Good Nutrition for Conception

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My plate is kind of an evolution of the food pyramid that we all probably learned about to try to pick the right food groups and eat a balanced diet. My plate helps to do that to help formulate a plan, a meal plan that uses elements from all of the critical food groups. And it can be very useful.

The top nutrients to include when a woman is planning a pregnancy and during pregnancy are folic acid, calcium, and iron. Many foods are actually fortified in folic acid. Cereal is one of them-- whole grain pastas, breads. Calcium is important for bone growth. It's important for the growth of bones of a fetus also. Eating dairy can be a great source of calcium.

If insufficient calcium intake happens during a pregnancy, the mom's health is probably what's going to suffer the most. The pregnancy itself is likely to take stores of calcium from the mom and it may actually cause some harm to a mom's bone density. Iron helps us with red blood cell growth, and it helps us to prevent anemic states. Every month when a woman has her period, there is some depletion of her blood flow. And therefore keeping adequate iron stores is really important.

I like to think that anything that browns when we cut it contains iron. So a lot of fruits and vegetables, potatoes, apples, pears, in addition to the leafy greens that we know contain iron. We've really seen with the high levels of obesity in our general population in the United States, a real dramatic increase in high risk pregnancy. Knowledge of someone's ideal body mass index before they try to conceive is really important, not only for the health of the pregnancy, but also in the ability to get pregnant.

Sometimes we might find out that we are a little bit above the ideal body mass index. And so weight loss prior to pregnancy can definitely improve obstetric outcomes. It decreases the risk of things like diabetes in pregnancy, high blood pressure in pregnancy, as well as pre-term birth and other issues. So similarly, being underweight before getting pregnant can also make it difficult. So women who have low body mass index under the ideal range might have difficulty with ovulation.

Both would be ideal. Getting some of those nutrients through a supplement ensures that they're a part of our everyday regime. But also, eating foods that are rich in calcium, folic acid, and iron can help even further. Maintaining good nutrition prior to getting pregnant is critical. It helps to optimize both the chances of getting pregnant and the chances of having a healthy pregnancy.