A healthy lifestyle is imperative for a healthy living and especially for women who plan to conceive. Every woman wants to have a safe and healthy pregnancy but for this it is important to plan your pregnancy and implement some positive lifestyle changes to your daily routine. A positive lifestyle including a healthy diet, exercise, and a stress free life before and after conception enables you to deal with the various physical, psychological and other changes that take place subsequently.
How to begin planning your pregnancy?
Before conception or getting pregnant it is important for every woman to undergo medical supervision. Consulting a doctor before planning your pregnancy is important because a doctor can guide you through the lifestyle changes that are required for a healthy pregnancy and can suggest you certain important tests that may ensure an easy conception and safe pregnancy for you. These pre-conception or pre-pregnancy visits are specially recommended for women older than 35 years of age or those with certain medical issues that may cause hindrance in conception or may be harmful for the child growth or for the mother to be. Such medical conditions that could be harmful for a safe pregnancy include:
- If you have any ailment of heart or kidney
- If you are obese, diabetic or suffered an eating disorder in the past.
- If you have been diagnosed with the risk of having a child with genetic disorder
- If you have been diagnosed with a chronic disease like HIV/AIDS or lupus or any sexually transmitted infection.
- If you have a history of premature delivery or still births or miscarriage.
Lifestyle Changes: To cope up with all the different changes that come along pregnancy, adopting a healthy lifestyle, as you plan your pregnancy, is the best way to get a safe and healthy pregnancy. What all changes should one bring to her life style? This is a very important question that you need to ask your medical practitioner as you plan your pregnancy. Some basic changes include;
Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life: Getting fit and healthy before you conceive is the best thing to do. For this it is important to have a balanced and nutritious diet which includes:
- Three to five servings of a fiber rich diet including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- A large portion of carbohydrates specially got from whole grains e.g. Whole grain bread and brown rice.
- A protein rich diet including meat, dairy products, tofu and beans.
- Balanced intake of fats form fish, vegetables and other healthy sources, as they help us in absorbing vitamins from the food that we eat.
- Foods rich in folic acid like beans, green leafy vegetables, oranges and fortified breakfast cereals. It prevents brain defects and birth defects in the spinal cord.
- Multivitamin supplements if recommended by the doctor.
- Avoid foods and drinks with artificial sweetener like candy and soda.
Body Workout: A regular workout keeps your body strong, fit and energetic and gives you the strength to handle delivery. In order to start right, consult your doctor about the best exercise for you. The basic exercises that you can follow include;
Quit Smoking: Smoking in general is injurious to health. It is a big lifestyle change beneficial for the health of both men and women. For women who are planning a pregnancy must remember smoking delays conception, enhances risks of miscarriage, exposes the developing fetus to harmful chemicals and increases chances of low birth weight babies with severe health issues
As you plan your pregnancy you must quit alcohol as consumption of alcohol during conception or after that may increase the risk of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) that can cause severe physical and developmental harm to your baby.
Addiction of illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin, LSD, and marijuana etc. can severely harm the developing fetus. Same is the case with legal prescription medication therefore it is advisable to quit any such drug or consult a doctor in case of prescribed medication.
Some other recommended lifestyle changes before planning a pregnancy are:
- Get plenty of rest and reduce job stress.
- Avoid jobs harmful for pregnancy.
- Search for a prenatal care provider before you conceive.