Are you looking to conceive in the near future? Has the recent rise in new babies showing up on social media feeds from all your friends and loved ones have you starting to think of pregnancy? Here are some key areas to address when it comes to your preconception health to optimize your chances of conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy.
For women looking at conceiving, optimizing health 3-6 months prior to planning to conceive is ideal. This is because it can take hormones approximately 3 months to balance and nutrient stores like iron 3-6 months to rise. Don’t worry, if you want to conceive right away, we can still work around your timeline to support that and recommend nutritional and herbal strategies that are safe for pregnancy if you do end up conceiving
What does Dr. Suhani look at when it comes to preconception health? During a thorough head-to-toe review of systems during the initial assessment, she will review all of the following areas to ensure they are all in balance + functioning optimally and provide you with individualized treatment recommendations as needed. Remember, the entire body is connected and what affects one system may have a domino effect on estrogen and progesterone downstream and therefore, make it harder to conceive.
- Nutritional status
- Environmental toxin and heavy metal exposure
- Anything else that comes up...
We will break this down into the basics and hormone health. Here we will talk about the basics, which is a general overview and during the naturopathic assessment, more individualized recommendations will be provided.
DIET AND NUTRITION
Diet and Nutrition are paramount. We want to ensure you are eating a healthy, well-balanced diet similar to what Canada’s Food Guide outlines – plenty of fruits and vegetables, getting enough protein and healthy fats, a healthy amount of whole or ancient grains, and enough fibre. I work with you to minimize the refined sugars, caffeine, and processed foods in your diet. This applies to whether you follow a non-vegetarian or plant-based diet.
Another huge aspect of nutrition and eating right for you is helping you to identify foods that you can tolerate and don’t trigger inflammation or digestive issues. When foods create inflammation, it activates the adrenal axis and can alter cortisol levels which will affect your other hormones. If you have lots of digestive symptoms like bloating, heartburn, gas, constipation, or diarrhea then I work with you to address the problem and fix your digestion first because this will throw off your hormones and possibly increase estrogen altering the estrogen-progesterone ratio. A well-functioning gut aids in the elimination of excess hormones and can fix your hormone issues!
It’s important to also assess for key nutritional deficiencies that can make it harder to conceive and optimize those levels pre-conception. Nutrients like iron, vitamin B12, and vitamin D are of utmost importance to have assessed by a healthcare professional. As a naturopathic doctor, I can requisition these tests for a fee.
Dr. Suhani also ensures you are taking the best quality supplements (minimal preservatives and colouring agents as non-medicinal ingredients) prenatal multivitamin, probiotic, vitamin D, omega 3 and/or any other supplement that is necessary for you to supplement voids in your diet.
Exercise is also important. Maintaining a healthy body weight can aid in your chance of conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy and reducing your risk for pregnancy-related conditions like gestational diabetes or hypertension. Exercise can maintain muscle mass and improve insulin sensitivity which can help optimize the estrogen-progesterone balance and keep your androgens like testosterone within normal. Improving insulin sensitivity may sometimes benefit women who have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) as well.
STRESS & SLEEP
Stress and Sleep are two other very important areas that we review when it comes to preconception health. Sleep helps our body repair and heal. A lack of sleep and/or increased stress will increase our hormone, cortisol which can affect our thyroid, estrogen and progesterone, and insulin levels. There are a lot of naturopathic treatment recommendations we can provide to help reduce cortisol, manage stress, and improve sleep. Stay tuned for Part 2 where we will discuss a little more on hormone imbalances and what you can do.
Want to start pregnancy planning and obtain your individualized health regime to optimize your preconception health today? Book your initial comprehensive assessment with Dr. Suhani via the link below. She also offers introductory FREE Meet and Greets to answer any questions before becoming a patient.