best to keep a healthy lifestyle similar to the guidelines recommended
during pregnancy in pre-conception as well. That will make any
changes—such as limiting caffeine, staying away from alcohol
or stopping smoking—easier to handle. Some of the best advice
we can give you is:
Eat healthy, be healthy. Follow the nutrition
guidelines for pregnancy to get in the habit of eating right
for you and your baby. You don’t have to eat more right
now, but it’s important to eat more of the good stuff,
and less of the junk, including saturated fats and refined sugars.
Additives can make the symptoms of pregnancy such as nausea and
vomiting even more severe, so it’s a great idea to cut
out junk food now. This is also a time to cut back on caffeine,
including coffee and soda. Although the studies that you read
about caffeine affecting fertility have never been proven, and
the International Food Information Council (IFIC) agrees that
caffeine does not pose a significant risk to fertility; caffeine
should be limited during pregnancy. Because caffeine is not recommended
for consumption during pregnancy, long-time “users” may
find it difficult to cut back in a short period of time. In order
to ease the process of caffeine withdrawal, start now while you
have a chance so you don’t feel overwhelmed when pregnancy
begins and you have one more thing to remember!
Talk to your provider. If you’re planning
on getting pregnant, it’s always best to talk to your healthcare
provider about the steps you should take, any specific risks you
may have, medications you should stop taking and vaccinations or
medical procedures that should be done prior to conception. This
time is a perfect opportunity to find a provider for
your pregnancy and birth. A pre-pregnancy check-up will allow your
doctor or certified nurse midwife (CNM) to assess your overall
health condition, and make sure that you’re physically ready
for a pregnancy. You should talk about your pregnancy history,
and if you’ve had any pregnancy complications in the past.
Most pregnancies are uncomplicated, but after a full assessment,
your provider might feel that your pregnancy is high-risk and refer
you to a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, an obstetrician with
additional training in high-risk pregnancies.
Your provider will perform various tests at your pre-pregnancy
check-up. These tests are very important. If there are unexpected
results, you and your provider will have the chance to discuss
and plan for any potential problems. Talk with your provider about
pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes or a kidney problem,
before you get pregnant so that she/he can guide and counsel you.
It’s recommended that you talk to your doctor about updating
your immunizations before
you become pregnant. For example, if you’ve never had chicken
pox, you should be tested to see if you’re immune. If not,
you can be immunized. If you haven’t had your tetanus booster
in the past ten years, now is the time. You should have other immunizations
as an adult, but it isn’t recommended when you’re pregnant.
In order to prevent yourself or your baby from becoming sick with
these preventable diseases, the time before conception is the best
for an immunization update. Also, there are some vaccinations that
are administered over a period of time, in which case it’s
best to put off conception until the immunization is completed.
Talk to your doctor about timing and concerns when it comes to
Quit smoking. Smoking is
harmful for your pregnancy. Smoking during pregnancy is associated
with many risks for your baby including prematurity and low birthweight.
Exposure to smoke (even secondhand smoke) during pregnancy may
also affect your child's long-term development. But, right now,
smoking can cause problems with your fertility, making it difficult
for you to conceive.
Eliminate alcohol and drugs. If you have any
unhealthy habits such as drinking or using illicit drugs, now is
the time to cut out those habits. Alcohol is extremely harmful
for a baby and it’s widely understood that a pregnant mother
should abstain from drinking alcohol altogether. If you drink more
than one drink per day, try to stop now, before conception, to
avoid any alcohol-related fertility problems. Many women stop drinking
altogether once they start trying to conceive in order to ensure
that no alcohol is present in their body at any stage of pregnancy.
If you use any types of illegal drugs for recreation, you should
see this as a time to stop use altogether. Drugs are extremely
damaging for pregnancies and can cause lifelong birth defects in
your baby. If you're addicted and don’t think that you will
be able to stop using drugs, talk to your doctor, midwife or a
counselor about ways to cut out drugs before and during pregnancy.
Professional support and concerns about the health of your unborn
baby may help you stop using drugs. If you drank or used
drugs before you knew you were pregnant, the chances of your baby
being affected in very early pregnancy are low. Remember,
during pregnancy it's never too late to quit drinking,
smoking or using illegal drugs.
Get to your ideal body weight. It is better for
your health and your baby's health, for you to be at a recommended
ideal weight. Your provider can discuss this with you. If you have
suffered from an eating disorder or still do, talk to your provider.
You will need to make sure that you get the right nutrients and
attain the bodyweight that will help you have a healthy pregnancy
and deliver a healthy baby. Underweight women may give birth to
babies with a low birth weight. And if you’re obese, you
should also talk to your provider about a safe way to shed some
pounds before conception to have a healthy and low-risk pregnancy.
Overweight women have a higher chance of developing complications
during pregnancy such as gestational diabetes and higher blood
Minimize or eliminate exposure to toxins
and infection. Make sure you avoid all contact with
chemicals and radiation now and into the pregnancy. That means
limiting exposure to X-rays—make sure if you need an x-ray,
the exposure is minimal and your abdomen is well-protected. Avoid
contact with lead, which is found in paint and some tap water—drink
bottled water if you need to, or invest in a good filter. If
you work around dangerous chemicals, talk with your provider
about possible exposure. This also means avoiding contact with
any cat litter, wearing gloves while gardening, and protecting
yourself from insect bites. Cat feces carries an infection called
toxoplasmosis. This can be harmful for the baby.
Get financially prepared. Now is the perfect
time to start preparing for providing for a child, and to look
into your health insurance options. A child will cut into your
income and cost a lot, no matter how you look at it. Learn to practice
restraint and save for a child. If this is your first child, you
might start avoiding impulse purchases for yourself in order to
keep some extra money to spend on the child. Talk to your healthcare
provider about hospital coverage and prenatal care.
Click below to read about related topics.
Tips for Healthy Pre-Conception
Predicting Your Fertility
Problems with Conception