Updated: May 8
Why is pre-conception health so important?
When considering health needs for pregnancy much focus is given to the gestation period. The 9 (or so) months where we nurture the mother in order to nurture the unborn child.
Not much talk is directed to the importance of the health of the parent’s at preconception and at the time of conception.
Did you know that Traditional Chinese Medicine theory believes that the health of yourself and your partner when you conceive paves the way for the quality of your child’s constitution? This inherent energy is called yuán Qì (prenatal Qi). Housed in the Kidney the prenatal Qi reflects the time, place and circumstances of conception and governs the future growth and development of the child and their physical and mental constitution.
This is an important consideration for both partners. Sometimes in the story of baby making we forget that the men make up 50% of the equation! Ideally some time prior to considering conception both partners should be focused on achieving optimal health and balance. This is only going to benefit your overall health of course so hey it’s a win-win.
The focus of this blog is around how you can offer your unborn child the best start in life but I would be remiss to not also draw attention to the fact that getting this groundwork in early will also help you have the best chances of falling pregnant considering the fertility challenges that are becoming all too common.
Pre-conception care of women can be up to 12 months prior to pregnancy. Consider yourself a gardener. When planting a beautiful garden, you first take time to prepare the earth in order to make sure it will provide the most nurturing and fertile environment for your plants to bloom. Many women who come to us for fertility support are actually unaware of how their cycles should feel. Led to believe over time that symptoms of pain and irregularity are the norm when in fact these are messages from your body of imbalance that you do not and should not have to put up with. You can read detailed information on some of the women's health issues that can impact fertility in our blog 'Maybe Baby'
Sperm production takes 80 – 116 days so pre-conception care for males is particularly important in the 3-4 months leading up to conception. Bear in mind that depending on where we are starting from health wise it may take longer than that to achieve optimal sperm health.
For both men and women a lot can be achieved through dietary and lifestyle changes to support your health during the pre-conception period. We talk in detail about men's reproductive health issues in our blog 'Maybe Baby' and also 'Men's Oxidative Stress'
Following is a few changes that we strongly suggest you aim to implement.
Consider ceasing oral or other hormonal based contraception with as much time as possible to bring your body and cycle back into balance. We can use Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine to assist with achieving this balance.
Be aware of your menstrual cycle and attentive to irregularities, pain or other signs of imbalance and make moves to address these sooner rather than later.
Actively reduce stress. I know easier said than done. You know what though, its crucial. The very real impact of stress is not given nearly enough airtime when we consider what is going on with our health. Some easy stress busting inclusions into your day are meditation, gentle exercise such as yoga or walking, switching off from technology and a good old-fashioned warm bath.
Nutrition is really important, guidance from a health professional can be really helpful in order to make sure you are eating a diet that is supportive for fertility. Typically, this looks like an anti-inflammatory diet however everyone’s needs are different and individual guidance will provide the best results. This is something we can certainly help with if you are already coming in for treatment would no doubt have been covered. An easy start point is avoiding processed / junk foods, added sugars and cold or raw food (we want that belly warm and well nourished)
Move, exercise is important, keep it simple and gentle as far as TCM are concerned we don’t want to overdo it on the activity front as high intensity training can also place undue stress on your system but please walk, get to a yoga class, pilates, weights (appropriate to your level of fitness) or swimming are all good options.
Stop smoking, avoid or restrict alcohol and try and wean yourself of caffeine.
For the guys:
Here’s some food for thought. Did you know that leukaemia, asthma, respiratory disease, mental development/disease have all been linked to the health of the father and his sperm?
Paying attention to weight. Excess weight / fat located around the groin area can cause overheating, hormonal imbalances and lowered sperm production.
Implementing and anti-inflammatory diet can get you on your way to rectifying a host of imbalances in the body. As with women this is an area that would make up part of any treatment plan at Red Bridge and we are happy to support you with the right recommendations for your individual needs. Nutrition is of huge importance and the inclusion of the B-vitamin group, omega-3 essential fatty acids, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Selenium, Zinc, Magnesium, and COQ10 are known to have a positive effect on sperm quality and quantity.
Lowering stress levels is important. One of the most common causes of male infertility is from the toxic stress, basically an overload from our busy modern lives. The impact of stress on sperm production and libido can not be overstated. As with women if men can look at work life balance and trying to actively allocate rest and down time by way of switching off technology, incorporating gentle exercise such as yoga and walking and making sleep a priority.
Tobacco, caffeine and illicit drug use are all no no’s. I’d like to think this one is pretty self-explanatory, but smoking depletes oxygen and reduces blood flow, caffeine disrupts our normal physiological function and causes our nervous system all sorts of havoc and illicit drug use decreases sperm production and motility.
Making sure the area around the testicular region is not overheated. I mentioned this earlier in relation to weight, but it is also a consideration with general clothing choices. Sperm needs to be at a temp 3 degrees lower than your body to survive.
Did you know it is recommended for a man to ejaculate every 2-3 days? Its popular opinion that too much sex can affect your sperm count but in fact the opposite is true, not being able to ejaculate regularly can in fact lower the count.
What toxins are you exposed to at home and work? Now is a good time to assess areas such as work and home where you might be exposed to radiation, chemicals and heavy metals. These can all affect hormones and impair sperm production.
If you would like further advice and support with a personalised approach to bringing your body into balance prior to starting a family get in touch with us at Red Bridge Family Acupuncture.
For appointment’s call PH:(03)59061494 or via our contact page.