So you and your partner have decided you’re ready to start trying for a baby. Like many women, you might want it to happen right away. But before you throw out your pills and jump into bed, make sure your body is just as ready as your mind is.
See your doctor
Visiting the doctor before conception is the best way to be proactive about your health and that of your future little one. Your physician might suggest blood work to ensure you are rubella immune, as a rubella infection during pregnancy can put you and your baby at serious risk. If you are unsure if you’ve had chicken pox or the vaccine, it’s a good idea to check this out ahead of time as well. Both vaccines (MMR and Varicella) can be given before you start trying to become pregnant, but not during pregnancy. Depending on your risk factors, your doctor might also request other blood work, such as your iron level and thyroid function. This visit is also a good time to discuss any current medical conditions, including your mental health and how pregnancy will affect it.
Medications and supplements
Taking folic acid before conception helps to prevent neural tube defects from developing in the baby, such as spina bifida. To get the full benefits of folic acid supplementation, you need to take 0.4 milligrams for at least four to six weeks prior to getting pregnant. If you have a family history of neural tube defects, you might need a larger dose. Speak to your physician about the right dose for you. While trying to conceive, it is recommended that you avoid alcohol. If you are on any medications already, speak with your physician about the benefits and risks of continuing to take them during pregnancy.
Remember that when you do get pregnant, your baby eats what you eat. It’s a good idea to make small changes in your diet before you start trying to conceive so that the transition is easier for you. If you are a heavy coffee drinker, cut back to 200 milligrams per day. Reduce the amount of aspartame-filled diet soda you drink by switching it out for carbonated water. Increasing the amount of iron-rich foods — such as spinach, nuts, beans and whole grains — in your diet will give you a buffer from the iron-depleting effect of pregnancy.
Diet and exercise
To reduce the risk of infertility as well as other risks during pregnancy, it’s best to aim for a body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 to 24.9 before getting pregnant. That said, though, now is not the time to go on any restrictive diet. If you are not one for regular exercise, taking brisk walks is a great way to increase your heart rate before and during pregnancy. If you do have a regular fitness routine, then good for you — keep it up! However, keep in mind that a low body fat percentage can negatively affect fertility as well.
Here are more tips on how to boost your fertility >>
Preparing your body for pregnancy leaves less up to chance. What better reason to get healthy than for your future child?