Advice Before Pregnancy

by Anai Rhoads

Before pregnancy:

  • Improve your diet
    You need a balanced diet of at least three meals a day, with foods from all four food groups to provide the vitamins and minerals essential to good health. Two of the most important nutrients for a healthy pregnancy are calcium and folic acid. A good prenatal/multiple vitamin will ensure that you get enough of both. Cut back on caffeine consumption. Researchers say caffeine delays conception or relates to infertility, but it does appear to lower a woman's chances of conceiving. (Note: Caffeine may help (in some men) by stimulating sperm motility.)
  • Healthy weight
    Get down to your ideal weight for your height before attempting to conceive. Studies have shown that underweight mothers tend to have low birth weight babies. So make sure not to go below.
  • Exercise
    Getting in shape at least three months before you conceive (ideally 3 to 12 months) makes it easier to maintain an active lifestyle during pregnancy, and helps during labour. Aerobic exercise can improve your mood and energy level and helps you achieve a healthy pre-pregnancy weight. You'll also be less vulnerable to the hormonal swings.

    Pre-pregnancy exercises for getting in shape include walking, jogging, running, swimming, and aerobics. (Note: Start slowly and don't overwork your body. You should always consult your doctor before starting any new exercise program).

  • No alcohol, recreational drugs, smoking
    Study after study has shown that smoking, drinking, and taking drugs are connected to low birth weight babies, miscarriage, SIDS, and behavioural problems later in life. Stopping before trying to get pregnant is best.

Read more about weight, pregnancy and alcohol, pregnancy and drugs, pregnancy and smoking.

Anai Rhoads is a medical and political researcher/writer with a particular interest in the sanctions on Iraq and the wider effect of racism's influence in the Middle East. A vegan since 2000, she is a dedicated supporter of activities which promote animal and human rights. Originally from Greece, she now resides in Virginia, USA with her husband and their two dogs, Bijou and Eva.

Copyright © Anai Rhoads. Permission to publish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.