How to prepare for pregnancy physically and mentally
The Tot Founder and mama to two boys, Nasiba Adilova, shares her advice on prepping your body and mind for pregnancy.
Pregnancy can be such a beautiful and magical time as you get ready to bring a new life into the world. But it can also come with its fair share of difficulties and doubts, so it’s best to prepare your mind and your body for the changes they’re about to undergo. Here are my top tips when it comes to laying the groundwork for pregnancy.
How to Prepare Mentally for Pregnancy
Be aware that conceiving can take a while:
Sixty percent of couples who are trying to conceive are successful within the first three months and 85 percent take a full year. Becoming pregnant can be a long process that may feel stressful at times, but try to remain as relaxed as possible and have fun with it. You won’t have as many opportunities for intimacy once your baby is here.
Reduce stress in your life:
Some research has shown that stress may negatively affect fertility, but that thought alone can make you feel more stressed. That’s why there’s no time like the present to start a daily mindfulness meditation practice, which only requires 10 minutes a day with an app such as Calm. Not only will it help you control stress, but it will also teach you to live in the present moment – an essential skill when you have young children. This is also a good time to start saying no to unnecessary commitments.
Be prepared for change:
Preparing for pregnancy marks the beginning of a series of major life changes that will transform the essence of who you are – in a good way. You’ll discover things you never knew about yourself and grow as a person. Try to focus on the positive aspects of the changes in your life rather than what you’ve lost or are missing out on. You might not be able to go out dancing all night with your friends (as often), but you and your partner may feel more connected than ever.
Expect the unexpected:
There’s an expectation for women to “glow” and feel unwaveringly grateful while they’re expecting, but for some mamas-to-be pregnancy is a whirlwind of extreme morning sickness, crippling fatigue and other unpleasant pregnancy conditions. Hopefully this isn’t the case for you, but it’s a good idea not to set the bar of your expectations too high so that you’re not devastated if things don’t go as planned. It’s OK if you don’t feel the glow – lots of women don’t.
Build a support system:
Make sure you have a solid support system in place that includes family members and friends who are pregnant or have children so that you can ask questions and lean on them when needed. Studies show that a strong support system has a positive impact on postpartum health and may even reduce your risk of preterm birth.
Communicate with your partner:
Talk openly about your joys and fears relating to pregnancy and parenthood and ask him to share his as well. This will ensure that your bond is strong and that you’re on the same page when your baby arrives.
Prepare your other children:
If this isn’t your first pregnancy, it will be easier in some ways because you’ll know what to expect. But on the other hand, you’ll be caring for your other children and worrying about how your family unit will change. Involve your children in the preparations for your baby’s arrival early on so that they feel connected to their new sibling. See more in our article on How to prepare for your second child.
How to Prepare Physically for Pregnancy
Make lifestyle changes:
It’s a good idea to quit smoking and cut back on alcohol, caffeine and processed food a couple of months before you start trying to get pregnant. Focus on eating a variety of whole foods and getting regular exercise. Find out more about a nutritious diet in our article on Healthy eating for pregnancy.
Start taking a prenatal vitamin:
Make sure it contains 400 micrograms of folic acid to help prevent birth defects such as spina bifida that can occur very early in pregnancy. See more on How and why to supplement during pregnancy.
Switch to natural products:
From your skincare and cosmetics to your household cleaning products, now is the perfect time to remove potentially toxic chemicals from your home. Switch to brands that use only natural, plant-based ingredients. See our Pregnant mama’s guide to non-toxic living.
Have a preconception check-up:
Your doctor will ask about your medical, obstetric, mental health and vaccination history. They may also perform physical and gynecological exams, as well as blood tests, to ensure that everything is in working order. It’s a good idea for your partner to get a physical as well.
See your dentist:
Gum disease can lead to preterm birth, so have a check-up now.
Check your health insurance coverage and parental leave entitlements:
It’s best to do this as early as possible so that you can make any necessary changes to your coverage and start planning financially right away. See more on our article on Parental Leave: Do you know your rights?
Invest in a functional maternity wardrobe:
You can look and feel fantastic when you’re pregnant thanks to stylish maternity supportwear that supports you in all the right places and even helps to ease pregnancy aches and pains. My favorite brand is BLANQI. You’ll also want a couple of stylish maternity pieces, such as DL 1961’s amazing maternity jeans.
Prepare your mind and body:
There’s no denying that labor and birth are intense. You may have heard the phrase that ‘labor is like a marathon’. It’s absolutely true and it’s something that you need to physically and mentally prepare your body for. Once you have the ‘OK’ from your doctor, start some pregnancy-safe exercise like like prenatal yoga, pilates or swimming. It’s also a good idea to research birth education classes that teach you how to use and control your breath and practice stretch, massage and visualization techniques such as the Gentle Birth Method by Gowri Motha or the Marie Mongan HypnoBirthing Method.
Start accepting help:
You’ll need to accept help from family and friends when you’re pregnant and when your baby arrives, so leave your pride at the door and start saying “yes” when people offer to do something for you.
Trust your instincts:
You can read a thousand books pregnancy, but listen to your intuition above all else.