Pregnancy can be one of the most beautiful periods in a woman’s life, but it can also be daunting—especially for first-time mothers. From conception to the birth of your baby, doctors, family members, friends and even strangers will swear by various books, classes and vitamins. It’s overwhelming to say the least! That’s why we’ve put together our top 10 tips to help get your pregnancy off to the right start (before even trying to conceive).
10 Things to Do Before Getting Pregnant
Stop binge drinking
When you’re hoping to say hello to a new baby, alcohol is something that you should say goodbye to. Drinking any alcohol during pregnancy can affect the growth and development of your child. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no safe kind of alcohol, including all wines, beers and mixed drinks.
Start a new exercise routine
The healthier you are during pregnancy, the better chance you have of birthing a healthy baby. Get off the couch and get active for 30 minutes four plus days per week, whether it’s walking, running or yoga. Not only can this kind of exercise routine improve fertility, it can help you feel positive throughout your pregnancy, build stamina for labor and shed the baby weight faster post-pregnancy, according to one article.
Get to a healthy weight
Your weight—overweight or underweight—can have a significant impact on your ability to get pregnant. A low body mass index (BMI) (below 18.5) or a high BMI (over 30) may cause you to experience irregular periods or halt your ovulation entirely. Obesity during pregnancy can also result in gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, birth defects or the need for a C-section. That’s certainly some motivation to make sure we’re staying healthy!
Give up smoking
Smoking isn’t good for your own health, so it only makes sense that it also poses risks for your unborn baby. According to the Women’s and Children’s Health Network, not only does smoking decrease your chances of becoming pregnant, it also increases your chances of having a stillbirth, a preterm baby and a baby with respiratory illnesses.
Take folic acid
For something you may never have heard of, folic acid is incredibly important in preparing your body for pregnancy. Serious neural tube defects such as spina bifida, anencephaly and encephalocele develop during the first month of pregnancy—this is often before a woman even knows she’s with child! Not to worry, though. Folic acid, a B vitamin found in green leafy vegetables, orange juice and enriched grains, can reduce the risk of these complications by up to 70% according to one article.
Stock up on healthy foods
You should treat your body like your temple all of the time, but this is especially true when you’re trying to get pregnant. Prepare your body for pregnancy with the nutrients necessary to keep your baby healthy. One article suggests eating at least two cups of fruit and two and a half cups of veggies every day along with adequate amounts of whole grains, proteins and calcium.
Cut back on coffee
That’s right, you don’t need to give up that magic morning elixir completely. But if you drink more than one to two eight-ounce cups of coffee per day, you should lessen that dependence just a bit. Caffeine has been shown to negatively affect fertility and interfere with your body’s ability to absorb iron during pregnancy.
Don’t lose your love of seafood
Many mothers-to-be cut seafood from their diets for fear of mercury poisoning. This is not the right move according to The National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition. In fact, the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are important for brain and eye development. Women who want to become pregnant should eat a minimum of 12 ounces of low-mercury fish per week.
Remember that teeth matter too
If fear of that dental drill has been keeping you from getting your teeth cleaned, pre-pregnancy is the time to find your way back. According to one babycenter.com, shifts during pregnancy can increase your likelihood of getting gum disease. The good news is that getting in for that check-up prior to conception can decrease your chances of experiencing gum complications during pregnancy.
Find your family medical history
You can help secure your baby’s future by looking into your past. Check into your family medical history, as well as your partner’s, and take note of any genetic or chromosomal disorders like Down syndrome, sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs and bleeding disorders. This may help you determine the appropriate pre-natal tests to take or help you to decide if looking into genetic counseling is the right move for you.