• Katie Psarou

FIVE reasons to work with a Fertility and Maternal Health Dietitian


Fertility dietitian and pregnancy dietitian

Nutrition and lifestyle are extremely important for fertility and maternal health. Working with a Fertility and Maternal Health Dietitian is crucial during your fertility and pregnancy journey. You can read more about the role of a fertility and maternal health dietitian in this blog here.


fertility diet and pregnancy diet

This blog will highlight five key reasons how working with a Fertility and Maternal Health Dietitian can have a positive impact on your health and your baby’s health during this exciting and nerve-racking time. Working with a Dietitian is particularly important for those who have experienced infertility, pregnancy loss, or if you are having a high-risk pregnancy (such as having a twin pregnancy or developing gestational diabetes) or struggling to enjoy pregnancy because of morning sickness.


ONE: Improve your relationship with food.


The often conflicting messages of diet culture can leave many men and women feeling confused about what to eat to optimise fertility and increase the chance of getting pregnant. This, in turn, can lead to unnecessary diet modifications such as restricting certain nutrients or cutting out whole food groups. Not only can this negatively impact your fertility and pregnancy, it can also affect your future health and the baby's development in utero and in later life.


As a Fertility and Maternal Health Dietitian, I can help you unpack these restrictions we sometimes unknowingly put on ourselves and give you ideas on how you can diversify and balance your diet.


foods to boost fertility and foods to eat when pregnant

TWO: Optimise your nutrition with regular tests, assessments and monitoring.


Did you know that both a woman’s and a man’s health at conception can play an important role in fertility and pregnancy? [1] If a man is overweight or has nutritional deficiencies, this can negatively impact the health of his sperm as well as the baby’s development.

While up to 50% of pregnancies are unplanned, a substantial proportion of women do not meet the nutritional requirements for folate, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, iodine, iron and selenium [2].

Did you also know that nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy can result in pre-eclampsia, pre-term deliveries, neural tube defects and other congenital abnormalities or babies who are born with small birth weight? [3].


As a Fertility and Maternal Health Dietitian, I will screen your blood tests for potential deficiencies in nutrients and perform detailed nutritional assessments. If nutritional deficiencies are identified, I can help you to optimise your diet to enhance your fertility and get your body pregnancy ready! After all, research shows that a woman who is healthy at the time of conception is more likely to have a successful pregnancy and a healthy child [4].



male and female fertility focusing on sperm and egg health for fertility nutrition

Image by ParallelVision from Pixabay


THREE: Manage fertility-related conditions like PCOS, diabetes or other hormone imbalances.


Living with a condition that affects fertility is not easy. And the hundreds of mixed messages in magazines, on the Internet, Instagram and Facebook groups does not help. We know that nutrients play key roles in hormone imbalances. For example, adequate folate levels are important for egg quality, maturation, fertilization, and implantation, and zinc plays a role in ovulation and the menstrual cycle [5]. Yet, how does this relate to your individual circumstances and what can you do to ensure you are meeting your nutritional requirements?


As a Fertility and Maternal Health Dietitian, I can ensure that you and your partner can bridge the gap of fertility and pregnancy care, whilst listening to your concerns, and clarifying the confusion and misinformation out there. I will give you the tools to boost your fertility and increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy while managing any related conditions. Remind yourself that although you may share a condition with others, you are an individual, and you deserve the most personalised and relevant advice.


pregnancy weight gain

Image by Daniel Reche from Pixabay


FOUR: Optimise your weight, fertility and pregnancy.


If you are holding excessive body weight or crash dieting when you are trying to conceive, you may not be setting your body up for pregnancy in the best possible way.

Research shows that extra weight gained during pregnancy can be difficult to lose after the baby is born [6], and in my experience many women retain their pregnancy weight for years. However, not gaining sufficient weight during pregnancy can also be problematic. This means the baby may not get all the nutrients they need for their development and can lead to a premature birth.


My role as a Fertility and Maternal Health Dietitian is to help you manage your weight whilst at the same time enhance your fertility and minimise the risk of health complications for you and your baby. This can be done by avoiding gaining or losing too much weight during your pregnancy, whilst at the same time improving the choices you make around food so that you and your baby are adequately nourished. I will also provide you with tailored advice to overcome some of the common symptoms during pregnancy like fatigue, nausea and constipation.


accountability nutrtition

Image by Firmbee from Pixabay


FIVE: Stay accountable and motivated.


We all have personal goals we want to achieve, yet we are living in a world that makes it difficult to change our lifestyle. Turning around potentially lifelong habits isn’t easy.


My focus as a Fertility and Maternal Health Dietitian is to be part of your support network. By having regular check-ins in a safe and non-judgmental space, I can keep you accountable and motivated to make sensible and healthful changes. In turn, you will feel empowered to make lifelong changes and give your baby the best start in life.


So what are you waiting for?

Book in your fertility or pregnancy nutrition consultation today!


References:

[1] Lan, L., Harrison, C. L., Misso, M., Hill, B., Teede, H. J., Mol, B. W., & Moran, L. J. (2017). Systematic review and meta-analysis of the impact of preconception lifestyle interventions on fertility, obstetric, fetal, anthropometric and metabolic outcomes in men and women. Human Reproduction, 32(9), 1925-1940.

[2] Schaefer, E. (2016). Micronutrient deficiency in women living in industrialized countries during the reproductive years: Is there a basis for supplementation with multiple micronutrients. Journal of Nutritional Disorders and Therapy, 6, 199.

[3] Ramakrishnan, U., Grant, F., Goldenberg, T., Zongrone, A., & Martorell, R. (2012). Effect of women's nutrition before and during early pregnancy on maternal and infant outcomes: a systematic review. Paediatric and perinatal epidemiology, 26, 285-301.

[4] Stephenson, J., Heslehurst, N., Hall, J., Schoenaker, D. A., Hutchinson, J., Cade, J. E., ... & Mishra, G. D. (2018). Before the beginning: nutrition and lifestyle in the preconception period and its importance for future health. The Lancet, 391(10132), 1830-1841.

[5] Ebisch, I. M. W., Thomas, C. M. G., Peters, W. H. M., Braat, D. D. M., & Steegers-Theunissen, R. P. M. (2007). The importance of folate, zinc and antioxidants in the pathogenesis and prevention of subfertility. Human reproduction update, 13(2), 163-174.

[6] Hollis, J. L., Crozier, S. R., Inskip, H. M., Cooper, C., Godfrey, K. M., Harvey, N. C., Collins, C. E., & Robinson, S. M. (2017). Modifiable risk factors of maternal postpartum weight retention: an analysis of their combined impact and potential opportunities for prevention. International Journal of Obesity, 41(7), 1091-1098.

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