Whether it is something you have been considering for a long time, or are just starting to think about, making the decision to have a baby is a momentous occasion! But did you know that there is some prep work that goes into finding the right time to conceive? It’s true. The healthier the mom is before and at the time of conception, the healthier the pregnancy and infant. So what steps do you need to take?
Start taking a prenatal vitamin at least three months before trying to conceive
Pregnancy requires some higher levels of vitamins and minerals. The most important one is folic acid. If you have not heard, this is the vitamin that decreases the risk of neural tube defects, a condition that leads to malformations such as cleft palate. Most women are unaware that a higher level of folic acid is needed before even conceiving as the “neural tube closes by 28 days of gestation (before most mothers realize they are pregnant).1 Folic acid is so important to the health of the baby that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that all women of child-bearing age increase their intake of folic acid, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires “All grain products such as bread, rice, and pasta be enriched with folic acid.”1 Your safest bet is to start taking a prenatal vitamin daily, which already has the appropriate formula of vitamins and minerals for pregnancy.
Achieve an ideal weight before trying to conceive
Whether you are underweight or obese, not being within the recommended weight range and BMI carries increased risk for pregnancy. You may struggle with trying to conceive, or have an unwanted pregnancy outcome. Speak with your physician about what your ideal weight should be and steps you can take to reach it.
Make healthier food choices
Have you been visiting the drive thru multiple times a week? Or choosing chips instead of fruit or veggies at snack time? Now is a great time to start some new habits. Babies in utero get their nutrients straight from mom. So the healthier you eat, the healthier baby eats! Consider starting small, such as packing lunches from home instead of eating out while at work. Or switching your usual snack of chips for a handful of crunchy carrots.
Get some exercise and enough sleep
Exercise helps release endorphins, or happy hormones, leaving you smiling. It is also important for maintaining a healthy weight and can even help you sleep better. Sleep plays a part in the overall wellbeing and balance of our body. It is essential for concentration and strengthening the immune system. Experts recommend 7-8 hours per night.2
Women who suffer from gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at an increased risk of developing diabetes in the future. Women who are older, overweight, or have a family history of diabetes are at higher risk of developing gestational diabetes. If you are thinking about having a baby, talk with your physician about your goals and the right timing for you!