Planning to have a baby? Give yourself 6-12 months to prepare
Something that I frequently wish is for patients to initiate naturopathic care at least 6 months before they plan to start actively trying to conceive. There are very few people in the modern world who are the picture of health, and the health of the parents have important implications for the health of the child.
The same way that when you're planning a garden you take care to ensure that you're buying the highest quality seed, that the soil is as healthy and nutrient-dense as possible, and that in general the conditions are optimal as possible that seed to grow into a healthy, vibrant plant, this is exactly my intention when it comes to preconception planning. So what are some of the things that I recommend to couples or individuals who are hoping to become parents in the next 1-2 years?
I cannot stress enough the importance of detoxification for both the male and female partner before they actively start trying to conceive. Throughout our lifetimes we are exposed to various chemicals including pharmaceutical drugs, recreational drugs, pesticides, alcohol, chlorinated water, air pollution, EMFs and various other damaging influences. To me it doesn't matter if you're 20 or 40 years old when you come to see me, detox is the first thing that I recommend for everyone. It's important to assess the source of toxicity in your life and remove as much of it as possible, and then detoxify the body through various means to ensure that you're as healthy as possible before getting pregnant.
Overall Physical Health
How is your overall physical health? Are there any current health concerns? Any chronic health issues? What was your health like as a child? What was your birth like? All of these questions are important to address and assess before conceiving. Some of the more specific things to get into here include:
assessing diet and ensuring that you're eating the right diet for your body, but also one that supports optimal fertility
running lab work including full metabolic panel, thyroid panel, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, iron, full hormone panel, inflammation markers, and any other indicated tests
looking at how much, how often, and in what ways you move your body
what kind of water are you consuming?
how is your bowel health?
how is your sleep?
how is your mental and emotional health?
Choosing the right Prenatal
Not all prenatal supplements are created equal. Many people pick up the one that their MD recommends or the one that's on sale at Shopper's or Costco assuming that it's just fine, but quality matters when it comes to your prenatal vitamin. I could write an entire blog post on what to look for in a quality prenatal but here are a few key tips when finding the right one:
You want a prenatal that actually contains therapeutic doses of each vitamin and mineral that it contains. Some vitamins marketed as prenatal vitamins contain dosages so small that quite frankly, it won't make any therapeutic difference for you or your baby's health whether or not you're taking it.
It should contain the correct form of the vitamins. A great example of that is folic acid. Your prenatal should contain methylated folate, NOT folic acid. Yes, you read that correctly. Most women can't actually convert synthetic folic acid into the usable form which is methyl-folate. In other words, even though your prenatal lists folic acid as an ingredient, you may not actually be able to absorb it and utilize it if it's not in the correct form.
Ensure that it does not contain any fillers or additives. It's astounding to me that prenatal vitamins prescribed by doctors so often contain a whole bunch of fillers and additives which absolutely should not be in any vitamins, let alone prenatals. Some examples of fillers and harmful additives include: polysorbate 80, corn starch, BHT, shellac glaze, FD&C, lactose, mineral oil, propylene glycol, talc and titanium dioxide, soybean oil, ammonium hydroxide, Blue#2, Red#27, sodium lauryl sulfate, polyvinyl alcohol, etc.
Ensure that it doesn't contain unnecessary sugars like glucose, sucrose, fructose, rice syrup, corn starch, etc. There is no reason at all that a prenatal should contain any sugar.
Exploring Your Ideas of Motherhood/Fatherhood
The messages that we receive throughout our lives about parenthood are important to explore (ideally) before we become parents because they can have an impact on our journey to parenthood. We receive messages from our own parents, as well as from media and society at large. For example, having spoken to many women who hope to one day become mothers, some of the common themes that I hear over and over again include:
My relationship with my partner may suffer or not survive if we have kids
I will fall behind in my career
Pregnancy will take a toll on my body; birth will be painful
I'll never sleep again once the baby is born
My life (or some part of it) will be over if I have kids
I'm going to have to become a super mom
It's important to discuss any fears or uncertainties because sometimes these very things can energetically block our ability to conceive. Like most fears, often they turn out to be untrue upon closer examination.
Connecting to your child's Spirit
This is a part of preconception care that is very close to my heart. In many traditional cultures no one would bat an eye if you said that women are often able to connect to the spirit of their unborn child, communicate with them, and be guided by them through the process of conception, pregnancy and delivery. This is an aspect that I explore with patients who are drawn to it. To learn more about the idea of conscious conception you can read my blog post about it here.
If you're interested, I shared my conscious conception story on a podcast here.
Awakening Fertility: The Essential Art of Preparing for Pregnancy by Heng Ou
Brighton Baby by Roy Dittmann
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price