While a lot of attention is given to prenatal care, many women do not realize that proper healthcare for yourself and your baby begins before conception. Preconception care is designed for women who are looking to optimize their health prior to conceiving which will provide a healthier pregnancy for both mom and baby. Though many couples with a history of infertility choose to have preconception care, it is actually for couples both with and without a history of infertility. Preconception care can be likened to nourishing the soil before planting the seed. While a seed may be able to grow in variety of conditions, if you take the time to nourish the soil before planting you will give the soil the best chance of fostering life and the seed the ideal conditions to flourish. In naturopathy, there is always a focus on holistic health to optimize well-being. This is done by looking at the human body as an integrated system. With preconception care, not only will you maximize your own health but you may even improve your fertility.
Preconception care is a comprehensive approach with a variety of treatments. This may include fertility and ovulation tracking, proper prenatal vitamins and nutritional supplements, hormone balance, mind-body readiness, weight loss, detoxification, a focus on proper diet and exercise, and research about prenatal care and birthing options. While many are aware of prenatal and postnatal care, many women of child-bearing age are not aware of preconception care, which a study from BioMed Central makes note of, “Despite strong evidence of the benefits of preconception interventions to improve pregnancy outcomes, the delivery and uptake of preconception care in general and periconceptional folate supplementation in particular remains low. The aim of this study was to determine women’s views of the barriers and enablers to the uptake of preconception care and periconceptional folate supplementation… Most women were unaware of the need to attend for preconception care and were surprised at the breadth of issues involved. Women also felt general practitioners (GPs) should be more proactive in promoting preconception care availability…Barriers to periconceptional folate supplementation included confusion about reasons for use, dose, duration, timing and efficacy of folate use.” It is for this exactly reason that Dr. Tellier wants to make clear to her patients the availability and importance of preconception care. When a woman and her partner are preparing to conceive, preconception care will be uniquely adapted based on the patient’s individual health and lifestyle. Preconception care can begin anywhere from a few weeks before conception to, ideally, 6 – 12 months prior to conception. Preconception care can then continue seamlessly into prenatal and postnatal care, promoting holistic health through every stage.