As we approach a new year (2015), we always seem to make (or at least consider) resolutions for the coming year. One of the most important decisions we can make as potential parents is to prepare for a pregnancy. This is true for both women and men equally. Planning ahead allows us to be proactive vs. reactive.
Here are some ideas for preparing for a successful pregnancy:
- Plan Ahead! At least 3 -6 months, if possible. This allows time to clean up (eliminate toxins and contaminants) and stock-up (nutrients).
- Develop a reproductive life plan now.
- Have a preconception consultation/talk with your healthcare provider.
- Discuss genetic carrier screening test with your healthcare provider.
- Complete a health assessment and screening tests before pregnancy.
- Obtain and maintain management of all chronic medical conditions
- Maintain a healthy weight. Weight loss if overweight before pregnancy.
- If you smoke- STOP!
- Limit alcohol consumption – no more than 4/week.
- Caffeine- Moderate daily consumption of 200-mg/ day (12 ounces of coffee) has not been shown to reduce fertility or increase miscarriage rates.
- Diet is important. Increase your daily intake of vegetables and fruit. Emphasize the Mediterranean or anti-inflammatory diet:
- Whole grains
- Avoid sugar/refined grains/trans fats
- Avoid processed foods and artificial ingredients
- Reduce animal sources of protein
- Eat fresh vegetables/fruit (5 or more servings daily)
- Foods rich in monounsaturated fats
- “Whole” dairy products
- Reduce saturated fats- organic whole dairy is OK
- Fish is OK. Avoid fish with high levels of methyl mercury.
- A good Multi-Vitamin will provide additional antioxidants to the diet. Be sure to take at least 400 mcg of Folic Acid daily (start at least 1 month before you attempt pregnancy).
- Avoid environmental factors:
- Drink filtered water. Avoid plastic containers. Use stainless steel or glass water bottles.
- EWG – “Dirty” dozen and “Clean” 15 (vegetables and fruit)
- Avoid using products that contain BPA or phthalates. Minimize the use of food products or storage in cans or plastic containers.
- Minimize the use of personal care products such as moisturizers, cosmetics, shower gels and fragrances.
- Avoid the use of garden, household or pet pesticides/fungicides.
- Cat litter/feces – potential for transmission of Toxoplasmosis.
- Chemicals such as lead and pesticides can be tracked indoors on shoes, so it is always recommended to remove your shoes before coming indoors.
- Moderate, regular exercise is encouraged.
- Obtain healthy sleep.
- Stress management!
Remember, these ideas will not only allow you a better start for a healthy pregnancy, but will also give you the tools for a healthy life. Adopting these lifestyle recommendations with your partner will allow both of you to improve your well being and provide one another mutual support and encouragement.
While this list may seem overwhelming, start with one lifestyle change at a time. Prioritize the most important changes first. You can do it!
Related Reading: Preparing for Pregnancy 2015: Part 2 – Men