The information included in this post is for educational purposes only on the benefits of a preconception Whole30. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult your healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for your own situation, or if you have any questions regarding conception, pregnancy, or your prenatal treatment plan.
By Stephanie Greunke, Registered Dietitian
What is a “Whole30 Baby”?
When people self-proclaim they’re having a “Whole30 baby,” they’re talking about a baby that was conceived either during or shortly after completing a Whole30. You may have seen this term on forums, social media, blog posts, or heard it used in conversation. Sometimes, these pregnancies are a special surprise after months (or years) of difficulty conceiving. You can imagine how exciting it might feel to share your story if this was the case. We at Whole30 headquarters are always overjoyed to hear these kinds of testimonials, and we believe in the potential benefits of a preconception Whole30, too.
Fertility is complex
When you read these success stories, however, please keep in mind that fertility and conception are very complex topics. There is no “magic bullet” for conceiving. While some people truly believe their Whole30 efforts played a role in their pregnancy, if there is a connection, it is just one part of their story.
There are many people doing everything they can (including completing multiple Whole30s) who still struggle with infertility.
It’s not an easy topic to discuss, but I want to cover some of the reasons why the Whole30 program can help improve preconception health. There are reasons why a Whole30 may enhance your overall health, which in turn can play a role in increasing your health during the preconception period. However, we are not saying the Whole30 is the solution to your fertility struggles, or that if you’ve done the Whole30 and still cannot conceive, that you’re doing anything wrong. We recognize that the journey through infertility is complicated and difficult.
Seek professional help if needed
Often even the most dedicated lifestyle efforts aren’t enough to help couples conceive. According to RESOLVE.org and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, you should seek the care of a specialist if you are unable to achieve pregnancy after 12 months of unprotected intercourse (if you are under the age of 35), or six months if you are more than 35 years of age. You should also seek the care of a specialist if you have had more than one miscarriage. For more information, support, and resources, visit RESOLVE.org.
Four Benefits of a Preconception Whole30
It Helps ‘Reset’ Your Body
The ways in which the Whole30 program can reset your body are endless. Choosing nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory whole foods, and stabilizing your blood sugar (by balancing your meals with carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fat) can significantly impact your reproductive health. This is just one of the benefits of a preconception Whole30.
Two common hormonal conditions that impact fertility (PCOS and endometriosis) can be improved by optimizing your blood sugar and reducing inflammation throughout your body, especially your reproductive system.
The Whole30 is not designed as a weight loss program, but many people do experience weight loss. For some people weight loss can support fertility, especially when switching to a diet rich in whole foods.
It Promotes Nutrient-Dense, Baby-Making Friendly Food Choices
By choosing foods that are Whole30 compatible, you are choosing the most nutrient-dense options available. These foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and protein that optimize reproductive health. Consuming a wide array of nutrient-dense foods can fill in gaps that may have been missing in your diet prior to starting the Whole30. Supplementing where it’s necessary can help replete deficiencies as well.
I also recommend working with a practitioner to identify nutrient deficiencies and creating a plan to optimize your nutrient stores, which will promote a smooth pregnancy and postpartum.
A diet based on the principles of the Whole30 is a fantastic starting spot for most individuals looking to conceive. You can take this one step further and eat specific fertility and pregnancy superfoods, such as fermented foods, bone broth, egg yolks, and fatty fish that are low in mercury.
It Can Improve Your Mindset
The baby-making journey isn’t always easy and enjoyable. According to the CDC, in the United States about 12% of women 15-44 years of age have trouble conceiving or carrying a baby to term. Those that have trouble conceiving experience many emotional ups and downs, uncertainty about procedures or outcomes, negative self-doubt and self-esteem, and many difficult decisions.
Making the healthiest choices possible can make you feel like you’re in the driver’s seat of your health during this challenging time. Certain procedures and aspects of your fertility may be out of your control. You always have the option to choose what food goes into your body. If you’ve read The Whole30, you know how significant these choices are when it comes to optimizing your health.
For some, hearing stories about couples having “Whole30 babies” can restore confidence in their body’s ability to conceive. If those stories frustrate you or make you feel like you’re not doing something right, we honor your choice to stop reading them. Your story will be unique; do your best to focus on what you are doing to be the healthiest you, mind and body.
Bonus: It Can Optimize the Health of Both Partners
Infertility is not one-sided. Male factors may also contribute to infertility. A specialist can conduct a sperm analysis and other labs. This may help point out potential factors that may be contributing to a couple’s difficulty conceiving.
I list this as a bonus because your partner may or may not be on board with changing their lifestyle factors (in this case, their diet) to improve the overall chances of conceiving. It’s important to know that your diet contributes to the health of sperm. Having your partner do a Whole30 with you or simply making a few dietary modifications can improve your partner’s health, as well.
While 30 days of whole-food, anti-inflammatory eating is a fantastic start for both partners, ideally this new style of eating continues during your life after Whole30. During your Whole30 you’ve flooded your body with the best food available. This cycle of healthy eating should continue throughout your journey towards conception and pregnancy, as much as possible. This is especially true for the three months prior to conception when your diet and lifestyle choices impact sperm and egg health. And when you do get pregnant, we want to support you in that season too. Read about the benefits of a pregnant Whole30.
Final Thoughts on Preconception Health
For some people, lifestyle changes are enough to dramatically improve their preconception health. I hope that you see the benefits of a preconception Whole30. If this isn’t your story, please know that fertility is a complex issue and often requires far more than a dietary change.
After working with couples who are doing their best to conceive, I know how hard you are trying. I know that it’s not easy on multiple levels and you’re doing your best. I hope you find someone who is willing to work with you to dig deep to identify any underlying issues and support your mental health throughout this process.
Becoming a parent can take many different routes, none of which are better than the other. I hope you find a solution that works for your family and you find peace with your choice. Please do what is best for you and your family and reach out for support.
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Master of Science in Nutrition, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, Certified Personal Trainer, Certified in Perinatal Mental Health