Getting knocked-up can be easy breezy for some and a frustrating challenge for others. This isn’t a fertility post. But there are a few things you might do to build a nice nest for the baby-to-be.
- Go easy on the workouts. Think about it. If you were running from a bear, your body would be like “this probably isn’t a good time to bring a tiny, helpless infant into the world.” The fight-or-flight response causes a cascade of metabolic reactions and shifts in your hormones that do not favor growth and development. So for now, stick to walking, yoga, and lighter resistance training. Maybe hold off on training for that marathon.
- Eat more greens. Leafy greens like spinach, kale, collards as well green veggies like broccoli and asparagus are filled with folate, the B vitamin needed to prevent neural tube defects during pregnancy. While it’s crucial to get this vitamin during pregnancy, it’s even more important to have a good store of it before you get pregnant.
- Cut back on caffeine. If you’re hitting the office coffee pot all day long, sipping Diet Cokes and taking shots of energy drinks, now is the time to cut back. Too much caffeine is associated with increased risk of miscarriage. But that doesn’t mean you have to cut it out of your life. The equivalent of 1-2 cups of regular coffee per day is perfectly fine. Make sure you ease off slowly rather than going cold turkey or you’re likely to battle headaches and extreme fatigue.
- Start taking a prenatal and omega-3. Despite our best efforts to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, we often fall short. And the foods we are eating don’t contain as many nutrients as they once did (thanks to nutrient depleted soil.) I mentioned some of my favorite brands in a previous post (Rainbow Light and Nordic Naturals), but find whatever works for you and start taking it daily.
- Lay off the diet sodas and chewing gum. Aspartame is the ingredient of concern here. While the studies showing cancer risk are based on rats, that’s enough for me to say “no, thanks.” Ideally you’d cut out all fake sugars. I found the gum thing challenging. Sometimes you just need to freshen up (hello, post-salad red onions!) For those emergency situations, I love Pür Gum. It’s made with xylitol (a sugar alcohol) and it’s aspartame-free. Plus they even have a cinnamon flavor (remember Big Red?!)
- Eat full fat foods. I recommend this for everyone, not just pregnant women. But it’s especially important during pregnancy, when your body needs the fatty acids to build healthy tissues. Plus, full fat foods are the way nature intended them, and they taste way better than lowfat.
- Get to a healthy weight. Being too thin can throw off your hormones and make it harder to become pregnant. In fact, a recent study that the media has been having a lot of fun with suggests that women with more butt and thigh fat have babies with higher cognitive abilities. These areas of the body are high in DHA, which is needed to build a baby’s brain. Not sure whether this has an endless upward curve (meaning the fatter you are the smarter your baby)? But it’s probably wise to have a little padding if you’re trying to get preggo.
- Get to know your body. I never used any of those ovulation kits, but since my cycle was all over the place, I had no idea what to expect in terms of when I could even conceive. So I tracked my temperature, and it really helped me understand my body. Use a basal body thermometer, and take your temp first thing in the morning every day for a month or so. You have to do this before even stepping foot out of bed. You should see a peak of about 0.5 degrees or more, and it should stay for several days. Here’s a sample chart for reference.
- Relax, and try not to think about it. Stress is not good for making babies! (Remember the bear chasing analogy.)