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Timeline: How to prepare your body for pregnancy

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 tips

Deciding to have a baby can be one of the most exciting times in your life — you may even get sidetracked with anticipation. But when it comes to conceiving, it’s important you remember to prepare your body for pregnancy. Here’s a brief timeline on what you should be doing pre-conception and when.

Woman beginning fitness routine

Three months before conception

Visit your doctor

The healthier you are, the easier conceiving will be. Not only that, your body will better be able to handle pregnancy. So visit your doctor for a full physical to ensure your blood pressure levels are in check — even some basic bloodwork will come in handy to make sure that everything is functioning properly. If they're not, alter your lifestyle habits accordingly — your doctor can tell you what you need to do.

Go off birth control

Most doctors say it takes about three months for your body to return to a normal cycle — whereby you can track ovulation — after being on birth control. Once your cycle seems normal, you can then talk to your doctor about tracking ovulation with an ovulation test or charting your daily temps.

Stop drinking or smoking

Both of these vices will adversely affect your health, your baby's health and the likelihood that you'll be able to conceive. If you want a child, it's best to start the quitting process now so there's no chance you'll be doing either one once fertilization happens.

Two months before conception

Start a regular exercise regimen

If you don't already work out on a regular basis, now is the time to start. Not only will exercise help reduce the amount of cortisol (the stress hormone) in your body, it will also help you cope with any conception issues you may encounter. On top of that, it will help boost your muscle and cardiovascular strength — you'll need both to carry the extra weight of a baby.

Change your diet

Getting your daily dose of nutrients and vitamins is not only essential for your health, but it's super important for your baby's. Research says it takes 30 days for something to become habit, so if you need to alter your eating patterns — digging into more vegetables or going organic — now would be the time to change things up.

One month before conception

Start popping folic acid pills

Folic acid is essential if you're trying to get pregnant. Not only does it protect the female reproductive system, it will stave off neural tube defects (including spina bifida). Talk to your doctor about how much folic acid you will need to take on a daily basis and get suggestions on the kind of multivitamin/folic acid pills you should purchase.

More conception tips and information

5 Ways to relieve the pressure of trying to conceive
5 Conception must-haves
4 Health changes to make before conceiving

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