Preconception Health for Women
The first few weeks of a baby's development can be crucial, so it's important to get your body and lifestyle on the right track if you have plans to become pregnant. You want to be nurturing the growth of your child from the minute he or she is conceived! Below are some of the lifestyle choices that will facilitate a healthy pregnancy.
Exercise and proper nutrition should be a part of every woman's lifestyle, whether she becomes pregnant or not, but a mama in training needs to be especially diligent when it comes to taking care of her physical health! Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise three days a week, and a diet of fresh, whole vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, and lean proteins. Make sure to drink lots of water, and consider cutting processed sugars and prepackaged foods out of your diet in preparation for the baby. Maternity insurance may also be a valuable investment.
Most people are aware that smoking is unhealthy, and can cause lung cancer, high blood pressure, and other undesirable health issues. However, this unhealthy addiction is especially detrimental to the health of a fetus. Babies born to women who smoke cigarettes are more likely to be premature, have a low birth weight, develop birth defects such as a cleft palate, and be stillborn. In addition, smoking can cause complications during pregnancy, and can make it harder to conceive in the first place!
Why Alcohol is a No-No
It's very important that women trying to conceive be aware of the effect that alcohol can have on their babies. Alcohol consumed by a pregnant woman may cause a wide range of physical and mental defects in the developing fetus. In fact, there are so many potential problems caused by alcohol that medical professionals refer to them all under the blanket term Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders! Most children born with fetal alcohol syndrome or some variant thereof suffer from mental retardation in addition to physical defects.
The role of relaxation when it comes to fertility and conception should not be underplayed. Nurture your body in preparation for your baby by getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night, limiting yourself to no more than 40 hours of work per week, and choosing recreational activities that make you feel peaceful and happy. These may include long, relaxing walks, meditation classes, cooking for yourself or your family, reading books or enjoying favorite TV shows, and spending quality time with your partner and friends.
There's no reason why you should wait until becoming pregnant to learn more about pregnancy, motherhood, and caring for a child! Check out books on maternity and birth from your local library, join a motherhood support group, or sign up for parenting classes at your local community center. These choices indicate that you are ready to nurture a child, and are excited about the process. They may calm concerns expressed by family members, and will prepare you for what lies ahead.
Any woman who wishes to conceive should begin caring for her physical, mental, and emotional well-being now! Your health will directly affect the health of your baby, so care for yourself as you would care for your own child.
Article on Preconception Health for Women
The purpose of the Pregnancy Insurance site is to help you have a healthy pregnancy. One of the best ways to have a healthy pregnancy is to establish preconception health before trying to conceive. The first few weeks of pregnancy are the most important to the development of the baby. It is important to seek optimum health at this time and be certain to avoid any harmful activities and substances at this point.
Harmful Habits That Need to Stop and Be Avoided:
Smoking - Smoking during pregnancy is suspected to cause 20 to 30 percent of low-birth weight babies, up to 14 percent of preterm deliveries, and about 10 percent of all infant deaths according to the American Lung Association.
Drinking Alcohol - There are no safe amounts of alcohol to consume while you are pregnant.
Recreational Drug Use - For example, smoking marijuana during pregnancy can increase the chance of miscarriage, low birth-weight, premature births, developmental delays, and behavioral and learning problems.
Prescription Drugs - Many prescription drugs have the potential to cause birth defects. It may be more beneficial for you to be on the medication than not. So, talk with your doctor about any and all prescription drugs you are taking.
Stress - Stress has been linked to delayed or missed periods which can cause difficulty tracking ovulation and getting pregnant. Limit your amount of stress as much as possible.
Herbs - The FDA does not provide any mandates on herbs and there is little or no research on the effects they have on a developing baby. Discuss any herbs with your doctor before using them during pregnancy.
Caffeine - Some studies have shown a link between high levels of caffeine consumption and delayed conception. A few studies have shown that there may be an increase in miscarriages among women who consume more than 300 mg (three 5 oz cups of coffee) a day.
Helpful Habits That Should Be Started or Practiced:
Exercise- If you are not exercising already, start now. Exercise is directly related to physical healthy and your physical health is directly related to your conception health. Some good exercise options include walking, swimming, bicycling, and aerobics. Yoga is an excellent choice for exercise because it incorporates posture, breathing, and concentration which will be beneficial for you during labor. Talk with your doctor about what is best for you.
Read- Read books on pregnancy and child birth. It is important that you are educated and prepared.
Track Your Ovulation- This is important. Your doctor will want to know about your menstrual cycle. Keeping track of your cycle will also help you track your ovulation and increase your chance of pregnancy.
Practice Relaxation Techniques- Relaxation exercises help reduce your stress. Deep breathing exercises, yoga, listening to soft relaxing music, or taking a warm bath are all helpful tools to help you relax.
Get Rest- It is important to get eight hours of sleep each night. Good sleep can also help reduce stress and tension.
Eat healthy- Your health is directly related to the food that you eat. The healthier you are the easier it will be to achieve conception and have a successful pregnancy. It is important to make sure that your daily food intake includes 300-400mg of folic acid.
Healthy Weight- Seek to achieve a healthy weight. Conception can be hindered by being either over or under weight.
Make a doctor's appointment - Getting a physical and preconception check up is a good way to make sure that everything is AOK. There are medical conditions that you may not be aware of that can affect your pregnancy. Here is a list of common conditions:
- High blood pressure
- Thyroid problems
- STDs (i.e. Chlamydia)
Other testing and screening in your preconception exam include:
- Pap Smear
- Breast exam
- Blood type (i.e. Rh negative)
- Immunity to Rubella (measles)
- Immunity to Varicella (chicken pox)
Additional, your doctor will about your medical and family history. Information that he will be looking for includes:
- Medications you take
- Past pregnancies
- Medical conditions
- High blood pressure
- Seizure disorders
- Mental retardation
The important thing when planning and considering your pregnancies is to practice healthy habits even before you get pregnant. Remember, the early part of your pregnancy is the most vulnerable part of the baby's development.
So even before the pregnancy symptoms arrive, start practicing your preconception health steps now.
With good healthy practices in place you are good to go and then you can start watching for those symptoms of pregnancy with confidence that you have done the best you can in preparing for your baby.