The healthier a woman is before pregnancy, the better the environment to maintain a healthy pregnancy! If you’re trying to conceive or plan to soon (even if you’re already pregnant—it’s never too late to start!), you can prepare for pregnancy by treating your mental, physical, and emotional health.
Preparing Your Physical Health
Start preparing your physical health by improving what goes into your body. Remove junk food and opt for as many organic foods as you can get. The occasional burger or bowl of ice cream is okay; just make sure that it’s made with quality ingredients. And speaking of removing things from your diet, going gluten free is highly recommended. Studies have found that people with unexplained infertility often have better results when gluten is removed from their diets.
When you are looking to incorporate healthy food into your diet, focus on organic, GMO-free, and hormone-free whole goods that nourish you. You can also stock up on “fertility foods,” such as:
- Leafy greens
Healthy fats will also be an important part of your diet before, during, and after pregnancy, so make sure to seek out omega III supplements. Omega III promotes healthy brain development for your baby, as well as heart health for you. Once you’re pregnant, just make sure to ask your obstetrician or midwife how far into your pregnancy you should take Omega III. Most providers will want you to put a pause on this supplement near the end of your third trimester. Aside from Omega III, here are some other excellent supplements to stock up on:
- Prenatal vitamins
- Vitamin D
- B-complex or B-12 vitamins
- Vitamin E
As you continue visiting your doctor, you might be instructed to add some supplements or take some out, so just keep him or her updated on what you’re taking.
Having thought through dietary changes (and hopefully implemented them), you can begin thinking more about upping your exercise game. Exercising gives you more energy, helps you sleep, makes you happier, helps your body bounce back from birth, and reduces stress.
The best time to start a new exercise routine is before you conceive. Once you’re pregnant, you will be able to continue most of your usual exercises. However, you won’t be able to add anything new that is abnormally strenuous. So if you want to change up your workout plan, the time is now!
As for specific exercises to practice, squats and other leg exercises will be the most important things you can add to your workout regime. Squats are crucial for labor (especially for a natural birth), and they will help you bear extra weight during pregnancy. And don’t forget to stretch! Yoga and other stretch exercises will help you avoid unnecessary pain as your body grows.
Other than the typical “eat right and exercise” mantra, let’s talk about just a couple more things to be aware of as you prepare your body for pregnancy:
- Be diligent about tracking your cycle. Get familiar with your cycle so you’re ready for your most fertile times.
- Visit a dentist. Pregnancy meningitis is a common problem, so starting on oral health now will help protect you during pregnancy.
- Take a food allergy test. Knowing what you are allergic and sensitive to will help boost your immune system, fix digestive problems, and help you feel your best.
These are all crucial tips to practice for a healthy pregnancy, but you will need to watch your mental health as well.
Preparing Your Mental and Emotional Health
Pregnancy hormones are no joke—from sadness to rage, you will most likely feel it all. So to help you deal with all the emotions pregnancy brings, start improving your mental health now. The physical health tips above are a great place to begin, because when your body feels better and stronger, your mind will, too. Below are a few strategies for preparing your mental health for pregnancy.
Improve Your Self-Image and Self-Esteem
Most women struggle with body image during and after pregnancy, so if this is an area you already struggle in, you might want to consider seeing a counselor or talking with mom friends who have been through this. The main thing is to focus on how amazing your body is. You have been given the ability to carry and produce life—even multiple times!
Your body is a miracle, and you were made for this. Pregnancy, birth, and post-birth do not have to be scary, disgusting, or degrading; they should all be empowering.
Every aspect of motherhood is empowering and beautiful, so treat your body with respect. Dress up, leave yourself encouraging notes, and surround yourself with positive people. Do whatever it takes to remind yourself that you matter. And don’t forget to milk your partner for compliments!
Create Space in Your Life to Ease Anxiety
Rule number one for easing anxiety before (and during!) pregnancy: Rest! Getting adequate rest is vital for both mental and physical health, especially for soon-to-be mothers. De-stressing keeps your cortisol levels healthy, whereas stress can tighten the body, constrict blood flow, and stagnate energy.
You can also ease anxiety by exercising and taking time to do what you love. Whether it’s going to a new coffee shop or just binging your favorite TV show, just do something fun and keep your mind from wandering to stressful topics while you do it.
Consciously Patch Up Relationships and Childhood Wounds
Becoming a parent is a daunting thought for many people. Oftentimes, it’s because they don’t want to repeat the same mistakes their parents—or other family members—made. If it’s safe, you can try talking it out with the people who hurt you; but if that’s impossible, express your feelings to someone you trust. You can also ask yourself these questions:
- What was done to me?
- Why did it hurt me so much?
- What lie(s) have I believed about myself, others, or the world because of what happened?
If you just can’t seem to get on the path to healing, don’t hesitate to reach out to a counselor.
Mentally Prepare Yourself for What’s Ahead
This might seem counterproductive, but you cannot prepare yourself for everything. Perhaps being surprised is what you should mentally prepare for the most! Although you cannot prepare for everything, you should still take the time to learn about pregnancy and get your mind ready, So, if you’re reading this, you’re on the right track!
As you prepare for your pregnancy, begin by trusting the timing and being comfortable with your journey toward conception. Carve out a big window of time to try getting pregnant—about 4-12 months. Even those in great physical/mental shape should expect it to take a decent chunk of time, so pace yourself. You can plan all you want, but at the end of this journey, your baby will have come at just the right time for both of you. And most importantly, at the end of it all, you’ll have a baby!
We realize that trying to get pregnant can be just as scary as it is exciting. Don’t be afraid to reach out to our office if you could use some support during this time. We know how important a healthy pregnancy is, and we want to set you up for success by assisting with your diet, exercise habits, mental health, and any preexisting health issues. And no matter where you are on your pregnancy journey, happy gestating!