Pre-natal nutrition

Trying to conceive a baby is a very exciting time yet it can be very stressful! Being at optimal health for both you and your partner can assist with impoving the likelihood of conception and promote good health for the baby!

Nutrients that are beneficial include:

1. Folate is an important nutrient for cell division which makes it important for the development of the embryo. Folate also reduces the effect of neural tube defects and spinal bifida. Food sources of folate include: lentils, cabbage, spinach, asparagus, avocado, brussel sprouts and whole grains. The recommended dose of folate is 400mcg daily.

2. Zinc is an important nutrient for men as a deficiency could result in infertility as it is needed for sperm production. Zinc deficiency in women can result in irregular periods. Food sources of zinc include: oysters, beef, lamb, turkey, cashews, lentils, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), quinoa and salmon.

3. Vitamin E is an important nutrient for fertility and gestation and also regulates the synthesis of sex hormones and optimises health of ovum and sperm. Food sources include: wheat germ, almonds, sweet potato, sunflower seeds and avocado.

4. Essential fatty acids improve blood circulation which for men improves blood flow to genitals, for women helps to regulate hormones and improve blood flow to uterus. Food sources include: oily fish such as salmon and sardines, flaxseeds, nuts, seeds and soybeans.

5. Iron is an important nutrient as it is important for transporting oxygen around and in pregnancy there is a higher demand as there is a considerable increase in blood volume. If there is a deficiency before pregnancy and can be difficult to reach adequate stores during pregnancy. Food sources of iron include: red meat, lentils, oysters, fish, quinoa and tofu.

6. Vitamin C is an important vitamin for preconception and pregnancy as it is involved in protein metabolism, healthy immune function and development of bones, skin and connective tissue. Food sources include: kiwi fruit, capsicum, citrus fruits, broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus.

Other things to remember include: getting enough sleep and rest, exercising regularly to support your body and stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation and mindfulness to avoid excessive stress.

Things to try and avoid while trying to conceive include:

1. Excessive caffeine intake, anything more than 2 cups per day is too much!

2. Alcohol to be eliminated or if not possible, reduced as excessive alcohol can lead to hyperprolactinemia which can contribute to infertility. It also has detrimental effects to the developing baby especially in the first trimester. Remember, most people do not know they are pregnant for the first few weeks which is key for development!

3. Smoking during pregnancy can lead to an increased risk of spontaneous abortion, vaginal bleeding, respiratory illness, pre-term delivery, small gestational age, low birth weight and SIDS.

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