So what are the top 10 ways to get my body “pregnant ready?”
And anyway, who doesn’t love top 10 lists? When you’re hoping to expand your family and it’s not coming as easy (or quickly) as you expected, it can sometimes help to alter your mindset a little. For example, what if instead of saying “trying to conceive,” you said, “working towards conceiving?” Doesn’t that sound more optimistic?
Whether you’re trying to conceive the old-fashioned way or through an upcoming IUI or IVF, a positive (not to mention smart) thing to do is get your body “pregnant ready” as an optimistic step! It’s like an investment in your future pregnancy to ensure it’s as healthy as it can be!
Here are the top 10 ways to get your body “pregnancy ready”:
- Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins: Taking prenatal vitamins is a good way of making sure you’re getting the right vitamins you need in the right amounts. Folic acid is especially important pre-pregnancy because it can help prevent neural tube defects that occur in the earliest weeks of pregnancy.
- Get a Complete Physical: Getting ready for pregnancy or not, getting an annual check-up is always advisable. Talk to your doctor about your personal and family medical history to see if these could affect you in any way as you try to become pregnant or while you are pregnant. A complete exam will look for any conditions or infections that could affect your chances of getting pregnant and carrying a healthy baby to term, including HIV, hepatitis, urinary tract infections, anemia and high blood pressure. I’d also recommend seeing the dentist too, to not only get a cleaning but to make sure there are no cavities or issues to deal with. You can’t get x-rays while pregnant, plus, pregnancy can affect your dental health and gums.
- Get Any Chronic Medical Conditions Under Control: Pregnancy significantly increases demands on your body. If you have a chronic condition such as asthma or diabetes this is especially true; pregnancy can complicate these conditions because it increases the demands on your body. Talk to your doctor about any adjustments in treatment or medications you should make before you get pregnant.
- Update Vaccinations: A standard tetanus shot is never a bad idea if it’s been a while, but more importantly, diseases such as rubella (German measles) and chicken pox can potentially cause miscarriages or severe birth defects if you get them while you are pregnant. Ask your doctor for a blood test to see if you are immune. If you do need to get any vaccines, wait at least four weeks to get pregnant after receiving any live vaccine.
- Eat a Healthy Diet: While a prenatal vitamin helps, it can’t be your only source of vitamins and nutrients. You need to also look at your diet. Reduce or remove the amount of processed foods you eat. Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean protein, and foods rich in folates, such as leafy green vegetables and enriched bread.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight: Being overweight can unfortunately reduce your chances of getting pregnant, as can being underweight. Body fat helps regulate the production of estrogen, so if you have too much or too little body fat you may have irregular ovulation. Talk to your primary care physician, OB/GYN, or Reproductive Endocrinologist about the weight range that is healthy for your height and body type.
- Exercise: You should start or continue an exercise routine. Regular exercise is an important factor in fertility because it impacts your weight and stress levels. Low-impact activities, such as walking, swimming, yoga, or biking may be a good option that you can continue once you become pregnant. If you’re just starting an exercise routine, slowly work up to 30 minutes a day, three to four times a week. BUT one word of warning: If you’re about to do any cycle that entails taking hormones to produce more eggs, absolutely make sure to ask your doctor about exercising during that time and “the two week wait,” as they may want you to avoid certain activities or exercising altogether.
- Reduce Stress: While there isn’t definitive proof that stress directly impacts your chances of getting pregnant, reducing stress can never hurt! Look for ways to reduce stress in your overall lifestyle and take advantage of exercise. Regular exercise can help, along with meditating, visualization, journaling, and really anything that you feel relaxes you!
- Give Your Body a Rest from Hormonal Forms of Birth Control: Last, but not least, you need to stop taking hormonal forms of birth control a few months before you begin trying to get pregnant. This gives your menstrual cycle a few months to become regular before you become pregnant, which helps establish an accurate due date. It can take a few weeks (the pill) to a few months (Depo-Provera) for your cycle to become regular. Use a barrier method of contraception, such as condoms, during this time.
- If You Smoke – Stop: Smoking can seriously hurt your chances of getting pregnant. Researchers have found that smoking couples were twice as likely to be childless after five years of not using contraception. There is nothing good about smoking for you, your baby, or anyone else around you. Talk to your OB/GYN or your Reproductive Endocrinologist about methods to help you quit.
When you’re ready to get pregnant, no one wants to wait too long, but if you can use that time to get yourself as healthy as possible, you might as well! Good luck!