050: Christa Orecchio on Fertility Preparation & Optimizing Pregnancy

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Fertility Prep and Optimizing Pregnancy
Wellness Mama » Episode » 050: Christa Orecchio on Fertility Preparation & Optimizing Pregnancy
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The Wellness Mama Podcast
050: Christa Orecchio on Fertility Preparation & Optimizing Pregnancy

Pregnancy doesn’t have to be hard. With a natural, healthy approach, you can successfully prepare and optimize your fertility, your pregnancy, and your postpartum period. In this episode, I sit down with clinical nutritionist Christa Orecchio to discuss how to make pregnancy easier, healthier and happier.

Fertility Preparation

Christa is the founder of TheWholeJourney.com and Gut Thrive in Five, a digestive and immune healing program that has helped thousands to deal with their gut and digestive issues. Christa also hosts a nationally syndicated TV show about health and is the author of the book, Conceive Naturally and Have a Healthy Pregnancy After 30. Christa has elped thousands of patients to use food as medicine and to determine the root cause of their issues by addressing the whole person: body, mind and spirit.

The Five Trimester Approach to Pregnancy

Most people think of pregnancy as 3 trimesters. Some midwives will talk about 4 trimesters. But Christa has a 5 trimester approach to natural conception and pregnancy. So what are these additional trimesters?

  1. Preconception: This is a very important 3 month period before conception. It’s a critical time for women—and men—to simultaneously cleanse and nourish their bodies in preparation for pregnancy.
  2. Postpartum: This is the 3 months after pregnancy when it is important for your body rebalance its hormones (this is why consuming your placenta is so effective).

Nutrition Before, During & After Pregnancy

Christa recommends a preconception plan for both men and women to adjust their diet and supplements to optimize the process. In this stage, both parties should scale back on things like alcohol, caffeine, sugar, gluten and pasteurized dairy. Supplementation should include maca (black for dad and yellow for mom).

Preconception plan should include:

  • Scale back on things like alcohol, caffeine, sugar, gluten and pasteurized dairy.
  • Supplementation with maca (black for dad and yellow for mom), grass-fed beef liver, probiotics, vitamin D, bone broth and a high-quality multivitamin.
  • If conception is difficult, get lab tests for food sensitivities,  thyroid antibodies and genetic mutation.

During Pregnancy:

  • Focus on getting plenty of protein in your diet in your 1st trimester
  • Focus on folate-rich foods and kidney-supporting foods in 1st trimester
  • High-quality salt and mineralized water.
  • In 2nd trimester, focus on vitamin C, calcium and magnesium.
  • In the 3rd trimester focus on getting plenty of healthy fats in your diet


  • Start supplementing with maca again to modulate estrogen levels
  • Placenta encapsulation to avoid a drop in progesterone
  • Get protein and healthy fat within 1 hour of waking


Stock up on Bone Broth

Part of Christa’s recommendations in this episode includes consuming bone broth. Just go to this link and use the code wellnessmama5 to save on Christa’s favorite broth!

More From Wellness Mama

[toggle title=”Read Transcript”]
Katie: Christa, welcome. Thank you so much for being here.

Christa: Thank you for having me, Katie. I’m super excited to be here.

Katie: Awesome. For this first episode, I know we’re going to talk about fertility and
optimizing for pregnancy. I love this topic so much that’s obviously something
near and dear to me since I just had my sixth baby and there’s so much that
goes into preparing for pregnancy and then nourishing the body during
pregnancy and then now, where I am which is trying to consume enough
healthy fats and everything for breastfeeding. I can’t wait to delve into this with
you because you have even written an entire book on this subject of
conceiving naturally.

One thing I love, most people think of pregnancy as three trimesters and if you
ask more midwives, they’ll say four trimesters because you should really be
resting and nursing in those three months after pregnancy but you call it a five
trimester approach, which I love. Can you walk us through that? What are the
five trimesters and how do you handle that approach?

Christa: Absolutely, and I have to say I commend you so much for having six healthy
pregnancies and all that you’ve been through is that’s just incredible raising
these healthy kids. We break pregnancy into a five trimester approach. The
first, I believe, is the most important and that’s preconception. That’s before
the sperm and the egg ever come together and that’s three months or 12
weeks before you conceive.

