What is Beyond Fertility Program?
A Natural preconception program to assist in establishing favourable result for a healthy pregnancy and birth
What is preconception care?
Preconception health care involves, preparing the body for a conception by
ensuring that there is, as much as possible in any given situation, an adequate
supply of all those factors which are essential for male and female fertility, the
health of ova and sperm and the development of the embryo and foetus.
It is also essential to ensure the absence or removal, where possible, of those
factors which have been shown to be harmful to any of these processes.
These considerations then need to be continued as part of a health care plan for
the mother throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding .Recent research is starting to confirm that the beginning of a child’s life and what the parents do three months pre-conceptually is of profound importance in determining future health of the child.
Is preconception healthcare a new idea?
The Ancient Greeks and Romans knew that alcohol, taken before and around the time of conception was damaging to the later development of the foetus. Many
traditional societies fed special diets to their young women and men of childbearing age.
Why is there renewed interest in this practice now?
At present one couple in six is infertile, one woman in five will suffer a miscarriage, one baby in ten is born prematurely, one in thirty is born with a congenital defect. At least one child in every ten suffers from a learning or behaviour problem, one child in five suffers from asthma, and yet the combined evidence of many eminent researchers shows that conditions such as infertility, miscarriage, low birth weight, premature birth, malformation, breastfeeding difficulties, learning problems, allergies and many more are often preventable with preconception health care.
What is the most important aspect of preconception health care?
The most important aspect is that it involves both partners equally. Another very fundamental aspect of preconception health care is improving nutrition. Every aspect of
reproductive health, from formation of sperm and maturation of ova, right through to the production of good quality breastmilk, is dependant on an adequate supply of vitamins, trace minerals and essential amino and fatty acids. However refined modern diets, common lifestyle factors and environmental pollution can seriously compromise an individual's nutritional status. For example a CSIRO study showed that the diets of 67% of Australian women were below the RDA (recommended daily allowance) for zinc, yet all the elemental micronutrients or trace elements, zinc has the widest range of essential function. It is involved in over 200 enzyme systems in the body and is needed for all aspects of reproductive function.
What else does preconception health care involve?
There are a number of other areas apart from nutrition, which require attention and they include Screening for essential trace elements (e.g. zinc, iron) and for toxic metals (e.g. Lead and mercury) Avoiding everyday environmental hazards Avoiding common social poisons (e.g. cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine) Exercising regularly, reducing stress, thinking positively Using naturopathic medicine to treat reproductive and fertility problems in both male and female Supporting detoxification pathwaysTreating food and chemical allergies (if present) Treating infection, especially that of the genito-urinary type Using Natural Fertility methods (avoiding oral contraceptives, IUDs)
How long before pregnancy do we need to practice preconception healthcare?
Since sperm formation can take up to 116 days and since ova are susceptible to damage for about 100 days before ovulation, preconception health care for both partners need to be in place for a minimum of four months immediately preceding any attempt to conceive.
Why should we practice preconception healthcare when many couples fall pregnant without it?
Unfortunately having the requisite number of appendages is not the only measure of health. Everybody’s genes are different and everybody is exposed to different environmental and lifestyle behaviours. There are a disturbingly high incidence of asthma, allergies, behavioral problems, learning difficulties and increasing likelihood of degenerative disease with age? Recent research is now beginning to show the nutritional status of the parents prior to conception can dictate what illness their children may suffer later in life. As well as this you may find many of these couples had problems with breastfeeding, cracked nipples, low birth rate, long labour's, highly medicated births, stretch marks or toxemia, all of which i have seen reduced with pre-conception health care and adequate nutrition.
Are many couples in Australia practicing preconception health care?
Francesca Naish, co author with Janette Roberts of 'The Natural Way to Better Babies' has over 30 years clinical experience in this field and with her associates has helped over 6000 couples to a conception and truly healthy baby. She has also trained several hundred health practitioners throughout Australia and New Zealand: These practitioners also experience an increasing demand for this type of program.
What about age?
There are definitely increased challenges for older prospective parents, however a positive proactive attitude together with taking some time to prepare the body for the journey ahead can make a significant difference to the outcome.The benefits of stress reduction, healthy lifestyle choices, diet and nutritional support with the assistance of a trained professional have shown that many women in an older age bracket can conceive a healthy baby and carry their child to term.
