Exercise and Healthy Eating for Critical Preconception Care

Many women wait until a positive pregnancy test before they make the decision to improve their lifestyle and adopt healthier habits. Research strongly suggests, however, that both mom and dad's lifestyle prior to conception may be just as important. The typical preconception period is considered to be at least four months prior to getting pregnant. It takes an egg around 100 days to mature, while sperm can take as much as 116 days. The health of both the sperm and the egg are critical to your future child's genetic blueprint and health, and the environment in which the egg and sperm grow will directly reflect their health. Regular exercise, good nutrition and an overall healthy lifestyle are essential for preconception health, and can significantly reduce the likelihood of your child developing certain diseases and health issues later in life. When you think about it like that, doesn't it seem more than worthwhile to take good care of your health when you are considering a pregnancy?

Preconception Factors

If you have any factors in your lifestyle which can decrease the health of your body-and most all of us do-you will need much higher nutrient intakes to compensate. Just a few of the factors to consider are a history of using the pill, regularly taking medications, whether prescription or over the counter, a past pregnancy, working especially long hours, less than optimal digestion, a family history of certain diseases, excessive intake of alcohol, sugar, coffee, soft drinks and refined foods, a poor history of regular exercise, poor nutrition in general, chemical exposure or chronic stress. Of course nearly all of us will have at least one of those categories in our background, however it's important to bolster your health and nutrition that much more if you have fallen victim to any of these factors.

Detoxification Programs

Some men and women undergo a detoxification program prior to getting pregnant in an attempt to get rid of any heavy metal toxicity in your body, or any stomach issues as well. If you have not done a detox program before, you might end up being pleasantly surprised at how good you feel when it is done. You can expect that hormonal imbalances, stomach cramps or gastrointestinal problems, tiredness, insomnia and allergies all lessen during and following your detox program.

Specific Preconception Diet Tips

Both you and your partner should concentrate on getting plenty of high-quality protein, preferably from plant sources (beans) and the "good" fats, such as that which comes from flax seed oil, nuts, seeds and fish. Try to eat mostly organic foods so you can avoid the additives, herbicides, pesticides, high fructose corn syrup and genetically modified foods which fill our grocery shelves. Filter your home water, as studies have shown that tap water can, in some instances, negatively affect the female hormone cycles. Limit your consumption of caffeine (two cups or less of coffee, or one can of coke per day has been shown to decrease fertility by as much as 50%). Avoid all alcohol, and if you smoke-stop.

Exercise Program

If you are not already engaged in a regular exercise program, now is a good time to start. Aim for at least 30 minutes of the kind of exercise that gets your heart pumping and your skin glowing 3-5 times per week. Try to make exercise fun by joining your partner for a brisk walk or a trip to the gym.

Other Preconception Ideas

Schedule your yearly physical exam as soon as possible, and have blood work done so you will have a starting point as far as where your health stands and what you might need to do to improve specific aspects. Next, see your OB/GYN to discuss your test results, and any health issues you are concerned about. Once we are out of elementary school, most of us never think twice about vaccinations. Make sure yours are up to date. Discuss past pregnancies with your OB/GYN so he or she will have a good indication of any potential risks you may face with a future pregnancy. At the very least, begin taking a good multivitamin daily to ensure you are getting the vitamins necessary to maintain a healthy conception and pregnancy, concentrating especially on folic acid. If you are overweight, do your best to get your weight down closer to normal prior to becoming pregnant, as obesity can significantly affect both your ability to conceive and your baby's health. You can vastly increase your odds of a healthy conception and a healthy baby by focusing on preconception health.

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