When it comes to pregnancy, women usually see a doctor when either they become pregnant and they see their OB/GYN or midwife for the first time at 8-12 weeks, or if they have been having difficulty getting pregnant. For several reasons that we are going to touch on, it is important to be working with a healthcare provider several months prior to becoming pregnant to ensure a growing baby and glowing momma.
Pregnancy really is amazing, and the fact that our bodies can grow an entire human starting with just two cells is nothing short of miraculous. During pregnancy the body goes through many changes, and it can be very taxing for the new mama-to-be. Growing babies need a lot of nutrients, and during pregnancy the baby’s needs are prioritized. This means it is important to be in good health beforehand to ensure that baby gets what they need to thrive, and there is still enough left over for mama to thrive as well. Things that can help ensure this may require things like changes to your eating habits and exercise routine, decreasing stress levels and making sure your home environment is ready for a little one.
Here are 5 ways your naturopathic doctor can help you with fertility while you're preparing to start a family:
1. Supervised Detox
For many women, doing some sort of a detox 3-6 months before getting pregnant is a good idea. We come into contact with many toxins every day through our water, food, cosmetics, cleaning products and air pollution. Luckily, our body does a pretty good job of clearing these toxins out of our system. However, over time it is normal to get some accumulation. We can make modifications to our diet and lifestyle choices, which can help our body do what it does best. Some benefits of doing a detox as part of your preconception fertility care include:
Since detoxing initially mobilizes stored toxins, it is important to perform this under the supervision of a healthcare provider to ensure it is done safely. A detox should be done at least 3-6 months prior to trying to get pregnant. You healthcare provider may also add on nutrients/supplements and herbal medicine that can help the detox process.
2. Assess Egg and Sperm Quality
To increases your fertility/chances of conceiving we want to have high quality egg and sperm. There are changes that we can make in our diet and lifestyle that can do just this. For men, it takes about 3 months for sperm to be made and mature. This means we want to start these healthy changes at least 3-4 months before trying to conceive.
For women, an egg begins its journey to becoming a mature egg almost 6 months beforehand! The active period of egg development takes place in the 3 months prior to ovulation. This means women should start making these healthy changes 3-6 months prior to trying to conceive. Your healthcare provider can help you maximize your fertility by working with you to come up with a great treatment plan. They can also help you navigate through making these challenging changes, like changing your diet or exercise routine
3. Address any Current Conditions
Optimizing our physical health can help support a healthy, happy pregnancy. There are some health conditions that need to be addressed before becoming pregnant, some of which can actually impact your fertility if left unmanaged. These include things like anemia, thyroid dysfunction, diabetes, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or other nutritional deficiencies. Your healthcare provider can help assess if you have any of these conditions and provide you with the appropriate treatment options.
4. Provide Necessary Education
There is a lot information to consider when thinking of starting family. You healthcare provider can help you navigate through this information and help you make educated decisions. Some of this information may include:
There are some diseases that are harmful to a growing baby. These are called TORCH pathogens, and a few of them can be prevented with vaccines such as rubella. Other diseases such as the chicken pox, which aren’t necessarily harmful for baby, but can be very serious for mama need to be considered. If you haven’t had these diseases in the past, or are not vaccinated for these things, you should speak with your healthcare provider about getting these vaccines before becoming pregnant. Your healthcare provider is also able to test you to see if you have immunity to these diseases.
Genetic testing can provide insight into conditions that you or partner may be carrying in your genetics. Some of these conditions have the potential to be passed down to your baby. These are serious conditions that can lead to developmental delays, serious physical disabilities or a short life expectancy. You will be offered genetic counseling once you are pregnant, usually sometime in the second trimester.
The downfall of this option is if the tests come back positive there is more testing that then needs to be done on the growing baby, and may leave the parents having to make difficult decisions about the future of the pregnancy. The benefit of doing this before becoming pregnant is that you can then be proactive about making decisions that can limit the chances of passing a condition to your baby. These are still difficult decision for couples, but testing before pregnancy gives you more time to weigh the options, rather than waiting until you’re already pregnant.
Now comes the fun part… getting pregnant! Your healthcare provider can help you learn to track and interpret your menstrual cycles and help teach you when is the optimal time to be having sex each month. They can also recommend tools such as basal body temperature readings, apps to help track you cycles, cervical mucous monitoring or ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) to help better understand your fertility.
5. Provide Support in the Time you Need it Most
If you are having difficulty becoming pregnant, often a fertility specialist will not see you until you have been trying to get pregnant for at least one year. For couples who are a little older, that time may be a little shorter. There is no need to sit around during that time feeling helpless and discouraged. With naturopathic medicine, there is a lot that can be done during this time to help increase your chances of becoming pregnant and support you during that time.
Once you become pregnant you will be under the care of an OB/GYN or midwife throughout the duration of your pregnancy. In most cases they will not see you until you are 8-12 weeks pregnant depending on the provider. Those 8-12 weeks are a busy time for your growing baby. By 12 weeks your baby’s heart, eyes, ears, arms, legs and nervous systems are far along in their development, if not already completely developed. It is so important that during this time momma is getting adequate nutrition to support all that growth. This can be a challenge because during this time is when things like morning sickness and exhaustion can be at their peak, making eating nutritious food difficult. Other symptoms that can develop during the first trimester, before you are able to see your OB/GYN or midwife, include:
If you have a healthcare provider who you have been working with for your fertility care, they can help manage these symptoms making your first trimester a little easier and ensuring your baby is getting all the nutrients they need. If you don’t have someone, hopefully this article has encouraged you to find one.
Curious to know more? Our Fertile Bloom Program might be the perfect fit! Be sure to take the quiz and find out. You can learn more about the co-founders of Fertile Bloom and what they offer. Individual services are also available.
Have you considered pre-conception care? Why or why not? Comment below and let us know!