Once you make the decision to get pregnant, what to do before getting pregnant can be an essential issue. There are certain things you can do to improve your chances and certain things you should avoid. Having a healthy pregnancy starts with your lifestyle before you get pregnant. Make small changes in your life like keeping away from environmental pollutants can make you more likely to conceive a healthy baby. Read on to learn more tips that can increase your chances of a health pregnancy.
What to Do Before Getting Pregnant
In order to increase your chances for a healthy pregnancy, there are some things you can do to prepare yourself:
1. Schedule an Appointment with the Doctor
Your healthcare provider will want to be sure you are healthy before you think about having a baby. This appointment may be with your regular healthcare provider or with the obstetrician or midwife who will be following you during a pregnancy. Be sure to have your health history and medications available for review. During this appointment, your provider will talk to you about your habits, weight and diet. She will ask you about diseases you have had and any preventative treatments you have done. If you have not had a recent pelvic exam, you might have one at this appointment.If you are at risk for genetic diseases, testing might be done. If you do not have an obstetrician or midwife, be sure to ask your doctor for a couple of names.
2. Take Folic Acid
The need for folic acid during pregnancy is well-documented. Most practitioners recommend that you start taking 400 micrograms of folic acid each day at least a month before you start trying to get pregnant. High levels of folic acid have been shown to reduce birth defects such as spina bifida. Your healthcare provider will help you find a good prenatal vitamin that contains the appropriate amounts of all the vitamins and minerals. Unless your provider puts you on a multivitamin that requires a prescription, you can usually find good supplements at a drug or health food store. Be sure to take the bottle to your doctor or midwife to be sure the vitamins are right for you.
3. Ditch Unhealthy Habits
If you have lifestyle habits that are harmful to you, remember that they will be even more harmful to a developing baby. Tobacco smoke, street drugs, pharmaceutical drugs and alcohol will all pass through the placenta to your baby. There is also reliable research to show that all of these unhealthy habits can make it harder for you to get pregnant. Once pregnant, these unhealthy habits can lead to premature labor, miscarriage, and low birth weight babies. Before you get pregnant is a great time to stop these habits. Your healthcare provider can help you quit or cut down on these habits.
4. Eat Healthy
In answering what to do before getting pregnant, improving your eating habits is one of the most important. Eating a well-rounded diet packed with nutrition will help you store the vitamins and minerals you need to get pregnant. Unless you have a medical problem that requires a special diet, try to get fruit, vegetables, whole grains and protein at every meal. No need to pile your plate high but get some of each food group at each meal. This is also a good time to begin consuming foods high in calcium – yogurt, milk and any calcium-rich juice.
5. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Research shows that overweight and underweight women are at risk for certain diseases and may run the risk of not being able to get pregnant or maintain a healthy pregnancy. Women with weight issues have higher risks of heart disease, diabetes, pregnancy complications and some cancers. If you are thinking about getting pregnant, talk to a good nutritionist who can prescribe a healthy diet for pre- and post-conception.
6. Have Sex at the Right Time
Getting pregnant is all about timing and there are a couple of tricks you should know to increase your chances:
- Trick #1: Figure out when you ovulate. Unless the sperm and egg meet up, you will NOT get pregnant. Part of this process is knowing when your ovary releases an egg. Usually, an egg is released each month prior to your menstrual period. There are a number of ways to determine when you ovulate; the most accurate may be to purchase an over-the-counter ovulation kit. If you cannot establish a regular ovulation calendar for yourself, you may want to see your doctor who can give you more advice.
- Trick #2: Get busy at the right time! Assuming your ovulation pattern is relatively predictable, plan to have sex at least every other day from 3 days before ovulation through ovulation. Sperm will survive in your body for several days, but once the egg is released, it will only survive for one to two days. It makes sense to have sperm in your body waiting for the egg to be released. Of course, sex before this fertile period will ensure that your partner always has healthy sperm available!
7. Pay Attention to Seafood
In general, fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids that are important to a healthy baby. However, you should be very aware of how much mercury may be in certain seafood. Nutritionists recommend that you eat two servings of fish each week – but only about 12 ounces total. Avoid the “meatier” fish – king mackerel, shark and swordfish. Instead, substitute with herring, salmon, trout and sardines. These fish are typically much lower in contaminants while still providing the fatty acids. Watch the video for tips on eating seafood for pregnancy:
8. Reduce Environmental Risks
Reducing environmental risks can be hard to do, but it's one imporant thing when figuring out what to do before getting pregnant. If you work in a job that requires exposure to radiation or chemicals, you may want to make a change BEFORE you get pregnant. Try to make the switch to more natural cleaning products that do not contain chemicals that can harm you and your baby. Switching to these products can be a lifelong decision since these natural substances will be healthier for your children, too.
9. Prevent Infections
Infections before and during pregnancy can be a problem. A severe infection can lead to sterility and problems for your fetus. Avoid unpasteurized foods especially dairy products and deli meats. Also, avoid uncooked or undercooked meat, chicken and fish. Any of these foods can contain the listeria bacteria that can cause a miscarriage. Undercooked and unpasteurized food can also contain other bacteria such as salmonella. Hand hygiene is critical all the time but particularly when you are trying to conceive or when you are pregnant. Be sure your flu shot and other immunizations are up to date!
10. Avoid These Things
In addition to the things you should do to get pregnant, there are also some things to avoid:
- Do NOT use over-the-counter lubricants. Ask your healthcare provider for safe alternatives.
- Do NOT take medications without your healthcare provider’s permission, no matter it’s over the counter or prescribed medicines.
- Do NOT exercise too strenuously. Five or more hours of strenuous exercise a week can reduce your fertility.
Watch the video to learn all necessary tips for getting pregnant: