Have you decided to start or grow your family? If so, it's important to prepare your body for the demands of pregnancy. You'll want to ensure you're as healthy as possible before trying to conceive. This will increase the chances of a smooth pregnancy and a healthy baby. Taking steps towards optimal preconception health may even make it easier to conceive.
Fortunately, you can take a few simple actions to bolster your preconception health. Here's a checklist of things you can do to prepare for pregnancy.
1. Make a Doctor's Appointment
It's a good idea to see your medical provider before you start trying to get pregnant. Firstly, your doctor can do a routine checkup to ensure you're in good health for carrying a pregnancy. They can check your vital signs and do bloodwork to ensure everything looks normal. They can also recommend lifestyle changes you might need to make, such as your diet or exercise habits.
Discuss any concerns or family medical history with your doctor. Your provider will review any medications and vitamins you take to verify if they're safe to continue during pregnancy. If you live with any chronic health conditions, it's important to address these with your medical professional as well. A preconception appointment with your OB/GYN should include a genetic carrier screening. Advances in carrier screening panels can now identify over 500 single gene mutations. If you and your partner share a mutation there is a 25% chance of passing it on to your children. At Dominion Fertility, we can help you have a healthy baby.
You'll want to ensure you're up-to-date on vaccines since some infections, like rubella, can harm an unborn baby. If you have any other health concerns or questions, write them down to bring them to your appointment.
If you're experiencing infertility and have an
so you'll feel more prepared as you start your journey to parenthood.
2. Avoid Alcohol, Drugs, and Smoking
Alcohol, drugs, and cigarette smoke could all be harmful to a developing fetus. These substances can greatly increase the risks of premature birth, congenital disabilities, and infant loss. So avoiding alcoholic beverages, drugs, and smoking when you're trying to get pregnant is essential.
Not only is it the safest route, but it will also give you peace of mind knowing you won't unknowingly expose your baby to anything harmful. If you need help to stop drinking, smoking, or using drugs, talk to your doctor or seek out local resources to support you. For smoking, you can call the quit line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
3. Start Taking a Folic Acid Supplement
supplement during pregnancy is recommended, as this B vitamin helps prevent neural tube defects, like spina bifida, in the baby. But in truth, it's best to start supplementing with folic acid even before you conceive.
You can buy a folic acid supplement over the counter and start taking it right away. Taking 400 micrograms of folic acid daily will support you as you try to get pregnant.
4. Maintain or Aim for a Healthy Weight
Being at a healthy weight before pregnancy reduces your chance of serious pregnancy-related complications and lowers your risk of chronic health problems like diabetes and heart disease. Being an optimum weight may also make it easier to conceive. A balanced diet and exercise program can help you maintain or achieve a healthy preconception of body weight.
5. Maintain an Exercise Routine
Your body undergoes lots of changes and demands during pregnancy. Therefore, exercise is vital for establishing a healthy body adequately equipped to deal with these changes. If you already have an exercise routine, it's typically okay to maintain it throughout your pregnancy.
If you don't have an exercise routine, aim for about 30 minutes of vigorous activity every day, about five days a week. Once you get pregnant, it's important to stay active as well. However, whether or not you already have an exercise routine, it's best to talk to your doctor for advice on how to proceed during pregnancy.
6. Maintain a Healthy Diet
is another pivotal part of preconception health. So what does a healthy preconception diet look like?
First of all, you'll want to minimize caffeine and empty calories. Try to consume a diet rich in protein, colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and dairy. Fish can be a healthy source of protein and other nutrients, but try to limit canned tuna intake and avoid large ocean fish or raw fish (sushi), as these foods can contain mercury. Exposure to mercury during pregnancy can affect the developing nervous system of the fetus, leading to potential developmental delays, learning difficulties, and other health problems.
7. Reduce Stress and Take Care of Your Mental Health
Reducing stress will boost your overall well-being and may increase your physical and mental health. You might try carving out extra time for self-care and relaxing, getting adequate sleep, and practicing stress-reduction techniques like yoga and meditation.
If you have any mental health concerns, it's wise to address them before pregnancy. It's normal to have times when you feel sad, anxious, or stressed. But if these feelings are overwhelming or constant, it may be worth talking to your doctor. Having a child can be a beautiful, happy time. Still, it's also a profound life change that could trigger underlying mental health issues. So it's important to reach out for help if you're struggling.
Dominion Fertility is Here to Help
If you haven't been able to get pregnant after a long time of trying, you may be dealing with infertility, and you're not alone. If you're having trouble getting pregnant, Dominion Fertility can help you every step of the way.
Feel free to contact us or schedule a consultation if you have any questions about pregnancy, infertility, or trying to conceive. You're also welcome to join us for our upcoming free Grow Your Family webinar, where you'll learn about why you may be having a hard time getting pregnant and the different fertility treatment options that are available.