a few ways to support egg quality:
- Don’t smoke at all or drink too much alcohol. Nicotine is toxic to your cells, which includes egg cells. So smoking is very detrimental to conception and a healthy pregnancy. Also, avoid drinking too much alcohol. Alcohol can be harmful to your developing fetus.
- Manage your stress. While stress does not directly affect conception, it can produce hormones like prolactin and cortisol that can affect the quality of your eggs. Try to manage your stress with adequate sleep, breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, physical activity, or journaling.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise can help promote oxygen-rich blood flow that can help improve the quality of eggs.
- Minimize high-fat and high-sugar foods. These foods lead to inflammation that can undermine ovulation as well as interfere with implantation of the embryo.
- Add more antioxidants to your diet. Improving your diet by increasing the antioxidant power of your diet also supports your body’s energy generation, which contributes to successful ovulation and conception.
- Start a nutrition routine. Take a daily prenatal vitamin or program like Meology® Prenatal to help fill gaps in your nutrition. Also consider supplements like coenzyme Q10 to support fertility and conception.
Let Us Help You on Your Journey to Motherhood
Follow this guide and do your best to get ready for the journey ahead. We know that this is a big deal for you, and we want to be with you every step of the way. Whether you are still preparing or need nutritional support during and after pregnancy, we have you covered. Create your own personalized nutrition plan with Meology® Prenatal, and don’t forget to share your motherhood journey with us @shakleehq.