Baby on the Brain: Your Healthy Body Preconception Checklist

TTC Checklistby Della H. Harris

Have baby on the brain? Your pre-kids bucket list could include buying a home, getting your emergency fund established, finishing a degree or finding a good job. You might think there's no sense thinking about starting your family this year. That's not exactly true.

Even though it's not time to ditch the birth control, you can actively get ready for a baby, starting right now. Changes you and your family make today can up your odds of conceiving, improve your pregnancy experience and smooth the way for your baby's grow and development.

Are you wondering which things matter when it come to pregnancy and babies? Our pre-pregnancy checklist can help get your future pregnancy off to a great beginning and ensure your home's a healthy place for kids.

Check Your Weight

No one doubts that weight and weight gain matter in pregnancy. We're finding out that it matters before pregnancy, too. Overweight women have more trouble getting pregnant and staying pregnant.

Being obese during pregnancy increases the risk of the mother developing hypertension or gestational diabetes and experiencing other pregnancy and birth-related complications. Children of obese mothers face an increased risk of being born with a birth defect and more likely to be overweight later on.

Improve Your Diet

Eating a wholesome diet provides your body with nutrients necessary for healthy eggs and a good environment for your tiny embryo. Try to replace processed foods with whole foods. If you're able, go organic. Colorful fruits and vegetables contain anti-oxidants that reduce inflammation can increase your fertility.

Other foods that boost fertility include healthy fats like those found in salmon and protein that comes from vegetable sources. Some food you might want to skip, like refined carbohydrates and sugared, sweetened drinks.

Focus on Fitness

Exercise helps you take off pounds, reduces stress and can raise your chance of conceiving. A study in "Obstetrics & Gynecology" concluded that women who exercised 30 minutes or more daily had a reduced risk of infertility due to ovulation disorders.

On the other hand, too much exercise can decrease your chance of getting pregnant. According to Swedish research, women who opt for high-intensity cardio activities are three times more likely to experience fertility issues than women who pursue gentler forms of working out.

How much is just right? Women's heath organization haven't provided guidelines, so most specialist don't dole out fitness advice. Jane Simons, a physiotherapist specializing in women's health and pregnancy fitness suggests that if you're able to walk up a few flights of stairs without panting and puffing, you're probably in good shape for pregnancy. How does your fitness routine measure up?

Detox Your World

Clean up your environment as much as you can. Radiation, heavy metals and toxic chemical affect egg and sperm development and interfere with hormones. They can also negatively affect your wee baby bean. Some ways you can detox around the house include: use natural cleaning products, minimize exposure to BPA and phthalates, using stainless steel cookware and eating foods low in toxins.

Stop Smoking

Your body cleanses itself of some harmful substances from smoke in days; others are stored in fat and take longer to eliminate.

Smokers have more trouble getting pregnancy. Their pregnancy can be riskier, too. Smoking is associated with preterm birth, low birthweights, and other pregnancy complications. Babies whose moms smoke face an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and asthma.

Limit Alcohol

Women who drink can take longer to conceive. Many experts think that you should limit alcohol once you're actively trying to conceive.

See the Dentist

Keeping a healthy mouth is linked to your fertility and can also affect your pregnancy. It takes women with poor oral hygiene longer to conceive than their healthier counterparts. Once you're pregnant, that trip to the dentist translates into an easier pregnancy. Periodontal disease has been linked to preterm labor, bacterial infection and low birth weight.

See your dentist before you're ready to toss out the birth control. Complete all your necessary dental work before hand, and then you'll have a great start for a healthy pregnancy!

Reduce Stress

Stress levels affect getting pregnant. Start out now on your stress-relief program. Whether your idea of relaxation means yoga, a walk, meditation or a good game of soccer, make it a habit. Your body and mind will thank you now and your whole family will appreciate your efforts in a few year.

Start Taking Folic Acid

Some care-givers suggest you start taking prenatal vitamins when you're ready to try for a baby. Others think that you should take a folic acid supplement and skip the prenatals until you that positive pregnancy test.

Prenatal vitamins differ from a normal multivitamin. They're tailored to the specific needs of pregnant women and their growing baby. While pregnancy vitamins help ensure a healthy early pregnancy, they might contain substances that harm the health of a non-pregnant woman.

Build Your Family History Tree

A record of your family's health history that focuses on medical problems can help uncover a pattern of undiagnosed birth- or pregnancy-related problems. The goal is to help make you aware if any hereditary birth defects run in the family. A perk could be learning more about your family and having a handy list for your baby announcements one of these days.

Schedule a Pre-Conception Checkup

At the appointment, your doctor will suggests test and discuss topics that help you get ready, both physically and emotionally for this life-enhancing event -- a new baby.

You'll probably talk about genetic disorders, sexually transmitted disease, blood types, diet, folic acid, fitness, habits, environmental or work hazards and the basics of trying to conceive.

Getting pregnant is the start of that wonderful journey of parenting a child. Are you ready to get ready? Print out our preconception checklist and get started!