Beginning Pregnancy Prep
You want what’s best for yourself, and for your family. Now that you’ve decided to have a family, you want to take all the necessary steps to starting a healthy, happy family.
But when do you start planning for pregnancy? 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. There are many ways to prep your body for pregnancy but overall, it is important to build a base of wellness by developing your best mental, physical health for pregnancy.
Talk To A Physician
When you start planning a pregnancy, the first step on the right path is to consult a physician specializing in women’s reproductive health to ask any and all questions you may have. Make sure you find a physician you trust to help you along the way, through pre-pregnancy, and each trimester until the birth of your child. As it becomes more difficult to carry a pregnancy over the age of 35, it is important to talk to your physician if you are planning on having children later in your life. There are numerous risks, including:
- A more difficult pregnancy and birth
- Higher chance of medical problems during pregnancy
- The baby may also be born with health problems
Also, the quality of sperm declines as men hit their mid-thirties. There are fertility treatments available to assist people with becoming pregnant later in life, such as in-vitro fertilization, this treatment may not be as successful with age.
Advisable Health Tests for Pregnancy
Prior to conceiving, both men and women should have their thyroid, adrenal, and sex hormone levels tested. It is also recommended to check for insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes. Please note for women on thyroid medication, your doctor may need to adjust your thyroid hormone replacement medication dosage if necessary to aim for the target TSH of 1.0 mU/L.
Toxicity testing should be done 3 to 6 months prior to trying to conceive. This allows for the elimination of any heavy metals or chemicals from plastics or pesticides from the body as toxin buildup can cause serious harm to both mother and child during pregnancy. One of the first steps in pregnancy planning should be to stop using any toxic substances such as recreational drugs or 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.
Lifestyle habits should also be evaluated prior to conceiving such as those listed below:
- Diet: Proper nutrition is hugely important for overall wellness, especially when prepping for pregnancy. One of the best ways to attain better nutrition is through diet. Maintaining a diet composed primarily of high-quality whole foods that are rich in protein and healthy fats like omega-3 (which support neurological function and development) is an effective way to prepare for pregnancy. It is also advised to avoid highly processed and sugary foods as they can disrupt hormones and negatively influence fertility.
- Supplementation: It can be 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 key elements of a prenatal supplement include: Folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin B2, vitamin C, vitamin D3, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, calcium, selenium, iodine, niacin, omega-3, riboflavin, and thiamine. But again, make sure you discuss with your doctor what course of supplementation will be best for you and your unique situation.
- Be Intentional: Managing your stress, getting enough sleep, and exercising moderately will help keep both your blood sugar and hormones balanced and healthy. The body wants to be healthy and giving it the optimal conditions to do so will help your body find balance after birth control.
- Eliminate Contraceptives: One of the most obvious changes 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. This amount of time varies from person to person. Some people may need only a month to conceive after no longer being on the pill while it is common for others to take two to three months. However, it is always best to discuss this with your doctor who knows your individual case.
Have Questions About Pre-Pregnancy Optimization?
We’re here to help. Ask a specialist at Holtorf Medical Group to learn more about the steps you can take towards a healthier, and happier, pregnancy.