How Preconception Health Helps To Support Your Baby
6 min read
Each year, about 10% of Australian women fall pregnant. Research shows that a couple’s health before conception is important for supporting a healthy pregnancy, and a healthy baby (1).
It can be very difficult to predict exactly when you will fall pregnant. So, by maintaining good preconception health, you have the best chance at a healthy pregnancy regardless of when your child is conceived.
This makes up part of the first 1,000 days, which spans three crucial periods:
Optimal health during these three stages is the greatest opportunity you have as a parent to give your baby the best start in life (2).
Becoming pregnant is a complex process. It involves several different factors that all need to line up just right.
Some couples may fall pregnant right away, while for others it may take some time. Falling pregnant relies on both the mother and the father’s health. After all, they each make up 50% of the baby making equation (3).
While there are many factors that influence conception, there are some everyday influences for couples to consider. To increase the chances of falling pregnant, couples can ensure they make healthy diet and lifestyle choices, including (3, 4):
Research shows that there is a strong link between a woman’s health prior to falling pregnant, and the health of a mother and her new baby after giving birth.
Poor health prior to and in the early stages of pregnancy, may negatively impact a growing baby. In fact, the first eight weeks of pregnancy is crucial.
During this period, most of the baby’s major organs and body systems have started to form and grow. A growing baby depends on their mother’s diet to provide all the nutritional building blocks they need to grow and thrive throughout pregnancy, and these first few weeks are vital (5).
Many women will not know they are pregnant until their fourth week of pregnancy, so it’s important to maintain good preconception health and nutrition while trying for a baby to help support this important window of development.
When it comes to trying to conceive, the male partner’s health can often be overlooked. But, a man’s health plays a vital role in his fertility when trying to conceive.
Male reproductive health is crucial, as research shows if your sperm are healthy, you have a better chance of conceiving (6, 7). Sperm not only plays an important role in falling pregnant, but also contains the genetic code (DNA) that will be passed along to the baby.
The journey that sperm undertake to reach a female egg can be compared to a human trying to swim several thousand kilometres. Therefore, the health and function of sperm is essential.
By improving health prior to conception, parents-to-be can improve their chances of a healthy pregnancy, and most importantly, a healthy baby (1, 5).
This is only a brief overview of the importance of preconception health. For couples wishing to seek preconception care, it is important to seek the advice of your healthcare professional who can provide you with tailored advice, specific to your health needs.
If you found this article useful, why not share it with a friend who may find it helpful too?