Pregnancy is the most critical time in a woman’s life. While it brings enormous joy and excitement for the couple, it also brings a whole new lifestyle for the parents. Many factors play an essential role in a healthy pregnancy, from maternity clothes and frequent doctor visits to parental yoga and hygienic care. One of the essential ones is your diet. A healthy diet and balanced diet is always beneficial for the body. However, during pregnancy, the body undergoes several hormonal changes. Therefore, what may be healthy for an average person might not be advisable for a pregnant woman. An Indian diet consists of several spices and ingredients that negatively affect pregnancy. This article will help you learn what Indian foods to avoid if you are trying to conceive.
Tips for parents trying to Conceive.
If you have decided to start a family and are trying to conceive, it is always beneficial to know what you can do to increase your chances. So, before diving into the list of Indian food items you need to avoid, let us look at some tips for conceiving.
- Monitor your Menstrual Cycle: The first and the most important step for a woman trying to conceive is to monitor her cycle. Try to keep track of your period dates and understand the pattern. Does it occur periodically? Or is it irregular? Irregular periods can occur due to intake of oral contraceptives and many other reasons. If you track your cycle length every month, then you have better chances of knowing your ovulation dates.
Ovulation usually occurs on the 14th or 15th day after the period in an average cycle of 28 days. This is just an average estimate. However, every woman has a different cycle length and thus a different amount of time between ovulation and the next period. During this time, an egg is released from the ovary, which, if fertilised by a sperm, will result in pregnancy. There are several mobile apps that help women track their cycles and fertility period.
Glow, Flo, Clue Period and Cycle Tracker are some of the most commonly used mobile apps worldwide. Clue is rated to be the best overall tracker app. This app’s team takes help from scientists and universities to make precise and reliable predictions. If you are trying to conceive, this app helps you predict your ovulation period based on basal body temperature and other information you provide.
Flo is known best for helping track irregular period cycles. It also informs you about your most fertile days so you can give it a try during that time window. Glow is also one of the three top-rated period tracker apps and is really helpful in flexible tracking. You can use glow to track your sexual activity, symptoms and day-to-day moods.
- Keep track of your ovulation: Although we have covered different ways in which you can track your ovulation and most fertile days, there are still some terms you should know if you are ready to get pregnant. Ovulation occurs every 14th or 15th day in a woman with a regular cycle. If you are keeping track and know that you have a regular cycle, your most fertile days are usually two weeks from your last period. In case you have irregular cycles, it is assumed that ovulation occurs 12-16 days before the next period.
You can check when you are ovulating using several methods. Some of these are:
- Ovulation Prediction Kits – Using this kit, you can check your ovulation at home. You can get these kits at a drugstore easily. The kit checks levels of luteinizing hormone in the urine. Increased LH levels in the urine indicate that you are ovulating.
How to take the test:
- Collect a fresh urine sample and put a few drops on the test stick or urinate directly on the test stick. The stick has two lines on it. The first line (called the control line) checks if the test is working properly. The second line is the test line. This line will turn darker than the control line if LH levels are high.
- Wait for five minutes and then check and compare the colour of the test line with the control line.
- If the line is darker, you are ovulating.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, having sexual intercourse after three days of a positive test result increases the chances of getting pregnant.
- Tracking Cervical Mucus: When a woman is about to ovulate and release the egg, the uterus prepares itself for the possibility of carrying a baby. The cervical mucus increases, becomes less dense and slippery, which helps the sperm make its way to the egg. So, if you can, keep track of your cervical mucus to increase your chances of getting pregnant.
- Basal Body Temperature: The lowest body temperature recorded when the body is at rest, before any physical activity is called the basal body temperature. It is one of the measures you can use to monitor your ovulation. The average basal body temperature is 97-97.5 degrees Fahrenheit. However, when a woman is about to ovulate, this temperature drops slightly until the release of the egg. After 24 hours, the temperature again rises and stays at that level for a few days. The change in temperature ranges from 97.6 to 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The change is very small and hence, it is advisable to use a digital thermometer.
