Preconception Testing Recommendations
Before planning for pregnancy, it’s important to undergo certain tests to ensure your health and identify any potential risks. Here are the recommended screenings:
- Complete Blood Count: Checks hemoglobin, platelet levels, and white blood cell differential.
- Comprehensive Metabolic Panel: Assesses kidney and liver function, blood sugar, and electrolyte levels.
- Vitamin D Level: Determines your vitamin D status.
- Thyroid Stimulating Hormone: Evaluates thyroid function.
- Sexually Transmitted Infection Screening: Tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, and hepatitis B and C.
- Rubella Antibody Test: Checks for immunity against rubella (German measles).
- Infection Screening: Tests for toxoplasmosis, cytomegalovirus, parvovirus B19, and H. pylori (if not recently tested).
Preconception Supplement Recommendations
Folic acid* (learn more about the different types): 400 to 800 micrograms per day. This helps prevent neural tube defects in the developing embryo by supporting cell division and growth. Folic acid requirements increase during pregnancy formation.
Vitamin D: 2000 to 3000 IU per day. Optimizing Vitamin D levels before conception supports embryo implantation and placenta development. It also boosts immune function during pregnancy.
Omega-3 DHA: 200 to 300 milligrams per day. DHA is important for brain and eye development in the embryo. Taking DHA before conception gives the future fetus a head start.
Vitamin C: 500 to 1000 milligrams per day. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps protect against the oxidative stress of embryo formation and the early stages of pregnancy. It also supports the uterus lining.
Probiotics: 20 to 50 billion CFU per day. A healthy gut microbiome promotes a healthy reproductive tract and supports the embryo environment during the earliest stages. Probiotics can balance hormones involved in ovulation and fertility.
Melatonin: 3 to 5 milligrams at night. Melatonin helps regulate the reproductive cycle and support oocyte quality. Some studies have found it may improve rates of embryo implantation and reduce early miscarriage risk.
Pregnancy Supplementation Recommendations
To optimize your health and prepare for pregnancy, certain supplements can be beneficial. Here are the recommended supplements:
As you plan for pregnancy, I recommend looking into the following supplements:
- Vitamin D: 2000-4000 IU per day. Up to 70% of women are deficient in Vitamin D, which is important for healthy fetal and infant development. Monitor levels before and during.
- DHA: 200-300mg of DHA from algal oil or fish oil.. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that helps support the development of the baby’s brain, eyes, and nervous system.
- Prenatal Vitamin: Take a prenatal vitamin containing 400mcg of L-methylfolate, folic acid, and other B vitamins. For the folic acid its suggested to help prevent neural tube defects in the developing fetus and therefore you should start taking the prenatal vitamin at least 1-3 months before conception and continue through pregnancy.
- Probiotics: Support gut and vaginal health by taking 25-50 billion CFU of acid-resistant probiotic strains.
- Zinc: Take 15-30mg of zinc daily to maximize supplement absorption and support fetal development.
For the Partner
As your partner plans for pregnancy, its recommended to look into the following supplements:
- A multivitamin that contains Vitamin C, Vitamin E, zinc, and selenium. These help support sperm and semen quality to optimize fertility.
- An omega-3 supplement with both EPA and DHA fatty acids, around 1000 mg total per day. This can help improve sperm count, motility, and morphology.
- CoQ10 at 200 mg per day. CoQ10 helps generate energy within sperm cells and has been shown to improve sperm quality and fertility.
Beyond supplements, a preconception health checkup for both of you comes recommended, focusing on checking things like cholesterol levels, blood sugar, and infectious disease screening. A healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, exercise, and avoidance of smoking and excess alcohol will also optimize your chances of conception and a healthy pregnancy.
Pregnancy Supplement Precautions
When it comes to taking supplements during pregnancy, it’s important to exercise caution and follow these guidelines:
- Avoid high-dose or megadose supplements unless specifically recommended by your healthcare provider.
- Be mindful of potential interactions between supplements and medications you may be taking.
- Follow the recommended dosage instructions provided on the supplement packaging.
- Monitor your overall nutrient intake from both supplements and food sources to avoid excessive levels.
- Remember that supplements are intended to complement a healthy diet, not replace it.
- Discussing all supplements with your OB/GYN or primary care physician. They can monitor for potential interactions and adverse effects.
- Choosing high quality supplements from reputable brands that conduct third-party testing. Avoid herbal extracts of unknown origin.
- Not exceeding recommended dosage levels. Higher doses do not necessarily provide more benefits and can potentially cause side effects.
- Stopping any supplements immediately if adverse effects occur and consulting a physician.
By following the recommendations outlined in this guide, including preconception screenings, supplementation, and adopting a healthy lifestyle, you are taking proactive steps to optimize your health and increase your chances of a successful and healthy pregnancy.
Remember, each individual is unique, so it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice based on your specific needs and medical history.
If you have any further questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out. Wishing you the best on your preconception journey and future pregnancy!
The goal of preconception supplementation is to ensure adequate intake of key nutrients that support fetal development and promote a healthy pregnancy. However, a balanced diet should also provide many of these essential nutrients. Supplements are not recommended for every woman. Consultation with a healthcare provider is essential to determine what – if any – supplements may be beneficial based on your current nutrition, health status and risk factors.