Five Things to Know About Preparing For Pregnancy
Preparing for pregnancy can be overwhelming, but you’re never alone.
Every year, Jefferson Health – Abington clinicians help to deliver more than 4,500 babies. As one of the busiest maternity hospitals in the region, we know that every pregnancy is unique. From low-risk uncomplicated pregnancies to those that may need more support, Abington not only has the resources you need, but has the professionals to advise you on how to prepare your body if you are looking to become pregnant in the near future. Here are the top five things to know about preparing for pregnancy.
1. Preparing your body for pregnancy starts with modifying your lifestyle.
When it comes to pre-pregnancy diet and exercise, experts say the secret is to start embracing a healthy and holistic lifestyle.
“The first step to preparing your body for pregnancy is to take a look at your everyday lifestyle. Get plenty of sleep, reduce stress in your life where you can and start nourishing your body with clean eating,” says Katie H. Garrelts, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Jefferson Health – Abington. “It’s also important to incorporate at least 150 minutes of exercise per week into your routine. For some, that means a few 10-minute workouts a day over the course of a week. For others, that means several longer workouts a few times per week. Regardless, strengthening your body is the key to a strong pregnancy.”
2. The time between stopping your birth control and conceiving varies.
If you’ve stopped using contraception—like the pill, a ring or an IUD—it can take time for the body to re-adjust its hormone levels and be ready to get pregnant. That is why preconception counseling is a great resource to use months prior to—or even long before you anticipate—getting pregnant.
“Depending on the individual, it can take anywhere from one month or longer to be able to conceive. Your body needs time to get back into a regular menstrual cycle. So if you are ready to get pregnant, or are thinking you’ll want to be pregnant soon, talk with your healthcare team. You’ll be able to make a plan that works best for you,” says Alicia A. Shields, DO, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Jefferson Health – Abington.
3. There is no such thing as the “right” prenatal vitamin.
Welcoming a new child into the world comes with a heavy price tag. So when considering which prenatal vitamin is right for you, the answer is whichever one is covered by your insurance.
“We don’t recommend a specific prenatal vitamin because the truth is, what you need from a prenatal vitamin is an ingredient called DHA. DHA helps with your baby’s neurological and eye development. So as long as the vitamin you take has active DHA, that’s the one for you,” says Melissa Peard, CNM, a midwife at Jefferson Health – Abington. “It’s also important to mention that if you’re interested in herbal supplements, or are currently taking them, you need to have a conversation with your primary care provider or OB/GYN. Different herbs can have different effects on the body, so we need to make sure that nothing you are taking will harm your pregnancy.”
4. Getting pregnant with pre-existing medical conditions is possible; you just have to be careful.
People are conceiving at different times in life. For those conceiving at an older age or with pre-existing medical conditions, such as thyroid issues, diabetes or high blood pressure, make sure that any condition you have is under control before you conceive.
“If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, you must speak to a specialist. We want your conditions to be as controlled as possible so that you can have the best pregnancy possible,” says Carolyn A. Piccone, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Jefferson Health – Abington. “Being pregnant with co-existing conditions means you may need to be seen more frequently and have specialists as part of your pregnancy team, but that is okay! You cannot stop taking your prescribed medicine, and actually, most diabetes and blood pressure medications are safe to take during pregnancy.”
5. Remove “too old to get pregnant” from your vocabulary.
It’s normal to be worried about your fertility, but here’s the deal: For people under 35 trying to conceive, the definition of infertility is not conceiving in a one-year time period while not using contraception and having regular intercourse. However, for those 35 and older trying to get pregnant, they should be evaluated if they have been actively trying to get pregnant for six months with no contraception.
“You’re not too old, so don’t feel that way,” says Dr. Shields. “If your periods are monthly, or at least predictable, your hormones are functioning and your fertility should have no issues. But for those not having regular periods, and those who are over the age of 35, you may want extra support to minimize the time spent trying to get pregnant. That means having blood tests, having you and your partner’s fertility tested and making an action plan with your healthcare team. You are not on this journey alone. There are resources and experts here to help you.”
If you are thinking about becoming pregnant or are newly pregnant, Jefferson Health – Abington offers a wide range of resources to support you from bump to birth - and beyond. To find an Jefferson Health – Abington OB/GYN, please call 215-481-MEDI (6334) weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or search our online directory.