If you’re planning to get pregnant, you must be wondering what are the steps one can take to ensure a healthy and non-complicated pregnancy. Fertility is affected by many factors including lifestyle habits and that’s the perfect place for you to start when looking to modify your pre-pregnant routine. By acting on the factors that are within your control, you can feel a sense of satisfaction that you took the right precautions and steps.
Taking care of your health needs to come first to; 1. improve your fertility, 2. protect your baby’s future health and 3. bring down your risk of problems during pregnancy. Once you start trying to get pregnant, you won’t know for sure until the first few weeks have passed so training your mind to embrace the change can make it easier for you in the long run.
Let’s take a look at some of the lifestyle habits you should inculcate while trying to get pregnant.
1. Focus on sleep
We cannot emphasise how important sleep is in all aspects of our lives. It determines how well we do at work, at school and can even positively or negatively affect our judgement and mood. Lack of sleep can also lead to severe health problems.
Insufficient sleep can also affect fertility. While the complete cause is not known, research suggests that hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) activation and circadian dysrhythmia can interfere with fertility. Poor sleep can also cause weight gain which leads to ovulation problems.
Before thinking about trying to conceive, identify the reason for your sleeping troubles. Once you’ve addressed the issues, it’ll be easier for you to work towards a plan to work through them. If you’d like to understand ways to better your sleep hygiene while pregnant, you can read our article here.
2. Cut down on caffeine
Studies have proven that the risk of miscarriages is increased when one consumes caffeine. Considering the fact that you will be unaware of you’re pregnant or not until the first few weeks, you should limit your caffeine intake to the daily limit for pregnant women.
If you depend on caffeine to stay awake, try eating a lunch that’s high in protein and veggies instead. A short 15 20 minute nap in the afternoon can also revive your energy. If you crave the ritual of enjoying a cuppa every morning or evening, we suggest opting for a herbal, non-caffeinated tea or decaffeinated coffee.
Exercising regularly is great for the heart, lungs, and immune system, especially if you’re someone who’s combating excess weight and obesity. Research backs the fact that physical activity increases the chance of becoming pregnant in one menstrual cycle. But enthusiasm can push you to overdo it.
The key to exercise and fertility is balance. A review has found that exercising more than 60 minutes a day can boost the risk of anovulation or a lack of ovulation. In contrast, exercising lasting up to 30 to 60 minutes can reduce the risk of infertility due to anovulation. It doesn’t matter what type of exercise you prefer; the ultimate goal is to move throughout the day.
A few exercises that you can give a shot are:
- Walking fast
- Water aerobics
- Playing tennis
4. Regulate your sugar
Indulging in not-so-good-for-you foods can be okay from time to time but eating a lot of sweets and preserved foods can lead to health problems like obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
To ensure that your fertility is at an all-time high, try including foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish and unsaturated fats into your diet. Remember, these changes aren’t temporary. Start slow and steadily and work your way towards making these habits a routine for your future.
5. Avoid alcohol
While there isn’t established evidence connecting alcohol and fertility, experts recommend abstaining from alcohol while trying to get pregnant. Studies have also proven that frequent drinking can reduce fertility and may also reduce ovarian reserves.
Sparkling water or mocktails are a great alternative for those who still want to enjoy something fancy or bubbly.
6. Quit smoking
We don’t need to explain to you the downsides of smoking but apart from increasing your risk of cancer, COPD, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and coronary heart disease, smoking can also affect fertility in both male and female reproductive organs.
It increases the risk of infertility, poorer sperm function, difficulty in in-vitro fertilization or IVF and ectopic pregnancy.
To address your addiction of nicotine, it’s best to speak with a doctor and take precautionary steps. You can find help in nicotine replacement therapy, prescription medicines and even support groups.
We know how difficult lifestyle changes can be and it’s easy to feel frustrated and give up when the positive changes aren’t immediately visible. But each step towards better health, small as it may be, can result in a healthier pregnancy and improved wellbeing of your child.