Are you and your partner thinking about starting a family?
But before you dive into parenthood headfirst, it’s important to know how to prepare for pregnancy.
While just coming off birth control and trying your luck works for a few people, it doesn’t always work for everyone.
From eating the right foods to taking care of your body, there are a lot of things you can do to boost your fertility and increase your chances of getting pregnant.
In this article, we’ll share the top 7 things you can do to prepare for pregnancy and make the journey to parenthood a little smoother.
#1 – You are what you eat
Take a closer look at what you’re putting on your plate.
A healthy diet is crucial for fertility and pregnancy, so it’s time to ditch junk food and start loading up on the good stuff.
What food will boost my fertility?
First things first, let’s talk about the foods that are great for your fertility.
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are packed with folic acid, which is essential for a healthy pregnancy.
Folic acid also helps to prevent birth defects, so it’s definitely worth stocking up on these greens.
Another nutrient to focus on is iron, which can be found in red meat, chicken, and fish.
Iron helps to build up your body’s blood supply, which is important for carrying oxygen to your baby.
However, just because red meat is good for you, it doesn’t mean it’s good for your partner.
Due to the high content of saturated fat found in red meat, it has been directly linked with reduced sperm concentration in men.
What if I’m vegetarian or vegan?
If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you might be concerned about getting enough iron in your diet, especially if you’re planning to conceive.
Fortunately, there are plenty of plant-based sources of iron that can help support a healthy pregnancy.
Some of the best sources include leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale, lentils and beans, fortified cereals, and nuts and seeds.
In addition to these iron-rich foods, it’s important to pair them with foods that are high in vitamin C, which can help improve iron absorption.
This could include citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwis, and bell peppers.
It’s worth noting that non-heme iron, which is found in plant-based sources, is less easily absorbed by the body than heme iron found in animal products.
Therefore, vegetarians and vegans may need to consume slightly more iron than meat-eaters to meet their daily requirements.
What are the foods that I should avoid when preparing for pregnancy?
Well, it’s probably no surprise that junk food and sugary drinks aren’t going to do your fertility any favours.
But did you know that some seemingly healthy foods can also be detrimental to your fertility?
For example, soy products like tofu and edamame contain phytoestrogens, which can disrupt your hormones and reduce your chances of getting pregnant.
Similarly, trans fats found in processed foods and baked goods have been linked to infertility.
What fats should I be eating to prepare for pregnancy?
Healthy fats like those found in avocados, nuts, and olive oil are great for fertility, as they help to regulate hormones and promote ovulation.
Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats are also a great choice, as they provide slow-burning energy and keep your blood sugar levels stable.
By focusing on whole foods and avoiding processed junk, you’ll be setting yourself up for a healthy pregnancy and a happy, healthy baby.
Your future self (and your future baby) will thank you!
#2 – Exercise
Let’s talk about number two on our list of how to prepare for pregnancy – exercise!
No, we’re not saying you have to become a fitness fanatic overnight or run a marathon, but regular exercise can work wonders for your body and your chances of conceiving.
Think about it – by keeping your body healthy and active, you’re setting yourself up for a better pregnancy and birth journey.
And we’re not talking hardcore workouts here – barre, yoga and pilates are all great options.
Not only do they build strength and endurance, but they also improve muscle tone and balance.
Plus, they’re perfect for finding your zen and keeping your stress levels down.
Lowering stress levels is the next item on our list of how to prepare for pregnancy.
By incorporating regular exercise into your routine, you’re also helping balance your hormones and improve insulin, both of which can boost your fertility.
It’s time to turn off Netflix and get into your at-home workouts.
#3 – Reduce stress
Stress – the ultimate buzzkill when it comes to baby-making.
We all know the feeling of coming home and the last thing on your mind is getting it on with your significant other.
How can I exercise to reduce stress?
First off, make sure to take some time for yourself and practise self-care.
This could be as simple as taking a relaxing bath, reading a book, or indulging in your favourite hobby.
Additionally, exercise (as mentioned above) is a great way to reduce stress and improve overall health.
So, whether it’s a leisurely walk or a heart-pumping spin class, find an activity that works for you and stick with it.
How do mindfulness and meditation help?
Not only do these practices help calm the mind and reduce anxiety, but they also improve blood flow to the reproductive organs.
