What is a fertility & maternal health dietitian?
Updated: Jun 30
A fertility and maternal heath dietitian works with couples who are trying to conceive, pregnant women and women who have given birth. She or he is an asset to couples during their preconception journey and could follow them throughout their pregnancy.
Let’s start with what a Dietitian is
I am sure most people will know a bit about what a dietitian does- and let’s face it, it’s in the title! However, very few will know the amount of training that dietitians go through and the knowledge background they require in order to complete their degree and become competent practitioners.
In the UK, most registered dietitians will have as a minimum a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Dietetics. However, some dietitians will have a related science degree with a Postgraduate Diploma or a Master of Sciences degree in Dietetics. The degree in itself (whether undergraduate or postgraduate) will include academic subjects in biochemistry; human anatomy and physiology with broad understanding of genetics, immunology, microbiology and pharmacology; social and psychological sciences; research methods; food sciences; human nutrition and diet therapy in clinical dietetics. Registered dietitians are also required to do 1000hrs of practice-based learning as part of their degree in the NHS or another setting outside of the university.
A dietitian will assess, diagnose and treat dietary and nutritional problems at an individual and wider public health level. Unlike nutritionists and nutritional therapists, registered dietitians can also provide special diets for specific medical conditions, such as Diabetes, IBS, Coeliac Disease, Kidney Disease and many others.
Registered dietitians are the only nutrition professionals to be regulated by law, and are governed by an ethical code to ensure that they always work to the highest standard. However, you will find that their training does not end after completion of their degree.
Following their registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), they are required to keep up-to-date through compulsory Continuing Professional Development, which is assessed every 2 years. Therefore, it is not surprising that most dietitians will go on to do further training or studying to keep up to date with current evidence. You can check if your UK dietitian is registered with the HCPC.
Choosing the right fertility & maternal health dietitian for you!
Qualifications, a current HCPC registration, and further training of your nutritional professional are important aspects when you are considering advice specific to your circumstances. The experience and expertise of your dietitian in the fertility and maternal health area could make a difference into your personal nutritional and health goals. The right dietitian will tailor the advice to your individual circumstances!
What exactly can a fertility & maternal health dietitian do for me?
As I indicated above, a fertility dietitian will work with both men and women who are trying to conceive by optimising their nutrition to give them the best possible chance to conceive and progress to a healthy pregnancy. After all, a healthy baby is what you are after and that starts at least 3 months before conception!
Sperm and egg quality is vital for a healthy embryo. In addition, hormone balance and weight management can improve ovulation and implantation rates, and a healthy lifestyle with good quality nutrition can impact your baby’s future health.
If you have a condition that affects your fertility, such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), Endometriosis, Coeliac Disease, Diabetes, and Thyroid Disease, then it is extremely important that you improve your chance of conceiving by ensuring these conditions are managed both medically and with a specific dietary approach.
Fertility and maternal health dietitians are unique as they can adapt and tailor your care throughout your preconception and pregnancy journey. Did you know that your nutritional requirements change through the pregnancy trimesters? Not only that, during pregnancy a long list of symptoms can surface that can be very challenging to deal with. Symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, bloating, constipation, and heart burn can have significant impact on your nutrition. A maternal health dietitian can give you practical advice about how to overcome these symptoms and how to get the very best nourishment for you and your baby.
A maternal health dietitian will also ensure that with the right nutrition you can prevent or reduce the risk of potential pregnancy complications, such as pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes and recurrent miscarriage, especially if you are already at high risk.
After pregnancy, many women struggle with keeping their energy levels up, particularly if they are breastfeeding. A maternal health dietitian will give you tips to ensure you are receiving the best nutrition for you and your baby (if you are breastfeeding) and work with your weight goals so you can return to a healthy pre-pregnancy weight.
Are you already a dietitian?
If you are reading this blog and you are already a dietitian who is interested in Fertility Nutrition, here is an excellent and comprehensive online course that assists dietitians to upskill in this area.
You can now register using my affiliate link
The course starts on 4th April 2022 and the early bird price ends on 13th March 2022. Use the following code at the checkout for a 20% discount: EARLYBIRD20
And if you are interested in Maternal Health Nutrition here is another excellent and comprehensive online course that assists dietitians to upskill in this area.
You can now register using my affiliate link for Nutrition Therapy in Pregnancy Course
This course opens for registration in September 2022.
Work with me!
If you are someone who is:
trying to conceive
thinking about pregnancy in the future
already had your beautiful baby
You are ready to invest in your own health and the health of your baby.
I can support you right now. Get in touch!