The Guide to Getting Pregnant: Diet and Lifestyle Do’s and Don’ts
Ready to enter the next big chapter—parenthood? While some see this time as one filled with excitement and joy, others might be feeling the stress of fertility struggles. We sought the advice of Dr. Radhika Kakarla, OB/GYN, Main Line Health. Here’s what she says are the top pre-baby health and wellness priorities:
Ask the expert
Schedule a preconception check-up with an OB/GYN and come prepared with a list of questions. Dr. Kakarla recommends the following questions for your OB/GYN: How long should I be off birth control before we start trying? When should I start prenatal vitamins? What diet and lifestyle modifications will help optimize the chances of getting pregnant? How often should we have sex? When should we have sex? How long should we try before reaching back out to you?
Find a fitness balance
Weight is an important factor in fertility, however, it’s best to focus on finding or maintaining a healthy weight. “Maintaining a healthy BMI is extremely important,” says Dr. Kakarla. “Fertility rates are lower in women who are really thin or overweight.” Your preconception check-up is a good time to have the conversation with your physician on how your weight may be affecting your cycle. Your physician can also help with small modifications to your diet and fitness routine to help you lose weight to get your body ready for baby. When it comes to fitness, over-exercising and under-eating can negatively impact ovulation. Find the happy medium with moderate aerobic activity five days a week and core exercises to strengthen your back and belly before baby.
Eat real foods
It’s a good idea to follow a diet free from over processed foods and empty calories, and full of real foods. “Focus on the aisles around the perimeter of your traditional supermarket” says Dr. Kakarla. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, low-fat dairy products and whole-grains is an easy place to start. However, if you eat a lot of fish avoid fish like shark, tilefish, king mackerel, and tuna steaks – they have high mercury content and are best to eat in moderation.”
Catch consistent zzz’s
Menstrual irregularities are often tied to sleep patterns, stress and the disruption of circadian rhythms. Meaning—you need to get some quality shut eye. “Develop a sleep routine that incorporates mindfulness techniques,” says Dr. Kakarla. “Make sure you have a chance to wind down your body and mind after each day.”
Say goodbye to stress
Create a healthy environment for conception by prioritizing your wellbeing—mind and spirit. “My personal stress reliever is a daily meditation practice,” says Dr. Kakarla. “There are plenty of mindfulness apps to help you keep your cool. Or try long walks or yoga—any practice you can turn into a routine.”
Final factors to remember
Don’t smoke or binge drink. Moderate your caffeine intake, too. Finally, be thoughtful of what types of vaginal lubricants you’re using. “A lot of commercially available lubricants can affect sperm survival,” says Dr. Kakarla.
For more information about maternity care at Main Line Health here.This is a paid partnership between Main Line Health and Philadelphia Magazine's City/Studio