Skip to main content
BUY PREGNANCY TESTS & OVULATION TESTS

Pre-Pregnancy Diet: What to eat when trying to conceive

Pre-Pregnancy Diet: What to eat when trying to conceive

Most pregnant women read a lot about what they should eat or avoid eating to help the baby grow healthy while in the womb. However, diet isn’t just important during pregnancy. You need to be cautious about what you eat even before getting pregnant if you want to conceive. This is because the pre-pregnancy diet usually has an impact on aspects like;

  • Your ovulation patterns and hormones
  • Your likelihood of conceiving
  • The health of your newborn during its early stages of development

This post will share critical details about the purpose of having a pre-pregnancy diet, the kinds of food you should focus on or avoid when you’re trying to conceive, as well as practical ways to start a pre-pregnancy diet.

What is the best pre-pregnancy diet?
What is the best pre-pregnancy diet?

Pre-pregnancy diet goals

If you’re not yet pregnant, it’s easy to assume that you can eat or drink anything you want. However, what you eat before you get pregnant can affect your chances of conceiving. And while you may not necessarily need to avoid taking your morning cappuccino or an occasional glass of wine, you may need to change your diet in advance if you want to conceive.

One of the primary risk factors you have to consider is your general weight. What you eat will influence your BMI and weight, and if the BMI is too high or too low, your chances of getting pregnant will be adversely affected. What’s more, some foods like potatoes, processed meats, and sugary beverages or snacks are known to have adverse effects on fertility.

Therefore, it is better to maintain a healthy pregnancy diet as early as you can to:

  • Boost your fertility and increase your chances of becoming pregnant
  • Have a healthy routine that you’ll follow even after you conceive
  • Avoid pregnancy-related complications like high blood pressure and gestational diabetes
  • Minimize the risk of exposing the newborn to a congenital disability like anencephaly or spina bifida
  • Prevent the need to undergo a C-section during delivery due to weight gain

Although there isn’t a specific type of food that will guarantee pregnancy, there are particular basic lifestyle and dietary guidelines you will need to follow if you want to increase your chances of conceiving. Besides, you will create a nutrient-rich surrounding for your baby to develop in.

Prepregnancy Diet: What can a female eat to increase fertility?
Prepregnancy Diet: What can a female eat to increase fertility?

Top pre-pregnancy diet tips you should know

Now because you are trying to fall pregnant, it is a great time to shift your focus to eating healthy and having a well-balanced diet. With an extensive range of fertility diets online, it can sometimes be hard to navigate the proper diet and which vitamins are best for you; this is where experts from The Dietologist come in handy who can tailor a meal plan to suit your needs.

What vitamins should a woman take before getting pregnant?

Folic acid or folate

Folic acid (Vitamin B9) is an essential nutrient that ensures the cells of a baby grow healthily after conception. It is also known to prevent congenital disabilities and enhance progesterone hormone levels in some women. You can find folic acid in various foods like nuts, leafy green vegetables, and bananas. Folic acid is also found in most prenatal vitamins and can be taken as a supplement.

Fibre & pre-pregnancy diet

Another essential nutrient you need to consume before you get pregnant is fibre. Fibre will keep you satiated after meals and regulate your blood sugars. If you need fibre in your diet, some foods you can consider are beans, lentils and green peas, seeds, cereals, pasta, whole grain bread, berries, and nuts. Along with being full for longer and more satisfied, maintaining a healthy blood sugar level can decrease insulin resistance and assist with PCOS symptoms. 

Iron

Your pre-pregnancy diet should include an essential nutrient known as iron, and this nutrient is often found in beans, leafy green vegetables, eggs, and meat. Consuming iron-rich foods will boost your energy levels and build up the iron reserves required to keep the baby growing healthily throughout pregnancy and reduce the risk of anaemia.

