Establish a healthy diet: By establishing a well-balanced diet high in protein, healthy fats, a variety of vegetables and fruits, and complex carbs BEFORE getting pregnant, not only are you likely to address any nutrient deficiencies before pregnancy, it will also be much easy to maintain that healthy diet while you are pregnant. Cutting back on sugar (especially sugary drinks like soda or sweet coffee), caffeine (limit to about 200mg - 300mg a day), and fast foods is another step towards preparing for a healthy pregnancy diet. When actively trying to conceive, alcohol should be avoided. If you have any known nutrient deficiencies like vitamin B12, iron, vitamin D, etc, you should also work towards getting to a normal level before getting pregnant.
Establish a good exercise routine: Exercise during pregnancy helps relieve many physical and emotional discomforts, and helps keep you and your baby healthy in so many ways. By establishing a good exercise routine before getting pregnant, not only are you ensuring you are as healthy as you can be coming into pregnancy, but also it will make exercising during pregnancy easier. If you are new to exercise, look at our blog post on establishing wellness goals for tips and tricks on how to start an exercise goal and stick with it.
Get routine annual labs done: Annual labs generally include looking at your blood count to see if you are anemic, your cholesterol, your kidney/liver function and electrolytes, your blood sugar, and your thyroid function. They should be drawn every year when you are over 24 years old, and especially before getting pregnant. This is recommended because if anything is abnormal, it is better to get to a normal range before getting pregnant rather than during your pregnancy.
Review medications you are on/if any are contraindicated in pregnancy: Some medications for mental health conditions like bipolar disorder, chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or epilepsy, or skin conditions/acne (just to name a few) may not be safe for your developing baby. If you are planning on becoming pregnant, talk to your provider who is prescribing your medications to talk about safe alternatives or weaning off of a medication. If the benefits of you staying on a medication outweigh the potential harm to your baby, you may need additional monitoring during your pregnancy or collaboration with a specialist
Managing chronic healthcare conditions: If you have any known medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, thyroid disease, etc., it is the most ideal to be in a stable state with those conditions before getting pregnant. Talk to your primary care provider or specialist about what is needed in order to get to your goal, whether that is getting your blood pressure in a normal range or having a normal hemoglobin A1C.
Consider genetic testing: Genetic testing for conditions you may have or be a carrier for has become more and more available. Many people get genetic testing while they are pregnant, but some testing is actually recommended before you get pregnant, such as a carrier screen. A carrier screen looks for any recessive disorders you may be carrying - meaning conditions or abnormalities that do not necessarily cause anything to be wrong with you, but could affect your baby if both you and your partner carry it. Some conditions this tests for include cystic fibrosis, fragile X, or sickle cell anemia. This is particularly recommended if someone in your family or your partner’s family has any disorders that could be passed down, or has additional risk factors.
Consider getting vaccination titers/make sure you are up to date: Not all vaccines can be given during pregnancy, and sometimes people can “lose” their immunity to things they have been vaccinated against over time. Make sure you are up to date on your vaccines, and you could also check to see if you are immune to anything that would require a live vaccine such as the MMR or varicella vaccine by getting a titer. This will protect you and your baby from those conditions during your pregnancy.
...and yes, get on that prenatal vitamin: You should be on a prenatal vitamin for at least 3 months before getting pregnant to address any nutrient deficiencies. If you are unsure when you are going to get pregnant or if you are not actively trying to avoid pregnancy, you should start taking a daily prenatal vitamin as your multivitamin.
Do you have any specific concerns or questions about planning for pregnancy? Schedule a preconception visit with the Center for True Harmony today!