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Pregnancy Nutrition Starts Before Conception!
By Vickie Barnes

There are certain things to ask yourself before considering having a child. Whether you discuss these matters with your husband or other partner in life, there are certainly things to consider.

Are you eating properly?
The health you are in before pregnancy can certainly have a negative or positive effect on your body. Are you eating right? Have you spoken with your ob/gyn about the possibility of losing or even having to gain any weight? Should you begin an exercise and nutrition program? Are you getting enough folic acid, fiber and other nutrients in your body?

Your doctor may want you to change your eating habits, start exercising and even begin taking prenatal vitamins. These things will help to ensure not just your baby but you are getting all of the nutrients you need.

If you are smoking, drinking or doing drugs, it is imperative that you stop. These are all things that are detrimental to the health of your unborn baby, and you should discuss with your doctor the best way to handle these lifestyle issues and how they will affect your pregnancy.

When do I begin to change my diet?
As soon as you can, begin to eat a more healthy and well balanced diet. In preparation for pregnancy, four months before conception is a good time to start to eat healthier. Begin weaning your body off of caffeine products like coffee, chocolate and soda. Try to eliminate smoking (including second-hand) and alcohol from your life. Even get rid of artificial sweeteners. If your doctor suggests taking a vitamin supplement, don't wait; take them in addition to eating a healthy, well-balanced diet.

Why do I have to give up coffee?
Health studies have shown that increased amounts of caffeine do indeed lower a woman's chance of conceiving -- and she doesn't necessarily have to drink more than a couple of cups per day. It is thought that the stimulant in coffee affects a woman's ovulation (yet will help your partner's sperm mobility) because it changes hormone levels, which directly affect trying to conceive.

Be careful of hidden caffeine if foods like Mountain Dew and pain relievers such as Anacin and Excedrin. Read your labels!

Do I need any specific things in my diet?
Foods low in fat and high in fiber should be on the top of your list. Folic acid is also important, and you should get no less than 400 mcg per day. Good sources of folic acid or vitamin B include prenatal vitamins, dark leafy veggies, fruits such as oranges, grapefruits and other citrus, nuts, beans, wheat breads and cereals like Cheerios. These are all excellent sources of folic acid and should become daily parts of your diet.

What exactly are prenatal vitamins?
Prenatal vitamins are vitamins your ob/gyn prescribes. If you are actively trying to conceive, tell your doctor; she will most likely get you started on them

These multivitamins contain large amounts of iron, calcium and folic acid. Taking multivitamins will not match prenatal vitamins, since women who are pregnant need greater amounts of specific vitamins, especially folic acid.

Prenatal vitamins include:
Vitamin C
Vitamin D
Vitamin E
Panthothenic acid
Vitamin A

Though the FDA has no clear set guidelines regarding these vitamins, please don't discount the importance of prenatal vitamins. They are not only for you – they also help reduce your baby's risk of birth defects like spina bifida.

Any foods I should eat?

There are no foods scientifically proven to increase your chances of fertility, except maybe one: oysters. Some scientists recommend oysters because of their zinc content. If you’ve been reading up on fertility, you may know that zinc deficiencies hinder both male and female fertility.

But a well-balanced diet will do more for your overall health and fertility chances than trying to eat one or two specific foods. Your doctor can help you pinpoint anything lacking in your diet. It’s up to you to fill those voids and eat a healthier diet. Try a variety of foods, so you won't get bored. Try to get all the food groups daily, including breads, vegetables, fruit, dairy and meats low in fat.

© Vickie Barnes; reprinted with permission of Amazing Pregnancy and Morning Sickness Help

Vickie Barnes operates the Earth’s Magic series of pregnancy and baby care sites, including BabyHopes.com, focusing on fertility and conception.


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