In my experience, the majority of couples make the decision to try for a baby and begin straight away with little or no preparation or time spent addressing unhealthy and unhelpful lifestyle choices. For some, this may cause no problem at all, especially those who already lead a clean and healthy life. They will go on to deliver a healthy, happy baby and think nothing more of it. However, many others find themselves struggling to conceive or may experience recurrent miscarriages or perhaps a diagnosis of ‘unexplained infertility’. I am not saying that a healthy lifestyle and balanced, clean diet will prevent all of these issues and be the sole answer to our chronic infertility problems but they certainly play a large part and combined with other factors can offer dramatic results.
Think of growing your own vegetables. Would you grab the first seeds you found and chuck them in the nearest plot of land and hope for the best? More likely you would find the best seeds and learn how to get the most fertile soil, how to prepare it and rid nearby weeds and find out the best time to plant the seeds. You would then ensure the seeds got all the nutrients and goodness essential for their survival with plenty of water and sunlight.
In the same way, to get the best outcome from your own ‘seeds’ (egg and sperm cells), it is important to practise conscious conception, i.e. preparing the factors that are within your control to promote an optimum fertile state. A healthy body and mind create healthy cells and a fertile environment is much more likely to provide everything needed for life and growth.
I hear many people tell me, “I’ll stop my daily glass of wine/cigarettes once I’m pregnant”. Often this is too late. A lot of women won’t discover they are pregnant until at least 4-6 weeks of pregnancy. This is the key development time of the embryo, where all of the cells and organs are being created, which will then further develop and grow into the person that the embryo will become. Therefore, any damage caused by alcohol, cigarettes or lack of nutrition during this time is irreversible. It is much more responsible for both partners to practise conscious conception – that is healthy behaviours and a clean, balanced diet – from the outset and ideally at least 4 months ahead of trying to conceive. This is because it takes 4 months for a new sperm cell to develop and 3 months for an egg cell to develop. So today’s cells will be the result of your nutritional state and physical and emotional health 3-4 months ago. Your behaviours today will affect your egg and sperm cells in 3-4 months’ time. Equally, I believe it is very important not to become obsessive and to balance things that are good for your body with those that are good for your mind and for your soul, i.e. an occasional slice of cake will do you more good than being so strict with yourself that you are miserable. As ever, moderation is key.