The book that we wrote is a fertility book and a pregnancy book and it was
really born, Katie, out of people that has kept coming to me after having a
really tough time conceiving. They had been trying for five years, been trying
for six years with no success. Some of them have had multiple rounds IVF and
IUI and they were at the end of their rope. This was necessities, the mother of
invention, and so really starting to learn and study especially with women that
are over 30 or in their later 30’s and early 40’s that’s really where this all
started for me as a practitioner. To take my practice in that direction is that we
have to simultaneously cleanse our bodies and then nourish our bodies in
preparation for the journey of pregnancy. The dads don’t get off the hook
either because you’re developing the quality of the egg and the quality of the
sperm months before they ever come together.

This is really the single best thing that you can do to contribute to your child’s
genetics in their adult life. It’s a wild thing to think about but what you choose
to eat and consume and what you choose to do in this preparation period
really not only affects your children but it also affects your grandchildren. We
know that now with this field of epigenetics, how much power we have to
create healthier generations with how well we take care of ourselves.
Preconception is this first very important trimester where we’re simultaneously
cleansing and building the body and balancing the hormones and really
getting it ready for the journey ahead.

Katie: Yeah, that’s awesome. Then, there’s obviously the three trimesters of
pregnancy and then also you consider the three months after like another
trimester. Is that right?

Christa: Yeah, exactly. Postpartum is really important. That phase you’re in now and
you know more than any of us that if you don’t take care of yourselves and
you don’t rebalance your hormones, that it could be a rough road going
forward. I’ve had a lot of clients come to me and say, “You know what, I had a
baby eight years ago and I don’t know what happened since. I’ve never been
the same since. I can’t lose weight or I haven’t recovered my energy.”
We really talk a lot about how to take care of yourselves in postpartum in the
way of balancing your hormones but also in the approach and I’m sure with six
kids, you have to really decide how you’re going to embrace it. It takes a
village mentality and how you’re going to move forward as a team and as a
family and accept help and support. The postpartum chapter is very important
and we also talk a lot in that chapter about placenta encapsulation.

Katie: Awesome. I know that’s somewhat controversial subject in some places online
but there is some really fascinating about history, and now, it seems to be an
emerging research on that.

Christa: Yeah. There’s been a lot of research in the last three to five years. It’s a
preference and it’s not absolutely necessary but I will tell you especially for
women in their late 30’s and early 40’s and I’ve worked with so many different
women that they didn’t do it with their first trial and they did it with their
second or third, and that postpartum period for them was like night and day
different because you’re basically consuming your exact hormonal code so
you can rebalance yourself so much faster.

Katie: Yeah, absolutely. Another thing I love about your approach like you
mentioned is you don’t let the dad off the hook because I think so many times,
everything related to pregnancy end up just falling on the woman or
sometimes the mom might feel like she’s isolated in the pregnancy and she’s
the one having to make all these sacrifices and can’t drink, can’t eat all these
different foods but you really hammer home the importance of especially
preconception, both partners being really involved. Can you talk about why
this is so important and why both partners especially if they’re older need to
do a preconception plan what that actually means, like what might be some of
the practical things they should do?

Christa: Absolutely. Yeah, it’s both parties that are contributing here. We have a whole
dad chapter to mentally prepare him because you’re getting ready to raise a
child together and to create new life. You’re starting to build that teamwork
and your diet and your lifestyle is going to be huge part of your family and if
you can be on the same page, that’s just better for everybody but the quality
of the sperm especially in their late 30’s, early 40’s, life happens, more stress,
we can collect toxicity and we can have trouble and we can offer not such
healthy sperm. In order to make them stronger and better tails and faster
swimmers, then we have a chapter called creating super sperm and we have
super sperm smoothies that we really need to give the dad a big lift and boost
to his hormonal balance before he contributes that sperm and to really start to
cleanse it. That goes hand in hand with what genetic code you’re contributing
to your child.

