You and your partner have decided to start trying to have a baby. Excellent! But now what? Besides the importance of timing sex, what else can a mom-to-be do to benefit herself and her unborn little babe?
First, it is best to give yourself 3 to 6 months before becoming pregnant to prepare your body. Reach out to Think Chiropractic & Wellness Centre (905-319-2222) to book an appointment with me. When we meet we will chat about diet and lifestyle, as well as any additional requirements your body may need to support a pregnancy. It is helpful to write down any questions you may have, regardless of how silly they may sound and bring the list with you to your next appointment.
In addition to what we will discuss when you see me in clinic, below is a list of 5 general tips to prepare for pregnancy:
1. Stop the oral contraception pill
Oral contraception pills (OCPs) should be stopped a minimum of 3 months (ideally 6 months) prior to conception. The medication in OCPs decreases many essential vitamins and minerals, including zinc and folic acid, which are important for proper fetus development. OCPs also increase copper and vitamin A, which can be teratogenic to the fetus (can negatively impact fetal development in utero). These vitamins and minerals can be rebalanced with a good prenatal supplement.
2. Get on a good prenatal supplement
Not all prenatal vitamins are made equal! Dosage and ingredients can vary between brands. It is important to take folic acid before you try to become pregnant and throughout pregnancy. It is the most important vitamin to prevent congenital anomalies such as heart defects and neural tube defects. Generally speaking the dose should be at least 400 mcg. per day. There are some women who have a need for an increased folic acid dosage, so it is important that you speak with your health care provider if you are unsure. Prenatal supplements also contain necessary ingredients such as zinc and vitamin D and unnecessary ingredients and fillers so be sure to read the labels.
FYI - Some prenatal vitamins can be constipating due to type of iron used. If you are having issues with this, consider switching to a different brand.
3. Decrease your stress level
I know, easier said than done… Cortisol is an important hormone in terms of regulating our stress response on a daily basis. Cortisol levels that are either too high or too low can be associated with an increased risk of infertility and early miscarriage. For easy, at home ways to decrease stress, try as little as 10 minutes of daily meditation, weekly yoga or exercise and getting a good nights sleep. Need a little more help? Reach out to me – helping my patients decrease the impact of stress on their bodies is always one of my priorities.
4. Limit caffeine and alcohol intake
Caffeine has a longer half-life for fetuses, which means it takes them longer to clear it from their system. While moderate caffeine consumption (<200 mg per day – 8oz cup of coffee on average contains 95mg of caffeine) does not appear to be a major contributing factor to miscarriage or preterm birth, higher consumptions can cause complications. Daily caffeine use can also decrease our adrenals ability to regulate cortisol properly. Drinking 4+ caffeinated beverages in one day during pregnancy can affect brain development of the baby.
Alcohol consumption during pregnancy also puts your baby at risk of developing fetal alcohol effect (FAE - also known as fetal alcohol syndrome), which affects 1-2 in every 1000 live births. If you consume alcohol on a regular basis, taking time to decrease consumption prior to conception will allow you to have an easier time stopping once you become pregnant.
5. Stop cigarette and recreational drug use
Various toxins can cause harm to the developing fetus. Cigarette smoking and recreational drug use should be stopped before becoming pregnant. Tobacco use has been found to have many negative side effects beginning with difficulty conceiving and including low birth weight, premature birth, still birth and potential pregnancy complications as placenta previa.
Prenatal exposure to cannabis has been shown to affect the baby’s cognitive development and lead to behaviour issues and attention deficits later in life. Heavier use has been linked with a reduction in fetal growth and lower birth weight.
Quitting can be hard – naturopathic medicine can help! Speak to me if you need any support.
PLEASE NOTE: At Think Chiropractic & Wellness Centre we have a series of 4 rotating pregnancy related seminars running and if you are considering becoming pregnant, we invite you and your partner to attend. These relaxed and informative classes are hosted by myself, Dr. Margot Lattanzi, a local midwife, Candice Syme and our own office manager and Childbirth Educator, Sam Leeson.
Disclaimer: Any information is for informational purposes only and are not intended to be used in place of professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care practitioner with any questions or health concerns you may have.