5 Pregnancy Planning Tips- How to Prepare Your Body
By Shaun Dmello
Whether your decision to get pregnant was a no-brainer or something that you agonized over for days, months, or even years, it is the most significant decision you may ever make. As with any big decision, you need to prepare adequately. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been trying for a while or just decided that you’re ready for pregnancy. If you aren’t pregnant yet, then you should begin preparing yourself and your body right away. Many of the steps that you take to prepare your body for pregnancy are healthy changes that you should adopt anyway. Here are 5 of the most important of these pregnancy planning tips to prepare your body for pregnancy.
5 Pregnancy Planning Tips to Prepare Your Body
Watch Your Nutrition
Your nutritional intake doesn’t just take on importance during pregnancy. You should begin eating a balanced diet with plenty of whole grains, fruits, and veggies right away. At the same time, cut back on your intake of sugar and trans fats from ultra-processed foods. Try to increase your intake of foods that are rich in important pregnancy nutrients like iron and calcium. Multivitamin supplements may be a good idea to give yourself a boost and make up for any nutrients that you may not be getting from your diet. Prenatal multivitamin supplements would be the best choice and will help lower the risk of nutritional deficiencies early in the pregnancy. Aside from vitamins, folic acid or folate is the most important nutrient to counter the risk of neural tube defects. While the minimum daily requirement of folic acid is 400 mcg, this can be higher for many women.
You’ve probably heard it before, but it warrants repeating – a sedentary lifestyle is bad for your health, including your pregnancy. Increased physical activity with adequate exercise is one of the best ways to prepare your body for pregnancy. Try to put in at least 20 minutes of moderate intensity activity every day. If you have been leading a rather sedentary lifestyle, start with low intensity activities like walking and yoga, before progressing to more intense activities like jogging, cycling, and swimming. Similarly, the duration of activity can also be increased gradually as you build your endurance levels. Physical activity will not only help prepare your body physically for pregnancy, but it also has a positive effect on mental health.
Get More Sleep & Less Stress
Hormonal changes and physical symptoms that develop during pregnancy can increase the risk of sleep disturbances and anxiety disorders. This makes it important to prepare yourself before you even get pregnant. Any reduction in quality and quantity of sleep has a direct impact on both physical and mental health. Likewise, rising stress and anxiety levels can adversely affect physical health and sleep. By adopting stress reduction strategies and a healthy sleep routine now, you can minimize the risk of such problems surfacing once you get pregnant. Sleep hygiene practices such as dimming lights, using white noise apps, and so on can improve sleep quality, while stress reduction techniques like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing are known to promote relaxation. Stress reduction techniques like progressive muscle relaxation will also help cope with pregnancy symptoms and labour pain.
Stay On Top of Chronic Conditions
While routine health checks are important when you plan to get pregnant, you need to be even more focused on pre-existing or chronic conditions. Chronic health conditions like thyroid disorders, hypertension, diabetes, lupus, and heart disease can affect your ability to conceive and, more importantly, can jeopardize your pregnancy if not managed effectively. For example, poorly managed hypothyroidism during pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage. This is because thyroid hormones play a vital role in the regulation of blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, and so on. Your thyroid gland also needs to produce these hormones for your baby. In hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland simply cannot produce enough of these hormones, making it important to stay on top of the condition before you even get pregnant.
Kick All Addictions
Maternal smoking, drinking, and drug use, are all known to pose significant risk to an unborn baby. These behaviours can also affect fertility levels, reducing the chances of conception, while increasing the risk of birth defects and miscarriage. Although the precise manner in which alcohol impairs fertility is not understood, it’s clear that alcohol consumption lowers your chances of conception with higher consumption associated with a higher risk. Smoking poses an even greater risk, as no amount of smoking is safe. Chemicals in cigarettes are known to have a direct impact on fertility levels, causing damage to both eggs and sperm. Not only does this lower your chances of conceiving, but it increases the risk of health problems in your unborn child. Similarly, the use of illegal drugs like cocaine and methamphetamines has been linked to birth defects and miscarriage.
These are 5 of the most important tips that you should follow if you plan to get pregnant, but by no means should this list be considered as comprehensive. In addition to the pregnancy planning tips listed above, you should also start tracking your cycle, stay up to date on your vaccines, and check with your doctor if you need to change any of your medications.