Preconception health refers to the health of women and men during their reproductive years preparing to have a baby. It aims to identify risks to a woman’s health or pregnancy outcome through a set of prevention and management strategies usually through diet, vitamin supplementation and lifestyle modifications.
As a parent you always want the best for your children and most prospective parents do not realise that their actions in pre-conception years can have a huge impact on the well-being of their children. Recent research from the University of Adelaide has shown that the bad habits from parents can be genetically passed on to their children. The researchers concluded that the sperm and eggs carry more than just genes – they are also coded with genetic memories that can affect the health of an embryo.
Many things we do in the lead up to conceiving is having an impact on the future development of the child – from the age of the parents, to poor diet, obesity, smoking and many other factors, all of which influence environmental signals transmitted into the embryo,” Sarah Robertson, an author of the paper and Director of the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Research Institute,
“People used to think that it didn’t matter, because a child represented a new beginning, with a fresh start. The reality is, we can now say with great certainty that the child doesn’t quite start from scratch – they already carry over a legacy of factors from their parents’ experiences that can shape development in the fetus and after birth. Depending on the situation, we can give our children a burden before they’ve even started life.”
Professor Robertson advocated that, “A few lifestyle changes by potential parents and improvements in the right direction, especially in the months leading up to conception, could have a lasting, positive benefit for the future of their child”.
This concept that environment and diet during the act of conception can impact the future of your child may be a new to many. However this is not new as in many indigenous and spiritual traditions state that preparing mind, body and spirit for pregnancy before conception is vital. Teachings from the Kabbala, Taoist, Vedic, Bhuddist and Theosophical traditions believe that consciousness exist before physical existence and that there is a strong conscious connection of parents to their children and therefore a holistic approach to preconception is necessary for the well-being of our offspring.
A case in point is the Ayurvedic therapy called Garbha Sanskar which literally means ‘education in the womb’. It uses diet planning, yoga, music, behavioural suggestions, and herbs in a holistic manner to enhance every aspect of mother and baby.
There are several MD’s and CAM healthcare practitioners who over the years have understood and advocated these approaches to their clients and they may have been thought off as being peculiar by their fellow professionals. Now science through neuroscience and epigenetics is at the doorway of validating what the ancient philosophies have always known and the aforementioned medical doctors and CAM professionals should be commended on their holistic approach.