How to prepare your body for pregnancy
Fertility is a wild journey. If you’ve got babies on your mind, you probably have a whole lot going through your head. Making a baby isn’t always as straightforward as it may seem. It often isn’t.
For some, pregnancy takes time and comes with bumps and obstacles. Whether you’re just starting to get baby fever, or you’ve been trying to conceive for a while, there are steps you can take to help prepare your body for healthy pregnancy.
Why Is It Important to Prepare Your Body for Pregnancy?
While it’s not vital that you prepare your body for pregnancy, it can certainly help you conceive, and have a more manageable pregnancy. This becomes even more important as you get older, like in your mid 30’s and later.
If you’re wondering if your body is ready for pregnancy, you can always book an appointment with your medical provider. That way they can take inventory and see where you’re at physically, as well as test your hormones, and help you see if fertility treatments may be a good option for you. Healthcare providers recommend going if you have been on birth control for an extended time, if you don’t have a regular cycle, and/or if you have any reproductive health issues like endometriosis or PCOS.
No matter where you’re at in your fertility journey, there are simple steps you can take to help get your body ready for the next phase of your journey.
A Balanced Diet and Healthy Weight
You know the importance of a balanced diet. Eating the right foods helps regulate your energy levels, balance your mental health, and help prevent and treat chronic health conditions like cardiovascular disorders. It also helps your body prepare for pregnancy.
Figuring out the right foods for you can be confusing, especially with so many different diets and trends floating around. But eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated, in fact, it shouldn’t be. When it comes to eating healthy, simple is usually better.
That means avoiding overly-processed foods and added sugar, opting for whole foods like fruits and vegetables. You may or may not eat meat and animal products, but some red meat and fish can help get you the nutrients you need before pregnancy. When possible, opt for non-GMO (genetically modified) and organic foods to help reduce your exposure to pesticides and other chemicals.
You may even want to get a food sensitivity or allergy test to see if you’re consuming anything that may be causing inflammation or hurting your immune system. It also may help you to cut back on alcohol and caffeine if you consume a lot of it. While we’re talking about substance use, it’s also important to repeat that you should stop drinking and stop smoking cigarettes if you’re a smoker. Try not to inhale secondhand smoke also. Good nutrition and fewer toxins are a very important parts of getting pregnant.
Folic Acid Supplement
There are so many prenatal supplements on the market. Again, this doesn’t have to be complicated.
The biggest thing to look for when buying a prenatal supplement is folic acid. Folic acid is essential for helping prevent neural tube defects or serious birth defects of the brain and spine.
Some other vitamins and minerals to look out for are:
Most of these can be found in foods like eggs, dark leafy greens, seafood, and healthy fats like avocado.
Outside of fertility testing, there are other tests you can take to help you prepare yourself for pregnancy.
One health screening that can be beneficial when you’re thinking about getting pregnant is STI tests. Certain sexually transmitted infections can affect fertility, and can potentially be passed on to the baby. Since many STIs can be symptom-less, you may have an undetected one that’s been sitting dormant for years, even if you’ve been with the same partner.
Another tool is genetic testing. This is especially useful if you’re unsure about your family’s health history. This can help give you insight into any possible medical conditions that may interfere with your fertility or that can be passed on to the baby.
Lower Your Stress Level
Stress can not only be detrimental to your health but can also interfere with your ability to conceive. Not only that, but all the changes that come with pregnancy and growing your family are easier to manage when you can manage your stress levels.
Here are some tools to use:
- Regular Physical Activity: This is also helpful in getting your body physically ready for pregnancy.
- Get Acupuncture: Acupuncture not only lowers stress levels, but some providers specialize in fertility.
- Spend time with loved ones.
- Spend time in nature.
- See a mental health professional, like a therapist. They can help you prepare emotionally for this next phase of life.
- Journal to process your emotions.
- Practice art or a fun hobby.
Reducing stress helps you prepare your body physically, but also allows you to ease into this next phase of your life, and gives you tools to handle the ups and downs of pregnancy and parenthood.
Understand Your Cycle
Understanding your cycle allows you to know when you’re ovulating and fertile. You can get to know your cycle by figuring out how long it is and using tools like a cycle journal, fertility apps, and basal thermometers.
Even though you know when you’re ovulating, try to avoid only having sex on the days you’re fertile. This can strain your relationship with your partner and can put so much pressure on the times that you do have sex. Some other benefits of having sex regularly? Building your bond with your loved one and reducing stress – both essential for preparing for pregnancy.
Be Easy On Yourself
If you’re already pregnant and didn’t take the steps to “prepare your body for pregnancy”, please don’t worry! You’re not a bad parent or human, you’re just living your life, and now you’ve got a baby growing in you. How cool! While these tips are a great way to help prepare your body by getting healthy, they certainly aren’t necessary. If anything, they may help make your pregnancy a little easier and can help people who have had fertility issues.
Unless you’re using a sperm donor, your partner can also help optimize the pregnancy by preparing their bodies too! Many of these tips can be used for both of you.
Don’t let these tips overwhelm you, do what you can to keep your body and mind healthy. Good luck and have fun winky face!
Natasha (she/her) is a full-spectrum doula and health+wellness copywriter. Her work focuses on deconstructing the shame, stigma, and barriers people carry around birth, sex, health, and beyond, to help people navigate through their lives with more education and empowerment. You can connect with Natasha on IG @natasha.s.weiss.