3. Consult a specialist: It is always advisable to seek medical help and take suggestions before you start trying to conceive. The doctor will suggest prenatal vitamins that increase your chances of getting pregnant.
If you haven’t already done that and are trying for a long time, it is never too late to seek medical help.
There may be some infertility issues and the best way to test that is to get an infertility evaluation. Whether it’s a male (such as a low sperm count) or a female fertility problem (age related issues), once you recognize it, you can start working on an appropriate solution.
There are many fertility clinics in India that can help you get pregnant. One such clinic is Grace Fertility, which is known to be the best IVF centre in Gurgaon, India.
- Reduce Stress: If you have been trying to get pregnant for a long time without seeing any positive results, it can be really stressful. However, you need to remember that stressing out actually reduces your chances of getting pregnant. It can affect the male sperm count and ovulation in females. So, try to relax and engage in activities that calm you down.
- Consider Prenatal Vitamins: You may be taking a completely healthy diet but there are some nutritional gaps that just a healthy diet can’t fill. In general, we all know about multivitamins, they help us maintain a healthy balance of nutrients in our bodies. Similarly, prenatal vitamins help pregnant women get the essential vitamins and minerals they need for a healthy pregnancy.
Some doctors recommend taking prenatal vitamins before getting pregnant so you can discover the best ones for yourself. You can also take multivitamins having 400mcg of folic acid per day.
- Say no to substance abuse: Extreme smoking and drinking habits not only affect your health poorly but also decreases your chances of getting pregnant. Studies prove that excessive intake of nicotine and carbon monoxide (elements in cigarette smoke) increase the egg loss in women by speeding up the ageing process of ovaries. Similarly, excessive intake of alcohol also reduces your fertility.
- Do not over-exercise: Exercising is a healthy habit and is always recommended for a healthy lifestyle. It also prepares a woman for pregnancy and labour. It is also helpful in reducing infertility problems. However, overdoing it might not be suitable for you if you are trying to get pregnant. Heavy workouts can affect your cycle and ovulation, leading to problems in conceiving.
- Know about age-related pregnancy problems: The fertility of a woman decreases with age. After a woman reaches 30 years of age, her fertility starts to decline as the quality and quantity of eggs produced by the ovaries decreases. So, if you are planning to get pregnant, then know that your best chances are as early as possible. After 40 years there’s a steep decline in fertility.
- Time your intercourse right: If you have been tracking your cycle and your ovulation, you are more likely to get pregnant because you can have sex in your most fertile window. The peak fertility days in a woman are 4-5 days before the ovulation and the ovulation day itself. We have already mentioned some fertility tracking tools and methods you can use to track your cycle and ovulation.
If we talk about the best sex positions for getting pregnant, there is no study that suggests one position is better over the other. However, it is suggested that the woman lies down on her back for 10-15 minutes after having sex.
- Check for Thyroid and PCOS: The thyroid gland makes hormones for the functioning of the body. If this glad starts to malfunction and fails to maintain the required levels of hormones, it can create problems during pregnancy and even prevent you from conceiving. If you are facing difficulties in getting pregnant, you might want to get checked for thyroid.
Another common problem that may be preventing you from conceiving is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). It is also a hormonal disorder and it’s most common symptoms are irregular menstrual cycles, increased levels of male hormone in the body and development of small cysts on ovaries.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Your weight also plays a huge role in your ability to conceive. Being underweight or overweight develops problems in the body and prolongs the time needed to get pregnant. Increased body fat heightens the oestrogen levels in the body, disturbing ovulation. On the other hand, underweight women (BMI less than 18) may develop irregular cycles or stop ovulating at all.
Indian foods to avoid while trying to conceive.
If you have tried doing everything above and still can’t see results, you should try visiting a dietician and get your “trying to conceive” diet checked or get a plan created for yourself if you don’t have one already. You may not be aware of it, but some components in your diet might be reducing your chances of getting pregnant. Here is a list of Indian foods to avoid while trying to conceive.
