The Importance of the time before conception - preconception
Raising Inspired Children begins even before the baby is conceived. Sadly, current statistics indicate that couples are finding it increasingly problematic to conceive and with the number of stressful and difficult pregnancies on the rise, many couples are left in financial and emotional turmoil after simply trying to bring a beautiful being into this world.
While doing research for my book, Inspired Children: How the leading minds of today raised their children, I included the work of Jan Roberts the author of Great Stuff to Know Before you Conceive among many other books. Jan's research into preconception and pregnancy guides future parents through the stages of preconception, conception, birth, pregnancy, and toddlerhood.
I interviewed Jan on so she could share her knowledge and insights with all the parents in the Inspired Children community. She had so much to say I have summarised it in a three part series. Here is what Jan had to say about preparing for conception (the preconception period) and her insights into helping parents conceive and raise healthy and happy babies.
The concepts surrounding preconception
Having Inspired Babies begins long before conception and pregnancy. Before the doctor, doula, obstetrician, midwife, or hospitals enter the picture, raising inspired children starts with prospective parents who are committed to giving their baby the best possible start in life and the best start in life begins with proper nutrition. An abundance of key vitamins, minerals, trace elements, essential fatty and amino acids are pivotal building blocks of life. The preconception period revolves around a well-balanced diet for both the future mum and dad, since the health and viability of both the gametes (egg and sperm) are crucial for successful fertilization and conception. Vitamins, minerals, and trace elements like Zinc, Iodine, and Folic Acid not only boost gamete production, but also improve the vitality and quality of the eggs and sperm being released, which in turn, reduces the risk of many common birth defects.
The magic number is "4"
Couples who are planning to conceive should think about implementing a preparation scheme and dietary plan at least four months before their intended conception timeframe. This number is not pulled out of thin air; there's a scientific reason behind it. Starting a detox program, changing your dietary habits, getting lots of exercise, and cutting out various vices (especially cigarettes, drugs and alcohol) four months in advance allows ample time for beneficial nutrients and amino acids to become incorporated into the formation of the eggs and sperm and toxins to be flushed from the body. This timetable also enables the body to build up reserves of key nutritional elements in preparation for conception.
Preconception programs aren't only for women
Future mums aren't the only ones that should be preoccupied with preparing for conception and pregnancy. When it comes to making Inspired Babies, healthy, viable eggs are only half the equation. Dads-to-be should take every precaution to ensure that their sperm is also in a healthy condition. Thanks to the science of Epigenetics, we now know that physical, emotional, and nutritional deficiencies are inheritable and can affect the quality of the gametes. Dr Bruce Lipton goes into this in great detail in chapter 1 of Inspired Children: How the leading minds of today raised their children. Studies have shown that there are possible links between the risk of obesity in children and obese parents, therefore, minimizing the exposure of both parents to harmful lifestyle choices gives their offspring the greatest opportunity to achieve their full potential.
Before making babies, would-be parents may want to tick off a few items on this Preconception checklist:
- In consultation with a nutritionist, begin a pregnancy dietary program at least four months before the planned timeframe for conception.
- Consult with a health professional such as a naturopath and stock up on key essential fatty and amino acids, minerals like Zinc, Magnesium, Iodine, and Calcium, and vitamins like Vitamins C, D, E, and the Vitamin B complex (which includes Folic Acid and Riboflavin).
- In consultation with your health practitioner, stop taking prescription medications (including oral contraceptives) at least four months prior to planned timeframe of conception.
- At least four months prior to conception, eliminate drugs, alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine from your lifestyle.
- Fresher is better. Where possible, eat fresh, organic foods and minimise your intake of canned or dried foods, especially those loaded with preservatives and additives.
- Minimise your exposure to electromagnetic radiation. Cut down on your use of microwaves, laptops, cell phones, and similar devices.
- In conjunction with your healthcare professional, engage in an exercise regime or any other means of staying mobile and active.
- Avoid excessive exposure to stressful situations and find time to relax and unwind.
- Take care of your emotional well-being by seeking the advice of a therapist or a group of good friends for mental and emotional support.
Raising an Inspired Child begins long before your child is even conceived and so focusing on health and wellbeing in the preconception period is key. Both future parents need to ensure that they are mentally, emotionally, and physically prepared to embark on this wonderful, new phase in Life and are equipped with the necessary life skills to turn the science of Child Development into the art of Parenting.
In parts 2 and 3 of my interview with Jan, she shares more of her insights into pregnancy and child birth. Stay tuned!
About Jan Roberts
After earning a Bachelor's degree in Pharmacy in 1967, Jan worked for fifteen years in the field of Community Pharmacy. She subsequently completed her diploma in Clinical Nutrition and along the way, her interest in Preconception Care was awakened; an interest that hasn't died thirty years later. During her early years in Preconception Care, Jan observed and understood the plight of new Mums, especially those who had endured the rigours of having difficult pregnancies. She started The Breastfeeding Association and later developed The Better Babies Series as a way to promote Preconception Care and help new parents prepare for pregnancy, childbirth, and the joys of Parenthood.