It has never been easier to keep your body healthy and in check than in this day and age. Both medicine and nutrition have evolved to a degree where it is easy to prepare for a healthy pregnancy.
There are numerous pointers and suggestions for couples who are in the process of making a baby. The best thing is to stick to a general preconception plan and just introduce additional changes if needed. Each couple’s health is different, but following general guidelines to a healthy and happy pregnancy is what every couple should have in common.
We have put together some helpful advice which covers more or less everything you need to know before you start making a baby.
1. Reconsidering You Entire Lifestyle
If you are serious about getting pregnant, you’ll need to make several changes in your life. First off, you’ll need to consider every habit you have in your daily routine. Take into consideration what you eat, how you sleep, every physical activity you do, even seemingly harmless guilty pleasures will have to go.
We know, this isn’t something you want to hear, but it will increase your chances of getting pregnant and keeping you and your baby as healthy as possible. In addition, you might already be living quite a healthy life and won’t be in need of any drastic changes.
2. Healthy Habits
Introducing healthy new habits into your day-to-day routine is the best way of preparing your body for pregnancy. You need to feel good in your own skin, which requires keeping your body in good shape. If you wish to feel strong and healthy, you’ll need to keep a well-balanced diet, do some exercises, and always get enough sleep.
It is vital to maintain a healthy diet throughout your preconception period as well as during your pregnancy. There are several rules you can follow to better your eating habits. Apart from eating certain foods and measuring your BMI, it is important to cut back on specific food groups.
- Preconception Nutrients: Preconception nutrition is a branch of research oriented towards determining what increases levels of fertility. This includes an array of minerals and vitamins which benefit your overall health and fertility. In order for this diet to have any impact, you should stick to it three months up to a year before you start trying for a baby.
- Zinc: One of the most critical components of a healthy diet, when you’re trying to conceive, is zinc. Zinc can be found in a number of everyday food items, and it is beneficial for both women and men when it comes to increasing fertility. Zinc is a mineral which can be found in red meat, oysters, and crab meat. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you can get zinc from cashews, pumpkin seeds, and chickpeas.
- Folic acid: It is beneficial for couples who are trying to conceive as well as pregnant women. It helps keep your baby strong and healthy. Folic acid is found in spinach, legumes, and citruses.
- Calcium: It is vital for couples who are trying to get pregnant, and it can be obtained in different types of milk, salmon, yogurt, broccoli, and tofu. Calcium will build your immune system and help you stay healthy and strong for the oncoming pregnancy.
- Iron: Iron is a mineral crucial for maintaining a healthy cell count and concentration of hemoglobin. Iron can be found in animal livers, spinach, broccoli, olives, tofu, and in different types of mushrooms.
- Supplements and Vitamin: Some people disregard the importance of taking additional supplements and vitamins. Don’t hesitate to take in the right amount of supplements and vitamins because your body won’t be able to do it on its own. It is almost impossible for your body to take in and absorb large amounts of all the necessary nutrients, so be sure to make up for it. In addition, you should always consult your doctor on any combination of pills or supplements you might want to start taking. Some combinations can be counterproductive and detrimental to your health. In some cases, an ill-balanced dosage can cause nausea, which should also be something to avoid.
Your BMI (Body Mass Index) is the ratio between your weight and height. A healthy BMI will increase your chances of conceiving. In order to keep your BMI at a healthy number, it is crucial to measure it and keep it consistent.
If your BMI needs correction, make slight changes to your diet to reach the ideal BMI. Contrary to popular belief, rapid weight-gain or weight-loss are both detrimental to your overall health. It is best to shed or gain any extra pounds gradually.
Your BMI goal should be more or less between 19 and 25. If your BMI is less than 18.5, it means that you are underweight, and if it exceeds 30, you are considered to be obese. Try to keep your number near the optimal range, and you’ll be good to go.
If you need to gain weight, don’t do it by eating large amounts of unhealthy food. Opt for healthy alternatives such as increasing your vegetable and fruit intake. Add extra helpings of rice at certain meals, or have an extra bowl of cereal in the morning.
If you’re looking to lose weight make a well-balanced plan with your nutritionist. Don’t make a restrictive diet, rather opt for rationing smaller portions for each meal, or making healthy substitutes. For example, you can switch from fatty meat to lean meat.
It is also a good idea to portion your day-to-day meals, so they don’t become too large and heavy.
Just a few decades ago it was unheard of that a woman who’s trying to conceive should be involved in any serious physical activity. Today, women know that it is perfectly healthy and even beneficial to indulge in physical exercises even during pregnancy. This way, they keep their bodies strong for the oncoming delivery, and they experience a wave of feel-good hormones every time they work-up a good sweat.
