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Getting Your Body Ready for Trying to Conceive
Are you thinking about trying to conceive? Then now is the time to get your body in baby-ready shape!
Taking care of your body before you try to get pregnant may help you get pregnant. It can also improve the critical first few weeks of fetal development — a time you might not even know you’re pregnant.
Here is some advice to help you feel your best and keep your reproductive system functioning at its best.
If you smoke, you are seriously hurting your chances of getting pregnant. Researchers have found that smoking couples were twice as likely to be childless after five years of not using contraception. There is nothing good about smoking for you, your baby or anyone else around you. Talk to your Ob/Gyn or your fertility doctor about methods to help you quit.
Get a Complete Physical
Talk to a general practitioner about your personal and family medical history to see if these could affect you in any way as you try to become pregnant or while you are pregnant. A complete exam will look for any conditions or infections that could affect your chances of getting pregnant and carrying a healthy baby to term, including HIV, hepatitis, urinary tract infections, anemia and high blood pressure.
Disease such as rubella (German measles) and chicken pox can actually cause miscarriages or severe birth defects if you get them while you are pregnant. Ask your doctor for a blood test to see if you are immune. If you do need to get any vaccines, wait at least four weeks to get pregnant after receiving any live vaccine.
Get Chronic Medical Conditions Under Control
Pregnancy significantly increases demands on your body. If you have a chronic condition such as asthma or diabetes, pregnancy can complicate these conditions because it increases the demands on your body. Talk to your doctor about any adjustments in treatment or medications you should make before you get pregnant.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight can reduce your chances of getting pregnant, as can being underweight. Body fat helps regulate the production of estrogen, so if you have too much or too little body fat you may have irregular ovulation. Talk to your Ob/Gyn or fertility doctor about the weight range that is healthy for your height and body type.
Take Prenatal Vitamins
Start taking a prenatal vitamin to make sure you are getting the right vitamins in the right amounts. Folic acid is especially important pre-pregnancy because it is the most important way to prevent neural tube defects that occur in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. Also eat foods rich in folates, such as leafy green vegetables and enriched bread.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Don't depend solely on the prenatal vitamin to take care of a poor diet. Reduce or remove the amount of processed foods you eat. Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and lean protein.
You should start or continue an exercise routine. Regular exercise is an important factor in fertility because it impacts your weight and stress levels. Low-impact activities, such as walking, swimming, yoga or biking may be a good option that you can continue once you become pregnant. If you’re just starting an exercise routine, slowly work up to 30 minutes a day, three to four times a week.
The research is mixed on how stress affects fertility, but the two are definitely not friends. Look for ways to reduce stress in your overall lifestyle and take advantage of exercise. Regular exercise can help reduce stress levels by releasing natural endorphins.
Give Your Body a Rest from Hormonal Forms of Birth Control
Last, but not least, you need to stop taking hormonal forms of birth control a few months before you begin trying to get pregnant. This gives your menstrual cycle a few months to become regular before you become pregnant, which helps establish an accurate due date. It can take a few weeks (the pill) to a few months (Depo-Provera) for your cycle to become regular. Use a barrier method of contraception, such as condoms, during this time.
Now that your body is baby-ready, you can get started on the fun part!