Planning for pregnancy? Give your body a pre-baby boost

If you are trying to conceive – or even considering the possibility – good health is more important than ever. Preparing your body for pregnancy could make the difference between success and failure.

Start at the table

Eat a healthy, balanced diet. This includes lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and dairy products. “Those foods have the nutrients you need to keep your reproductive system healthy,” says Francoise Adan, MD, Medical Director of Connor Integrative Medicine Network at University Hospitals.

Calcium and zinc, a mineral that affects ovulation, are key. Also important are vitamins A and C. Getting them from food is best, but adding supplements can help you round out your diet.

Government guidelines suggest that all women of childbearing age get at least 400 micrograms of folate, or folic acid, daily. This lowers the chance of birth defects. Experts often suggest a folic acid supplement to be sure you get enough.

Strive for a healthy weight

Women who are underweight or get lots of intense exercise may not ovulate regularly. Overweight women may have difficulty conceiving, too, due to hormones. Moderate exercise may increase fertility, but begin before you get pregnant. Check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.

Banish stress

“For women who are trying to get pregnant, the more stressed you are, the less likely you will be able to conceive,” says Dr. Adan. “Relaxation practices like meditation can reduce stress hormones. Practicing yoga can also be a great way to de-stress.”

Consider complementary therapy

If you are having difficulty conceiving, complementary medicine can be a supplement to infertility therapies. “Massage, reflexology and other alternative therapies may reduce some of the stress associated with trying to get pregnant,” says Dr. Adan.

Francoise AdanFRANCOISE ADAN, MD
Medical Director, Connor Integrative Medicine Network, University Hospitals
Assistant Professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

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