Most people do not realize that by reaching the proper weight six months prior to when you want to conceive, you can significantly increase your ability to get pregnant, and what you eat before conception can significantly impact your fertility as well as your baby’s health. Careful attention to nutrition in the months before conception can also reduce the risk of birth defects. There is also an important link between your weight and fertility (levels of body fat and your reproductive hormones).
While little research on nutrition focuses on fertility, it is generally accepted that how much and what you eat can have an impact on your ability to conceive, and on the health of your baby. Research suggests that one of the key connections between weight and fertility is your percentage of body fat. Each fat cell in your body is capable of converting androgens to estrogen. Estrogen is one of the key hormones involved in egg production and release. Approximately one-third of your estrogen is produced in your ovaries, and the rest is produced in your fat cells. Complete hormonal shutdown can occur if your body fat falls 10 to 15% below or rises 10 to 15% above the norm of 29%.
(Further reading for those of you with PCOS – tips to lose weight when dealing with insulin resistance or poly cystic ovary syndrome)
Another important factor relating to food and fertility is providing your body with enough energy to function optimally. Under-eating alone is sufficient to prevent conception since it can cause you to stop ovulating (and contributes to adrenal fatigue). Additionally, if pregnancy occurs when caloric intake is low just prior to conception, babies are not only smaller, but their mortality rate is three times higher than that of women who eat sufficient amounts of food.
According to the U.S. Department of Health, the average woman needs about 2,100 calories to function optimally. You will need more calories if you are below your natural weight. Just prior to conception, you may actually need as much as 2,300 calories a day; while once you are pregnant you should be taking in around 2,500 to 2,700 calories a day. This number may be higher if you exercise vigorously.
It’s also important for most women to be sure to take quality prenatal vitamins starting six months prior to when you want to conceive. This can help fill any nutritional “holes” and make sure the body has ample supply of nutrients.
a guest post by Belinda Wurn
Bio: Belinda Wurn is National Director of Services for Clear Passage Physical Therapy®. She co-developed the Wurn Technique®, a manual non-surgical treatment for decreasing adhesions and their effects. The Wurn Technique® is a unique hands-on physical therapy protocol, developed over 20+ years of extensive study and clinical research by Belinda Wurn, PT and Larry Wurn, LMT. It was initially created to decrease pain and increase function for Belinda, when adhesions from surgery and radiation therapy left her unable to work and in chronic, debilitating pain. The Wurn Technique® is designed to treat the adhesions that cause up to 40% of all female infertility.