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Key to Pregnancy---Preconception Health
When I entered my 30’s I felt a slight doom descend: I was getting closer to 35! ---- Ominous music in the back ground------- For years, as a midwife and working in reproductive health, I had heard of 35 as the age where all of a sudden you are at high risk---- high risk to get pregnant and high risk to be pregnant. I honestly had no doubt before this that I would be able to have my own children without any trouble. Yet here I was close to that age and I was not even ready to start a family. I did not have someone with whom I wanted to start a family, the most important factor in my mind. So I purposely decided to not stress but continue to get healthier and trust that it would work out.
As often happens to me I randomly, possibly, or more likely it was directed by God’s goodness and my desire to be powerful in my own life, read several blogs, articles, books that touched on the topic of preconception health. This sparked something in me that said maybe there is more that I can do besides just being healthy to insure that I will have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. A core value of mine is being powerful in a situation. By this I don’t mean being in charge or having power over someone else. It is more the idea that I am not a victim and there is usually something I can do, even if only to change my attitude. So to know what to do to be able to increase the chances of having healthy pregnancies and babies is being powerful.
From my experience as a midwife, I was already convinced that the health of the woman was key to a healthy pregnancy and delivery. So how much better to be healthy before pregnancy than try and catch up once pregnant. As I pondered what I was reading about preconception care I was convinced that it was the key. Preconception care is so much more then taking a few vitamins and possibly seeing your doctor for a physical. Preconception care is a powerful preparation for starting a family which encompasses your future generations, your external environment, your internal ecosystem, the quality of pregnancy and postpartum experience you will have, and empowers you to be responsible for your own health. Preconception Care is also the power to get pregnant into your 40’s without fear.
The health of a child is the summation of its parents health and the environment it is raised in. Are mom and dad healthy? Is the environment healthy? Put these two together and you increase the chances for a healthy child that will thrive. Dr. Joel Robbins, a wellness expert, recommends at least 6 months of healthful living practices, including diet, exercise, and rest, prior to attempting conception. He says, “Remember that the egg and the sperm are direct products of the mother and father, respectively. If the parents are toxic and malnourished, the first cell of life is already off to a bad start.” This is not to make us fearful but, to the contrary, empower us that we can help determine the health of our children.
Let me motivate you with some of the rewards of preconception care.
Preconception care can reduce chances of miscarriage greatly, even recurrent miscarriage. Of the list of common causes of miscarriage, all of them can be impacted to some degree during preconception. One example is by affecting egg health. About 150 days before ovulation a woman’s egg is stimulated to start maturing. During this process the health and ability of the egg to be fertilized and grow into a healthy baby is often determined. Even in older women egg health can be greatly enhanced during this time. The health of the egg and sperm, more than anything else, even more than age, is the key to getting pregnant and carrying the baby to term. More on this in my blog Golden Eggs and Sperm Lessons, but take heart, you can improve your egg and sperm health.
Preconception care will change your pregnancy and postpartum because you will have dealt with health challenges before pregnancy. This means less to no nausea, heartburn or varicose veins; less risk of gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia; better sleep and more energy; and a beautiful postpartum. If you are afraid to get pregnant because your last pregnancy was so awful or you dealt with postpartum depression, there is so much that can be done before conception to give you a vibrant pregnancy and postpartum.
I have not even touched on the most important factor to most people: the health of the baby. Preconception care directly impacts the health of your new baby, lowering the chance of genetic issues and developmental issues.
Through good preconception care you can affect future generations through a concept called epigenetics. Epigenetics will blow your mind, but very simply, it is how your environment and nutrition instructs gene expression without changing the genetic code at all. (See my blog Epigenetics: Rewriting Your Genetic Code)
According to Discover magazine’s November 2006 issue, “It's known that the environment in a mother's womb can alter the development of a fetus. What's eye-opening is a growing body of evidence suggesting that the epigenetic changes wrought by one's diet, behavior, or surroundings can work their way into the germ line and echo far into the future. Put simply, and as bizarre as it may sound, what you eat or smoke today could affect the health and behavior of your great-grandchildren.” http://discovermagazine.com/2006/nov/cover
So, that is the power of preconception health and why 35 has no power over me.
I would love to support you journey to having a healthy beautiful pregnancy.
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