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Getting ready for a healthy baby

Sarah Kelsey is a lifestyle writer, editor and spokesperson based in Toronto. She was the editor of AOL/The Huffington Post Canada’s StyleList, Style and Living sites. Today, she's a freelancer writing for some of North America’s top pub...

How to have a healthy baby

Getting your body ready for baby is no easy task. In fact, preconception planning should start at least one year before you actually start trying to have a baby. What are the things you should be doing now if you hope to have a bun in the oven by 2011? Read on to find out.

Woman stretching in field

Get thee to a doctor

One of the very first things you should do is talk to your doctor. A physician will be able to evaluate the current state of your health and can then offer tips on how to make your body stronger pre-pregnancy.

Research your family history

Before having a baby, it's important to research all of the medical conditions, including asthma, heart disease, cancer and diabetes, that run in your family. Talk to your parents or any older relatives who can offer some insight. From there, your doctor can give you advice on genetic testing to see if there's a likelihood of passing these diseases onto your child. It's also important for you to know if your mother suffered miscarriages or preterm pregnancies, since this could affect your pregnancy; be sure to share this information with your doctor.

Get exercising

The healthier your body is pre-pregnancy, the faster it will rebound after you deliver the baby. Some studies suggest exercise can also make for a smoother pregnancy. A good workout plan should include cardio, weight lifting, core strengthening and gentle stretching. Talk to your doctor before begin a new exercise program to make sure it is right for you.

Supplement your diet

A year before you start trying to conceive, it's important to evaluate the vitamins you're taking and whether you're suffering from any nutrient deficiencies (a simple blood test from your doctor can help with the diagnosis). You should also start supplementing your diet with a prenatal supplement that includes folic acid and other nutrients to prevent birth defects and complications.

Update your vaccines

Certain infections, like chickenpox, can be dangerous – if not fatal – for an unborn baby. If your immunizations aren't up to date, make sure to get them updated at least one month before you start trying to conceive.

Get off the pill

Depending on the type of birth control you're using (if you're using any), your physician may recommend a three-month break before trying to conceive. This will allow your reproductive system to get back to normal. Birth control breaks can also make it easier for doctors to plot your due date.

Clear your medicine cabinet

Women are advised to not take certain medications, herbs and supplements when they're pregnant. It's important to make a list of all of the medicines and herbal supplements you have in your cabinet and pass it along to your doctor. From there, she can tell you what you should stop taking immediately and which others cannot be taken when you actually get pregnant.

Quit Those nasty vices

A year before you start trying to get pregnant, you should quit smoking and cut back on caffeine and alcohol. This will give your body some time to recover from the damage these vices may have done before it comes time for baby.

Get your partner involved

Women aren't the only ones who should start prepping their body for baby. Men should also do a few things to increase the quality of their sperm (and the likelihood you'll conceive). A few things your man can do include: quitting smoking, easing off alcohol, eating a balanced diet, exercising on a regular basis, wearing boxer shorts (not briefs) and keeping your home's temperature cool.

If a baby is in your future, start planning on a healthy pregnancy now – it will not only better ensure a complication-free pregnancy and birth, it will improve your health now and once your baby is born. As important, the healthier you are, the healthier your baby will be.

More tips for a healthy pregnancy

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