Eat Yourself Pregnant



Zita West, a midwife and fertility expert, believes a good diet ‘forms the bedrock of getting a woman’s body baby-ready and a man making healthy sperm’. In her new book, Eat Yourself Pregnant: Essential Recipes for Boosting Your Fertility Naturally, she explains which foods can help with conception. Fascinated by the role nutrition takes in every couple’s ability to have a baby she came to the conclusion that micronutrients play a big role in getting pregnant – both naturally and through assisted conception – with deficiencies having significant effects on fertility for both men and women. When meeting a couple she investigates their digestion and gut health, toxicity, immunity, and how much their states of mind are affecting their bodies. But don’t worry this book does not eliminate bread, chocolate, cheese and dairy. It is not a faddy diet. The focus is on nourishing the body in a positive, sustainable way.

She explains that mood, weight and hormones can change rapidly according to where a woman is in her cycle. It is possible to support your body’s monthly shifts through your diet. Here are her rules for your cycle.

Phase 1

On the first day of your period when you may feel lethargic enjoy warm, nourishing foods and a diet rich in iron and vitamin C, as these nutrients help to replenish the iron that you lose with your period. Good sources of iron include lean red meat, pumpkin seeds, beans and pulses, dried apricots and raisins, shellfish and dark green leafy vegetables. For B-vitamins include whole grains, lamb, beef, poultry, shellfish, eggs, and dairy products, leafy green vegetables, yeast extract and nutritional yeast flakes. Most fruits and vegetables will provide good levels of vitamin C particularly citrus fruits, berries, kiwi fruit, leafy green vegetables and red pepper.

Phase 2

During phase two of your cycle oestrogen is on the rise as your body prepares for ovulation. This is usually a time when you’ll burst with energy. Foods rich in capsaicin, isoflavones and L-arginine (such as spicy foods, tofu and watermelon) encourage the body to make nitric oxide (NO). This compound helps to dilate your blood vessels, easing blood flow through your whole system, which is good news for your reproductive organs. During this phase, stock up on your B-vitamins, which are important for hormonal balance. B-vitamins also help with healthy cell division. Lecithin will help to keep your cell membranes healthy. Keep eating the vitamin-C-rich foods as this vitamin is thought to increase the amount of water in your cervical mucus, making it more plentiful. For healthy implantation of an egg, the immune system needs to be strong. For this reason, stock up on vitamin D. Exposing your skin to sunlight is the best way to get your body to manufacture this vitamin, but it is also present in salmon and sardines, and in shiitake mushrooms.

Phase 3

Next is the luteal phase of your cycle. The corpus luteum, that produces progesterone to thicken the womb lining, close the cervix and maintain a pregnancy, contains a high level of betacarotene. During this phase, try to include plenty of betacarotene-rich foods, including butternut squash, carrots, collards, kale, spinach, potato and mustard greens.

Phase 4

Lastly, in stage four, if no fertilisation has occurred, your hormone levels start to fall. During this phase you may begin to feel more lethargic again and crave sweet foods. Allow yourself the odd treat, but try to keep your blood sugar stable.

Finally do not forget that substituting foods containing fat with low-fat products, to avoid weight gain is a bad idea as these products often contain trans fats, sugar and sweeteners. Ovulation rates were 38 per cent better among women who used whole milk, a study found.

Wow some pretty amazing advice there. Happy fertile eating!



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It’s all a bit mad. The wallpaper is up. The baby stuff has arrived. The antenatal class has been done. Now we wait, hope and pray we are blessed with a baby.

On Sunday we attended an antenatal class at the hospital where we received lots of useful information to help us prepare for the labour and the first few days of the baby’s life. My husband went a little white when shown some of the images of placentas. Most notably, the midwife said that since this is not my first labour it should be quicker. Second and subsequent labours tend to be much quicker because the cervix tends to dilate more quickly than it did the first time. She also believes that it is typical that first babies arrive late, but that since this is my second it is more likely to be on time or early. Hopefully this little one will come soon! Not this weekend though, as my husband is on a stag weekend (eek!). Furthermore the fact that this labour is only one year since the previous one should mean that my body remembers how to prepare for labour. Silver lining I guess.

