People used to think that nurturing a baby began with pregnancy. Now we hear that preparing your body before pregnancy is important, too.
In the WebMD Trying to Conceive Community, Yvette Smith, MD, MPH, offers tips for getting your body in tip-top shape for pregnancy:
- Begin taking folic acid to prevent birth defects at least a month before you start trying to conceive.
- If you should lose weight, do it with a healthy eating plan that you can continue during pregnancy.
- Talk to your doctor about any medicines you take, so that your body has time to adjust if you need to stop or switch to another medication.
- Limit heat exposure in saunas and Jacuzzis to 15 minutes to protect against possible risk of spinal cord defects from excessive heat early in pregnancy.
- Stop habits that could compromise your baby’s health, such as smoking, drinking alcohol excessively, or using recreational drugs.
Weight was the issue of most concern to women in the discussion. A couple of women talked about the difficulty of losing weight.
One woman wondered if she might have too little body fat and exercise too much to conceive and carry a child. The main concern, Smith said, is that a woman could stop ovulating if her body weight gets too low. She suggested using an ovulation predictor kit if this is a concern.
Another woman was concerned about gaining too much weight with pregnancy. She also wondered if playing soccer could harm a baby early in pregnancy and if she could start prenatal vitamins before stopping birth control pills.
Smith said that it’s fine to start prenatal vitamins before going off the pill. She also pointed out that healthy weight gain is necessary during pregnancy, but suggested that the woman talk to a nutritionist if she is really concerned. As for harming a baby early in pregnancy from playing sports, Smith said the uterus is well cushioned by the pelvic bones, so it is fine to continue with normal exercise and activity while trying to conceive.
Do you have questions about preparing for pregnancy? Do you have good ideas to share with others?