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Preconception Nutrition


If you follow a healthy diet, you'll be sure to have enough vitamins and nutrients to meet your baby's needs during pregnancy. Before you conceive, make sure you're getting the right amount of foods from each of the major food groups. Here's how many servings you need each day for a well balanced diet:

  • Starches like breakfast cereals, bread, rice, potatoes and pasta 5 to 7
  • Fruits and vegetables (fresh, canned, frozen or juiced) 5 to 10
  • Dairy products (low fat) 2 to 3
  • Meat, fish, and meat alternatives (lean meat, poultry, fish, beans, eggs) 2
  • Fats and sugars (butter, cooking fats, chocolate, soda) Limit

Your body weight is very important for your fertility. If you're overweight, your risk of pregnancy complications like diabetes and high blood pressure increases. If you're underweight, you may have problems conceiving as your period becomes irregular or stops completely. Your ideal weight is in the 20 to 25 range of the body mass index (BMI). Don't diet if you are pregnant or trying to conceive even a small weight loss can drastically affect your ability to conceive.

Before you become pregnant, you need to be taking folic acid. You need at least 400 micrograms of folic acid each day, which can be found in leafy green vegetables, enriched cereals and citrus fruits. Folic acid helps reduce the risk of neural tube defects like spina bifida. It's recommended that women of childbearing age take a folic acid supplement each day. If you become pregnant, you'll need to continue taking a supplement for your first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Vitamins and supplements aren't necessary if you're eating a healthy, balanced diet that provides you with adequate nutrition. However, if you would like to take supplements, look for one that is a prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement. These will give you nutrients in smaller doses that won't be damaging to your health.

Dads need preconception nutrition too! It's essential that men who hope to conceive have a diet high in zinc to maintain higher sperm counts. Excessive alcohol use can decrease levels of zinc and reduce sperm counts, as can diets low in selenium. This mineral is found in foods like nuts, seafood and mushrooms. Also, being overweight or underweight can greatly affect a man's fertility. Once you are eating a healthy diet, it can take about three months for your sperm counts to increase.

Begin your healthy diet before you try to get pregnant. Make healthy food choices, including carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, and reducing your consumption of fats and sugar.

 


 
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