Healthy you, healthy baby – Expert advice for men and women

So when we think about the health of a baby and a health of pregnancy It’s really critical to understand that what happens right at the beginning of pregnancy is the most important time So this means that the health of both the parents the mum, but the dad too around the time of conception Really sets the course for the whole Pregnancy and it seems incredible because we often think of late gestation being the most important time But what’s emerging is that the events around conception and even before conception when the sperm and the eggs are being made in the dad and the mum before conception to make the baby this is the time that the environment and the exposures and the health of both parents can really Make such a big difference to the health of that pregnancy and the health of the baby after birth. So Epigenetics is a term that people are hearing about more and more and it turns out epigenetics is kind of the explanation for why this time of conception is so important so The genes we get from our mom and our dad that come through the sperm and the eggs into the embryo Well, they can’t really be altered, you know, they’re kind of the pattern of the DNA which is set in stone and that’s the genetic code, but there’s an extra layer of Information that comes with the DNA structure and it’s a small change in the physical structure of the DNA That’s caused by this epigenetics that can modify the way the genes can be turned on and off in the embryo and then the baby So the structure of the DNA this epigenetics that we’re talking about it can be responsive to things in the environment in such ways to have an impact on the health of the baby and There are several things in the environment that can change epigenetics One of the main ones is whether or not you’ve got enough folic acid in your diet so lots of these you know fruit and vegetables to make sure you’ve got good vitamin and mineral exposure and Especially the folic acid is really critical for getting the right epigenetics in the embryo But then there can be some exposures that aren’t so good for epigenetics and that’s where these chemicals and especially the endocrine disrupting chemicals come into it. Some of the top things that people can do is really take care of their diet and their nutrition So particularly making sure that you’re having lots of protein and leafy green vegetables and fruit Not too much sugar not too much fat, but really that healthy diet that you know mum would have taught you about can really change your health so nutrition number one, but also exercise and making sure you’re a healthy weight I would put as really the top next one and Even losing a little bit of weight can actually make a lot of difference if you’re a little bit prone to being just a bit heavier, so really getting to be a healthy weight So important and and you know the exercise that goes with that and the other thing that I think is really important is for both women and men to think about what environmental chemicals, they might be exposed to that might be having a dangerous effect on their health. So increasingly, we’re finding out that well, of course, there’s the smoking and drinking which is really important and needs to be taken care of So no smoking at all, and that means mums and dads Drinking should really be cut down making sure that you know, maybe just once or twice a week one glass and then the other thing at these household and workplace chemicals and increasingly we’re finding yeah that people’s exposures to especially what we call these endocrine disrupting chemicals needs to be managed and avoided. So when we think about the time frame for Preparing for pregnancy. I think it’s important to prepare for you know a year if you can six months to a year before you conceive But the most important time is the last three months before conception so this is the time that the sperm especially is being made in the male and the information the epigenetics is being laid down through that three-month period and for the woman her eggs are Getting ready to be ovulated, especially in the month and a month or two prior to her conception So those last two or three months before conception, that’s the time that people have to be really careful about their health. I think it’s really important for people to know that as much as we plan and try and be as healthy as we can, of course not everything is always going to go perfectly and you know people mustn’t beat themselves up if they’ve had a drink too many or if something isn’t quite alright, it doesn’t mean that things aren’t going to necessarily go well But it does mean that if you’ve really made an effort to make a difference and to be as healthy as you can, you’ve given your baby the best chance for the best start to life So I think you know encouraging awareness around what people can do to really make positive changes to really maximise their chances of healthy fertility healthy conception and a really strong and robust pregnancy that will give their child the best start to life So if people want to find out more about how to prepare for healthy pregnancy and plan for a healthy, baby That should take a look at the website. Your Fertility website has a lot of really wonderful information on it

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