3 April 2018Five Tips to Increase Your Chances of Getting Pregnant
The decision to start a family can be exciting and stressful all at the same time. Instead of waiting until pregnancy to embrace a healthier you, give yourself the best chance of success at conception and start improving your health now! Follow these 5 tips to prepare your body to support conception and sustain a healthy pregnancy.
Obtain a healthy body weight
Weight is an indicator of health and this rings true for women who are trying to get pregnant. The Harvard Nurses' Health Study found that overweight women took twice as long to get pregnant as normal weight women. Interestingly enough, underweight women took four times as long to get pregnant as normal weight women. You can easily determine how your weight compares to "normal " by looking up your body mass index or BMI (the relationship between your height and weight).
- A BMI of less than 18.5 is considered underweight
- A BMI of 18.5-24.9 is considered normal weight
- A BMI of 25-29.9 is considered overweight
- A BMI of 30 or greater is considered obese
MyNetDiary makes it easy to track your eating and exercise habits and determine if you are on the path to meeting your goals for weight loss or weight gain.
Let go of bad habits
Smoking. It is common knowledge that smoking is not a healthy habit. Quitting smoking while trying to conceive, instead of waiting until you are pregnant is a proactive way to say yes to being healthy. And evidence shows that women who smoke have a harder time getting pregnant. Smoking can damage the DNA in the chromosomes of both the developing egg and sperm. Chemicals in cigarette smoke accelerate follicular depletion and decrease the total number of eggs that are produced over a woman's lifetime. Thus, women who smoke tend to go through menopause at a younger age, than women who do not smoke.
Alcohol. Drinking large amounts of alcohol can make it harder to get pregnant while the evidence is mixed as to the impact of small amounts of alcohol on fertility. If you are trying to get pregnant and are curious about the role alcohol plays, practice moderation and also talk with your OB-GYN doctor for more information. The evidence is clear, once a woman becomes pregnant, alcohol consumption during pregnancy can have negative impacts on the fetus. Heavy drinking during pregnancy causes birth defects. Because it is difficult to know the exact amount of alcohol that can cause birth defects on a developing fetus, the CDC, the U.S. Surgeon General, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Pediatrics all advise pregnant women not to drink alcohol at all during pregnancy.
Embrace Exercise.... but not too much
For general health, the Surgeon General recommends that all adults engage in 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week. This is also true for women who are trying to become pregnant. Exercise provides many benefits. It can help manage stress, improve mood, enhance blood flow, control blood sugar levels and aid in healthy sleep patterns. If you are overweight and wanting to get pregnant, exercise is an important part of the weight loss equation. On the other hand, women who are overly athletic may have decreased fertility. Intense exercise may lead to fertility problems for women. Exercising too much can place strain on the body and may result in amenorrhea or a complete absence of menstrual cycles. If you play competitive sports and routinely push your body to exhaustion, you might want to scale back your activity before trying to conceive. Talk with your doctor to find out the best type of exercise, duration and intensity that will provide health benefits and yet not upset your fertility balance.
Destress your life
It is virtually impossible to live in our society today without encountering some type of stress. Trying to get pregnant can add on additional layers of stress. Though the mechanism is not completely known, there is some evidence that high stress levels negatively impact fertility. Thus finding ways to prevent stress levels from rising too high is important. Also, finding healthy ways to manage stress levels when they do become elevated, is important in preparing your body to be healthy and balanced and ready to carry a pregnancy. Yoga, deep breathing and acupuncture are all be considered healthy ways to manage stress.
Eating a diet rich in whole foods, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds will set you up for success when preparing your body for pregnancy. About a decade ago researchers at Harvard University found that women with ovulatory infertility who followed the below eating plan had significant improvements in ovulation. The top components of their "fertility diet" included:
- Eliminate trans fat and eat more monounsaturated fat (from foods such as avocados and olive oil)
- Less animal protein and more vegetable protein
- More high-fiber, low-glycemic carbohydrate-rich foods (including whole grains)
- More vegetarian sources of iron and fewer meat sources
- Multivitamins (making sure it contains the recommended 400 mcg of folic acid/day)
- High-fat dairy instead of low-fat dairy
Additional information can be found about plant-based/vegetarian diets at MyNetDiary blog.
A healthy and balanced lifestyle is an important component of preparing your body and mind for a healthy pregnancy. Take time to shift your routine to incorporate the above suggestions, as changing habits overnight can create additional stress. If you and your partner have been struggling to get pregnant for more than 6-12 months without success, consider talking with your doctor about considerations and treatment options in addition to working towards adopting a healthier lifestyle. Finally, please check out the below resources for additional information to support you on your journey to becoming pregnant.
- Be Fruitful: The Essential Guide to Maximizing Fertility and Giving Birth to a Healthy Child. Victoria Maizes, MD
- Foods That Can Affect Fertility. Caroline Kaufman, MS, RDN
- Making Babies: A Proven 3-Month Program for Maximum Fertility. Sami David, MD and Jill Blakeway, LAc.
- Ovia Health
- The Fertility Diet: Groundbreaking Research Reveals Natural Ways to Boost Ovulation and Improve Your Chances of Getting Pregnant by Chavarro, J, Willett, W., Skerret, P.
Joanna Kriehn is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator with a passion for supporting individuals as they move towards a healthier lifestyle. You can learn more about Joanna by visiting her LinkedIn pageHave questions or comments about this post? Please feel free to comment on MyNetDiary's Community Forum or Facebook page – We would love to hear from you. And consider visiting our new Pinterest page!
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