So, you’ve decided it is time to add to your family. The best time to begin taking care of your baby is before you conceive. Your baby’s environment for the first nine months just happens to be your body. By making yourself as healthy as possible before you become pregnant, you will provide your baby with a healthy environment for early development. Like any physical challenge, good health will help strengthen your body and see you through this important and life-changing event.
Begin taking a multivitamin that contains folic acid. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 400 micrograms (mcg) can help with your baby’s early development. Guard against spina bifida, a birth defect associated with folate deficiencies, by taking your supplemental vitamin as soon as you begin thinking of becoming pregnant. A multivitamin also contains other important nutrients that may be missing in your diet.
Rid yourself of any unhealthy vices. Whether you smoke, take drugs, drink alcohol or live on caffeine, now is the time to eliminate those substances that may have a negative influence on your body and your health.
Visit your doctor before you conceive. Set up an appointment for a physical exam to make sure your health is at its best. Make sure your immunizations are up to date. Your family doctor is a great source of information. If your family physician doesn’t oversee pregnancies and deliver babies, ask him for a referral. Discuss any existing medical problems affecting you or your husband. Make a list of questions to take with you to your appointment. Many couples have questions regarding genetic testing, especially if they are concerned about hereditary disorders and illnesses. Ask for any brochures, pamphlets or other information regarding pregnancy that your medical clinic provides.
Eat healthy foods to prepare your body for this big event. Begin changing your diet by substituting fatty, sweet and processed foods with more nutritious choices. For example, switch your regular pastries and donuts with high-fiber, low-fat muffins or toast. Snack on fresh fruits and low-fat cheese, instead of greasy potato chips and candy bars. Choose lean sources of meat, such as fish and skinless chicken and turkey.
Get off the couch and get moving. Increase your level of activity to strengthen your body. The physical changes that occur during pregnancy can put a strain on your body. Begin slowly and gradually increase your level of fitness. Take evening walks with your husband or your family dog. Take the stairs at work instead of the elevator. Park a further distance from your home or place of employment to allow you to walk further. Limber yourself up by enrolling in yoga or stretching classes. Consider swimming laps at your local health club or public swimming pool.
- Avoid starting a strenuous, exercise routine immediately before conceiving. If you have existing health problems or conditions, discuss the best type of physical activities with your doctor before starting a new routine.
- pregnant #9 image by Adam Borkowski from Fotolia.com