Eco Living Magazine presents:
Preconception Care – exploring the need in the modern context
By Karen McElroy, Naturopath & Medical Herbalist
Intro: A holistic approach to preconception health care is vital for a healthy conception and pregnancy.
The term ‘preconception care’ relates to the time prior to attempting conception, whereby health is optimised in the hope that a couple will conceive easily and attain a healthy pregnancy and birth.
There is perhaps a greater need for preconception care today, given such things as inadequate diets, a polluted environment and our often stressful lifestyles. A truly holistic approach to reproductive health must address these factors.
It takes approximately 115 days to fully develop sperm in men, whilst the development of an individual ovum takes about 100 days in women. So the health of a couple in the three to four months prior to conception can play a big part in the health of these germs cells and the subsequent health of the developing embryo and eventually the health of the baby. This idea is the cornerstone of preconception care.
Foresight (The Association for the Promotion of Preconceptual Care) in the UK, is an association who have carried quite a lot of research into treating couples in the preconception period to increase their chances of both conception and a healthy pregnancy outcome.
Couples following the Foresight programme are given the following advice:
- Avoid contaminants in food and water, such as pesticides, some food additives and bacteria, by eating a nutritious, whole food organic diet.
- Identify and correct trace mineral deficiencies and heavy metal toxicities.
- Avoid smoking, alcohol, street drugs and other non-essential medication.
- Screen for genito-urinary and other infections (eg: Rubella, toxoplasmosis, etc.).
- Identify any other problems, eg: due to allergy, malabsorption, candida and /or parasites.
Couples wishing to start a family are encouraged to follow a programme which looks at these areas and identifies and corrects potential areas for concern, after which the pregnancy can be started with a normal, strong sperm and ovum, the embryo can implant in a healthy uterus and can develop in optimum conditions. There will be no danger from nutritional deficiency, or damage from heavy metals or other toxins or viral, and/or bacterial disease.
Foresight has found that under these conditions it is possible to have uncomplicated pregnancies resulting in strong and healthy babies. This approach to preconceptual care can be applied as a means of improving general nutritional status and fertility in any couple planning to have a baby, regardless of previous history. The results of Foresight’s three year study found the preconception programme to be particularly successful for 80% of the couples in the study – including many couples who had previously experienced problems with recurrent miscarriage or unexplained infertility. Even some couples who had unsuccessful attempts at artificial methods of conception, such as IVF, were able to conceive naturally.
Couples wishing to conceive can benefit from having a consultation with a qualified naturopath or herbalist. They will provide a thorough assessment of your diet and lifestyle and advise on any changes necessary. Also if there are any underlying health issues for either partner relating to reproductive health such as poor sperm count or gynaecological conditions, herbal and nutritional remedies can be prescribed. A preconception check-up with a doctor is also advisable – this may include blood tests to check folate and iron levels, rubella immunity and a PAP smear.
Reproduced with thanks to www.joyousbirth.info The Australian Homebirth Network – a great community resource, providing support and information on birth traumafor women who have experienced birth trauma, as well as info and support for an empowered birth.
©Eco Living Magazine.