*Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. The following blog post is the result of my own research using creditable sources where possible. I strongly advise you to speak to your doctor or midwife before making any major changes to your diet, exercise regime or taking supplements.
It feels like so long since I’ve written a blog post, and I miss it! So today I wanted to fill you all in on what I’ve been up to the past few months, coz It’s been crazy!
Firstly, as you can probably guess from the title of this blog post, I’m pregnant! Me and my partner decided at New Years that 2021 was going to be the year we started trying for a baby. I had my copper coil removed mid January (btw I do not recommend coils, my periods were bloody awful) and by mid-February we were pregnant!
You can see the moment I found out I was pregnant in the video below, I was pretty emotional.
We were not expecting to fall pregnant so soon. My doctor told me to expect at least 6 months, but that 18 months of trying is not unusual either. My partner is also a type 1 diabetic and we didn’t know how this would affect our chances of getting pregnant. We also wanted to try to have kids before our 30s (I’m currently 27) which is why we decided we’d better get cracking.
There were a few things I did, that I want to share with you, that I feel played a part in helping me conceive. Obviously I’m not a doctor and I can’t make any promises, but once we decided to start trying I went into full planning mode and I founds some things that have been tried and tested to improve your chances of getting pregnant.
I talk about them in this video, but I’ll also list them below.
Do you need to drink more when preparing your body for pregnancy?
We all know that water is good for us. But did you know it could actually help you conceive too? Studies have found that when the cervical mucus is well hydrated, sperm can more easily move through it. So, make sure you’re getting enough water throughout the day.
What is the right amount of water to drink? The recommended amount varies and statements like 6-8 glasses a day is unhelpful. How big are the glasses? What if you don’t have a glass in that particular size? I don’t know about you it’s hard enough to make myself drink enough during the day, If I have to measure my water each time I go to the sink …well it’s not going to happen.
The reason the ‘experts’ give a range is because its going to vary for each person and depends on a range of factors like your weight. More active people need more water. Hot weather is also going to increase how much water your body needs to stay hydrated. When you get pregnant you may need to increase your water intake and if you have bad morning sickness you may need to drink more too.
I used a basic water intake calculator (try it yourself here) and it told me due to my weight, height, gender and activity level I need 1.9L of water a day, some of this comes from the food so I only need to drink 1.5L to be hydrated.
What the experts don’t tell you, is that everything you drink counts towards your daily hydration. Milk, coffee, water, fruit juice. Just be careful with the tea/coffee, excess caffeine can cause dehydration, harm a growing baby and hinder your attempts to get pregnant. Doctors recommended no more than 200mg of caffeine a day when trying to get pregnant (and through pregnancy) that’s 2 mugs. It may be better to ditch the caffeine and switch to decaf before you get pregnant.
What vitamins should you take when preparing your body for pregnancy?
I have a whole post on what vitamins you need to take when trying to conceive and during the early stages of pregnancy, so check that out. Most prenatal vitamins will contain everything you need to ensure peak reproductive health and contain the essentials for weeks 1-4 of your pregnancy – the time you may not know you’re pregnant.
It’s up to you which prenatal vitamins you choose. Just be wary of those who promise to help you get pregnant faster, these are often advertised as fertility boosters rather than prenatals they’re usually very expensive and most don’t even back their products with scientific studies to show they work!
The main thing you need to be taking is Folic Acid / Folate. Baby’s nervous system develops in the first few weeks and folate is essential to healthy development. Without enough folate your baby may develop severe birth defects such as spinal bifida.
I was taking Seven Seas Trying For A Baby daily vitamins to help prepare my body for pregnancy, you can get them here. Now that I am pregnant I take Seven Seas Pregnancy Vitamins they’re cheaper than Pregnacare and basically the same thing.
What should you eat when preparing your body for pregnancy?
You shouldn’t take a load of vitamins in replace of a healthy diet. If you want to prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy you need to eat well too.
