Every woman should be thinking about her preconception health whether or not she is planning a pregnancy currently.
Half of all pregnancies are unplanned — and those come with additional risks like preterm birth and low birth weight babies — but even when you’ve decided to intentionally get pregnant without mastering your preconception health, other risks are still very much available to both you and baby.
By taking action on health issues and risks before pregnancy — especially the hidden ones you don’t even know you have yet — you can prevent severe problems that might affect you or your baby later.
The most critical period for baby’s organ development occurs before many women even know they are pregnant.
When sperm meets egg, conception occurs and this creates a “zygote”. The zygote contains all of the genetic information needed to become a baby. That zygote eventually becomes a “blastocyst”. Stick with me here…
The blastocyst has 2 layers of cells:
- The inner layer becomes the embyro — the part that turns into your actual baby!
- The outer layer becomes the membranes — these nourish and protect the embryo.
So, literally at the time of sperm meeting egg, you’re already impacting your baby’s DNA and what nourishes and protects this baby before you even know what hit you!
The crazy thing is that this all happens at what is clinically called “Week 3” of pregnancy, because Week 1 is considered having started on the first day of your last menstrual period. During the end of Week 2, that’s when an egg is released, and that’s when you’re most likely to conceive if you’re trying.
During Week 4, that blastocyst sticks to the uterine wall and starts receiving nourishment from the mom’s blood. Anything you’re consuming or not consuming has an influence on this baby — and you won’t even know that baby exists yet because pregnancy tests still won’t show positives yet.
Week 5 is the start of the “embryonic period” and this is a MAJOR week. It’s when all the baby’s major systems and structures start development. Blood cells, kidney cells, nerve cells. The embryo is growing like crazy — developing external features and starting brain, spinal cord and heart development.
Another huge milestone during this week is the start of baby’s GI tract. The gut influences the body’s lifetime health in unbelievable ways — too much to get into here in this post, but let’s just say: you want to be ON POINT with developing this new gut right from the start.
The earliest you can confirm you’re pregnant is at the same time your baby is most vulnerable for birth defects.
How terrible is that to read. I hate that I even had to type that. What a bittersweet way to start a pregnancy by saying “Yay! I’m pregnant!… Oh my gosh, I hope everything is okay by now?!”
During Week 5, with all of this exponential growth, it’s one of the most vulnerable times for baby to develop birth defects. That’s terrifying, but true. Obviously, any new parent wants to avoid those obstacles at any cost if they can help it.
And the good news is that they can — There are a lot of ways to impact both partners’ preconception health so that you minimize your baby’s risk of these challenges.
You can edit your diet, seek alternative practitioners, do certain exercises, avoid certain chemicals, setup your home and work environments to be fertility-friendly, maximize your relationship and remove emotional blockages, time up optimal baby making sex… The list goes on.
I feel so fortunate to have had the education and health background that I’ve had because it influenced my preconception planning to precision. I got pregnant with exceptionally healthy babies on the first try both times — and that wasn’t by happy accident. It was by smart, thoughtful preparation and a commitment to doing this work knowing that I could protect my baby right from its vulnerable beginnings.
Preconception health sets the tone for mom’s successful transition to motherhood, too.
My motivation had been all about my healthy baby when I was pursuing my first pregnancy. I wasn’t even thinking of myself. But now with a healthy, thriving, 2-year-old daughter running around and our second baby on the way, I can attest to how strong and enjoyable my postpartum experience has been.
I had the home birth I dreamed of, I hit my goal of breastfeeding through age 2 (recommended by the World Health Organization), and I genuinely have loved raising my daughter with my husband in a marriage that is stronger + more supportive than ever.
I’m not one of those moms who needs wine in a coffee mug, or coffee even at all. If I hadn’t set off in the aggressive pursuit of optimal preconception health, I never would’ve had the start that I did either. I came out ahead of the game. And for this next pregnancy, I’m looking forward to being ahead + well-prepared even better than the first time.
If you’re considering starting or adding to your family, now is the time to jump into preconception health full-fledged.
If you’re interested in following what we did exactly, I teach our methods in my course: Your Organic Preconception, but you’ll also find so much free content here that you can start with, like what I take for prenatal vitamins and supplements.
What questions do you have about preconception health? What have you already tried that you think made all the difference for your fertility and early pregnancy health?
Share in the comments below and help other organically-minded moms-to-be!