My wife has been reading book after book after baby book about the importance of preconception planning. Every time I turn around, I see books about home birth, books about healthy eating, and books about a variety of other topics. While those books are great for her, I realized there was no immediately available preconception planning material for me as the daddy-to-be. Regardless of materials, I was determined to find out what I should be doing to prepare for the conception of our little bundle of joy. Specifically, I was interested in the type of diet I should pursue.
I quickly learned that one of the most important ingredients in preconception planning, which can help aid in the process of having a healthy baby and a quicker conception, is oysters. Oysters act not only as an aphrodisiac (so myth says) but also contain high levels of zinc, an important ingredient in sperm production. Since I can’t stomach the slippery little guys, I chose to go with a multivitamin, which can also get the job done. I take a one-a-day vitamin seven days a week with dinner. A multivitamin is a simple yet effective solution. You can also find zinc (in smaller portions) when eating poultry, beef, eggs, nuts, and various other foods.
Next I learned that preconception planning also involves a healthy dose of fruits and vegetables, something I can definitely stomach since I love my greens! I learned from our family doctor that this is an important consideration since their antioxidant properties help protect sperm from cellular damage, allowing them to stay stronger and swim faster, leading to a higher chance of conception and possibly a healthier baby. The best option for this purpose is prunes because the fruit is very high in antioxidants. But, if you can’t stand prunes, you can also eat blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, and oranges. I’m not a huge prune fan, but there are some sacrifices (other than oysters) I knew I would have to make for the health of our baby and the possibility of conceiving during the time schedule we hoped for.
I also learned that, while oysters could get us both “in the mood,” other certain seafood needed to be avoided, so all the really high-level mercury fish that resided in our home was given away. Basically, we had to part with some tuna steak, but I was at no danger of eating shark, king mackerel or swordfish anytime soon, so it wasn’t a big loss. I have, however, been taking an omega-3 oil supplement, which is flavored like strawberry juice, to ensure I stay healthy when cutting out tuna, which I like to eat on occasion. This process taught me that preconception planning involves more than just choosing the right foods to eat. Preconception planning also involves avoiding foods that can cause problems during the preconception period.
Finally, I finished off the last of the beer in my special “beer” section of the fridge and vowed off coffee until Heather (my wife) became pregnant. Research has shown that alcohol, cigarettes, and coffee can all decrease sperm count. Plus, cigarettes make you smell like an ashtray (although I no longer smoke). Plus, relying too heavily on foreign substances to get you through the day isn’t healthy, so giving up caffeine (and alcohol) one was actually a big win for me!
While all those steps were fairly easy to follow, I still had to take care of the biggest part of my preconception planning: making sure I followed the outlined steps seven days a week. My wife often has to remind me to take my vitamin, and I occasionally miss a fruit or vegetable serving, but, overall, I’ve done pretty well with my new regime.
A bit of extra advice: My wife plans everything a year in advance, so my healthy routine started months ahead of our conception attempts. Remember that changes to your body won’t occur overnight. As part of any good preconception plan, you should be thinking months in advance and making the lifestyle changes necessary to help you possibly conceive as quickly as you would like and to ensure your baby is born healthy and happy.
I always knew being a parent would take hard work and dedication, but I’ve quickly learned that getting to that point can take just as much work.
Originally written on July 15, 2010
Eating Oysters for Preconception Planning: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Belon_oysters_at_Belon_river,_France_.jpg