There are tonnes of resources available online, from meditation apps to prenatal yoga classes on YouTube.
So, grab a mat and get ready to namaste your way to fertility.
How can my partner support me?
Finally, make sure to communicate with your partner and lean on each other for support.
Trying to conceive can be a stressful journey, but having someone to share the ups and downs with can make all the difference.
Whether it’s a heartfelt conversation or a silly date night, find ways to connect with your partner and keep the stress at bay.
So, take a deep breath and know that with a little self-care and support, you can improve your fertility and chances of getting pregnant.
#4 – Know your cycle
Alright, let’s talk about one of the most crucial aspects of preparing for pregnancy: knowing your cycle.
You might think that all you need to know is when you’re ovulating, but there’s actually a lot more to it than that.
Understanding your menstrual cycle can help you identify potential issues, such as irregular periods, and determine the best time to try for a baby.
So, let’s get into the nitty-gritty.
What hormones are involved in the menstrual cycle?
The menstrual cycle is made up of four phases: the menstrual phase, the follicular phase, the ovulatory phase, and the luteal phase.
Each phase is regulated by different hormones, including oestrogen, progesterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH).
What are the phases of my cycle?
During the menstrual phase, which typically lasts about 3-7 days, the lining of the uterus sheds.
In the follicular phase, which lasts from day 1 of your cycle until ovulation, the body prepares to release an egg by producing follicles in the ovaries.
The ovulatory phase is when the egg is released and travels down the fallopian tube, and it typically occurs around day 14 of a 28-day cycle.
Finally, the luteal phase begins after ovulation and lasts until the start of the next menstrual cycle.
When in my cycle should I start trying for a baby?
Now, when it comes to getting pregnant, timing is everything.
The best time to try for a baby is during the ovulatory phase when the egg is released and can potentially be fertilised by sperm.
This usually occurs around day 14 of a 28-day cycle, but it can vary depending on the length of your cycle.
By tracking your menstrual cycle and identifying when you’re most likely to ovulate, you can increase your chances of getting pregnant.
So, whether you use an app, a calendar, or just a good old-fashioned observation, tracking your menstrual cycle is an essential part of preparing for pregnancy.
#5 – Get your partner involved
Preparing for pregnancy isn’t just your problem to solve.
It takes two to tango… and make a baby, so make sure your partner is involved and working toward the same goal.
The more support you offer each other, the better your chances of conceiving.
So, it’s time to get your partner on board and make this a team effort.
How can my partner prepare for pregnancy?
There are many ways your partner can get involved in preparing for pregnancy, and it all starts with healthy habits.
Encourage your partner to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep.
It’s not just about their health, but their sperm health too!
Sperm quality can have a significant impact on fertility, so make sure they’re taking care of themselves.
Stress is another factor that can affect fertility.
Encourage your partner to find ways to manage their stress levels, whether it’s through exercise, meditation, or simply taking a break from work.
Stress can also affect their libido, so it’s essential to create a stress-free environment.
Remember, it’s not just about physical health.
Emotional support is also crucial during this journey.
Talk to your partner about your hopes and fears, and encourage them to talk about theirs so that you can both support each other on their journey.
Getting your partner involved in the preparation process can be a game-changer.
Teamwork really does make the dream work, and with their support, you’ll be one step closer to growing your family.
#6 – Quit smoking, drinking, and drugs
Quitting smoking, drinking and drugs… sounds self-explanatory and a no-brainer but it still surprises me how many people keep up these habits while they’re preparing for pregnancy.
These harmful habits can have a significant impact on your chances of conception, so it’s crucial to quit smoking and limit your alcohol intake before trying to conceive.
How do smoking and drugs affect my fertility?
Cigarettes and drugs contain harmful chemicals that can damage your reproductive system and make it more difficult to conceive.
Additionally, smoking and taking drugs during pregnancy can lead to complications such as premature birth, low birth weight, and even stillbirth.
So if you’re serious about starting a family, it’s time to put down the cigarettes and drugs for good.
Tips and tricks for quitting smoking to prepare for pregnancy:
- Create a quit plan: Set a quit date, plan for triggers, and come up with ways to manage cravings.
- Seek support: Reach out to friends, family, or a support group to help you stay accountable and motivated.
