How ‘pre-pregnancy’ health changes could help your baby


You’ve probably heard that you should avoid things like caffeine, alcohol, and smoking when you’re pregnant.

But does it matter beforehand?

More women are now planning for babies by also worrying about their “pre-pregnancy” health.

When lifestyle blogger Chloe Arnold and her husband decided they were ready to start a family, they both started making changes.

Some of their biggest changes included a new home closer to parents, and a new, healthier lifestyle.

“Gosh, a lot changed! [We] started being more intentional about working out, started taking prenatal vitamins in advance,” Arnold explained, “We went from eating whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, to just being really intentional about what foods we put in our bodies.”

Call it the “pre-pregnancy” prep: cleaning up your act before you get that life-changing news.

Doctors said it could do a lot of good.

“Pregnancy is thought of as nine months in duration, but really nowadays, we have to think of it as 12 to 15 months,” said Dr. Craig Sweet, an infertility specialist and reproductive endocrinologist.

He warned that especially in Florida, where the Zika virus remains a concern, couples should start preparing for pregnancy up to six months in advance.

“The embryos are already growing for a week, sometimes longer, before they get a positive pregnancy test,” he said.

That’s why it can be good to add in things like prenatal vitamins, regular exercise, and consider genetic testing for you and your partner to determine if your child would have a greater risk for certain hereditary diseases.

Sweet said women and men should cut out things like caffeine, smoking, drinking alcohol and using recreational drugs.

But even certain medications should be scrutinized.  And supplements, which aren’t regulated by the FDA, are discouraged.

“Would you trust these enough to give it to a newborn child? And if the answer is ‘no’ then don’t take them while you’re trying to get pregnant,” Sweet advised.

He also recommends looking into other areas of planning like insurance coverage.  Make sure your policy offers coverage for pregnancies, and see if there’s coverage you can add before getting pregnant.

Bottom line, Sweet said changes shouldn’t be so drastic that it takes away from the fun of trying to get pregnant!

He also advises couples to avoid waiting until they feel like they have their lives completely “together.”

“Nothing’s ever going to be perfect,” he said.

While it’s important to be physically, emotionally, and financially ready to have a child — any pregnancy over age 35 is considered high risk.  Women may be more likely to experience gestational diabetes or high blood pressure.

“There is a fine line between being intentional and being overboard,” Arnold agreed, “We just feel better, we are excited, we are happy, it’s just fun.”

By Emily Burris

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