In preconception for both parties, we are slowly cleansing them. We’re getting
them off of things like alcohol. We’re cutting back, scaling back on caffeine
considerably and definitely on coffee. Sometimes, we’ll include things like
green tea and latte but then cutting back on sugar and gluten and pasteurized
dairy and all these things that really rob our energy and when they’re
consumed in abundance, that they can really start to imbalance our hormones.
Then, we’re starting to really build and cleanse and so this supplements come
into play when we talk about supplements for both parties. For example, and I
know we’re going to talk more about supplements as we go through, but
we’re having dad a couple of months before contributing his sperm is he’s
taking the black type of maca which is an amazing adaptogenic herb. There’s
13 different colors or phenotypes of maca and the black type will considerably
boost fertility in males. The yellow color considerably boosts fertility in
females. We’re really breaking this off in both parties that are doing their part
to make sure that when they try to conceive, it can go as smoothly and
gracefully as possible, and you feel so much better along the process which
you can’t underestimate that.

Katie: Absolutely. I always try to like, because I know especially if getting into
healthier lifestyle has been a journey for someone as it was for me, you look
back and like I think, “Oh, I wish I had know this and this and this before I got
pregnant the first time,” and I always try to encourage women, “Don’t beat
yourself up on what you did not know in the past because you can make
yourself crazy doing that.”

I always say this is advice for going forward and there’s so much you can do
even if your baby’s already born. It’s so fascinating to see all the research that
there is available now that you said about epigenetics and how we can
change the expression of genes and improve our child’s, literally, their whole
life by how we eat. Also, I think it’s interesting to note that since it’s been a
journey for me and I started with the more conventional approach in like my
first child had rice cereal because I didn’t know any better.
As my health has improved and my nutrition has improved and especially
since I started focusing on building my body up a lot before pregnancy, I’ve
had so much easier pregnancies like this time with number six, I had no
morning sickness. The pregnancy was so easy that I almost like, “Am I really
pregnant?” I was almost like having them, the midwives, check a lot because
like don’t even feel pregnant, I feel so great. I always tell women that too, not
only is that better for the baby but it really does make it easier on you too.
Pregnancy does not have to be a hard thing necessarily especially if your
body is really ready for it.

Christa: Yes, amen. Thank you for sharing that and I totally and completely agree with
you. It’s not all about baby, it’s also about mom. By strengthening yourself to
your point when you go through pregnancy, the baby is going to take what the
baby needs from your body. Whether that leaves you deficient or not, the
baby is going to take it because this is how it goes.

By taking care of yourself, you don’t create those deficiencies. You feel better
and you just enjoy the experience a lot more. Like you said, we have a quote
in our book from Maya Angelou’s, “When you know better, you do better.” It’s
just day by day and whatever you didn’t know before, no problem but then
there’s all these information from which to move forward.

Katie: Absolutely. Another thing I love that you do because you have the clinical
focus and you’re like me like I am numbers oriented and love
seeing all these stats in the research. You do a lot of lab work with people and
I love that because it’s really, it gives you such an insight that you may not
know otherwise. What kind of lab work would you recommend for a couple
before trying to conceive? Especially maybe if they’re having trouble, what
kind of lab work can help shed some light?

Christa: Absolutely. The first thing that I would run on a couple would be their food
sensitivity panel because we know food can be a form of medicine or
some form of poison. We run an IgG food sensitivity panel to
see okay which foods are working for you and which foods are your immune
system responding to as if that food is not healthy for you and we eliminate
those foods that aren’t working for them and then immediately you get a lift
when you start taking out foods that don’t work for you and adding in foods
that do work. The five most common food sensitivities are wheat, dairy, corn,
soy and eggs. We’re really looking out for those to see how people can
tolerate those. I’m always working to get most of those out anyway with the
exception of eggs, pasteurized eggs.

We’ll run a food sensitivity panel and depends if someone has struggles with
fertility or not, how far we go with the lab work, but I think it’s very important to
look at your thyroid and to look at a comprehensive thyroid panel before you
start trying to conceive so you know how much work to do on your thyroid.
When I say that, you don’t want to just look at TSH which is your thyroid
stimulating hormone, you also want to look at your other thyroid hormones
including T4. T3 lets you know are you able to actually convert thyroid
hormone and use it for energy and then you want to check your immune
system to make sure that you’re not having an autoimmune response.
I know you talked, Katie, a lot about Hashimoto’s. You want to look at thyroid
antibody just to see what you’re dealing with especially if you’ve been under a
lot of stress or you haven’t been able to conceive in six months. That’s the
marker you’re going to look for is going to be TPO or thyroid peroxidase. You
can also run your thyroid globulin to look at antibodies just to make sure your
thyroid is not confused and attacking itself. That’s really helpful for me to see
somebody’s hormonal balance because the thyroid is so crucial for ovulation.
We have to be ovulating and we have to be able to track our cycle in order to
conceive naturally.

