By EatingWell Editors
Eating well while you are trying to conceive won’t guarantee that you’ll become pregnant, but it can maximize your chances. In any case, making healthful dietary changes will benefit your health.
Your health-care provider can talk you through issues that may be important to achieving a healthy pregnancy: not only concerns related to your personal and family medical history but also how diet and other lifestyle habits may affect fertility. If necessary, your physician also can refer you to other professionals, such as a registered dietitian, who can help you to make healthy lifestyle changes.
Being overweight can affect the balance of reproductive hormones that control your menstrual cycle and ovulation. Establishing a healthy diet before you conceive will also make it easier to eat well during pregnancy. The best approach to losing weight (and maintaining a healthy weight) is an eating plan that is sensible, satisfying—and supplies the right number of calories for your lifestyle.
Folate, a B vitamin found in beans, green leafy vegetables and citrus fruits, plays a critical role in cell development and growth. Studies suggest that taking folic acid—the synthetic form of folate in fortified foods and supplements—for a month before conception and during the first three months of pregnancy reduces the occurrence of neural tube defects by up to 70 percent. (The neural tube, which develops into the baby’s brain and spinal cord, is formed during the first 28 days of pregnancy—before many women are even aware that they’re pregnant.) Get 400 micrograms of folic acid, from fortified foods and/or supplements, in addition to eating a variety of folate-rich foods.
Getting plenty of exercise before you get pregnant will improve your chances of having a comfortable and active pregnancy. Moderate activity while you’re pregnant can help with things like back pain, swelling and gaining too much weight. But how active you are during pregnancy is often determined by what you did before. Bottom line: Get a move on.