If you are preparing for pregnancy, then you’re probably thinking about how to have a healthy baby. The best thing you can do for your future baby is to focus on your pre-pregnancy health.
It’s never too early to start getting healthy before baby, but most experts recommend working on pre-pregnancy health at least 3 months before you start trying to get pregnant. Follow these 9 steps to get healthy before baby.
1. Stop Smoking, Alcohol, and Drug Use
Consuming alcohol, drugs, and smoking can make it harder to get pregnant and increase the chances of chemical pregnancies and miscarriage. Even in small amounts, alcohol is dangerous for unborn children. Drinking alcohol can also cause long-term damage to your baby and increases the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome. Even if you aren’t currently pregnant, heavy drinking is shown to cause dysregulation in the menstrual cycle and make it harder to get pregnant.
Smoking also increases the chances of having a baby with low birth weight. Women who smoke during pregnancy tend to have a more difficult recovery after pregnancy. Limit unnecessary medicines, and do not take any drugs not prescribed by a doctor. Illegal and recreational drugs are dangerous and can damage your health. If you cannot stop smoking, alcohol, or drug use, consult a medical professional before trying to get pregnant.
2. Take Prenatal Vitamins
Start taking prenatal vitamins three months before trying to get pregnant to fill in any gaps in nutrition from your diet. Experts recommend vitamin supplements that include at least 400 micrograms of folic acid. Folic acid lowers the chance of birth defects. Avoid vitamins with extremely high doses of vitamins, such as A, D, E, and K as they can cause birth defects. Any pregnancy prenatal vitamin will not have exceedingly high doses of these vitamins.
3. Visit Your Doctor
Visit your doctor to make sure you are healthy and ready for pregnancy. Any long-term health problems, such as thyroid issues, asthma, and diabetes need to be stable before you conceive. Your doctor may want you to get some blood work and check your cholesterol levels. They may recommend vaccines and weight loss or weight gain to prepare to carry a baby. They will also want to discuss your family’s genetic history to uncover any potential health issues.
4. Maintain a Healthy Weight
The ideal BMI to achieve pregnancy is between 19 to 25. Those who weigh more or less than the average body weight tend to have problems conceiving. Those with a BMI over 30 may experience problems with ovulation, which will make it difficult to conceive. If you fall in this category, just losing 5-10% of your body fat may help improve your chances of getting pregnant. Women who fall on the underweight side may also skip periods and ovulation cycles, and may menstruate without ovulating first. Talk to your doctor to develop an appropriate diet and exercise plan to help you achieve your ideal weight.
5. Eat Well
Whether you are trying to gain or lose weight, aim for a balanced diet full of nutrient-rich foods. Choose more natural foods rather than processed foods. Limit caffeine to under 200 milligrams a day, which has been shown to cause stress to the body and can affect ovulation. Aim to eat more fruits and vegetables, plant protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats.
6. Minimize Stress
Experts believe there is a link between stress and fertility issues. Chronic stress can make women ovulate less regularly, which makes it more difficult to get pregnant. One study also showed that couples were more likely to get pregnant when they are relaxed and not stressed. Stress can also impact fertility beyond ovulation by causing problems with the fertilization and implantation process. To avoid these issues, start minimizing stress now. Try some relaxing activities throughout the day, such as exercise and journaling to unwind. If you find that your stress doesn’t get better no matter what you do, seek help from a medical professional.
Consistent exercise before and after pregnancy has many health benefits. Women who exercise regularly tend to feel better throughout their pregnancies and gain the recommended amount of weight. They also tend to recover from delivery faster than women who don’t exercise. So if you’re already active, then there’s no need to change unless your exercise routine is so intense that it’s affecting your fertility. If you are not currently physically active, start slow and do a little bit each day. You may need to modify or adjust exercises throughout your pregnancy.
8. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep deprivation can cause stress on the body, which makes it harder to get pregnant. Sleep deprivation also leaves you prone to illness and infection. Put yourself on a schedule so you can get to bed on time. If you are having trouble sleeping, put the phone away two hours before bedtime and try doing some exercise during the day.
9. Address Mental Health
Everyone experiences negative emotions such as sadness, anxiety, and stress. But if you feel like these are interfering with your daily life, they won’t get better with pregnancy. Talk to a health professional about your options to feel good before you start trying to conceive.
Some women may take a few months to work on getting healthy before baby, while others take longer. Whatever you choose, you can best prepare for pregnancy by making sure you are healthy.
Are you looking for an OB/Gyn you can trust? Do you live in the Tucson area? Let us join you on your amazing and unique pregnancy journey. Book an appointment today!