Preparing for a healthy pregnancy can have numerous benefits for the body, especially in relation to preventing pregnancy-related health complaints that commonly develop. By ensuring that the body is in good health before conception, women can reduce their risk of developing gestational diabetes, high blood pressure/preeclampsia, and other complications during pregnancy. Adequate nutrition, regular exercise, and managing pre-existing medical conditions can all contribute to a healthier pregnancy. Preconception care can also help identify and address any potential health concerns before conception, improve fertility and reduce the risk of miscarriage.
Taking steps to prepare for a healthy pregnancy can lead to a more positive and comfortable pregnancy experience for both the mother and baby. If that’s relevant to you, keep reading because we’ll be covering lots of ways to benefit your body to prepare for pregnancy.
Prior to Pregnancy
Prior to becoming pregnant, it is highly recommended to take care of your body and prepare it for the journey ahead. For some women, this is important to improve the chances of conception and for others, it’s about setting yourself up for a pregnancy to improve outcomes for both the mother and the growing baby.
There are lots of factors to consider when it comes to improving pregnancy outcomes although we primarily focus on the following areas that we know reliably improve outcomes:
Maintain a Healthy Weight
A healthy weight before conception can lower the likelihood of difficulties during pregnancy and labour. Being overweight or underweight increases the likelihood of developing gestational diabetes, hypertension, and other complications. If you are overweight, work with your healthcare team to develop a weight loss strategy that is safe and appropriate for you. And of course, if you are underweight, focus on eating a healthy, balanced diet and increasing your calorie intake to achieve a healthy weight before becoming pregnant.
Quit Smoking and Limit Alcohol
Cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption can have a negative effect on fertility and raise the chance of birth abnormalities to the unborn child. If you are trying to conceive or are pregnant and smoking, giving up smoking is the best thing you can do for your health and your baby’s health.
Alcohol consumption before conceiving or during pregnancy can negatively impact the developing foetus, causing birth defects, developmental disorders, and cognitive impairments. These risks are attributed to alcohol disrupting foetal development, and leading to Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs).
Get Plenty of Excercise
Physical activity can improve general health and lower the risk of pregnancy problems. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week prior to conception, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming. However, if you are currently inactive, you should begin with a more modest workout regime and build your activity level gradually.
Physical activity during pregnancy can be advantageous for both mother and child. Regular low-intensity physical activity can enhance physical and mental health, minimize the risk of pregnancy-related problems such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and excessive weight gain, and prepare the body for childbirth. In addition, staying active can help alleviate common discomforts like back pain, constipation, and swollen ankles, as well as improve mood and sleep quality.
Take a Daily Prenatal Supplement
Prenatal supplements are essential for women who are pregnant or who are hoping to become pregnant. These supplements are carefully developed to suit the increased nutritional requirements of pregnant women and to offer essential nutrients for both mother and child.
Benefits of Prenatal Supplements
- Contain essential nutrients such as folic acid, iron, and calcium, which are essential for a developing foetus to prevent birth abnormalities.
- Help prevent nutrient deficiency and promote the mother’s general health during pregnancy.
- Lowers the risk of some pregnancy-related complications, including preterm birth and low birth weight.
- Helps women who are breastfeeding lactate more efficiently with essential nutrients
It is advised that women begin taking prenatal vitamins at least three months prior to conception. This will ensure that the body has important nutrients to assist falling pregnant and nutrients for the growing foetus. If pre-natal supplements have not been started prior to pregnancy, pregnant women should begin taking prenatal supplements as soon as they realise they are pregnant.
Stress can impact your fertility and overall health, so it is important to find ways to manage stress before pregnancy. Try practising mindfulness, meditation, or yoga, or consider talking to a GP, counsellor or us here at Evolution Medical Care, to help you manage stress and improve your overall well-being.
Improve Your Diet
Improving diet before and during pregnancy is crucial for the health and development of both the mother and the baby. A well-balanced diet can provide essential nutrients and help to prevent complications and birth defects. Wherever possible we recommend the following:
Whole grain bread, cereals, and pasta provide essential nutrients and fibre.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and should be a staple of any healthy pregnancy diet.
Lean proteins, such as chicken, fish, and legumes, provide essential amino acids for growth and development.
Dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, are an excellent source of calcium, which is important for strong bones and teeth.
Healthy fats, such as those found in nuts, seeds, and avocados, provide essential fatty acids and help to regulate hormones.
Beyond this, I find that far too often, pregnant women or women that are trying to fall pregnant are eating the wrong types of foods that cause issues including:
- Foods high in processed sugar cause spikes in blood sugar levels as well as increasing insulin levels, leading to insulin resistance and fatigue after the initial rush of energy
- Unpasteurized dairy products and certain types of cheese, including soft cheeses like brie, camembert, and feta, as well as blue-veined cheeses, which can contain listeria bacteria
- Certain types of fish that are high in mercury, such as shark, swordfish, large tuna and mackerel. Mercury exposure before or during pregnancy can potentially cause neurological injury, developmental delays, and cognitive impairments in the developing foetus.
- Processed meats like hot dogs, deli meats, and sausages, which can contain harmful bacteria
- Raw sprouts, such as alfalfa and bean sprouts or even raw or unwashed fruits and vegetables, that can harbour bacteria and parasites
- Alcohol and caffeine, which can have negative effects on foetal development
It’s important for pregnant women to consult with their healthcare provider about their dietary needs and any specific foods they should avoid during pregnancy.
Get a Preconception Check-Up
A preconception check-up is an important step in preparing your body for pregnancy. During this appointment, your doctor will review your medical history, perform a physical exam, and discuss any health conditions and medications that may impact your pregnancy. They may also recommend any necessary vaccinations or tests depending on your situation.
Consider Natural Therapies
Considering natural therapies like Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, and Natural Supplements can offer several benefits when preparing for a healthy pregnancy. These therapies can provide a safe and effective way to optimize fertility and support a healthy pregnancy, especially for women who may have difficulty conceiving or who have experienced pregnancy complications in the past.
Some of the benefits of natural therapies for pregnancy preparation may include:
- Improved hormonal balance and regulation of menstrual cycles
- Increased blood flow to the reproductive organs, which can improve ovarian function and increase the chances of conception
- Reduced stress and anxiety, which have a negative impact on fertility and overall health
- Improved immune system function, which can help prevent infections and support a healthy pregnancy
- Enhanced nutrition and support for the body during the pregnancy process
In addition to these benefits, natural therapies can often be used alongside conventional medical treatments to support overall health and well-being. However, it’s important that if you are trying to effectively prepare for pregnancy, you consult with a healthcare provider before beginning any natural therapies or supplements to ensure they are safe and appropriate for your individual needs.
Would You Like Some Assistance?
Are you ready to start your journey towards a healthy pregnancy? By taking the necessary steps to prepare your body, you can reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy and improve outcomes for both you and your baby.
Regular exercise, a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and managing pre-existing medical conditions are just some of the factors to consider. By ensuring that you are in good health before conception, you can reduce the risk of pregnancy-related health complaints that commonly develop.
Remember, it’s never too early to start preparing for a healthy pregnancy! If you have any questions or concerns about preparing your body for pregnancy, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our friendly team on (02) 4709 6727 or book an appointment online. We’re here to support you every step of the way.