To celebrate Fertility Awareness Week, Welldoing sat down for a Q&A with London's top Fertility expert and founder of the Fertility Rooms, Emma Cannon.

Tell us about what brought you to work in the area of women's fertility?

I grew up surrounded by women. I'm one of five girls, there was always someone with a period or a baby in my house. Fertility was all around me and it was something to be celebrated. I don't think this was the experience of many of my peers for whom babies were the furthest thing from their mind.

We read media reports about women leaving it too long to try to get pregnant - is this something you see a lot of?

Yes and no. I think the media are very simplistic with their reporting of fertility and women are sometimes not very sisterly towards other women. My experience has shown me that men are a big factor in infertility and are so often over looked. And many women who apparently left it too late have in fact been trying a while and not been successful. That said, there is a general trend towards leaving it later in life and although many women will conceive in their 30's and 40's, it won't be possible for all women.

We're becoming much more conscious of what we eat and how much exercise we get. Is this good for fertility?

Of course! Food is the foundation of good health but the importance of nutrition can be over egged as a cure-all. It's just one part of the puzzle. Exercise is vital to health and fertility. Obesity is also a growing problem which impacts on fertility in both men and women; but this too needs to be moderated. I also see women who are under weight which can cause problems with ovulation and fertility too. Remember the aim is a baby not a red carpet body.

Are you seeing more women who are worried about their shape or weight in relation to pregnancy?

Women have always worried about their weight - what I see is that women can sometimes be conflicted about lots of things and have to keep many many balls in the air. It's tough keeping it all going: looking good, having a great job, marriage, a home and longing for a baby, while never knowing how it will all work out. I think control, and not wanting to let go of it, is one of the biggest issues women face.

What are your top tips for nutrition? Do they differ for pre-conception and while pregnant?

My advice generally would be:
  • Eat a wide range of home cooked food using the best ingredients possible. Mostly vegetables, grains and pulse but some meat and fish. No processed food, very limited sugar (but some natural sugars and the occasional treat is fine!)
  • Keep raw foods and smoothies to the morning - I'm not a fan of juicing as a lifestyle choice, apart from in very particular circumstances.
  • Avoid coffee and alcohol (the odd glass is ok, but not while pregnant).
  • Be relaxed around food! It's meant to be a joyful thing to share with loved ones - not a battleground.
  • Remember it isn't only what we eat it is why and how we eat that is important.
Emma's new book Fertility to Family is available for download as an e-book from 31 October. It contains delicious recipes and lifestyle advice designed to nourish and nurture the minds and bodies of couples going through IVF. Emma will also be speaking at The Fertility Show 1-2 November in Olympia, London.