Thinking of pregnancy, planning pregnancy, birth and babies are amazing life events! here are a few tips that can improve experience and outcomes for an exciting time of life!
- Avoiding gluten and dairy help reduce the potential of autoimmune disease and inflammation. Any trouble or history of trouble conceiving has to do with inflammation and autoimmunity. Avoiding these 2 over processed food ingredients assist in balancing the immune system and easing conception and healthy pregnancy.
- Avoid GMOs, GMOs are genetically modified organisms. Basically, a science experiment with your food. There are no long-term studies on GMOs however since introduced into the population research has shown higher incidence of asthma and allergies among our children. GMOs take immune resistant components of OTHER species and put them into the seeds and DNA of the foods we eat, and it’s not labeled in the USA. BE cautious and buy organic as much as possible. Organic foods do not contain GMOs.
- FOLATE and folic acid are not the same. Modern medicine has been conditioned to use these terms interchangeably. THEY ARE VERY DIFFERENT. Folic Acid is synthetic, inflammatory and poorly absorbed by the body. Worse in the presence of MTHFR mutations that mom and baby may carry.
- Check your vitamin D levels. Today there is a lot of research about vitamin d. it helps with conception, it balances the immune system and it is a huge component in the brain development of your baby’s brain. Keeping levels therapeutic is a must. Aim for a level of around 60-80, current lab values do not reflect with the current research is saying is optimal. Ask your provider for your number as supplementation may be necessary above a standard bioavailable prenatal.
- Take a probiotic. Probiotics help balance digestion, emotion and immunity, 3 things necessary for pregnancy and parenting! Hormones necessary for pregnancy can cause imbalances in immunity and digestion so be sure the probiotic is a balanced formula. Probiotics are also essential for baby. Especially if baby is born by C-section, premature or has distress during or after his or her birth.
- Check magnesium levels. Magnesium is so important for healthy full term pregnancy and adequate milk supply after birth. In New England magnesium levels are always low, this can increase the incidence of preterm birth, preeclampsia and low birthweight. Keeping magnesium levels adequate can be difficult without additional supplementation. Speak with your provider about which form is right for you. Other benefits of magnesium include softening stool and relaxation. Rest assured magnesium is found in dark chocolate so enjoy…a little.
- Think long and hard about vaccinations in pregnancy and in your newborn. There is little research on the safety and efficacy of vaccination during pregnancy and in newborns. Much research is being done in this area currently. Please have a long discussion about options and choice for your pregnancy and your baby.
- Plan for a natural birth and be prepared that it will be nothing like you planned. Take classes taught by experienced natural birthers, ask a lot of questions, have back up plans and make your requests and wishes known to your providers. Open communication ultimately makes for a better experience all around.
- There is no perfect time to have a baby. However, getting your own health in order, possibly clearing allergies or sensitivities, checking for any SNPs or genetic variation that could be problematic for mom and baby, maybe a natural detox of some sort, balance exercise, stress, finances and all the other facets that will get turned upside down once a new family member arrives. Be in the best place you can be for this amazing experience
- Listen to your gut, skip the books, the advice everyone has for you and raise your child exactly the way that is best for your family. Seek the help of trusted individuals and support your innate knowledge with what you know to be the truth…..enjoy
Inability to conceive can stem from a number of causes:
- Poor nutritional status
- Genetic mutations
- Autoimmune conditions
- Hormone imbalances
If a mother’s nutritional stores are depleted she will not have enough “supplies” to conceive and grow a healthy baby. Vital nutrients like Magnesium and b vitamins are necessary for proper development of a fetus and proper signaling of hormones from the mother to stimulate cell signaling and growth. Proper hormone balance between estrogen and progesterone is a must. Abnormal levels of either of these can create problems with conception. Be sure to check for low levels of progesterone or estrogen dominance.
Remember almost all pharmaceutical medication deplete some nutrient, this includes anything put on your skin topically too, like steroid creams or even sunblock. Be sure whichever depletions are being caused that they are RE-pleated properly.
If there is a genetic mutation present then, the interruption in signaling will not allow for proper conception, impanation or development of a growing fetus. MTHFR and homocysteine levels play an integral part in the conception and development of your baby. Be sure you are speaking with a qualified provider about your nutritional needs or get tested for the MTHFR mutation and treat it before trying to get pregnant. Avoiding all forms of synthetic folic acid and un-methylated B vitamins like cyanoB12 is a good place to start! Always remember Folic acid does NOT equal Folate; Folic Acid a synthetic type of Folate. Folic acid is not found in nature. Folic acid must undergo various transformations prior to utilization and with or without a MTHFR mutation, folic acid can cause problems with fertility. Always look for methylated or activated forms of folate in supplements.
Autoimmune diseases affect 30% of our population and repeatedly studied in the correlation with fertility challenges. Autoimmune conditions are often made worse with the above mentioned nutrition and genetic problems. Proper management of autoimmune conditions will maximize fertility and also improve rates of artificial insemination or conventional fertility management. Consider having some lab work done specific to autoimmune markers. Supplements like Zinc, probiotics, and Vitamin D are very helpful in supporting proper immune function. If a mom is struggling with fertility its always beneficial to avoid gluten as 20% of patients with MTHFR, and (estimated) 50% of patients with positive autoimmune markers have gluten sensitivity and gluten is inflammatory. To that end, reducing inflammation on any level is beneficial to the body pre and post baby! Healing always begins in the gut, and a healthy gut improves fertility!
Daddy’s Genes Matter!!
So much of the focus on Fertility and MTHFR falls on the mother and her genetic contribution. However 50% of the baby’s genome comes from DAD! We evaluate and scrutinize mom’s diet and yet dad is left alone!
Recently powerful new research on MTHFR mutations and miscarriages implicates the fathers role more than we thought possible. While each parent contributes equal DNA to their offspring, it is women, mothers that come to office visits and comply with recommendations. Next time ladies! Bring your man!
A recent large scale study proved correlation that BOTH the MTHFR C677T and the A1298C contributed from BOTH parents increased risk of miscarriage. Interestingly, babies with 2 copies of the MTHFR A1298c mutation had the highest incidence of miscarriage. 2 copies of a mutation means EACH parent donated one copy! DAD’s Genes matter too!
So here at the FWC our preconception health protocol includes BOTH parents! And the “inception” of the protocol is months before “conception”. A thorough review of lab work, medical conditions, diet, lifestyle and genetics assist in the best possible outcomes.
It is important to note when addressing conception and MTHFR that a good quality diet and proper nutrients including bio-available Folate is included. Folate is what ensures proper functioning DNA and provides the proper signaling for cell differentiation in early pregnancy, as well as protecting sex-cells in BOTH parents from DNA damage. However, Choosing Folate alone will not eliminate poor outcomes.
However we do know Low folate levels are associated with higher incidence of:
• Low sperm quality
• Among other conditions
Begin your road to parenthood months before conceiving. Give the PALEO diet a try. Paleo is a diet chuck full of nutrients and beneficial fat and free of many common allergens and chemicals.
Normalize weight and maintain exercise to help ensure proper function of metabolism, sleep cycles and menstrual cycles (for mama only of course in this instance).
Meet with an educated provider who can run proper lab testing and make recommendations to optimize the best pregnancy outcomes. Remind providers (or find another) that Folic acid is not the optimal form of folate for properly functioning DNA especially in the presence of MTHFR mutation.
Enjoy the journey; becoming a parent is one of the most amazing experiences in a lifetime.