26 Jul Eating for Pregnancy
The healthier your body is, the more likely you are to conceive and experience a full-term pregnancy – whether you conceive at home or via fertility treatments.
Trying to Conceive? Shift to a Pregnancy-Friendly Diet
While most women know to stop drinking alcohol or to limit caffeine intake while trying to conceive, they don’t always make the transition to a pregnancy-friendly diet until a positive pregnancy test is in the mix.
However, unless you have some medical issues such as PCOS, diabetes or severe obesity, we recommend it’s best to eat like you’re pregnant before you ever conceive. In addition to the inherent health benefits of a diet geared for pregnancy, this model ensures your future baby gets all of the nutrients s/he needs from the very moment the embryo implants in the womb.
Pregnancy Diet at a Glance
The tenets of a healthy, per-day, pregnancy diet include:
- Eating 300 extra calories per day (wait on this one until you are pregnant to keep within your healthy weight target!)
- 2 – 4 servings of fruit
- 4 or more servings of vegetables
- 6 – 11 servings of whole grains via bread, pasta, tortillas, oatmeal, brown rice, pita, etc. (this will vary if you are overweight, have PCOS, type 2 diabetes or other health considerations)
- 2 – 3 servings of protein (around 27 grams)
- 4 servings of dairy products for roughly 1000 grams of calcium
Here are additional shifts you can make to eat right for pregnancy:
Avoid foods grown or raised with pesticides/herbicides, hormones or antibiotics
This includes organic foods of course, but you can also find plenty of vegetables, fruits, meat and other animal products free of harmful chemicals by shopping locally at Farmer’s Markets or markets that prioritize sustainably grown/raised food products. While the verdict is still out on whether organic – or not – makes a difference for pregnant women and their babies, multiple studies demonstrate links between pesticides and infertility issues.
Herbicides and pesticides have been liked to infertility factors in both men and women, and your hormone balance is essential to a healthy pregnancy. By eating foods that are grown and raised without these potential toxins, you’ve giving your body – and your baby – a forward-thinking head start.
Start taking a prenatal vitamin
Speak to your OB/GYN about taking prenatal vitamins while trying to conceive. In addition to optimizing your nutrient intake, these vitamins often include folic acid, essential to your baby’s brain and neural development. While there’s no need for most women to take more than the recommended dose (400 – 500 mcg), adequate folic acid reduces the risk for spina bifida and other brain and neural tube defects.
Think about adopting an anti-inflammatory diet
If you are struggling to get pregnant, or you have a known infertility factor, an anti-inflammatory diet can make a difference in your overall health. Eliminating or greatly reducing processed foods, preservatives and refined sugars from your diets – while eating plenty of lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables – helps to keep inflammation at bay.
In addition to potentially alleviating symptoms for two the most common causes of female infertility – endometriosis and PCOS – reducing inflammation system-wide boosts your immune system, supporting the reproductive system as a whole.
Have PCOS? Talk to your doctor about a low-carb diet
If you have PCOS, speak to your doctor about a low-carb diet, like the South Beach diet, which helps to sustain blood sugar levels as well as weight regulation. This combats insulin resistance and potentially minimize the dosage of Metformin or similar medications you may be taking. Keep in that regular exercise in a target heart rate range (220-your age x .7 = target heart rate) for 20 – 30 minutes each session is probably more effective than a low carb diet or Metformin. Combining a low carb diet with regular exercise is our recommendation.
Stick to Healthy Fish
Eating fish and certain sea foods are a great way to ingest lean protein with ample Omega-3s, vitamin D and vitamin B12. Pregnancy experts recommend pregnant women eat two to three servings of fish per week. They have also identified that the health benefits of eating the right fish is healthier for mothers and babies than avoiding fish out of fear of metal toxicity.
Click Here to read the FDA’s Advice for Eating Fish, and keep this graphic handy on your smart device when shopping or dining out.
Are you interested in working with fertility specialists who take a whole-body and whole-lifestyle approach to fertility and your healthy pregnancy? Schedule a consultation with the Reproductive Medicine and Surgery Center of Virginia. We’re here for you every step of your journey.