Pre-pregnancy planning is important. It would be a good idea to give yourself a couple of months to get your body as healthy as possible to carry your baby. Pre-pregnancy planning can improve the odds of conceiving, having a healthier pregnancy, and delivering a healthy baby. Here are a few things you should know before getting pregnant:
Start Taking a Folic Acid Supplement
Taking 400 micrograms of folic acid a day for 2-3 months before you conceive, and during the 1st trimester , can decrease the chances of having a baby with neural-tube defects such as spina bifida by up to 70 percent.
Stop Smoking and Drinking Alcohol
Alcohol and tobacco (and drugs!) can stay in a woman’s system long after it’s effects have worn off. Tobacco can even affect your fertility and lower your partner’s sperm count, so optimize your chances of conceiving and cut back! Just in case you conceive right away, try to eliminate alcohol and cigarettes while you’re trying to get pregnant.
Cut Back on Caffeine
Too much caffeine can reduce your body’s ability to absorb iron, which is essential during pregnancy. It can also increase the risk for stillbirth. Try gradually decreasing your intake of coffee, tea, and soft drinks. Switching to decaf – or half-decaf – should help! You don’t have to cut caffeine out completely – a cup a day should be fine.
Get Yourself At Your Optimal Weight
Conceiving will be easier if you are at a healthy weight . It can actually be harder to get pregnant if you are underweight or overweight.
Start Eating Healthy!
A healthy diet while pregnant will be good for you and your baby. Start getting into good habits now so it will be second nature to you by the time you have a bun in the oven! Health tip – avoid high-mercury fish while you’re trying to conceive, and while pregnant. Mercury in high doses can harm your baby’s brain development.
The following fish should be avoiding while trying to conceive and while pregnant: shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish. Albacore (“white”) tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna. So stick with the canned light tuna instead. Shrimp, salmon, pollock and catfish tend to be lower in mercury.
Your pre-pregnancy plan should include an exercise plan . Keeping your body fit during pregnancy will make pregnancy easier. Strengthening your body will also make labor and delivery easier, and will shorten recovery time after childbirth.
Avoid Harmful Chemicals
Avoid hazardous cleaning supplies, pesticides, chemicals and paint. Stay away from old, lead-infested water pipes. Make sure you also stay away from cat litter as it may cause toxoplasmosis, an infection that can be dangerous for a developing baby.
See Your Doctor
Schedule a pre-conception visit. Your doctor will probably ask you about your family medical history, your present health, and any medications you’re taking. He or she will also make sure that you’re up-to-date on your immunizations, such as rubella (very important for pregnant women!). This is a good time to ask all the questions you may have.
You should give yourself a lot of credit for caring enough to do some pre-pregnancy planning! Good for you!