Unlike most I am actually excited about the labour. When it finally happens I am sure I will be a little anxious but I don’t feel scared. It cannot be worse than last time. Maybe I used up all my anxiety during pregnancy so none is left for labour! I don’t want to sound ungrateful to anyone desperate to be pregnant but given what has happened I am ready for pregnancy to end and motherhood to begin. Until then I won’t feel like we are out of the danger zone.

Support Our Midwives


It’s been an eventful week. Last Thursday the anticipation of Monday’s scan became unbearable and I decided to visit the hospital. I just wanted to check the heartbeat and ensure all was well. The midwife was wonderful and so understanding of my lunacy. She told me plenty of women who have lost babies have similar moments and that I am welcome to visit whenever I need to. She said she will happily do Doppler checks whenever I need. Most importantly she understood why I am still expecting something to go wrong.
All the midwives I have encountered have been, without exception, outstanding. Kind and compassionate women who have really given the best care I could imagine. From the women on the labour ward during the horrendous ordeal of losing our baby, to the ladies who take bloods and accompany us to scans, we have been in the best hands.
On Monday health professionals, including midwives went on strike over the governments refusal to give staff a 1% pay rise. I support them and value their hard work, commitment and compassion. Do you?

A Mini Sigh Of Relief


So the scan on Monday was, as predicted, an emotional affair! I was anxious beforehand but I was not expecting the surge of tears that came as I lay down on the bed for the scan. I suppose it was a painful reminder of the last awful scan which took place in that same Fetal Medicine Unit. When I apologised to the doctor for being a crazy person he said very kindly, and perhaps dishonestly, that he’d seen worse.

Once I had overcome the initial shock and sobbing I just waited and watched intently for the doctors reaction. Having decided not to look at the monitor, all I could do was grip my husbands hand and hope things looked normal. My husband, braver than I, did look. I glanced over occasionally.

We knew that at 12 weeks the baby would be too small for a conclusive assessment of the babies health and that that was not likely until 16 weeks. However our excellent doctor is a specialist in the early detection of birth defects and he told us that based on the early examinations he feels confident that things seem well. The doctor stressed that he needs to scan me again next week and until he can look at things more closely he won’t know with enough certainty.

Next week we should know more. It’s a good first step. And we feel very confident in the care of an Israeli-educated specialist (probably the world’s finest) and a kind and compassionate midwife. For now we can take a mini sigh of relief.

Here We Go Again


Yesterday we had our first midwife appointment. It was a fairly routine registration which did not involve a scan, but it was bizarre to be back at the hospital which we left with heavy hearts almost 6 months ago. Somehow it made the whole thing real.

The midwife was understandably upbeat and congratulatory. My response probably seemed solemn and dismissive. When she heard about how the last pregnancy ended she told me to ‘be positive’ which was not particularly helpful. I understand it is her job to be reassuring, and she was entirely well-meaning, but I will not be able to manage positivity until we are told all is well with the baby. Sadly we have a while to wait for that.

However, on hearing our history she did refer us to Fetal Medicine which will enable us to have extra monitoring and care. The Fetal Medicine Unit is where the terrible diagnosis took place last time. However the consultant assured us that in the future he would take good care of us. 2 hours later a kind and sypathetic midwife called to schedule the 12 week scan and seemed to know exactly how I was feeling. Instead of expecting me to be overjoyed and excited to she asked how scared I was and how I was feeling. It made me feel that we were in safe hands and that she knew exactly how women in high risk pregnancies feel. So the fear remains, but at least we are going to be well taken care of.

Doppler – Do or Don’t?


If you, like me, are paranoid and fearful about your baby’s health you may have entertained the idea of buying a doppler, the machine that detects the baby’s heartbeat. I thought that perhaps it would put my mind at ease if I could continuously check the baby was still alive. Hand-held Dopplers are thought to be perfectly safe, however, most doctors and midwives advise against using them at home. Dopplers are meant for professionals, who are trained in finding a baby’s heartbeat. Not being able to find your baby’s heartbeat could cause you a lot of worry. And you can’t always be sure that it’s your baby’s heartbeat that you are hearing. It’s very easy to pick up the sound of blood flowing through the placenta, or your own vessels, and mistake it for a heartbeat. This may cause you to be falsely reassured. On that basis I have decided not to get one. Let me know if you are using one at home and whether it is easing your worries.