Lifestyle - Are you prepared for pregnancy?

Pregnancy is a special time and birth a special moment in the life of a woman. During this time a healthy lifestyle is vital for an untroubled pregnancy and birth. Therefore it is important to “prepare for pregnancy” – general measures in daily life can increase your chances of achieving pregnancy.

Test your “fertility fitness” here:

Healthy & balanced nutrition for better chances of implantation.

A balanced and healthy diet can facilitate pregnancy – regardless of fertility treatments. Experts advise couples to change their nutritional habits at least 4 months prior to a planned pregnancy. The earlier the better!

Vitamins/Minerals:

Women: The intake of vitamins (vitamin C,E,A,B) and micronutrients (iron, magnesium, calcium, selenium) can influence pregnancy rates – by taking sufficient amounts of folic acid even before the onset of pregnancy it is possible to reduce the risk of child malformations („split spine“, congenital heart disease).

Men: An adequate intake of folic acid helps to reduce genetic defects in the sperm cells. Certain vitamins and micronutrients (vitamin C, selenium, zinc) can improve the quality of sperm.

Choice of food:

Women: In any fertility treatment, you should make sure you drink enough fluids (water, unsweetened tea). The successful achievement of pregnancy can be positively influenced by eating fresh fruit and vegetables, fewer carbohydrates (more whole-wheat products) and “healthier fat”. It is also important to pay attention to an adequate intake of protein as the body uses this in the production of ovocytes.

Men: Too much red meat, sweets or full-fat milk products can reduce sperm quality and prolong the time until pregnancy is achieved.

Avoidance of caffeine (coffee, energy drinks & coca cola)

Women: Even the consumption of more than 1 cup of coffee a day can mean it takes longer to achieve pregnancy. Furthermore, too much caffeine can lead to deterioration in oocyte quality and to a higher rate of miscarriages.

Men: There are no exact numbers for men – however, too much caffeine/energy drinks seems to damage the sperm cells.

Time to give up smoking.

Many international surveys have shown:

  • The pregnancy rate of smokers is reduced by 50%.
  • Nicotine raises the chances of miscarriage considerably.
  • Smokers are at a higher risk for tubal pregnancies.
  • On an average, smokers undergo menopause 3 years earlier.
  • The success rates of smoking IVF-patients is reduced up to 25%.

Approximately 45% less ovocytes are obtained during an IVF treatment if the patient smokes and twice the number of IVF attempts are necessary to achieve pregnancy.

Smoking damages the sperm cells! It reduces the sperm quality by 20 % in all categories and also damages the genetic information.

BMI (Overweight or underweight)

To be overweight or underweight can delay the achievement of pregnancy. In order to assess the risk the calculated Body Mass Index is used (Calculation BMI = [Weight / (Height in Meters)²].

Category Body Mass Index
Extremely underweight ≤ 16,0
Moderately underweight 16,0 – 17,0
Slightly underweight 17,0 – 18,5
Normal weight 18,5 – 25,0
Pre-adiposity 25,0 – 30,0
Adiposity Stage I 30,0 – 35,0
Adiposity Stage II 35,0 – 40,0
Adiposity Stage III ≥ 40,0

Overweight:

If you have a high BMI the loss of 7-10% of your weight means you already have an increased chance to achieve pregnancy the natural way.

A BMI ranging from 26-29 means that even with an IVF treatment it may take longer to achieve pregnancy than a couple with normal weight.

A BMI above 29 notably raises the risk for miscarriage and in pregnancy this can also lead to a higher risk for gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and malformations of the baby. A weight reduction can be as effective as a medical treatment. Leading experts recommend a BMI under 35 before the start of a fertility treatment.

Underweight:

Low bodyweight can lead to disturbances in the monthly cycle. This can also lead to frequent miscarriages during pregnancy. Women with low bodyweight often have trouble gaining weight. In such cases nutritional counseling or a dietary change can be helpful.

Treat yourself.

In general, a healthy lifestyle in all areas of life is beneficial – especially in the preparation phase for a fertility treatment as well as during the therapy.

Studies show that women who undergo light to moderate training have an enhanced insulin function and a better hormone profile. Comparative groups with women who do not practice sports or are overweight showed far worse results. A high BMI (>25) before pregnancy means a drastically higher risk for gestational diabetes (and possibly for a permanent insulin-dependent diabetes after birth) as well as for all blood-pressure associated illnesses such as high blood pressure, kidney problems etc.

