Evidence tells us that the events surrounding a conception can affect the outcomes of the pregnancy, birth and mother and baby’s health for a lifetime. When planning a vaginal birth, begin by planning the pregnancy with a preconception birth plan. An unhealthy conception can result in problems that will impact the delivery. Things like fetal anomalies, abnormal placental formation and implantation, and maternal health concerns create conditions that may necessitate a cesarean birth.
Make a Preconception Birth Plan
A couple should prepare their bodies a minimum of 4 months before you conceive. Ideal timing would be 6-12 months.
During the 100 days that the egg is maturing, it is particularly vulnerable to toxin exposure and nutritional deficits. Sperm develop and mature over 80 days. Any illnesses, toxic exposures, traumas or poor nutrition experienced during those 80 days could affect the quality and quantity of sperm produced.
Schedule A Comprehensive Health Evaluation
If a woman can identify, prior to pregnancy, that she is at risk to develop pregnancy complications, she can take steps to mitigate those problems. The couple can be screened for recessive gene, thyroid, blood sugar, blood pressure and psychological disorders.
Detoxify your Body
Environmental toxins can be stored in our fat, blood, bones and connective tissues/joints. During the second half of pregnancy, a woman’s body is in a catabolic state, breaking down fat and bone and tissues which allow toxins to be released from their storage spots to cross the placenta into the developing baby. This may not have a direct effect on the delivery of the child but it is essential in the health of parents and their child. A colon, liver and kidney cleanse are a good start. The supplement Chlorella helps to remove heavy metals and to draw toxins out of the fetus during pregnancy.
Clean Up Your Diet
Preconception nutrition research has shown that eating a nourishing, whole-foods diet is directly tied to fertility and pregnancy health in both women and men. If a couple begins to make positive changes in their diet before pregnancy, they will be able to maintain the positive choices into pregnancy and postpartum.
Research has shown that certain birth defects can be traced to nutritional deficiencies prior to conception.
Suggestions to Start You on a Path to Eating Better:
- Eat a balanced whole-food diet with a low glycemic index
- Eat foods that support liver detoxification
- Choose foods that are high in B vitamins, iron, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids
- Eat a rainbow of colorful foods daily
- Eat foods rich in antioxidants.
- Eat probiotic rich foods.
- Avoid inflammatory foods
When choosing fruits and vegetables, it is best to ingest as few pesticides as possible. The dirty dozen are the 12 fruits and vegetables that have the most toxins. A woman should buy these organic or not eat at all.
- Sweet Bell Peppers
The clean 15 can be eaten without having to pay for organic.
- Sweet Corn (watch for GMO)
- Sweet Peas
- Sweet Potatoes
- Honeydew Melon
Supplement with a Quality Prenatal Vitamin with DHA
Not all supplements are created equally, so women should research and find a whole food supplement containing L-Methyl Folate, not synthetic folic acid. Good additional supplements include Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, probiotic and digestive enzymes Each woman can speak with her care provider about the best supplement brands and a complete preconception supplement protocol.
Start a Fitness Regime
A woman can start out pregnancy in much better shape and be more likely to continue exercising if she is already exercising regularly. Exercise is good for everyone but when a couple is planning for the healthiest pregnancy and birth possible, it is essential.
A Couple of Tips:
- Any type exercise is ok before pregnancy but if a woman wants to continue to do the same exercise pregnant, she should choose exercises like yoga, running/walking, swimming or water aerobics, weight lifting, spinning and low-impact aerobic classes.
- Join a gym that has prenatal exercise classes
- Weight loss is usually a good idea before conception so the pregnancy weight gain won’t be so overwhelming. It is ok to do some hard workouts when trying to conceive. Exercise does not cause miscarriages.
- A woman should work to build her core muscles which will help support her back and abdomen during pregnancy leading to fewer aches and pains and aiding in better fetal positioning.
Because high stress levels will affect a woman’s ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle in pregnancy and mentally tolerate the stress of labor, a couple should try to eliminate stress as much as possible ahead of time.
- Avoid making major changes like purchasing a new home or a taking a new job in pregnancy
- Start creating boundaries of behavior for stressful people
- Avoid financial stress. Start saving some money for medical bills and maternity/paternity leaves. Set up a budget that is not reliant on 2 full-time incomes.
- If necessary, start some counseling now. Women should try to avoid acute stressors in pregnancy by developing coping mechanisms that can be used instead of medication during pregnancy.
If a woman can plan her pregnancy (knowing that sometimes it just happens despite plans otherwise 😊), she will optimize her chances for vaginal birth with a good preconception birth plan.
Read the next post in the Avoiding Cesarean Series on Choosing a Birth Provider and Birth Facility: