We spend most of our teens and adult life, listening to information about how NOT to get pregnant. So, now, you’ve made the decision to try to conceive. You’ve heard time and age reduces your fertility. That part you can’t control.
Here’s what you can control, to hopefully promote a health pregnancy.
Healthy lifestyle choices are a modifiable thing you can do, starting now. I don’t recommend you do them all at once, but take it day by day, week by week, and slowly but surely, you’ll have modified everything within your reach.
Preconception visits are great because we can go through the following in detail, and understand where you need improvement, with your specific medical history.
Stop smoking, and/or any drugs. Smoking causes the placenta to not function well. It can cause growth problems with your baby. It also decreases your egg quality and quantity, negatively affecting fertility. Ilicit drugs can cause even worse consequences, like neonatal withdrawal from the substance after birth, placental dysfunction, and even stillbirth.
Achieve a healthy weight. Nutrition should focus on whole fruits, vegetables, lean proteins. A Plant-based diet is preferable, but not required and if you eat in this way, there is even some data that suggests elimination of red meat can increase your fertility. Decrease sweets, sugary sodas, desserts, chips, and keep to minimum.
Exercising is a great way to increase metabolism, calorie burn, increase lean muscle mass and reduce stress. Moving your body intentionally for 55 minutes, at least 3 times per week sets you up for success prior to and during pregnancy. Clinical research has shown that women who exercise during pregnancy and start pregnancy at an optimal weight, have improved pregnancy outcomes, including for both baby and mom. They also do better in labor.
Make a preconception consult 2-3 months prior to trying to conceive, with your OBGYN. In some cases, discussion is needed with a high risk OB specialist, or Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist. Any history of previous adverse pregnancy outcomes, and health history in either yourself or a previous child should be discussed to modify and optimize health where possible.
Start prenatal vitamins with DHA. Start 3 months before stopping birth control, or trying to conceive. If you do not use birth control, it is not a bad idea to just use prenatal vitamins in the case of an unexpected pregnancy to prevent birth defects. DHA is great for mom, but is also beneficial to baby’s brain health.
Decrease alcohol intake. An occasional glass of wine or drink, is okay while trying to conceive, but excessive binge-drinking has adverse health effects and does need to stop while trying and altogether while pregnant.
Preconception labs can also be done, not to check fertility necessarily, but to test for and identify modifiable issues with your health that deserve optimization prior to pregnancy.
Preparing for conception can be a little bit scary, but with a visit to discuss it ahead of time, it can really ease your concerns and your mind. So, bring your questions!
**None of the above is to be taken as personal medical device. Book a consult with Dr. Reyes to establish a patient-physician relationship.