Even men can profit from moderate training – however, extreme activities such as spinning are not good for sperm production (warmth + friction + tightness = demonstrable damage to sperm cells). Frequent (weekly) sauna visits and heated seats can also negatively affect sperm cells.

Treat yourself.

Stress occurs as a response to special events or challenges in life which have a negative impact on our quality of life. If the desire for a child is unfulfilled for long periods of time a couple can feel this as an exceptional challenge and this in its turn can cause chronic stress which has a negative impact on the treatment. Numerous studies have shown: the higher the stress, the lower the chances of a successful treatment. For example, one study showed: if a patient experienced a great amount of distressing events in the 12 months before the fertility treatment, then the number of obtained oocytes is reduced and, therefore, also the pregnancy rate. Other results show how important the support of family and friends is – this aids in stress reduction concerning the fertility treatment.

Reduce alcohol consumption.

Alcohol has a negative influence on the fertility of women and men. It takes longer for pregnancy to be achieved and the risk of abortion is increased. It reduces the quality of sperm cells and can prolong the time until pregnancy is achieved. As few as one alcoholic drink a day or respectively 7 drinks a week can already have a negative impact.

Only “supervised” medication.

A majority of medicine has not been tested during pregnancy and therefore they are not approved for pregnancy. However, damage to the child is known only in very few cases.

A child – a teeth?

Inflammatory dental diseases such as tooth decay or periodontosis can increase the time until pregnancy is achieved. Additionally, they raise the risk of premature birth by up to 50%. The changed hormone level during pregnancy also worsens existing tooth decay or periodontosis.

A possible negative influence of amalgam corresponds to the amount of fillings. In cases of more than 6 fillings we recommend removing them before pregnancy.

Recommendations & our offer

Recommendations:

  • If you are overweight we recommend a reduction of 7-10% of bodyweight in order to achieve a BMI under 35.
  • Women with low bodyweight often have trouble gaining weight so in such cases we recommend specific nutritional counseling.

Our offer:

We offer nutritional counseling at the Kinderwunschzentrum to help you positively influence your chances of becoming pregnant. Our colleague Johanna Wolf is graduated nutritional consultant according to TCM and conducts appointments directly at the Institute. Mrs Wolf will gladly answer any questions regarding procedure, costs and appointment so do not hesitate to contact her.

Johanna Wolf
Biomedical analyst / Graduated nutritional consultant according to TCM
Kinderwunschzentrum Goldenes Kreuz
Lazarettgasse 16, A – 1090 Vienna
T +43 – 699 – 12 74 11 44
johanna.wolf@kinderwunschzentrum.at

Recommendations:

  • Do sport 2-3 times a week for example: ½ hour moderate running, Nordic walking with a slight inclination or similar with a maximum pulse frequency of 130 beats per minute.
  • Swimming is a good form of training as it is a light endurance sport and easy on the joints
  • Integrate sport into your daily routine – it is the small things which can amount to a lot: get off public transport 1-2 stations earlier and take the stairs instead of the lift or take the bike to work.

Our offer:

Special training methods such as the Aviva method (influences the female hormone balance positively) or Luna Yoga (also known as „fertility yoga“) do not only support the treatment but also promote stress and mood swing reduction.

Cooperation partners:

Aviva method: www.luedo.at
Luna Yoga: www.luna-yogaweg.at

Recommendations:

  • Try different relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, Tai Chi or relaxing music.
  • Spend quality time with your partner and do things which make you both happy. Give your partner the necessary support and also accept the help and support of others. Remember that at the end of a treatment your relationship should prosper even if you do not achieve pregnancy. Never stop communicating with each other.
  • The fertility treatment with its diverse appointments and individual treatment stages can be very demanding. Please do not underestimate this fact and plan enough time for the treatment as well as for relaxation.
  • Positive thoughts are helpful. Try to visualize what is happening with your body during treatment: follicles are growing, an oocyte is forming, an embryo is attaching itself to the uterus wall. It is not only about having unrealistic and optimistic ideas und reciting them. It is much more about seeing the chances and possibilities which lead to success.

