It is very common nowadays for couples to try to conceive a baby and be unsuccessful. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports a decreasing number of couples having fertility problems, there are still 6.3% of American women who experience difficulty.
There are natural health methods to increase your chances of conceiving a baby. The American Pregnancy Association states that it is ideal for women to plan three months to a year ahead for dietary changes to have an effect on fertility. However, good nutrition is helpful to improve conception and the pregnancy no matter when one starts.
1. Limit alcohol intake
A serving of wine or beer usually will not hurt your chances of conceiving a baby, as long as you are not already pregnant. Drinking alcohol while pregnant can harm a developing fetus. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine advises that if you do drink alcohol, you should have no more than two drinks a day if you are trying to get pregnant. Swedish researchers have found that women who drink two alcoholic beverages per day decreased their fertility rate by approximately 60%.
2. Cut down on caffeine
Cutting back on caffeine may be a struggle for many people. Going “cold turkey” on caffeine may cause withdrawal symptoms like headaches. Hence, if you decide to stop using caffeine entirely, it is best to start by cutting down gradually.
Though there are mixed reviews on the effects of caffeine on women trying to conceive, decreasing your intake will not hurt your chances. Most researchers and physicians agree that consuming moderate amounts of caffeine (less than 300 milligrams per day or approximately two 8-ounce cups of coffee) will not disrupt your chances of getting pregnant. The American Pregnancy Association states that caffeine can impede your body's ability to absorb iron and calcium. Slowly replace more of the caffeinated brew in your cup with decaf until you have weaned yourself.
3. Load up on iron
As mentioned before, caffeine can slow your body’s ability to absorb iron. Women who are trying to conceive or are pregnant should take iron multivitamin supplements, as a growing baby will use up your iron stores. This puts many women at risk for postpartum anemia, a condition in which new moms have very reduced red blood cell levels and experience fatigue.
4. Eat (safe) fish
Fish have essential fatty acids, called omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for a baby’s brain and eye development. Omega-3 fatty acids can lessen your risk of preterm birth, reduce your chances of preeclampsia, and help depression. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that women trying to conceive can eat up to 12 ounces each week of seafood low in mercury, such as salmon, canned light tuna, shrimp, or catfish.
5. The man’s diet matters
The male counterpart needs to also be aware of his food habits. According to a study conducted by the Harvard University Department of Nutrition, a healthy male diet can aid in healthy sperm development. Men should change their diet and eat food rich in zinc and selenium, one to two months in advance.
Thus, any one or a combination of the above factors could potentially increase fertility. However, a number of factors could influence fertility, conception, and maintenance of pregnancy. A physician should be consulted if medical intervention is warranted.
Written by Stephen Umunna
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