Preparing your body for a healthy pregnancy isn’t as simple as just knowing when you’re ovulating. Making sure your body is as healthy as possible to create and house a baby is an important part of pre-conception health. Having six months to a year of pre-pregnancy prep prior to conception gives your body the necessary time to detox from any unhealthy substances and build the right nutritional foundation. These are some easy ways to give you the best start to a healthy pregnancy.
Find a regular exercise routine. An easy way to improve your health if you’re not already active is to start adding at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days. While it is possible to start an exercise routine during pregnancy, having one already established will allow you to maintain the same level of exertion during pregnancy, as long as your doctor gives you the okay. Exercise before and during pregnancy can ease back pain and discomfort, boost your mood, help you sleep better and may also reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and pregnancy-related high blood pressure.
Clean up your diet. A diet rich in fresh, whole foods is preferable to highly processed foods. If you tend to eat out a lot or reach for pre-made packages of food, now is a great time to get comfortable in the kitchen. Master a few easy recipes that you can throw together in a hurry and keep some homemade ready-to-go meals in the freezer in case you’re in a pinch. Consider organic food whenever possible and opt for grass-fed or pastured animal products as often as you can. Buying organic produce all the time can be challenging so focus on avoiding items that fall into the ‘dirty dozen’, meaning they have been found to have the highest levels of pesticides. These include: apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, hot peppers, imported nectarines, peaches, spinach, strawberries, red bell peppers, kale/collard greens, and summer squash.
Check your prescriptions. A study from the Mayo Clinic found that seven out of ten Americans take at least one prescription drug. While many are safe to take during pregnancy, many are not safe, or have not been studied and are best avoided. Since drastically stopping medications, or even herbal supplements, can sometimes pose negative health effects review any medications, herbs and supplements with your doctor before getting pregnant.
Check your supplements. High quality supplements can help ensure that women planning on becoming pregnant are not deficient in essential nutrients. Folic acid deficiency can increase the risk of both neural tube defects and spina bifida and plenty of omega-3s are needed to optimize brain development of a growing baby. Talk to your healthcare provider about starting a pre-natal vitamin with adequate levels of folic acid up to a year before planning on conceiving.
Go to the dentist. It may seem unrelated to pregnancy but getting your teeth and gums checked is an important part of preparing for pregnancy. Good oral health can help contribute to a healthy pregnancy, while untreated gum disease may be linked to a higher possibility of miscarriage, preterm birth and preeclampsia. Getting your teeth checked in advance also gives you enough time to get x-rays and start regular teeth cleanings if you need them.
Avoid toxins. Toxins are hiding everywhere, from cigarettes to hairspray. Take a close look at the products you use regularly, including cleaning products, hair dye, makeup and toiletries and get rid of any containing harmful chemicals. Inhaling toxic chemicals and slathering them on your skin on a daily basis, even in very small amounts, may negatively impact your fertility. Instead look for products that are natural and free of chemicals.
Find your serenity. Being in a state of constant stress or depression may affect your sex hormones, which could impact your fertility. Experiment with different ways to unwind, try relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, speaking with a counselor, looking at mandalas, or even coloring. Being relaxed can help get your hormones on track and get you ready for conception.