Many couples on start to think about adjusting their diet and lifestyle once they know they are pregnant. At best this can be two weeks after conception, though often it can be two, three or even four months into the pregnancy. The first three months of the pregnancy, however, is the time when the baby is developing from a fertilized egg into a fully formed human being. All the most important organ and nervous tissue developments occur in the first trimester and from then on it is mostly a matter of further maturation and growth. It is therefore much better to plan ahead, if you are able, to optimize the environment for your baby in those first crucial weeks, and that means starting with the healthiest possible egg and sperm.
This is the outline of a six-month pre-conceptual plan featured in Eating for a Perfect Pregnancy. Of course the reality is that three-quarters of pregnancies are not planned so don’t panic if you can’t pre-plan – just eat as well as you can from now on.
Six Months of Conception
- Stop taking the contraceptive pill, and use barrier methods of contraception.
- Make sure both you and your partner are tested for Chlamydia and other STDs (sexually transmitted diseases). Other check-ups should ideally include testing for toxoplasmosis, German measles, diabetes and thyroid function.
- Stop smoking.
- Start following a wholefood diet, minimising refined, packaged and junk food.
- Start to avoid unnecessary exposure to chemicals in the house and garden, and in foods and drinks – the womb should, as far as possible, be a pollution-free zone.
Three Months of Conception
- Reduce alcohol intake to a bare minimum, but certainly no more than four measures per week.
- Start taking a vitamin and mineral supplement specially formulated for pregnancy which includes 400 mcg of folic acid.
- If you are not already doing so, work on your stress and fitness levels.
One Month of Conception
- Avoid all alcohol.
- Have your IUD removed and stop using spermicides. Use barrier methods until you are ready to try for a baby.
- Avoid over-the-counter drugs. Speak to your doctor about the effects of any prescription medication you are taking (do not stop taking prescribed medication without discussing with your doctor).
- Moderate or cut out caffeine.
- Continue to eat a wholefood diet and take your pregnancy formulated vitamins and minerals up to and throughout your pregnancy.