That’s really important but then we can go all the way into looking at heavy
metals, depends how far somebody wants to go and we can cleanse someone
of heavy metals. We can run gut panels for people who have PCOS or
polycystic ovary syndrome. That’s a really common cause of infertility and a lot
of the mainstream medical doctors will take it as far as that’s the cause of their
low progesterone.

We know that we need progesterone to improve fertility because it prepares
the uterus for implantation [inaudible 00:13:07] to start thickening and the idea
is you have to dig further than that. Why is your progesterone low? Usually
8/10 times in my experience, that’s because there’s pathogenic activity in the
gut and you’re not able to convert and to use and to get your hormone
balance. We’re going to do a stool test and we’re going to look for different
pathogens or things that could be the root cause of hormonal imbalance
which then leads to trouble with fertility.

Then, the last one that I find very important especially if you’ve had one or
more miscarriages, is to check for the anti-CHFR genetic mutation which tells
you can you convert folic acid into folate, the usable form, and really let’s you
know like how well you can detoxify it or not because if you’re not detoxifying
properly, you’re going to have Herxheimer’s response which we call like a 10-
car pileup on the freeway and that’s not a conducive environment to be able
to conceive a child or really to hold the baby.

I really like to bring that one up and I’ve had a lot of clients that were saved a
lot of heartache, future heartache, when they realize they had this genetic
mutation and they could change their supplementation, they’re able to hold a
baby and deliver it to full term. Those are my go-to’s when I work with
someone and we list them all out in the book of how to run your labs and
which ones to do first if that’s something you’re really looking to do before you

Katie: Yeah, absolutely. I would echo that and just encourage women because I
know if you’re trying to conceive and you want to have a baby, it’s so hard to
think of waiting maybe three more months if that’s where you are and you just
really want to have a baby. For my own experience looking back, I’ve learned
some of these things when I was already pregnant and not only was like,
“Man, I wish I had known this before so I could have been in better health,” but
also when you realize even for your own health things you can do but a lot of
these gut health things or different protocols you can’t do when your

If you don’t take the time to do it beforehand, not only is it going to benefit
your baby if you do but it’s also going to benefit you and then once you
conceive, you really have to wait until after pregnancy and a lot of times even
after nursing before you can do some of these things. I think it’s like
everything that you do in your whole preconception plan is absolutely worth
that three extra months just to make sure that the pregnancy is going to be
easier on the mom’s body and also so much better for the baby as well.

Christa: Yeah, 100% and you can’t underestimate just having more energy and vitality
throughout your pregnancy. If you have the opportunity, if you have the
power, I really encourage you to use that because you will enjoy that
postpartum period when you enjoy it all a lot more. If you’re already pregnant,
you just pick up wherever you are. We have people get our book, they pick up
at second trimester and they take it through and that’s the beautiful thing
about the human body is it will constantly reorganize itself and responds to
these positive directives you give it.

Katie: Absolutely. Let’s go a little bit deeper. What kind of diets and supplements do
you recommend during the preconception period and like what that plan look

Christa: For preconception period, we’re definitely making sure so we can have things
to eliminate and things to add in and we lay out a 12-week action plan where
we’re trying to crowd out the things that don’t work. It’s not to rough of a road.
For example, we’re having people drink lemon water first thing in the morning,
such a simple thing to start to really build hydration and flush the intestines,
pull excess acid out of the joints.

They’re adding in a lot more foods that are alkalizing because it’s very
important to have a good pH environment within the body in order for the
sperm to survive when you conceive. We’re adding in more things like leafy
greens and super foods, lots of different types of super foods we add in. I
know you’re a huge fan of liver as am I, so if we can eat liver, grass-fed beef liver, that’s really helpful to build and boost your own liver to help with cellular energy to boost mitochondria function. If they can’t eat liver, then hey, we have desiccated liver that we can
take in pill form, no problem. We personally can’t eat liver, so I take it in pill

We’re starting to really build up the system with a high quality multivitamin and
we want to fill in nutritional deficiencies and so we are using we want to start
to build up your stores of folate. It’s really important to have naturally occurring
folate, not folic acid and a prenatal vitamin and it should be at least 800mcg.
You’re going to be looking for 18mg of iron in that and you want to fill in all of
those micronutrient deficiencies in terms of the mineral component. A lot of us
are really mineral deficient.

