10 Tips for Preparing Your Body for Pregnancy

If you’ve decided the time is right to start trying to conceive, you’ll want to take steps to ensure your body is ready for pregnancy. At my practice in Burbank, California, we promote a healthy pregnancy and baby by encouraging a few lifestyle changes, from taking prenatal vitamins to quitting smoking.

Here are 10 things to think about as you prepare for pregnancy.

1)  Clean Up Your Diet

A pre-pregnancy diet doesn’t have to be overly strict or measured, but you do want to ensure you’re getting plenty of healthy foods in reasonable quantities. Cut back on the sugary treats, fried foods, and processed items. Instead, load up on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, like those found in avocados, nuts, and olive oil. Calcium-rich foods are also important; low-fat milk and cheese, calcium-fortified orange juice and yogurt are good sources.

2) Take Your Vitamins

Your prenatal vitamins, that is. You may not be pregnant yet, but it’s a good idea to make sure you’re getting ample amounts of the nutrients that support a healthy fetus. Prenatal vitamins contain the recommended 400 micrograms of folic acid you need to help prevent neural tube defects, as well as other possible complications. A prenatal vitamin also offers the optimal amounts of other nutrients, such as iron and potassium.

3) Stop Smoking

Smoking is not good for your health. And, if you’re planning on getting pregnant, it’s an exceptional hazard as you increase your risk of miscarriage and premature birth. Smoking can also diminish your fertility and make it difficult to get pregnant.

4) Ease off Alcohol

You don’t have to go off alcohol altogether while trying to conceive, but it’s a good idea to reduce your intake to no more than one drink per day. Binge drinking episodes or heavy partying should be avoided. Once you do get pregnant, halt drinking altogether; it’s unclear what effect even tiny amounts of alcohol have on a developing baby.

5) Get Your Weight Under Control

Being overweight or underweight seriously affects your fertility. An unhealthy weight also increases your risk of developing complications during your pregnancy. When you’re overweight, you have an increased risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension and gestational diabetes. Being underweight raises your risk of miscarriage and of having an underweight baby.

6) Become Physically Active

Women who are in better shape deal with the physical demands of pregnancy and childbirth better than women who live sedentary lifestyles. You don’t have to become a gym rat or marathon runner, simply add the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days to develop stamina and good health. Moderate-intensity exercise is equal to a brisk walk or a water aerobics class.

7) Learn Your Family History

Knowledge of your family’s medical history can help you know if your baby is at a greater risk of certain health conditions, including a heart defect or developmental disability. Remember both the mother’s and the father’s family history are important and may lead to the recommendation that you get genetic counseling.

8) Limit Caffeine

Completely giving up your morning coffee isn’t required, but avoiding excessive amounts of caffeine is smart. Consider cutting back to about 200 milligrams per day, the amount in one cup of coffee, just to be on the safe side. Some studies link excessive amounts of caffeine with an increased risk of miscarriage.

9) Stay Healthy

While you can’t avoid every cold and virus going around, you can do a lot to minimize your exposure to certain infections. These include food-borne illnesses that are most often carried in foods such as unpasteurized cheese, deli meats, and undercooked fish or chicken. Unpasteurized juices can also contain bacteria such as E. coli or salmonella. If you have a cat, get someone else to change the litter to reduce your risk of exposure to toxoplasmosis. And, get a flu shot if you’re trying to conceive in flu season.

10) Minimize Environmental Risks

Aim for a healthy pregnancy by avoiding exposure to hazardous chemicals or radiation. You may also want to switch to environmentally-friendly cleaning products, pesticides, and craft supplies. It may not be possible to avoid all environmental dangers, but consult our office to learn how you can reduce your exposure.

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