PRECONCEPTION HEALTH CARE
What is Preconception Health Care?
You can make a difference to the physical emotional and mental health of your baby. The long-term health of this new and unique person as he or she grows from a tiny fertilized egg to a fully grown adult human depends on a constant supply of nutrients to provide the basic building blocks essential for growth and development.
These same nutrients also improve fertility in the adult woman, help conception to occur, help to prevent miscarriage and create the environment for a healthy full-term pregnancy and an easy trouble-free birth and breastfeeding experience.
Why Use Preconception Health ?
For the best health of a new baby, good nutritional supplements begin prior to conception. This is because the mother’s egg takes approximately 100 days to mature before ovulation and the father’s sperm needs about 116 days to form. During this time, both are very susceptible to damage. A period of 4 months for preconception health care enables sperms and eggs to develop in a toxin-free and nutrient-rich environment to enable optimum health of both. This provides the best possible conditions for the long-term health of the baby. It takes two very healthy parents to ma
But I Eat a Healthy Diet, Why Should I Take Supplements?
While a good diet is a sensible starting point for good nutrition, unfortunately on its own it is not enough to guarantee optimal nutritional status. Hong Kong soil is low in many nutrients and traditional farming has further depleted the soil of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron. Pesticides use increases the need for many nutrients, for example, vitamin C. Milling and refining goods such as rice and wheat flour, to make them more palatable, also removes many vitamins and minerals, further destroying nutrient content. For example, zinc is important in over 300 enzyme reactions in the body, and especially for male and female reproductive health. However, zinc is easily lost during refining of grains and is poorly absorbed by many people. At least 67% of men and 85% of women are deficient in zinc! Many nutrient losses occur in processing and storage of goods, so our fruit and vegetables are not farm fresh or full of the goodness we usually associate with fresh foods. We are also constantly exposed to toxins, such as chemicals, heavy metals and radiation which use up our antioxidant store, and reduce nutrients. These toxic substances, which can harm sperm, eggs and the developing baby, can be gently removed from the body, during the preconception period, through the use of antioxidant nutrients and cleansing herbs.
How Do Supplements Improve My Fertility?
Fertility in both prospective parents can be greatly impaired by the effects of various toxins, such as chemicals, heavy metals, and radiation, which can adversely affect the health of eggs and sperm. Good nutrition, especially with antioxidants and herbal remedies, can help to detoxify the body. Other nutrients are required for proper reproductive function, hormonal balance and healthy eggs and sperm.
How Do Supplements Benefit My Baby?
During the first three months after conception, the mass of the embryo increases over 20 million times. This is the time when cells differentiate and organs are being formed. Sometimes nutrient deficiencies may be so great that the pregnancy cannot continue. In other cases, the deficiency is not so severe but may still be detrimental to the health of the unborn child. For example, this is the case in spinal bifida, where levels of folic acid are insufficient of satisfactory closure of the neural tube and the spine covering does not fully develop.
Other, less obvious problems, such as allergies, asthma, behavior problems and infections (for example, middle ear and respiratory infection) are far likely to occur in children when parents enter into conception with adequate nutrient status and low toxicity levels.
Your growing baby is rapidly developing new organs and body tissues, and needs lots of good nutrition to complete this growth and development in optimum health and vitality. The food you eat and the supplements you take before and during pregnancy act as a supply of nutrition of these developing organs and tissues.
How do I choose a good supplement?
The Natural Way to Better Babies is a helpful book based on the research of Sydney-based naturopath and herbalist, Francesca Naish, who has extensively studied the preconception nutritional and environmental requirements for a healthy pregnancy outcome. For the past 20 years Francesca and her associates have worked with thousands of couples to help them prepare for pregnancy and overcome infertility and other reproductive problems. Many of these couples now have beautiful, bright and healthy children as a result of following Francesca’s comprehensive preconception and pregnancy programs.
Choose a range of preconception health care products especially developed to meet the nutritional needs of both mother and father prior to conception and of the mother and baby during pregnancy. These supplements should provide the correct balance and dosage of nutrients essential for the best possible health of both parents to ensure optimum health of sperm and egg at the time of conception. They can also be used during pregnancy to supply nutrients to mother and child at therapeutic levels, which have been shown to be beneficial. Physiologically balanced formulations are available. These contain all essential nutrients to ensure adequate absorption, assimilation and utilization and avoid high levels of one nutrient at the expense of another. They also provide nutrient and herbal remedies to aid gentle detoxification from harmful chemicals and heavy metals.
Seek the advice of your health care practitioner to choose preconception health care products that have been designed as a complete program, providing essential nutrition in the correct balance.
Do supplements interfere with IVF or GIFT?
For couples undergoing assisted reproduction, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids can be used safely with your program.
For information regarding supplements for use as part of a preconception health care plan, contact your health care practitioner, or read:
- The Natural Way to Better Babies—Preconception Health Care for Prospective Parents, Francesca Naish & Janette Roberts, Random House, Australia, 1996
- The Natural Way to a Better Pregnancy, Francesca Naish & Janette Roberts, Doubleday, Australia 1999
- The Natural Way to Better Birth and Bonding, Francesca Naish & Janette Roberts, Doubleday, Australia, 2000
- Natural Fertility, Francesca Naish, Sally Milner Publishing, Australia, 1991