We work with that and then, it’s going to be really important to start to build up
your omega stores and your DHA which is going to be super important when
you are pregnant. Ideally, you want to be doing that for at least 30 days before
you conceive. The same thing with folate, that’s really important for the baby’s
neural tube to form and it’s really important for the implantation of the eggs.
Getting in the fish oil. Katie, I’m sure you knew this, maybe, but there’s an
eight-fold increase in the absorption of fish oil when you take it with fat versus
if you take it with a meal that doesn’t have fat. You want to make sure that
you’re eating consistently, balancing blood sugar and taking your fish oil. I
recommend taking it twice a day.

Then we add in probiotics which is going to be a really important part when
we talk about these gut infections and these really good strengths of
probiotics to start to challenge the bad pathogens so that we can start to get
rid of them. Then, eating fermented foods like sauerkrauts and bone broth is
probably one of my favorite most important things in this preconception plan
that really moves the needle for both partners and they feel different when
they start having about one or even two cups of bone broth daily. That would
be pasteurized bone broth. We add some collagen to that which is going to be
really helpful super foods.

Then, we’re removing things. Alcohol and caffeine, I think, are the two hardest
things for people. I know a lot of your subscribers and readers probably aren’t
eating much sugar but that’s going to be number three that we’re going to
want to eliminate. Then, as you start to learn your food sensitivities, you really
want to understand genetically-modified foods specifically geneticallymodified corn and you want to leave it out of your diet at all costs. Don’t eat
the chips at the Mexican restaurant. There are studies on lab rats of just
declining fertility all the way to infertility by third generation when they
consume genetically-modified corn regularly.

There’s things you want to get out. There’s things you want to add in. My other
couple of supplements that I find it really important to talk about is Vitamin D3.
You want to build those stores before you get pregnant and I’ll say, just as a
clinician that I’ve run at least 800 labs for Vitamin D, 80% of my people even
here in sunny southern California, they come back low in Vitamin D. We want
to make sure that we’re building those stores and there’s a really good study
in the University of Pittsburgh Journal of Nutrition that it’s one of the most
common problems in pregnancy even when you supplement with it.

It’s important. That’s another lab that you’d want to run with your doctor to
make sure you’re in the functional range which would be between 60 and 100.
Your doctor might say, “Hey, you’re at 30. You’re fine.” You’re really not fine.
You want to boost it to where you’re up around 60 because that’s going to
really reduce your child’s risk of type 1 diabetes, of asthma and just improve
your own immune system.

Then, there’s two more supplements we’ve touched base on maca which I
really love that and I’d have a lot of success working with women to having
them take maca because it modulates or balances estrogen in the body when
they’re too high or when estrogen is too low. Women can have difficulty
getting pregnant and so it’s a really nice adaptogen to keep it where it needs
to be because excess estrogen levels can cause progesterone levels to
plummet and that can be a problem. We know that we really need to make
sure we have enough progesterone.

This is like my superstar supplement, the last one, awesome for both mom and
dad. I’ve had great success especially with guys when the infertility or fertility
issues hit them is royal jelly. Have you ever used it, Katie, or
heard of it?

Katie: I’ve definitely heard of it. I’ve never used it related to pregnancy, but yeah, I’ve
definitely seen some of the research on it that it’s fascinating.

Christa: Yeah, it is really. What it is, it’s actually the queen bee’s sole source of nutrition
and really many believe is the primary factor in her longevity and her fertility.
The queen bee lives 50 times longer than regular bees and the queen bee
produces about a quarter million eggs a season. There’s a lot to learn from
having this kind of magical substance. When they studied it in Japan and now,
the study has been archived in the US National Library of Medicine, they did a
six-month randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. I think that’s a lot
of words but really what that says is we know that this works and it is proven
to accelerate the conversion of DHEA which is major stress/sex hormone to
other hormones.

