Preparing for Pregnancy: Your Ultimate Guide

woman thinkingAre you preparing to get pregnant in the next few months or week? This time in your life is so exciting.

You know in a few short months or weeks your new baby will be on his way. Even though pregnancy is 40 weeks long, that time flies by with doctor visits and all of the awesome milestones of pregnancy.

Now is a great time to prepare your mind and body for pregnancy. Most experienced mothers, like myself, will tell you pregnancy is no cake walk. It has some amazing points, and I know I loved all of my four pregnancies, but they were rough at times.

Preparing for pregnancy ahead of time will help you more than you realize. Here is what you need to know and do when you’re planning to get pregnant.


13 Tips: Preparing for Pregnancy


1

Take a Look at Your Diet

pregnancy diet

You’re not eating for two just yet, but now is the time to revamp your diet to prepare for pregnancy! Pregnant women are encouraged to eat a variety of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables every day. Heres a few tips for your prepregnancy diet.

  • Increase the number of good fats in your diet. You want more monounsaturated fats in your diet. Add nuts, seeds, and avocados to your diet. You can cook with olive oil and canola oil.
  • Avoid fats that contain trans fats. That means you want to avoid fried foods, margarine, and vegetable shortening.
  • Eat full-fat dairy. You want to drink whole milk, full-fat yogurt, or cheese.
  • Try vegetarian sources of iron. Pregnancy anemia is more common than you might realize, so now is a great time to boost your iron. Add some vegetarian sources of iron to your diet such as spinach, beans, prunes, cashews, and legumes.
  • Eat fortified cereals. Fortified cereals contain folic acid and folate. One serving contains 100% of your recommended intake of iron.
  • Add those oranges in. Oranges may not be calorie-laden, but they’re full of vitamin C, calcium, and potassium. Consuming more vitamin C from citrus fruits will help your body better absorb iron. Drink a cup of orange juice per day or toss a few clementines into your lunch bag.
  • Eat more fruits and veggies. In general, you want to add more veggies and fruit. Vegetables have large amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and magnesium. Fibers contain vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Each day, you want to consume 4 to 5 servings of veggies and 3 to 4 servings of fresh fruit.

2

Schedule a Preconception OBGYN Visit

Frequent OBGYN Visits

You don’t have to pick your OBGYN or midwife right now. Instead, you can just visit the OBGYN you’ve been using. At a preconception visit, your doctor will look at your personal and family medical history, your current health, and any medications or supplements you may be taking now. Some medications are not pregnancy safe, so this gives your doctors time to find safe, effective alternatives for you.

During this visit, your doctor will also discuss your diet, weight, and any unhealthy habits you may have, like smoking. The doctor might recommend a multivitamin. This is a good time to get up to date on your immunizations. Ask for a titer if you aren’t sure about your past vaccines.

Also, if it’s been a year or longer since your last visit, expect to have a pelvic exam and a Pap smear. The doctor might run a test for any sexually transmitted diseases. These things may not be fun, but they’re necessary!

Your doctor might also want to offer you genetic carrier screening tests before you conceive. These tests help to determine if either you or your partner have any serious inherited illnesses, such as sickle cell disease or cystic fibrosis, in your history. When both parents are carriers, your child has a 1 in 4 chance of having the disease.


3

Take Folic Acid

foods-beneficial-for-pregnant-women

Folic acid is one of the most important supplements you will take during pregnancy. Doctors recommend that women take 400 micrograms per day for at least one month before you conceive and throughout the first trimester. Taking the recommended amount of folic acid reduces your baby’s risk of neural-tube defects by 50 to 70 percent!

You can ensure you take enough folic acid by either taking a folic acid supplement or by taking your daily prenatal vitamins. Make sure that you read the bottle to ensure the prenatal vitamin you picked has 400 micrograms of folic acid.

At the same time, too much vitamin A can cause birth defects. If you’re currently taking a multivitamin, make sure you aren’t taking more than the recommended daily allowance of 770 mcg (2,565 IU of vitamin A. The only exception to this rule is if most of the vitamin C is in a form called beta-carotene.


4

Kick Drinking, Smoking, and Drugs

pregnant-woman-refusing-alcohol

Now is the time to ditch the bad habits, and consider seeking help if you need it. Taking drugs or smoking during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, premature birth, and low birth weight. Aside from the risks for your baby, evidence shows us that tobacco use can cause problems with fertility, and smoking may decrease your partner’s sperm count. That will make it harder to conceive.

As for drinking, having an occasional drink with friends or a glass of wine once a day is considered safe while trying to conceive. Once you do conceive, you need to stop drinking immediately.

While some people say having a drink or two during pregnancy is fine, no one really knows how much alcohol is needed to cause fetal alcohol syndrome and other problems. So, it’s better to be safe than sorry!


5

Limit Your Caffeine Intake

Limit Your Caffeine Intake

No one knows for sure the exact amount of caffeine that is safe for pregnancy. Caffeine can be addicting, so now is the time to start reducing the amount you consume daily!

