If you are trying to get pregnant, congratulations! While you are about to embark on one of the most rewarding journeys of your life, there are a few things you’ll need to consider first. Obviously, taking care of your health is extremely important during your pregnancy, but it is also something to think about before you get pregnant. Let’s take a look!
Making sure you are healthy is one of the key factors you will need to consider before you start trying to get pregnant. Here are some important health tips to keep in mind.
Take a Folic Acid Supplement
Folate is a vitamin that is found in some foods and folic acid is a synthetic version that can be taken as a supplement. It is an essential vitamin before and during pregnancy, important for the development of your baby’s brain and spinal cord, and reducing the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
The recommended daily intake level of folic acid is 0.4mg. However, women preparing for pregnancy are advised to take 0.5mg of folic acid a day for one month before pregnancy and 0.8mg a day for the first three months after becoming pregnant. Folate-rich foods include leafy green vegetables, fruit and beans. But taking a supplement is a good idea to ensure your advised daily intake is being met.
Take an Iodine Supplement
Like folic acid, iodine is an essential nutrient for your baby’s development and taking an iodine supplement is important during your pregnancy. It’s also a good idea to start taking one beforehand so you know that your intake levels are where they should be when you fall pregnant.
It can be tricky to reach the RDI of iodine (around 0.15 milligrams) from food alone. It is found in some seafood, and in some vegetables, but it often depends on where and how they are grown – so taking supplements is definitely recommended. Most people in Australia have diets with too little iodine in them for healthy brain development in their baby. The exception to this is in women with an overactive thyroid.
Take Your Weight Into Consideration
Obesity (and being underweight) can have a number of impacts on pregnancy (and fertility), so it is very important to ensure you watch the scales when you are trying. Weight issues can cause hormone imbalances and issues with ovulation, meaning it may be hard to conceive.
Women who are overweight when they fall pregnant will are at greater risk of developing diabetes, needing a caesarean section, high blood pressure and preeclampsia, contracting an infection after delivery, and having a baby with a congenital abnormality.
Using a BMI calculator is a good way to see how you sit in terms of being a healthy weight. This is your weight (in kg) divided by the square of your height (in metres). A BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9 is the healthy range. Using an online BMI calculator, such as this one from The Heart Foundation, is just fine.
If you are over or underweight when trying to get pregnant, it is recommended you implement a diet and exercise regime. Talk to your obstetrician or a dietician about how to approach losing weight. Remember, excessive exercise can make it hard to conceive.
If you’ve been trying to give up smoking for some time but have never quite been able to kick the habit, now is the time. Smoking has been found to be closely linked with fertility issues, miscarriage, and birth defects, so it is strongly advised that you quit as soon as you start trying to conceive.
Drinking while you are pregnant is also very bad for your baby, so why not try and wean yourself off alcohol while you are trying? It will make it easier to give it up when you do fall pregnant. Studies have also suggested that alcohol can reduce fertility in women and men, so if you are having trouble getting pregnant, this may be part of the reason.
Speaking of developing good habits, it’s a great idea to start exercising regularly when you are trying to get pregnant. Regular exercise is great for boosting energy and combating fatigue and can have a number of benefits for labour. It’s also a great routine to get into for when you need to get into shape after you have given birth.
It’s very important to eat a healthy, balanced diet when you are trying to get pregnant. This will help you maintain a healthy weight, and ensure you are getting the nutrients you need. It is also another good habit to get into for when you do fall pregnant.
A healthy, balanced diet will help ensure your menstrual cycle is regular and thus boost your chances of getting pregnant. Protein, iron, zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin D deficiencies have all been linked with menstrual cycle irregularities, so make sure you are eating plenty of different fruits and veggies.
Calcium will be very important from the moment you fall pregnant, so drink plenty of milk (soy or cow’s) and eat yoghurt, kale, broccoli and other high calcium foods. You might want to talk to a dietician or discuss your eating habits with your obstetrician (or fertility specialist) when you start trying to get pregnant.
A healthy diet is a better approach than a series of (expensive) multivitamins. Supplements have a role if you are one of the very few people who have a deficiency of a particular nutrient, but in many cases can be harmful in excess (supplement level) doses.
Talk With Your Partner About Your Health
Getting your health on track is much easier if you have some support, so talk to your partner about all of the above. Exercise together, cook healthy meals together, quit smoking and drinking together, and live a healthier lifestyle together.
Many of the tips we’ve mentioned are just as relevant for your partner as they are for you (for example, smoking affects sperm in a similar way to how it affects ovulation). Remember you’re in this together!