Everything about my work is healing from the root cause. I think hormonal
balance begins in the brain and then if you can really help to restore what’s
going on in your hypothalamus, in your pituitary gland and your body can start
to make the hormones it needs to bring its own balance instead of forcing a
hormonal directive on the body. We talked about precursor hormones. Those
precursor hormones are DHEA and pregnenolone and from those hormones
are sex hormones that we need for fertility and healthy pregnancy can be

Royal jelly is this awesome substance that you can put in your smoothie or just
take a little bit. I’m talking about a quarter to a half a teaspoon a day. You can
just take a little bit and that’s going to improve your body’s own ability to
DHEA, to covert other hormones.

Katie: Awesome, I love that whole lineup. It sounds like that’s pretty much, in my
opinion, a lot of the things women should also be doing when they are
pregnant but let’s talk about the actual time of pregnancy as well. Once a
woman conceives, should her nutrition change at that point or would she still
continue doing these things and are there changes trimester to trimester?
Because I know I see a lot of women and it’s really sad, they get pregnant and
then think it’s a license to eat whatever they want. They’re eating for two and
they just give in to all the cravings which I get because the first trimester can
be rough with morning sickness and that you’re lucky if you can eat anything,
but there are some really good reasons not to just let yourself eat whatever
you crave when you’re pregnant. Let’s talk about that, the different trimesters
of pregnancy and how to support the needs of those different times.

Christa: Yes, absolutely. A really good trick to your point of not letting your cravings
make you run rampant is that we really need to increase our protein and have
enough high quality protein throughout the day roughly about 70 grams of
protein. That’s a nutrient that you want to focus on.
In the first trimester, you really focus on protein. The third trimester when the
body weight is growing so quickly, that’s when fat becomes the superstar
macronutrient. If you can eat protein every two to three hours in the first
trimester, that’s going to be important because it can’t be stored like fat can. If
you can replenish your protein tank, that’s going to curb nausea and morning
sickness. That is happening because you’re getting so many hormonal

The other things that you really want to focus on in the first trimester are going
to be naturally occurring folate, foods high in folate because again, the neural
tube and spinal column, all of that is forming. That’s when you’re going to go
and you’re going to list out your asparagus and avocados and sunflower
seeds, lentils, oranges, spinach, broccoli. You’re going to really focus on those
foods as well as kidney support. It’s going to be really important in the first
trimester. Having fresh parsley in your diet, having red bell peppers, that’s
going to be food as medicine there.

The other really important thing in this first trimester is salt and enough
hydration. Now, the amniotic fluid is forming and it’s basically saltwater and
you want to make sure you have enough high quality Himalayan pink salts and
that you’re consuming at least two liters of water a day and that’s mineralized
water, not necessarily reverse osmosis. You want to make sure it has minerals.
I think if you focus on those things in the first trimester, it will go a lot

Katie, I know we’ve had this conversation when we’ve been together before
but have you seen the new research? We had previously thought that babies
were born with sterile guts but now, the new research is showing that they’re
getting their probiotics in the womb from the placenta really, from the amniotic
fluid but really more accurately, the placenta. It’s like if you’re taking care of
yourself enough there in the first trimester, you’re already starting that process
to be able to contribute the good bugs in the third trimester.

Katie: Yes, I love all the research about the microbiome and especially all the
emerging focus on pregnancy and the birth process. There’s a documentary
called Microbirth. It’s really fascinating that delves into how during the actual
birthing process, the mom’s microbiome transfers to the baby and of course,
now, we know it also begins during pregnancy. There’s just so many neat
ways that that interaction happens and so I love that everything that you
recommend to women is also supporting mom having a healthy gut flora and
things like focusing on protein and eliminating sugar and taking natural foods
in. It can also help their finding reduce the risk of Group B Strep and some
things that can cause microbiome problems especially during delivery.

I love that that focuses there, the whole pregnancy. I know so many women
end up at 35 weeks and find out they have maybe Group B Strep and it’s a
little late at that point to really like reverse your whole microbiome and fix the
problem from the inside out. I love that you make that a focus the whole time.

