How to prepare for pregnancy – Cleveland Clinic

There are tons of tips on the many things pregnant women should and shouldn’t do, from cutting down on caffeine intake to avoiding soft cheeses to not using kitty litter. . But what should you do – or not do – if you are trying get pregnant?

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Reproductive endocrinologist Stephen B. Mooney, MD, talks about the best ways to prepare your body and mind when trying to conceive.

When to start preparing for pregnancy

If you know you want to try to conceive, there’s no better time to start preparing your body and mind. In a perfect world, we would all prioritize our physical and emotional health all the time, but in a busy and sometimes stressful world, it’s not uncommon to put our individual health on the back burner.

“If someone is really conscious of preparing their body and mind for pregnancy, ideally they should start up to a year or six months before,” says Dr Mooney, “But in reality, even three months or 90 days of preparation goes a long way.

Where to start if you want to get pregnant

If “Having a baby” is at the top of your to-do list, there are some things you can do to put yourself in the best possible position to conceive and carry. Dr. Mooney shares some of the steps to consider.

1. Catalog your family history

Your family’s health issues can become your own health issues — or at least play a role in how your doctor answers your fertility questions.

Some hereditary cancers, such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, and uterine cancer, can impact fertility. “If you know you have a family history from your mother, sister, aunt, or grandmother, that information is critical to share with your doctor,” Dr. Mooney says.

Other health conditions can also impact your fertility care, so tell your doctor if you have a family history of inherited conditions such as:

  • Diabetes.
  • Hypertension.
  • Blood clotting disorders.

“Having this information will help your doctor make more informed decisions about certain screenings, diagnostic tests, and other procedures to help alleviate or minimize pregnancy-related complications,” Dr. Mooney advises.

2. Stop your birth control

Warning: you can, in theory, get pregnant a few days after stopping your birth control, so don’t do it until you’re ready.

“There’s a common misconception that you should go off birth control for a while before trying to get pregnant – so you can get back on your cycle,” says Dr Mooney. “But in reality, unless your birth control is masking an underlying ovulation disorder, many people can achieve pregnancy relatively quickly after stopping birth control.”

3. Start tracking your ovulation

You may not yet know much about your fertile window – the time of the month when you can get pregnant. Enter ovulation tracking, which can be done through different methods.

  • Phone apps: Some apps predict when you will ovulate based on data you provide about your menstrual cycle. “It’s more accurate than guessing, but not as accurate as other methods,” says Dr. Mooney.
  • Ovulation predictor strips: These over-the-counter strips test your urine to tell you if you’re ovulating. It’s one of the most reliable at-home ways to identify your fertile window.
  • Basal Body Temperature Chart: Using a specialized thermometer each morning, you can monitor your body temperature to determine when you ovulated. “It confirms that ovulation did occur, but only after the fact,” notes Dr. Mooney. “It’s not necessarily the best when trying to achieve pregnancy, but it can help you better understand your cycle.”

4. Start taking prenatal vitamins

The best time to get into the habit of taking a prenatal vitamin is before you get pregnant. One of their most important ingredients is folate, or folic acid, which helps your fetus’ spine close properly and prevents spina bifida.

The other vitamins and nutrients in prenatals help support and nourish you and, eventually, the little life growing inside of you. “When you’re pregnant, nutrients are transferred from you to the fetus, so it’s important to have a continuous supply of nutrients that are important for fetal growth,” says Dr. Mooney.

5. Control your stress

Reduced stress doesn’t directly correlate with improved pregnancy rates, but there’s a lot of value to it can have an impact on your general well-being, which may affect your fertility.

“Reducing stress can help you think more clearly, make life decisions with confidence, weigh options rationally, and improve your relationships at work, home, and beyond,” says Dr. Mooney.

High stress levels can also have a direct impact on your menstrual cycle, causing you to stop having periods or even have periods too often, which can affect your ability to get pregnant.

6. Exercise regularly

To move! Dr. Mooney recommends 30 minutes of exercise a day, at least five times a week.

“Exercise improves cardiovascular health, helps with weight management and relieves stress,” he says — all of which are positive in general, but especially when trying to get pregnant.

