If you are preparing for pregnancy, then, ideally, you should start taking special care about your health and your lifestyle as soon as you decide to give it a try. Below, in the article you’ll be able to learn more about all those crucial things that can help successful conception and healthy pregnancy.
As a rule, women go and consult a doctor after they get pregnant — that’s a bit too late. The third to eighth weeks of pregnancy are the most dangerous ones for the baby growing inside you. Some women don’t even have any idea about being pregnant before the seventh week of pregnancy. But the first weeks of pregnancy are crucial for your baby’s development: it’s when its internal organs start to form. This is why, it is strongly recommended that you talk to your doctor and discuss all and every detail before you begin trying to get pregnant.
Quitting birth control
Some contraceptives, such as male and female condoms, diaphragms, caps and natural family planning will allow you to become fertile right after you cease to use them. But if you use other means of contraception, such as combination of birth control pills and contraceptive injections, it will take some time before your menstrual cycle comes back to normal after you go off the birth control. This being said, there are really no reasons why you can’t start trying to get pregnant right away, but some women do prefer to wait for a couple of months to allow their natural menstrual cycle to be restored and their body to get prepared.
Taking food supplements containing folic acid helps avoid your baby’s neural tube defects. For instance, the head of the UK’s National Health Service recommends that women who attempt to get pregnant, or those who have already got pregnant, should take food supplements containing not less than 400 mg of folic acid on a daily basis, starting three months before you begin to try to conceive and during the first trimester of pregnancy. In case your diet is balanced and healthy, you’ve already got some folic acid incoming from the food you eat — for example, from breakfast cereals with vitamins, beans, greens, fresh vegetables and orange juice, but it’s still important to take nutritional supplements because it’s very hard to get the amount of folic acid your body needs daily from food only.
If your diet has been quite healthy by now, you’ll have all the nutrients necessary for supporting your baby’s development from the very day of conception and during the entire pregnancy marathon. You need a regular balanced diet, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and try to avoid eating pasteurized foods and fast food products. It’s necessary that you include the following foods into your
— starches (carbs) — wholemeal (wheat) bread, pasta, rice, and cereals are healthier than white bread, cookies and cakes;
— vegetables and fruit — try to eat five times a day, and remember that brightly colored fruit and vegetables have improved nutritional status;
— proteins — you can get all the necessary proteins from meat, eggs, fish and beans;
— milk and dairy products — these ones have a large supply of calcium, which is quite important for skeletal development;
— fats — try to opt for dietary fats; you can get them from plant products, such as olive oil, and fatty fish like salmon, herring, or mackerel.
Physical activity and healthy weight
Pregnancy puts a big strain on your body, so if you are in good shape before you get pregnant, it will help you out during the entire pregnancy period. Being physically fit before conceiving means that it will be so much easier for you to stay active during pregnancy. Physical exercise will help you keep your mood up, make you more upbeat and save you from stress which can come in handy when you are trying to get pregnant.
Being underweight or overweight may lessen your chances to get pregnant, so the best thing you can do is to make your weight as close to ideal as possible before you start making attempts to conceive. Your doctor can define your perfect weight for you.
Smoking, soft drugs and alcohol
It would be best to avoid smoking, taking soft drugs or drinking alcohol while trying to get pregnant or during pregnancy. In case you smoke it would be a good idea to quit it, because this will increase your chances for healthy pregnancy and delivering a healthy baby. You may avoid passive smoking by asking your partner to quit smoking as well.
Alcohol is just as bad for your baby’s health and will not do any good to fetal development so the best decision would be to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink or to refrain from drinking it at all. A “healthy” glass or red wine won’t be so healthy for your future baby.
Moreover, if you take soft drugs, you should stop it before you even try to get pregnant: drugs will not make your chances to conceive a baby or to have a healthy baby bigger, to put it mildly.
If your partner smokes, drinks or takes drugs, it’s very important for him to do that as scarcely as possible (though it’s better if he stops doing it at all) while you are trying to get pregnant. Apart from having an indirect negative effect over your own health, smoking, drinking and taking party drugs may influence the quality of your partner’s sperm.
Things you should avoid
Keep your body clean from all the infections you may get from food; they are very dangerous for your future baby’s health. Though, if you follow some simple rules, you will cook and eat food rich with nutrients and totally safe for you and your baby. So here’s the list of things you should exclude from your everyday diet and life.
— Uncooked eggs, raw or undercooked meat and shellfish
These foods may be home to salmonella and other bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
— Unpasteurized dairy products, liver or liver mash and food leftovers
All of these food products may contain listeria — bacteria that can cause miscarriage or stillbirth.
— Liver and liver products in general
It’s better to avoid eating them because they contain large amounts of vitamin A that may have negative effect over your baby’s development.
— Any vitamin supplements that DON’T have a “approved for use during pregnancy” tag
Vitamins and other food supplements should be taken only in case the package label says they are ok to use during pregnancy. The reason is, taking some vitamins in big amounts is very dangerous for your baby’s development. Taking folic acid is quite important, as was mentioned above or just buy a food supplement meant for the pregnant moms-to-be.
— Be very careful with pharmaceuticals
Always ask your doctor for some advice before taking any medicines. Never forget to inform your pharmacist about your pregnancy, if you are buying a medicine without a prescription. Even the simplest pharmaceuticals like anti-edemic nasal spray may contain ingredients you shouldn’t take while being pregnant.
— Remember about toxoplasmosis
Badly washed vegetables, half-cooked meat and cat poop make your chances to get toxoplasmosis bigger. Toxoplasmosis is often responsible for miscarriages, stillbirth, and it can harm your baby’s health badly. So always wash fruit and vegetables properly, eat only well-cooked meat and wear gloves while working in your garden or cleaning your cat’s litter box. Wash your hands often while cooking.
What your partner can do to help you
Here are some ways to stimulate sperm production and increase sperm viability
— Be in shape and take good care of health
He should be as active as possible, and it wouldn’t hurt to stop drinking alcohol or smoking and start eating healthy.
— Use sperm-friendly lubricants
Make sure that the lubes you use are not spermicidal or toxic to sperm. You can purchase a special sperm-friendly lube.
— Don’t overheat testicles
Your partner shouldn’t wear underwear that is too tights or take hot baths. Regular or lengthy over-heating of testicles may decrease the sperm quality.
— Regular and active intimate life
According to researches, good quality DNA is produced only in case of regular ejaculations (once in two days at least).
Stressful situations, overloading yourself with work, hard physical labor and prolonged standing on your feet — all these things may affect your pregnancy and ability to conceive a baby. You and your partner need to discuss a lot: how ready you both are to have a child? Do you have any family and other issues to settle down?
Good mental and physical health will help you go through all the hard experiences of pregnancy and childbirth.
Some substances and materials you may contact at work daily may hinder conception or have negative effect over your baby. Tell your doctor about your work and he will tell you about the ways to avoid the possible harm.
Getting ready for pregnancy may look like a daunting perspective, but in fact it’s not as hard as it may seem. All you have to do is to stick to healthy lifestyle as much as you can — and you will surely have a healthy baby.