Your maternal instincts have kicked in and you are planning to start a family. In looking forward you have thought of everything from due dates to midwives, from names to parenting magazines; but have you thought about your body's need to prepare for the best possible conception?

If you are anticipating falling pregnant, nutritional changes should be made in the months before conception. To help prepare, it is recommended that you take a pre-conception supplement with a combination of iodine and folic acid.

Now is the time to start taking iodine and folic acid because from the moment of conception a woman's nutritional needs dramatically increase. When a woman is deficient in iodine it may take up to 5 months to replenish the body and support a healthy pregnancy.

From the moment of conception a woman’s nutritional needs dramatically increase.  

The role of folate in the body is to help regenerate the red blood cells. If a woman is deficient in folate she may be at an increased risk of giving birth to a child with a neural tube defect such as spina bifida.

International authority on iodine deficiency, Professor Creswell Eastman coordinated The National Australian Iodine Study 2006 which measured iodine levels in 8-10 year old children. The results showed that an alarming 70% of Australian children were deficient in iodine, which is vital for normal brain development, eyesight and hearing.

"Low iodine levels in the foetus can mean the brain does not get wired properly and can lead to subtle defects in hearing and vision," said Professor Eastman. "Iodine supplements are essential for pregnant women and I recommend that pregnant women take 250mcg per day" Eastman said.

"Almost 100% of pregnant and breastfeeding women do not get their recommended daily intake of folic acid. This causes concern for women who want to give their baby a great start in life, especially when it comes to nutrition," says Blackmores Naturopath and Director of Education Pam Stone. "Women need iodine both while pregnant and breastfeeding, for a baby's normal mental development," says Stone.

Blackmores Conceive Well Gold is formulated with a combination of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids, including iodine and folic acid, specifically chosen to help prime the female reproductive system and prepare the body for conception.

Blackmores Pregnancy & Breast-Feeding Gold provides a combination of nutrients that are important in the healthy growth and development of your baby while you are pregnant and breast-feeding. It supports healthy development of your baby's brain, eyesight, hearing and bones.

For more information on the Blackmores products and as well as the latest information and advice on optimum health and nutrition for pregnancy, plus interactive tools and a support network, visit the Blackmores Pregnancy Companion website www.blackmores.com.au/pregnancy

You can also contact the free Blackmores naturopathic health advisory service on 1800 803 760. The team of naturopaths can give you nutritional advice and let you know what medications, herbs and supplements to avoid. Pregnancy can be a difficult time for managing your health. Having to eliminate medications you turn to for the most basic health complaints from colds to constipation leaves many women suffering in silence. Blackmores keep you informed of natural and safe ways to manage symptoms and conditions that may be experienced while pregnant and breastfeeding.

Visit the Essential Baby Forums to chat about conception and pregnancy.