If you are planning on starting a family in the near future, it may be time to consider some changes to your nutrition and fitness regimes. Getting optimum nutrition through a balanced diet is vitally important before conception, during pregnancy and after birth. Having a healthy lifestyle will help support and protect you by decreasing the chances of unexpected pregnancy hiccups.

Being either over or underweight can have an effect on both women and men in terms of ability to conceive, so it’s important for both partners to try and be within a healthy weight range as well as eating correctly. Also when trying to conceive there are certain foods that a nutrition specialist may recommend you begin eating or that you should avoid, to enhance your chances of getting pregnant – not only for the woman but also the male partner to improve the health of his sperm. Many people think they only need worry about this after they are pregnant but there is increasing evidence that nutrition can have an impact on fertility, so planning ahead and seeing a nutritional therapist before, or whilst trying to conceive may be worthwhile.

Once a woman becomes pregnant it is a common saying that expectant mothers are ‘eating for two’. This is actually a misconception though. In fact, it’s important for mums-to-be to not eat too much as this will inevitably lead to excessive weight gain and will likely increase blood pressure. It may also lead to an undesired cesarean birth if the baby is too large. Instead of eating more, it is recommended that women eat better; consuming more fruit and vegetables. Experts suggest that women only need to consume about 300 extra calories a day for a healthy pregnancy.

There are many vitamins and minerals which are extremely important for fertility and pregnancy. Calcium and Vitamin D help your baby develop strong teeth and bones. Fibre helps you maintain healthy bowel movements. Folic acid promotes the development of your baby’s brain and spinal cord. When a woman falls pregnant the amount of blood in her body increases by about 50 percent. It is therefore important to ensure there is enough Iron in your diet. Failing to do this can result in tiredness or, more seriously, iron-deficiency anaemia.

A nutritionist can help you develop an eating programme which ensures you and your baby are receiving the optimum levels of nutrients. Importantly, a nutritionist will take into account yours and your partner’s lifestyle so as to be able to best incorporate the nutritional regime into your life. A nutritionist will be able to assess your needs and, in combination with up-to-date scientific information, will be able to tailor a suitable nutritional programme to support you and your partner and give your baby the best start in life.

Seeing a nutritionist when pregnant could be especially important if any of the following applies to you:

  • Coeliac disease and diabetes
  • Constipation
  • Food cravings and aversions
  • Morning sickness; thought to be caused by hormonal changes and blood sugar imbalance, both of which a nutritionist can advise upon
  • Vegetarians and vegans