For women who want to conceive, there are some tips for preconception that can help increase your chances of having a healthy baby.
While women have been bearing children for ages, science has learned a lot to help make this special time safer for both baby and mother. What can a woman do to not only conceive but also make her pregnancy an enjoyable experience?
Simple Tips for Preconception
Believe it or not, there are actions you can take that will impact your pregnancy even before it happens. Some of these may not be in your full control, but there are steps you can actively take to have as healthy of a pregnancy as possible. Although some of these tips for preconception may seem obvious, it's important that you talk with your doctor if you are having trouble following any of these recommendations.
- Stop smoking: This is one of the biggest health risks a woman can take. If you want to conceive, stop smoking immediately. If this is too difficult for you to do cold turkey, cut back, but your goal should be to cut out cigarettes entirely before trying to conceive. Nicotine addiction is hard to break and should be dealt with before a baby becomes a possibility.
- Curb your alcohol consumption: Because scientists don't know how much alcohol can safely be consumed during pregnancy, it's best to avoid it altogether for the health of your baby. If you're a heavy drinker, you should try to cut back or cut out all alcohol before conception. There are programs designed to help people with their addictions to nicotine and alcohol if you find it too difficult to wean yourself from these drugs on your own.
- Cut down on caffeine: The verdict is still out on whether or not women can safely consume a lot of caffeine during pregnancy, but because caffeine is a drug it does affect your body and baby. Some studies have shown that too much caffeine early in pregnancy can lead to a higher incidence of miscarriage, so if you live off of Starbucks, you may want to cut down on your daily dose of coffee or other caffeinated beverages, such as teas and colas.
- Exercise: Being in good physical condition can help a lot during pregnancy. If you're not already active, now is a good time to start a moderate exercise program. If you've been sedentary for a long time, be sure and consult with your doctor before you begin. Even women who aren't conditioned athletes should be able to perform simple exercises like walking a minimum of twenty minutes each day.
- Take a multivitamin: Whatever vitamin you take, make sure it contains the recommended dosage of folic acid. Birth defects involving the spinal cord are linked to not getting enough folic acid in the diet. Many women don't take enough folic acid during those crucial early weeks of pregnancy when they don't know they are expecting. By taking steps before you conceive, you can greatly cut down on the chances of birth defects. Folic acid can also be found in black beans, spinach, broccoli, lentils, and orange juice.
- Eat healthy foods: During pregnancy, eating a nutritious diet will go a long way toward having a healthy baby. This means eating a lot of fruits and vegetables and lean meats. If you're a vegetarian or vegan, you'll need to make sure you take in enough calories to support a healthy pregnancy as well as eat the right kinds of foods to make sure you're getting all of the proper nutrients.
While it can be overwhelming to think of all that you need to do even before you conceive to have a healthy pregnancy, it's all worth it when you realize that you're doing what's best for the baby and for yourself. By taking care of yourself before you get that positive result on a pregnancy test and following some simple tips for preconception, you're doing a lot toward experiencing one of the happiest times in a woman's life.