We all know that a healthy pregnancy starts with a healthy mom. But with so many different vitamins, supplements and advertisements out there, it’s overwhelming to figure out how to be your healthiest. Here are a few important steps you can take right away:
1. Limit caffeine intake: Studies have shown an increase in the miscarriage rate with caffeine consumption over 250 mg per day, which is roughly equivalent to 2 strong cups of coffee. This is not to say that you need to cut it out entirely; a cup of coffee or tea in the morning can make for a great day, just know that if you have your morning cup, its best to skip the afternoon Starbucks.
2. Take a daily multivitamin: Once you are pregnant, your baby will require a whole bunch of building blocks from you to grow. So, it’s important to make sure you have adequate stores of all the important vitamins. The big difference between a prenatal vitamin and a daily multivitamins is that prenatals can have a bit more folate, iron and calcium. This can make them less pleasant on the stomach, so it’s also suitable to take a woman’s daily multivitamin, provided you supplement a bit more folate.
3. How much folate? Folate, also known as folic acid, is an important vitamin in the early weeks of pregnancy to help form critical structures. General recommendations are for 800 micrograms of folate per day starting one month prior to pregnancy, so it’s a good idea to start taking this dose from day one! Daily multivitamins usually have around 400 micrograms, and some newer research has shown lower miscarriage rates with up to 2000 micrograms per day. I generally recommend patients who are trying to conceive and not currently taking a prenatal add an extra 1-2 milligrams (1000-2000 micrograms) of folate, which can be purchased over the counter.
4. Vitamin D: Many studies have shown links to normal vitamin D levels and good pregnancy outcomes, and Vitamin D deficiency is incredibly common. Taking 2000-5000 IU of Vitamin D per day can be helpful, not only for reproduction, but also for the many other functions Vitamin D has in the body.
5. Stop smoking: Smoking increases miscarriage rate by up to 25%, and decreases pregnancy rates by up to 50% in studies. It also reduces ovarian reserve and hastens time to menopause. So, as almost every doctor will say, do not smoke.
6. Exercise: Being physically active is incredibly important for metabolism, sleep, heart health, and general mood. Plus, if you are slightly overweight, exercise along with a healthy diet can help to shed those pesky pounds and significantly decrease the many risks associated with obesity in pregnancy (not to mention help you get pregnant faster, too)! A recommended goal is 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise.
These are just a few simple measures that can quickly be implemented into your everyday routine and make a big difference in optimizing your health before and during pregnancy. For more specific recommendations that are tailored to your health history, talk to your doctor for more information. If you have been trying to conceive for 6-12 months or more, it may be time to sit down with a Reproductive Endocrinologist who specializes in fertility care to see what else you can do.
Learn more about fertility at our upcoming Patient Learning events. Click here for the schedule.