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Preparing for Pregnancy - Our Top Ten Tips!

fertility mental health nutrition physical activity pregnancy prenatal care sexual health Sep 30, 2020

Did you know that almost half of pregnancies are unplanned? Whether you’re planning a pregnancy, or want to be prepared when the time is right for you, we’ve put together a list of our top ten tips for optimizing your pre-conception health! Check them out below. 

Want to know the top 10 things you NEED to do when you get pregnant? Check out our free guide here


Take control of your fertility! 

Some experts call this making your reproductive health plan, others call it family planning. What does this really mean? It means taking a step back and looking at the overall life goals you’ve set for yourself and where, if at all, you see children fitting in with your goals for your education, career, travel etc. Check out this free resource to help guide you here.  And if you’re currently sexually active and NOT wanting to get pregnant talk to your health care provider today about reliable options for preventing pregnancy. Learn about your menstrual cycle here!


Curb your alcohol intake

Alcohol is a part of many people’s lifestyle, but when planning for a pregnancy it’s important to ensure that you’re following safe drinking guidelines and if you’re in a window of your cycle where a pregnancy is possible, it’s safest to abstain altogether. 


Avoid recreational and illicit drugs

Many substances, including cannabis, opioids and stimulants can cause menstrual cycle irregularities which can make becoming pregnant more difficult.  They are also linked to harmful effects on your pregnancy. If you are using recreational or illicit drugs and aren’t sure who to turn to, talk to your care provider today. We’re here to help. 


Quit Smoking! 

The risks of smoking during pregnancy have been well established for a long time. We know smoking has a number of negative effects on not only the health of your growing baby, but also on your own health! The best thing you can do today for your health and the health of your future children is to STOP SMOKING NOW! Ask your healthcare provider today how they can help you quit smoking. There is a lot of help out there to get you started, check out PREGNETS, a great resource for women who are pregnant or parenting and trying to quit smoking! 


Book in for a medication review and check your vaccination status! 

Many medications are safe in pregnancy, but there are a handful that are not recommended due to increased risk of causing congenital anomalies (birth defects). These tend to be certain medications for mood and depression, blood pressure medications, seizure medications as well as some blood thinners.  The best way to prevent this and lower your risk is to book in BEFORE you get pregnant to chat with your care provider. Oftentimes we can do a review and make any changes that need to be made gradually over time and ensure you are on a stable dose of your new medication before you get pregnant. 

When it comes to vaccinations, there are a few infections that you can get during a pregnancy that can be harmful to the developing baby, like chicken pox (varicella) and german measles (rubella), that can be prevented with vaccinations. It’s a great idea to check in with your care provider and see if you are up to date with these vaccinations as they are not able to be given during pregnancy. If you’re not up to date, these vaccines can be safely given pre-pregnacy or post-baby to boost your immunity.  


Start taking Folic Acid today! 

Folic acid helps to prevent the abnormal development of the base of the baby's spine which can result in Spina Bifida. We recommend all women of child bearing age (from your first period to the time of menopause) that are not on reliable contraception add a regular folic acid supplement to their diet. Most women need 400 mcg per day, though some women who are at higher risk require higher doses. Check out our blog post here to read more about what dose is right for you! 


Get your PAP!

PAP testing is a routine screen that is performed on women generally from the ages of 25 - 70 (recommendations vary slightly depending on what province you live in). It is a test done by your healthcare provider that takes a sample of cells from your cervix to test for any abnormal cells that may put you at an increased risk of cervical cancer. We know that almost all cervical cancer is caused by HPV. This is also a great time to chat to your provider about the HPV vaccine!


Take a look at your lifestyle! 

When we say lifestyle, we are talking about your diet, physical activity, sleep habits, etc. Eating well and being physically active before you become pregnant will help you prepare your body to meet the needs of the developing baby and give you the energy you need to grow a human being! The Canada Food Guide was recently updated and is a great framework for you to build a health diet on. If you have special nutritional needs (allergies, vegan, history of anemia, eating disorder) then talk to your healthcare provider today and they can offer guidance and recommendations. 

Women who are physically fit before and during pregnancy tend to have more energy and less ‘aches and pains’ during their pregnancies. The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend for healthy adults 150 minutes of moderate-to vigorous physical activity per week in as little as 10 minute sessions or more! These activities can be as simple as a brisk walk, or more dedicated like a scheduled fitness or dance class. If you haven’t been active in recent months or have an underlying health condition talk to your health care provider today about an exercise program that is recommended for you. 

Sleep! Most adults require between 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep on average per night, but this can range anywhere from 6 - 9 hours for some people. A lot of people struggle with fatigue and getting a good night's sleep. There are tons of resources out there to help you. Some basic strategies include setting a regular schedule for sleep and going to bed at the same time every night, reserving your bedroom for the 3 S’s (sleep, when you’re sick, and sex), and avoiding screens in the last few hours leading up to bedtime.If you’re struggling with sleep talk to your care provider today!


Learn your family history! 

Many health conditions, including some complications in pregnancy, can be handed down. Take this opportunity to chat with your family members about their health history as this is often information your maternity care provider will ask you about at your first prenatal visit. If you’re adopted, or you don’t know your family history, that’s ok too! We work with whatever information you have. 


Optimize your mental health! 

Your mental health has a huge impact on your physical health so it’s important to make sure you’re taking the steps you need today to optimize your mental health. What does this mean? 

      1. Taking time to practice mindfulness
      2. Ensuring you get enough sleep and exercise
      3. Building a supportive network of family and friends
      4. Talking to your health care provider if you are experiencing excessive worry, low mood, increased irritability or a feeling of being constantly overwhelmed. 


These are just a few of the key steps you can take to optimize your pre-conception health. Never hesitate to connect with your primary care provider to find out more. 

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