2) Tone down the caffeine. Prior to and during pregnancy, you should keep your consumption equal to or below 200mg per day. This is equivalent to about two 8-ounce cups of brewed tea or one 12-ounce cup of (ideally organic) coffee. Caffeine's diuretic properties make it more difficult for you to stay hydrated, and it can be stimulating both for you and your baby. Herbal teas are generally considered safe in pregnancy, are soothing and warm like that cup of coffee you might be craving, and as a bonus they help keep you hydrated as a tasty alternative to water. Two to three cups daily of any of the following herbal teas are desirable in pregnancy: citrus peel, ginger, lemon balm, orange peel, and rose hip. Health Canada recommends staying away from teas with Aloe, Coltsfoot, Juniper Berries, Pennyroyal, Buckthorn Bark, Comfrey, Labrador Tea, Sassafras, Duck Roots, Lobelia and Senna Leaves. (Roman) Chamomile tea is also cautioned against in pregnancy as it may cause uterine contractions, increasing the risk of miscarriage and/or preterm labour.
3) At least one month before you try to get pregnant, begin taking 400mcg of folic acid. This is the amount found in most daily multi-vitamins anyway, or even better start taking a prenatal vitamin. Come see Dr. Mingay today to find out more. Citrus, beans, and leafy greens provide folic acid, however women generally need to supplement to absorb adequate amounts for pregnancy. Folic acid significantly lowers your risk for serious birth defects.
4) Along with folic acid, adequate amounts of protein, calcium, and iron are critical to helping your body become optimal for pregnancy. Protein sources that are low in saturated fat and rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids are key, such as salmon, chicken, turkey, quinoa, beans, nuts and seeds. Eat organic or hormone-free, grass fed meats and eggs whenever possible. Many pesticides, chemicals and hormones used to treat produce and animal products contain synthetic estrogen receptor sites that have negative effects on organ and endocrine systems.
Avoid foods with empty calories such as chips, soda pop, and baked goods, as well as refined sugar and carbohydrates, as those will quickly contribute to unhealthy and unnecessary weight gain, and irregular blood sugar control.
5) Eat alkaline rather than acidic foods. Alkaline foods like non-citrus fruits (with the exception of lemon - it is in fact alkaline to your body), vegetables, and sprouts help provide the reproductive system with the ideal pH for conception and implantation. Acidic foods to be avoided include: condiments, canned foods, red meat, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, and coffee. For more information on acidic vs. alkaline foods, read my GERD post below.
6) As you prepare for pregnancy with folic acid and a prenatal vitamin, an omega-3 essential fatty acid is also a good idea as adequate amounts are difficult to obtain through food alone. Any unprocessed plant source such as raw nuts or flaxseed oil, or a deep-sea fish oil, are all great options.
7) Brush and floss your teeth regularly, and ensure you are paying a visit to the dentist at least every 6 months. Pregnancy increases your risk for gum disease, and the increased production of prostaglandins produced by gum disease can heighten the likelihood of preterm labour.
8) Avoid alcohol and nicotine. This is a no-brainer, but sometimes we find ourselves in environments where we don't realize how much secondhand smoke we are being exposed to. For example, restaurant and bar patios in the summer. Nicotine exposure throughout pregnancy not only puts you at increased risk for miscarriage, preterm labour and low birth rate, but even after you've given birth it can still impact your baby's risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
9) Stress management - if you don't create a happy and healthy environment for your fetus to grow in, who will? Yoga, deep breathing, meditation, 7-8 hours of restful sleep a night, giving yourself "you time," the list goes on. These are just some of the many ways you can lower stress in your life to provide your future child with optimal conditions in which to thrive.
10) Acupuncture to promote fertility. Acupuncture treatments 1-2 times per week for at least 5 weeks prior to IUI/IVF, or pre- and post- IUI/IVF acupuncture treatments (ideally within 24 hours of procedure). Allow Dr. Mingay to help you get pregnant today - phone 416-481-7901 to book a consult.