Preparing well before conception enhances the chances of a successful pregnancy. Good nutrition and lifestyle helps implantation, embryo growth and prevents miscarriages. In addition, being neither overweight nor underweight as a mother will prevent diseases in your child later in life.
Part of the pre-conceptive care is to design a nutritional and life-style program that will enhance your chances of a healthy pregnancy.
Lifestyle and nutritional factors
Good nutrition of the mother is essential for the health of the baby as well as the adult the baby will become. It also increases fertility by helping the implantation and early development of an embryo. Chances of a miscarriage are reduced. Good nutrition to the womb will increase the weight of the baby and thus decrease the risk of poor health later in life.
Our nutritional advice is given according to the principles of Chinese medicine. That means that, after doing a complete diagnosis of your needs according to both Chinese and Western medicine, we advise you to incorporate certain foods into your everyday diet so that your body has the chance to return to its optimum wellbeing.
Fertility is highest and pregnancy at its most successful when the body mass index is between 20-25. Overweight women (BMI 27) are 300% less likely to conceive, and much more likely to miscarry if they do conceive. But even loosing a little weight can increase the chances of a pregnancy significantly. One in three women who are overweight and loose weight gets pregnant, and the risk miscarriage is reduced by 2/3. Underweight women (BMI 17) are 50% less likely to conceive.
For you to achieve an improved weight and thus for you to enhance your chances of natural fertility we again advise you to follow a certain food program. You may also receive treatment that aims at increasing or decreasing your metabolic rate or the activity of certain organs.
Stress and sleep
Lifestyle stress or depression is implicated in ovulatory irregularities and abnormal sperm development. Lower levels of measurable physiological stress indicate a higher chance of conception. Sleep plays a major role in maintaining good homeostasis and well-being. Lack of sleep has shown to lead to physiological disruptions. It inhibits the release of growth hormones which is essential for tissue growth and the maintenance of the body's metabolism. In Chinese medicine the link between stress and lack of sleep to infertility is well recognised, and treatment will always aim to improve stress response and sleeping pattern.
Even modest consumption of alcohol by women can delay conception. Alcohol is poorly metabolised by women and can lead to a disruption of the oestrogen/progesterone balance. In both men and women alcohol should be avoided during IVF as it can lead to reduced egg production for egg retrieval, as well as an increased risk of miscarriage in women. For men, alcohol consumption before sperm collection reduces the success of IVF treatment by more than 8 times.
Female smokers have markedly lower levels of oestrogen which could lead to a delay in conception. It is also implicated in tubal factor infertility, and can cause early menopause. In men, the toxic components in tobacco have damaging effects on sperm production. However sperm count increases quickly after stopping smoking.
Coffee consumption is closely linked to fertility rates: the risk of infertility is 55% higher in women who consume one cup of coffee per day, 100% higher in those who drink 1.5-3 cups, and 176% higher in women who consume more than 3 cups per day. Coffee can also retard fetal growth and increases the risk of miscarriage. That means if you consume 1-3 cups of coffee per day you take twice as long to get pregnant. Your average natural conception time would increase from 7-9 months to about 1-2 years.
Painkillers or aspirin, commonly taken by women for menstrual pains, reduces fertility by interfering with ovulatory signals. Thus looking for alternatives to painkillers is essential if you plan to get pregnant. Both acupuncture and herbal medicine are highly effective pain relievers.