I have never really thought of preconception in any special way before. I thought that one day you decide that you are ready for a baby and then you just start trying. As my wife and I have gone through this, I have realized that I was dead wrong. So much of what we have going on in our bodies before conception effects the quality of the pregnancy. The more you can do for yourself now, the better your pregnancy and postpartum period will be. Below I give some points to think about and possible changes to make, so you can get out there and make a beautiful, healthy baby!
Our world is loaded with toxins. It is amazing all the different ways these toxins can enter our body. Even when we are trying our hardest to remove them from our lives, they are in the air and water, and there is only so much we can do. This is okay. We are not all on the path to destruction. It is good to know that these things exist so that we can change our lifestyle to make up for it.
This is one main reason why preconception care is so important. If you take the time before conceiving to rid your body of these unnecessary additions, you can boost your fertility, balance your hormone levels, and get your body feeling great so that when the time is right, your body is ready and raring to go. When we remove the things that harm us, our bodies can begin to heal themselves, which is something they do naturally.
Preconception is the best time to quit smoking and stop drinking alcohol. The reason for this is that when you end the use of these products, your body can go into detox mode, and when this happens, all the bad stuff in your body starts to leave. If you are pregnant when you do this, these substances may enter the developing fetus. This is true of all detoxes. If you want to detox, do so long before conception.
One of the easiest ways to lower our toxic load is to remove the items in our lives that contribute. This can be as simple as removing one product from your daily routine. Hair products, soap, toothpaste, moisturizer, and deodorant are all examples of products that contain chemicals that can mess with our hormones, burden the liver, get stored in our fat cells, among many other things. When you find one you want to remove, there are many products that are healthier that you can replace it with. When you have removed one, try another, and then another. Do this until you are satisfied with all the products you use. This is a long process, and that is okay.
Check out the Environmental Working Group’s website to see how your products rate. They have an amazing database for these products. Books like Ecoholic and Gorgeously Green have great product lists for you to check out. I will also have information in upcoming posts.
Another way toxins sneak into our lives is through household cleaners. There are so many chemicals that we inhale and/or absorb through the skin while cleaning and even after the cleaning is done, that just getting rid of them will help you tremendously. Any product with a skull and crossbones or the corrosive symbol should be out of the house for good, and make sure to take them to an eco-station so they can dispose of it properly. Truthfully, any product with any hazardous symbol should be removed from your home.
My general rule is that if I can’t eat it, I shouldn’t be cleaning with it. This does sound extreme, but I just use different combinations of vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, and water to clean.
Toxins are all around us, and knowing this is useful. By removing products that are unhealthy, we can notice a dramatic shift in our health.
Taking time before you conceive to get to know your body’s rhythms is also a great thing to do. Our female bodies are meant for so much in life, and we do so many awesome things. The most amazing of which are usually the ones we have no control over, and the greatest example of this is our menstrual cycle.
When everything is working normally, we have the possibility to create life every month. Now is the time to follow your menstrual cycle and get to know the feelings you have at each stage. It is also a great time to chart your cycle so you can find out when you are ovulating. This is a good piece of information to have when you do start trying to conceive so that you can time sex with your most fertile day(s).
Our bodies are incredible and so are our minds. Getting ready to have a baby can also involve mentally preparing for the journey you have set out on. This can involve having conversations with your partner or friends about what you are thinking, what you are afraid of and most excited about. It feels so great to talk to someone who is truly listening and who really cares about you and your life.
Another way to get what you are feeling out into the world is to journal. Take 5 minutes a day and write what comes to mind. This is an amazing exercise, and you will learn a lot about yourself.
Meditation is another way to get to know yourself. It can be as easy as sitting comfortably, closing your eyes, and counting your breath. Count your inhales and exhales up to 10 and then start over. If you find that your mind is wondering, and it will, just bring it back to your breath. This is such a beautiful way to relax and listen to your body. Five minutes a day is great to start.
Take time to enjoy your baby-less life. This one sounds harsh, but why not go to that movie or out for a special dinner? Soon you may not have the time or energy to do these things, so enjoying them now is smart. When you can enjoy life the way it is right in that moment, that is truly living. What will come, will come whether you stress about it or take a breath and enjoy the scenery. I know which way I want to go! Much of life is thinking/worrying/dreaming about the future, so take a step back and take the time to cherish this moment.
What About Food?
Food is such a big part of our lives, and it is the building blocks of our bodies. Everything we eat becomes a literal piece of us, so making sure our meals are helping us is important. Unfortunately, a lot of the toxins we have in our bodies are from food. Chemicals are sprayed heavily on conventional produce and are then taken up by the plants, then eaten by us, and stored in our fat cells if the body doesn’t know what to do with them.
One big change you can make with food is to eat organic. It can cost more now, but will save you money on healthcare later on. It is silly that organic has to be labelled because this is just the way food is naturally. This is what our body wants and needs. To give it a label gives the impression that it is a fad or new and people have certain associations with the word organic, a lot of times negative. When in reality, it is food. So let’s all eat food! When our bodies are spending time and energy working through the chemicals found in the things we eat, it takes valuable resources away from other processes and can show up as symptoms in the body.
Preconception is also a time to build your stores of various nutrients and fat. Your body will need more of all of these to grow a healthy baby. A great place to start is to add more greens into your current diet. This includes any type of kale, Swiss chard, bok choy, lettuce, broccoli, spinach, etc.
There are so many benefits to upping your leafy green intake. Here are a few: improved circulation; improved liver, gallbladder, and kidney function (which is great when you are removing toxins because they will aid the process); strengthened immune and respiratory systems; and they also promote healthy intestinal flora. They are naturally high in calcium, magnesium, and iron, as well as antioxidants. They are also a good source of folate, the B vitamin necessary to help prevent certain birth defects.
A random, cool thing about greens is that out of all the diets one can follow (paleo, raw, vegan, low oil high carb, etc), all of them agree on the benefits of greens. That’s a big deal because they do not agree on much else.
Along with increasing green intake, you will also want to increase your healthy fats. Seeds, nuts, coconut oil, and avocados are great sources. There are omega 3 fats that are a little more difficult for a vegan to get (EPA and DHA), but don’t dispair, sources do exist. There are now products out there that are sourced from algae that contain these fats. This is great news for us.
Omega 3 fats are needed for the proper development of your baby’s brain, they aid fertility by increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs, and they reduce inflammation. We can also get them through flax and chia seeds and walnuts. To learn more, click here.
During pregnancy, the developing baby needs a lot of protein to build every cell in the body. Protein deficiency can result in reduced growth of the fetus. You can start upping your protein intake at this time to make the transition easier. The recommended amount of protein during pregnancy is 70-75 grams, so you can start increasing the amount a little each month. Check out my post on protein here for more information.
Food is what makes us and our babies at the cellular level. It is important to choose the best we can with the resources we have. Preconception can be such a special time. We can prepare our bodies and minds for the upcoming pregnancy and learn a lot about ourselves and life in general.
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I hope this post has shed some light on some of the perks of getting your body ready for conception. I have given a very general overview of these topics and will dive into them deeper in the coming posts. Is there something that really resonated with you or is there something you would like to add? Let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear from you.
You may have also noticed a link to get the free guide on 3 Ways to Aid Fertility. This guide has great tips to help balance your hormones, remove toxins, and get you on track for making a beautiful, healthy baby. Please sign up if this interests you.