So, You Want To Have A Baby?
Seven Simple Ways to Supplement Your Fertility
Preparing to become pregnant is a lot like planning a garden. You choose a sunny patch of ground, pull the weeds, amend the soil and plant high-quality seeds to get the best crop. When you decide to get pregnant, you need to prepare your body by ridding it of toxins and creating a nutrient rich environment that generates healthy eggs ready for fertilizing. These seven supplements and herbs will help ensure that your body is in peak growing season for whenever the time is ripe.
1. Prenatal Supplements
Prenatal supplements can be started at any time, in fact, the earlier the better. They are loaded with antioxidants, a family of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that help protect the body from the damage caused by free radicals, called oxidation. Not only are the egg and sperm made up of cells which can be affected by free radical damage, so are the reproductive organs and glands that produce reproductive hormones. If these cells are less than optimal, the organs, egg, sperm, etc., will not be functioning at their best.
The three major antioxidant vitamins are beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E, which are found in fruits and vegetables as well as in common pre-natal vitamins and the herbs discussed below.
If you have been on oral birth control pills, it can take some time to replenish your body of the vitamins and nutrients that the pill depletes. Some studies suggest it can take up to one year after stopping birth control pills for your nutrition to be optimal and your hormones back to ideal levels including cycle regularity.
2. Omega 3 Fatty Acid (Fish Oil)
Essential Fatty Acids are crucial for healthy hormone regulation and brain development.
In a major double-blind study, 98 women with prior IVF fertilization failure were given 1 gram of Omega-3’s and had higher fertilization rate and good quality embryos. The same study also found that fish oil supplementation during pregnancy substantially reduced the offspring’s risk of asthma and lung infections.
Probiotics occur naturally in many foods and allow the body to absorb vital nutrients. Without healthy amounts of beneficial gut flora created by probiotics, the body is not going to be able to benefit from all the foods, herbs and nutritional supplements we take to increase fertility naturally. In addition, low gut flora gives rise to inflammatory diseases such as endometriosis, PCOS, uterine fibroids, dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and autoimmune related infertility issues.
Look for products with high diversity and numerous strains like MegaFood’s MegaFlora or Garden of Life brand products and follow the dosing recommendations.
Once pregnant, Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 has been shown to help reduce the risk of asthma and allergies in the baby.
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D supports estrogen production, can restore ovulation in women with PCOS, and its deficiency is a factor in some congenital abnormalities. Most prenatal vitamins don’t have adequate Vitamin D levels, so supplementing with an additional 2,000 IUs is a good idea.
In addition to being powerful antioxidants, some herbs provide other benefits as well and merit inclusion in a pre-pregnancy plan.
Turmeric is on the tip of everyone’s tongue for its numerous benefits including beating back depression and anxiety, lowering cholesterol, improving digestive issues and even fighting cancer.
Turmeric’s primary benefit in a pre-pregnancy plan is that it is a potent antioxidant which helps with overall egg and sperm quality and it helps balance inflammation. Inflammation can play a role in fertility issues, possibly preventing implantation.
With so much upside, turmeric is a recommended addition to the pre-pregnancy regimen, but be sure to take it with a bit of black pepper to increase the bioavailability of curcumin, (the active ingredient). Once you become pregnant, eliminate the supplement and return to normal food levels of turmeric.
6. Green Tea
Green tea is beneficial in pre-pregnancy because it is loaded with antioxidants, and helps balance blood sugar levels, which are necessary for optimal fertility. Green tea also helps lower cholesterol, improves brain function, boosts immunity and metabolism (helps manage weight) and might even kill influenza.
One study showed that one-half cup of green tea provides the same antioxidant potential as nearly 2.5 pounds of fresh fruit. It also has less caffeine than coffee, so enjoy three to four cups per day as you prepare for pregnancy.
Ashwagandha, is a hormone-balancing root herb that lowers chronically elevated cortisol levels (stress levels) and has been shown to improve fertility and libido.
Studies conclude that by increasing the availability of dopamine (a neurotransmitter known to elicit feelings of calm and contentment) ashwagandha is helpful for people with anxiety, stress, insomnia, and lack of energy by promoting better quality sleep, reducing over-thinking, and allowing a sense of calm to return.
Caution: some people who react negatively to nightshade plants have problems tolerating ashwagandha. Once pregnant, only use ashwagandha if you are working with an herbalist.
Pulling it all Together
The decision to become pregnant is one of the biggest, most exciting choices you’ll ever make. Give yourself the best chance to make your dreams come true by bringing your body to optimal health and fertility. It is never too soon to start!