While many of us are writing down goals for the new year consisting of diet changes, becoming more active, more grateful or perhaps making contact with that lost friend or family member, some of you are planning for a new arrival in the next 12 months.
Here are some of the best tips you can take on board when trying to fall pregnant, and early on in your pregnancy.
First up – have a pre-pregnancy health check with your GP, Women’s Health Nurse or Physiotherapist to have a head start on planning a healthy pregnancy. Everyone wishes for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby – and this all starts BEFORE you begin to try falling pregnant.
Checking in on your general health can help avoid risk of complications for both you and your baby, as well as improve your chance of falling pregnant– when was the last time you had a thorough health check??
This review may include a review of your current medications, checking for current or new health conditions, having a Pap-Smear, screening for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), or receiving immunisations to protect yourself from developing conditions during your pregnancy.
From here, lets have a look at your general lifestyle – there are several factors that contribute to successful conception and smoother sailing for your pregnancy and birth.
The biggest and (hopefully) most well known factors that need to go straight out the window when considering pregnancy, while pregnant, or just in considering your every day health are smoking and alcohol consumption.
Smoking (both cigarettes and marijuana) can cause long term and irreversible health complications for both you and your unborn child. Smoking prior to falling pregnant increases your chances of developing smoking-related disease such as cancers throughout the body, lung disease and heart disease. Smoking while pregnant has damaging effects directly on your unborn baby’s health. Nicotine in cigarettes crosses the placenta and can deliver concentrations to the fetus up to 15% higher than maternally – your baby’s health is damaged 15% more than yours for every cigarette you smoke. Furthermore, smoking during pregnancy can cause foetal retardation, low birth weight, increased behavioral problems and childhood obesity rates.
Not exactly worth a cigarette is it??
Check out quit.org.au for more information on smoking cessation and pregnancy.
As soon as a new mother hears of her pregnancy news, the consumption of alcohol stops. How far into your pregnancy were you when you found out for the first time? 4 weeks? 6 weeks? Were you consuming alcohol in that time? Alcohol consumption should cease as soon as you start trying for a baby – and I’m not just looking at you… I’m looking at your partner too. A man’s fertility is also directly affected by the consumption of alcohol. Make sure your partner isn’t consuming more than two standard drinks per day during this time.
Alcohol consumed at any point in your pregnancy filters through the placenta – which is where your baby receives all of its oxygen and nutrition – and will directly affect your baby’s health. Foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) describes the effects of alcohol on your baby, which includes facial deformity, complications in brain development plus learning and behaviour problems, growth problems and birth defects. Heavy alcohol consumption during your pregnancy may also lead to miscarriage or still birth.
Now we have covered the 2 biggest issues – lets have a look at what we can do to optimize your chances of falling pregnant; your health during pregnancy, as well as improve the likelihood of you giving birth to a health baby.
Exercise is a necessity for our bodies – “You rest, you rust” as perfectly quoted by Helen Hayes.
How much exercise to do, how intensely to exercise and whether you’re safe to exercise is all a little scary during your pregnancy journey, not only in the very early days of your pregnancy, but also when you are at the end stages.
If you are sedentary (not active) in your current lifestyle, I recommend you move into a more active lifestyle before considering trying for pregnancy.
If you are currently active, it’s important to remain active and keep up your fitness and health during your pregnancy.
Book an appointment with your GP, Physiotherapist or Exercise Physiologist to get started in safely and effectively training your body – and get some awesome results with it too!
Exercise not only has improvements in your body’s functioning, strength and endurance, but also gives you increased levels of energy and improves mental health (I’ll take a dose of exercise-induced endorphins any day).
Weight is important to consider in both aspects – if you are over weight, or underweight, your chances of falling pregnant are reduced. A Body Mass Index (BMI) below 18.5 is considered underweight, and 25-29.9 or higher is considered overweight.
Being underweight leaves you at risk of becoming malnourished during your pregnancy, or difficulty in your body delivering the right nutritients to your baby.
Being overweight during your pregnancy introduces risks of complications during pregnancy or birth, and obesity during pregnancy increases these risks. Studies show direct links to obesity and gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, overdue pregnancies, labor problems, emergency C-sections and miscarriage.
It is important to consider whether your weight is at an appropriate and healthy level before trying for a baby.
Reviewing your diet before and during your pregnancy is crucial to giving yourself a head start to health for the both of you. When beginning to try for a baby, consider whether your diet consists of enough folic acid or folate, which prevents several birth defects such as spina bifida. Folate can be found in leafy greens and lentils (perfect in a summer salad dish), or can be taken as a supplement. 400mcg of folate per day is needed during pregnancy for most women. Protecting yourself from anemia or iron deficiency is also important while your body changes as it grows and develops your unborn baby. Leafy greens, seeds and red meat are all high in iron.
We recommend eating a wholesome and well-rounded diet throughout your pregnancy and your whole life to boost your body in energy, immunity and health. Check out some of our diet-related blogs to find out more, or find some awesome recipes to follow for nutritious (and delicious) food options.
If you are considering a new addition to your life in the coming year, we hope the above information is helpful to you. Book in with one of our Physiotherapists or Exercise Physiologist today to gain more information and give your body and future baby the best head start you possibly can!
– Rhiannon Mouritz
Physiotherapist at Happy Physio