Lifestyle Changes to Prepare for Pregnancy
If you are planning to fall pregnant, preparing your body and mind for a healthy pregnancy is important. The time required to prepare your body for pregnancy varies between different individuals depending on your current health conditions. Below are some tips that might help you.
Healthy Diet Habits
- Start eating a healthy and balanced diet. Add whole grains, fruits and vegetables to your diet. People who are overweight are at risk of many diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease during pregnancy. Obesity is also an underlying cause for infertility. On the flip side, people who are underweight can be weak and prone to other diseases. So maintaining a healthy weight is key.
- Make sure you add enough folic acid to your diet. It protects your baby from developing some birth defects. Food rich in folic acid are peas, beans, lentils, vegetables like spinach & broccoli.
- Fish - Many people worry about the consumption of fish during pregnancy. Fish has vital nutrients like omega -3 fatty acids, proteins and vitamins which are essential for pregnant women. It is recommended to have 2 to 3 servings of fish per week in your diet. Sometimes they can contain high level of mercury which can harm the baby. Mercury is an element that collects in oceans, lakes and streams and can accumulate in some types of fish. Choose fish low in mercury like salmon, tilapia and shellfish. Avoid fish like sharks, swordfish and mackerel.
- Exercise - You will gain some weight during pregnancy. But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't exercise now. Exercise will strengthen you and help make labour that bit easier and also help you shed pregnancy weight and get back in shape after pregnancy. Also, doing workouts will help you strengthen your pelvic floor.
- Reduce your intake of alcohol - Alcohol should be avoided during pregnancy as it can cause serious defects like fetal alcohol syndrome in the baby. Begin to cut down on alcohol a few months before pregnancy. This will help you stop drinking during pregnancy. If you are addicted to alcohol seek help from treatment centres.
- Stop smoking and use of other recreational drugs.
- Vaccinations - Make sure that you are up to date on your vaccinations. If you haven't taken shots for mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) and varicella, make sure you do it. There are blood tests which help to determine if you are immune to these diseases. You should avoid becoming pregnant for 28 days after receipt of these vaccines.
- There are some medicines and herbal supplements which may harm your baby so it is best to talk to your doctor about the medicines you are taking and make sure you are taking only those which are necessary.
- The most important supplements in early pregnancy are folic acid and iodine and ideally you should start taking these 3 months prior to falling pregnant.
- Avoid toxic substances and other harmful materials at work or at home - We come across a lot of harmful materials in the form of synthetic chemicals, metals, fertilizer, bug spray, and cat or rodent faeces. These substances can hurt the reproductive systems of men and women and can make it more difficult to fall pregnant.
- A healthy stress free mind. Relaxation exercises and meditation may help ease your mind and prepare for a healthy pregnancy.
- I recommend you visit your doctor to discuss your current health condition. If you have any medical condition like diabetes, hypertension, thyroid disorder, sexually transmitted diseases, make sure they are all under control prior to falling pregnant.
Have a healthy pregnancy!
The above information does not take the place of a medical consultation and is intended for informational purposes only.