Preparing for Pregnancy (part 4) : Be Careful with Vitamins, Minerals and Herbs, Substance Use before Pregnancy, Work and Pregnancy

- 7 Kinds Of Fruit That Pregnant Women Shouldn’t Eat
- How to have natural miscarriage
- Foods That Cause Miscarriage
- Signs Proving You Have Boy Pregnancy

Be Careful with Vitamins, Minerals and Herbs

Don’t self-medicate with large amounts or unusual combinations of vitamins, minerals or herbs. You can overdo it! Certain vitamins, such as vitamin A, can cause birth defects if used in excessive amounts. Some experts believe various herbs can temporarily reduce fertility in men and women, so you and your partner should not take St. John’s wort, echinacea and gingko biloba.

Stop all extra supplements at least 3 months before pregnancy. Eat a well-balanced diet and take a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin. Most healthcare providers are happy to prescribe prenatal vitamins if you’re planning a pregnancy.

Green Tea Warning

Don’t drink green tea while you’re trying to get pregnant—not even a glass or two! It may increase your chances of having a baby with a neural-tube defect. The problem is the antioxidant in green tea decreases the effectiveness of folic acid. Enough folic acid during the first few weeks of pregnancy may help lower the risk. Wait until after baby comes to drink green tea again.

Folic Acid

Folic acid is a B vitamin (B9) that can contribute to a healthy pregnancy. Taking folic-acid for at least 1 year before pregnancy may help reduce your risk of certain birth defects and pregnancy problems. If you take 0.4mg (400 micrograms) of folic acid each day before pregnancy, it may help protect your baby against birth defects of the spine and brain, called neural-tube defects. Once pregnancy is confirmed, it may be too late to prevent these problems.

In 1998, the U.S. government ordered that some grain products, such as flour, breakfast cereals and pasta, be fortified with folic acid. It is now also found in many other foods. Eat a well-balanced, varied diet to help you reach your goal. Many foods that contain folate (the natural form of folic acid found in food) include asparagus, avocados, bananas, black beans, broccoli, citrus fruits and juices, egg yolks, green beans, leafy green vegetables, lentils, liver, peas, plantains, spinach, strawberries, tuna, wheat germ, yogurt and fortified breads and cereals.

Begin Good Eating Habits

A woman often carries her prepregnancy eating habits into pregnancy. Many women eat on the run and pay little attention to what they eat most of the day. Before pregnancy, you may be able to get away with this. However, because of the increased demands on you and the needs of your baby, it won’t work when you do become pregnant.

Eat a balanced diet. Going to extremes with vitamins or fad diets may be harmful.

Can You Help Avoid Morning Sickness in Pregnancy?

If you eat high amounts of saturated fat—the kind found in cheese and red meat—in the year before you get pregnant, you may have severe morning sickness during pregnancy. If you’re planning to get pregnant, cut down on these foods. Taking a multivitamin regularly before you get pregnant may also lower your risk.

If you have various problems, such as polycycstic ovarian syndrome, some foods may improve your chances of conceiving. Foods to consider adding to your diet include broccoli, spinach, cabbage, nuts, fruit, kelp, nori, beans and fish.

Before getting pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider if you have special dietary needs. This includes whether you are a vegetarian, how much exercise you do, whether you skip meals, your diet plan (are you trying to lose or gain weight?) and any special needs you might have. If you eat a special diet because of medical problems, discuss it with your healthcare provider.

While you’re trying to get pregnant, don’t eat more than 12 ounces of fish a week. Avoid fish not recommended during pregnancy. 

Exercise before Pregnancy

Exercise is good for you. Benefits may include weight control, a feeling of well-being and increased stamina or endurance, which will become important later in pregnancy.

Begin exercising regularly before you get pregnant. Make adjustments in your life so you can include regular exercise. It will help you now and make it easier to stay in shape during pregnancy.

But don’t exercise to an extreme; it may cause problems. Avoid intense training. Don’t increase your exercise program. Skip playing competitive sports that involve pushing yourself to the max.

Find exercise you like and will continue to do on a regular basis, in any kind of weather. Focus on improving strength in your lower back and abs to help during your pregnancy.

If you have concerns about exercise before or during pregnancy, talk to your healthcare provider. Exercise you can do easily before pregnancy may be more difficult for you during pregnancy.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has proposed guidelines for exercise before and during pregnancy. Ask your healthcare provider for a copy.

