“Preconception care” (think 3-6 months prior to conceiving a baby) is equally important to how you care for your body during pregnancy.
Egg and sperm take approximately 3-4 months to develop before they are released for possible fertilization… which means that what you consumed and how you behaved pre-conception will affect the DNA quality of future offspring for both men and women.
If you have the luxury of planning your pregnancy, consider getting the following body systems in order to ensure a happy, healthy pregnancy:
- Balanced blood sugar levels
- Optimal thyroid hormone and metabolic rate
- Low level inflammation in all body systems
- Stress management techniques
- Resilient mood
- Predictable menstrual patterns and ovulation
- And perhaps easiest of all, optimized nutrient stores!
- Technically, a hormone
- Made by the body when cholesterol is activated by sunlight on the skin
- Protects against risk of diabetes and pre-ecclampsia in mothers by up to 40%
- Decreases risk of respiratory infections, asthma and allergy in baby/child
- Maternal levels in utero are correlated with language ability at 5 and 10 years of age
- Canadians are notoriously low in vitamin D due to the angle of the sun, especially in winter months
Recommendation: Test blood level (25-OH Vitamin D) and dose accordingly
Supplementation: In a fatty base (liquid or gel cap), taken daily with food.
- AKA foliage – Found in uncooked green leafy vegetables.
- 400mcg daily for the first 6 weeks of pregnancy decreases neural tube defects.
- Controversial: dosing at 5mg may be harmful.
- Folate (natural, active form) = 5-MTHF.
- “Folic acid” is the synthetic form found in most over the counter prenatal multivitamins, and in fortified grains
- Approximately 20% of the population has difficulty using synthetic folic acid due to a genetic change in the methylation cycle. This is correlated with high rates of recurrent miscarriage.
Supplementation: 1mg 5-MTHF or folate daily with food, or in a prenatal multi.
Optimal Iron Stores
- Goal: achieve optimal stores preconception and in early pregnancy because stores will drop while building fetal blood and the placenta.
- Deficiency is most common in children under 2 years since it reflects maternal stores
- More common in breastfed babies (because formula is supplemented)
- Low iron status in pregnant mothers is associated with prematurity and low birth weight in baby
- Insufficient iron can affect brain myelination – important for cognition and brain signaling for both mom and baby
Food sources: red meat, chicken, legumes, dark leafy greens, liver, oysters
Herbal sources: dandelion and burdock root
- Carbonyl Iron (Pure Lab Vitamins) and Ferrous citrate or glycinate (Easy/Gentle Iron) are non-constipating.
- FeraMax (drug stores) or Proferrin (animal-derived) boost levels quickly
- Found exclusively in animal products (meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nutritional yeast)
- Important for neurological function, red blood cell formation, and energy levels.
- 1/20 women suffer from deficiency in Canada (<50% of women have optimal levels)
- 8% children under 4 years of age are vitamin B12 deficient à more common if mother is vegetarian.
- Like iron, levels in infants strongly correlate to maternal levels.
- Deficiency manifests in infants 2-12 months old as failure to thrive, smaller head circumference, and neuro-developmental delay (not reaching milestones).
- Vitamin B12 is 3x lower in children with autism spectrum disorder compared to controls.
Supplementation: 1000-5000mcg methylcobalamin (B12) as sublingual tablet daily or intramuscular injections with a Naturopathic Doctor to boost levels quickly.
- Supplement the good bacteria living in the colon, vaginal tract and bladder.
- The mother’s microbiome influences baby during pregnancy, at time of delivery and during breastfeeding.
- In pregnancy, women who took probiotics experienced less weight gain. Supplementation with probiotics can bring blood sugar into a safe range, especially when paired with diet.
- Useful in preventing maternal infection (e.g. UTI, yeast, Group B Strep, etc).
- In baby, direct probiotic supplementation can be useful for gas/colic/constipation/spit-up & decreases asthma and allergy risk.
Food sources: fermented foods: yogurt and kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi
Supplementation: 20 Billion+ CFU, multi-strain, refrigerated.