You know the time is right, and you’re ready to have a baby, but taking steps to boost your preconception health can make conceiving and carrying a baby easier and healthier.
Identifying and managing your current health issues are among the first steps you can do, which means speaking honestly with your doctor, but diet and nutrition also play a big role in conception.
With fertility issues affecting up to 15 percent of Americans, diet and lifestyle may play the biggest role in improving your health. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, nutrition and lifestyle changes can boost fertility up to 69 percent!
Luckily, there are ways to increase your health for conception and become pregnant faster. Here are five tips to boost your preconception health.
1. Talk to Your Doctor
Visit your family doctor to get a full understanding of your health history, medical concerns, and ways to ensure a healthy pregnancy. When you make your initial appointment, write down a list of questions like “Will my health conditions affect my fertility?” “Should I change my diet or lifestyle habits?” “Will my medications affect my fertility?” and any other questions you may have. Remember, there are no stupid questions, so ask away.
2. Take Your Vitamins and Folic Acid
A study from the National Institutes of Health discovered that regular use of multivitamin supplements may decrease the risk of ovulatory infertility. The study showed that women who took multivitamins showed a lower risk of infertility of up to 41 percent and that 20 percent of fertility problems could be reduced if women took three or more multivitamins a week.
Folic acid, of course, is necessary and vital to having a healthy pregnancy. Folic acid helps form the neural tube during early development and can prevent some major birth defects like spina bifida and anencephaly in the baby’s brain. The Centers for Disease Control urge all women of reproductive age to get at least 400 micrograms of folic acid every day.
3. Manage Your Current Health Issues
When you decide it’s time to try for a baby, you need to make sure your body is ready for it. If you have chronic health issues like heart conditions, obesity or diabetes, talk to your doctor about steps you need to make sure it’s under control.
This might mean taking different medications, adjusting your current medications or making certain lifestyle changes. Your doctor will be able to explain any special steps or care you might need to improve fertility or have a healthy pregnancy.
4. Eat Well
Eating a healthy, nutrient-rich diet seems to help fertility, according to new research. The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School studied the role of diet on fertility and found certain vitamins and nutrients were linked to positive effects on getting pregnant.
Folic acid, vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids and diets such as the Mediterranean Diet all showed positive effects on natural fertility.
On the flip side, unhealthy diets rich in processed meats, potatoes, sweetened beverages and sugar-laden sweets all showed a negative effect on fertility. When in doubt, talk to your family health provider about how to incorporate a healthy diet into your fertility planning.
5. Find Ways to De-Stress
Stress releases a chemical called cortisol in the body, and in addition to a whole other slew of problems, too much cortisol can affect your preconception health. Stress hormones suppress ovulation and the part of the brain that helps regulate ovulation. Stress can also affect men and reduce sperm quality.
Relaxation exercises, meditation, therapy, and exercise are all proven ways to help manage stress. However, talk to your family health specialist about ways you can reduce stress in your life and your partner’s life.
Walnut Hill OBGYN has more than 100 years of combined experience with doctors who are specialists in services ranging from routine gynecology and obstetrics care to diagnosis and treatment of serious conditions. If you need help starting your family, we also offer complete fertility services.
Talk to one of our doctors today about ways you can boost your preconception health.