A healthy pregnancy begins before you even begin to try to get pregnant. You really need to prepare your body for pregnancy to give your baby the best start in life possible.
One of the first things to do is to go to your primary health care professional for a thorough check up.
Next, choose an experienced obstetrician that you trust to keep you healthy and will make decisions based on what is best for you and your baby. Avoid obstetricians that would schedule labor for convenience.
Once your doctor tells you that you are healthy enough to become pregnant, there are things you can do to prepare your body for pregnancy. Some changes that should be made before getting pregnant:
Smoking contributes to high blood pressure and is harmful to your health in many other ways. It reduces the oxygen available to your body and creates toxins in your system. The risks increase for smoking moms.
The growing fetus will be exposed to nicotine (it passes through the placenta) and oxygen-poor blood. Stillbirths, birth defects, low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome, and cancer risks are increased in babies that are carried by moms who smoke during their pregnancy.
Smoking doubles the risk of ectopic pregnancy and of having a low birth weight baby.
Don’t wait until you get pregnant to stop smoking. It will only be harder.
Now is also the time for dad to cut out tobacco use. Men who smoke should work to change unhealthy behaviors before conception. It also prevents the mom from being exposed to second hand smoke before the baby is born and the baby being exposed after the birth.
Drinking and pregnancy don’t mix any better than drinking and driving. It is best to avoid alcohol completely prior to conception.
Alcohol must be eliminated throughout pregnancy. Alcohol travels rapidly through the bloodstream and passes the placenta. It can damage a developing fetus by causing mental retardation and facial abnormalities in babies, a condition called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
It is estimated by the Institute of Medicine that 12,000 children with fetal alcohol syndrome are born in the United States every year.
Start eating healthy and naturally, meaning no processed foods and as much organic foods as possible. Check the EWG’s dirty dozen list for the fruit and veggies you should eat organic to eliminate harmful pesticides and GMO.
Avoid fish that’s high in mercury such as tuna, shark and king mackerel. A full list of safe (and unsafe!) fish variety’s can be found here.
Also make sure you drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.
There is a difference between the effects of your weight before pregnancy and the effects your weight gain during pregnancy, on the baby’s health.
At your initial check up, your ideal weight should be discussed when preparing to get pregnant.
If you have high blood pressure or at risk for diabetes, a weight loss of even five to ten pounds can lower the risks to you and your baby.
Caffeine will reduce the calcium absorbed by you and in turn affect your baby’s development. There has been some links to reproductive organ deformities and caffeine.
These deformities don’t usually become known until the baby is grown and attempting to make babies.
Start Taking Folic Acid
Folic acid will protect the female reproductive systems and helps prevent neural tube defects (such as spina bifida).
Folic acid also aids in the development of your baby’s nervous system, so talk to your doctor about how much folic acid you need to take.
If you’re not exercising regularly, now is the time to start! Exercise will lower stress levels and keep you healthy throughout your pregnancy.
Start practicing Yoga, which is not just great for strength and flexibility, but is also an excellent mind-body workout to eliminate stress.
It may take up to a year to get pregnant. Don’t be discouraged; it will give you more time to prepare your body for pregnancy and be at optimal health!