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Preconception Tips

prepare your body for conception

Shady Grove Fertility offers these important preconception tips to help you reach optimal health before you become pregnant.

Take a preconception supplement.
Taking a combination of several key vitamins and minerals— folate; vitamins A and D; iron; B6; B12—in adequate amounts before getting pregnant can maximize the health of the pregnancy and the baby. Doing so will give your baby the best start at a healthy life. Click here to learn about the difference between preconception and prenatal vitamins.

Maintain a healthy weight.
It’s important to prepare your body for conception. One way to do this is to achieve an optimal weight through exercise and a healthy diet. Obesity and borderline obesity convey many risks to both mother and baby that you can reduce or eliminate with weight loss. Studies show that losing as little as 5 percent of your body weight may increase your chances of pregnancy. Underweight individuals also are predisposed to risk factors that you can remedy with proper nutrition and achieving an optimal weight.

Revamp your diet.
Remember to treat food as fuel and opt for healthier alternatives. Reach for an apple or a handful of almonds when mid-day hunger strikes, and try trading the fries on the side for a fresh seasonal veggie or a salad. Meeting with a nutritionist from the Wellness Center can help you ensure that your new eating plan is balanced and provides adequate caloric and nutrient intake. Nutritionists can also help with meal ideas and snack tips to make it easier to stick with your plan.

Get in shape.
Some facts about exercise and fertility have been well established:

  • Intense physical activity, such as that of competitive female athletes, can disturb the menstrual cycle, but moderate activity has little effect on your cycle.
  • Obesity is associated with decreased fertility. Weight loss in obese women can improve their fertility. Weight loss can also improve menstrual regularity in obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

You don’t have to become a gym rat or a Zumba instructor to incorporate a little fitness into your routine. An easy way is to take the stairs instead of the elevator and walking to pick up lunch during the day.

Quit smoking and other bad habits.
Did you know that infertility affects more than 7,000,000 women in the United States and up to 13 percent of female infertility may be caused by smoking—that is more than 900,000 cases of infertility! Smoking can also delay conception. Approximately 30 percent of all women in their reproductive years smoke cigarettes. Studies show that women who smoke experience a delay in conception, up to a 54 percent higher chance that conception will take 1 year or longer compared with nonsmokers. The delay in conception correlates with daily quantity of cigarettes smokes. The more cigarettes smoked, the more chemicals enter your body, increasing the rate of follicular depletion and reducing the estrogen in your body. This is also why smokers reach menopause several years earlier than nonsmokers.

Smoking also contributes to a higher rate of miscarriage. The label says it right on the box—smoking and pregnancy don’t mix. Studies have shown that chromosomal and DNA damage from smoke exposure increase birth defects and miscarriages. In fact, one study done with female smokers 14 to 39 years of age showed smoking accounted for 16 percent of miscarriages.

Quitting smoking and certain risk behaviors such as excessive drinking and use of illegal substances are critical to both minimizing your chances of miscarriage and promoting a healthy pregnancy.

Reduce stress.
Reducing stress is desirable while trying to conceive. Whether it’s sharing your experiences with others in a group setting or seeking acupuncture and other complementary therapies, finding a way to reduce stress will increase your likelihood of continuing your course of treatment and promote a healthy pregnancy.

Be sure your medications are appropriate to take during pregnancy.
Review your current medications, including any herbs or supplements, with your physician to ensure proper dosages and to determine if your medications are safe to take during pregnancy. There may be alternatives to current medications that are safe during pregnancy and others that should change prior to conception.

Know your medical history.
It is important to review with your physician your medical history, including past immunizations. We encourage patients to get up to date with their immunizations for such conditions as influenza, chicken pox, measles, mumps, and rubella, to name a few.

Seek physician care for undiagnosed and untreated medical conditions.
There are a number of medical conditions that may negatively affect pregnancy, including prediabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, and a low-functioning thyroid gland. It is important to have a physical examination by either a gynecologist or your primary care physician before trying to conceive or beginning fertility treatments. A physician can easily test for and treat conditions before you become pregnant. The result of treatment can greatly improve your fertility, diminish the chance of miscarriage, and promote a healthy pregnancy.

Time sexual intercourse for procreation not recreation.
The next tips are about how you and your partner are actually working to make your baby. Everyone’s has at least one friend who is more than happy to tell you exactly which position is most likely to result in conception but there’s no evidence that position has any effect on fertility. Timing rather than position has much more to do with conception. It is advised to have intercourse during the 5 days leading up to ovulation and the day you ovulate. For some, sex every day can be stressful so focus on the last 2 or 3 days of that ovulation window.

While we’re on the topic of intercourse, your choice of lubricant may be impacting conception. Certain components of water-based lubricants can make it more difficult for sperm to make their way into the cervical canal. These lubricants include many of the popular drugstore brands, so couples who are trying to conceive should use lubricants designed to mimic natural fluids or mineral oil.

Get enough sleep.
We all know how important it is to get a good night’s sleep, but did you know that you’ll get a much better quality of sleep if you sleep in total darkness? According to studies published in Fertility and Sterility, melatonin production can be lowered by artificial light including the light emitted from your smartphone or tablet. Melatonin is the sleep hormone that helps boost fertility, so remember to get your z’s and turn out the lights!

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