Substance Use before Pregnancy

We know a lot about the effects of drugs and alcohol on pregnancy. We believe the safest approach to drug or alcohol use during pregnancy is no use at all.

Tell your healthcare provider about substance abuse, and deal with problems now. Your baby goes through some of its most important developmental stages in the first 13 weeks of your pregnancy. Stop using any substance you don’t need at least 3 months before trying to conceive!

Dad Tip

If your partner is making lifestyle changes to prepare for pregnancy, such as giving up smoking or not drinking alcohol, support her in her efforts. Quit these habits if you share them.

There is help for those who use drugs—if you need to, seek help before

you get pregnant. Preparing for pregnancy may be a good reason for you and your partner to change your lifestyle.

Smoking can damage your eggs and ovaries. If you stop smoking for at least 1 year before trying to get pregnant, you increase your chances of conceiving. You also reduce your odds of having a miscarriage.

Smoking cigarettes and exposure to second hand smoke deplete folic acid from your body. Mothers who smoke during pregnancy may have low-birthweight babies or babies with other problems. Ask for help to stop smoking before you become pregnant.

Most experts agree there is no safe amount of alcohol to drink during pregnancy. Alcohol crosses the placenta and directly affects your baby. Heavy drinking during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) or fetal alcohol exposure (FAE); both are discussed in Weeks 1 & 2. Stop drinking now.

If you use cocaine during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, you run a higher risk of problems than if you don’t use cocaine. Women who use cocaine throughout pregnancy also have a higher rate of problems. Stop using cocaine before you stop using birth control. Damage to a baby can occur as early as 3 days after conception!

Marijuana can cross the placenta, enter a baby’s system and have long-lasting effects. If your partner smokes marijuana, encourage him to stop. One study showed the risk of SIDS was twice the average for children if their father smoked marijuana.

Work and Pregnancy

You may need to consider your job when you plan a pregnancy. Some jobs might be considered harmful during pregnancy. Some substances you might be exposed to at work, such as chemicals, inhalants, radiation or solvents, could be a problem. Consider things you’re exposed to at work as part of your lifestyle. Continue reliable contraception until you know the environment at work is safe.

Check the types of benefits or insurance coverage you have and your company’s maternity-leave program. Most programs allow some time off work. Prenatal care and baby’s birth could cost you several thousand dollars if you don’t plan ahead.

Are You in the Military?

Are you currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces or planning to enter one of the services soon? Studies show women who get pregnant while on active duty may face many challenges, including some risks to the baby.

The pressure to meet military body-weight standards can affect your health. You may have low iron stores and lower-than-normal folic-acid levels. Some jobs may be hazardous, such as standing for a long time, heavy lifting or exposure to certain chemicals.

If you plan to get pregnant during your service commitment, work hard to reach your ideal weight a few months before you conceive, then maintain that weight. Take in enough folic acid and iron by eating well-balanced meals. You may also want to take a prenatal vitamin. If you’re concerned about hazards related to your work, discuss it with a superior. Find out if you’re pregnant before getting any vaccinations or inoculations.

It’s important to take care of yourself and your baby. Start by making plans now to have a healthy pregnancy.

Women who stand for long periods have smaller babies. A job that involves standing a great deal may not be a good choice during pregnancy. Talk to your healthcare provider about your work situation.

If you’re stressed out, it may be harder to get pregnant. Studies show chances of getting pregnant improve when stress is lowered. Try to reduce the amount of stress in your life; you may improve your chances of getting pregnant.

Important note: If you’re self-employed, you won’t be qualified to receive state disability payments. You may want to think about a private disability policy to cover you for any problems before birth and for time off after baby arrives. The glitch here is that the policy must be in place before you get pregnant.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Infections or diseases passed from one person to another by sexual contact are called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). These infections may affect your ability to get pregnant and can harm a growing baby. The type of contraception you use may have an effect on the likelihood of getting an STD. Condoms and spermicides can lower the risk. You’re more likely to get a sexually transmitted disease if you have more than one sexual partner.

Some STD infections can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). An infection can result in scarring and blockage of the tubes. This can make it difficult or impossible to get pregnant or make you more susceptible to an ectopic pregnancy. Surgery may be necessary to repair damaged tubes.

Protecting Yourself from STDs

Protect yourself against STDs. Use a condom, and limit the number of sexual partners you have. Have sexual contact only with those people you’re sure don’t sleep around. Get tested if you have a chance of having an infection, even if you don’t have symptoms, and ask for treatment if you think you need it.

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