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The Pre-trimester of Pregnancy


I bet you are thinking: I’ve never heard of a pre-trimester… Well, it exists, and

don’t worry, you are not alone, it often goes unnoticed and forgotten!


The pre-trimester is what I am calling the roughly one hundred days it takes for

an egg to mature, and to generate sperm. This means up to four months that

can influence ease of conception, birth outcomes, and the health of a baby for

years to come. As a naturopathic physician, I encourage all my patients to

complete a preconception health program before trying to get pregnant.


The statistics are concerning. Up to one in four couples in North America may be

struggling to conceive. In naturopathic practice I see fertility concerns arising in

part from environmental and dietary toxicity, nutritional deficiency, increasing age

of would-be parents, stress, infection, chronic unaddressed health concerns, and

more. There is a lot I offer these patients, however we have an opportunity to be

proactive here. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of

cure. Why not invest in health months before a potential problem arises.

Preconception planning may not eliminate fertility challenges, but we know it has

a powerful effect.


The current increase in fertility difficulties leads to an increasing reliance on

technology for solutions. I am absolutely not opposed to these technologies;

thank goodness they are there. However, it is intuitive to me to improve our

health prior to attempting conception. Do we not till the soil before planting the

seed? Assisted reproductive techniques may be necessary but they fail to

address underlying health issues. That is where naturopathic medicine comes

along. This is the essence of our medicine. Of course, naturopathy acts as a

fabulous adjunct to assisted fertility treatments. That being said, I believe that

where naturopathic medicine truly shines is in prevention, and in this case, in

preconception health care (or PCHC). These same treatments that help

conception will also reduce risks of miscarriage, fetal defects, and health

challenges in future children.


You might be asking--What exactly is preconception health care?

It is a 4 month program designed to optimize the health of both biological parents

wanting to conceive healthy thriving babies. As mentioned above, it is also for

those with known fertility concerns. It includes the least invasive treatments for

healthy conception and has been researched to achieve significant

improvements in conception rates and the overall health of successive

generations. A study conducted in the UK by FORESIGHT showed a more that 2

times conception rate for in vitro fertilization preceded by preconception health

care.


This program is tailored specifically to every patient’s unique needs. It involves

detoxification, nutrition, stress management techniques, lifestyle coaching,

running / reviewing screening lab testing (i.e. to assess infection, thyroid function, iron stores, etc.), the prescription of naturopathic remedies including herbs, vitamins, and minerals, traditional Chinese medicine including acupuncture, and fertility awareness through tracking menstrual cycles. PCHC detects, and addresses, any chronic health concerns in advance of trying to conceive. It identifies conditions and risk factors that contribute to adverse maternal and infant outcomes. At times, health information is gleaned that requires time to

optimize.


First trimester is so vital to the initial growth and cell, organ, and overall system

development of a child that engaging in a PCHC program can ensure that all the

building blocks are present right away for when conception happens. As well, it

is designed to ensure the absence of factors known to be detrimental to fertility

and development. This approach is like taking the bull by the horns instead of

waiting until there are p