Prepare for pregnancy — are you ready?

You may be mentally and emotionally prepared for pregnancy. You may even be financially prepared for pregnancy, but is your body physically ready?

During your nine months of pregnancy, your body undergoes extreme changes. Hormone levels fly off the charts, you will have about 12 kilograms of extra weight to carry around, the volume of blood pumping around your body doubles and your ligaments, tendons and muscles become lax.

Then there is the variety of other discomforts associated with pregnancy, like haemorrhoids, constipation, varicose veins, reflux, blood noses or congestion, temporary incontinence, yeast infections, fluid retention and stretch marks. So, how do you prepare your body for the physical changes that will occur during this exciting time of your life?

Maintain a healthy diet

A healthy nutritious diet can help to prepare your body for pregnancy both inside and out. It is also a good way to keep many of the discomforts of pregnancy at bay. A diet rich in protein, calcium and fresh fruits and vegetables is what you want to maintain. This type of diet will also help you to stay within your healthy BMI range. Remember that a healthy diet also includes certain vitamins and minerals, including iron, vitamin B and folic acid. Many women choose to take an appropriate pregnancy supplement to ensure their body gets all the nutrients it needs.

Get regular gentle exercise

Getting into a good regular exercise routine prior to conceiving is a great way to get your joints moving, your blood flowing and your muscles and ligaments supple. Exercising helps you maintain a healthy weight and strengthen your muscles for the task ahead. Strenuous exercise should be avoided. Instead, choose gentle exercises like regular walking, yoga, swimming and low impact aerobic exercise. Thirty minutes of exercise each day is ideal according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. During pregnancy, regular exercise can help alleviate common discomforts such as constipation, varicose veins and fluid retention.

Check out your prescription medications

It is surprising how many prescription medications and over-the-counter medications are not suitable for pregnant women. If you are on regular prescription medications, always check with your GP about whether they are safe to continue taking while trying to get pregnant. Be aware of many commonly used chemist-bought medications that are not suitable for pregnant women, like those for hayfever, thrush, constipation, cough and flu and even pain relief.

Book a visit with your GP

Often referred to as a preconception check up, a visit to your GP before you fall pregnant is a great way to ensure your body is in optimum shape, from the inside out. A simple blood test can help to identify any vitamin or mineral supplements you may be lacking. Your GP can also check to see that you are up-to-date with your vaccinations. Rubella and chicken pox immunity is important during pregnancy to reduce the risk of possible birth defects. Your GP will likely cover your medical history, family history, current lifestyle, your weight and blood pressure, possibly suggest a pap smear and answer any questions you have about conceiving and pregnancy.

More tips on conception and pregnancy

Sex positions for getting pregnant
Complementary therapies to boost your fertility

Tips to stay fit while pregnant

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