Just about everyone knows to eat right and exercise during pregnancy, but those thinking about or actively trying to conceive have a few steps they can take to give that future baby the best start in life!
take a vitamin with at least 400 mcg of folic acid. The best prevention of birth defects happens when the body has adequate levels of folic acid 3 months prior to conception!
Cut back or eliminate known toxic habits like smoking and alcohol
Consider your weight. Those who are under- or over-weight will often have more difficulty conceiving, and may be more likely to experience special health issues during pregnancy. Strive for a body mass index
between 19-25. But if you have a long way to go, don’t give up! Even a 5-10 # weight change can improve your health and reduce the chances of things like diabetes and high blood pressure, and since there’s no dieting during pregnancy, now’s your chance! However, exercise can and should continue for most pregnant women.
Schedule a health maintainance visit with your doctor or midwife now. If you can improve upon anemia now, have your Pap smear before pregnancy, and identify any health concerns early, you will have less to worry about when the pregnancy test is positive, and you may give your baby an early boost. This is also a great time to ask your doctor or midwife some questions to help you decide if their style of care is a good match for how you’d like to birth. Some ways to make that decision:
It might seem too early to ask about birth care when you’re not yet pregnant, but if you can identify a mismatch now, you won’t have to go through a change of care providers in the middle of pregnancy. Just because someone does a gentle Pap smear doesn’t mean they will support your wishes around your pregnancy and birth. Find out now!
Pre-baby is a great time to talk through your visions for your family with your partner – who will change the diapers, will you breastfeed, what will you do with the mothers-in-law, what will the work-life balance look like between you, how will you each take care of yourselves and each other. These questions WILL come up, and advance preparation can help keep you on the same page.
Get your Kegel exercises going now!
Look for pregnant, new mommy, and hoping-to-be mommy friends now. You will see some the realities of pregnancy and parenting in a tangible way, and build a network of folks to call on for support and advice when the going gets tough.
And remember, average couples take 3-6 months to conceive, so, if at first you don’t succeed…! But, if you’re under 35 and had difficulty conceiving for a year, or over 35 and had difficulty more than 6 months, seek a professional evaluation from someone with a comprehensive, holistic approach to fertility management. Happy Spring!