Pregnancy can be one of the healthiest times in a woman's life. But getting your body in top shape before you conceive is critical because it gives your baby a healthy start in life.
Leslie Beck, author of Leslie Beck's Nutrition Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy joined Balance Television host Dr. Marla Shapiro with her pre-pregnancy checklist.
"Whether it's three months, six months or a year (before pregnancy), it's a great opportunity for women to fine tune their diets, to start getting the nutrients...that they're going to need when they become pregnant," Beck said. "It's an opportunity for women to lose a little weight...gain a little weight, so that by the time they do conceive, just a little bit of fine tuning is needed and they feel better about that."
There are many things that women can do to alter their lifestyle habits to prepare for a healthy pregnancy, Beck said. Here are a few of her key points.
Get a physical check-up
Shapiro says women should have a pap test; routine cultures to make certain there are no underlying issues about sexually transmitted diseases; as well as having their weight checked and discussing their nutrition habits.
Go over your immunization with your doctor as well, to see if there are shots you require.
Other issues to be considered are that the individual is not taking any herbals or supplements that may have a negative interaction and to have a blood checkup to make sure she isn't anaemic or iron-deficient.
Shapiro also said that many women don't know about their cycles. By discussing it with a doctor, she can learn about her fertility window and when it is best to attempt conception.
See your dentist
Beck said that she tells women who haven't had a cleaning or checkup in the last six months to visit their dentist.
"We're learning that gum disease can really affect the health of a baby," she said. "Researchers have found that women who have periodontitis are seven-and-a-half times more likely to have an early, low birthweight baby.
When you floss, brush or chew, these microbes in the gums can actually enter the bloodstream and make their way to a growing baby though the placenta where they can do harm.
Smoking increases the risk of infertility, it can harm the baby, it can increase the risk of a miscarriage, cause small birth weights -- the list goes on and on.
Plan for prenatal care
Beck encourages women to start planning prenatal care early.
"Most women decide to have their doctor or obstetrician follow them through their pregnancy," she said. "But a lot of women today are moving toward midwives, so they need to explore that, research, get some referrals and talk to their doctor about that, because they may be at risk and perhaps that's not a good idea."