We’ve all seen the beach-ready body stories in the news – but what about baby-ready body?
If you are trying for a baby, or thinking about getting pregnant, summer can be a great time for you to get your body ready for pregnancy and give yourself the best chance of falling pregnant naturally.
Fertility and general health are intertwined. Improving your health through lifestyle changes can help to boost your fertility.
It’s also important for your partner to be as healthy as possible too, before you both start trying for a baby.
Here, Professor Geeta Nargund, Medical Director, CREATE Fertility, shares her top tips for women and men who want to use this summer to kick-start their general and fertility fitness:
Make these 5 changes to your diet
A few small changes to your diet could really help boost your fertility.
- Choose slow-release carbs (e.g. whole grains, fruit and veg) over fast-release carbohydrates (white bread/rice, cake)
- Top up your Omega-3 levels with plenty of fish or, if you are vegetarian, include mango, walnuts, flaxseed and hemp seed in your diet
- Avoid trans fats and refined sugars (found in processed and fast food)
- Opt for healthy-fat rather than low-fat products where necessary in order to get the beneficial hormones attached to fat
- Ultimately a diet that is nutritionally balanced can be very beneficial for both men and women looking to conceive.
What’s your BMI?
The single most important lifestyle factor for fertility is keeping your weight within the optimal BMI range of 20-24.
If you make only one change this summer it should be ensuring that your weight is within this healthy range.
Too much or too little body fat can make your periods irregular or stop them completely, which can affect your ovulation and ability to conceive.
In addition, losing excess weight can also reduce the severity of symptoms for women suffering from PCOS.
Try to use the extra daylight hours this summer to dig out those trainers and go for a run, or join an organised sport group.
Activity and exercise not only improves your overall health, but also your chances of conception. A study in Obstetrics & Gynaecology found that women who exercised 30 minutes or more daily had a reduced risk of infertility due to ovulation disorders.
Kick any vices into touch
It’s recommended that alcohol and caffeine consumption are reduced to maintain optimum fertility levels.
The most damaging lifestyle factor, apart from being under or overweight, is smoking. Research shows that smoking can be linked to early menopause in women and damaged sperm in men. The advice is, therefore, to stop smoking as soon as possible if you are looking to conceive. Seek help and stub out that cigarette.
This can be much easier to say than to do, however a healthy mind promotes a healthy body, so aim to de-stress and relax.
Take part in activities that promote positive thinking and could help to relieve any worries.
Try increasing the amount of relaxing activities you incorporate in your day-to-day life, from taking up yoga or meditation, through to walking rather than taking the Tube.
Try to unwind and reduce your stress levels.
Consider expert advice
‘Fertility MOTs’ are used by lots of fertility clinics to offer an overall review of your fertility health and give advice on how to improve it. These are short painless appointments lasting around an hour, often with results delivered the same day.
For women and couples who need help to start a family immediately, the initial consultation and scan is more appropriate as a fertility specialist will devise a personalised treatment plan for you during this appointment. Semen analysis can be done and results can be discussed in the same visit.
Most importantly, be patient
Starting a family can sometimes take longer than expected for any number of reasons.
Use the summer months to prepare your body for pregnancy, while following any recommendations from your doctor.
Ultimately it is also about being kind to yourself and being aware of what your body needs.