There are several things you can do before pregnancy to help prepare your body for the physical stress it is about to endure. This is an ideal time to lose extra weight and begin an exercise regime. It is also necessary for you to start your prenatal vitamins and make necessary lifestyle changes before you begin trying to conceive.
It can be more difficult to conceive if you are overweight or underweight. Additionally, the extra weight can make pregnancy more difficult and can lead to complications such as hypertension. Before pregnancy is the optimal time to get to your best weight, a BMI between 19.5 and 25. Once you become pregnant you should not reduce your caloric intake, so it is important to lose weight before pregnancy if you or your doctor are concerned about your weight.
Much like dieting, pregnancy is not the time to start a new routine. Once you are pregnant your doctor will likely tell you that maintaining your current level of exercise is fine, with some possible modifications. However, drastically changing your exercise habits once pregnant is not generally recommended. Instead, begin a new routine before pregnancy to give your body a chance to adjust so that you may continue your exercise regime after you conceive.
Before Pregnancy: Prenatal Vitamins and Lifestyle
Prenatal vitamins but especially folic acid supplementation are possibly the most important change you can make before pregnancy. The vitamins your baby needs for a healthy neural tube are provided in sufficient quantities with a prenatal vitamin and are most needed in the first month of pregnancy. By beginning to take these before pregnancy, you will ensure you are providing the nutrients your baby needs.
Before Pregnancy: No Smoking or Drinking
Before pregnancy, it is also extremely important to stop smoking, drinking, or using recreational drugs. All of these things are detrimental to the health of your baby. Each can be difficult to quit and it is advisable to begin the process of quitting prior to conception.
Smoking, drinking and recreational drug use have been linked to the premature birth of the fetus and complications in development. Most notably, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a condition that affects more than 12,000 babies born each year. The use of alcohol while pregnant can lead to developmental delay, physical birth defects, mental delays, hyperactivity, anxiety, and shortened attention span.
Smoking during pregnancy has been linked to low birth weight babies and various health problems during pregnancy including the possibility of miscarriage. While it is ideal to quit smoking before pregnancy, the sooner mom chooses to stop smoking the healthier the baby will be upon birth. Quitting smoking during pregnancy often leads to a mom who quits smoking for life and that is healthy for everyone involved.
Ideally, readying the body for the conception of a child would mean just making the choice before pregnancy to be a mother. But, before the body can be ready to develop a healthy fetus, there are some preparations that need to take place before pregnancy. The supplementation of vitamins and minerals, adoption of a healthy diet and choice to stop unhealthy lifestyle behaviors before pregnancy will help mom’s body to prepare for conception and the subsequent growth of the fetus.