Going on a strict diet at this stage, cutting food groups and trying to lose a ton of weight is not recommended. But you can clean up your eating if you eat lots of processed or fast food or a load of sugary snacks.
Trying to have a baby is great motivation to start treating your body like a ‘baby making temple’ and focus on fuelling yourself with healthy choices.
What is a healthy amount of calories and food groups for you is going to look different to what is healthy for me, or anyone else’s. So, I’m not going to suggest you eat a certain way. But instead, start paying attention to your body. What makes you feel good and energised? Do certain carbs make you bloat or give you more hunger pangs 1 hour later?
If you’re constipated, you may need to increase the amount of fibre or water in your diet. If you’re low on energy you might need to exercise more, cut back on carbohydrates or you may be iron deficient.
At any time in your life, not just when preparing for pregnancy, it’s important to do some investigating into what works for you and your body and not follow any old fad diet that pops up on your Instagram feed.
I’ve found that most carbs just don’t agree with me, they make me bloat, give me big dips in my energy through the day and I feel better just not eating them. Especially sugar. So, I am loosely following a low carb/keto style diet, loading up on fats, protein and veggies and I feel so much better when I stick to it. If I have a day where I fall off the keto wagon, I don’t beat myself up, I just aim to make better food choices tomorrow.
There are foods you should avoid though when trying to get pregnant and throughout pregnancy.
Foods to avoid: Liver -it contains 6600 μg of Vitamin A per 3 ounces. In my blog about prenatal vitamins, I explained how vitamin A can cause severe birth defects in babies, doctors recommend no more than 3000 μg of vitamin A a day. And since we get it from other foods, it’s probably safest to avoid liver and supplements that contain Vitamin A.
p.s The skin of a Sweet potato also contains about 1400 μg of Vitamin A per average potato.
Some Cheeses – mould-ripened soft cheeses with a white coating on the outside, such as brie and camembert. Blue cheeses.
Unpasteurized milk and other dairy – this is not usually an issue in the UK as most of our dairy products are made from milk that is heat treated. But in other countries like the US be aware of this, as these products can contain bacteria that is harmful to a foetus.
Raw eggs – eggs can contain salmonella, this may not harm an unborn baby but you can get food poisoning which can make you pretty ill. In the UK, eggs that have the Lion stamp on them are considered safe.
Some fish – certain fish can contain high levels of mercury, dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (pollutants that are very harmful for a unborn baby). Avoid Marlin, Swordfish, Shark and raw shellfish. You should also limit oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel or herring and avoid tuna.
Why do you need to consider your weight when preparing your body for pregnancy?
I’ve mentioned in previous posts how it’s important to be within a healthy weight range when pregnant, it’s better for you and your baby. High body weight correlates with a higher chance of complications in birth and miscarriage risk. It also increases your chance of getting gestational diabetes and high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia).
Being underweight can affect your developing baby too and increase miscarriage risk, it can also make it harder to get pregnant as underweight women often have irregular menstrual cycles.
But studies have shown being a healthy weight can also increase your fertility and you might get pregnant faster if you are able to reach a healthy weight. If you’re overweight for example, dropping just 5% of your body weight can significantly increase your chances to conceive.
BMI is not the most accurate way to determine how healthy you are, but it’s a good place to start. A BMI of 19 – 25 is considered healthy and the best range for conception. When preparing your body for pregnancy you might want to calculate your BMI (there’s plenty of calculators online) and see if you need to make any changes.
If you have a high BMI there may be risks for your baby including:
- premature birth
- baby having a high birth weight
- obesity and diabetes in their later life
You’re probably well aware, but the best way to lose weight is with a good diet and regular exercise. As previously mentioned, you need to do some investigative work to figure out what foods work for you. And we’re going to discuss exercise next.
What exercise should you do when preparing your body for pregnancy?
