So, you’re ready to get pregnant. Congratulations! Making the decision to try for a baby is a huge milestone in life.
But is your body ready for pregnancy? Here’s a list of what you can do in the coming month to prepare yourself for conception.
Day 1: Stop Birth Control
If you want to conceive, you’ll need to discontinue any form(s) of birth control you’re using. You can get pregnant right away after stopping some types of contraception like birth control pills. In fact, many women get their first period within two weeks of quitting the pill.
When you period starts, so does your first cycle of trying to conceive. Some women get pregnant right away, but for others, it takes a few months.
Day 2: Start a Multivitamin
Pregnancy is taxing on the body’s nutritional stores. Give yourself a boost by taking a multivitamin to bridge any gaps. Better yet, prenatal vitamins are specifically formulated to give your body what it needs during pregnancy.
Starting a prenatal now will help you avoid any nutritional deficiencies during early pregnancy. You’ll also have time to try out a few brands to see what works for your body.
Day 3: Add Folic Acid
In addition to your prenatal vitamin, you might need an extra folic acid or folate supplement to prevent neural tube defects during early pregnancy. Be sure you’re taking at least 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid per day. Many over-the-counter prenatal vitamins already contain this amount. Be sure to check the label.
Once you’re pregnant, your doctor may prescribe prenatals that contain a higher amount.
Day 4: Eat Well
You can also get many of the vitamins and minerals you need from eating a healthy, balanced diet. Enjoy whole foods over anything processed. If your budget allows, you may also want to incorporate more organic fruits and vegetables into your diet to limit your exposure to toxins.
Day 5: Exercise
Moving your body at least four to five times a week is another great way to prepare for pregnancy. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate activity for a total of 150 minutes each week.
Starting from the couch? Pick something light like walking that you can do right outside of your front door. Start with just 10 to 15 minutes at a time and work your way up to longer durations.
If you want more of a challenge, try vigorous activities like jogging, cycling, or uphill hiking. You get additional health benefits with more exercise. If you’re already relatively active, you might try moving between 150 and 300 minutes each week.
Day 6: Get a Physical
Keeping up with yearly physicals will help catch health problems before they become severe. When you’re getting ready for pregnancy, they’re especially important. Your doctor will examine you and possibly take some blood work to check for cholesterol levels and more. At this visit, you can also bring up any other health concerns you might have.
Day 7: Check Vaccinations
Your physical appointment is also a great opportunity to get caught up on any vaccinations that may have lapsed (tetanus, rubella, etc.). Vaccinations can help keep both you and your baby healthy and protected.
Day 8: Schedule a Preconception Visit
Depending on a number of factors (age, previous fertility issues, etc.), you may also want to schedule a special preconception visit with your obstetrician. Some of the areas of this examination may overlap with your physical, so be sure to bring any specific reproductive questions you may have.
Your visit should cover anything you’re concerned about, from screening for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) to screening for pregnancy readiness.
Day 9: Track Your Cycle
Whether you’ve been on birth control or not, now’s the time to get intimate with your menstrual cycle. Narrowing down the window of when you’re most fertile will help you get pregnant faster.
Plus, having an understanding of your cycles will help you discover if anything is off and might need addressing (spotting, irregular lengths, etc.).
Start by simply recording when your period starts and ends to see how the length of your cycle changes from month to month. You can note anything like irregular bleeding and spotting, too. The average menstrual cycle length is around 28 days, but it can range from 21 to 35 days and still fall in the normal, healthy range. There are many apps out there to help you with tracking as well.
Day 10: Limit Toxin Exposure
High amounts of toxic exposure can be dangerous for a developing baby. Try to lower your exposure to common offenders by:
- avoiding synthetic fragrances
- going Bisphenol-A (BPA)-free
- choosing chemical-free home and personal care products
- skipping certain beauty services
Here are a few other things you can start doing today:
- make your own household cleaners using water and vinegar
- eat organic foods
- stock up on fragrance-free laundry detergents
- toss makeup products that contain parabens, sodium laureth sulfate, and mercury
- choose fresh foods over canned, which may contain BPA
Day 11: Practice Stress Relief
Establishing good stress relief outlets now will help you during pregnancy and in the hectic first year of your baby’s life.
Feeling stressed? Try taking a relaxing walk, practicing some deep breathing exercises, or doing anything else that brings you joy.
Day 12: Try Yoga
Yoga has a number of benefits for your fertility. Taking on a regular yoga practice may help with your emotions and anxiety related to the conception process. You’ll also strengthen and stretch your body in preparation for pregnancy.
Look for yoga for fertility or other yoga classes offered in your area.
Day 13: Visit the Dentist
While you’re getting all your checkups, it’s best to stop in to have your teeth looked at, too. During pregnancy, the hormones in your body may affect your gums and teeth. Good brushing habits before pregnancy can help ward off pregnancy gingivitis and cavities.
Day 14: Quit Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drugs
Smoking, using drugs, and drinking alcohol can harm an unborn baby in a number of ways. Smoking exposes your baby to harmful chemicals, restricts blood flow, and may even cause preterm labor.
