You probably plan a lot of things in your life, from work activities, to trips, to visits with friends. But, when it comes to pregnancy, which is a pretty major life event, planning may or may come natural to you. Here are the top 7 activities to book in your calendar as you and your partner are preparing to conceive.
1. Schedule a visit with your gynecologist for input on getting pregnant and advice on managing any chronic health conditions you may have. For example, find out how to deal with high blood pressure or diabetes, or get pregnancy safety information on thyroid or depression medication.
2. Address any concerns about your weight and fitness, whether you could benefit from shedding a few pounds or need to put on a few. When you get pregnant, you want to have a healthy body mass index (a way to measure body fat for your size). Incorporate routine exercise into your schedule to tone your body and your mind.
3. Now that you’ve started exercising, if you or your partner smokes, find a way to quit that works for you. Smoking can delay conception and increase chances of miscarriage.
4. Invest in eating a healthy diet; you can also make this a goal with your partner. Take in plenty of zinc, which promotes egg maturation for her and increases sperm count and lowers sexual dysfunction for him. There is a huge variety of foods rich in zinc; try oysters, herring, lean beef, turkey, lamb, lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, cashews, nuts and shrimp. Lots of vegetables are also high in zinc, including asparagus, spinach, shiitake mushrooms, green peas and broccoli. You can also top salads with zinc-rich sesame or pumpkin seeds.
5. Take fertility supplements—both you and your partner—at least 3 months before trying to get pregnant. Since even a healthy diet can’t always supply all the nutrients you need, supplements will boost levels of essential vitamins and nutrients for egg and sperm quality, increased conception potential and a healthy pregnancy. If it’s hard to get into the vitamin habit, use a reminder app. Better yet, make the routine a joint project; choose a vitamin program that you and your partner can do together.
Here are a few key supplements that your bodies need to help put you on the fast lane on the road to fertility:
Omega 3, which enhances sperm motility and fertilization. Omega 3 is required for sperm production because it’s part of the sperm cell membrane. Today’s diet results in a high ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 in sperm which is linked to impaired semen quality (count, motility and morphology). So, boosting Omega 3 helps maintain the proper omega balance.
Vitamin E is a natural antioxidant that counteracts oxidative stress, which has been linked to higher levels of infertility, both male- and female-factor.
L-Carnitine enhances sperm energy and motility.
6. Try to reduce stress in your personal life and work. A recent study published in Human Reproduction showed that preconception stress increases the risk of infertility and delays pregnancy.
7. Make getting pregnant a team effort with your spouse. For years, people believed that only the woman’s health mattered in pregnancy. However, we now have plenty of scientific evidence showing that the man’s health greatly influences the baby's well-being. Not only will his health affect her pregnancy outcomes, but having a “partner in crime” with healthy habits helps both partners make healthy choices.
Dr. Sharon Shmueli, GP