There is a lot of information out there about what to do with our diet and what vitamins to take once we are pregnant. However, what about the months before pregnancy? Does that time matter? Some say yes indeed it does. Let’s take a minute to think about that.
During pregnancy a woman’s body provides not only nutrition to the growing fetus, it also is the environment in which the fetus lives. Before conception, a woman’s diet, her environment, and what she is exposed to can affect the health and quality of the ovum, or the egg. The quality of the ovum, will determine the health of her baby. This is called epigenetics. Epi what? Basically, epigenetics refers to the way the genes form and are expressed. The development of the egg/ovum can be effected by many external environmental or dietary factors. To read more about epigenetics, check out the blog entry Epigenetics: Beyond Heredity.
What does all this mean? It is important to take care of your body before pregnancy.
We are what we eat. I mean that quite literally, as every cell in our body is made up of the building blocks we give it (food). Other things can affect the health of a cell as well — toxins, pollutants, and xenoestrogens (hormone disruptors), to name a few. So, we aren’t just what we eat, we are also where we live, what we choose to put on our skin, the air we breathe, and more!
Of interest is that such factors as food and environment are not just important today but for many days to follow. The life cycles of cells in our bodies are varied — blood cells live for about 100 days, a skin cell lives about 20 days, and an ovum (egg) takes about three months to go from hibernation to ovulation. Our cells are comprised of what we have eaten and been exposed to in at least the last three months. Therefore, we are not just what we eat today but also what we have eaten the last three months!
Why not take a few months before trying to conceive to prep the body for this very important time in your baby’s life? Optimize your egg quality, baby’s environment, and building blocks by improving your health. See your naturopathic doctor at least three months prior to trying to conceive for a treatment plan that can help you do this. Or, if you are already trying to conceive, see your naturopath now for tips on how to maximize your body’s fertility signals and the pregnancy environment. It’s the ultimate in preventative care!
The side effects of such treatments and caring for your body — increased energy, healthier looking skin and nails, improved moods, fewer aches and pains, and feeling great in general — hmmm…doesn’t sound that bad, does it?
Tune in next time for Part Two of this blog on preconception: Optimizing Hormone Balance to Improve Fertility.