Preparing for Pregnancy
From the desk of Laura Foresta... Great nutrition and regular exercise are important for preparation for pregnancy. Being in good nutritional “shape” before pregnancy can help your body and your baby’s, especially during the early and important developmental stages of pregnancy.
Nutrition Ideas: Take a multivitamin with 400 mcg of folic acid. Avoid trans fats (hydrogenated oils in many processed and fast foods). Limit refined starches (white bread and rice, refined sugar, cakes, cookies, crackers). Choose higher-fat dairy products if you have an ovulation disorder (return to lower-fat dairy after pregnancy for weight maintenance and heart health). Follow the Plate Method for lunch and dinner: 1/2 plate colorful veggies, 1/4 plate lean protein primarily from plant sources (tofu, beans, nuts, seeds), 1/4 plate whole grain or high-fiber starch (whole wheat pasta, brown rice, beans, quinoa, millet, corn, peas, sweet potato with skin). Snack on fruit and veggies. Bring lunch from home instead of buying it out.
Exercise Ideas: Choose exercise you enjoy so you will keep doing it. Meet friends for walks instead of lunch. Have family biking outings instead of watching TV. Hire a trainer to guide you. Join a gym. Try exercise classes at your local adult education center. Join a running, walking or hiking club.
There has been a lot of buzz in recent years about nutrition and fertility. Causes of infertility most related to nutrition involve body weight and ovulation. Women with low levels of body fat, especially those that do not menstruate are at risk for fertility problems. Women who are overweight (BMI 25-29.9) or obese (BMI 30 or greater) are also at risk for ovulation-related infertility. It has been noted that women who carry extra weight in the belly might be at particular risk.
A natural approach to increasing fertility is to achieve and maintain a healthy weight through a combination of a healthful diet and regular exercise. Crash diets are not recommended, as they often eliminate healthful nutrients necessary for good health and to prepare the body for a healthy pregnancy.
Preparing for pregnancy can be an exciting undertaking. It can also produce stress. We know hormone levels are affected by stress which can impact the ability to conceive. As much as possible, reduce stress related to fertility and conception. Enjoy the healthful changes you are making. Celebrate all the ways your body moves and choose exercise you enjoy. Consider stress management techniques like yoga, meditation, journaling, counseling, etc. And have fun!
Biography Laura Foresta is a registered, licensed dietitian with more than 10 years of experience in the field of nutrition. Laura owns a private nutrition counseling practice at OMBE Integrative Health Center and has experience working at Albany Medical Center, at the Center for Diabetes, Endocrinology, Nutrition and Weight Management at Boston Medical Center, and in the Diabetes Management Program at Newton-Wellesley Hospital.
Laura coauthored a book chapter on the nutritional consequences of bariatric surgery, in Bariatric Surgery, A Primer for Your Medical Practice. She provides community nutrition workshops, and corporate lunch-and-learns and wellness programming.
Laura is passionate about helping clients prevent or manage chronic disease with a healthy diet and regular exercise. She focuses on collaborating with her clients to develop techniques to help them make permanent change. Laura grew up in an Italian-American household, and has first-hand knowledge that healthy foods can taste great! Laura’s goal is to help you discover a healthy lifestyle you can live with.