If you are hoping to increase your fertility and your chances of conceiving a baby, there are many foods that will give you a boost, and lots that you should be avoiding. Fertility experts agree that if you are trying to conceive then any changes you make to your diet should start at least three months before you try and conceive. This will give your body a chance to stockpile nutrients and get reserves of the essential minerals and vitamins the baby will need. It will also improve the quality of your eggs and be a determining factor in how well the baby grows in the first twelve weeks.
The very first thing you should do, if you have not done so already, is give up smoking and drinking, and yes, this applies to the would be father as well. Studies have shown that parents who have smoke throughout their pregnancies are at risk of delivering smaller babies, having premature births and even stillbirths. When you smoke you are inhaling 4,000-plus chemicals into your bloodstream, including the two most toxic – nicotine and carbon monoxide. James Christmas, who is the director of Maternal Fetal Medicine for Commonwealth Perinatal Associates at Henrico Doctors’ Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, says that these chemicals work to cut off the baby’s supply of oxygen by narrowing blood vessels throughout your body, including the ones in the umbilical cord. It’s a little like forcing your baby to breathe through a narrow straw. Moreover, the red blood cells that carry oxygen start to pick up molecules of carbon monoxide instead. Suddenly, that narrow straw doesn’t even hold as much oxygen as it should, and a shortage of oxygen can have devastating effects on your baby’s growth and development.
Now you can concentrate on adding to a healthy diet that includes all the main food groups, as it is important not to leave out any, even carbohydrates. Be sure to include a lot of protein in your diet, such as chicken, fish and eggs, and try to eat lots of leafy green vegetables and fruit, nuts and grains. This will mean that you are getting good levels of zinc and selenium (found in eggs, fish and nuts), vitamin C and antioxidants (from all the veggies and fruits), and iron and magnesium. B vitamins are crucial if you are hoping to conceive, especially folic acid, which has been shown to help prevent birth defects such as spina bifida in the first three months of pregnancies. If you find you are not drinking enough orange juice, or eating enough fortified grains (a good source of folic acid) then you can take a supplement. Doctors typically recommend supplements of folic acid and omega 3 as these contain essential fatty acids that are not easily found in some foods.
Foods to avoid include soybeans and soya foods, as some studies have found that large quantities of soy protein can inhibit fertility. Cutting back on the caffeine is also a good idea, although research is mixed on the effect of caffeine on your ability to get pregnant, it is best to play it safe and cut back to no more than the equivalent of two cups of coffee per day. Stay away from big oily fish, such as mackerel and tuna as these have been known to contain high levels of mercury, which can accumulate and linger in your body long after you consume it. High levels of mercury can be harmful to you and can damage your baby’s developing nervous system.
Finally, there is a new train of thought that miscarriages are due to an overactive immune system, when the body sees the growing foetus as a foreign body. Vitamin D is excellent for balancing the immune system and some doctors are now recommending this supplement to mothers who have experienced miscarriages before. So in essence, keep to your healthy diet, be sure to add plenty of fresh leafy veggies and fruits, include more protein, take a folic acid supplement and stop smoking! Good luck!