Natalie Kringoudis shares her insights into why the first 1,000 days is so important
The importance of female & male pre-conception health
In the near miracle event of conception, the health of the parents is absolutely paramount to a healthy baby. Whilst logically this makes sense, it seems that this is commonly overlooked. We get fixated on timing, signs of ovulation, ‘banking it up’ and of course, the dreaded two week wait, but we may forget that it’s equally (if not more) important to support your entire body including reproductive and conception health.
At the point of conception, an embryo is reliant on genetic material from both the mother and the father. We can sometimes fall into the trap of becoming wildly invested into female reproductive health but too often, male reproductive health isn’t any where near as meticulously considered. In my humble opinion, this is a key missing ingredient in conception and pregnancy and beyond.
What’s more, your reproductive system, just like all of your body systems, isn’t a lone ranger. It requires all other systems (ie nervous system, enteric system aka gut health etc) to be working soundly. The ability to conceive really is the cherry on top and it comes easier when all corners of the body are well cared for.
This is where your nutrients can make a difference.
Whilst the mother provides an essential environment for the growing embryo, it is in fact the embryo instructing the body what to do and the body responding to its demands. With this in mind, not only is it important for this genetic material to be A1 from both parents, but enforces the fact that for a healthy pregnancy we certainly do need to look beyond the mother.
Men’s pre-conception health isn’t too complicated and their cycle is a little easier to tap into (they literally sleep, wake, eat and repeat unlike a woman on a monthly cycle). We know that certain key nutrients like zinc and selenium contribute to healthy sperm production and certain antioxidants can influence sperm motility. Sperm regenerate every 90 – 120 days, so if you’re baby daddy is impacted by stress (including smoking and/or drinking), it’s important to consider this as early on as possible for healthy sperm.
When we find ourselves ready for one of life’s greatest journeys, we all wish to have a smooth pregnancy and beyond. The right nutrients and additional support can take you one step closer to your healthy pregnancy.
The importance of gut health in conception
Our findings in gut health have skipped ahead at lightning speed and we now know that the gut is indeed the foundation of health, not just limited to digestion and well-regulated bowels, but equally the gut forms around 70% of the immune system. At the time of conception it is said that we inherit our mothers gut health. This further cements the importance of using probiotics not only during pre-conception but throughout the pregnancy and beyond to really make a positive impact on the long term health of your unborn child.
It’s what you do everyday that counts most.
From pregnancy and beyond, it is always so very important to be living with our best health and whilst the master controllers otherwise known as our hormones may be calling the shots, your easier birth and first steps towards breastfeeding also call on the need for nutrients to allow both yourself as a mother and your baby to thrive. Research shows that ingredients like Omega 3 fatty acid, DHA support the growing brain of the baby. This is a beautiful example of how certain nutrients really can make a big impact on you and your baby’s ongoing everyday health.
No matter where you are in your thousand day journey into parenthood, every single step counts. From your lifestyle to your diet, how much you sleep or let stress steal from your hormones, it really is the time that you must put yourself, your health and your wellbeing first. In a world where we so often set ourselves up to fail (find me a patient who hasn’t said “I’m not even sure I can have kids” even before they’ve even started trying), it’s comforting to know that our ability to conceive isn’t necessarily completely out of our hands and that some very small inclusions may make a difference towards growing a happy and healthy family.