The Ultimate Guide to Fertility and Pregnancy Nutrition-image

The Ultimate Guide to Fertility and Pregnancy Nutrition

Having a healthy diet and active lifestyle is essential for good health at all times, but when you’re trying to conceive or pregnant—it’s even more vital. Here, we’ve laid out everything you need to consider for your nutritional health if you’re starting your conception journey.  Quick facts: Nutrition and fertility During all stages of the conception journey—right from trying to conceive, through to pregnancy and postpartum—nutrition needs to be front and centre for both your health and your baby-to-be.  Questions we frequently hear include ‘which foods increase fertility?’, ‘what are the best foods for pregnancy?’, and ‘what nutrients are needed for pregnancy?’. In this article, we’ll tell all and take a deep dive into everything pregnancy and fertility nutrition. Follow these tips for what to and what not to eat for optimal health during your conception journey. Key nutrients to eat when you’re trying to conceive When trying to conceive, you’ll need a high-nutritional diet. This is because nutrition directly impacts our fertility and can shape the health of your baby during those vital first 9 months of its life.  Whilst there are no specific guidelines for a recommended ‘fertility diet’, the Mediterranean diet offers a great template for the kinds of foods you should be consuming.  This diet is rich in fish, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans and unsaturated fats such as olive oil. It includes smaller amounts of dairy, eggs and lean meat and limits processed and red meats and ultra-processed foods.  Due to the abundance of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in the Mediterranean diet, it is rich in antioxidants which have been shown to protect sperm and eggs from DNA damage and oxidative stress.  Diets opposing this way of eating, such as those poor in fruit, veg and dairy, but high in saturated fat, have been associated with an increased risk of pregnancy complications.  Here are some key nutrients and minerals found in the Mediterranian diet that are especially important for pregnancy. Vitamin D How much Vitamin D do I need when trying to conceive? Folic acid and folate If you are currently trying to become pregnant, it is advised to take at least 400 mcg of folic acid supplement every day. You should supplement for 12 weeks before conception and at least three months after conceiving.  It is also a good idea to include food sources of folate in the diet such as dark green leafy veg, avocado, citrus fruit, peas and lentils. Folate (Vitamin B-9) is very important in red blood cell formation and for healthy cell growth. Studies have shown that taking folic acid can greatly reduce neural tube defects in the baby (defects in the brain and the spine). Neural tube defects affect one in 1,000 pregnancies, with 190 babies born with an NTD every year in the UK. Omega-3 fatty acids Omega- 3 Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are antioxidants that are found in oily fish such as salmon, herring, anchovies, sardines or mackerel. Aim for two portions per week of fish (140g each), one of which should be oily.  Plant-based sources include flax, hemp, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, rapeseed oils, linseed vegetable oils and soya products. Plant-based sources aren’t as rich, so you may want to consider supplementing with 450mg EPA/DHA per daily adult dose of Omega-3 every day if you’re vegetarian or vegan. Avoid taking Omega-3 supplements that contain fish liver, such as cod liver oil. Some benefits of taking Omega-3 fatty acids when trying to conceive are:  Fat plays a crucial role in the production of hormones and is needed to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. So in addition to omega-3 PUFAs, you should also be focusing on including healthy fats from monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, olives, nuts, avocados and seeds. Monounsaturated fats are associated with improved pregnancy and live birth rates.  Fibre In a study in the US, higher fibre intake was associated with an increased chance of conception. Those who had a higher fibre intake had a 13% higher chance of conceiving, compared with those who had a lower fibre intake. How much fibre should I be eating when trying to conceive? In the UK, it is recommended that we all aim for 30g of fibre per day. The carbs-to-fibre ratio is also extremely important. More carbs than fibre can lead to reduced fertility, whilst more fibre-to-carbs is more beneficial for fertility. Some foods that are high in fibre: Protein Adequate protein intake whilst trying to conceive can positively affect egg and sperm development. To increase your chances of getting pregnant, make sure you and your partner are getting enough daily protein.  The average adult needs around 0.75 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. However, active individuals, especially those doing weightlifting or resistance training, will need to up their intakes.  What foods are high in protein?  Animal meats are high in protein but according to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health, it found that infertility was 39% more likely in women who ate high intake of animal proteins.  Women who ate plant-based proteins were much less likely to be diagnosed with infertility, linked to a reduced risk of ovulatory infertility. High-protein foods that can help aid fertility include fish, eggs, lentils, beans, tofu, quinoa, chickpeas, yoghurt, seeds and nuts. What’s the best type of protein when trying to get pregnant? The best type of protein when trying to get pregnant is plant-based protein. Including more minimally processed, plant-based sources of protein in the diet and fewer animal sources of protein could improve ovulatory infertility. This doesn’t mean you have to become fully vegan. You can simply limit your consumption of animal proteins and make a conscious effort to consume more plant-based proteins (better for you and the environment). Some plant proteins include chickpeas, lentils, beans, tofu, tempeh, nuts, seeds and quinoa. Iron and planning for pregnancy Iron is essential for the reproductive system and too little iron can cause anaemia. Women need 14.8mg of iron […]

How to support LGBTQ+ employees-image

How to support LGBTQ+ employees

Deciding to start a family is never an easy process, but for some employees who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community, their journey to parenthood might need some more support.  Being a 21st-century employer means establishing an inclusive, progressive and supportive work environment to attract and retain employees. A 2017 study by Mercer found that 33% of UK respondents do not offer equal benefits to LGBTQ+  employees because they do not know how to implement such a benefit!  Here are some ways to provide support to your LGBTQ+ employees in their fertility journeys Partner with experts like Hertility to raise awareness about the advances in fertility treatments such as IVF (in vitro fertilisation), IUI (intrauterine insemination), surrogacy, etc., that made it possible for LGBTQ+ couples to have biologically related children. Refer your employee to resources like Hertility that may help them understand the basics of all things reproductive health will make them more confident in their reproductive journeys. Gender-affirming treatments can impact fertility, and therefore, many require fertility preservation, such as banking eggs, sperm or embryos before medical transition. With the number of NHS-funded cycles declining rapidly, LGBTQ+ couples have to fulfil extensive criteria before being eligible for a funded cycle, because of which,  many are opting for private treatment, where the average cost per cycle can be about £5,000, varying significantly depending on the treatment options chosen and the clinic (HFEA). Listen to feedback from employees,  ask them what they would want to feel more supported in their choices and try to develop policies around them. Establishing fertility benefits policies – covering proactive fertility testing, fertility treatment or egg freezing costs or providing low-interest loans – can help align your interests with your employees, supporting their individual journeys to parenthood, facilitating equality, diversity and inclusion. If you have existing family planning and health benefit policies, revisit the language and clauses to ensure LGBTQ+ employees are eligible for the equal benefits to support them as they embark on their parenthood journey, whether that be through fertility treatment, surrogacy, adoption, or parental leave. Hertility can help train your staff on all things related to policies.  About Hertility Health Hertility Health is shaping the future of Reproductive Health by giving women the ability to understand and manage their fertility and hormone health from menstruation to menopause. 1 in 3 women suffer with a reproductive health issue, yet conversations around fertility, menopause and menstrual symptoms are still stigmatised in the workplace. As employees suffer in silence – up to £4k is lost per year per employee due to reduced productivity, absenteeism and presenteeism. To learn more about our Reproductive Health Education and Benefits for Employers, reach out to or visit our website. Trusted resources: