When to See a Nutritionist While Trying to Conceive
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is always important, but it is an especially vital step to take when you are trying to conceive. Pregnancy nutrition is essential to a healthy baby. Not only does it determine the basic nutritional health that our children are born with but it also provides a model for their eating habits during childhood and beyond. While seeking the guidance of a nutritionist is certainly recommended during pregnancy, there are certain situations in which a nutritionist’s expertise can help reduce the risk of complications during both the fertility journey and pregnancy. These include:
- Having a Body Mass Index (BMI)that is either above or below the normal weight range (<18.5 or >24.9)
- Having a history of ‘yoyo dieting’
- Needing information about what vitamins and supplements to take or not take
- Following a vegetarian, vegan, or other restricted diet
- Being diagnosed with diabetes, PCOS, or thyroid dysfunction
- Being concerned about whether your dietary intake is adequate
Though there are no specific foods that will magically work, there are certain “super foods” that may aid in hormonal balance, egg/sperm health, fetal health, and blood health. Choosing these foods may have an impact on your chances of conceiving and the overall outcome of your pregnancy. A nutritionist can be an invaluable resource, providing advice on which nutrients to consume (folate) and which to avoid (caffeine) in order to boost fertility and help conception.
It is important to note that certain medications can impact the way your body absorbs nutrients. For example, medications used for in vitro fertilization (IVF) may affect vitamin D and calcium absorption and blood sugar levels can be directly impacted by certain steroids. Consulting with a nutritionist will ensure that you are getting the right information as you attempt build a family.
Nutritional counseling should be sought not only before a pregnancy, but also throughout. Caloric requirements change during each trimester and issues arise that necessitate a change in diet. Caloric requirements generally do not increase until the second or third trimesters of pregnancy and you may need guidance in choosing foods that can support your pregnancy in a healthy way. Additionally, conditions such as gestational diabetes may not develop until late in the pregnancy, requiring a patient to be more attentive to their sugar and starch intake. A nutritionist can advise you not only on the foods to eat but also the foods to avoid depending on your nutritional goals, medical work-up, and how far along you are in your pregnancy.
Often we know what we need to do, but struggle to do it on a consistent basis. Having the support, accountability, and strategies of a nutritionist can help keep you on track as you pursue your family building goals.