When we launched the Whole Mamas Pregnancy Program, our team was surprised by the number of women who joined because they wanted to prepare for conception. These women weren’t quite ready to be mamas, but they wanted to learn everything they could about readying themselves for a healthy, happy pregnancy. We love this! Preconception health is important! It’s inspiring to see so many women interested in educating themselves on the topic.
In that spirit, Whole Mamas director Steph Greunke created a comprehensive guide to preconception health for the mamas in our pregnancy program. If you’re interested in learning more suggestions for preconception health, you can sign up for our monthly newsletter.
Want access to this bonus resource and all future resources from Steph and our team? Join our Whole Mamas Pregnancy Program today.
Reduce your stress
This is easier said than done, especially if you’re undergoing fertility treatment, but know that it can make a difference. Practice saying “no” to additional responsibilities and consider tasks that you can eliminate from your daily to-do list. While yoga and meditation can be helpful, if that’s your thing, they can also feel like an added responsibility. That’s only going to add to your stress. You know yourself and the practices that best suit you. Our preconception guide includes a list of useful strategies to deal with the normal stressors of daily life.
Get enough sleep
Disrupted sleep can impact ovulation, stress hormones, blood sugar, hunger signals, and weight. Both partners should try to improve the quality and quantity of sleep to optimize hormone levels. Sleep deprivation can negatively impact a man’s testosterone levels and sperm counts. For women, sleep deprivation can disrupt her cycle and ovulation. To help you sleep better, try:
- eating dinner earlier
- avoid snacking after dinner
- eliminating screens 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime
- creating a relaxing sleep routine to prepare your body.
Eat a whole foods diet
You knew we had to mention this, right? The nutrition information in our pregnancy program is based on the basic principles of the Whole30. We believe in the power of a nutrient dense, whole foods diet. While completing a Whole30 may not directly correlate with fertility, it does promote overall health. The benefits may include weight loss, hormone regulation, and reduced inflammation. These are all factors that may help to improve your preconception health. Even if you don’t want to complete a Whole30, you can still avoid common “problem foods.” These can include alcohol, processed foods, gluten, and soy. Additionally, we’ve provided a list of nutrients that support male and female preconception health in our guide!
Use proper supplements and consider lab testing
Talk with your provider about running tests to check for any vitamin deficiencies or any systems in your body that aren’t running at 100%. This includes a full thyroid panel. You may want to find a functional medicine practitioner. Your regimen is going to vary greatly depending on your individual needs, but minimally, we recommend you start taking a prenatal vitamin at least a few months before trying to conceive. Finally, our preconception guide includes a list of our favorite supplements and helpful lab work for both male and female preconception health.
This one is fairly straightforward. Move your body in a way that feels good to you! This can be a great way to bond with your partner, as well. It can be as simple as going on a walk together after dinner to connect and unwind. You could train for a race together or do your own things. Try to engage in some form of exercise for at least 15 minutes each day.
Reduce environmental toxins
This can feel overwhelming, so feel free to start anywhere. First, make one change (such as swapping your shampoo or products in your kitchen), and then when that’s natural, work on the next product or room. Some suggestions are to avoid plastic water and food containers (especially if you microwave food in them), switch to nontoxic household cleaners and beauty products, and purchase organic, when you can. Likewise, check out the Environmental Working Group’s list of Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 if you can’t afford to purchase all organic produce. Also, the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database can help you find out how your current beauty products rank.
We know that it can be overwhelming if you’re trying to conceive or even thinking about starting to try. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t live up to perfect standards. Work toward greater health one small step at a time, and know that we’re cheering you on in your baby-making journey.
While these tips are all designed to improve general health in preparation for conception, often even the most dedicated lifestyle efforts aren’t enough to help couples conceive. According to RESOLVE.org and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, you should seek the care of a specialist if you are unable to achieve pregnancy after 12 months of unprotected intercourse (if the women is under the age of 35), or six months if the women is more than 35 years of age. You should also seek the care of a specialist if you have had more than one miscarriage. For more information, support, and resources, visit Resolve.
Looking for more strategies while trying to conceive? Read our interview with Fertility Preparation Specialist Rochelle Serna.