Nutrition for Fertility: Prenatal Nutrition
future baby carriers! this is part of a three part nutrition series. can nutrition really impact fertility and my chance of getting pregnant? women’s health nurse practitioner walks us through fueling your body preconception, pregnancy + postpartum.
First of all, I would like to commend you for taking the first step of desiring to learn more about how to nourish your body for pregnancy! Prenatal nutrition can play a huge role in getting your body ready for a healthy baby and pregnancy. So many think about this topic well after seeing those two pink lines. Being a parent is a huge responsibility, so if this is your first baby or third, there is always something new to learn! Again, you should be so proud of starting this process before baby is even created! The goal of this first part of our series is to tackle supplements. In the next part we will discuss foods and nutrients while pregnant and then lastly, how to restore your body after baby is earth-side. Remember as you read this, this is not personalized medical advice so be sure to talk to your doc before starting any supplements!
Did you know that the egg you will be fertilizing begins its maturation process 90 days prior to conception? Now is the time to start implementing a nutrient rich diet to create the healthiest environment for the egg and your future babe! Starting on a quality prenatal vitamin is definitely important and recommended however we don’t want to rely on this for all of our nutrients. Nutrients such as vitamin D can even impact implantation rates so the sooner we get started, the better! One of my favorite prenatal vitamins is Seeking Health Optimal Prenatal (this is what I personally took!). In addition, I suggest the consideration of a high quality fish oil and Choline Bitartrate. Choline (part of the B vitamin family) has been proven to have a variety of benefits for both carrier and baby and so many carriers do not get nearly enough choline in their diets.
It is encouraged that pregnant people consume about 450-550mg of choline daily. For reference, one egg has 115mg of Choline. Choline is very beneficial for both carrier and baby’s brain. It is also found in organ meats, salmon, bacon, beef, pork, poultry, dairy, broccoli, beans, nut butter or shiitake mushrooms at smaller amounts. Two eggs a day with the yolks meets half of the recommended daily intake of Choline. It has even been shown to reduce the risk of preeclampsia during pregnancy. Ensuring adequate choline has been known to boost baby’s cognitive development.
When it comes to Omega-3’s we want to make sure we are consuming safe and healthy (wild caught!) seafood, and/or taking a high quality fish oil. There are two that I typically like to suggest! Nordic Naturals Pro Omega 2000 and Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil. Both of these source healthy fish and have appropriate omega ratios. Fish oil can also help improve hormone balance and reduce inflammation which is essential while TTC!
Next, let’s discuss folate, another B vitamin. Many prenatals have “Folic Acid” in them. Folate is the nutrient that occurs naturally in foods while folic acid is the synthetic version. Check your prenatal vitamin, you want to see L-methylfolate or 5-methyletrahydrofolate instead of folic acid. Foods rich in folate include: Dark leafy greens, fruit, nuts, beans, peas, seafood, eggs, dairy and poultry. Specifically, asparagus, spinach, liver and Brussels sprouts contain high levels. This is key for preventing neural tube defects.
Lastly, a brief review of vitamin D. I recommend at least 2000iu of D3 daily, your prenatal may have some so check it out! This is important for the absorption of magnesium and helps to regulate blood sugar, metabolism, brain function, thyroid health and bone strength. Studies also show that optimal vitamin D levels can improve implantation of an embryo into the wall of the uterus which is exactly what we are focused on in the near future!!
Focusing on these few main nutrients can allow you to hone in some smaller details that are often overlooked or assumed to be found in your prenatal and let you start building up nutrient reserves prior to needing them for baby. The best thing you can do from a pure nutrition standpoint is to begin to remove processed foods from your diet. All of the exposures to soy, canola oil and refined sugars greatly increase inflammation in the body which can lower pregnancy rates. In doing so, body weight optimizes which again can improve implantation as well. If your BMI is elevated, studies show that a reduction in body weight by 5-10% can DOUBLE pregnancy rates (gasp!). We will discuss specifics of this in the next part of our series!
Hi there! I’m Steph, the founder and creator of Nourished Momma. I am a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner and have been helping guide women nutritionally for over six years. I am a former Labor & Delivery Nurse and now, after obtaining my Master’s in Women’s Health, work in Reproductive Endocrinology as an NP, helping women conceive, balance hormones and understand their bodies. I have seen both sides of pregnancy in fine detail and have spent years researching what leads to beautiful, enjoyable pregnancies, and healthy snuggly babies. I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to be alongside you in your journey. You can find me at nourishedmomma.com and follow me on IG @NourishedMomma.