Drinking puts baby at risk of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Using drugs (heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, marijuana, etc.) is not only illegal, but it also may cause birth defects, miscarriage, or stillbirth.
Day 15: Have Sex
Resist turning sex into a chore from the start. Have it often and for fun. Be spontaneous and passionate. After all, sex is what will likely get you pregnant. Creating sound lovemaking habits now will help strengthen your relationship.
If you don’t have any known fertility issues, don’t worry about timing sex at first. Instead, have frequent unprotected sex throughout your cycle.
Day 16: Reach Your Healthy Weight
Do you know your body mass index (BMI)? Your doctor will probably calculate this number at your physical. If your BMI falls into the overweight or obese categories, talk to your doctor about healthy strategies for losing weight. If your BMI is in the underweight category, also talk with your doctor.
Day 17: Gather Family Medical History
Your baby’s health will also be influenced by genetic factors that have roots in your family tree. Before you get pregnant, you may want to ask your parents or other relatives if there are any genetic conditions that run in your bloodline. The same goes for your partner.
Uncover something? You can make an appointment with a genetic counselor to discuss your concerns and get further testing.
Day 18: Discuss Prescriptions
Make sure your doctor knows that you’re trying to conceive so they can take a look at your prescriptions, medications, or any other supplements you might be taking. Some of these medicines may not be safe during pregnancy.
Day 19: Find Help for Domestic Violence
The Domestic Violence Hotline is a helpful resource if you’re experiencing any violence at home that might compromise your health or your future baby’s well-being. Services are confidential.
Call 1.800.799.SAFE today to speak with a trained advocate.
Day 20: Get Good Sleep
Many parents worry about sleep in the days after they bring home their bundles of joy. But sleep during pregnancy can be just as elusive. Catch up on your Zzz’s while you can.
Day 21: Limit Caffeine
Do you drink a lot of coffee or other caffeinated beverages? Daily intake recommendations for pregnant women are only about 12 ounces of coffee per day. Try slowly weaning off if you’re currently consuming more than this amount.
Day 22: Guzzle Water
A whopping 60 percent of your body is made up of water. Keep yourself hydrated for optimal health. Women should drink 9 cups of water each day. When you become pregnant, you may want to increase this amount. Ask your doctor for guidelines.
Day 23: Learn How Conception Works
Increases your chances of getting pregnant by reading up on the basics. Planned Parenthood provides a great resource for understanding how pregnancy happens.
To start, you need to have sex during your fertile window so the sperm can meet the egg before or when it’s newly released into your body. From there, fertilized eggs travel down the fallopian tubes and need to implant in the uterus for the pregnancy to stick. Half of all fertilized eggs do not implant and are flushed away with your menstrual cycle.
Day 24: Have Him Get Checked Out
Though much of a healthy pregnancy has to do with the woman, it’s a good idea for your guy to get checked out, too. Around 30 percent of infertility cases can be traced back to male factors.
Make sure he:
- schedules a physical
- eats well
- stops smoking and taking other drugs
- limits alcohol
Day 25: Boost Your Immune System
During pregnancy, you’re more susceptible to colds, the flu, and other illnesses. Give your immune system some extra help by eating a healthy diet rich in antioxidants, getting vitamin C, and resting.
Day 26: Learn the Do’s and Don’ts
There are a lot of things you’ll hear about what’s safe and what’s not during pregnancy. Some of this isn’t so scientific. Other items are incredibly important for your growing baby’s health. One of the hottest items for debate? What foods to shun during pregnancy.
Pregnant women are 10 times more likely than other healthy adults to contract listeria from contaminated foods. Start reading labels on your favorite foods now to make sure they are pasteurized.
Day 27: Work Around
Your job may be physically demanding or require some dangerous moves. But heavy lifting, standing for long periods of time, and bending at the waist may lead to menstrual disorders, fertility issues, or miscarriage.
Discuss your concerns and the recommendations for lifting with your doctor. When you do become pregnant, you may want to avoid lifting heavy objects from the floor, lifting overhead, and repeatedly bending, or stooping over.
Day 28: Do Something Crazy
When you’re pregnant, there are a number of activities that aren’t safe for you or your growing baby. Before you conceive, get in that last skydiving session or roller coaster ride. The sudden starting, stopping, and other jarring forces of more extreme activities may cause a placental abruption.
Day 29: Check Your Insurance Coverage
It’s important to review what’s covered in your health insurance plan before you get pregnant. Approximately 1 million women give birth without adequate prenatal care each year. Their babies are 3 times more likely to be born at low birth weights and 5 times more likely to die than babies born to women who keep up with regular prenatal visits.
Day 30: Communicate
You may conceive in your few first cycles of trying, but it often takes couples much longer to see a positive sign. Before you start trying to conceive, make sure you’re being open and honest with your partner. Talking about any issues or frustrations you have on your road to baby is the key to keeping your relationship healthy.
There’s a lot to think about when you want to add a baby to your family. But with a little preparation, you’ll be on your way to a healthy pregnancy.