That organic living is a conscious health choice
Understand how the right diet can boost your chances of conception, enhance your baby's growth and development, and help you maintain your health.
It isn’t just about timing and ovulations cycles. You’ll be surprised to discover that fine-tuning your diet (even if you’re already on a healthy one) can increase your chances of conception and make a significant difference to your baby’s development.
1. Get yourself onto high quality prenatal vitamins even before you conceive. You want to be sure that you’re getting enough manganese for reproductive capacity; calcium to build bones and your baby; zinc for fertility; folic acid (to prevent neural tube defects) and support rapid growth of the placenta, as well as your baby; and Omega-3 DHA for the brain, eyes, and central nervous system.
2. Boost fertility with fresh foods rich in zinc. You’ll need 11 milligrams a day to fuel the rapid cell growth that occurs during pregnancy. You can get it from red meat, poultry, whole grains, beans, nuts, shellfish and dairy products.
3. Eat lots of leafy greens, citrus fruits, nuts, beans and peas. These will help you clock up the 800 micrograms of folate or folic acid you should consume each day.
4. Strengthen your and baby’s bones and teeth with healthy helpings of calcium and vitamin D in your meals. You should aim to ingest 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 600 international units of vitamin D a day. Milk, yoghurt and cheese are obvious sources of calcium. But you’ll also find it in canned salmon with bones, kale, broccoli, spinach, soy products like tofu, and sesame seeds. To add more vitamin D to your meals, have fatty fish with the lowest mercury levels (such as herring, salmon, North Atlantic and Chub mackerel and sardines), fish liver oil, eggs and fortified cereals, milk and orange juice.
5. Choose to eat fresh, organic and healthy. You may be eating for two, but you don’t necessarily need to eat more or add extra calories in the first three months of pregnancy. Add 300 calories in the second trimester and 450 extra calories in the third. Make every calorie count by making wise choices. Sugary drinks and fried, fatty and processed foods add empty calories. Opt for nuts, fresh fruit and vegetables, or a hardboiled egg. And select the wholegrain option whenever possible.
6. Avoid raw seafood. Raw or undercooked fish and shellfish are likely to contain parasites or bacteria. Also avoid king mackerel, shark, swordfish and tilefish, which have the highest mercury levels. Mercury can effect your baby’s brain development and nervous system.
7. Double your iron intake. You’ll need more of it during pregnancy. Iron deficiency will cause you to feel tired and make you more susceptible to infections. Lean red meat, beans, spinach and iron-fortified foods like quick cook oats and cereals are great sources of iron. But avoid consuming iron and calcium at the same time as calcium decreases your body’s ability to absorb iron.
8. Consult your doctor. He or she is best placed to advise you on how you can best adjust your diet to help boost fertility as well as your baby’s growth and development.