13 Jun Preparing Your Body for Pregnancy
Preparation is often the key to success, and that goes for getting pregnant as well as optimizing the chances of fertility treatment success.
The more we know about the holistic nature of the body, its systems, and the environment – including the mind-body connection – the more we observe that preparing for pregnancy is a beneficial step before trying to conceive (TTC).
Schedule a preconception appointment with your OB/GYN
If you haven’t done so already, schedule a preconception appointment with your OB/GYN and let him/her know you’re ready to get pregnant.
During the appointment, your charts will be reviewed, and your personal medical history and reproductive history will be more closely evaluated. The physician will look for any red flags indicating latent infertility factors or concerns– such as irregular or painful periods, symptoms of PCOS, or pelvic discomfort. While this appointment is less rigorous than a fertility evaluation from a specialist, it’s helpful for developing an at-home fertility plan.
Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to your sexual and reproductive history. Failure to mention details that seem embarrassing to you (but aren’t at all shameful to a physician) could mean missing the opportunity to identify, change or correct a condition threatening your fertility.
Stop smoking and drinking
There are numerous reasons to quit smoking (including marijuana) that go beyond your desire to get pregnant. Smoking correlates with multiple fertility issues – from trouble getting pregnant, to challenges carrying a healthy, full-term, normal-weight baby.
While the verdict on minor alcohol consumption varies some, we know for sure that overconsuming has detrimental effects for your baby’s health – and the line between “moderate” and “too much” is different for every mother and baby. Thus, the medical establishment maintains an “alcoholic abstinence” policy during pregnancy to be on the same side.
Focus on your BMI
There is a direct link between women’s body mass index (BMI) and fertility rates. Those with a BMI below or above the 20 – 24.9 range have higher infertility rates (“normal” weight BMI range is 18.5 – 25).
Notice we said below or above? That’s because being underweight can complicate conception as much as being overweight or obese. When the body has lower fat stores, common for extreme athletes or women with eating disorders, it causes hormone imbalances that hinder ovulation. Being overweight/obese leads to insulin resistance and detrimental hormone imbalances too.
To be fair, men who are obese also have higher infertility rates, so feel free to get your partner on board with you!
Focus on an anti-inflammatory diet
We’re big fans of an anti-inflammatory diet model for multiple reasons. First, the recommendations are expansive, so it isn’t nearly as restrictive the typical diet plans out there. Second, adhering to its tenets provides multiple benefits. An anti-inflammatory diet:
- Prioritizes foods that fight inflammation, which can reduce symptoms and impact of underlying health issues and optimizes reproductive function.
- Cuts out processed foods that are more likely to put on pounds
- Ensures you’re getting most – if not all – of your nutrient needs met via the foods you eat
- Reduces the impact of a range of known health factors that affect fertility. These include high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and other auto-immune disorders
- Promotes preservative, chemical-, hormone- and antibiotic-free meats and produce, which lowers your exposure to environmental factors known to negatively impact fertility in men and women.
Make exercise a part of your day
If you’re not currently adhering to a workout plan, now’s a good time to speak with your doctor about implementing moderate exercise for at least 30-minutes per day, five days a week. Aerobic exercise that gets your heart in the target heart rate range (which is defined as: 220 minus your age times 70%= target heart rate) is recommended. Keep your heart rate in that range for 20 to 30 minutes every time you exercise. Doing so will reduce insulin resistance, promote weight loss, and be heart healthy.
While you’re at it – look for ways to integrate exercise into your daily routine such as:
- Walking or biking to run errands or to get around town it at all possible
- Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
- Parking further away from your destination to get some extra steps in
- Take a walk, jog or hit the gym while waiting for your kids to finish practice or their extra-curricular activities
- Alternate jogging with walking (if you’re not a runner) to get your cardio rate up
- Getting your ‘om on. We love yoga as part of an exercise routine
Regular exercise supports healthy weight targets. It also builds endurance and stamina for the pregnancy and labor that await you in the future.
Following these key points for preparing your body for pregnancy can help you get pregnant faster. It will also support your fertility plan if you need to go the fertility treatment route.
Is it taking you longer than you planned to conceive? Visit our page about when to consult a fertility specialist. If it resonates with you, contact us here at the Virginia Fertility & IVF to schedule a consultation.