When trying to get pregnant, it can feel like so much is out of your control—this thought can be overwhelming and add unnecessary stress to your journey. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to prioritize wellness and improve your overall health, which is what will support a healthy pregnancy:
1. Get Active
Exercise is tremendously important for reproductive health, in addition to general well-being. Thirty minutes per day is ideal, whether running, swimming, boxing, etc.—as long as you are getting your heartrate up.
Physical activity is also a key factor to keeping weight at healthy levels, which is critical for people trying to get pregnant. Too much or too little adipose tissue, which is connective tissue made up of fat, can alter hormone levels and negatively impact your ability to have a healthy pregnancy.
2. Prioritize healthy eating
Like exercise, healthy eating lends itself to overall, as well as reproductive health. If you are looking to become pregnant, a good rule of thumb is eating for the baby—even before the baby is conceived. This means prioritizing nutrient-dense, whole foods, such as folate-rich leafy greens or high-calcium full-fat dairy.
Fortunately, eating healthy does not have to be difficult, and there are tons of convenient options like pre-chopped veggies and premade quinoa that make eating well accessible for people with busy schedules.
3. Speak to your doctor to manage preexisting conditions
Obesity is one of the largest contributors to poor reproductive health. While they can exist in non-obese individuals, pre-eclampsia and sleep apnea often occur alongside obesity and can pose serious pregnancy complications. Other preexisting conditions such as anemia, immune disorders, gastrointestinal disorders and hypertension can also be dangerous for pregnant people.
When considering pregnancy or trying to improve your reproductive health, it’s important to address the above with your doctor to make sure you are creating the best possible environment for a baby.
4. Avoid harmful substances
While drugs and smoking should generally be avoided, they should be especially so for people looking to become pregnant. Alcohol should be consumed in moderation, if not completely eliminated.
5. Avoid toxic substances and contaminants
In our day-to-day lives, we interact with hundreds of chemicals—some more harmful than others. Endocrine disruptors, or EDCs, can harm sperm and embryo quality and therefore one’s chance of having a baby. These chemicals show up in cleaning products, fertilizer, water bottles and beauty products and can feel hard to avoid.
We can reduce our exposure and consumption of these chemicals by choosing “natural” or “green” household supplies and purchasing paraben-free beauty products.
When preparing food, it’s safest to wash all produce, even fruits with peels. If you are heating up leftovers, make sure to microwave them in a glass container, as microwaving plastic can dump those harmful chemicals directly into the food for you to consume.
6. Take care of your mental health
As important as physical health is, so too is taking care of your mental health. Practicing self-care can improve your day-to-day functioning and is especially necessary during a fertility journey. Relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation can help bring your general baseline anxiety down and allow you to function better during your everyday life.
In addition to mindfulness strategies, thought pattern re-wiring can be very effective. You may not realize how much negative self-talk you are engaging in, but thoughts like “I’m never going to get pregnant” can spiral into harmful anxiety loops. If you find yourself experiencing thoughts like this, try stepping back and reframing to something more positive, such as “I’m doing everything I can, and I will have a baby somehow.”
Progyny Patient Care Advocates are available to answer questions members may have about their fertility journey, no matter how far along they are, and can provide emotional support as well. If you are interested in speaking with a PCA, reach out to 888.597.5065.
CDC. (2018, January 23). Planning for Pregnancy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/preconception/planning.html
Melbourne, D. M. G., University of. (2017, October 15). The household chemicals affecting your fertility. Pursuit. https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/the-household-chemicals-affecting-your-fertility
Pregnancy & Preexisting Conditions – Brigham and Women’s Hospital. (n.d.). Www.brighamandwomens.org. Retrieved March 22, 2023, from https://www.brighamandwomens.org/campaigns/mfm-nicu/pregnancy-and-preexisting-conditions
Pre-Existing Maternal Medical Conditions – Maternal Care – Maternal-Fetal Care (High-Risk Obstetrics) – UR Medicine Obstetrics & Gynecology – University of Rochester Medical Center. (n.d.). Www.urmc.rochester.edu. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/ob-gyn/maternal-fetal-care/maternal-care/maternal-conditions-we-treat.aspx