Trying to Conceive? Here Are 5 Healthy Lifestyle Choices to Adopt
So, you've decided to try to make a baby. Congratulations! This is big. Whether the hope is to conceive stat or a year from now, there are smart lifestyle choices that you can put into play right away to help prime your body for a baby.
While the obvious "healthy lifestyle" moves like adopting a well-balanced diet and drinking plenty of water are always beneficial, for a more detailed review of best practices when trying to conceive, we turned to the experts at The Mayo Clinic and the American Pregnancy Association. Read on for five easy choices to adopt to help optimize your fertility, your own health, and that of your future baby.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
According to the Mayo Clinic, being significantly over- or underweight can inhibit normal ovulation. Since it can take time to gain or lose weight, be patient with yourself. This is a change that will pay off throughout your pregnancy (and afterward) — it'll be worth it!
Limit Your Caffeine Intake
No need to cut out your morning joe entirely, but it's wise to keep your caffeine intake under 200 milligrams per day when trying to conceive. This equates to one or two six-to-eight-ounce cups, which is also the magic maximum number recommended while you're pregnant. May as well start training your body sooner than later, right?
Keep in mind that soda, chocolate, and even decaf coffee also contain caffeine while tracking your intake.
Get Plenty of Rest
If your job requires you to work an overnight or late shift — or if you're simply a night owl — the Mayo Clinic recommends making a shift in your routine or making up for lost sleep during the day. Those all-nighters can affect hormone production and can put you at a higher risk for infertility.
Make Sure You're Consuming Enough Folate
Folate and folic acid play a critical role in baby's in-utero development and help prevent neural tube defects. As the American Pregnancy Association explains, the neural tube develops within the first 28 days of pregnancy (before some women even realize they're pregnant!), so it's a good idea to consume between 400-1,000 micrograms of folic acid daily. These vitamins can also help prevent certain heart abnormalities and cleft palate and cleft lip in the fetus and help lower the risk of the expectant mom developing anemia, miscarriage, preterm delivery, or low birth weight.
Folate (also known as vitamin B-9) can be found in fortified breakfast cereals, lentils, spaghetti, rice, beans, broccoli, orange juice, spinach, and strawberries.
Ditch Your Bad Habits
If you smoke or consume alcohol — whether socially or habitually — now's the time to cut it off completely. Since there's no medical consensus on whether or not a safe level of fetal alcohol consumption exists, the Mayo Clinic suggests ditching booze altogether from the time you begin trying to conceive until after your baby is born. Tobacco use has been associated with lowering fertility, as it ages your ovaries and depletes your eggs prematurely, so you shouldn't put off quitting any longer. Quit now, for both your own health and that of your future child.