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12 Steps For Preparing Your Body For Pregnancy

Everyone knows that pregnancy health and diet is of the utmost importance. But what you do before you even conceive can have a big impact on your health and the health of your unborn baby. Here are the top 10 ways you can prepare your body for pregnancy:

  1. Diet: Diet is essential, as unhealthy eating habits can even prevent you from conceiving. If you're underweight, your menstrual cycle can shut down, making it impossible to get pregnant. You need to ensure that you're getting your fill of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats or fish to balance your body.
  2. Folic Acid: Folic acid continues to be crucial even after conception, as it prevents spinal and brain defects like spina bifida and anencephaly, which occur when the neural tube doesn't fuse properly. Even women who aren't expecting, but want to or could become pregnant, should be taking a supplement with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid per day. This is because these neural tube defects occur in the first few weeks following conception.
  3. Alcohol and Drugs: Excessive alcohol use is obviously bad for you, but even more so if you're trying to become pregnant. This bad habit will definitely need to be cut out once you're pregnant, but you need to prepare your body for baby by drinking only a moderate amount or stopping it altogether. Even small amounts of recreational drugs can mean severe consequences: pregnant women who use drugs have an increased risk of miscarriage, having a stillborn baby, and having an infant that is born addicted to narcotics. Children with mothers who used alcohol or drugs during pregnancy also have a higher incidence of severe learning disabilities, mental retardation and behavioral problems.
  4. Exercise: At any point during our lives, exercise is recommended to keep us healthy and strong. Being underweight or overweight can also decrease fertility, so get started on a healthy regime just don't overdo it.
  5. Medications: A number of prescription medications contain ingredients that lessen your chance of conceiving, so make sure you let your doctor know that you are hoping to become pregnant. He or she can offer you an alternative medication or another course of treatment.
  6. Stress: Stress actually has a large impact on fertility. If you're overworked and overtired, your chances of becoming pregnant will be slim. Focus on breathing techniques, take a yoga class, and unwind at the end of the day with a hot bath.
  7. Toxoplasmosis: This disease comes from things like raw meat, contaminated soil and cat feces, so if you're handling any of those before conception you need to stop. Although it is really only dangerous once you're pregnant, it is most serious in your first three months after conception before you may even know you're expecting.
  8. Smoking: If you smoke, you need to butt out before you conceive. It's hard on your heart and lungs, and women who smoke during pregnancy have a higher incidence of premature and low birth weight babies.
  9. Reduce job hazards: If you work around dangerous chemicals such as paints and varnishes or materials like lead, try to change your job or at least reduce your exposure. Certain toxins and chemicals can affect your fertility.
  10. Immunizations: If you haven't received a rubella vaccine, do so before you conceive. This will protect you against German measles, which can cause serious defects in your fetus.
  11. Caffeine: While most doctors agree that a cup of coffee every day won't harm your fetus, more than that can cause adverse effects. Many physicians now say that excessive coffee consumption can lead to hyperactivity in children. There is also an increased risk of miscarriage with coffee drinking during pregnancy. Cut down to one cup per day, or switch to decaf.
  12. Get a physical: You should see your physician about two months before you're planning on conceiving. Talk to your doctor about chronic health conditions, as well as the best way to prepare your body for pregnancy. He or she can get you started on a diet and exercise program, and give you information on the right amount of folic acid and calcium you should be taking before you get pregnant.

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