Preparing for pregnancy

There are a few things you should do and know about your body and lifestyle before trying to conceive. If you’ve decided to have a baby, having the time to plan and prepare for pregnancy is an opportunity and you should make the most of it. Get a healthy start into pregnancy and plan ahead as early as 1 year to safely prepare your body for the big journey.

Get a full health check-up

Get a complete health check-up before planning to get pregnant. How else will you know if your body is ready for pregnancy? Discuss your medical history with your doctor and your prescription medication, so you’ll be fully informed of all the risks for your pregnancy and your baby. Check if you have immunity to rubella and chickenpox or if you need vaccines. Go to the dentist as early as 6 months before getting pregnant to check if there’s anything to fix so you don’t have to worry about tooth aches while you’re pregnant. Schedule a Pap test right before trying to get pregnant, to know you’re good to go.

It’s also important to know your blood type and that of the father, as they might be incompatible. In this way you can prevent HR disease, which is caused by blood incompatibility and can be treated during pregnancy.

Take folic acid

Taking prenatal vitamins with folic acid as early as 2 months before pregnancy has been shown to reduce the risk of neural tube defects and to improve fertility. Talk to your doctor about the amount of folic acid supplements you need and other prenatal vitamins.

Control your weight

Studies show that women who are significantly overweight or underweight have higher risks of developing complications during pregnancy or childbirth. Plan a balanced diet as early as possible for getting to your ideal weight in a healthy and natural way. Make sure to choose a healthy diet. Severe diets and starving will have negative effects on your chances of conception instead of preparing your body for a healthy pregnancy. You’ll be much more successful if you combine your diet with an exercise routine, to get in shape faster and have more energy.

Eat healthily

Ideally you should get your vitamins and minerals from food and not from supplements. Aim for fixed and healthy meals that include plenty of nuts, fruits and vegetables, as well as red meat and poultry. Oily fish is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, but it is not advised to consume more than 2 fish meals per week. Avoid fish that contains high levels of mercury, such as: shark, marlin, swordfish and tuna.

Stop smoking

Smoking tobacco releases harmful substances that can be stored in your body for longer periods of time so you should stop smoking early before getting pregnant. If your partner smokes too, now is the ideal time for both to stop. Also avoid second hand smoke before and during pregnancy, as it can be harmful for your baby.

Stop using contraception

It is usually advised to get off the pill a few months before trying to conceive. Sometimes, ovulation can be irregular after stopping contraception pills. Depending on the method you use, it may take longer than a month for your hormonal cycle to return to normal. Visit your OB and discuss this in advance.