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
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
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 problems. It actually can save parents a lot of stress.
So if you are planning to conceive and you want to have a positive impact on
your ease of conception, birth outcome and the health of your future child,
consider a ‘pre-trimester’ health kick now.
To find out more book a complementary 15 minute meet and greet with me today. Let’s work together to continue happily conceiving babies and raising healthy individuals for years to
Dr. Stephanie Peltz has been practicing naturopathic medicine since 2008. Her area of expertise is in women's and childhood health including preconception care, fertility concerns, pregnancy, and postpartum care. You can find her at Dupont Naturopathic Family Centre on Tuesdays, Thursdays and every other Saturday. Click here to make an appointment