Most doctors recommend soon-to-be mothers try to avoid large amounts of caffeine. High amounts of caffeine are linked to a higher risk of miscarriage in some studies.

In general, it’s advised that pregnant women try not to consume more than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day. That equals around one cup of coffee per day, depending on the variety.


6

Find Your Healthy Weight

maternity-healthy-weight

Talk to your doctor about what your healthy weight is and come up with a plan to reach that goal if you aren’t there yet. Having a BMI that is too high or too low makes it harder for some women to conceive. You don’t want anything to hinder your chances of conceiving!

Some women think it’s better to have a BMI that’s too low rather than too high, but both can cause problems. If your BMI is too high, it can cause pregnancy or delivery complications. For women who have a BMI that’s too low, it leads to a higher chance of underweight babies.


7

Learn What Seafood You Need to Avoid

Certain seafood is safe to eat, while other seafood varieties should be avoided. While fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and other important vitamins, some seafood contains levels of mercury that are too high for pregnant women.

Most doctors want you to eat fish throughout your pregnancy. Salmon and tuna are two of the many types of seafood that are safe, along with shrimp, scallops, crab, and cod. However, there are several varieties that you need to avoid, such as:

What Seafood You Need to Avoid
  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • King Mackerel
  • Tilefish
  • Striped bass
  • Bluefish
  • Chilean Sea Bass
  • Golden Snapper
  • Marlin
  • Orange Roughy

8

Go to the Dentist

pregnancy-dental-care

Hormones can cause damage to your teeth. Most mothers, including myself, can tell you that it’s true! Hormonal shifts can make you more likely to have gum disease or teeth problems. Now is the time to visit your dentist for a checkup.

Higher levels of progesterone and estrogen can cause your gums to react differently to the bacteria in the plaque on your teeth. These reactions can include swollen, red, tender gums that might bleed when you floss or brush.

Going to the dentist now helps to reduce the risk of any gum complications in pregnancy. You are less likely to have any problems!


9

Look at Your Financial Situation

Raising a child costs a lot of money. There are ways to reduce those costs like using cloth diapers and breastfeeding, but children still cost families thousands of dollars.

While you don’t need to think about the next 18 and more years just yet, you do want to consider the cost of pregnancy and delivery. Make sure you have adequate insurance. An average vaginal delivery s $9,00 0 and a c-section is $15,000. Time in the NICU can run you $2,000 to $3,000 per day.

Speak to your insurance to figure out what prenatal coverage they offer. You might want to compare plans to see what is the best option. Also, if you have a particular doctor or midwife in mind, make sure they accept the insurance you have!


10

Reduce Environmental Risks

Eliminating all environmental risks can be impossible, but you can take as many as possible out of your life. For example, your job could be hazardous to you or your unborn baby!

You might want to change your cleaning products, use of pesticides, solvents, and make sure there is no lead in your water pipes.

pregnancy planning

11

Start Tracking Your Cycles

At least one or two cycles before you decide to conceive, you will want to start tracking your cycles. Tracking your cycles can be confusing at first, but it’s necessary to conceive easier. By tracking your cycles, you can understand when you are ovulating. That will let you know your most fertile days and let you time intercourse better.

Your cycle is broken down into a few phases:
  • Day 1 – Your menstrual cycle begins. The length of your menstrual cycle differs for every woman, but it can be between 4 and 7 days.
  • Next, after your menstrual cycle ends, you have a few days when you are not fertile.
  • Around Day 11 or 12 (depending on your cycle), you might notice an increase in fertile mucus. If you notice fertile cervical mucus, sperm can stay alive for several days!
  • Day 14 – You ovulate (some women may ovulate a bit sooner or later than this). Take an OPK (ovulation predictor kit) to see if you’re ovulating.
  • Day 15 to Day 28 – You are typically fertile a day or two after you ovulate. Then, from those days forward, you are not fertile and unable to get period. Most pregnancy tests can detect HCG (the pregnancy hormone) from Day 24 to Day 28. Waiting until the day that your period is due will give you the most accurate results!

12

Ditch The Birth Control

You will want to ditch birth control a month or two before you plan to get pregnant. Doing so gives your body time to process the chemicals out of your body. It also gives you time for your cycle to regulate because some women notice a change in their cycle when getting off birth control.


13

Exercise Regularly

pregnant woman doing yoga

There is a style of exercise for everyone. You don’t have to be a weight lifter or be interested in CrossFit to exercise! You want to do some form of exercise 4 to 5 times a week. The goal is to perform a moderate activity for at least 150 minutes per week.

Some ideas include:

  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Jogging
  • Walking
  • Hiking
  • Lifting Weights
  • Zumba or other dance fitness

Your Conception Guide: Have complete idea about making a baby.


Preparing for Pregnancy

The best time to prepare for pregnancy is the time before you’re pregnant! Make sure you start taking a prenatal vitamin as soon as you decide you want to get pregnant. Aim to live a healthy lifestyle by cleaning up your diet, adding some moderate activity, and limiting your caffeine intake.

Before long, you will have a positive pregnancy test in your hand, which will lead you into the first trimester. Check out our article about what to expect during the first trimester.

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