What is the best way to prepare for Pregnancy? If you have been thinking about having a baby, it’s a good idea to prepare for pregnancy both physically and mentally. These are the ‘prep steps ‘as advised by Nicole Chien, a well-known nutritionist and founder of women’s healthcare brand Taste for Life in Australia. Nicole specialises in women’s health, Chinese Traditional Medicine (TCM) and herbal nutrition and this is what she advises:

  1. See your doctor and seek their advice on this crucial pre-pregnancy stage.
  2. Start taking folic acid each day.
  3. Avoid toxic substances and environmental contaminants.
  4. Reach and maintain a healthy weight…. eat optimally and boost your metabolism through diet and exercise.
  5. Get mentally healthy by exercising, meditating, and avoiding stress where possible.
  6. Regain your health by making up for all the nutrition lost during your last period.
  7. Improve your immunity through your diet.

Nicole advises starting your pregnancy plan by replenishing the loss of nutrients that occurs as a result of your last period. “Among other things your period robs you of iron and minerals which in turn can affect your hormones so it’s really important to replace what you have lost so your body functions optimally. A healthy body is always preferable for pregnancy,” she says. “And adequate nutrition is especially important during this phase because it provides the energy your body needs as it prepares to release an egg.”

Nicole who is a big supporter of TCM and Chinese herbal supplements to compliment western nutrition suggests choosing foods that are not only rich in iron and minerals but which also contain high amounts of amino acids. “People underestimate the important of amino acids but they shouldn’t.” says Nicole. “Amino acids break down food so it’s more absorbable, grow and repair the body and make hormones and brain chemicals – also known as neurotransmitters.”

Foods that contain all nine essential amino acids are called complete proteins. These foods include beef, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, soy, quinoa and buckwheat. Foods that contain some but not all the essential amino acids are called incomplete proteins. These foods include nuts, seeds, beans and some grains but all proteins – complete or not – are invaluable if you are prepping for pregnancy.

You can buy Chinese herbal soup bases that are high in amino acids to help replenish and rebalance the body and, also, to regulate the body’s circulation which is important for early pregnancy. You are best advised to take these during your period.

“If you want even more benefit then make up these soups with glutinous rice water – glutinous rice water contains a high level of nutrients including vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Of course feel free to add additional protein and vegetables to your taste,” says Nicole.

Nicole also advises drinking Red Jujube Tea. This tea which contains red dates is to be taken after your period. “The red dates contain protein, vitamin A, C and calcium, magnesium, and other mineral elements. These red dates are very important in Traditional Chinese Medicine, supplementing and nourishing your health,” explains Nicole.

Another tea Nicole recommends is ZJT Warming Tea. “This tea helps support uterine health and encourages healthy and regular periods. It is made with seven selected natural ingredients including ginger slices which helps with body conditioning, whole fungus which is rich in natural collagen (get that pregnancy glow early!), red dates for energy and a clear complexion and natural brown sugar which is rich in minerals and helps to build energy (not all sugar is bad!). The tea also contains logan pulps which are nutrient rich, wolf berries – packed with essential nutrients, micronutrients and vitamins and beta carotenes. Last but not least, the tea contains black dates which are high in fibre,” says Nicole.

If you are preparing for pregnancy Nicole also highly recommends Koji Rice Tea, Chicken Essence, Eel Essence. These improve immunity and metabolism.

Koji Rice Tea is a natural nourishing drink with caramel type flavours. It’s made from especially selected glutinous rice, high-quality water and Japanese Koji Rice.Its nutrients are easily absorbed and designed to help relieve fatigue, boost energy and promote over-all well-being. It also enhances intestinal health, builds up the immune system, speeds up metabolism and helps with inflammation. Likewise, Chicken and Eel essence – again easily available already prepared – also do wonders for immunity and metabolism and are great when preparing for pregnancy.

Nicole says that you should always check the pack of each product as not all are suitable for pregnancy but that they are invaluable when you are preparing for pregnancy. “There is a lot of infertility and secondary infertility these days – much more than even 10 years ago and scientists and nutritionists are realising that much of this is down to poor nutrition and processed foods. If you are having trouble getting pregnant or just want to get pregnant when you are at your healthiest, then consider a TCM approach,” says Nicole. It should certainly be your first step before turning to IVF which is expensive and evasive,” she says.

Nicole Chien is a leading nutritionist with a Bachelor’s Degree of Nutrition from Taiwan and a Masters from Monash University and a mother of two.  For over 20 years she has worked in women’s health including pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, maternal, postpartum and baby & childhood nutrition as well as weight management.

Nicole is also the founder of Taste for Life Australia, a leading Women’s Health company specialising in TCM and Chinese herbal nutrition.The company is well known among other things for its postpartum confinement meals and prenatal nourishment.