How to ensure a healthy baby - the Foresight approach

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I have now written a book with Michelle McCullagh called Our Book Green Mother - families fit for the future. This book is the Full Monty regarding all things conception, birth, and thereafter! Many of the ideas in our book, Green Mother, stem from The Foresight Approach.


To make babies you need

  • a healthy egg,
  • a healthy sperm and
  • a healthy environment in which they can come together and grow.

This is a critical time because the events that are occurring are unique. Cells have to differentiate into different cells; grow to produce brain cells, heart cells, kidney cells etc.; have to put themselves into the right position in the body and grow at the correct level; and all this time connections between these developing organs must be made such as blood supply, nerve supply, hormone receptors, etc. To complete this process successfully, the foetus needs:

  • A plentiful supply of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids (EFAs)
  • A plentiful supply of protein, fats and carbohydrates
  • Correct thyroid function
  • Freedom from toxic stress (via mother) such as:
    1. Chemicals
    2. Infections: STD (sexually transmitted disease), rubella, toxoplasma, beta-haemolytic strep
    3. Radiation
    4. Use of exogenous sex hormones by mother.

The three months before and three months after conception are critical

This is when mother’s health must be optimal to ensure the best possible outcome to pregnancy. Father too must have a healthy 3 months to ensure quality sperm. The first three months of pregnancy are so important because this is when cells are differentiating. So from one pluri-potential stem cell arise all the different types of cell which make up a human body. This process is exquisitely sensitive to micronutrient deficiencies and toxic stress and can result in a host of biochemical, physical, mental and emotional abnormalities if we get things wrong. During the last six months of pregnancy, largely speaking, the baby is simply growing; but the principles that apply to the three month period preceding pregnancy and its first trimester should be maintained throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding.

There has been some fascinating work done by Professor Barker at Southampton. He followed up thousands of babies born in Hertfordshire during the 1920s and 30s. These babies had been extensively measured at birth, goodness only knows why! Weight, length, head circumference, chest and abdominal girth, etc. were all recorded. What Professor Barker found was that those babies who were small for dates (not premature, but those whose growth in the womb had been restricted) were far more likely to get disease and die young. This is known as "The Barker Hypothesis". Babies who are small for dates are small because they do not have as many cells in their body as needed. One is born with a certain number of cells and stuck with that number for the rest of one's life. For example each kidney should have about one million nephrons (kidney cells) at 12 weeks of gestation - as the baby grows these cells just get bigger and this process continues to adult life - there are no new cells made.

For more detail on Professor Barker, please see:

Professor Barker died in 2013 and you can read a full memoir here -

So if a baby is born small for dates, he will not have as many cells in his body. He may only have half a million kidney cells. It does not take a genius to work out that with only half the number of cells required to do the job, those cells are going to wear out quicker. And that is exactly what seems to happen. Small for dates babies are more likely to develop kidney failure, heart failure, brain failure (dementia), pancreatic failure (diabetes), etc.

At 12 weeks of life, the baby is perfectly developed and all the organs are formed. From 12 weeks onwards the cells just get bigger. And so one can see that the most critical time in one's whole life is this first 12 weeks before conception and after. The time of the usual first antenatal appointment is six months too late!

What every parent must do before conception

It takes 3 months for an egg and a sperm to mature, so any changes to diet and environment must be for a minimum of 3 months, ideally 6 months, so that these changes can have an effect.

In an ideal world every parent would undergo "Gold Standard" testing. I have divided my work up into bronze, silver and gold standard.

Both parents should apply The general approach to maintaining and restoring good health.

Bronze standard workup

This applies to parents who have had no previous health problems, have no current symptoms and are fully fit, are under the age of 30 and each parent has only ever had one sexual partner, i.e. the present partner.

Note S.T.D.s (sexually transmitted diseases) are a major cause of infertility and first trimester miscarriage. If either parent has had a sexual partner other than the present partner, screening for S.T.D. is essential, even if there are no symptoms.

Silver standard workup

Applies to all parents who:

  • Have had previous health problems;
  • Have current symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue;
  • Are unable to get fully fit physically and mentally;
  • Are over 30.

Do -

Gold standard workup

What I would ideally have everybody do! '

  • All of the bronze and silver standard work up
  • Test for pesticide levels and possible volatile organic compounds (eg if you work or have worked with chemicals such as used in photographics, printing, paints, carpets etc)
  • Functional sperm test

I recommend (in addition to my book, "Green Mother"!) that you read Preparation for Pregnancy by Suzanne Gail Bradley

The Foresight Approach

Please see the legacy website Foresight Preconception Care Website which now has this notice:

After four decades of promoting preconceptual care and helping people to increase their chances of having a baby the charity Foresight closed its doors in September 2017. Whilst this is an end of an era for Foresight, we are delighted that times have changed and preconceptual care is now offered by many thousands of practitioners around the world thanks to the hard work of the pioneers of preconceptual care in the 1970’s, most notably our Founder Belinda (fondly known as ‘Nim’) Barnes. Nim founded Foresight in 1979 and brought the concept of preconceptual care to people wanting to give their unborn children the best start in life. We thank her for her incredible commitment and robust determination to educate the public and health care providers alike. Consequently thousands of happy, healthy babies have been born thanks to Foresight’s approach to preconceptual care.

Also found on this legacy website are a list of practitioners, trained in the Foresight Approach, including -

  • Eli Sarre – HMA Practitioner employed by Foresight. Nutritional Therapist – Wildfare
  • Kathy Payne. Natural Health and Fertility Coach – Kathy Payne
  • Kathleen Boyd. Fertility Awareness Coaching, Nutrition for Fertility, Naturopathy, Herbal Medicine, Homeopathy, Emotional Freedom Technique – Birds and Bees

There are also links to various academic studies and Nim's book from 2014 - How to Conceive Healthy Babies - The Natural Way

See also -

Fertility Network UK

Fertility Network UK provides free and impartial support, advice, information and understanding for anyone affected by fertility issues.

They are the nation’s leading patient-focused fertility charity and are there on a practical and emotional level whatever your experience of fertility issues to offer support services, information and access to a community of people affected by fertility problems.

All their services are FREE. Please click on Fertility Network UK for more information.

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