If you and your partner have decided to try for a baby, or if being a parent is a future you see for yourself, you should take concrete steps now to help increase your chances of getting pregnant. Here are the 13 things you can to get you both ready and healthy.
1. Schedule a preconception checkup.
Don’t wait to get pregnant before choosing and consulting with an obstetrician-gynecologist. A preconception visit can help identify how to increase your chances of getting pregnant. The doctor will review your medical and family histories, your current state of health, and check any medications you’re taking. Make sure to let your doctor know if you are taking contraceptives.
A preconception visit may also pave the way to address any underlying reproductive issues, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or low sperm count or quality. A study has shown that fertility issues are split evenly between men and women or both. That’s 30% of problems each arising in females, males, and both.
Asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity need to be addressed early. You may need to change your diet, start an exercise routine, take multivitamins or supplements, and be up to date with essential vaccinations.
2. Give up all your bad habits!
If it needs to be said, drinking too much or too often, smoking (and secondhand cigarette smoke), and taking recreational drugs can lower your chances of getting pregnant. All of these bad habits can negatively affect your partner’s sperm health.
Sure, a little social moderate drinking is fine, but avoid bingeing on alcohol. If you have been planning to quit smoking for some time but haven't yet given it up completely, even if you're down to smoking only when drinking socially or one stick a day, consider getting help.
3. Take folic acid!
Folic acid supplements are routinely recommended for those who want to get pregnant and women who are expecting already. It can help prevent severe neural birth defects, including spina bifida and anencephaly in babies. New research also shows that folic acid may also help support an infant’s healthy brain development.
You can’t really pinpoint exactly which month will give you two lines on a pregnancy test kit, so it’s better to be prepared. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 400 micrograms of folic acid every day for three months or at least a month before and during pregnancy.
4. Start eating healthy (if you haven't already).
You’re not eating for two and should never do even if you’re pregnant. If you need to lose (or gain) weight, then you need to tailor your diet towards that goal. Apart from that, eating healthy is about making sure the food you consume is good for the body. Steer clear of junk foods, highly-processed or high in preservative meats, and sugar-laden drinks.
Aim for a balanced meal. Go whole-grain foods, varied protein meat sources such as beans, nuts, and poultry; foods that are high in calcium like yogurt, fortified dairy; and more servings of fruits and vegetables. Including bananas, avocado, fish or cod liver oil, and green leafy veggies, which some moms believe helped them get pregnant, wouldn't hurt.
5. Check your caffeine intake.
Many doctors say no to caffeine for pregnant women, although you can drink as long as you limit it to one cup of coffee daily. Most of them agree, though, that women who are trying to get pregnant may need to cut down on their caffeine intake. Studies have shown that too much caffeine comes with a risk of miscarriage, so it would not hurt to put a pause on your coffee habit. Do this as well with caffeine-laden drinks such as soda and tea.
7. Start an exercise regimen.
Starting an exercise routine before pregnancy can help you maintain your weight or reach your ideal weight if you're overweight or obese. A healthy exercise program should be at least 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise. Your workout can be as simple as walking, cycling, jogging, or weight training. Yoga, pilates, and swimming also help. The key is to start a routine that you can continue doing consistently. It has numerous benefits for pregnant women who have low-risk pregnancies.
8. Prioritize sleep!
Don't ignore healthy sleep requirements. Aim for at least six to eight hours of sleep nightly. Studies have linked a lack of and poor quality of sleep with fertility issues such as hormonal imbalance and stress in women as well as men’s sperm quality.
9. Visit your dentist.
Oral health can affect your ability to conceive. Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy may cause swollen, red, tender, or bleeding gums, one of the many typical symptoms preggos may experience. Gum diseases have also been associated with preterm birth, so it helps to see your dentist and keep your oral health in check before you conceive.
10. Don't forget your mental health.
Increasing awareness for mental health has shed light into how it affects prenatal and postnatal health. Studies have shown that women who suffer from depression are more prone to fertility issues than those who don't.
Observe how you think, feel, and act as you cope with life, and aim to feel good about your life and yourself. Avoid stress as much as you can. It's okay to get worried, anxious, sad, or stressed sometimes. But if these types of feelings linger and start to affect your everyday life adversely, it may be a good idea to get professional help.
11. Avoid getting sick!
Staying healthy while trying to conceive is a must! Make sure to practice proper hand-washing and food preparations. Stay away from hazardous materials or odors, and even large crowds so you do not catch viral infections. Getting up-to-date vaccinations can also help you ward off any illness.
12. Prepare your finances.
Getting pregnant and giving birth isn’t cheap; raising a baby is expensive. You may need to start saving now. Plan ahead and start a fund, perhaps a piggy bank account for everything baby-related, including a budget for prenatal checkups, vitamins, and other necessary laboratory tests.
13. Enjoy baby-making!
Even if you want to be a parent more than anything in the world, it’s important not to stress when trying to conceive. In fact, it may even negatively affect your conception. There are several myths about how to get pregnant faster, from how often you have sex to the sex positions you choose and down to the time of day.
The tried and tested way to get pregnant to figure out your ovulation days (watch for these signs of ovulation) and having sex near your fertile period. It doesn't mean you can't still be intimate with your partner outside of those days. Don't let sex be a chore only for getting pregnant — enjoy it!