The “trimester” leading up to pregnancy is just as important as carrying the baby or the post-partum fourth trimester for both mum and bub. This means that ideally for at least 12 weeks you want to be consciously working on your health before actively trying.
It’s important that this work isn’t only done by the woman carrying because you cannot make a baby without sperm! Having said that, everyone and every couple has a different fertility journey, health history and home environment so it is important that your plan is individualised to you.
Along with your specific recommendations there are a number of general points everyone can consider:
Macronutrients: All three (protein, fat and carbohydrate) are super important as they are the building blocks of our nutrition and energy. Healthy fats are especially important for healthy hormone balance and plumpness of eggs.
Micronutrients: To be honest, all nutrients are important but special mention to folate and choline for their role in foetal development and placenta growth, iron so we can make enough haemoglobin for our baby, iodine for thyroid and ovulation health, and Vitamin D for healthy sperm and implantation.
Weight: Achieving a healthy weight before conception not only reduces your risk of complications when pregnant but also improves chances of conceiving from both a male and female perspective.
Stress: There is a correlation between high levels of stress and increased time for conception. When stressed, the body in a way perceives danger, reducing the function of all non-essential functions for survival = reproduction.
Sleep: Irregular sleep may be associated with irregular periods and ovulation, plus prioritising a regular sleep pattern can reduce stress levels and risk of carrying excess weight.
Testing: As a starting point, I'd recommend getting a few things tested at the start of this preconception stage before exploring any further testing:
Full Blood Count
B12 and Folate
Blood Glucose and Insulin
Liver Function Test
I’m not a huge fan on focusing too much on what things need to be avoided but as a general rule with preconception it would be more than ideal if smoking, alcohol and more than 1 shot of coffee per day were put on hold during this time.
This information goes for those using assisted reproductive therapies as well as those conceiving the old fashioned way ;)