Calcium & pre-pregnancy diet

The other nutrient you need during the pre-pregnancy period is calcium. Calcium is prominent in most dairy products like yogurt, low-fat milk, and cheese and is vital for keeping the bones healthy and strong. You can also rely on it to keep your muscular, nervous, and circulatory systems regulated before you get pregnant.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 is found in flax seeds, leafy green vegetables, fish products, and nuts; omega-33 fatty acids are critical for developing the fetus during the early stages. Besides, they also can assist with depression during or after pregnancy. You can also consume plenty of omega 3’s when you take fish oil supplements or prenatal vitamins.

Protein & pre-pregnancy diet

It is also essential to incorporate protein-rich foods into your pre-pregnancy diet. These foods will assist you to stay fuller for longer, keep your blood sugar levels healthy and minimize your desire to take healthy snacks. Some great examples of protein-rich supplements and foods you can include in your diet are broccoli, lentils, nuts, poultry, and lean meats.

8 Best Pregnancy Food Combos to Boost Your Prenatal Diet
8 Best Pregnancy Food Combos to Boost Your Prenatal Diet

What foods should you take if you’re trying to get pregnant?

Greens

Most of the leafy green vegetables you will find today are packed with three essential nutrients required during the early phases of pregnancy – Omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and folic acid. Therefore it is essential to eat lots of spinach, collard greens, Romaine lettuce, kale, and watercress if you want to get pregnant. Of all the foods you require to conceive faster, leafy green vegetables stand out because of their low-calorie count and versatility.

Lean meat

Lean meats like beef tenderloin, chicken breast, and pork loin are high in proteins. If you incorporate them into your diet consistently, you will feel full for longer and maintain a healthy weight before pregnancy.

Fish

Some types of fish are ideal sources of omega-3 fatty acids, known to promote the healthy growth of the fetus, alleviate depression symptoms, and even promote better sleep quality. Some options like tilapia, sardines, salmon, and shrimp.

Beans

Beans are excellent sources of iron, calcium, protein, and fibre, and these support healthy muscle and bone growth for both the mother and the baby during the first trimester. Besides that, beans help you stay fuller for longer, so you will not overeat before pregnancy.

Kidney beans, chickpeas, and lentils are in the legume family, so it’s advisable to incorporate them into your pregnancy diet as often as you can.

Dairy

The dairy products you will find in the market today are high in vitamin D, protein, and calcium, all of which are needed in every healthy prenatal diet. It is advisable to get about three servings of milk or other dairy products like cottage cheese and Greek yogurt every day if you are pregnant.

Nuts

If you’re looking for another good source of proteins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and fibre, you should get nuts. Nuts are a healthy option for snacking, and you can also add them to your salads. Some common options you can take include walnuts, cashew nuts, almonds, and pistachios.

Whole grains

Whole grains are an excellent source of fibre, folates, and iron. They can assist you in avoiding weight gain since you will feel fuller and avoid overeating. The nutrients in whole grains also regulate pregnancy hormones and keep blood sugar levels healthy. Examples of whole grains you can incorporate into your diet today include quinoa, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, rye bread, and oats.

Citrus fruits

This list would be incomplete without including fruits. Some of the best fruits you can take when trying to conceive are citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, and lemons. All of them are high in folate and calcium, elements you need before and during pregnancy. As mentioned above, folate helps regulate pregnancy hormones and ensure the baby cells grow healthily.

Pre-Pregnancy: 6 Foods to Avoid When Trying to Get Pregnant
Pre-Pregnancy: 6 Foods to Avoid When Trying to Get Pregnant

What should you avoid eating if you want to conceive?

Reduce Processed meats

When you consume high levels of processed meats like sausages, salami, and lunch meat when you’re trying to conceive, you’ll increase your risk of developing health issues like gestational diabetes once you get pregnant. Although it’s okay to eat a slice of pizza or ham sandwich occasionally, you should minimize processed meat intake on a fertility diet.

Remove sodas from your pre-pregnancy diet

Today, most people are starting to recognize that sodas and soft drinks are high in sugar. If you drink this beverage regularly and want to conceive, you may gain weight, affecting your fertility. A good rule of thumb is to save sugary soft drinks for a weekend treat or replace them with something healthier like low-fat milk and water.

Artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners were designed to help people cut back on their sugar intake. However, one study published about artificial sweeteners and fertility shows a reduction of oocyte quality and decreased day 2 & 3 embryo quality in women undergoing intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and in-vitro fertilization (IVF).

In other research about artificial sweeteners and fertility, the study shows a potential higher cellular death in the ovaries, disruption of hormone production, decreased sperm count, and increased DNA fragmentation.

All these studies have to be taken with a grain of salt as the results are based on animal trials and use a higher than average level of artificial sweeter than most would consume.

Caffeine

If you’re trying to conceive, you should limit your caffeine intake as it is known to reduce fertility and prevent the body from absorbing essential nutrients. This doesn’t mean that you should avoid taking your morning coffee altogether, and you need to ensure you don’t take over 200mg of caffeine each day because your fertility rates may be affected when you exceed this limit.

Examples of drinks and food with caffeine you should watch include chocolate, tea, energy drinks, and soft drinks.

Alcohol & pre-pregnancy diet

High levels of alcohol consumption are known to hinder the chances of conceiving. Other than that, it can be harmful to the fetus during the early stages of development. If you are accustomed to drinking alcohol socially, you should start drinking citrusy mocktails instead of alcohol. For women planning a pregnancy, not drinking alcohol is the safest option.

Cigarettes & pre-pregnancy diet

While not a food, cigarettes should be removed from your “diet”. Currently, it is estimated that ladies who smoke are likely to suffer from infertility problems approximately two times compared to those who do not smoke. Quitting the smoking habit is not easy, but it will be worth it if you want to conceive and have a healthy pregnancy.

4 Health Changes to Make Before You Get Pregnant
4 Health Changes to Make Before You Get Pregnant

Essential lifestyle tips to remember if you want to get pregnant

Keep practising mindfulness

Mindfulness entails taking a few moments every day to breathe, reflect, and focus on present moments. This comes in handy when you need to manage stressful situations effectively that could be detrimental to conception. You will also feel more relaxed, have a positive outlook on life, and sleep better.

Ensure you sleep well

If you’re trying to conceive, it’s essential to maintain a good sleep schedule. This will help reduce stress, regulate your hormones, and control your appetite.

To make sure your body gets enough sleep, you should try to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. It’s important to avoid taking caffeine drinks in the afternoons, limit smartphone usage in the evening, and ensure you have a relaxing sleeping environment in your room.

Keep working out regularly

Regular exercise plays an essential role in maintaining healthy weight-reducing stress and anxiety, and building strong muscles. But, you don’t have to practice high-intensity workouts like lifting weights or running. Even taking a 30-minute walk every day will help you stay fit and healthy when you’re trying to conceive.

Consider taking supplements

Having a perfect diet each day can be difficult sometimes, but that’s okay! You can always take pregnancy supplements like folic acid and prenatal vitamins to consistently give the body the nutrients it requires.

However, you should never use supplements as a security blanket or replacement for a bad diet. You are still expected to consume whole grains, lean proteins, and many leafy green vegetables when trying to conceive.

Where to start when designing your pre-pregnancy diet plan

After reading this post, you might feel overwhelmed, and implementing these changes in your life may seem unrealistic. We will share tips to help you build the best free pregnancy diet plan to make things easy.

Start small – do not make abrupt changes in your diet to maintain the plan for longer. It is better to incorporate a few new recipes slowly until you get used to them.

Make replacements – another easy way to adapt is to swap unhealthy foods with healthier options. For instance, you can choose to replace white rice with brown rice, and simple replacements like this will make a massive difference in your overall health.

Be consistent – now that you have decided to maintain a pre-pregnancy diet, you need to be consistent. Do not try to implement another meal plan or go back to your old eating habits, which will affect your chances of conceiving.

Regardless of the changes you have decided to make to your pre-pregnancy diet, do not forget to be kind to yourself. Remember, it’s normal to make mistakes, so don’t be discouraged when this happens.