It’s not enough that your mind is prepared for parenthood. Your body should be ready too. A healthy body gives you a head start to a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Here’ a checklist of some important things you should do when planning for pregnancy.
6 things to do before getting pregnant.
Keep Your Weight In Check
Conception can be easier if you’re at a healthy weight. A low or high body mass index (BMI) makes it harder to get pregnant. Obesity can increase the risk of infertility as clinical studies have proved that losing weight helps obese women to ovulate normally. While being too thin or overweight during pregnancy also increases the risk of birth defects and fetal growth restrictions.
Most doctors recommend 30 minutes of low-impact exercise – like walking, cycling or swimming – 5 days a week. But too much exercise or working-out for a size zero can also impair fertility, causing an imbalance in the oestrogen levels.
Maximizing your fertility and pre-conception health by eating the right kinds of food is easy, as you just have to add certain foods to your diet and avoid others that are not good for your fertility. Never skip breakfast to begin with, and avoid highly refined, high glycemic white carbohydrates like white flour, white rice, white potatoes, sugar and products containing them. Instead, get your carbohydrates from those with a low to moderate glycemic index like vegetables, certain fruits, beans and whole grains. Adding high quality protein to every meal also helps as it stabilizes blood glucose and insulin levels and minimizes appetite.
Folic acid in your diet is essential – even before you conceive. Though folic acid can be found in leafy green vegetables, beans and fortified cereal, it’s difficult to get the recommended amount of 400 mcg from food alone. Doctors usually prescribe a prenatal vitamin with folic acid, as it is essential to prevent brain and spinal cord birth defects during the earliest stages of pregnancy.
Go For A Pre-Conception Check
A pre-conception check-up will help you take stock of your fitness levels. It is a good opportunity to make sure that any chronic conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, or thyroid problems, are in check. While at it, you could also find out if there are any potential health problems that could affect your fertility or put the developing foetus at risk. You could also discuss any medications that you may be taking. If you have a family history of inheritable diseases, genetic counseling may be advisable.
Do Away With Stress
Apart from exercising and eating right, a good night’s sleep (for 7 to 8 hours) is essential to fight stress. Some research shows that high stress levels can delay in your ability to get pregnant. So re-evaluate your job and relationships and try to strive for a work-life balance. Make a start by indulging in stress-busting activities like listening to calming music, reading and knitting – instead of watching television. Go on leisurely walks to tree-lined parks or calm, secluded beaches to de-stress. A relaxing massage, yoga and acupuncture have also been known to reduce stress and boost fertility.
READ: PREGNANCY AFTER 35
Quit Smoking, Drinking And Drugs
You can actually increase your chances of conception by cutting down the cups of coffee and doing away with cigarettes and alcohol. Smoking – active as well as the passive kind – can cause miscarriage, bleeding complications, abnormal presentation and low birth weight. Alcohol is also known to cause birth defects, which is why you need to stay away from it.
Get Off The Pill
If you’ve been on birth control pills, stop taking them at least a couple of months before you plan to start trying. This time frame will allow your body to adjust to its natural cycle and also give you a fair amount of time to figure out your ovulation period (in other words, your most fertile days).
If you’ve been on the pill for a while, it may take some time for your hormone levels to settle down into a pattern. For some women, it could take as less as two weeks (a normal cycle), while for others it may take several months. Even if you have been on the pill for the past 10 years, you can still ovulate in the month following your last pill. And as soon as you start to ovulate again, you have every chance to conceive! However, if you’ve haven’t started menstruating even after three months, you should be paying a visit to the doctor.
Tips & Tricks
Dieting during pregnancy can cause abnormalities and a low birth weight in your baby; therefore your ideal weight should be reached before pregnancy.
Taking folic acid in its natural form before pregnancy can prevent serious birth defects. You can find them in fruits and vegetables, fortified cereals, and enriched bread products. If you’re planning to conceive, you should consume at least 400 micrograms of folic acid a day.
If you are on contraceptive pills, it could take a few months before your periods are regular and you begin ovulating again. It usually is best to stop the pills at the end of a cycle to avoid mid-cycle bleeding.
Before buying a home pregnancy test kit, be sure to check the expiry date. For accurate results, take the test after one week after the missed period; testing very early, can give you negative results.
Green tea and orange pekoe (popularly known as 'regular') are considered to be excellent fertility enhancers. Research has shown that women who regularly drink tea, increase their chance of conception.