So, you’ve decided you want to start trying for kids. Mazel! Aside from getting off your birth control, there are a number of ways you should start preparing to get pregnant (and I don’t just mean coming to terms with the harsh realization that you can’t drink for the next nine months). There are obvious benefits to taking these steps. Getting healthy before getting pregnant can help you more easily conceive and may make it easier to lose the baby weight later, if that is something you’re concerned about. Taking a prenatal vitamin may already be on your radar, but did you know that meditation and strength training can also help? There are literally tons of things you can do, and you may not even have realized you SHOULD do, before trying to get pregnant. These can make your pregnancy easier and even ease labor later on. Praise be.
Okay, yeah, it kind of blows. But you won’t be drinking, smoking, and doing recreational drugs while you’re pregnant, right? I hope not. So start curbing the habit now. And it’s not just to mentally prepare you to have to say no to girls’ nights—it can also increase your ability to conceive. According to Parents.com, “Excess alcohol intake has been shown to interfere with your fertility and can also lower sperm count in men.” Additionally, they note that smoking cigarettes can affect egg quality and increase your risk of birth defects, miscarriage, preterm labor, and other issues after you get pregnant. Smoking that cigarette when you’ve been out drinking may be a go-to drunk habit right now, but if you’re trying to get pregnant, it’s time to chill. You won’t want to do it while you have a bun in the oven, so start getting used to being responsible and adhering to what your D.A.R.E. officer told you now.
Ever heard of it? You may think that your body is in tip-top shape for a baby, but you could be wrong. So, if you’re planning to start trying to conceive or are no longer using birth control, make an appointment with your gyno and general practitioner. They can check and make sure you’re at a healthy weight, have healthy habits, are up to date on all of your vaccines, aren’t currently taking any meds that could harm or hinder a pregnancy, and discuss any outstanding issues that could make conceiving difficult. They can also help you figure out when and how to go off of birth control if you haven’t done so already (and/or remove any implants that need to come out). Plus, they may even have some tips and tricks, like which prenatal vitamins to take, foods to avoid, and easy exercises that’ll help your body adjust once you do actually get preggers.
Before you even start trying to get pregnant, you should be taking a prenatal vitamin and LOTS of folic acid. You may have already known that, yes, taking a prenatal vitamin is f*cking obvious, but folic acid is a super important B vitamin that will help your baby develop correctly. According to March of Dimes, taking folic acid “before and during early pregnancy can help protect your baby from birth defects of the brain and spine called neural tube defects (NTDs).” They also note, “If all women take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day before getting pregnant and during early pregnancy, it may help prevent up to 7 in 10 (70 percent) NTDs.”
You’re unique and beautiful just the way you are, but the reality is if you aren’t at a healthy weight, conceiving isn’t going to be easy for you. That is true of people who are both overweight and underweight, btw. Being overweight or obese can lead to complications during pregnancy, trouble conceiving, and other issues. According to the CDC, being overweight or obese can put moms-to-be at risk for “heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon).” Being underweight isn’t without its issues either, as you can be at a higher risk of miscarriage and other complications later in pregnancy. So, get yourself into healthier habits now, because it will pay off later.
Once you’re pregnant (and even more so, after you have the kid) your sleep pattern is going to get REAL F*CKED UP. Between getting up to pee constantly, finding a comfortable position, or learning not to sleep on your now-giant boobs, the time before you’re pregnant is the time to stock up on sleep. Plus, people who sleep more tend to be less stressed, more rested, and less likely to have an emotional breakdown in the office bathroom. There are even studies that show a good night’s sleep can help you get pregnant faster, since your body is more rested and able to keep your cycles in check.
Whether you love yoga, indulging in back-to-back episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale (weird flex if you’re trying to get pregnant, but okay), or hours of quiet meditation, the time to get your de-stress activities on is now. People who have high stress levels have a much more difficult time getting pregnant, so removing things that cause anxiety in your life isn’t just a good practice on the reg, it’s great when you want to ruin your life with a kid (yay)!
So, if you’re debating getting pregnant and bringing a bundle of
screaming poop joy into the world, make sure your body is a temple of health and sh*t first. It’ll be easier in the long run.
Images: Michalina, Unsplash; Giphy (6)