Moderate exercise has become an essential part of any preconceptional health plan, as well it should be. Exercises such as yoga, pilates, in-door swimming are just some options for healthy and balanced physical activities.
We put particular emphasis on the word “moderate” as it should never be mistaken for “strenuous” or “overwhelming” physical activity. Even though some women feel comfortable doing serious workout sessions every day, we encourage that they consult their physician on what is acceptable and what is considered to be too much.
Rest and Relaxation
This is the best part of preparing body for pregnancy. The trick is to listen to your body and make up a schedule which suits you and your needs.
Have a timetable of your sleeping routine. Mark how many hours of continuous shut-eye you get each night. The ideal amount should be about 8 hours though this may vary from individual to individual. It is important to know that it shouldn’t be less than seven and more than nine hours of sleep.
What is more, try going to go to bed and wake up at nearly the same time every day. This will help your body set its biological clock and enhance your chances of conception.
Don’t forget about naps! However trivial it may seem, that extra hour of rest you sneak-in during the day is proved to be very beneficial.
3. Unhealthy Habits to Avoid
When people talk about how to prepare body for pregnancy, they mostly talk about what should be done. However, it is equally important if not even more serious to consider all the unhealthy habits you need to cut down or completely erase from your daily routine.
Heavy Caffeine Intake
Caffeine isn’t bad per se. In some cases, it can even be beneficial for blood pressure and circulation. However, regular caffeine intake should be tracked and reduced if need be.
A healthy dose of coffee should be two smaller cups per day. This might be shocking for coffee-lovers, but the proof is in the pudding. Studies have shown a strong connection between caffeine consumption and low fertility levels. Therefore, if you are serious about making a family, you’ll need to cut down your coffee intake.
Cut Down on Sugar and Junk Food
These foods can influence your conception plan if they are not taken in moderation. This is why it is crucial you keep track of your sugar intake and if possible, cut down on junk food.
Avoid store-bought juice and soda, and make your main fluid intake be water, lemonade, and other homemade organic juices
Most people don’t even consider traveling as potentially harmful when it comes to the preconception period.
First off, traveling is often a stress-inducing activity which can intercept a healthy cycle and delay ovulation. Some women notice changes in their period when they travel or experience a drastic change of scenery or climate. Combined with the stress of packing and transportation, this can cause damage to your preconception plans.
Another potential problem during travels is being exposed to certain diseases and viruses. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges women who are trying for a baby to avoid traveling to destinations which have had registered Zika virus transmissions.
Beauty Products to Avoid
Certain chemicals have been pointed out as damaging for women who are trying to conceive. Read every label before buying beauty and hair products. Make sure that the products are phthalate-free, BPA-free, and, if possible, with no added fragrances.
Even though they might be a little pricey, aim for organic products as often as you can.
4. Unacceptable Habits
There are certain habits which are non-negotiable if you are looking to lead a healthy preconception period and overall pregnancy. Luckily for you, these habits are not healthy even if you are not looking to conceive so you will be doing yourself a favor.
Alcohol intake should be lowered to a bare minimum or, better yet, completely stopped. Alcohol can easily mess up your cycle and is known to disrupt egg production and ovarian functions. If you miss the taste and feel of cocktails, consider mocktails as a healthy substitute for this habit.
No type of cigarette is acceptable during your preconception period. They have a disastrous influence on your overall health and especially your cycle. It reduces the quality of your egg, which leads to further complications and decreases your chance of conceiving.
Not many people know this, but even second-hand cigarette smoke can influence your fertility levels. Because it is better to be safe than sorry, try avoiding areas filled with cigarette smoke.
Smoking, vaping, and edibles all contribute to lowering your and your partner’s fertility levels. If you do this recreationally or medicinally try to find out if there are any alternatives which can be applied for a couple of months, at least until you conceive.
There are certain drugs you should avoid if you’re trying for a baby. Though most medication will be clearly marked if it compromises fertility, it is still good to have some helpful pointers. It comes as a surprise that some common drugs can be detrimental to conception.
For example, vitamins, antidepressants, and even pills you take for chronic diseases can have a negative impact on your overall fertility. This is why you should read each label carefully before you consume anything.
More importantly, you should consult your physician on what is safe to use and what needs to be changed or cut down.
A healthy and happy body is the perfect first home for your little one, so don’t hesitate to apply all the changes necessary to reach your goal. Change your eating habits, introduce some new exercises, and nip any bad habits in the bud before you jump into getting pregnant. Make sure that your partner is also sticking to a general plan to increase your chances of conception.
Be sure to consult your doctor regarding any drastic changes you want to introduce into your life. Let them know of any drugs, supplements or vitamins you want to start taking.