Sep 7, 2017

Pre-Pregnancy Health: Simple Steps To Ensure You're In Tip-Top Condition

If you’re thinking about starting a family, your health should be a priority. Many of us automatically start planning what a nursery will look like or trawling through name books, but the reality is that it’s not always easy to conceive. Even if you do fall pregnant quickly, the process is long and drawn-out, and it’s really important to consider your health, as well as planning for the arrival of a new addition. If you’re hoping to add to your family, here are some simple steps you can take to ensure that you’re in tip-top condition. 

Health checks

If you’re seriously considering trying for a baby, it’s hugely beneficial for both partners to see a doctor and have some basic checks and tests. In the unlikely event that tests flag up issues, these can be addressed before they start to cause problems and potentially reduce your risk of being able to conceive naturally. It’s a good idea to get your annual check up and have your BMI and blood pressure tested. Sexual health tests are also recommended, and you may be advised to have a blood test if you’ve been suffering from symptoms or you’ve been under the weather. The results of blood tests could help to rule out conditions that may make it harder to conceive. Dental health is also very important for pregnant women and those hoping to fall pregnant. Studies show that gum disease, which is much more common during pregnancy, can increase the risk of complications during birth and premature labor. If you haven’t been to the dentist in the last six months, it’s wise to book an appointment. Even if you feel fine and you’ve not had any problems, it’s helpful to have health tests, as sometimes, symptoms aren’t obvious. If you have high blood pressure, for example, this can go unnoticed for a long period of time if you don’t have regular checks. 


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Exercise

Exercise is beneficial for men and women of all ages. There are so many benefits to enjoy from being active and making an effort to reach activity goals. Exercise can aid weight loss, which may be a factor when it comes to falling pregnant, and it can also boost your circulation, improve your mental health and tackle stress. If you don’t exercise much, now is the time to start moving more. You don’t necessarily have to spend all your time in the gym. You can walk, run, cycle, row or even dance your way to better health. It’s useful to tailor the type of exercise you do to your individual goals and also your mood. If you’re keen to relax, go to a yoga class or book a boxing session if you’ve got energy to burn. Always make sure you warm up and cool down thoroughly to reduce the risk of injury. If you’re not sure where to start with being more active, it may be worth contacting a personal trainer or trying out options such as home workouts or hitting a daily steps target with a wearable activity tracker. 


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Smoking

Most people know that smoking can be very harmful during pregnancy, but it can also affect your fertility, and it’s best to try and cut down or quit before you conceive. If you’re a smoker, you may find it very hard to give up, but there is help out there. Your doctor can talk to you about treatment options such as nicotine replacement, and you may also find group support and sessions with a stop smoking adviser beneficial. If you do decide to quit, write a list of the reasons you want to give up, get rid of any cigarettes in the house, and keep busy. It may also be helpful to change your routine and try different social activities if you tend to smoke in certain situations or places. 


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Diet and supplements

If you’re trying for a baby, you may be advised to start taking folic acid supplements. Folic acid is recommended for pregnant women, but it can also be beneficial for those trying to conceive. Folic acid reduces the risk of birth defects, including spina bifida. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that up to 70 percent of neural tube defects could be prevented if all women of childbearing age took folic acid. 

It’s also important to make sure your diet is healthy and balanced. You should treat your body like a temple and ensure your diet includes foods that contain vitamins, nutrients and minerals. Try and avoid anything that doesn’t have any nutritional value and keep an eye on how much sugar, salt, and saturated fat you consume. If you’re not used to cooking at home, search for basic recipes online and try and develop your culinary skills. When you make your own meals, you control the size of your portions and the list of ingredients, which is often much better for your health than buying ready meals and takeout dishes. You don’t have to start eating exotic seeds or cut out all your favorite foods. Just make sure you enjoy treats in moderation, aim for five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, and opt for fish, poultry and lean meat rather than processed meat. If you need advice about healthy eating or menu planning, you can download healthy eating plans online or ask your doctor to provide you with some sample menus. 


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Pregnancy is a process that takes its toll on your body and mind. If you are trying for a baby, it’s hugely beneficial to prepare your body and try and ensure that your health is a priority. Making simple changes to your lifestyle will boost your health, and it could also improve your chances of conceiving naturally. If you’re thinking about expanding your family, get in touch with your doctor and dentist, try and exercise on a regular basis, start taking folic acid supplements and ensure you have a healthy, balanced diet. If you’re hoping to give up smoking, consult your doctor for advice.