“Eat Yourself Pregnant” might sound like a step-by-step guide to creating a food baby, but it's actually a new book by the so-called “fairy godmother” of fertility, Zita West. Over the past 30 years, the London-based midwife has helped thousands of women, including the likes of Princess Diana, Cate Blanchett,
Kate Winslet and Stella McCartney through conception, pregnancy and birth. Now, her new "baby bible" offers 80 nutritious recipes to get your body ready for the bump. Here, she shares some of her secrets and tips.
"You both are what you eat"
The maturing egg, sperm, endometrium (womb lining) and fetus depend upon nutrients for development. If the diet contains too many environmental endocrine-disrupting chemicals liketrans-fats, refined sugars, or excess additives-or is depleted of nutrients, then research shows an individual’s fertilitycanbesignificantlyaffected.
Most women have problems balancing their blood sugars and during the reproductive years are ruled bytheirmoods,foods and hormones. Imbalanced blood sugars play havocwith fertility and hormones, so slow releasingcarbohydrates can help.
Other habits such as eating on the runleavea lotofwomen with digestive problemsbecause they arenot absorbing nutrientsproperly. It is a feature ofcouples’hectic modernlifestyles in which there are often other sources of stress, too. Stressrobsthe body of essential nutrients needed for hormone production.
Protein,fats andcarbohydratesare needed for the healthy reproductionof sperm, eggs and the embryo.Fruit and vegetables are necessaryto protect against free radical damagetowhich eggs and sperm are sensitive. Therearetoomany food fads todaythat exclude key nutritional building blocks,including low fat foods as wellasfoods known to have detrimental effects on fertility, such asprocessedfoods.
Being underweight or overweight both cause issues. Giving up completely on carbohydrates to lose weight while also trying to get pregnant is not the way to go. Youneed carbs for energy and many women are overwhelmed by how they crave carbs in early pregnancy.
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Being overweight is now known to be a risk factor for infertility, IVF failure, miscarriage and problems in pregnancy. Many IVF clinics will not allow a client to undertake an IVF cycle unless they have a BMI below 30 as the risk of failure is so high. Many people find it difficult to access the right dietary information and in their haste will often put themselves on unhealthy weight loss regimes.
Being underweight can affect your health and fertility just as much as being overweight. Studies have shown that even small changes in body weight (loss of 5-10 percent of ideal body weight) may be associated with alterations in themenstrual cycle and infertilityas well as lack of bone density, and the quality of oestrogen depends on how much body fat you have.