Your child is born. You cradle your newborn in your arms. You are now a Mum.
But what if I said being a Mum starts well before this. Before your child is born. Before you even become pregnant. In fact what if I said this time before birth is potentially even more important to the long term health and development of your child. That being the best Mum starts well before birth.
Let me explain.
From the moment you start trying to conceive, you already have a significant influence over your child’s health. This is because our DNA is not as set in stone as you may think. Both the egg and sperm follow a 90 day cycle as they develop from immature follicle to mature gamete ready for fertilization. It is during this window that you have the opportunity to improve the DNA you pass on to your child. It is during this window you have the opportunity to pass on the best DNA possible to your future child.
If you are struggling to conceive, it is also during this critical 90 day window that most of chromosomal changes occur, which determine whether your egg is viable or not. Whether it in fact has the potential to become your future child. Even in healthy women, up to a quarter of the eggs you release at ovulation aren’t viable, they aren’t capable of creating a baby. If you are over 40 these statistics increase to 40% with some studies showing it’s as high as 70 or 80%.
I love the saying “when you were just a twinkle in your Fathers eye”. It is at this moment that you truly start being a parent. It is at this moment that you are already carrying all the genetic material that has the potential to become your future child. The nourishing, the nurturing, the care and protection starts now.
Our genes are sensitive to the environment to which they are exposed. This means that genes can change the way they are expressed depending on the environmental conditions in which they develop. These changes are known as epigenetic changes. Factors such as stress, alcohol and smoking, availability of macro and micronutrients and your antioxidant status significantly impact this precious environment, permanently altering the expression of the genetic material that you pass on to your child.
We have long known that these changes occur in utero. For this reason, pregnancy health, especially in the early growth stages has long been impressed upon us. However research now shows that these changes begin occurring well before you even fall pregnant. Healthy diet and lifestyle factors combined with the availability of important nutrients during these 90 days, encourages positive epigenetic changes. These changes not only improve your chances of conceiving and carrying a healthy baby, they have a lasting impact on health outcomes and disease predisposition of your future child.