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If parenthood is on the horizon, you might have considered your financial stability, family and friend network, or how your day-to-day would change. 

But have you also thought about getting your body in shape for pregnancy? 

Here are some helpful tips to ensure your body and mind are healthy and strong before you conceive.

Eat Nutritious Whole Foods

Focus on flooding your body with fresh, plant-based whole foods on a daily basis. Whole foods are unprocessed and unrefined foods such as whole grains, nuts, beans, fruits and vegetables.

Not only do they strengthen your immune system, but the iron, folic acid, and vegetable protein found in plant foods have been found to boost fertility, according to scientists for the UK’s National Health Service.

As women started following more of these recommendations, their risk of infertility dropped substantially for every one of the dietary and lifestyle strategies undertaken," ~ Jorge Chavarro

The Harvard School of Public Health in the U.S. also conducted research into diet and infertility to reveal that women have a lower risk of ovulatory disorders (one of the leading causes of infertility) if they follow certain life and dietary factors.

Women who were deemed most fertile ate less trans fat and sugar from carbohydrates, consumed more protein from vegetables than from animals, ate more fiber and iron, took more multivitamins and—perhaps surprisingly—consumed more high-fat dairy products. They also exercised more. 

Woman drinking fruit smoothie

Women who were deemed most fertile comsumed more high-fat dairy products

Lead researcher Jorge Chavarro said: “We analyzed what happens if you follow one, two, three, four, or more different factors.

“What we found was that, as women started following more of these recommendations, their risk of infertility dropped substantially for every one of the dietary and lifestyle strategies undertaken.”

His research and advice has been compiled into a book The Fertility Diet.

It’s easy to incorporate fresh and natural foods into your every day. Think steel-cut oatmeal with berries and nuts for breakfast; bananas for snacks; and salads with kale, spring greens, avocado, quinoa, and carrots for dinner. 

Learn about washing your fruit and vegetables here.

Supplement Your Body

It’s well known that pregnant women can supplement their diet with vitamins to help prevent birth defects.

But doctors now recommend that women who are trying to conceive should think about supplements too.

It’s advised to consider a whole-food-based prenatal vitamin or multi-vitamin in a dose of at least 400 mcg if you’re of reproductive age. 

Pregnancy supplements contain iron, iodine, calcium and folate—among many others.

Folate is particularly important, with extensive research showing that taking it before and during early pregnancy can help protect babies from neural tube defects (such as spina bifida and anencephaly).

Taking this in advance of getting pregnant will ensure you have the optimal amounts of the vitamin in your blood come ovulation date. 

Woman jogging through park

Developing a pre-pregnancy workout can make it easier to push during labor

Enjoy Regular Exercise

Find an exercise that you truly enjoy and commit to doing it a minimum of three days a week (or even if you don’t enjoy it, it may be worth the pain for a strong, healthy body). 

Exercise has many health benefits for the body such as stress relief and helping you fight infections. But it also helps you maintain a balanced weight for your body type, burning calories while also building muscle.

A pre-pregnancy workout can make it easier to push during labor.

Look for a full-body workout that will help you both strengthen your cardiovascular system as well as build muscle.

Julie Tulper, registered nurse and co-author of Lose Your Mummy Tummy recommends a pre-pregnancy workout that builds your core to help prevent back pain during pregnancy, makes it easier to push during labor, and speeds up your postnatal recovery.

Remember that if you’re at your optimal body weight when you first get pregnant, you will also find it easier to keep your weight down over the nine months and then get back into shape afterwards.

Remove Excess Toxins 

Pollutants present in everyday items you use around the home could be harming your fertility as a couple.

Carcinogenic chemicals like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)—which are found in older flame-retardant materials and electricals such as clothes, couches and computers—and pesticides sprayed on food can find their way into the blood and decrease your chances of getting pregnant.

An extensive study conducted by the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York saw a decrease in fertility of 18-21% in women whose blood showed up concentrations of these chemicals; and a 17-29% drop in men. 

When it comes to beauty products, remember that anything you put on your skin is absorbed into your body.

So before you get pregnant, you may want to take the time to check your household cleaners and beauty products for unnecessary toxins.

Reduce your exposure to toxins and set the scene for romance by opting for diffusers with essential oils instead of candles and air freshener sprays.

Choose household cleaners and beauty products labeled as non-toxic or containing vegetable or mineral-based products; and use natural food items such as lemons and vinegar to make your own cleaners.

When it comes to beauty products, remember that anything you put on your skin is absorbed into your body. 

You can use organic coconut, avocado, or argan oils on your skin as moisturizers, and also use them mixed with salt/sugar or essential oils to clean and exfoliate.

Create Habits to De-Stress

Preparing your mind for pregnancy may not be something you had considered yet, but your emotional well-being is arguably the most important part of your health.

Keeping your stress levels down with regular relaxing activities like yoga, meditation, and deep-breathing techniques not only helps you fight off sickness, it helps release healthy chemicals that keep your blood pressure and anxiety levels under control.

The University of Wisconsin in the U.S. found that a short mindfulness meditation program produced significant results in boosting positivity and immune system function.

Another powerful positivity technique is to make a gratitude list each day. 

Reminding yourself about blessings in your life will help you relax, boost your mood and keep you in a calmer state of mind in stressful situations.

Start with just 10 minutes of these relaxing techniques a day and work your way up until it’s a regular practice.  

If you incorporate some of these healthy tips now, you can feel at ease that your body and mind are prepared and centered to welcome a pregnancy when the time comes. 

Best of luck!