Preparing for pregnancy – The Naturopathic Way
Whether you are thinking about getting pregnant, or you’ve been around the block before, striving towards optimal health should always be a goal.
One of the most striking pieces of information I learned during the course of Naturopathic medical school pertains to the formation of ovum, or eggs which combine with sperm to form a new life. This key piece of information is that the follicles which mature and eventually release the egg, begin to mature approximately 290 days before ovulation, with the bulk of that maturation occurring 18 weeks or 4 months before.
What does this random physiology fact have to do with preparing for a healthy pregnancy? Plenty, it means you can start preparing by providing that follicle for the optimum body environment to grow and mature, 4 months before conception occurs.
At this time you can consider detoxifying your body, specifically your liver, which is where the bulk of sex hormone production takes place. Although liver has its own innate ability to detoxify, through processes called phase 1 and phase 2 detoxification, there are often factors within an individuals environment which can cause these processes to become sluggish. A few examples of items you may come in contact or use, that cause decreased liver function include xenoestrogens, chronic use of anti-inflammatories (Tylenol), exposure to insecticides, and even personal care products.
Liver detoxification can be done gently using foods which increase the capacity of the liver to up regulate detox pathways, or in combination with botanicals and supplements.
For women who are coming of off using an oral contraceptive medication supporting B vitamin status is important, especially folate and vitamin B6. There is well documented nutrient deficiencies that result from the use of an oral contraceptive.
Consider starting a multivitamin or prenatal complex 3-4 months prior to intended time of conception, this will ensure these vitamins and minerals are in abundant supply for the early stages of a pregnancy, when important organ systems like the neurological system are forming.
Naturopathic Medicine can be used very effectively as a pre-conception support, modalities such as Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine have a long history of optimizing reproductive health for both men and women. Acupuncture is now being used with western fertility treatments such as invitro fertilization (IVF), with great success.