Going to the Chapel

Congratulations! You are about to get married. This is one of the happiest events of your life and if you are like most couples you have spent many months in wedding planning and preparation. Every detail has been carefully thought through to create your perfect day.

For many couples this is also the moment when you are ready to begin a family. While it may be easy to just stop using contraception and conceive, I recommend that you put as much effort into planning for your pregnancy as you did for your wedding.

On the one hand, the desire to have a child is a completely natural and straightforward part of being alive. Every day, women become pregnant, and in the United States, about 50% of the time it is unintentional. Unfortunately, there are many hazardous exposures in modern life that make it worth cleaning up your lifestyle and thereby detoxing your body before you conceive.

The American College of Obstetricians and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine issued a Joint Committee Opinion in September 2013 that “patient exposure to toxic environmental chemicals and other stressors is ubiquitous, and preconception and prenatal exposure to toxic environmental agents can have a profound and lasting effect on reproductive health across the life course.” They also acknowledged that virtually every pregnant woman in the US is exposed to environmental chemicals and metals in air, water, soil, food, and consumer products.

To reduce your baby’s exposure, you will want to reduce your body burden of chemicals before you conceive. For men and women the three to four months prior to conception is the critical time period. Both egg and sperm mature in this time frame.

In the same attentive way that you planned your wedding, you can take steps to significantly reduce your chemical burden. Carefully selecting your food (and food containers), drinking purified water, and avoiding chemicals in cosmetics, cleaning supplies, pesticides, and paint are all worthwhile. Beginning a multivitamin with iron, iodine, and folic acid can reduce risk of a wide range of birth defects. Men and women should review prescribed and over-the-counter medications to see which need to be stopped before conception. And, checking your immunization status provides an opportunity to get appropriately vaccinated before conception.

In addition to environmental concerns, the diet you eat can make it easier – or harder – to conceive, and helps establish good health for your baby. Eat more whole, fresh cooked foods, vegetable protein and low mercury fish rich in omega 3. Avoid processed foods, junk foods, simple carbohydrates, and trans fats.

Your habits become your baby’s habits. Babies whose mothers smoked while pregnant are more likely to smoke; overweight mothers prime their babies for obesity. Even chronic stress can be communicated in utero to your developing baby.

Couples smilingly admit the magic that lead to falling in love. A similar mystery surrounds conception. Planning for pregnancy creates the space to contemplate the creation of a new life and an expanded family. In my Prepare for Pregnancy blog posts to come I will present you with the evidence and strategies to increase the odds of a healthy baby. I hope you will follow my new blog on Fertility Authority (link below)  blog and share it with your friends! For additional information, consider reading my book Be Fruitful.  And may the journey ahead be filled with blessings.