So you’re thinking about getting pregnant? We have found a lot of discussion about pregnancy, motherhood, and babies, but not as much about things you can do to proactively prepare your body for pregnancy. So let’s back up a little bit. Here are 5 things you can do today to get yourself ready!
1. Prenatal Vitamins
Start taking a prenatal vitamin as soon as you can! In addition to eating a healthy diet, taking prenatal vitamins will give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to support a healthy pregnancy. Follow the instructions on the label. You may need to take multiple pills a day. Make sure your vitamin includes folate or folic acid. Folic Acid may help prevent major birth defects called neural tube defects in babies. DHA is another important supplement. It may not be included in your prenatal. If it’s not, you can buy a DHA supplement separately. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that helps with your baby’s growth and brain development.
2. Preventative Care
Schedule visits with your preventative care doctors if you are not up to date with your annual visits. Seeing your OB GYN, primary care physician, dentist, and dermatologist annually (or biannually, for some) is important and something we don’t always prioritize in our busy lives.
Schedule a “Preconception” visit with your OB GYN or establish care with a new OB. Your doctor will ask you questions about your menstrual cycle, wind down birth control if you are using it, discuss your medical history, do a breast exam, and ensure you are up to date on your bloodwork, pap smear and cultures. Ask your OB about a preconception carrier screening to see if you (or your partner) are carriers for certain recessive genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis. Getting tested before pregnancy gives you more information about your carrier status prior to conception, which allows you more options. We also recommend calling your insurance to see if this blood test will be covered so you are prepared either way.
Your Primary Care Physician (PCP) will check your overall health. She/He will review medications you are currently taking to ensure they are safe in pregnancy. Some medical conditions can affect fertility and pregnancy such as diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid health, lifestyle choices, and not being a healthy weight. There are certain vaccines that you cannot get while pregnant such as Varicella (chicken pox) and MMR. When you see your OB or PCP, she can do a blood test to check your immune status and administer a vaccine booster if needed.
See your dentist if you are due for a cleaning! It is ideal to get any X RAYS, fillings or more extensive dental work done prior to pregnancy. While many dental procedures are safe, it’s nice to not have to worry about it for the duration of your pregnancy.
If you are due to see your dermatologist or any other specialty doctors, it’s a good idea to schedule these appointments as well to ensure you are healthy and get the green light for pregnancy.
3. Mental Health Check
Do your best to optimize your mental health. Trying to get pregnant can be stressful on your body, mind and relationships, especially if you have difficulty conceiving or are going through fertility treatment. Talk therapy can be extremely beneficial. Consider taking a break from social media if you find it is giving you anxiety. Be careful where you get your medical information – social media and forums can be inaccurate and more anxiety-provoking than helpful. When you have medical questions, call your doctor’s office. That’s what they are there for!
Begin to think about your nutrition and make small improvements to your lifestyle. Moderation is key! Pay attention to your diet, including caffeine and alcohol intake. Increase consumption of nutrient-dense whole foods such as folate-rich dark leafy greens and omega-3 rich avocados and salmon.
5. Track Your Cycle
Start paying attention to your menstrual cycle. Record it in a fertility app, your calendar app or a simple, old fashioned notebook. How many days is your cycle? This means day 1 of your period to day 1 of your next period. This information is helpful for you and your OB when you are ready to start trying. Check out our blog post on tracking your cycle!
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