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When you’re trying to conceive, much of your focus is on tracking when you’re ovulating and when to have sex. While these things are important for a successful pregnancy, there are other factors that can optimize fertility while also preparing you and your partner for growing a family.
Both partners – but especially mom – should quit smoking. Women who smoke are more likely to be infertile, and some studies show that men who smoke have poorer sperm quality than men who don’t.
CUT BACK ON ALCOHOL
The first few weeks of pregnancy (yes, even those four to six weeks you may not know you’re pregnant) are crucial for a baby’s development. With so much of the development happening, it’s no surprise that alcohol can interfere.
REDUCE YOUR CAFFEINE INTAKE
A small study published in the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s Fertility and Sterility journal studied 344 couples, and concluded that women who had more than two caffeinated drinks per day while pregnant had a 74 percent higher risk of miscarriage than those who drank less caffeine. And, when their significant others had more than two caffeinated drinks per day, there was also an increased risk of miscarriage.
According to American Society for Reproductive Medicine, it’s better to take precaution and limit your overall caffeine consumption to one or two beverages per day.
MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT AND EVALUATE YOUR EXERCISE PLAN
Keeping your weight and exercise regimen in check is great for your overall health, but it’s especially important if you want to start a family. A word of caution: There may be a relationship between very strenuous exercise and ovulation issues. On the flip side, too little exercise may be associated with obesity, which may cause anovulation (a menstrual cycle without ovulation) and according to one study, may double the time it takes to conceive.
START TAKING A PRENATAL SUPPLEMENT
At least a month before you hope to conceive, start taking a prenatal multivitamin with at least 400 mcg of folic acid daily, which is shown to lower the risk of neural tube defects in babies.
MAKE SURE CHRONIC CONDITIONS ARE IN CHECK
If you have a chronic health condition, make sure to discuss the impact of getting pregnant, and get advice for managing any sideeffects or risks. This includes:
• Thyroid disorders
• Blood clotting disorders
• Sexually transmitted infections
• Seizure disorders
• Eating disorders
• Congenital heart disease
• Kidney disease
• Aortic stenosis
PREPARE FOR YOUR BODY TO CHANGE
It’s no surprise that pregnancy changes your body, and while you’ll never be able to know exactly how your body will handle carrying a baby, you’ll want to be mentally prepared for the changes. Consider what it will like to have acid reflux or heartburn, constipation, sleeping problems, ankle swelling, nausea, and other physical symptoms.
ENSURE YOU’RE UP TO DATE WITH ALL OF YOUR SCREENINGS AND VACCINATIONS
You and partner should be up to date on health screenings and checkups. You should also schedule a preconception exam with your OBGYN. It’s particularly important that your doctor checks to see if you’ve had tuberculosis or if you’re a carrier genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis or sickle cell disease. These conditions can contribute to pregnancy complications and may even prevent you from getting pregnant.
SPEND TIME TOGETHER AS A COUPLE
Use the time you have while you’re trying to conceive to connect with your partner. Take a trip, be spontaneous and enjoy your life together while it’s the two of you. Remember that the road to conception may be long and sometimes rocky, but starting a family can be exciting and extremely rewarding. While easier said than done, try to be patient and savor the time with your significant other.
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