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Preconception Planning: A Checklist for Preparing for Pregnancy

October 3, 2022

Many things in life take preparation. Sometimes couples have happy accidents, but other times, trying for a baby takes a little work upfront. If you’re in the second boat, you may be in the preconception planning phase.

So if you’re here to make sure you’re in good shape for pregnancy—then you’re in the right place. This post will cover a checklist of items you can tackle to ensure your best chances for conception.

What is Preconception Health & Preconception Planning

Pregnancy is hard on a woman’s body. There are steps that a woman can take to make it a little easier to prepare for this life-changing event. Preconception health happens before a couple tries for a baby; it looks at the overall health of a woman before conception to optimize her chances of getting pregnant. Preconception planning includes observing and adjusting diet, lifestyle, stress level, and other factors to set a couple up for success.

While these are great tips for any woman at any time, adopting these changes three months before trying for a baby can help improve preconception health.

Preconception Checklist

Use this preconception checklist to help boost your chances of pregnancy.

❒ Supercharge Your Diet

Your baby will depend 100% on your body for nutrition. That means that if you’re malnourished, then your baby will not be able to get the best nutrients through the umbilical cord. Here’s a list of FDA-recommended foods for future moms:

  • Leafy, dark green vegetables
  • Legumes (beans and peas)
  • Whole Fruits, especially citrus fruits and berries
  • Whole Grains
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Lean meats
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds

Make small changes to your diet to try to incorporate more variety into your diet. Avoid foods such as rice, which can contain naturally-occurring arsenic and certain types of fish that are high in mercury.

❒ Revisit Your Supplements & Medications

If you’re taking any natural supplements, prescriptions, or over-the-counter medications, be sure to reassess whether they are compatible with pregnancy. Consult your doctor before conception to make sure that you’re not taking any medications that could harm your baby or your fertility.

There are supplements that can help with fertility and embryo development. Folic acid, naturally occurring as folate, is the most well-known one. This vitamin is known to help prevent birth defects in the developing baby’s spine and brain. The CDC-recommended dosage is currently 400 mcg daily and has even mandated fortification of cereal grains to reduce deficiencies in this B vitamin.

❒ Break Bad Habits

Optimize your fertility by reducing your consumption of harmful chemicals such as alcohol, beverages, and sugar. Quitting bad habits before you try for a baby is one way to take action and let your body know you’re ready to nurture a baby in the womb. Drugs are detrimental to you and your baby’s health. Make a commitment to break the habit before you try to conceive.

Related: Naturally Boost Your Fertility at Home

❒ Get Active & Reduce Stress

Exercise releases endorphins and reduces stress. Now is a great time to develop a routine for regular exercise if you have not already been active. Simply adding more walking to your daily routine can be enough to get your heart pumping. Take this time for you now to establish healthy habits; because once the baby is born, getting out will have additional challenges.

❒ Track Your Cycle & Stop Taking The Pill

In addition to these changes you make while you are getting ready for pregnancy, you can also begin observing your body’s natural cycles. This is the perfect time to identify your fertility window. First, you’ll need to stop taking any hormonal birth control that you’ve been on. Next, you’ll observe the day that your period starts naturally. About 14 days after your period starts is when you are most fertile.

You can read more about tracking your cycle and identifying your fertility window in the article below that discusses the FAB method. While the related content is talking about preventing pregnancy, you can apply the same technique to identify your most fertile days for when you begin trying to conceive. Start tracking now so that you don’t have to guess later down the road.

Related: Natural Birth Control: Fertility Awareness Pregnancy Prevention

❒ Take an At-Home Fertility Test

Checking your fertility is easy today with at-home testing kits from organizations like Orchid, My Virtual Physician’s partner in at-home fertility testing. Not only can you have test kits sent directly to your home with a return label to send to a lab for full analysis, but the cost is affordable. You can get your results before stepping into a doctor’s office. At-home fertility tests are a quick way to rule out any fertility hiccups that may need to be addressed before conception.

Related: How Can I Test My Fertility at Home?

❒ Ask Your Partner to Take an At-Home Fertility Test

At-home fertility tests aren’t just for women! Orchid offers two types of fertility tests for men who want to make sure their sperm and reproductive potential are in good shape:

  • Semen Analysis Fertility Test Kit
  • Men’s Hormone Test Kit

Read more about how to get an affordable at-home male fertility test done in these articles:

❒ Schedule a Pre-Pregnancy Checkup with Your Doctor

As complex and unique beings, sometimes other factors can affect your fertility. If you have a complicated health history that might interfere with your ability to conceive, bring it up in your pre-pregnancy checkup with your doctor.

Here’s a handful of health-related concerns to discuss with your physician:

  • Weight concerns
  • Eating Disorders
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression or other mental health concerns
  • Asthma
  • Stress level
  • Genetic disorders
  • Previous difficulty conceiving or maintaining pregnancy

Come to your pre-pregnancy checkup prepared to discuss your full medical history along with any ongoing conditions that may be impacted by your pregnancy (or vice versa). And if you’ve already taken an at-home fertility test, bring the results! Your doctor can help guide you to take the right corrective actions to make your dream of having a baby come true.

Go From Preconception to Baby Shower Planning

All that planning pays off. Making small adjustments now can increase your chances of success down the road. When you’re ready, reach out to the OBGYNs at My Virtual Physician to schedule your preconception planning visit, get your prenatals, and order your at-home fertility tests.

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