Taking the plunge into parenthood starts before you become pregnant, even before you have the baby in your arms! The choices you make while pregnant, and even before conceiving a child, can impact the baby’s health and development.
You may be surprised to learn your provider or online resources may not be delivering the whole picture. So, here are ten tips to help you while pregnant.
Before You Get Pregnant
These first two tips address what needs to happen before becoming pregnant.
1. Eat Clean
Be sure you and your partner eat a clean diet. The emphasis has always been on how the pregnant mother’s diet impacts fetal health.
However, recent studies show the nutritional status of the father before conception is strongly tied to healthy fetal development.
The biological father passes his folate intake and additional nutrients to the embryo during development.
2. Check Your Vitamin Levels
Ask your provider to check the following before becoming pregnant.
- Serum B12, B9, B6, and vitamin D levels for both parents
- Formiminoglutamic acid and methylmalonic levels, as these determine if you can metabolize folate and B12 properly
- MTHFR C677T and 1298C gene mutations, as they impact your ability to use folate
How well your body uses the following impacts how much of these nutrients are available to your baby during development.
- B9 (folate)
- Vitamin D
Studies show deficiencies in B9 (folate), B6, B12, and vitamin D are tied to:
- Obesity risk
- Neural tube defects
- Spina Bifida
Congratulations, You Are Pregnant!
Now that you are pregnant, you can move on to these additional tips.
3. Find the Best Provider For You
There is no one-size-fits-all provider or midwife. Don’t just grab someone off of your insurance policy. Your relationship with your provider or midwife is probably the most intimate doctor-patient relationship you will ever have.
Ensure you are in a collaborative relationship with a provider who understands and respects your values and desires. Taking the time to find the best provider or midwife for you will pay off in the end.
4. Test Your Hormones
Ask your provider to test your hormones, especially your thyroid hormones. According to the Journal of Neurological Sciences, thyroid deficiency during pregnancy, specifically in the intrauterine levels of thyroid hormones, may result in permanent changes to the baby’s brain.
These changes are indicative of those seen in the brains of people with autism. A thyroid deficiency during pregnancy could result from dietary and environmental exposure to antithyroid agents, including:
- Coal derivatives
Your provider can give you guidance about what to avoid based on your specific situation.
5. Pay Attention to the Amount of Fish You Eat
You may have heard cold water wild-caught fish such as salmon is a good source of the omega-3 fat, which is vital for your baby’s brain and nervous system development.
However, fish can also contain high levels of toxins like mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), which can throw your hormones out of balance.
It’s best to keep your intake of fish to 2 servings or 12 ounces weekly. Also, make sure to skip the canned tuna.
If fish isn’t part of your diet, you can take a high-quality fish oil that contains 2000mg of EPA and DHA to get the omega-3’s you and your baby need.
6. Test for Allergies and Sensitivities
Allergies are immune reactions to substances the body has a hypersensitivity to. You may be allergic to:
- Certain foods
- Things you touch
- Particles you inhale
Studies show that a child can inherit a predisposition for an allergy from the parents. If parents have allergies or sensitivities, the child has a 75 to 100 percent chance of having the same allergy. If neither parent has allergies, the chance drops to 10 percent.
7. Watch What You Eat
Everything you put in your mouth will reach your unborn child. So, you must eat healthy, nutrient-dense foods.
Your diet should be made up of:
- Chemicals and preservatives free food
- Organic vegetables
- Organic fruits
- Free-range and grass-fed meat
- Healthy fats
If you have food allergies, remove those foods from your diet. Also, steer clear of toxins and chemicals you don’t want your baby receiving.
8. Watch Your Vitamin A Intake
Check your supplements and diet for too much vitamin A intake. Vitamin A is essential in fetal development, but too much vitamin A increases the risk of congenital disabilities to:
- The brain
- The heart
- Other organs
Vitamin A intake should be limited to 8,000IU to 10,000IU daily from all of your food and supplement sources. Talk with your provider if you aren’t sure how much vitamin A is in your daily diet.
9. Watch Your Herbal Supplements
Some herbals supplements are not safe to take during pregnancy. If the herbs and supplements you take have not been safety tested on pregnant women, consider them unsafe to take during pregnancy.
And, you should avoid some herbs such as:
- Black cohosh
- St. John’s Wort
These herbal supplements can cause stimulation of the uterus, which may result in miscarriage or pre-term labor.
10. Remove Chemical Toxins
Remove chemical toxins from your house and environment, such as:
- Cleaning supplies
Research shows there is a correlation between chemical exposure and fetal development. During a study of children born in 2010, the Environmental Working Group found an average of 232 chemicals in the cord blood of the children studied.
You may not be able to control every environmental toxin you come into contact with, but you can control those in your home.
Replace any toxic cleaning supplies, pesticides, or solvents with natural alternatives. Use non-toxic bedding and aluminum-free deodorants.
Also, replace plastic water bottles with reusable stainless or glass bottles.
We Can Help
A healthy baby starts in the womb. Taking care of yourself and your unborn baby doesn’t have to be complicated.
Have more questions or need some extra support during and before pregnancy? Give us a call today!