Why do we want to start a family? What drives us to have a child? What do we want for our child?
We want to procreate, to start a family, for many reasons. But ultimately, we want to give the best for our next generation. If it is within our control to give them the very best right from the very start – why won’t we?!
And good health is one thing that every parent hope for their child because we know health is wealth!
What if I tell you this is in your control and that you can actually set the foundations of your child’s health?
Over the past few decades, research has shown that good nutrition is central to optimal health, developmental outcomes and disease prevention. There is now clear evidence that early life nutrition in the foetus, infant and young child can have profound effects on long-term health.
The first 1,000 days refers to the time from preconception to a child’s 2nd birthday, is a unique window of opportunity to set the foundations of the child’s lifelong health. It starts from the very beginning, from the health and wellbeing of both mother and father prior to the child’s conception as this affect the integrity of the embryo. Hence, good parental nutrition from preconception through to foetal growth and infancy can have lasting lifetime benefits.
Strong foundations start from preconception: Get it right in the first 1,000 days
As a dietitian (and foodie!), I often encourage consuming a variety of nutritious food ranging from the colourful fruits and vegetables, wholegrain low GI carbohydrate through to lean protein with healthy fats, as our main source of nutrients. However, during this important phase of life, supplementation of some vitamins and minerals may be advisable to ensure that the nutrition requirements of parents and baby are met.
Take folate for example. It is a nutrient that is crucial for the growth and development of a healthy baby. It is a supplement that is encouraged to commence even prior to pregnancy for the prevention of neural tube defects. Again, this shows how important nutrition is from the get-go. Your fertility specialist and obstetrician will continue to reinforce the importance of this throughout your pregnancy.
So, if you’re thinking about starting a family, the very first step is to start with your nutrition!
Whilst poor nutrition has negative impact on a child’s ability to thrive, conversely, excess energy intake or insufficient intake of protective nutrients could also set the stage for childhood obesity and leads to other chronic diseases later in life.
Experts recognise that maternal weight prior to pregnancy and weight gain during pregnancy are important determinants of health for both mothers and babies. Too little weight gain during pregnancy increases the risk of a low birth weight infant while excess weight gain during pregnancy increases the risk of gestational diabetes, a large for gestational age infant and associated risk of obesity in mothers and children.
Consider giving yourself at least 6 months prior to conception to help correct any nutritional deficiencies, build a healthy eating pattern, establish an active routine to optimise your chance of conceiving and healthy pregnancy.
Apart from folate there are many other key nutrients to be aware of during this exciting phase of life. Often it can be a minefield to decipher the truckloads of information (or ‘noise’) on the internet or to navigate through the rows and rows of prenatal multivitamins at the pharmacy. Consult a dietitian for individualised and realistic advice to help you get on track with your weight and nutritional status.
Invest in your health through good nutrition right from the start. At Create Health, we are here to help you connect the pieces of your fertility and reproductive life puzzle, in order to realise the dream.