Trying to conceive? This is why both parents’ health counts
Preconception health and nutrition – for both women and men – can help conception and the health of your baby.
The health and nutrition of both parents before conception is important not only for a healthy pregnancy, but also for the lifelong health of their children and even the next generation, says a recent study.
But despite a high level of pregnancy planning, research shows awareness of preconception health among women is low.
Important pre-conception vitamins and minerals
To prepare for pregnancy, both partners should be making sure they get important vitamins and minerals.
They include zinc, which is important for both male and female reproductive health and supports testosterone production in men.
For women, folate (or folic acid when taken as a supplement) is also important as it may help prevent the possibility of neural tube defects or problems in the baby’s spinal cord if taken daily for at least one month before conception and during pregnancy.
The recommended daily intake of folate for women is 400 micrograms (mcg).
You might not have heard of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), but studies show this antioxidant, which provides energy to cells, may influence sperm movement and spermatogenesis.
Iron keeps your body’s tissues and organs functioning at their best and helps make the extra blood you and bub will need, while omega-3 fatty acid is important for your future child’s healthy eye, brain and nervous system development.
Calcium is also important to help your growing baby form healthy, strong bones.
A good multivitamin can help support the increased nutritional needs of women before, during and after pregnancy.
How men can support their pre-conception health
Dads can also optimise health before conception by:
- Quitting smoking;
- Limiting alcohol intake;
- Maintaining a healthy weight;
- Getting checked for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that can affect conception; and
- Keeping things cool ‘down there’.
Supplements tailored for men planning to conceive are readily available over the counter in Australia.
They contain important vitamins and minerals, such as selenium and zinc, which contribute to healthy sperm production.
Eating to conceive
It’s important for women to eat a wide variety of healthy foods to prepare for pregnancy – including fruits and vegetables, breads and grains, protein sources and dairy products.
A good pregnancy multivitamin can also help support the increased dietary needs of women before, during and after pregnancy, including breastfeeding.
Look at your lifestyle
Research shows creating “optimal conditions” during the three developmental periods of preconception, pregnancy and infancy is the best way to promote a baby’s physical, emotional and social wellbeing.
Along with eating healthily, that means getting enough rest and sleep, cutting down on stress and generally taking it easy where possible.
This post is brought to you by Swisse Ultinatal Men’s Pre-Conception Support and Swisse Ultinatal Pre-Conception & Pregnancy Multivitamin.
Always read the label. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Supplements may only be of assistance if dietary intake is inadequate. Follow the directions for use.