- Fish: Due to increasing pollution, mercury in the oceans is increasing. Limited consumption of mercury is acceptable. However, increased intake can be harmful to your reproductive health. Mercury gets broken down into Methylmercury during digestion. It is a neurotoxin that can seriously harm the baby’s health. Doctors advise reducing fish intake before trying to conceive.
- Caffeine: Many studies prove that increased caffeine intake can create problems in women trying to conceive. It increases the chances of miscarriages and gives rise to congenital disabilities in the baby.
- Smoked Seafood: Smoked seafood may contain bacteria that can grow in the human body. This can lead to miscarriages and chronic diseases in the baby.
- Unpasteurised Milk: Milk is a rich source of calcium and protein and is an essential diet component for a woman trying to get pregnant. It prepares the body for pregnancy and provides strength and nourishment for the baby if the woman is already pregnant. However, it is beneficial only if it’s taken after pasteurisation.
Boiling the milk kills any germs and bacteria that may be present in it. So make sure you avoid unpasteurised milk.
- Trans Fats: Trans Fats are unsaturated fats that can be harmful for your reproductive health as they prevent the flow of necessary nutrients to the reproductive system. Many Indian foods contain trans fats such as sweets, bakery products (cakes, fan etc) and many other foods that are prepared in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils like Vanaspati. Try to avoid such food items if you are trying to get pregnant.
- Low-fat dairy products: Condensed milk has lower nutritional value than normal milk because it loses its nutrients during the skimming process. It also contains androgens, which can disturb the menstrual cycle in women. Therefore, it is best to avoid low-fat dairy products.
- Sesame Seeds: In the early days, sesame seeds were used as a method of abortion. These seeds stimulate the uterine muscles, which might result in discharge of the fertilised egg.
- Ajinomoto: Ajinomoto, although being a popular flavour enhancer, has some serious side effects on the human body. It is made from sodium and glutamic acid, hence it is also known as monosodium glutamate. These ingredients affect the baby’s brain.
- Fenugreek Seeds: While fenugreek seeds are good for male fertility, these are known to reduce the water levels. This is not good for pregnancy as it can change the concentration of amniotic fluid responsible for providing nourishment and protecting the child from infections.
Fenugreek contains phytoestrogens that cause the uterus lining to compress and shed, stimulating the menstrual cycle.
- Certain Fruits: Fruits are an essential component of a healthy and balanced diet that help maintain water levels in the body and provide various important nutrients. However, if you are trying to conceive, you might want to avoid these fruits –
- Green Papaya: Unripe or green papaya is known to stimulate an abortion. It contracts the uterine walls and results in ejection of the egg due to the presence of a chemical substance called papain.
- Pineapple: Pineapple also results in uterine contractions and result in miscarriages. It contains an enzyme called bromelain which could contract the cervical muscles and soften the cervix.
- Tamarind: We all love tamarinds for their tangy taste and it is one of the most used ingredients in Indian food. While all pregnant ladies love the taste of tamarind, it is not really advisable to consume it before or during pregnancy. When taken in excess, the levels of vitamin C present in tamarind can reduce the production of progesterone in a woman’s body. This can lead to problems like premature birth, miscarriage etc.
- Bananas: Bananas can be consumed before and during pregnancy except for the women who suffer from gestational diabetes.
- Watermelons: Watermelons are considered to have many positive health effects. Its water-rich nature helps in keeping the body hydrated and it also flushes out toxins from the body. However, sometimes, some important nutrients also get flushed from the body. The high sugar levels may increase glucose levels, leading to many other health problems.
- Dates: Dates are a well known source of vitamins and other nutrients. However, it increases the body heat and may lead to uterine contractions, resulting in abortion.
Pregnancy is a special time in a woman’s life. If you have decided that you are ready to start a family, it is better to start taking care of your diet accordingly. We are here to support you and answer all your queries at this essential time. So if there’s anything we skipped or there are other questions you want us to answer, let us know in the comments.