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Preconception Health

You shouldn't think of pregnancy health as being a nine month proposition you need to prepare your body for pregnancy with a nutritious diet and exercise before you conceive. Unhealthy habits can impair fertility, and since a great deal of fetal development happens soon after conception, following these guidelines for preconception health can be beneficial to you and your baby.

First, eliminate the bad habits. If you smoke, quit before you conceive. Women who smoke during pregnancy are increasing their risk of having a low birth weight baby or going into labor early. Also, studies have shown that babies with mothers who smoke are at a higher risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

If you consume excessive amounts of alcohol, you also need to cut down or quit before you get pregnant. Excessive alcohol consumption may decrease your odds of conceiving. Once you become pregnant, no amount of alcohol is safe for your baby. The same goes for using recreational drugs they increase your odds of miscarriage, premature births, and behavioral and learning problems.

The environment you live and work in can also hinder fertility and cause problems to your unborn child. If you work around pesticides, for example, you're at a greater risk of having a child with a neural tube defect like spina bifida. Neural tube defects occur very soon after conception, so you probably won't even know that you're pregnant.

Exercise is important for conception health. Now is the time to gain weight if you're too thin, or lose those extra pounds if you're overweight. You may even have problems conceiving due to irregular periods if you suffer from weight problems, and once you're pregnant going on a diet is out of the question. Talk to your physician about the best fitness plan for you, and get moving!

While diet and exercise play a role in your pre-pregnancy and pregnancy health, emotional stress can also wreak havoc on your fertility. If you suffer from stress for a prolonged period of time, your periods may be irregular or stop. Make sure you're getting enough sleep, and try breathing techniques or a warm bath if life is stressful. Moderate exercise can also increase endorphins, which will improve your mood and sleep patterns.

Make an appointment with your physician for a pelvic exam, Pap test and blood test to ensure that you're in good health to conceive. Talk to your doctor about your medical history, including any genetic abnormalities in your family history, and past sexually transmitted diseases or infections.


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