Shawnee Mission Community Health Update: Planning for an upcoming pregnancy?

By Megan Schlick, ND

Megan Schlick, ND
Megan Schlick, ND

Whether you have struggled with getting pregnant, experienced a miscarriage or just want to optimize a future pregnancy, a preconception plan may help your chances of a successful experience.

Working with couples to optimize a pregnancy is one of my favorite patient populations to work with. What better way to teach parents healthy habits that will improve their chances of a healthy baby, but to also set up good health habits for the growing child to learn? Although women usually take the brunt of pregnancy, men are half the equation in conception – so men, read on.

Why is this important?

Our toxic environment, standard American diet and busy lifestyles are starting to impact the health of our children. Childhood obesity is at an all-time high, and rates of eczema, allergies and asthma are climbing. As much as you can optimize your health (both male and female) prior to pregnancy, the healthier your offspring will be. Science proves this. Poor maternal health can lead to low birth weight babies, and low birth weight babies are now showing more chronic disease in adulthood.

Preconception care benefits for mom and baby

  • Lifelong impact on the health of your child.
  • Minimize the challenges of constipation, anemia, leg cramps, heartburn, gestational diabetes, and pre-eclampsia.
  • Lowers some of the risks of low birth weight babies, which are susceptible to infection and miscarriages.
  • Increase daily energy level of mom.
  • Positively affect labor.
  • Promotes healthy weight gain.
  • Better postpartum recovery, both mentally and physically.

Tips for preparing for a healthy pregnancy

For the guys:

  1. Eat as organic as possible, including 5+ servings of veggies daily.
  2. Start taking a high quality multi-vitamin three months prior to trying for pregnancy.
  3. If using a laptop regularly, sit it on a table and not on your lap.
  4. Avoid hot tubs and long distance bicycling for three months prior to conception.
  5. Check in with stress levels and implement stress management strategies as needed.

For the gals:

  1. Eat as organic as possible, including 5+ servings of veggies daily. (Yes, fruits are also important.)
  2. Start taking a high-quality prenatal vitamin three months prior to trying for pregnancy. Find a prenatal that has folic acid in the activated form (5MTHFR), as well as a non-constipating form of iron.
  3. If you are not a regular exercise enthusiast, start some form of physical activity. You need to stay active during pregnancy. Getting your heart rate up will optimize blood oxygen to baby.
  4. Start tracking your cycles. “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler is my favorite resource for doing this, especially if you have irregular cycles. Further treatment is sometimes necessary to help regulate hormones.
  5. Avoid BPA exposure: plastic containers, canned foods and receipt paper all contain BPA, which can disrupt your hormonal balance.

This weekly sponsored Community Health Update is brought to you by Shawnee Mission Medical Center.

Megan Schlick, ND, is a Prairie Village resident and accredited naturopath at Shawnee Mission Medical Center. To learn more about her practice, visit ShawneeMission.org/HolisticCare. To find a doctor or for free health information, call the ASK-A-NURSE Resource Center at 913-676-7777.