Over the past few weeks, our D Moms Daily wellness expert Dr. Kate Naumes, ND has talked all things fertility, from how to optimize it to beauty products that are safe for expecting moms and the importance of preconception care. For her final post in the “fertility series” (she’ll be sharing a new topic with us starting next week), she takes on diet, specifically the importance of what we eat and obtaining healthy digestion on preparing for conception and maximizing fertility.
Most women start eating healthy around the 13th week of their pregnancy (after the nausea subsides), but for the most enjoyable pregnancy and the healthiest baby, I encourage my clients to start improving their nutrition at least four months before conception. This week I want to talk about the importance of food and digestion as it relates to preparing for conception and maximizing fertility.
How do you do that, you say? The best meals for a typical woman trying to get pregnant are meals that are organic whole-foods based and rich in protein, vitamins, and essential minerals. Whole foods are those that are made with simple and pure ingredients that are nutrient-dense and minimally processed. Over time, consuming healthy foods prepares your body for pregnancy, in part because it encourages ideal body composition, including a healthy amount of fat and muscle mass. (Too much or too little body fat can have negative effects on fertility.)
Additionally, the health of your digestive system contributes to the quality of your overall health because it determines how well you absorb nutrients from food. We’re used to thinking of bacteria as a bad thing, but friendly bacteria line your intestines and help to break down food to make the nutrients more available. This bacteria can also help deal with certain toxins present in foods, preventing damage to your body. To encourage friendly bacteria, consider taking a daily high-quality probiotic (because you can’t count on your yogurt to provide all of your probiotic needs). Furthermore, before getting pregnant, it’s a good idea to identify food sensitivities that may potentially trigger immune reactions during pregnancy.
So fast forward – let’s imagine that you’ve now optimized the health of your gastrointestinal tract with the help of a qualified practitioner- what foods can you eat to maximize fertility?
- Indulge in strawberries. Getting enough vitamin C, from sources such as fresh berries, oranges, and tomatoes, is essential for fertility.
- Sip some tea and stay hydrated. For more fertility-boosting antioxidants, enjoy a cup of caffeine-free tea. Rooibos tea is a great choice because it is high in antioxidants and naturally caffeine-free.
- Make a green smoothie. Dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale are a great source of folate, which is required for proper neural tube growth in the very first stages of development.
- Eat high-quality protein at each meal. Cold water fish, beans and legumes, organic/grass-fed/free-range animal protein, and whole grains all provide essential amino acids to nourish the reproductive system.
- Build up your iron stores with iron-rich foods. Iron deficiency during the first two trimesters increases the risk of preterm delivery and a low birth weight baby, so be sure to eat plenty of superfood greens like spinach and collards.
Some of your worst memories of your previous pregnancy/pregnancies may be of 1st trimester nausea. Culturally we assume that significant nausea and pregnancy go hand in hand, but if you set aside some time for pre-pregnancy care, you’re likely to have considerably less morning sickness. A qualified naturopath can help you design a personalized food plan to address nutritional needs as you prepare for an enjoyable, nourished, and healthy pregnancy.
Dr. Kate Naumes, ND runs a Holistic Wellness practice in uptown. She provides pre-conception and fertility counseling, newborn and pediatric wellness education, doula services, as well as ongoing well-woman supper. Learn more at naumesnd.com.
Disclaimer: Dr. Kate Naumes, ND holds a Doctorate in Naturopathy and a Certificate in Midwifery from Bastyr University. The state of Texas does not license Naturopathic Doctors. As such, she holds her license in California and acts in Texas as a wellness consultant, not as a physician.