If you’re trying to conceive, your focus should be on eating right. Pre-conception nutrition is not only important, but it will also keep your body healthy during the whole phase of pregnancy.
With a healthy diet plan, you’ll reduce your chances of miscarriage and boost your fertility. It can also lower the risk of congenital disabilities and reduce your chance of developing preeclampsia. Around one in eight couples struggle with infertility problems.
If your key focus is on medical genetic conditions, medications, and sexual activity, make nutrition an essential part of conception. The right mix of healthy foods will make a considerable difference and increase your chance of conception.
What is a Pre-pregnancy diet?
Most women start a pregnancy diet only after they conceive. There is no proper diet planning and nutrition status for the demands of pregnancy. A pregnant woman may need to add 300-400 extra calories depending on the body after the first trimester to meet the developing fetus’s needs. But those calories need to be healthy.
A pre-pregnancy diet encourages you to eat healthy before you get pregnant. It prepares you to switch to healthy options so that you don’t have to consume everything at once. It provides the right blend of dairy, fruits, veggies, protein, and grains.
Nutrients you should have when trying to conceive
Iron – Most women face the problem of low hemoglobin levels due to monthly menstruation. As iron shuttles oxygen throughout the bloodstream, it is vital for conception. Building the iron store can help a mother prepare for the needs of the fetus.
For good sources of iron, you can consume:
- Fortified cereals – they contain about 16 to 18 mg of iron per serving.
- Poultry – that includes turkey, chicken, and duck.
- Leafy green veggies – that may include cabbage, kale, and broccoli.
- Legumes – such as green beans and lima beans are good in iron content and should be included twice or thrice a week.
- Whole-grain bread and iron-rich rice.
- Spinach is the best source of iron and provides about 3 mg of iron per serving.
Folic acid – Folic acid is essential in the pre-pregnancy diet and during pregnancy. It helps to reduce the congenital disabilities risk of the spinal cord and the brain. According to CDC, a woman should consume at least 300 to 400 micrograms of folic acid one month before getting pregnant.
Folic acid is crucial for the healthy formation of cells, and it’s the best prenatal supplement. Most healthcare providers also suggest a folic acid supplement for a pre-pregnancy diet.
For good sources of folic acid, you can consume:
- Fruits like – oranges and strawberries that contain a good amount of folate.
- Beans and nuts at least three to four times a week.
- Leafy green veggies like broccoli, spinach, and bok choy.
Calcium – Calcium is important to keep your reproductive system running smoothly. You need to stock up on calcium now to help in the baby’s bone and teeth development. If you don’t have enough calcium-rich foods, the chances are that fetus may draw calcium from your bones later. It will put you at risk of arthritis and osteoporosis later in life. You need to have at least 1000 to 1500 mg of calcium daily, the recommended value.
For good sources of calcium, you can consume:
- Yogurt has 145 mg per serving.
- Milk is the most popular source, and 1% of milk contains about 305 milligrams of calcium. It also has a splash of vitamin D, mainly found in soymilk and almond milk.
- Veggies like – kale and broccoli provide non-dairy sources of calcium.
- Cheddar cheese – contains 300 mg of calcium; have it once a week for your calcium intake.
Fiber – Fiber helps you feel full for longer. If you increase your fiber intake by 10 gms per day, it will lower the risk of developing gestational diabetes by 26%. Fiber intake is essential in this phase as there is a risk of developing diabetes during pregnancy.
For good sources of fiber, you can consume:
- High fiber cereals – paced with the goodness of dietary fiber.
- Whole grains include quinoa, whole bread, and oats.
- Lentils, kidney beans, and chickpeas – include these twice a week.
- Fruits and veggies like – corn, cabbage, blueberries, and peaches are a good source of fiber.
Protein – is an important nutrient in the pre-pregnancy stage. As its plant-based, it helps to develop strong muscles. Protein can also supply healthy nutrients to your baby once you conceive.
For good sources of protein, you can consume:
- Lean meats – which include bison and chicken.
- Black beans – contain more than 15 gms of protein.
- Fish like salmon – is high in omega-three fatty acids and protein.
Limit your sugar and caffeine intake and analyze your eating habits. Don’t skip meals, and limit your alcohol intake. If possible, avoid smoking as it affects your chances of getting pregnant.
Apart from a healthy diet, you need to stay active and practise stress relief techniques. A pre-pregnancy diet can make a sizeable difference in your infertility. Small lifestyle changes can give you good results if you’re trying to conceive.