Get Set for Pregnancy: Prepare Your Body
When you decide that it's time to add another member to your family, it's obviously time to ditch the birth control. The type of contraception you have been using might determine how soon you will conceive:
- After stopping the birth control medication you might begin to ovulate immediately, or you might not ovulate for several months (or even for a full year if you were using Depo-Provera). So don't panic if you don't get pregnant right away. Give your body time to adjust and produce its own monthly cycle.
- If you are using an IUD for contraception, you will have to have it removed by your doctor. After it is taken out, your body is ready to conceive.
- If you have been using some type of barrier method (condoms, diaphragm, or spermicide) you are presumed fertile as long as you don't use them. So there's no medical reason to wait a period of time before you begin. Toss them aside and you're ready to go.
There is no specific diet known to boost fertility. But because diet affects the health of the entire body and all its systems, it makes sense that a good diet is needed to get your body in good physical shape to support conception and pregnancy. This is a good time to increase your intake of wholesome, nutritious foods from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. You might also want to switch to organic foods to reduce the potential for taking in pesticides and toxins through the food chain. The diet guidelines recommended for pregnant women will also boost the health of the want-to-be-pregnant woman. So drop that Twinkie and follow these guidelines starting today.
This is also the time to work toward your ideal body weight. Being overweight or underweight can complicate a pregnancy. Overweight women are at greater risk of developing diabetes or high blood pressure during pregnancy, and they are more likely to deliver their babies by cesarean section. Underweight women tend to have low-birthweight babies. But unfortunately, after you find out that you're pregnant, it's too late to begin a weight-loss or weight-gain diet. Your baby needs a balanced diet of nutritious foods—not too little or too much. So talk to your doctor about how to best reach your ideal weight before you become pregnant.
Exercise is good for improving fertility, but it can also be bad-it's a matter of degree. Exercise keeps the body healthy (very important for conception). It promotes good circulation to all body parts, including the reproductive system. It reduces the stress of daily life that can hold up conception. It also promotes better sleep, allowing your body the time it needs to repair and rejuvenate. And it helps knock off extra calories for slow and steady weight loss. All of these benefits support optimum health.
However, excessive exercise can decrease the state of fertility. It can disrupt the normal flow of hormones and interfere with ovulation and menstrual cycles, and therefore affect fertility. That's why some women who run more than 20 miles a week have infrequent or absent menstrual cycles. If your exercise routine interferes with a normal monthly menstrual cycle, you'll have to reduce your workout to get your body regulated before you can conceive. Talk to your doctor about how to best restore a healthy hormonal balance.
Exercise can also affect male fertility. Sperm production can be reduced if the temperature in the testes rises. So while you are trying to conceive, your partner might want to avoid bicycle riding, jogging, or any other exercise in which the testicles are tightly confined, rubbed, or heated.
Avoiding Environmental Toxins
As a general rule it's best to avoid chemical products and toxins while trying to conceive a baby—that goes for both you and your partner. Many toxins affect both male and female fertility. The toxins that affect a growing fetus are also known to interfere with healthy conception. You'll want to stay away from pesticides, certain cleaning products, some interior decorating activities, air pollution, radiation, and even some arts and craft supplies.
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