When preparing for pregnancy, there are many questions, fears, and concerns that will cross a woman’s mind: Am I able to conceive? When will I ovulate? What are my chances of becoming pregnant quickly?
It’s easy to ignore the importance of pregnancy health when your mind is overwhelmed with other thoughts during family planning. But taking a good approach to preconception health and pregnancy health can make a huge difference in your pregnancy outcome.
By taking proactive steps to improve your health, you may improve your chances of conceiving. Plus, these measures will also benefit you (and your growing family) in the long run. A healthy parent is able to be a more active and engaged parent, something especially in the years when young children need the most attention and energy.
These are tips you can take to combat a potential health problem coming up during pregnancy. Consult with a health care provider during pregnancy planning before trying these tips, to ensure you have a healthy baby.
If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, or are already actively trying, make it a priority to follow the steps below.
Stop Smoking Once and For All
All health professionals agree that smoking during pregnancy can be incredibly harmful to your baby. It can lead to an increased risk of birth defects, low birth weight, pregnancy complications, fertility issues, premature birth, and a ton of other health problems.
Smoking will harm both mum and baby. If you are a smoker, make quitting smoking a part of prenatal care.
Establish an Exercise Routine (and Stick with It!)
It’s important to prioritize physical health when preparing to have a baby. Some mothers may fear that exercise will harm their baby. However, any healthcare provider will likely tell healthy pregnant women to continue their exercise regimen, with some slight modifications.
In fact, if you do not exercise at all, you run the risk of even more challenges during pregnancy. Gestational weight gain during pregnancy can have a ton of negative health consequences.
When preparing for pregnancy, make getting into better shape and a healthy weight part of your routine. You should aim for 150 minutes of physical activity a week. This could mean a brisk daily walk, a fitness class with friends, or swimming laps at your local pool.
Ensuring that your pelvic floor muscles are strong and healthy is important and pelvic floor exercises can help you achieve that. Strengthening your pelvic floor is vital in helping the body support the weight of a growing baby, as well as preparing you for an easier birth and recovery. We can help – our Pelvic Floor Muscle Class is designed to address this consideration.
Regular exercise will help you stay healthy, and recover post-birth faster. It will also help you live a longer life, experience better quality of sleep, prevent injury and disease, and lift your mood. All of these benefits will trickle over into your pregnancy as well as the demanding infant and toddler years.
Evaluate Your Overall Health with Your Physician
Annual checkups are vital when it comes to maintaining your health and are especially important as you try to conceive. You can book a preconception checkup with your doctor for prenatal screening if you are planning to start a family to discuss any concerns about your health and family history.
Your physician can talk to you about options available to screen for various genetic concerns (such as polycystic ovary syndrome) as well as any concerns or questions you may have about fertility. If you have concerns, your doctor can get you on track to meet with a fertility specialist, if you have any issues that require the help of a fertility doctor.
If you take any prescription medications to manage certain conditions (such as high blood pressure), you should also speak to your physician about whether you can continue to take them during pregnancy.
Before you pursue pregnancy, take a look at other unhealthy habits you can cut back on or stop altogether such as the consumption of alcohol and caffeine.
Cutting back on alcoholic beverages prior to becoming pregnant will also prepare you to stop drinking altogether once you have conceived. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome and numerous other dangerous conditions for your unborn baby.
Caffeine reduction is also advised as it has been linked to miscarriage risk when consumed in high quantities. Most experts suggest limiting caffeinated beverages to no more than two per day during pregnancy.
Make Sleep a Priority
Most women will tell you the deepest (and longest) they have ever slept was during pregnancy. As your body grows and changes to accommodate a growing baby, you will need a tremendous amount of rest.
Sleep is also important to our overall health—pregnant or not. Learn about sleep hygiene, and getting a good night’s sleep, in this article by SPC’s Felicity de Blic.
Even if you typically manage to get by on as little as 4 or 5 hours per night, this will inevitably change when you conceive. It is best to prepare your body for a healthy amount of sleep, which may mean modifying some of the habits that interfere with your rest.
Cut back on screen time as bedtime approaches as it has been shown to affect our quality of sleep, and this will also serve as a good example for your future child. Your sleep can also be improved by staying hydrated and eating a balanced diet, limiting the amount of alcohol you consume, and getting plenty of exercise.
Take Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal vitamins are an important part of the health routine of all pregnant women. But did you know it can benefit you to start taking them before you conceive?
These vitamins are loaded with nutrients your body needs to nourish your growing baby, and getting a start on them will prepare your body for the important work it is about to do. Try to look for a prenatal vitamin with vitamin D, and a good folic acid supplement.
At Sydney Pelvic Clinic we are ready to offer you the support and guidance you need to prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy. Contact a member of our team to book your pregnancy assessment with a pelvic Physiotherapist today. Even if you’re not pregnant yet, having a quick assessment will better prepare you and provide some educational material when the time comes.