Most women know that how they behave while pregnant is incredibly important for the health of the baby, and so they take great pains to eat well, avoid stress, get enough sleep, and follow any instructions from their doctors. What’s not as well-known, however, is that health and behavior long before conception can be just as important. Women – and men – who are planning to have children in the future need to be cognizant of their current actions if they want to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy child.
1. Eat Right
It’s vital to be sure you are eating a healthy, well-balanced diet to ensure your body is getting all of the nutrients it needs. Poor nutrition can’t be fixed instantly, as it takes time for the body to adjust, so it’s important to be eating the right foods now. Research has shown that good nutrition in both women and men has a direct connection to fertility.
2. Take the Right Vitamins & Supplements
It’s always best to get your nutrients from food, but even a balanced diet sometimes isn’t enough. Those planning to become pregnant in the future need to be particularly aware of getting enough iron and folic acid. Without enough of these nutrients, you risk the health of both mother and fetus. Most prenatal vitamins contain everything you need, and you should begin these before conception to give you body enough time to adjust.
3. Lose or Gain Weight if Necessary
Being either underweight or overweight poses significant risks for those planning to get pregnant. It may be difficult to conceive at all. There is also an increased risk of birth defects and serious maternal health concerns. It takes time to get to a healthy weight, and it’s incredibly important to be as close as possible to a healthy weight before trying to get pregnant.
4. Avoid Stress
It may be easier said than done, but limiting the amount of stress in your daily life is very important. In fact, stress increases the risk of infertility.
5. Avoid Drugs & Alcohol
Use of drugs and alcohol even before conception can be potentially damaging to the health of a fetus, so it’s a good idea to stop or limit drugs and alcohol before getting pregnant. This is equally important for men, as men with high levels of drug (including cigarettes) and alcohol use tend to have problems with their sperm.
6. Examine Your Environment
Many people have all kinds of toxins hiding in plain sight in their work and living environments. Exposure to toxins, found in things like fertilizer and paint can make it difficult to become pregnant or could harm the fetus. Eliminate toxins, as much as possible, from your home and work environments.
7. Take Care of Other Medical Conditions
This is another step that’s equally important for men. It’s important to make sure you’re properly treating or managing any existing medical conditions, especially $e*u@lly transmitted infections. STIs can prevent you from becoming pregnant and can harm the fetus, so it’s vital for both men and women to treat these conditions preconception. Other conditions, like diabetes and high blood pressure, can also have an effect on pregnancy so it’s important to discuss your treatment of these issues with your doctor in light of future pregnancy. Medications are also important to consider for both men and women, as some medications can be harmful to a fetus. It’s important to follow your doctor’s advice and transition to a drug without fetal risks well before conception, to give the medication time to completely leave your body.