Preconception tips for the woman attempting pregnancy
Many of our patients get confusing advice about foods, medications and exercise from well-intentioned family and friends. This information is subject to change, and your specific situation and questions should be discussed with your physician.
***It is very important that all of our clients continue to see their OB/GYN for well-woman exams.***
***Please continue to have your pap smear and mammogram as your OB/GYN recommends.***
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists provide extensive preconception information at their website www.acog.org
A good website recommended by NFC physicians that summarizes the benefits of different fertility supplements for both partners is www.lifechoicesandfertility.com
Eat a variety of foods rich in fruits and vegetables and take a prenatal vitamin every day. This will help you take in all the appropriate vitamins and minerals that your body needs. These include folic acid, calcium, iron, vitamin C and D and fiber. Maintain a well-balanced diet with appropriate calorie content for your needs, while avoiding high fat meats, sweets, simple carbohydrates, sodas
Folic acid is a type of B vitamin, also called folate, that promotes normal nerve function and production of red blood cells. Women who have lower levels of folic acid intake have a higher chance of having a baby with spinal cord and brain abnormalities. Most women do not receive adequate amounts in their diet and should follow recommendations for folate supplementation: at least 400ug per day if you have no history of neural tube defect (NTD) and 4mg/day with a history of NTD.
Folic acid is found in many foods including vegetables, fruits and nuts.
Good dietary sources of folic acid include:
- Beans such as kidney, garbanzo. pinto, black, navy and lima.
- Vegetables like asparagus, spinach and broccoli.
- Fruits such as oranges, strawberries, raspberries and cantaloupe.
- Many breads and cereals, although not normally containing folate, are enriched with the vitamin.
Strive to achieve your optimal weight. Obesity increases risks for the pregnant woman and the fetus, including but not limited to increased risks for miscarriage, preeclampsia, diabetes and neural tube defects. It also increases the risk of infertility.
• Get adequate sleep. People who sleep 7-9 hours per night are much less likely to gain wieght than those who sleep 6 hours or less due to hormonal changes associated with lack of sleep. Lack of sleep also decreases one’s motivation to do physical exercise, and insomnia can lead to mood changes and sometimes depression that can lead to emotional eating.
• Exercise at least 3 times per week
• Try to decrease the stress in your life which can also lead to emotional eating.
Stop smoking as soon as possible before attempting pregnancy. Smoking has been associated with both male and female infertility, and an increased risk for miscarriage, low birth weight, and pre-term delivery. These risks are only slightly reduced with passive smoking versus active smoking. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, smokers must often attempt twice as many IVF cycles to achieve pregnancy than a nonsmoker. Female smokers often have poorer egg production. Male smokers often have lower sperm counts and motility as well as increased abnormalities in sperm shape and function. Quitting smoking at least three months before attempting IVF significantly improves chances for conception.
In hopes of decreasing the risk of miscarriage or preterm birth, limit caffeine intake to 200 mg total per day. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, energy drinks, many sodas, some aspirin products, and chocolate. The following should be used only as a guide since the actual caffeine content of the same coffee drink can vary from day to day depending upon various factors such as roasting and grinding or for tea, how long it is brewed.
Generic brewed coffee (8 oz) 100-200mg
Generic brewed decaffeinated coffee (8oz) 2-12 mg
Coke Classic (12 oz) 35 mg
Mountain Dew (12 oz) 55 mg
Brewed black tea (8 oz) 15-60 mg
Excedrin (2 extra strength) 130 mg
Alcohol and Drugs
Avoid Alcohol and Recreational Drugs. We treat patients as if they are pregnant from the time they begin any fertility treatment. Alcohol and drugs that are ingested while pregnant will also be ingested by the growing fetus. Alcohol and certain drugs are associated with severe birth defects, mental retardation, stillbirth, preterm delivery, low birth weight, and newborn addiction to the substance at delivery.
All medications including herbal medicines should be discussed with your doctor before you become pregnant.