Something I came across that I’ve found really helpful was thinking about pregnancy like a marathon; You wouldn’t run a marathon without training, so why would you go into the most physically taxing event of your life without conditioning your mind and body first?
With this in mind you may want to do exercises that build your core strength, like yoga, platies or barre. Exercises that strengthen pelvic floor muscles are also a good thing to do.
Exercise can also boost fertility in both men and women! Studies have shown that women who do moderate exercise conceive faster than those who lead a sedentary lifestyle!
And it’s not just us women who need to get in shape, Men who are obese have poorer sperm function and are more likely to suffer from infertility problems.
Something you may not consider is how exercise can act as a stress reliever and boost your mood. Reducing stress in particular has been linked to increasing your chance to get pregnant. So when preparing your body for pregnancy a bit of exercise could help in more ways than one.
It is possible to overdo it though. Studies have shown that vigorous exercise can actually decrease fertility. This is because it can interrupt a women’s menstrual cycle. You have to do a lot of exercise for this to happen though (think serious athletes) and often affects those with a low BMI.
If you’re actively trying to get pregnant, you may be wondering what exercise is safe during pregnancy. I’ve done a little research into this and a lot of ‘normal’ exercises are safe throughout pregnancy. You can do things like running, swimming, walking/hiking, indoor cycling and light strength training.
You want to avoid things that could involve hard falls, jarring motions or rapid changes in direction, like skiing, cycling, horse riding and basketball. Also, anything that would involve altitude changes such as climbing mountains (above 8000ft) and scuba diving is a no-no.
The main thing to consider is what are your activity levels like now, pre-pregnancy? Doctors often recommend that you continue with the exercise you currently do (so long as there is no danger to the baby) and to listen to your body. If you’re overheating, feeling exhausted or having difficulty breathing you should stop and rest.
The last thing you want to do to prepare your body for pregnancy is to stop contraception. For you, this might be as easy as simply stopping using it.
If you’re taking the contraceptive pill you can usually stop taking it without needing to speak to your doctor, but make sure any repeat prescriptions are cancelled! However, any form of hormonal contraception is likely to alter your periods.
Therefore, if you’ve been taking hormonal contraception, like the pill, depo-provera (the injection), the implant or the hormonal coil (IUS), it may take some time for your periods to fall into a normal pattern and for ovulation to occur. This will range from person to person, when I stopped the pill it took 4 months to go back to ‘normal’ when I stopped the injection it took over 1 year!
If you’ve been fitted with the coil you’ll need to speak to your doctor about having it removed. The copper coil is not meant to interfere with your periods, so as soon as you have it removed you’re considered ‘fertile’.
If you’ve got any concerns about stopping contraception, pregnancy or any medications you are using, the best person to speak to is your doctor.
So, to recap
I completely understand the desire to be in the best possible health before you get pregnant. But it’s important not to put unrealistic expectations on yourself, go on a massive diet and start running 10ks 3 times a week!
By choosing healthy foods that agree with your body and doing a moderate amount of exercise a week you’ll be well on your way to having a great pregnancy.
When you do get pregnant you may need to avoid certain foods like blue cheese and fish and cut back on your exercise but you should still be able to do enough to keep you and your baby healthy and happy.
Be sure to check out my post on Prenatal vitamins (some can increase your fertility) and I’ll be covering more pregnancy-related topics in the future. You can follow my pregnancy journey on Youtube here.
Looking for a way to increase your income before baby arrives?
The second thing that has been eating my spare time recently is starting my journey into eCommerce. Through the amazing platform that I am part of, I have been learning how to source products and sell them through Amazon’s FBA. I’m so close now to having my very first product live on Amazon and I can’t wait to share more with you about this fantastic business model!
If increasing your income is something you’re looking to do too then definitely check out this link and sign up for the free workshop series (big green button at the top). You’ll see how easy it is to set up an online business whether that’s affiliate marketing, selling through Amazon or setting up your own coaching business! This training is priceless and has truly changed my life.
What are you waiting for?!