This ultimate list of 15 things to do before having a baby includes everything you need to know before trying to conceive. New moms can use these tips to…
- Take Prenatals And Folic Acid
Go ahead and start this right away. Taking prenatal vitamins is beneficial for you and your new baby to come. You don’t know when you are going to get pregnant so you might as well start ahead of time with your prenatal. Doctors recommend taking prenatal vitamins before conception so the fetus is nourished right from the start. Doctors recommend taking prenatal vitamins with DHA and plenty of folic acid to prevent spinal defects and other disorders. Another vitamin to ask your doctor about is Vitamin D. Always consult your doctor before taking a new medication.
- Drink Lots Of Water
It is very important to stay hydrated, but make sure you hydrate yourself with the good stuff- WATER. You are about to start drinking for two!! So make sure you begin to increase your water intake to 10 8-oz glasses of water a day during pregnancy. But for now, while you are trying to conceive, aim for 8 8-oz glasses of water each day.
- Stop Drinking Alcohol
This is a great time to stop any form of drinking that might be harmful to your health. Why not start now? No one knows when you might become pregnant, so it’s best to be prepared and get your body cleansed from the bad stuff.
We all know how harmful alcohol is to the fetus, but did you know that alcohol affects your fertility? It’s recommended to stop drinking alcohol right away when you decide you want to become pregnant. The main reason is because you won’t find out your are pregnant for about 4-6 weeks and any consumption of alcohol, small or large amounts, can be very harmful to your baby at any stage of your pregnancy.
- Reduce Caffeine Intake
Doctors also recommend for you to eliminate caffeine from your diet due to it affecting your fertility. Experts recommend having a daily intake of less than 200 milligrams of caffeine (but to eliminate it all together during pregnancy is the safest). What does that equate to? It’s about a 12 oz cup of regular coffee. It’s time to start weaning back and switching to decaf. Or just stick to water and you will be good to go!
- Quit Smoking
Just like drinking alcohol, smoking is extremely harmful to your body and your new baby. Some of the major risks include low birth weight, miscarriage, and premature birth. And a growing problem is SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), which is more likely to occur in homes of smokers.
I have never smoked, so it is difficult for me to understand why someone would want to expose their body to those cancerous/harmful chemicals. Consider reading this link with tips and resources on how to stop smoking. You should speak to your doctor on which ways are most successful in quitting smoking. Try quitting now before getting pregnant so you can be in the clear way before you conceive.
- Stop All Recreational Drugs and Check Your Prescription Drugs
There is no reason that anyone should be taking drugs to begin with because of the adverse health effects and negative consequences following recreational drug use. But if you happen to be taking any, it’s imperative that you stop before becoming pregnant due to the adverse effects it will have on a growing fetus.
If you are currently taking prescription medicine, call your pharmacist or doctor to see if you need to go off of the medications while trying to conceive. Some prescription drugs can have adverse effects on a pregnant woman and her baby. Please don’t skip this step as it is very important for the health of your baby. And the same goes for over the counter meds; read the label to see if it’s contraindicated during pregnancy.
- Start An Exercise Routine
Exercise, in my opinion, is the answer to everything. Exercise has so many benefits I can’t even list them all. With all of our medical knowledge in the world, I guarantee they have not yet found out all the positive benefits of exercise.
If you have never exercised before, click on this link for a jump start to an introductory total body workout program. It’s ok to start slow and simple if you have never exercised in your life. Don’t feel pressured to begin this crazy workout regimen where you have no idea what you are doing (there’s always the risk of getting an injury from pushing yourself too hard and too fast at the beginning).
I recommend 20 minutes of light exercise at least 3 times a week to get the benefits of a cardiovascular workout. As you become more familiar with exercising and your body adapts to your program, begin to progress into a more extensive exercise routine.
Find something you enjoy doing. There are so many types of exercise routines, exercise videos, apps, etc. It might be a bit overwhelming. If you have any questions on where to begin and how to start an exercise program, write to me and I can help guide you along the way.
- Establish Healthy Eating Habits
Eat healthily, make healthy decisions, and get in the total mindset of becoming healthy. Your health is far more important now because it’s not just about you, but it’s about your soon to be baby. You can make a difference in your baby’s life by choosing to refrain from junk food and nourish yourself with wholesome and nutritious foods. This will make it easier to gain a healthy weight during your pregnancy. The normal amount of weight to gain while pregnant is 20-30 lbs.
- Avoid Eating Fish High In Mercury
Fish is a fabulous source of omega-3 fatty acids, but unfortunately some fish are high in mercury. Mercury can be very harmful to your unborn baby. It’s even recommended during pregnancy that women should limit their consumption of all fish.
The types of fish high on the list to avoid eating during pregnancy are shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish, and eat no more than 6 ounces (one serving) of solid white canned tuna per week. Please refer to this complete list that breaks down the mercury levels in each type of fish.
This is another great article about what fish to avoid while pregnant by Baby Center.
- Maintain A Healthy Weight and Track Your BMI
Having a healthy weight before conceiving is important for fertility, and it lowers your chances of having gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. Become familiar with your BMI (Body Mass Index) before conceiving and know what a healthy weight range is for you.. A great diet consists of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy.
- Read “What To Expect Before You’re Expecting” By Heidi Murkoff
I love this book, What To Expect Before You’re Expecting (and all the “What To Expect” books). There is so much jam-packed information in this book. You will get all your questions answered. You can trust the source. If you are motivated to be educated, this is the place to start. All your pre-conception questions can be found in this book.
- Get A Physical
I think this point is extremely important. Getting a physical now is key to finding out any unknown medical problems you might have that you had no idea you had.
Wouldn’t you want to find out now, instead of when you are pregnant?
If there is any underlying medical diagnosis that you didn’t know you had, it is much easier to treat when you are not pregnant because a lot of medical treatments/medicines are contraindicated (not allowed) during pregnancy.
For instance, a lot of women find out they have thyroid levels that are either too high or too low. This can significantly affect your ability to conceive. If you had your physical in advance, you can be treated for your thyroid disorder, normalize your levels and have an easier time conceiving.
If you didn’t know you had a thyroid problem, you might have been trying to conceive for a year and maybe had difficulty not knowing it was from your thyroid not working properly.
Getting a physical soon after you have decided to become pregnant may improve your fertility thus helping you to conceive sooner by treating any underlying medical conditions.
- Discuss Pre-Existing Conditions With Doctor At Your Preconception Visit
Schedule an appointment with your OBGYN and talk about your pre-existing conditions so that you can get that under control now before pregnancy. Do you have diabetes? Do you have anxiety?
Anything that you might be dealing with right now should be up for discussion so that you can have better control over your health before you add another human into the mix! Your body is your unborn baby’s house. Let’s get this house as strong and as healthy as possible before your baby decides to live in it!
This is also a good time to do some of the other things on this list, like checking your vaccines, your weight and STD history.
- Genetic Screening
Are you interested in doing genetic screening before getting pregnant? Some women don’t care to do so, but others may think it’s really important. This is ultimately you and your partner’s decision. Sit down and have a chat about what is right for you and your future together as you move further along this journey.
Since we are on the topic of talking with your partner. Here are some other really important topics that you and your partner will want to start talking about in advance…
- Planning Out Money
Babies obviously will put a slight spike in your budget, so of course, the wise thing to do is plan for that expected increase in expenses. Discuss with your partner your financial situation.