7. Achieve a healthy weight

Your weight can impact your ability to conceive, so talk to your doctor or dietitian to learn more about proper calorie intake, exercise, and other healthy habits while you’re trying to conceive.

If you are underweight…

Some underweight people, especially those with eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia, may not ovulate or have irregular periods.

“Even those who are underweight without eating disorders can have problems with ovulation, cycle management, pregnancy implantation and premature labor once they are got pregnant,” says Dr. Mooney.

If you are overweight…

Obesity can also affect your menstrual cycle, including the quality of your eggs. And overweight people are more at risk of:

  • Miscarriage.
  • Chronic hypertension.
  • Gestational Diabetes.
  • Preeclampsia.

“I encourage obese patients to try to maintain their weight first, and then we can put a plan in place to start losing weight,” Dr. Mooney recommends. “Start slow, just five pounds, then 10 or 12, and we’ll go from there.”

8. Optimize your diet

If you were planning to improve your eating habits, now is the time to revamp them. Try to adopt a diet that tends towards:

  • Reduced carbohydrate intake.
  • Increased protein and healthy fat intake.
  • Lots of fruits and vegetables.

“We generally recommend a low-carb, Mediterranean-style diet with lots of leafy green vegetables,” says Dr. Mooney. “Essentially, anything brightly colored in the produce aisle is likely to have a lot of good nutrients.”

There are also a variety of foods you shouldn’t eat when you’re pregnant. If you’re currently consuming a lot of them, you might want to try cutting them out before you get pregnant, just to make it easier for you when the time comes. In particular, reduce predatory fish, such as tuna, which can expose you to increased levels of heavy metals, including mercury and cadmium.

9. Quit smoking

Smoking is a known risk factor for infertility.

“Our lung cells are separated from the blood vessels in the lungs by a single cell layer, so anything we take in, like cigarettes or marijuana, goes into the bloodstream and travels throughout the body,” says Dr. Mooney.

“All of the compounds in cigarette smoke eventually get deposited throughout the body, including the ovaries. And so smoking can have a profound and detrimental impact on ovarian function, egg quality, and egg count.

It is better never to start smoking. But if you currently have a habit of lighting up, try quitting smoking to increase your chances of having a healthy pregnancy.

10. Reduce caffeine

You don’t have to give up your morning coffee when trying to get pregnant. But if you usually have a little morning cups, you may want to reduce.

“Having 500 milligrams or more of caffeine a day — the equivalent of five or six cups of coffee — has been shown to impact fertility and miscarriage,” says Dr. Mooney.

Try to limit yourself to two caffeinated beverages (including coffee, tea, and soda) a day when trying to conceive.

11. Talk to your doctor about your medications

A range of drugs can affect your ability to conceive and can impact your fetus once you become pregnant.

“If you’re trying to get pregnant, go over your list of prescription medications with your doctor and ask, ‘Do these have an impact on pregnancy?’ advises Dr. Mooney.

Some common medications that can affect fetal development include:

  • Methotrexate, which is used to treat arthritis.
  • Isotretinoin, which is used to treat acne.
  • Valproic acid, which is used to treat seizures.
  • Warfarin and other anticoagulants.
  • ACE inhibitors, which are used to lower blood pressure and treat other heart conditions.
  • Certain antibiotics, including doxycycline and tetracycline.
  • Certain antidepressants and anxiolytics, including alprazolam, diazepam, lithium, and paroxetine.

Before you freak out about stopping a drug that’s integral to your own well-being, there’s good news: Dr. Mooney says that in many cases, your doctor can guide you to a safer switch. .

If no alternatives are available, your doctor will work closely with you to discuss the risks of becoming pregnant during treatment and determine the best and safest course of action for you and your fetus.

When to start talking about infertility

It can be frustrating — and even devastating — to try to conceive and still only see one line on repeated pregnancy tests. If you’ve been trying for six months to a year without success, it may be time to see a doctor.

Infertility is defined as one year of unprotected sex without achieving pregnancy. If you are 35 or older, this period is reduced to six months.

“Start talking to your partner and healthcare provider as early as possible,” says Dr. Mooney, “so you can feel prepared and affirmed to start getting the care you need.”

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