Is Your Body Ready for Pregnancy?
By Scarlet Gratton
While you might be emotionally ready to welcome a baby into your life, preparing your body for it is a totally different matter. Women living in this fast-paced world of stress and errands might not find it easy to change their habits and start living healthier lifestyles, and a lot of us aren’t even sure what healthy even is anymore. You’ll hear all sorts of conflicting information about what you’re supposed to do or not do to improve your fertility, so if you’re trying to improve your chances of conception you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. What can a future mother do amidst all this chaos? Well, we might be able to help. If you’re looking for ways to prepare your body for a happy, successful pregnancy, here’s some basic info to keep in mind.
Ditch smoking and drinking
A lot of women think this is the last chance to party hard before getting pregnant, and while there’s nothing wrong with an occasional drink, you shouldn’t make alcohol a habit. Heavy consumption can negatively impact your fertility and it can seriously harm the fetus once you do conceive. Smoking is even worse—studies show that smoking increases the risk infertility, miscarriage, and early menopause, and it’s not enough to quit those cigarettes only once the pregnancy test shows a positive result. The sooner you can stop, the better. Try to stay clean at least three months before conception.
Clean up your diet
You’re gonna gain pounds anyway, so might as well let go, right? Not really. A good diet is a key to health, and while this isn’t the time to starve yourself, you should still normalize your BMI.
Underweight and overweight women are both at a higher risk of infertility, and you simply need your body to be strong and able if you’re to carry your pregnancy to term without any issues. Let go of junk food and sugar, and up your veggie intake—why not promise yourself you’ll eat at least one portion of leafy green vegetables a day? Fruit, lean meats, legumes, nuts, and whole grains are also important, so try sticking to homemade meals and avoiding fast food.
Track your progress
As you slowly start changing your diet and your habits, it’s a good idea to track your progress and start a health diary where you can write down everything that’s related to your fertility. Monitor your menstrual cycle and keep a reliable pregnancy test at hand so you’d know when the moment comes. Write down your diet and exercise habits, your mood each day, and note any changes that your body is going through. This kind of diary will help you mentally prepare for pregnancy, but it can also be very useful to your doctor who’ll be able to point out whether you need to change anything.
Working out will give you strength and stamina, and you absolutely don’t need to worry about it harming your chances of conception. As long as you exercise in moderation and don’t push yourself to exhaustion, working out is very healthy and good for fertility. Swimming and yoga can be particularly beneficial for a future mom, but any kind of exercise can be beneficial if you enjoy it. Here it’s really important to simply listen to your body—how do you feel after the workout? Happy and full of energy? Or are you dead tired and glad it’s all over? Do what feels good, and dial down the intensity if things become too strenuous.
Take folic acid
Folic acid supplements used to be prescribed only to women who are already pregnant, but it’s actually a lot better to start taking them early. Talk to your OB/GYN and tell them about your pregnancy plans, and it’s likely they’ll prescribe prenatal vitamin complex that contains folic acid. This will significantly reduce the risk of developing neural tube defects in infants and make it easier to carry your pregnancy.
Consider limiting caffeine
While you don’t have to let go of your favorite beverage completely, it might be a good idea to limit your intake to 200-300 milligrams per day. Unborn babies and their placenta don’t have the enzymes to help them metabolize caffeine, but even before you get pregnant, high doses can impact your fertility and potentially increase the chances of having a miscarriage.
As we’ve mentioned before, it’s important to listen to your body—start taking care of yourself long before you start trying to conceive because pregnancy isn’t just about the infant, it’s about the mom, too. Put your own needs first and don’t let stress make its way into your life. Whether it’s meditation or adult coloring books, find an activity that helps you relax and unwind, and let things come naturally. Stay laidback and enjoy your life because that’s the healthiest thing you can do both for yourself and your future baby.
There’s one important thing to remember—getting pregnant can take a very long time. This is completely normal and there’s nothing wrong with you. Take things as they come, and you’ll get to experience motherhood the way you always wanted to. CARE Fertility can help if you're trying to have a baby.
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