As a practising midwife and fertility expert, I have always been fascinated by the role nutrition takes in every couple’s ability to have a healthy, happy baby. My research and experience has shown me that good, wholesome food (and supplements as necessary) forms the bedrock of getting your body baby-ready and of making healthy sperm. Over the course of my many years in this field, I have come 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.
However, I also think that couples who want to make a baby need to have treats. Who could live without bread, chocolate, cheese and dairy? Not me! Whether you are just embarking upon trying for a baby, have been trying for a while without success, or have been diagnosed with a fertility problem, I want to reassure you that my philosophy is simple: strict or faddy diets involve too many restrictions – they make what is the most normal and natural thing in the world seem strange and unfamiliar. My focus is on nourishing your body in a positive, sustainable way most of the time – not on challenging you to be 100 per cent perfect. I believe that small changes that are manageable within the context of your everyday life are all that you need. Quite simply, your pre-conception diet has to fit in with your ‘normal’ life or you won’t be able to keep it up. Small steps can go a long way.
When I was first asked to do this book, I thought a lot about what happens in consultations at my clinic. I am very aware that many of the issues that come between a couple – just when they need most to be together – relate to lifestyle. I particularly see the contention that can build up around what food and drink lands on the supper table. I often find that one partner is trying to be too rigid, while the other wants to take a more relaxed approach. I think everyone can be happy – and that the resulting togetherness can only mean that you create more chances of making a baby.
Over the years, I have been so lucky to work with many wonderful fertility health practitioners, doctors, specialists in integrated medicine and nutritionists. All of them have had something important to teach me. However, the biggest impact on me has been the result of my work with Dr Stossier at the Mayr Clinic. There, the approach to fertility is integrated – modern medicine combined with the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Most importantly, this approach has taught me of the need for balance between all the body’s systems – if one system is out of kilter, there is a ripple effect that touches every aspect of your well-being, including your fertility. Furthermore, I think the connection between mind and body has a huge role to play in a couple’s ability to conceive, which is why I think it’s important that your lifestyle choices are good and healthy, but also make you happy.
When I first meet a couple, I want to find out about the following things: their digestion and gut health, toxicity, acid–alkaline balance and immunity, and how much their states of mind are affecting their bodies. Only then can I begin to advise them on how to balance all these aspects of themselves to make the journey to parenthood a successful one.
This book is intended to inspire you and your partner to build on your excitement to create the best possible conditions for having a baby. The recipes have been carefully designed not only to taste amazing but to optimise your nutrition, too. Before you start cooking, read the first chapter for a thorough understanding of your aims, then leap into this journey together.
I am sure you will find every recipe a pleasure to cook and eat.