Ready, set, conceive: 9 things to do before you start trying for a baby
Dreaming of the pitter-patter of little feet?
Deciding that a baby is in your near future is a big deal, and knowing you are about to embark on what is possibly the biggest adventure of your life even more so.
But whether you have only just started trying, or if you have been trying for a while now, did you know there are things you can do to prepare your body for a quicker conception and a healthy pregnancy? It's true - taking care of your body and nourishing it the right way can have a major impact on your fertility and overall health.
Here are 9 tips on how to best prepare your body for pregnancy:
1. Start eating cleaner
Just like a gardener will always make sure the soil is as nourished as possible before he plants new seeds, the healthier your body is before you conceive, the better the environment to maintain a healthy pregnancy - and stay healthy once baby arrives too.
Stock up on good whole organic food, eat plenty of vegetables in all colours, stay hydrated, and stay away from heavily processed foods.
2. Stop stressing
Stress is terrible for our bodies, and can really throw anything from your sleep cycle to your hormones out of whack. When we lead stressful lives, which, let's face it, we all do these days, our bodies are in almost constant fight-or-flight mode. What this means is that cortisol levels are higher than they should be, something which can suppress ovulation and decrease both sperm count and sex drive.
Stress can also mess with your mood and mental health, both of which can make both conceiving and staying healthy throughout pregnancy harder.
3. Take up yoga
Not only is yoga great for managing stress, but it is also known to balance your endocrine system – which plays an important role in fertility as it is the system responsible for your hormonal balance.
As well as this, practising yoga increases blood flow to the reproductive organs. Increased blood flow nourishes the endometrial lining of the uterus and can increase the chance of both fertilization and implantation.
4. Start taking folic acid daily
Taking folic acid daily, which all women all child-bearing age should be doing according to many experts, can help reduce the risk of Neural Tube Defects such as Spina Bifida in newborns by up to 70 percent, which prevents various degrees of malformation in the baby, including leg paralysis, bladder and bowel control problems.
5. Pop a multivitamin supplement
Supporting your daily diet with a multivitamin supplement is a smart thing to do in general, and even more so if you are trying for a baby or expecting.
6. Add some known 'fertility foods' to your diet
You are what you eat, they say. And if babies are on your mind, you should be stocking up on eggs, asparagus, almonds, salmon, leafy greens, organic grass-fed whole dairy.
7. Sleep more
Sleep helps regulate our hormones and repair damaged cells. Leptin is a hormone that links sleep and fertility. ... and if women are not getting enough sleep, their menstrual cycle may be disrupted.
8. Stop smoking and cut back on alcohol
If you smoke it’s best to quit before you get pregnant. If you and your partner both smoke, this is a good time to quit together. Men who smoke tend to have a lower sperm count and risk damaging their sperm. Women who smoke tend to take longer to conceive.
When it comes to alcohol, studies have shown how women who consume more than five alcoholic beverages a week take longer to get pregnant. As well as this, recenly researchers at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said that for couples planning a pregnancy, it is advisable not to drink at all during that time.
9. Start tracking your cycle
These days, there are plenty of apps (even free) you can download to help you track and keep tabs on your cycle, which will no doubt make it easier to spot your most fertile days of the month. However, if you are manually counting your cycle, always start on the first day of your period, which is Day 1. If you have a 28-day cycle, the fertile window is normally two weeks before your next suspected period, so that would be around day 14.