In the family planning process, there are many factors to consider, with perhaps the most obvious being pregnancy and getting your body ready. In family planning, pregnancy is far more than the 40-week gestation period that precedes childbirth. Even though pregnancy and childbirth are entirely possible without actively preparing for them, taking the appropriate precautions, and making suitable preparations can benefit the health and wellness of both mother and child.
Why Is Pre-Pregnancy Prep So Important?
Proper pregnancy preparation can ease the most common issues of pregnancy and helps to ensure the health of both mother and child from conception to childbirth and beyond. Health experts often recommend planning for pregnancy at least one year prior to attempting to become pregnant. However, some begin their preparations as early as two years prior to when they plan to become pregnant. Such forethought gives aspiring mothers time to develop the ideal mental, physical, and nutritional wellness for pregnancy.
Even if you are several years away from when you plan to have children, you can benefit from implementing pre-pregnancy strategies now. Read on to learn about how you can proactively prepare for pregnancy.
Building a Base of Wellness
The early stages of pregnancy preparation should focus primarily on reaching and maintaining good physical and mental health. The following recommendations can improve individual wellness and thereby support the likelihood of a healthy pregnancy.
Reduce Your Toxic Load
Toxin exposure and subsequent toxin buildup can cause serious harm to both mother and child during pregnancy. The first step in pregnancy planning should be to stop using any toxic substances such as recreational drugs and nicotine products while also limiting alcohol intake. Aspiring mothers should also consider limiting their exposure to toxins found in everyday products. Many cleaning, beauty, and health products contain endocrine-disrupting substances that can disrupt hormone balance and inhibit fertility.
Ideally, these toxin-reducing practices are implemented far in advance, so the body has time to flush out any residual toxins prior to becoming pregnant.
Update Your Diet
Proper nutrition is hugely important for overall wellness. One of the best ways to attain better nutrition is through diet. Ideally, those seeking to become pregnant have a diet composed primarily of high-quality whole foods. This includes proteins like freshly caught fish, chicken, and grass-fed beef. Those who follow a plant-based diet should aim to increase their intake of protein-rich substances like quinoa and spirulina. Additionally, it is important to consume a good amount of health fats like omega-3’s as they support neurological function and development. Finally, highly processed and sugary foods should be limited as much as possible as they can disrupt hormones and negatively influence fertility.
Regulate Your Weight
Studies show that women who maintain a healthy weight have a much easier time during both pregnancy and delivery. Obesity is known to influence hormone activity in a way that can negatively affect fertility. Alternatively, being underweight increases the risk of irregular menstrual cycles and ovulation. Women who are underweight are more likely to face complications when carrying a pregnancy to term. If you are unsure what your ideal or healthy weight is, speak with your doctor.
Get Active and Stay Active
Staying active while pregnant can notably improve both physical and mental wellness and significantly reduce stress. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that healthy pregnant women aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week, or a little over 20 minutes per day. Establishing a regular workout routine prior to pregnancy helps future mothers maintain healthy physical activity during their pregnancy.
Track Your Cycle
In healthy women, ovulation occurs at approximately the same time every month, about two weeks prior to their period. This means that women are most fertile roughly halfway through their menstrual cycle. Knowing when you ovulate and timing your pregnancy efforts accordingly can increase your chances of becoming pregnant. If your menstrual cycle is inconsistent, speak with a doctor about conditions such as PCOS or thyroid disorders that may cause menstrual irregularities.
Use Prenatal Supplements
Nutritional supplements become very important as one moves closer to pregnancy. Doctors generally recommended that women take prenatal supplements at least three months prior to pregnancy. However, it’s beneficial to begin supplementation a full year prior to becoming pregnant. Studies suggest that taking prenatal supplements can notably reduce the risk of birth defects and other pregnancy-related complications. Some of the most commonly prescribed prenatal supplements include vitamin D3, iron, omega-3, selenium, zinc, and magnesium.
Make Changes to Your Medications
Some medications can have a negative effect on fertility and even cause harm when taken during pregnancy. Therefore, before trying to become pregnant, it is essential that you speak with your doctor about any medications you are on and any adverse effects they may have on your pregnancy. Some medications of note include blood pressure medications, blood sugar regulators, oral or topical retinols, and antidepressants.
Call off Your Contraceptives
Perhaps the most obvious change to make before trying to become pregnant is to halt any birth control. Many contraceptives, including the pill, ring, or patch, prevent ovulation by influencing hormone production. After cessation of these treatments, it may take some time for your cycle to normalize and pregnancy to become possible. Those who use an IUD for contraception do not have to wait as long. Pregnancy should be possible soon after removal of the device.
General Recommendations for Women During Pre-Pregnancy
No matter what stage you are at in your pregnancy planning, it is important to speak with a doctor who specializes in reproductive health. They will be able to offer guidance based on your specific situation. Ideally, the same doctor is involved in every part of the planning process and can work with you through the entire pregnancy.
Get Prepared for Pregnancy by Planning Early
If you plan to have a child, it is important to make the appropriate preparations. Taking action to improve your pregnancy prior to becoming pregnant increases your chances of a healthy pregnancy free of complications. Protect yourself and support the success of your pregnancy by implementing the lifestyle changes discussed above.
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