Are you getting the nutrients you need? A varied diet helps you cover your need for important nutrients.
If you as a woman have a good diet before you get pregnant, you have all the nutrients needed to support the fetus from conception onwards. The fetus’s organs are formed during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and at this time your diet is very important. Eat regular, balanced meals with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. During pregnancy, the body needs more nutrition but not much more energy.
There is currently not enough sufficient evidence to recommend a special diet or nutritional supplement that will improve fertility in women or men. Two substances that may possibly have a positive affect on sperm quality are folate/folic acid and zinc, but research results are not clear-cut. Folate/folic acid exists in, among other things, leafy vegetables, legumes, wholegrain products and different kinds of berries, but may also be purchased at the pharmacy in the form of folic acid tablets. Good sources of zinc are meat, seafood, dairy and wholegrain products, among other things.
Folate/folic acid is needed in order for the fetus’s nervous system to develop normally. A lack of folate/folic acid is common among fertile women and increases the risk of neural tube defects (spina bifida) in the fetus.
As a woman, you are recommended to start taking folic acid at least one month before you plan to get pregnant or stop using contraceptives. Continue taking it until the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy have passed. Apart from a varied diet, if you take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily, it will provide you with the amount of folate/folic acid that the fetus needs.
Caffeine can mainly be found in coffee, but other beverages also contain a smaller amount. A large caffeine intake (more than five cups of coffee per day) can decrease fertility. There is also a connection between a woman’s caffeine intake and an increased risk of miscarriage during the early stage of pregnancy. Therefore, women who are planning to get pregnant are recommended to limit their caffeine intake to no more than 300 milligrams/day, which is equivalent to 3 cups of coffee (1.5 deciliters per serving) or 6 cups of black tea (2 deciliters per serving) per day.
Do you want to know more about diet and pregnancy? Read more at Livsmedelsverket.se
To exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight is a good way to stay healthy but also important if you want to prepare your body for a pregnancy. A body of normal weight and strength can handle pregnancy and birth more easily.
Exercise for at least 30 minutes every day in order to stay healthy and maintain a healthy weight. Both being underweight and overweight can cause disruptions in your menstrual cycle and make it harder to get pregnant. Particularly for overweight and obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a 5% weight loss can lead to normalization/return of ovulation. Being overweight and obese for a woman increases the risk of getting gestational diabetes, among other things, which in turn increases the risk of fetal malformation and fetal death. Being obese during pregnancy also increases the risk of miscarriage, preeclampsia, premature birth and complicated delivery.
A man’s weight can also affect fertility. Being overweight can cause the quality of the sperm to become worse, while moderate physical activity results in better sperm quality.
Waistline and Body Mass Index (BMI) are indications of whether or not your weight is at a healthy level. Men should have a waistline below 94 cm and women a waistline below 80 cm. As a woman (over the age of 18), you should try to maintain a normal BMI (19-25) in order to optimize your health, regardless of whether you want to get pregnant.
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- Preconceptional and maternal obesity: epidemiology and health consequences.
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- Diet and sperm quality: Nutrients, foods and dietary patterns. Salas-Huetos A, James ER, Aston KI, Jenkins TG, Carrell DT.Reprod Biol. 2019 Sep;19(3):219-224. doi: 10.1016/j.repbio.2019.07.005. Epub 2019 Jul 30