Getting your body ready for pregnancy

It’s time! You have already made the decision or you are already attempting to have a baby and you want to take every precaution to ensure that you will have a healthy pregnancy. You are to some extent aware of the enormous changes your body will go through during those 9 months in which the baby will grow in your belly. You know that, even if a woman’s body is more than prepared for pregnancy and childbirth, it is not a bad idea to apply certain techniques and strategies that can help you keep certain aspects, such as pain or injuries, at bay.

Whether this is your first or your sixth baby, the following tips are important in all cases and will help you stay in the best possible condition and improve your chances of getting pregnant.

Create an Action Plan

It is important to have a clear action plan so that you can “put your luck on your side” and take better advantage of the times when you will be most fertile. Whether you want it in writing or not, it is important that you define the means you have at your disposal. Just as you already had a plan of action regarding your reproductive life, such as birth control, now that you want to become a mother, you will have to define one too. It will serve as a guide to help you achieve your goals, determine the key dates on your calendar, find the doctors you think are the best, and prepare the ground that will allow you not only to get pregnant, but also to have a smooth pregnancy in order to bring a healthy baby into the world.

Consult your doctor and learn about your family history

Having a child, besides being a major decision in a person’s life, also involves subjecting your body to profound changes. Talk to your doctor or obstetrician before you become pregnant so you can identify if you are ready to have a child or if you will need some type of treatment before you begin your attempts. 

Be sure to tell your doctor if you’ve had problems with previous pregnancies, if you’re currently taking any medications, catch up on your vaccines, and ask about what steps you can now take to prevent birth problems and defects. 

Be completely honest about your habits, such as whether you use toxic substances, if you have had any medical conditions worth mentioning (such as sexually transmitted diseases, high blood pressure, eating disorders, chronic illnesses, etc.). This will allow your doctor to perform the necessary tests that he or she considers necessary in order to define the best ways in which you can condition your body.

Additionally, the doctor will analyze not only your medical history but also your family’s health history. This is to identify if, genetically, there are particular risks or problems that could generate health complications in the baby. If you identify any abnormal situations, be sure to contact an obstetrician or geneticist to discuss in more detail about the implications and solutions (if any) to some of these inherited conditions.

Avoid the use of toxic substances and caffeine

If you use caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, and/or drugs, you need to stop using them altogether before you start trying to get pregnant for two main reasons. The first is that these substances interfere with you getting pregnant. The second is that they increase the likelihood of having a miscarriage.

These substances, even when used in small amounts, can cause harm to a growing fetus. Among the effects they can have on the child we find: intellectual disabilities, behavioral problems, learning difficulties, and facial and heart abnormalities. 

Adopt a balanced diet 

Yes, we definitely are what we eat, and your body needs a proper diet to stay healthy. Some simple tips are to avoid refined sugars and sweeteners, eat high-protein foods, and to consume fruits, vegetables, grains, and pasteurized dairy products. 

When the goal is to become pregnant, it is generally recommended to reduce the amount of seafood you eat, as it contains mercury and this can cause birth defects. Avoid large seafood such as shark and sea bass, and try not to eat more than 12 ounces of fish per week.

It is also important to try to get as close as possible to your ideal weight before you become pregnant. Being overweight during pregnancy can contribute to high blood pressure, diabetes, miscarriage, stillbirth, congenital disorders, and the possible need for a C-section. Also, once you are pregnant, it is not a good idea to start losing weight and you should prepare for this well in advance.

Vitamins and Folic Acid

The recommended daily dose of folic acid you should consume is 400 micrograms. Experts recommend that you start taking it at least 1 month before you become pregnant, and continue taking it during pregnancy in order to prevent the occurrence of certain serious birth defects in the baby’s brain and spine (such as spina bifida and anencephaly among others).

It is also recommended that you avoid high doses of vitamins A, D, E and K. Intakes above the recommended daily allowances may also cause birth defects in certain cases.

Restricting all unnecessary supplements is also helpful. Whether they are prescribed or over-the-counter, it is best to check with your doctor about the pertinence of their consumption and the amount of the doses that should be taken even before you start trying to conceive.

Strengthen your pelvic and abdominal muscles

It is in the pelvic floor where the muscles and ligaments that maintain the correct position of the bladder, uterus and rectum are found. However, during pregnancy, this area tends to weaken due to the changes the body is going through. Such weakening can cause incontinence when sneezing or coughing as well as causing pain. A well-known solution is the Kegel exercises, which consist of contracting the sphincter and pelvic muscles in order to strengthen them and handle the typical alterations that come with pregnancy. There are even those who claim that they also serve to facilitate childbirth and improve your sexual life.  

The abdomen is impacted in a similar way. As the baby grows, the vertical abdominal muscles may separate and cause lower back or pelvic pain. This is because the body will seek to compensate for the core weakness of the body. So, keep in mind that you should stop performing the same abdominal exercises that you are used to, since this can lead to abdominal diastasis, incontinence and back pain during and even after pregnancy. You can also talk to your physical therapist to learn more about strategies that are right for you during your pregnancy. 

Exercise moderately

Look for low-impact sports or activities. Your goal from now on is to strengthen your muscles and improve your cardiovascular health, which will help you carry your baby’s extra weight. Activities such as walking, swimming, yoga or Pilates are particularly recommended by specialists. It also depends on the stage of the pregnancy you are in, what you can do during the first trimester will never be the same as during the third. If you have any doubts, ask your doctor before starting your new physical routines. 

Also, try to practice maintaining good posture in conjunction with your new exercise routine. Remember that good posture also helps your body compensate for the extra weight that comes with pregnancy and causes less lower back and pelvic pain.

Rest, Relax, and Deal with Stress

It is also important to know that there is a direct correlation between good mental health and the likelihood of becoming pregnant. If you have problems dealing with stress, you can seek professional help or turn to alternative aids such as books on positive thinking, meditation, breathing techniques, massages, and natural and alternative therapies that will help you relax and cope better with life. Remember that getting pregnant is just the beginning of the great adventure that is being a mom, do not put more pressure on yourself than necessary, stay optimistic and relaxed and you will see how your body reacts as you start to feel healthier.