Image courtesy of Classic Kids Photography
So…you’ve thought about how a baby might fit into your life, career and your relationship with your partner. You’ve probably done the math to see if your finances are ready for a baby. But you may not have thought about the most important thing—is your body ready?
While the other things are important to consider when thinking about trying to conceive, pondering pregnancy from a health and lifestyle point of view goes a long way towards getting pregnant, staying pregnant and having a healthy baby. Follow the steps below to get your body ready for a baby:
- Watch your weight. Don’t worry; you don’t have to be at your “ideal” weight to have a healthy pregnancy, although it does help. If you are at either end of the weight spectrum—underweight or overweight, it can affect your ability to get pregnant and it can also affect your baby’s weight at birth and even into adulthood. If you are overweight, losing just 10% of your weight can make a difference to getting pregnant and having fewer pregnancy problems like gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. Being underweight increases your chances of having a low birth weight or premature baby, so be sure to gain some weight before you get pregnant.
- Watch your diet. This is the time to whip your diet into shape! Banish those fast food burgers, crunch on some kale, feast on some fish and munch on some nuts and berries. Don’t forget to follow it with a cold glass of milk! A nutrient-rich diet for you (and your partner) will improve your chances of getting pregnant and pave the way for a healthy pregnancy. A diet full of fruits and vegetables ups the ante of antioxidants in your body, which for a guy can improve the quality and quantity of his sperm. Eating an antioxidant-rich diet in the first trimester can decrease the risk of problems like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia in the third trimester.
- Watch your lifestyle. Play “keep away” from smoke of any kind, be active daily and minimize your exposure to environmental chemicals. Smoke hurts fertility and also increases your body burden of many harmful chemicals. Get some safe sun exposure to increase your vitamin D, which is important for fertility and for the immune system. Having a healthy lifestyle puts habits into place, which can “program” your baby for good health. Exercise helps circulation, builds muscle and relieves stress—all powerful allies for a healthy pregnancy.
Living cleaner and greener can help fertility and will keep harmful chemicals away from your baby-to-be. Watch out for the term “fragrance” on all body care and home care products, which is a sign that a product contains phthalates, which are endocrine disrupting chemicals. Avoid pesticides and insecticides around the house—and keep your man away from them too! Choose organic when possible, especially for the produce on the “Dirty Dozen” list from the Environmental Working Group.
Bridget Swinney MS, RD is a registered dietitian and author of Eating Expectantly: Practical Advice for Healthy Eating Before, During and After Pregnancy, and Baby Bites. Find her at Healthy Food Zone and Eating Expectantly.
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed by Bridget Swinney, MS, RD, and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Pregnancy Awareness Month (PAM) or any employee thereof. PAM is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by Bridget Swinney, MS, RD. Consult with your own medical provider regarding your individual health questions or concerns.
Thank you to Classic Kids Photography for the great image!
Bridget Swinney, classic kids photography, Eating Expectantly, Healthy Food Zone, Pregnancy Awareness Month