Images by @raynjermain of the beautiful @madisonhohmann
When you choose to start trying for a baby it can be the most exciting time but also one that is commonly filled with more questions than answers. This article is designed to guide you through a step-by-step process to get you and your partner prepared for conception.
Preconception is the 3-6 month period before conceiving. It’s an important time as it is when your eggs and sperm are developing and maturing inside you. Sperm development takes approximately 75 days, which means that everything you eat and drink in the 3 months prior to conception can either positively or negatively affect your sperm quality. The same goes for female follicles/eggs with full maturation taking 100 days.
The key reasons to put time and energy into preconception care:
• For women, it ensures that your nutrient levels are sufficient prior to pregnancy, this negates having to play “catch up” when you realise your levels are low, I see this commonly with iron stores.
• It can enhance the quality of your eggs and sperm and in turn improve pregnancy outcomes. Can prevent development of disease and promote the health of future generations.
• Once pregnant, it’s often too late to start making dramatic health promoting lifestyle changes. Preparing for pregnancy means that you are supporting your baby from the very first moments.
The reason I include advice for both men and women in this article is because the health of both partners is critical for optimal fertility. We don’t hear much about the male partners’ role in pregnancy outcomes, despite research telling us that 50% of miscarriages are due to sperm issues. We also know that paternal lifestyle factors such as alcohol consumption prior to conception can increase risk of birth defects. It is for these reasons that in clinical practice I try to encourage a preconception plan that involves both partners.
As for same sex-couples going down the fertility route, I would like you to feel included in this too. Please know that whilst I refer to a couple as ‘male & female’, I acknowledge that this is not always the case – please take on board the relevant parts for your situation.