Preparing for Pregnancy
I’ve been preparing myself for pregnancy for the past few months. No, I’m not announcing a pregnancy. I’m talking about PREPARING for pregnancy. Growing a human being is no joke— and our bodies and minds should ideally be as ready as possible. As a prenatal yoga instructor, I tend to see clients once they’ve gotten confirmation of pregnancy, and the majority wait until they’re nearing the end of their first trimester. But there is so much that can be done BEFORE conception that can help foster a healthy pregnancy.
This post focuses on the things I do (and don’t do) in preparation for pregnancy.
Please note: I am not recommending that ALL preparing mothers do the same exact things. We are all different and have different needs. I have a strong need to control what I can when it comes to my health and the health of my children. It partially stems from anxiety. So to help myself feel more in control and more at peace, I try to be as conservative as possible.
How do you know when it's time to start preparing? Only you can answer this... I waited longer than most people to have a second child. The reasons are many. I breastfed my first born well beyond a year. In fact, I almost made it 3 full years nursing. I’d always imagined having children roughly 2 years apart well before I turned 35, but life doesn't always turn out as we plan. Life throws some curveballs. A few months after my son turned one, my family suffered a devastating loss. The last thing I wanted to do was get pregnant during this sad time. So I waited and made peace with the fact that sometimes our timelines have to shift when the unexpected happens. It meant I would have my second child in "advanced maternal age" (over the age of 35) but it also meant I felt emotionally ready, and that was more important to me.
I’m happy that I didn’t rush things or listen to the pressuring questions from those around me who were wondering why the heck I wasn’t pregnant again yet. When I sensed judgement from others, I would silently remind myself, “I decide when I’m ready and I won't embark on this journey until I am."
When you are ready, preparation is key. Once you decide you want to have a baby, you want to get straight to the fun part, the baby making! But preparation can help you get pregnant more easily and have a healthier pregnancy. So try giving yourself 3–6 months prep time. There are a lot of trendy supplements on the market right now...should you take them while prepping?
Kombucha, collagen, ashwaganda, probiotics, the list goes on... You may be wondering which are safe to take during preparations for and during pregnancy and which are not?! As a default, the safest answer is usually: if there aren't sufficient studies, it’s probably best to avoid. I highly recommend listening to The Pregnancy Podcast for specific episodes on Apple Cider Vinegar, Probiotics, BPA safety, and more. There is very little research out there about whether certain supplements are safe for pregnant women because, understandably, no pregnant woman wants to subject themselves or their unborn children to anything risky. So do your research, find out what you can, and if you have any unanswered questions, always air on the side of caution.
And speaking of health trends.... there's no shortage of old and new ways to stay in shape!
Hot yoga, crossfit, barre, zumba, pilates, soul cycle, running. So many choices! The best time to start establishing good exercise habits (if you don't already have them) is the 6 months prior to wanting to get pregnant. Also, exercise increases sex drive, so it's a win-win ;-)
You may be wondering whether you can and should continue your workout routine once you become pregnant. If you have specific questions, it's always best to consult your doctor or midwife or healthcare provider. If you had a fitness routine prior to pregnancy, chances are you'll be able to continue (with appropriate modifications).
Below is my personal list of guidelines for preparing for my own pregnancies.
I followed much of this in advance of my first pregnancy and intend to do the same this time around. I hope it helps you come up with guidelines of your own—something that works for you and is personalized to your own individual needs.
Best of luck,
-Cait I DO...
Start taking prenatal vitamins 6 months prior to trying to conceive. (And fish oil and a probiotic).
I like the MegaFood herb free variety of multi and probiotic and Nordic Naturals for fish oil.
Have some serious "me time" before taking the plunge.
It's super important to me that I take time to treat myself while my body and my time are still my own. I encourage you to do the same. You won't regret it.
For me, this includes teaching and practicing yoga, walking, running, and a little weights and movement work. Basically staying active.
Slim down and try to start at an ideal weight.
I don't think I was a normal postpardum case when it came to weight gain and weight loss. Within a few weeks of having my first baby (and in large part thanks to breastfeeding), I returned to my pre-baby weight. BUT.... I GAINED weight once my son became a toddler because my eating habits shifted. I started eating more crackers and bread and pasta and popcorn and other toddler-approved carbs (mostly because I finished his half-eaten plates!). So the last few months, I have tried to shed a few of those "cracker pounds."
Drink lots of CLEAN filtered water.
Avoid drinking out of plastic bottles whenever possible (if not for your health, then for the environment). We have a reverse osmosis water filtration system in our home and our water is clean and tastes great. I try to fill up a glass or stainless steal water bottle and take this water with me when I am out and about.
Eat organic as much as possible (and avoid the Dirty Dozen when not possible).
Use only natural deodorants (no antiperspirants and no harsh chemicals). The cleaner you eat, the less you smell, so don't worry!
Use chemical free, organic feminine care products.
Avoid BPA whenever possible (it’s a hormone disrupter and not good for you or baby)
Listen to the Pregnancy Podcast episode on BPA safety for more information.
Use only natural baby-approved sunscreen avoid self tanners.
Avoid exposure to wireless EMF (More on this in my wireless post).
Eat only organic/grass fed meats in moderation.
Use a fluoride-free all-natural toothpaste. Lately I'm digging Auromere Ayurvedic Herbal Toothpaste.
Swap out home cleaning products for more natural varieties and use cleaning gloves to reduce chemical exposure through the skin.
Consume fish with heavy metals (I stick to eating smaller fish in moderation—no swordfish or bluefish. This infographic is very helpful).
Eat Genetically Modified Foods (GMO’s), refined sugars and highly processed packaged foods.
Cook food with non-stick pans. I stick to cast iron as often as possible (and use high-heat avocado oil instead of olive oil for sauteeing). Drink caffeine or alcohol.
Drink soda or other sugary beverages. Microwave foods (again, uber cautious).
Color treat my hair or paint my nails (airing on the side of uber cautious).
Wear ANY skin or beauty products with harsh chemicals.