Christa: Yeah. You want to make that a focus the whole time sooner than doing
damage control afterwards. It’s just safeguarding your immune system totally.
We’re adding in a lot of high vitamin D foods as we go through so if you
weren’t already having liver, then you’re going to be doing liver now as you
move forward further into the second trimester. Things like maitaki
mushrooms, goat’s milk, if that works for you and your food sensitivity panel, I
am a big fan of raw milk. I know it’s very controversial but if you know and trust
the source, I think it can be a very supportive pregnancy food.
In the second trimester, I also really like to focus on as on the bones and the
skin and so that’s when vitamin C and high vitamin C foods really come in.
Things like camu camu, I don’t know if you’ve heard of that. That’s a super
berry that you can buy the powder in a health food store and I have my ladies
in the second trimester putting that in their smoothie every day. It’s 480mg of
food-based vitamin C with just one tablespoon. It’s a lot of bang for your buck
when you consider a certain orange would have 88mg.

You want to focus on chlorophyll-rich foods, algaes if you can, put some kelp
flakes on your food. That’s going to be high in iodine and really support the
thyroid. Calcium-rich foods like sunflower seeds, different types of legumes if
you eat legumes like black beans and garbanzo beans. Then, magnesium is
really important. The calcium-magnesium-vitamin D trifecta really goes a long
way and this is where we love to add in the high quality chocolate that were
all cacao and things like brown rice. A lot of nuts and seeds are really

Then, you’re really focusing a lot on fat when you move to the third trimester,
not that you’re not having it along the way but everything is happening so
quickly there as you know more than most. Blood volumes doubling, the body
weight is there growing so fast so you just want to make sure you’re
increasing your omegas and you’re having a lot more of that high quality
animal fat as you go throughout the third trimester.

Katie: Yeah, especially with all the brain development, it happens. Even their finding
with the research on pre-term babies in those last three weeks, they need so
many healthy fats for their brain development and such a drastic difference
that even a few extra days in the womb can make for those babies because of
all the healthy fats that can get through to them. Absolutely, I agree and I
know you also feel better at the end of pregnancy when you’re eating that fats
because they are such dense calorie sources and you have so much
nutritional demand on the body that you really need that extra calories.
Obviously, at the end of pregnancy, you deliver hopefully, a very healthy
happy baby. What’s your best advice for postpartum because most women
think, pregnancy is over and maybe all the great stuff they were doing during
the pregnancy, they give up at that point even and postpartum is a period in
and of itself and especially for moms nursing. It’s a time of a still increased
nutrient demand. What do you recommend for postpartum? I know we already
talked about it a little bit but what’s your best advice there?

Christa: Yeah. Well, this is where I do wish that my partner in the book, Willow, who’s a
labor doula and a homeopath was here because she has put together just a
rockstar arsenal of homeopathic remedies for birth and for postpartum. In
terms of your food and your meals, you just really want to make sure that
those meals are prepped and they’re ready and that you’re eating because
the thing is you’re probably not sleeping very well and the study show it takes
two years to recover your adrenals on average after having a baby so you
really need to support yourself with enough vitamin C. This is where the maca
comes back in. The maca is in preconception and then you take a break
during pregnancy and it comes back in at postpartum.

Really important to modulate estrogen because you’re getting such a
progesterone drop and so this is another reason that I can’t suggest highly
enough, placenta encapsulation, so that you don’t get that huge drop and it
doesn’t have to really wild and barbaric where you’re putting … With the image
you get when we talk about consuming the placenta. It can just get
encapsulated and it’s in a bottle and it’s just like any other supplement that
you take and it’s very natural to rebalancing you but you want to make sure
you’re eating a meal with protein and healthy fat within one hour of waking to
really start to anchor your hormones and retrain your metabolism.

When you wake in the morning, I’m sure you’re going to be awake plenty of
times throughout the night and everything really still continues. Hopefully, you
should have a healthy diet and develop healthy habits all throughout and then
you can do other things and supplements can change to really help with milk
production and things like that. Do you make lactation cookies? Do people
make those for you before you have a baby?

Katie: I typically do. I make them and then freeze them and also do different kinds of
tinctures and just herbal stuff and pre-make even smoothie mixes and
different meals and lots of broths and soups because I really crave those
when I’m nursing as well. I just stock up on all that and I finally like, right now,
I’m having my husband get it for me so much because I’m just sitting there
nursing most of the day but it really does help, yes.

Christa: It really does help and you need enough carbs. Remember, we were talking
about that and you just have to make sure you have enough high quality carbs
to keep your energy up and just making sure you’re having things like sweet
potatoes and they’re low-glycemic but really high nutrient type of starches.

