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Countdown to Conception

A three-month guide to preparing yourself for pregnancy.

Photo: iStock

Check out this get-ready-to-get-pregnant guide to ensure that you’re as healthy as possible before trying to conceive.

THREE MONTHS BEFORE

Check it out
Schedule a preconception checkup for yourself and your partner. Address any health or lifestyle issues that might interfere with your ability to conceive or have a healthy pregnancy sooner rather than later.

Clean out your cabinets
Check your medicine cabinet for ingredients that could affect fertility or harm your baby-to-be. Don’t take chances. Ask your doctor about what’s safe for you and your partner to take once you start trying to conceive.

Pick a date
If you’re using barrier contraceptive methods like condoms and diaphragms, you can continue to use them until the day you start “trying.” But if you’re using a hormonal method of contraception like the Pill or Depo-Provera, you might want to switch to another method of contraception now. If you do, make sure you’ve lined up a back-up method (such as a condom or diaphragm) until you’re ready to conceive.

Put your money where your mouth is
Gum disease increases has been associated with the risk of a preterm delivery, so you want to make sure that you’re in good dental health before getting pregnant. Schedule a good oral cleaning, and take care of dental treatments, x-rays, or medications before you start trying to conceive.

Job satisfaction
Employers are required to provide employees with details about the types of materials they’re working with on the job. If you’re concerned about anything you’re exposed to at work being potentially hazardous during pregnancy, talk to your employer now.

TWO MONTHS BEFORE

Vitamins and veggies
Give your diet a pre-pregnancy makeover. Start eating a variety of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables each day, and reduce your intake of fat. Boost your intake of foods that are rich in iron and calcium and—if your health care provider recommends it—consider taking a multivitamin supplement or prenatal vitamin, especially one that contains folic acid. Just make sure you don’t overdue it with vitamins A or D, which are potentially hazardous during pregnancy.

Don’t weight
If you’re significantly under- or overweight, two months may not be enough time to get yourself to an ideal weight, but it is enough time to lose or gain a few pounds—and sometimes that’s enough to increase fertility and up the odds for a healthy pregnancy.

Get with the (fitness) program
If you’re a couch potato, this is a great time to start working out. Choose a sport that you can continue throughout your pregnancy, since being physically active will help with many pregnancy symptoms, such as backache, leg cramps, and breathlessness.

ONE MONTH BEFORE

Kick some butts
A woman who smokes is less fertile and faces an increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm delivery, and giving birth to a low birthweight baby. If you don’t smoke but your partner does, it’s time he quits, too. Male fertility is also affected by smoking. And once you’re pregnant, your exposure to secondhand smoke will be just as harmful to your developing baby as if you smoked yourself.

Don’t party hearty
No one has ever been able to determine a safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, so the March of Dimes and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that you stop drinking once you start trying to conceive.

Start delegating the dirty work
Let other people handle household chores that could be hazardous to you and your baby-to-be (e.g., using paints, solvents, or pesticides; changing kitty litter; and cleaning rodent cages or any messes created by wild mice).

Keep your cool
Hyperthermia (overheating) related to hot tub use has been linked to an increased risk of birth defects. The experts advise that prospective mothers avoid any activity that could cause their temperature to soar above 102°F. That includes vigorous exercise on hot days, too. By the time you’re ready to think about starting a family, you may already have spent 5, 10, even 20 years of your life trying to make sure you didn’t get pregnant. So when it’s time to turn all that effort around, it’s natural to wonder what effect all those years of birth control have had on your body, and how long it will take you to become fertile again.

--Ann Douglas

 

Read more on getting pregnant from
Conceive Magazine.

See More: Fertility and Ovulation