In my opinion having a baby is one of the largest transformations a person/family goes through. I was blessed with a smooth journey through conception, pregnancy and delivery, that is, if you can call a 24 hour labour smooth! I understand I am on the rarer side of fertility statistics as issues and medically intervened deliveries are on the rise and for this reason I have invited Leah Hechtman, a Naturopath, Author, Speaker and Fertility/Endocrinology expert, to speak about Fertility Issues. Leah’s interview will be posted soon, in the mean time Leah has gifted us with two blog posts about pre-conception care. Part 2 of “Preparing for Pregnancy” will be posted tomorrow.
Leah Hechtman – Preparing for Pregnancy (Part 1)
It is important to remember that fertility is something for the couple to work on together. The male’s role is just as important. Sperm take on average 72-76 days to develop, mature, be stored and finally ejaculated. As such, a man’s health 3 months prior to conception can significantly influence pregnancy outcomes. Similarly to females, a male should prepare during this preconception period to ensure the best information is passed on through their sperm.
There are alarming statistics regarding miscarriage, stillbirth, infertility, increased prematurity and other concerning considerations which are believed to have been caused by our modern lifestyles. Environmental pollution, poor nutrient levels in soil and foods, polluted water, toxic farming methods, heavy metal exposure, poor diet, lack of exercise, and many others are all believed to be involved.
It is important to remember that we all have choices and that we can choose to make changes that will not only improve our health but the subsequent health of our children and future generations.
Supporting your health
Be conscious of what you put into your mouth and what is in your environment. Any toxin exposure can and will influence your gametes (eggs and sperm). Sperm are even more vulnerable than eggs to toxic exposure and nutritional deficiency. Organic foods are higher in nutrients and are free from harmful pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and other chemicals.
Clean up your diet and reach your healthy weight range. Being under or over weight can contribute to reduced fertility outcome.
When someone is underweight, it can compromise their nutritional status and subsequent nutrient delivery to their child. If a female is considerably underweight, she may not ovulate successfully, which understandably compromises her fertility.
Excessive weight is challenging for multiple reasons. Anyone that is overweight knows that his or her body simply doesn’t function the way it should. They are acutely aware of restrictions of obvious signs such as reduction to breathing or fitness or are aware of subtle changes such as increased sebum production on the skin or digestive difficulties and poor nutrient absorption. It is also important to remember that fatty tissue stores toxins. Often people will try to lose weight but it simply won’t shift due to toxin accumulation in adipose (fatty) tissue. Supporting the organs of elimination including the liver, digestive system and urinary system enables detoxification and clearance.
Pre-pregnancy is not the time to continue bad habits. Countless studies link alcohol, drugs, some medications, caffeine and smoking with birth defects, miscarriage and reduced fertility. It is important to focus on wellbeing and optimal health.
Protect the testicles (sperm production sites) from excessive heat
- Wear loose cotton boxer shorts
- Avoid spas and saunas
- Avoid wetsuits (surfing)
- Avoid tight bike shorts and bike riding
Radiation comes from simple things like mobile or cordless phones, wireless connectivity or aeroplane travel. The idea is to be realistic and not assume that life won’t continue. It’s about simple things like reducing how much time you speak on your mobile and absolutely turning it off at night and leaving it in another room. Turning wireless modems off at night is also a good idea and make sure – men especially – don’t walk around with mobile phones in your pocket.
In the preconception period it’s optimal to reduce your flight travel and obviously in the first trimester reduce (or avoid if possible) as well. Ideally it is best to remove all electromagnetics and radiation sources from the bedroom especially. Get rid of the alarm clock, TV and bedside lights and go back to basics – use candles in the bedroom and book lights (battery powered) for reading. Just think about the effects of the power cords running under the bed while you sleep… Once you try it without you’ll never go back!
General health strategies
- Ensure that you drink enough water and have adequate hydration
- Encourage (or start) regular exercise – aim for at least 30-40 minutes per day
- Reduce stress levels as much as possible both in your work, home, emotional state and environment
A healthy body is a fertile body
Remember, the gift of preconception care is that it allows you to start being the parent you want to be even before the little one arrives.
Leah is an experienced and respected clinician who specialises in fertility support and mental health. Her primary passion is her clinical practice where she is inspired and humbled by her patients. She loves supporting people to reach their individual health goals and improve their quality of life.
She has completed extensive advanced training and is a university lecturer, keynote speaker, author and educator to her peers. She is also the Naturopath and Fertility and Pregnancy expert for a number of media platforms and is a regular media spokesperson in her industry.
Leah leads by example, remembering to live life to the fullest and believes that ill-health is merely a stepping stone to help you reclaim your true state of being. She subscribes passionately to the importance of ‘practitioner heal thyself’ so that she can be the best inspiration for change in others.