Katie: Absolutely, I love that and I’m going to put a link in the show notes but you
have an awesome book that includes a lot of what we just talked about a
whole lot more detail as well, as well as like walking through the different
supplements for different times in a diet. I’ll make sure to link to your book
“How to Conceive Naturally” in the show notes as well. I’m so appreciative of
you taking the time to share your wealth of knowledge today and in the next
episode, you’ll be back and we’ll be doing a deep dive into the understanding
the microbiome which I mentioned a little bit with the Microbirth and the birth
transfer, a scenario I absolutely loved researching and you do as well. I can’t
wait to join you again on the next episode to talk about that.

Christa: I love it. Thanks for having me. I’m excited.

Katie: Thanks, Christa.

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Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


20 responses to “050: Christa Orecchio on Fertility Preparation & Optimizing Pregnancy”

  1. Carin Avatar

    Is it safe to supplement with Maca postpartum, while breastfeeding an infant?
    Thank you!!!

  2. Erin Avatar

    Can you recommend a good quality probiotic for preconception?

  3. Stephanie Avatar

    The Five Trimester Approach to Pregnancy written at this blog should be shared to pregnant moms out there.

  4. Nine Avatar

    Hi, my wife and I are having our second I.U.I. treatment with donor sperm tomorrow, and I was wondering if there is some way for me to improve the chances of it taking (either this round, or the next one if this one doesn’t take).

    During my last cycles, we have found out that regular ovulation tests (L.H. tests) do not really work for me (I never register a proper “peak”), although checkups do show that my eggs and uterine lining are healthy and growing propely. My doctor has prescribed Ovitrelle to sort of plan/kickstart ovulation, as the (liquid nitrogen frozen) donor sperm is only viable for so many days after delivery.

    I feel a little overwhelmed with all the ways that I could improve my diet/lifestyle, and find it hard to figure out what would be a good starting point. Can you give any suggestions, or point me in the right direction? Thanks so much!

    Kind regards, Nine

  5. Blanca Avatar

    I am breastfeeding my one year old baby and already have my period back. I want to get pregnant and continue breastfeeding My baby. Please give any suggestions.
    Thank you so much !!!

  6. alina bustos Avatar
    alina bustos

    Where can I learn more about the preconception diet she mentioned in the podcast? Thank you!

  7. Lori Croall Avatar
    Lori Croall

    Thanks for sharing this helpful post. Was Christa referring to the IGG or IGE testing? IGG is a memory antibody, and signifies exposure to a food, not allergy or sensitivity. A positive IGG test to a food is a sign of not only a normal immune system, but actually indicates tolerance for a food (not intolerance). There is no scientific evidence that I have found that supports IGG testing for diagnosis of sensitivity or allergies… does she have a source she can provide?

  8. Elizabeth Avatar

    Hi Katie,
    I was wondering what prenatal/multi vitamin you recommend. I can only find ones with folic acid rather than folate. And where do you buy your Maca?

  9. Elizabeth Avatar

    Where can I learn more about high quality salt and mineralized water?

  10. Kirsten Avatar

    My midwife suggested placenta encapsulation for women who are prone to post partum depression. She said it isn’t always helpful for women with more optimally balanced hormones, leaving them feeling a little wired. This was true for me so I stopped taking it after about a week.

  11. louise Avatar

    loved this podcast!! Katie, you mentioned you make lactation cookies prior to giving birth. good idea! would you share the recipe??? i couldnt find it on your blog!!
    thank you!

  12. Katie Avatar

    Hi Katie, I’m 19 weeks pregnant and have had issues with candida throughout my pregnancy. Am v healthy generally and do lots of above recommendations but have let it all slip a little with pregnancy cravings. Just wondering if i don’t manage to clear it before birth will it have a negative impact on my baby’s microbiome?

  13. Melissa Avatar

    The podcast mentioned mineralized water instead of reverse-osmosis water. I normally drink R.O. water and wondered if this was really a big deal since I already eat a solid diet and should be getting lots of good vitamins and minerals from that.

  14. Kavita Goyal Avatar
    Kavita Goyal

    My gynaecologist suggested me a folate supplement before conception as it is very vital for the development of the foetus. Hope this information also helps to-be moms.

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