How far in advance should you start preparing your body for pregnancy before you start trying to conceive?
Like many things in life, it is a good idea to start early. Preparing your body for pregnancy for at least 3 – 6 months before you plan to get pregnant sets the stage for an easy conception and healthy pregnancy.
Preparing Your Body for Pregnancy: 8 Reasons to Start Now
1. Egg Quality
Eggs take at least 3 – 4 months to develop, and making changes to support healthy eggs will be more effective if you start a minimum of 3 months prior to trying to conceive. A woman’s eggs are formed while she is a baby growing in her mother’s womb. Those eggs remain dormant until they are recruited to mature and ovulate.
This maturation process, known as folliculogenesis, takes 3 – 4 months. During that time, the health of the maturing egg will be influenced by the health of the mother. This is much like a tomato growing in the garden. The health of the tomato will be greatly influenced by the health of the garden – the water, the soil, the sunshine, and the nutrients available.
2. Uterine Health
The uterus needs sufficient blood flow to build a healthy lining, to allow the embryo to implant, and to grow a healthy baby. How do you know if you have problems with the blood flow to your uterus?
Blood flow problems are associated with:
- Scanty periods
- Painful periods
- Dark menstrual blood with clots
Imaging is done to evaluate all of these issues. Treatment includes Acupuncture, nutrition, and in some cases surgery.
3. Time for testing and treatment
Testing is a valuable way to gain insight into all that’s needed to support healthy eggs and a healthy pregnancy. Hormone levels, blood sugars, and vitamin levels are key to screen prior to conception.
These can be evaluated from a simple blood panel. Getting tested in advance gives you time to address any concerns before you get pregnant. This can make it easier to conceive and will promote a healthier pregnancy.
4. Thyroid Hormones
The most important hormones to screen for a healthy pregnancy are your thyroid hormones. Abnormal thyroid hormones can dramatically increase the risk of miscarriage during the first trimester. Another risk is abnormal neural development leading to lower brain function.
Fortunately, when identified ahead of time, thyroid issues can be treated. The blood tests to screen for thyroid function are Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) and Free T4. Treatment will often include medication along with acupuncture and nutrition.
5. Blood sugars
The leading cause of fertility challenges – across all age groups – is abnormal blood sugars. PCOS, low blood sugars (aka hypoglycemia), and diabetes are all forms of blood sugar issues
Abnormal blood sugars will:
- Damage the eggs
- Block ovulation
- Disrupt implantation of the embryo
- Increase rates of miscarriage
- Increase pregnancy complications for both mother and child
The most common markers for evaluating blood sugars are fasting glucose and a Hemoglobin A1c. When blood sugars issues are identified, they can typically be well-managed through a combination of nutrition, lifestyle, and in some cases medication.
Sufficient iron levels are important for a healthy pregnancy. Iron plays an essential role in circulating oxygen throughout the body. This oxygen is needed for all organs and tissues to function at their best.
Iron deficiency can lead to anemia, which contributes to pregnancy complications such as premature delivery and low birth weight. Testing hemoglobin and ferritin will let you know if you need more iron.
7. Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays several important roles in our health and fertility, including:
- Immune support
- Hormonal balance
- Egg maturation
- Embryo implantation
- Lowered risk of miscarriage
Almost half of Irish adults are clinically deficient in Vitamin D. For women who are planning to get pregnant, you want your vitamin D levels to be in the middle of the healthy range.
Get your Vitamin D levels tested, and then supplement with Vitamin D if needed.
Preparation leads to easier conception and healthier pregnancy.
8. Acupuncture treatments
Acupuncture is a great place to start your fertility journey. It reduces your stress levels, helps to regulate hormones, increases blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, which leads to greater number and better quality eggs.
I am a fertility and women’s health specialist and I am passionate about helping people take charge of their bodies and optimize their fertility and have the baby they long for.
I know it can be stressful, frustrating and confusing, but together we will work to make you feel stronger, calmer and nourished. I can help you navigate your way through the storm.
Phil Carew Acupuncture