Our offer:

Psychogenic reasons for the unfulfilled desire for a child are very seldom. Psychic problems as a reaction to stressful life situations are completely normal. In such cases, people do not usually need a long psychotherapy but rather empathic and professional support.

The Tuesday group (Relaxation group)
Every 1st and 3rd Tuesday a month (on working days) at the Goldenes Kreuz
Start: always 7:00pm (punctual)
No registration – no extra costs!

Further services free of charge
Crisis intervention (1 per unsuccessful cycle) in the private surgery of Mrs Leitl
One time consultation in the private surgery of Mrs Leitl

These offers are free of charge and can also be used by private patients as they are not part of the IVF Fund but a special offer of the Kinderwunschzentrum.

Eveline Paula Leitl, MSc
Private surgery: Kahlenbergerstraße 7-9/2/9, A – 1190 Vienna
T +43 – 1 – 370 58 36
wunschkind@chello.at

Recommendations:

  • We recommend a maximum of 1 – 3 alcoholic drinks per week.
  • You should abstain from alcohol completely as soon as you are pregnant as consumption can lead to severe deformations or even miscarriage.

These recommendations are only valid BEFORE pregnancy.

During pregnancy alcohol consumption is strictly prohibited since the alcohol can get directly to the embryo through the blood flow and the placenta.

Our offer:

If you find it hard to abstain from alcohol please do not hesitate to approach us. We will gladly help you!

Recommendations:

  • During fertility treatment and pregnancy the intake of medication should be avoided as much as possible. Should you have to take regular medicine please ask your prescribing doctor and discuss the planned pregnancy!
  • Drug abuse during the treatment and pregnancy is an absolute “NO GO“!

Recommendations:

  • In order to reduce the mercury exposure during pregnancy we recommend removing amalgam fillings at least 6 months prior to treatment and pregnancy. Additionally, tooth decay and periodontosis should be taken care of before beginning a fertility treatment.
  • Regular check-ups at the dentist are especially important before and during pregnancy!
  • A balanced & healthy nutrition with few sweets & acidic foods as well as regular teeth brushing is the best provision.
  • It is possible to undergo dental treatments & anaesthetic injections during the fertility treatment & pregnancy. Please only do x-rays in exceptional cases with safety aprons. Cosmetical treatments such as bleaching shouldn’t be conducted.

Empfehlungen:

  • We recommend the intake of vitamins, micronutrients and folic acid (Femibion / Pregnavit).
  • It is essential to drink sufficient amounts of fluid (2-3 liters) and to ensure an adequate intake of vegetables, whole wheat products and healthy fats.
  • Reduce your daily caffeine consumption! (max. 1-2 cups of coffee or 1 energy drink / coca cola)

Our offer:

We offer nutritional counseling at the Kinderwunschzentrum to help you positively influence your chances of becoming pregnant. Our colleague Johanna Wolf is graduated nutritional consultant according to TCM and conducts appointments directly at the Institute. Mrs Wolf will gladly answer any questions regarding procedure, costs and appointment so do not hesitate to contact her.

Johanna Wolf
Graduated nutritional consultant according to TCM
Kinderwunschzentrum Goldenes Kreuz
Lazarettgasse 16, A – 1090 Wien
T +43 – 699 – 12 74 11 44
johanna.wolf@kinderwunschzentrum.at

Recommendations:

  • If you quit smoking it can take months to achieve an improvement in fertility and so our recommendation can only be: the sooner, the better!
  • Please also consider the particle pollution in your immediate environment (living space) and ensure that the curtains, carpets, sofas and pillows are cleaned. The negative impacts of passive smoking can be significant.
  • Please refrain from using nicotine substitutes such as chewing gum or plasters as these also contain nicotine and can be harmful.

Our offer:

We know that the path to nicotine abstinence is a hard one. At the same time this is one of the most effective measures to achieve your desire for a healthy child. Talk to us – we will help and assist you in any way we can with your nicotine reduction.

Nicotine withdrawal with our psychotherapist:

Eveline Paula Leitl, MSc
Private surgery 7-9/2/9, A – 1190 Vienna
T +43 – 1 – 370 58 36
wunschkind@chello.at

Good advice can also be found on the website www.rauchertelefon.at. This Austrian-wide initiative offers support for a smoke free and healthy life.