Zita West is a leading fertility expert, practicing midwife, acupuncturist, nutritional advisor and author of ten fertility and pregnancy books – and the founder of the Zita West Fertility Clinic. She has been involved in fertility for over 30 years, and has helped thousands of couples to get into optimum shape for all the vital stages of childbirth from pre-conception to conception, pregnancy and the months immediately after birth.
1) Tell us a bit about what you do…
At the Zita West fertility clinic, we believe that fertility is a whole body event, and many factors contribute to getting pregnant. What sets us aside from other fertility clinics is that we assess all of the factors that can impact on success, from the medical to the psychological – stress and mindset play a huge role. We believe that every couple is different – you cannot have a one-size fits all approach with fertility. The programme we have developed is highly individualised. We start with getting to know our clients, their lifestyle, their nutrition and even their mindset so we can develop the right plan of action for them.
2) Can you tell us more about your methods? How do diet and lifestyle factor in?
My approach to fertility, IVF and pregnancy has always been an holistic one. It’s about making little changes to various aspects of your life, remembering that fertility is a whole body event rather than something that just happens in the fallopian tubes. I believe that the best way to conceive is to start by looking at five key areas in your life – medical, nutrition, relationship, mindset and lifestyle. Many women trying for a baby just focus on the pregnancy and not what they can do beforehand to ensure a healthy egg and a healthier pregnancy.
Nutrition is ultimately the foundation for a healthy pregnancy. When you are pregnant, the baby doesn’t rely on what you eat in any one day, it will rely on your valuable stores of nutrients. So looking at what you’re eating and when you’re eating is vital. You both need regular meals filled with lots of protein for healthy eggs and sperm, essential fatty acids for cell membranes and hormone regulation, and micronutrients.
3) Do you have any advice along these lines for expectant mums?
My book The Pregnancy Companion is full of great tips, it’s a huge tome that took me a year to write! In the first weeks of pregnancy many women are anxious, they fear that they are going to do something that may harm the baby such as the foods they eat, their diet and exercise. They need a lot of reassurance.
I always encourage women to learn stress techniques or have treatments such as acupuncture to cope with some of the early pregnancy anxieties.
4) Tell us about your pregnancy products
I developed my pregnancy range of multivitamins and minerals 15 years ago and have tweaked them throughout the years. I have a different product for each of the 4 trimesters of pregnancy, with the fourth being the post-natal period. I believe growing a baby results in different nutritional needs throughout the pregnancy, so the supplements vary accordingly. Likewise DHA Omega 3 is so important to start taking prior to pregnancy to build up in the system so it’s available for the baby’s brain development – it is hard to get large amounts from food. The supplements are all about meeting the body’s needs at various stages.
How Much Do Londoners Know About Their Fertility?
6) It must be amazing to know that you are helping so many families. What would you say is the best part of your job?
That’s easy. It’s when women come back with their babies!
7) And the most challenging?
The fact that there are no guarantees. If you pay £10k for a hip operation, you’re going to get a new hip. With fertility treatment, we cannot ultimately, despite all that we do, guarantee a couple a baby. And seeing a woman who regrets that she left it too late to become a mother is always heart-breaking.
8) A little bird told us that you are about to become a grandma! Congratulations – What are you looking forward to the most?
I am so excited as it has taken me a while to persuade my daughter to get on with it!!!!! As a midwife, I take nothing for granted, so until she has had the baby I can’t relax. I’m looking forward to being in labour with her and the time after, helping her through those early days and giving her the confidence she needs.
Zita West’s pregnancy products are available in her shop