However as a guideline a female older than 42 would have a better chance of conception with an assisted reproductive technique. However preconception support alongside this may also be beneficial.
Is there any research for preconception care?
Susan Arentz, BHSc(Hons) ND, Dip Hom; Dip Bot Med. and Dr Gemma O’Brien, BSc(Hons), PhD Syd, conducted an independent study of 67 patients on the NFM
Conception Program at The Jocelyn Centre Sydney through University of New England. A high proportion of the couples in this study (those in the test group) had
serious fertility problems and were diagnosed as infertile. In both the test and control group, 25% of women were over 40 years of age. Results showed that 56%
of previously infertile couples conceived within the first 2 months following their participation in the program and 50% of these women were in the 40+ age group.
Research previously carried out by the Foresight association for preconception care UK in two studies showed the following,
The Foresight Study of 1995 Foresight, the Association for the Promotion of Pre-conceptual Care, was established in the United Kingdom in 1975. A Foresight study was conducted in conjunction with Surrey University over 3 years, between 1990-1993 (results published in the Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine 1995) clearly
shows the effectiveness of preconception health care: A 3-year study of 367 couples was completed in 1993. The women were aged
between 22 and 45, the men between 25 and 59. Originally 59% of the couples had prior adverse reproductive history, including 38% experiencing (between 1 and 5)
miscarriages, and 37% infertility (1-10 years). Other couples in the group had a history of stillbirths, malformations and low birth weight babies.
Many of the couples were older, coming to the trial as a ‘last resort.’ They were all asked to eliminate smoking and alcohol, and to follow a range of nutritional and
lifestyle guidelines. Every individual was screened for infections, and prescribed a personalised range of supplements according to their needs.
Upon completion of the study in 1993, it was revealed that 327 (89%) of the women had become pregnant and 327 children had been born since enrollment. This also
included 81% of those who were previously ‘infertile’. Out of those who had experienced a previous miscarriage, 83% had a baby within the three years of the
study, without experiencing another miscarriage. Of the 327 babies born, no baby was born before 36 weeks and none was lighter than 2.368kg (5lb. 2oz) with the average weight being 3.265kg (2.368kg – 4.145kg). There were no miscarriages, no perinatal deaths or malformations. No baby was admitted to the special care unit. With an average of 1 in 4 pregnancies ending in miscarriage, we would normally expect to see approximately 70-80 miscarriages and 12 malformations in a group of this size.
A number of the couples had already tried IVF without success. Yet 65% per cent of this group conceived naturally on the Foresight program without needing another
Upon coming to Foresight, their history was as follows:
41% – no previous adverse fertility history, but older couples amongst these (70% primigravida, 31% 1-3 children) 37% history of infertility (11%< I yr, 36% < 2 yrs, 33% > 5 yrs, 7%> 10 yrs) 42% males had semen analysis (12% antibodies, 30% low count, 35% poor motility, 5% poor morphology) 38% had history of previous miscarriage
(63% had 1, 14% – 2, 16% – 3, 3% – 4, 3% – 5) 11 % had history of therapeutic termination (for defect) 3 % had history of a still-birth 15% had given birth to small-for-dates / low birth weight babies 2 % had given birth to babies with malformation 1% had given birth to babies who died from SIDS
By the end of the study results were as follows
· Of those with no history – 96% gave birth
· Of those with history of infertility 81% gave birth
· Those with history of miscarriage – 83% gave birth
· History of therapeutic termination – 73% gave birth
· History of still-birth – 80% gave birth
· Small-for-dates / malformation – 100% gave birth
· 89% of all couples gave birth by the end of the study Average gestational age
– 38.5 weeks
· 42% male babies – average weight 7lb 4.5oz (3299g)
· 58% female babies – average weight 7lb 2oz (3240g)
· No baby born before 36 weeks
· None lighter than 5lb 3.5oz (2368g)
· No miscarriages at all (average population – 70 min)
· No perinatal deaths
· No malformations (average population – 12)
· No baby to intensive / special care
Foresight Study of 2003 Foresight has completed a larger study with 1,061 couples. The statistics from this show excellent outcomes with a conception rate of 78.4% leading to a healthy baby within two years of following the program. The study shows a doubling of conception rates for IVF of 47.1%.
How do we get started?
You can make an appointment for the Beyond Fertility Program