Having a baby is one of the greatest thrills in life. You’re full of excitement, painting the nursery, choosing a name, buying diapers and onesies, and being honored at showers.
But even before your baby is conceived, preparing your body to house and nourish a new life through its long gestation period is best for the health of both mother and child. The North Atlanta Women’s Care team offers preconception counseling to put you on the path to a healthy pregnancy. Here, we share the following 10 tips.
No, you don’t need the figure of a ripped bodybuilder or a swimsuit model if you’re planning to become pregnant. But attaining a healthy weight eases the strains of carrying a child and minimizes the risk of complications such as gestational diabetes.
Whether you need to lose or gain, Dr. Whitney Cook can help you attain the ideal weight for your body size and shape through a healthful diet and safe, enjoyable exercise. If you’re overweight or obese, she can help you achieve your goal through medically supervised weight loss.
As part of your commitment to attaining or maintaining a healthy weight, be sure your diet emphasizes fresh, whole foods. Concentrate on low-glycemic fruits and vegetables, proteins, healthy fats, and other non-processed foods.
Women planning to get pregnant should refrain from eating fish with high mercury levels — such as swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. Avoid raw seafood, including oysters and sushi. Imported soft cheeses may be contaminated with bacteria, so cross them off your list, too. Minimize coffee, black tea, and chocolate, and avoid alcohol until after you’ve delivered your baby and finished nursing.
A daily prenatal vitamin with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid minimizes the risk of your baby developing neural tube defects. The experts at North Atlanta Women’s Care recommend starting a prenatal vitamin as soon as you decide to become pregnant.
You need water to take that prenatal supplement, but consuming more water overall optimizes hydration and health. Phase out sugary or diet drinks by adding healthy flavors to sparkling water, such as a dash of natural lemon, lime, or other fruit juice. Try to drink up to 10 8-ounce glasses of water per day.
A preconception counseling session may include a pelvic exam and lab tests to check your hormone levels and verify that your uterus, fallopian tubes, and other organs are healthy. If any issues arise, your doctor recommends a treatment plan so you can get back to your goal as soon as possible. If everything looks normal and healthy, your doctor advises you on how to monitor your fertility to maximize your chances of a quick and healthy conception.
Just as you need to feed your body with healthy foods and eliminate foods and drinks that don’t nourish your cells, you should also minimize toxins in your environment at home and work, such as toxic cleaning supplies, lead paint, asbestos, and other environmental stressors whenever possible.
Yes, Kitty’s your baby, too, but the feces of many cats contain a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii that could cause infection and bring about toxoplasmosis, which may interfere with a healthy pregnancy. If you have to clean the litter box, wear disposable gloves when handling the scooper, and be sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
Preconception counseling is important for every woman, and it can include tests for potentially complicating conditions and sexually transmitted diseases. If you’re over 40 or have a family history of health problems, it’s especially important that you discuss genetic testing with your doctor and receive high-risk pregnancy care.
Trying to get pregnant, waiting months to get the good news, and then preparing for a new arrival all cause emotional as well as physical stresses. Make sure you and your mate get counseling if you need it, and build in stress relievers to your daily routine. Take time for yoga, exercise, and meditation to keep your state of mind positive and optimistic.
To set up a preconception counseling session, contact North Atlanta Women’s Care via the online form or by calling our friendly, supportive staff.