Are you thinking about growing your family? By making meaningful changes in the 6 to 12 months before you conceive, you can ensure that you are creating the best possible environment for your bun in the oven to grow and thrive.
Here are 8 things you can do to prepare your body for pregnancy:
1. Create a positive frame of mind:
Now that you’ve decided that you want to get pregnant, set an intention to optimize your health. Take time to create a space for health and wellness in your busy schedule and focus on creating a nourishing lifestyle.
2. Focus on building your nutrient reserves
Choose nutrient dense, organic foods. Try to eat 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day in a rainbow of colors. The deep, bold colors of fruits and vegetables are jam-packed with health-building phytochemicals and antioxidants. If you eat animal products, always choose organic, grass-fed/pasture raised meat and eggs. Avoid sugar, packaged foods, or processed foods. Aim for a diet that consists largely of whole, plant-based foods.
3. Eat fresh, whole foods.
Avoid processed and packaged foods. Buy certified organic produce. If you can’t afford to buy all organic, steer clear of “Dirty Dozen.” The Environmental Working Group has found that people can lower their pesticide by almost 80 percent by avoiding the top twelve most contaminated fruits and vegetables (or buying them organic) and eating the “clean fifteen” instead. Fruits and vegetables that made the Dirty Dozen list include strawberries, celery, and apples.
4. Take a quality pre-natal vitamin.
This ensures that you are getting adequate iron, folate, and all of the other basic nutrients you and your baby need to thrive during pregnancy. In addition to a prenatal vitamin, you should be getting a total calcium intake to 1000 mg per day. Once pregnant, your calcium needs increase to 1,500 mg per day.
5. Eat fish with low levels of mercury.
Mercury is a contaminant from coal-fired power plants and other industrial sources that pollutes the waters and gets into the food chain. As you prepare for pregnancy, educate yourself about which fish contain the least amount of mercury. The FDA recommends that pregnant women eat no more than 12 ounces of fish per week. Check out the consumer guide to mercury in fish to determine which fish is safe to eat.
6. Switch to natural skin and hair care products.
The average woman puts more than 160 chemicals on her body every single day. In May of 2011, the Canadian Heavy Metal Hazard report found that heavy metals such as cadmium, arsenic, lead, thallium, nickel, and selenium were commonly found in makeup products like foundation, concealer, powder, blush, bronzer, mascara, eyeliner, eye shadow, lipstick and lipgloss. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website is a great resource for safe cosmetics.
7. Use only natural household products.
Toxic chemicals are widely used as ingredients in household products. These products can release dangerous chemical compounds while you are using them, and, to some degree, when they are stored. Studies by the Environmental Protection Agency found levels of about a dozen common pollutants to be 2 to 5 times higher inside homes than outside, regardless of whether the homes were located in rural or highly industrial areas.
8. Incorporate a daily mind-body practice.
Living in today’s busy world is stressful, and there is no question that trying to conceive can add to that stress. Incorporate a mind-body practice such as yoga, deep belly breathing, or meditation on a regular basis into your daily routine. Relaxation practices help restore your body to a state of calm by releasing a host of health-promoting chemicals, decreasing your heart rate and blood pressure and allowing you to truly focus on your intention to create a healthy mind and body for pregnancy.