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Planning a Healthy Pregnancy

מאת: Arela Wilensky, Naturopath |

Nowadays we know that a healthy lifestyle and proper and sensible nutrition is the cornerstone to a healthy and balanced life. During pregnancy, sensible and well planned nutrition is crucially important in order to ensure both the proper development of the fetus and the health of the mother.

Does pregnancy require preplanning?

Even though the period preceding pregnancy does not receive a great deal of attention by women trying to conceive, its importance should not be underestimated. A healthy lifestyle is of crucial importance to conceiving a pregency, and in addition, proper nutrition during this period will serve as a good basis for a healthy fetus and pregnancy.

How to prepare the body for pregnancy naturally?

Preparing the body for pregnancy is a good opportunity to change our lifestyle and nutrition and to detoxify our bodies from the toxins accumulated over the years. The preparation has a number of stages, among others, detoxification, a change of lifestyle with an emphasis on releasing tension and stress, changing nutrition and enriching the body with essential nutrients.

Is detoxification important during this time?

During this unique period, detoxification is extremely important and enables a healthy embryonic implantation and proper fetal development. Preferably, detoxification should be carried out under the supervision of a naturopath and tailor fit to every woman according to the state of her health. As aforementioned, this detoxification should include a removal of processed foods containing preservatives, artificial flavoring, fragrances and color additives, simple sugars, salt and saturated fats, while simultaneously adding strengthening and purifying nutritious foods to the diet based primarily on plant-based foods, including fruit, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.

Do tense and stressful situations impact the chances of conceiving?

Sometimes the stress levels of a woman wanting to conceive are very high due to social pressures, the intense desire to fall pregnant, the lack of certainty and sometimes even from the frustration stemming from failed attempts.

A high level of stress over an extended period of time weakens the body and is likely to cause morbidity. Among other things, stress has an effect of the woman’s physical condition and on her ability to support and the initial stages of gestation.

It is very important, therefore, especially during this period, to release tension and reduce the level of stress. Dietary supplements, Bach Flower remedies, meditation, yoga or various touch therapies such as reflexology, Swedish massage and acupuncture can be utilized to this end.

Is there any connection between proper nutrition and female fertility?

The reproductive cells are likely to be exposed to the negative effects of free radicals, which come from industrial foods, heavy metals and pesticides.

Our body uses nutrients on a daily basis to produce energy, reinforce the immune system, neutralize free radicals, produce hormones, and in addition, to produce healthy sperm and maintain the integrity of the uterus and ovum.

Hence, there is no doubt that our fertility is impacted by whatever we chose to put into our bodies…

Dietary supplements recommended as a preparation for pregnancy

Folic acid

Folic acid is a vitamin from the group of B vitamins, essential for building the DNA, which is the basic component responsible for the formation of the cells in our body and in particular, the formation of red blood cells.

Taking folic acid is important during the month preceding pregnancy and during the first trimester, and is essential to normal development, cell division, formation of new cells and reduces the risk of defects in the fetal central nervous system and brain.

Sources of folic acid: liver, legumes, sprouts, nuts, citrus, whole grain, leafy greens such as chard, cabbage and spinach.

Iron

Iron is essential to our body and is primarily used for building red blood cells. For the most part, it is located in the hemoglobin, which carries the oxygen in the blood and in the myoglobin, which carries it to the muscles. A lack of oxygen is likely to cause anemia and other symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, headaches and dizziness.

During the pregency, the pregnant woman needs more iron than usual, due to the increased volume of blood, and in addition, part of the iron goes to the fetus to provide for its needs.

Iron rich foods: beef, turkey, legumes, almonds, nuts, tahini, oats, dried fruit.

Omega 3

Omega 3 is in fact one of the sub group of polyunsaturated fatty acids. We know now that consuming omega 3 has many positive implications on the health such as the prevention of depression, a reduction in the incidence of inflammatory conditions, maintaining cardiovascular health, treating ADHD, reducing high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.

A supply of omega 3 and especially the DHA fatty acid during the fetal stage and during infancy is crucial to proper development of the fetus’s brain, nervous system and vision.

Omega 3 rich foods: sea food – herring, salmon, mackerel, tuna, walnuts, chia seeds, and algae.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps in absorbing calcium and building the bones, reduces the risk of cancer, prevents depression, maintains the proper level of insulin in the body, is responsible for balancing minerals, prevents autoimmune and inflammatory diseases and is essential to the maintenance of cardiovascular health.

Vitamin D is extremely important for pregnant woman since it impacts fetal skeleton formation.

Vitamin D rich foods: fish liver, tuna, sardines, dairy products and egg whites.

Calcium

Calcium is the mineral responsible for creating and maintaining the bones, blood coagulability, muscle contraction and the transmission of neural signals.

Calcium is an essential component in the nutrition of the pregnant woman since it is also necessary for fetal development and the formation and maintenance of its teeth and bones, the muscular system and the nervous system and is essential for maintaining a regular heart beat and normal blood coagulation.

Magnesium

Magnesium has numerous functions in the body and is essential for the proper function of the cardiovascular system, the nervous system and proper muscular development.

During pregnancy, magnesium reduces the risk of premature birth, and in addition, reduces the risk of fetal defects.

Magnesium rich foods: leafy greens, avocado, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, cashew nuts and peanuts, almonds, chestnuts, legumes, whole grains and wheat germ.

And what about the other half…?

Nowadays, there is an ever-increasing awareness of the connection between a healthy lifestyle, nutrition, and male fertility. Find out more in the next the next article “The Fertility of the Other Half”.

In conclusion, the pregnancy planning stage, like the pregnancy stage, has a great impact on the woman’s fertility, the development of the pregnancy and fetal heath. During this time, the mother to be must place special emphasis on a healthy lifestyle, being attentive to her body, changing habits and avoiding stressful situations as much as possible.

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