Did you change your diet or lifestyle before conceiving?
According to a new study, the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey, large numbers of women are living unhealthy lifestyles that leave them unprepared for pregnancy.
Large numbers of young women smoke, drink too much alcohol, are overweight or obese, and consume inadequate amounts of fruits and vegetables. Additionally, they are also lacking sufficient levels of vitamins and minerals.
In particular, 96% of women of reproductive age were found to have lower iron and folate dietary intakes than recommended for pregnancy.
Dads aren't off the hook either. Poor quality sperm of obese prospective fathers may "increase the chances of children suffering chronic disease later in life", according to the study.
This may sound stupid, but when I had my first child in my late twenties, I don't think preconception health was on my mind. Call it the innocence of youth or the naive expectation that falling pregnant would just happen, but I certainly don't remember spending much time thinking about changing my diet or lifestyle in readiness for trying to get pregnant.
That changed, with my following two pregnancies – I definitely paid more attention to my preconception lifestyle when it came to having children further into my thirties. And, to be fair, I wasn't a smoker or a heavy drinker and already had a reasonably healthy diet and lifestyle.
But while I understand the impact that things like smoking, high alcohol and caffeine intake, poor diet and obesity can have on the development of an unborn baby, even before conception, I just don't think it's something many young couples start thinking about before trying to conceive.
We'd like to hear your views on this story? Did you or your partner prepare nutritionally for pregnancy? Or make steps to improve your preconception health?
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