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4 Health changes to make before conceiving

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...

Pre-conception \health tips

You and your partner have finally made the decision to have a baby. Congratulations! But preparing your body for pregnancy isn’t easy-- and if your lifestyle habits are sub-par, there are a few things you should start doing now to ensure the health of you and your fetus.

Woman on treadmill

1Change your diet

As soon as you decide to conceive, you should evaluate your eating habits. Are you digging into enough fruits and vegetables? Should you go organic? Do you eat your daily servings of calcium- and protein-rich food sources? If not, contact a holistic nutritionist or dietician and develop a plan to increase the amount of nutrients you intake on a daily basis. Not only will getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals keep you and your fetus healthy, it will also make the "conception" part of pregnancy easier (when we're lacking nutrients, our body's natural ovulation cycle can get thrown off).

2Start taking folic acid

If you're eating a balanced diet, you may not need to invest in a daily multivitamin, but that doesn't mean you can avoid popping a folic acid pill every day. Research has proven the vitamin reduces the risk of neural-tube birth defects, such as spina bifida. It has also been linked to lower rates of heart attacks and cancer in women. Aim to take at least 400 micrograms of the vitamin daily.

3Ditch your vices

Smoking and drinking too much alcohol are two things that will not only hinder your ability to get pregnant-- they will also compromise the health of you and your baby throughout pregnancy. When you smoke, your baby gets less oxygen and nutrients. This can cause your baby to grow more slowly and gain less weight in your womb. And when you drink, you could damage your growing baby's brain, organs and body. Ditch both before you even take that first pregnancy test.

4Exercise more

Exercise can help alleviate all sorts of pregnancy side effects, including morning sickness and stress/anxiety. But it will also help you keep your body weight in check-- making it easier for you to drop pounds post-pregnancy. If that weren't enough, staying active will help you prepare for the vigor of childbirth-- ensuring your muscles and mind have the stamina you'll need to actually have your baby. Talk to your doctor about what types of exercise work for you.

More conception tips and information

5 Ways to relieve the pressure of trying to conceive
5 Surprise ways to tell him you're pregnant
5 Conception must-haves

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