Getting your body and your life ready for pregnancy before you start trying can help you feel prepared mentally, emotionally, and physically – all of which will help you and baby once you do have a little one on the way.
Even pre-pregnancy, check in and check up
Talking to your healthcare provider before you start trying to conceive is a great way to get a head-start on a healthy pregnancy. They’ll be able to make sure you’re up to date on vaccines like chicken pox and rubella that you really don’t want to come down with during pregnancy, and let you know if any medications you’re on could have negative effects on your future child. They will also let you know if you need to stop taking a medication, and whether you might need to wait a bit to conceive. It’s also a good idea to get tested for STIs, and to check in about getting off of any birth control you might be on.
If it’s possible that you might have a family history of genetic disease, it can be a good idea to go through genetic testing and counseling, so that you’re prepared if there’s a chance that health concerns could be passed down. The clinical standard is now for all individuals or couples to get screened for cystic fibrosis before attempting to conceive.
Going to the dentist may be the last thing on your mind, but pregnancy hormones can cause gum swelling and bleeding, so preemptive dental work can help you avoid infections. Besides that, non-pregnancy related dental work, like fillings, can be done through the second trimester, but should probably be avoided during the third, so if there’s anything you’ve been putting off having done, now may be the time.
You are what you eat
And who doesn’t want to be a nice broccoli tree? It’s great to step up your vitamin intake with lots of fruits and vegetables before you start conceiving, so as to add some folate to your diet for your prospective baby’s health, and to decrease the risk of birth defects and complications. It’s also a time to seriously cut down on mercury-heavy fish, like swordfish and tuna. Mercury and other heavy metals can live in your body for a while, so stopping before you start trying to conceive gives your body a better chance to flush it all out before baby comes along.
New Year’s resolutions, anytime
Now is the time to put all of those New Year’s resolutions into action. Smoking can hamper fertility, and is dangerous for your baby’s health if you do conceive this cycle. If you typically have a lot of caffeine, cutting down may also help fertility, and prepare you for a reduced intake during pregnancy. And as for alcohol, the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome warns that alcohol in your system has the potential to affect your baby at any time after conception, even if you don’t know you’re pregnant. In addition, several studies, including a 2009 study at Harvard, suggest that even moderate drinking can reduce your fertility. This doesn’t necessarily mean that moderate drinking is a deal-breaker, but once you’re actively TTC – and, as a result, fingers crossed, could get pregnant at any time – it’s recommended that you stop.