Preconception Wellness – A holistic approach to conceiving

on 09 Mar 2014 in Massage & Birth tagged by

“Research shows that every aspect of our reproduction is adversely affected in some way by our sedentary and stressful 20th century lifestyle, diet, and living conditions.” (Naish, Francesca, and Janette Roberts. Healthy Parents, Better Babies. California: The Crossing Press,1999. Print.)

Seems grim, but the good news is that couples can take action.  Preparing for pregnancy is more than deciding that the timing is right for you to have a baby. Preconception wellness is a holistic program which optimizes a couples overall health and wellbeing as well as their reproductive health and fertility.  It is a simple, non-invasive low tech approach, based on basic preventive medicine.  Focusing on preconception wellness can profoundly improve a couple’s chances of a healthy, successful conception, pregnancy, birth and baby.  According to  Naish and Roberts, in their book  Healthy Parents, Better Babies, research has shown that preconception wellness can benefit couples and families in the following ways:

  • Enhanced fertility (even for couples with advanced maternal and paternal age)
  • Normal, healthy, full-term pregnancy
  • Increased chance of a natural, intervention free birth
  • Reduced risk of peri-natal mood and anxiety disorders such as postpartum depression
  • Successful and long term breast feeding
  • Healthy baby with sound physical and mental development

Preconception wellness is not a new concept.  It is actually very old.  Historically, couples would take time and care to prepare for their child. Ancient Romans and Greeks banned young women of childbearing age from drinking alcohol and newlywed couples were instructed to “drink no wine or strong drink and eat not any unclean thing.”

So what does preconception wellness entail?

Actively participate as a couple.  It takes 2 very healthy partners to make a very healthy baby.  Every aspect of preconception preparation should involve both partners equally.

Take time.  Ideally the preconception wellness plan is implemented over the longest possible period of time.  Both partners need to focus on their plan for a minimum of 4 month (120 days) prior to any attempt to conceive.  This time period is necessary to ensure there is an adequate supply on board of all the factors which are essential to the health of sperm and ova and to fetal development, and an absence f all those things which are deemed harmful.  Formation of sperm may take up to 116 days.  Ova are susceptible to damage during their period of maturation which is approximately 100 days before ovulation. Couples often feel impatient about waiting, but the more time spent on preconception wellness, the more effective the outcome.

There are several areas that couples will need to focus on.  Some they can address themselves, some may require assistance from conventional and alternative health professionals:

  • Nutrition is more than just taking a prenatal vitamin.  Both prospective parents should research the important foods to eat, foods to avoid, how to combine foods and heed weight management and also take a combination of supplements which will provide an adequate supply of all the essential nutrients.  Eat organic and local to minimize chemical residues and maximize nutrient content.  You may consider working with a functional physician and/or nutrition specialist to find out what your specific mineral deficiencies are and ways that they can be addressed.  The mother needs to continue to focus on her nutrition and supplementation throughout pregnancy and during the full period of breastfeeding.
  • Lifestyle improvements.  Stop smoking.  Avoid alcohol completely.  Avoid drugs – both pharmaceutical drugs for chronic conditions and recreational drugs.  Avoid caffeine.
  • Environment clean up.  Avoid exposure to toxic metals, chemicals (consider less toxic cleaning substances), ionizing radiation, and non-ionizing radiation.
  • Detoxify.  The body’s systems and organs – digestive (includes bowel and liver), urinary (includes kidneys), lymphatic, circulatory, respiratory and skin and immune – all need to be operating at full efficiency prior to conception.  Water is the most simple method of detoxifying and 10-12 glasses are recommended daily.  Eating high-antioxidant containing foods and herbs, dry brushing, Epsom salt baths, deep breathing and exercise also help.  Working with an alternative health professional, an acupuncturist, herbalist, and receiving massage and bodywork can all help to enhance your detoxification.
  • Get fit with aerobic exercise, strengthening exercises, and flexibility exercises.  It is optimum to combine elements of all 3 in your program.
  • Think positively.   Identify your negative thoughts and emotions and work at framing them positively.  Reduce stress.  Identify your sources of stress and develop stress coping mechanisms.  Staying positive and stress free may actually be just as important as all the other preparation that you do.
  • Learn how your body works through the fertility awareness method.  Use natural birth control during the months that you are preparing for conception.  This will give your body time to rid itself of the adverse effects of contraceptive pills and devices.  “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler is an excellent resource.

This information is not meant to discourage prospective parents or make them apprehensive, but rather to inform and empower.  Why leave the bearing of healthy children to chance?  I hope this information encourages couples to actively engage and prepare for conception by building and embracing their preconception wellness plan together.  The resulting benefits are priceless.


Photo credit Fergal McGrath

Donna Zubrod is a nationally certified, North Carolina Licensed Massage & Bodywork Therapist, and Birth Doula. Her practice, Seven Generations Massage & Birth, supports women towards positive experiences and outcomes during their childbearing years through menopause and beyond.  As an abdominal therapy practitioner with advanced women’s wellness training, she has helped couples with fertility challenges to successfully conceive, nurtured expectant mothers during pregnancy through postpartum, and offered relief to clients from discomforts caused by stressful or active lifestyles, women’s wellness issues, traumatic accidents and surgeries. Connect with Donna at

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