What You Can Do to Get Your Body Ready for Pregnancy
Have you and your partner decided to start trying for a baby? Getting pregnant isn’t simply a matter of having unprotected intercourse. How can you create the best possible conditions for a healthy pregnancy?
Quit birth control, smoking, and alcohol
First things first — before you look into how to get pregnant, you should take a critical look at your lifestyle. There are plenty of things that both men and women should give up to conceive a baby. Besides quitting contraceptives, quitting bad and unhealthy habits like smoking and excessive drinking are a must. Smoking reduces fertility, but can also be devastating during pregnancy — miscarriage, stillbirth, and low birth weight are just some of the dangers of smoking to a fetus. As for alcohol, studies have shown that even children of moms who drank only one unit a week when they were pregnant were more likely to display a range of behavioral problems.
Look at your diet
Being overweight harms a woman’s chances of getting pregnant, but a healthy diet is important even when you are at a normal weight. So make sure you get plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and that you eat foods from all major food groups — while avoiding junk foods full of saturated fats and refined sugar. Calories matter, but not as much as the quality of the foods you eat. Getting tested for nutritional deficiencies before you try for a baby is a good idea, and especially if you feel you are at risk. A multivitamin supplement and some folic acid tablets should be on your preconception list even if you have no vitamin or mineral deficiencies.
Up to date on vaccines?
Some vaccine-preventable diseases are really risky during pregnancy. And of course, you can’t get those shots while you are expecting a baby. Most adults don’t get their booster vaccines very often if at all. Doctors recommend that women who are trying to conceive get their flu shot, the MMR (measles can have very serious consequences for unborn babies), pertussis and tetanus, and chickenpox vaccines. If you are at risk, you should also consider getting a Hepatitis B shot.
Taking any meds?
Not all medications are compatible with pregnancy, whether you’re talking about antidepressants, hypertension meds, or acne treatments. Whatever medication you may be taking, have a chat with your doctor about their safety during pregnancy.
Free of STDs?
Sexually transmitted diseases can wreak havoc on a person’s reproductive organs, and create a lot of damage in babies — who can be infected during pregnancy or birth, depending on the STD. Of course, nobody wants an STD, and many think it is safe to assume that they are healthy when they are not showing any symptoms, and are in a monogamous relationship. Yet, some sexually transmitted diseases (chlamydia, gonorrhea, and genital warts, for instance) can be present for years without the “victim” ever noticing. So get tested, so that you know you don’t have to worry about anything when you start your quest to get pregnant.
Get to know your cycle
With all those things out the way, you can now start working on the real thing! Couples who track the woman’s menstrual cycle, and who know when she ovulates, are much more likely to get pregnant quickly. You can get this crucial info about your fertile days by signing up for a free ovulation calendar, using ovulation tests, doing cervical mucus checks, or charting to conceive. It’s also possible to use a combination of all of these techniques!
Get your partner on board
Whether we like it or not, it’s often the female half of a couple who does all the research about conception. It takes two to tango, and a man’s health is just as important when it comes to the odds of conceiving. A healthy diet and a folic acid supplement keeps sperm healthy too, and men who want to become fathers should avoid overheating their testicles. That means no browsing the web with a computer in their lap, wearing loose cotton underwear and not taking too many hot baths. And of course, men shouldn’t opt out of STD testing, either.