- Replace smoking with healthy habits: Try going for a walk, practising yoga, or drinking water instead of smoking when you feel the urge.
- Consider nicotine replacement therapy: NRT products such as gum, or lozenges can help manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Nicotine patches aren’t recommended because they deliver a stronger dose of nicotine than gum and lozenges.
- Avoid triggers: Stay away from people, places, or things that may tempt you to smoke.
- Practise self-care: Get enough sleep, eat healthy, and exercise regularly to reduce stress and improve your overall well-being.
- Stay positive: Remind yourself why you’re quitting and focus on the benefits of a smoke-free life, such as improved fertility, a healthier pregnancy, and a healthier baby.
Remember, quitting smoking can be challenging, but it’s worth it for the health of you and your future baby.
How does drinking alcohol affect my fertility?
While the occasional glass of wine is unlikely to impact your fertility, heavy alcohol consumption can have detrimental effects on both male and female fertility.
In women, alcohol consumption can disrupt hormone levels and lead to irregular periods, making it more challenging to conceive.
In men, alcohol can reduce sperm count and quality.
So, if you’re trying to conceive, it’s best to limit your alcohol intake or avoid it altogether.
Tips and tricks to limit or quit alcohol to prepare for pregnancy:
- Set a goal: Start by setting a goal for yourself, whether it’s to quit drinking altogether or to limit your intake to a certain amount per week.
- Avoid triggers: Avoid situations and people that may trigger your drinking. This could mean skipping a happy hour and spending time with friends who encourage heavy drinking.
- Find support: Enlist the support of friends and family members who understand your goals and can help keep you accountable.
- Stay busy: Distract yourself from the urge to drink by staying busy with hobbies or activities you enjoy.
- Try non-alcoholic alternatives: Explore non-alcoholic alternatives, such as mocktails or non-alcoholic beer and wine.
- Seek professional help: If you’re struggling to quit drinking on your own, consider seeking professional help, such as counselling or a support group.
It takes 3 months
It’s not just the mother-to-be who needs to make changes.
In fact, sperm, just like eggs, have a lifespan, and their quality can be affected by a variety of factors.
It’s important to note that it takes about 90 days for sperm to fully mature and renew.
So, if you’re planning on starting a family, your partner should start preparing at least 3 months before you start trying to conceive.
During these 3 months, your partner should focus on leading a healthy lifestyle, just like you.
This includes maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, and getting regular exercise.
Additionally, your partner should avoid smoking and limit alcohol intake.
It’s important to note that sperm quality can be affected by a variety of environmental factors, such as exposure to chemicals or radiation.
Your partner should try to limit exposure to these substances as much as possible.
By taking these steps to improve the quality of sperm, your partner can help increase the chances of a successful pregnancy.
Both partners should be invested in the process of preparing for pregnancy.
#7 – Talk to your doctor
The dreaded doctor’s visit – the one thing most people tend to avoid until something is seriously wrong.
But when it comes to preparing for pregnancy, it’s actually one of the best things you can do.
Seeing your doctor before you start trying can give you a good idea of your fertility levels and what you can expect when you start trying to conceive.
It’s also a great opportunity to get your nutrient levels checked to make sure everything is in tip-top shape.
And it’s not just about you – it’s a good idea for your partner to get checked out too.
With a little bit of proactive planning, you’ll be ready to take on whatever comes your way.
This is especially important if you’re trying to have a baby in your thirties when fertility tends to go down.
I know it’s harsh… but true.
And if you’re still having trouble after all that, don’t worry – your doctor will have the right tools to help you.
They can provide guidance on further fertility testing and treatments that might be available.
Treatments such as medications or assisted reproductive technologies like IVF.
It’s a long treacherous road to take but you can always hire a doula to help you through the process.
Doulas are the support person you didn’t know you needed.
Let’s Make a baby!
Now you have all the tips and tricks you need for how to prepare for pregnancy.
By following these 7 steps, you’ll be well on your way to boosting your fertility and increasing your chances of a healthy pregnancy.
Remember to take it one step at a time, and don’t be afraid to ask for help along the way.
Whether it’s from your partner, your doctor, or your friendly neighbourhood fertility guru, there’s plenty of support out there for you.
So go ahead, eat your leafy greens, do some yoga, and get ready for the wild ride ahead.
Parenthood, here we come.