*Thanks to our friends at First Response for sponsoring this post. Planning for pregnancy is an exciting time!
A Facebook memory popped up on my feed today that sent me reeling back eight years. It was a photo of my smooth-skinned newborn baby girl taken at the hospital just moments after her birth. Her tongue probed in and out like a lizard, tasting those first little bits of air and her tiny body radiated a warmth and light from within. I was her guardian, her protector. I looked at that sweet memory and then over at my now 8-year-old, reading an Elephant & Piggy book aloud to her stuffed animals with sass and flare and remembered all the careful planning and trying that it took to get her into this world. I remembered that childhood song we’d sing as we were jumping rope on the playground…
“First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage…”
Even back then as a young girl, I always knew I wanted to be the mama in the rocking chair, singing her babies to sleep. In planning for my babies, I wanted to do all the “right” things like eating healthy and taking prenatal vitamins.
Families are what this life is all about and planning for one is very exciting! Every woman is different, and every pregnancy story is unique. But here are some sound tips that you can implement when planning for pregnancy.
Planning for Pregnancy: What To Stop, What To Start, and What to Continue
- Smoking, alcohol, and drugs. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (Source 1), smoking, consuming alcohol, and intaking drugs can make it harder for you to get pregnant and increase your chance of miscarriage. They also put your child at greater risk of health problems both when they are born and later in life. Alcohol (even small amounts) can harm a growing fetus and cause long-term maladies like mental and physical disabilities and heart defects.
- Discuss with your doctor any prescription medicine you are currently taking and how they may affect family planning.
- Cut back on the caffeine. As much as it pains many of us coffee and soda lovers, did you know that women who daily consume more than 2 cups of coffee or the equivalent of 5 cans of soda may have a harder time getting pregnant and a greater chance of miscarriage? (Source 1) If you’re trying to plan a family, going on a caffeine furlough is a good idea.
- Consuming foods high in folic acid. Broccoli, brussels sprouts, spinach…bring on the greens mama because they are packed with folic acid which is a super-vitamin for women trying to conceive. Folate (aka folic acid) is a natural form of vitamin B9 and is needed to produce healthy red blood cells (Source 2). So what’s all the hype about Folate and pregnancy? Well, it is critical during periods of rapid growth and fetal development. Just think–you are building another human inside of you in only 40 weeks! You can also get folic acid from beans, peanuts, fresh fruits, eggs, and liver (hey, some people love it!).
- Using a fertility lubricant. It’s the elephant in the room that must be talked about. Lube ladies, it makes a big difference when you’re trying to conceive. Since you’ll be practicing a lot, the type of personal lubricant you use matters. Opt for a fertility lubricant like Pre-Seed that is specially formulated for couples trying to conceive. Many people don’t realize this, but not all lubricants are sperm-friendly; some may even limit sperm motility. Pre-Seed is designed to be isotonic and pH balanced similar to the natural vaginal environment to aid in supporting sperm survival.
- Exercising. If you have a current exercise routine you love, keep doing it! Regular exercise while trying to conceive can help your body prepare for all the changes that you will go through during pregnancy. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, exercising during pregnancy can reduce back pain, decrease your risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and cesarean delivery, as well as help you lose the baby weight after your little one is born. (Source 3) Always consult your doctor about starting or continuing an exercise routine.
- Relaxing. Reducing stress may make it easier to become pregnant. US News reports that in a recent study, women with high amounts of alpha-amylase (an enzyme associated with stress) had a harder time trying to get pregnant. (Source 4) If you’re trying to conceive, now might not an ideal time to make any major life changes like switching jobs, moving, or buying/selling a home.
- Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet. When trying to get pregnant, strive for a healthy body weight. Eat a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Consult with your doctor on any questions you have concerning what you should or shouldn’t be eating.
Planning for pregnancy is such a special experience. Sometimes it takes you by surprise, while for others it requires more patience and preparation. But the feeling you get with that positive pregnancy test is rivaled only by the one that comes from holding a warm newborn in your arms. When it comes to bringing babies into this world, checking off a few boxes to help make getting pregnant easier is completely worth it.
- Jacobson, J.D. (2018, March 19). Steps to take before you get pregnant. Medline Plus: U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000513.htm
- Folate (Folic Acid) –Vitamin B9. Harvard T.H. Chan, School of Public Health. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/folic-acid/
- Exercise During Pregnancy. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/exercise-during-pregnancy
- Johnson, M. (2010, August 27). Can’t Get Pregnant? How Stress May Be Causing Your Infertility. U.S. News & World Report. https://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/womens-health/articles/2010/08/27/cant-get-pregnant-how-stress-may-be-causing-your-infertility