How to Influence the Health of Your Baby Before They are Born
You may have heard about how choices you make when pregnant can impact your baby, but did you know you can influence your baby’s health before you even conceive?
Today, we break down what epigenetics are and how to use epigenetics to your advantage to grow a happy and healthy baby.
What is Epigenetics?
Epigenetics is defined by the CDC as “the study of how your behaviors and environment can cause changes that affect the way your genes work.”
It is not possible to change someone’s genes, but it is possible to influence how a gene expresses itself. Some of the factors that influence genetic expression include genetic factors:
- Exposure to toxins
Epigenetics can have a long-lasting effect on gene expression and can even determine whether an individual ends up struggling with diseases. Cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes may be underlying diseases that are triggered through epigenetic expression.
How do Epigenetics Affect My Baby?
Your choices before and during pregnancy can impact your baby in many ways. Here are a few examples:
- Maternal undernutrition during this preconception period has been shown to affect the baby’s growth and development.
- Exposure to air pollution during pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of childhood asthma.
- Maternal obesity can increase the risk of metabolic disorders in the later stages of life.
- Exposure to prenatal stress can result in epigenetic changes in the hippocampus and cortex in adult offspring.
The breadth of research in the field of epigenetics is vast and still unveiling possible sources of chronic diseases. However, just as epigenetics can lead to unhealthy genetic expression and, ultimately, disease in the future, it can also lead to healthy genetic expression and great outcomes for our future offspring.
Ways to Influence the Health of Your Baby Positively
Fortunately, there are steps that we can take during the preconception period to promote healthy epigenetic marks that can have a positive impact on the health of your offspring.
Let’s talk about 2 of our favorite recommendations to help you influence optimal health for your baby before they are even born.
I’m sure you know what you eat matters for your own health, and it impacts your baby’s health too. A diet rich in folate, B12, and choline can promote healthy DNA methylation and reduce the risk of neural tube defects. These nutrients are found in the following sources:
- Dark leafy greens
- Whole gains
- Sunflower seeds
Proper nutrition also goes hand in hand with getting to and maintaining a healthy body weight. Studies have shown that a high BMI before pregnancy and excess maternal weight gain during pregnancy contribute to an increased risk of obesity for your child later in life.
On the flipside, women who are undernourished or have poor gestational weight gain can experience an increased risk of low birth weight, hypertension, higher incidence of coronary heart disease, a more atherogenic lipid profile, obesity, and a weakened immune response.
This is why we focus on addressing nutritional deficiencies inside our programs in the following ways:
- Functional Lab Testing: we use specific tests to help us determine where you may be deficient and design your plan accordingly.
- Nutrition Modifications: if we can address your deficiencies with clean, whole foods, then we will! We love giving our clients hand-picked recipes and kitchen tips to support them in making healthy eating simple.
- Targeted Supplementation: we recommend high-quality, bioavailable supplements to help fill any nutritional gaps that cannot be covered with food alone.
Shifting how you eat can take some time, and it’s important not to commit to too many changes simultaneously. We highly recommend getting individualized support as we offer in our programs because it will definitely make the process easier.
If you’d like to learn more about what it looks like to work with us, click here to watch our free, on-demand masterclass and discover the proprietary 4R Fertility FormulaTM we use to help you get pregnant naturally or get better results with IVF and IUI.
Stress Management & Reduction
One of the biggest epidemics of our time is stress, and stress can also create a negative switch in the gene expression of your baby, so it’s important to implement practices that will help you reduce and manage stress.
Engage in relaxing, stress-reducing activities such as:
- Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR): a powerful combination of mindfulness and yoga that helps reduce the effect of chronic illnesses (North American Journal of Medicine).
- Deep breathing: we love to recommend a technique called boxed breathing, where you begin by slowly exhaling all of your air out. Then, gently inhale through your nose to a slow count of 4. Hold at the top of your breath for a count of 4. Then gently exhale through your mouth for a count of 4. At the bottom of the breath, pause and hold for the count of 4.