Preparing for Baby? Prioritize Your Health
Making the decision to try for a baby is an exciting time. Whether you and your partner have decided that you want to start trying in a year or two, or in a few months, you’ll want to take into consideration some health and lifestyle changes that you may need to make to help you in your chances of conceiving and having a more enjoyable pregnancy.
We recommend that you schedule a medical check-up with your primary care doctor and a general gynecology exam if you haven't kept up to date with your annual appointments. It's important to identify any medical conditions, and take steps to have them under control before trying to conceive. This is especially important for those with diabetes as well as high blood pressure, asthma, thyroid disease, anemia, and conditions such as anxiety or depression. It's important to work with your providers and have conversations about your health and your future goals of having a baby.
Assess your diet
When it comes to your lifestyle, now is a good time to take a look at your diet. A healthy diet contains a combination of fruits and vegetables, protein or meats, carbohydrates, and dairy products. If your diet is suffering, increase your fruit and vegetable intake. As a physician, I recommend eating whole fruits versus juices as they have more fiber and greater nutrition. For carbohydrates, whole grains are best for the same reason. If you have dietary restrictions, or strong personal preferences, talk with your health care provider or a dietitian on ways to maximize benefits to your health through diet. And while it is important to eat nutrient dense foods, you'll also want to incorporate vitamins, specifically one that has folic acid.
If you are overweight or obese, losing weight can make your pregnancy healthier, and more comfortable. Studies show that women who are obese experience higher rates of possible complications during pregnancy. That being said, you don't have to be at your ideal weight at the time you're trying to conceive, losing even five to ten percent of your total body weight has health benefits.
Quit smoking if you're a smoker. Quitting is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Many women quit when they become pregnant, but knowing the benefits, it's wise to stop now. The same goes for your partner, or anyone else who resides in your household. Second hand smoke has been shown to affect lung development in newborns and puts them at increased risk of lung problems. On a similar notion, avoid all recreational drugs, including marijuana, as they have health implications. And, while it's acceptable to drink alcohol when you're trying to conceive, once you know you're pregnant, it's recommended that you refrain throughout your entire pregnancy.
Move your body
We all know that eating a healthy diet, minimizing exposure to toxins, and keeping medical conditions under control as best as possible are important, but there's another aspect of health you should consider when you're planning to conceive—physical activity. Being physically active keeps our body moving better and with less aches and pains, helps control weight, and reduces stress. The most important thing to do is find an activity you like, and do it regularly. Anything that makes you more limber and is helping you achieve better overall health and fitness is great. You should always check with your health care provider before starting any exercise program. It's important to note that you can continue exercising when you become pregnant, as long as your doctor recommends it, he or she may want you to modify certain activities. Exercising while pregnant may help control weight gain and minimize aches and pains associated with pregnancy. Exercise can also help prepare you for labor.
Planning to expand your family involves thinking about a number of different aspects of your life—your finances, living situation, and work-life balance among other things. Make sure you put your health at the top of your priority list. Your doctors will work with you to make sure you're on the right track.
If you're looking for an OBGYN, we have a wonderful team of providers at two locations in Attleboro and Plainville who are ready to meet you.