We all know about the things you're supposed to cease and desist doing when you get pregnant: stop drinking alcohol, stop eating soft cheese, no more going out for sushi during the weekend. But for those of us who aren't quite on the pregnancy train, and have the hope of getting there soon, what are the things you should stop doing while trying to conceive, even before you're pregnant? You might want to live out your last hurrahs way before you're even ready to take a pregnancy test.
There are certain habits, like cutting down on caffeine, limiting drinking, and fighting stress in your life that are believed to either boost your fertility or at least make the transition to pregnancy a little easier. And that's exactly what we need in the trying to conceive phase of life — a little increase in the odds of getting pregnant by cutting out bad habits where we can (since you have to cut many of them out anyway). These aren't guaranteed get-pregnant-quick tricks, but when you're trying to get pregnant, and especially if you've been at it for a while, every little bit helps.
So as soon as you've made decision to try to get pregnant, here are some helpful habits to adopt ASAP.
1. Stop Sitting Around
While experts warn against extreme exercise that can cause you to stop having your period, they do suggest that moderate exercise can help increase your fertility. Researcher Lauren A. Wise, ScD, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Boston University School of Public Health told WebMd, "Being overweight is a risk factor for infertility, and these findings suggest that exercise may improve fertility in these women.” Additionally, getting in better shape can help you stay fit during your pregnancy.
2. Stop Drinking Too Much Coffee
If your caffeine habit is on the extreme side, you might want to cut down to one or two cups a day while you're trying to conceive. Germaine Buck Louis of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, led a study of 344 women in Texas and Michigan who were monitored while trying to conceive. They kept track of their caffeine consumption among other factors, and the study concluded that women who drank more than three caffeinated beverages a day raised their risk of losing the pregnancy early by 78%. Bear in mind that this includes all types of caffeinated beverages, including soda and tea.
3. Stop Stressing
As annoying as it is for someone to suggest that all you need to do to get pregnant is chill out, there is a correlation between stress and infertility. As reported in U.S. News and World Report, "A recent study found that women with high levels of alpha-amylase, an enzyme that correlates with stress, have a harder time getting pregnant." The study, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility showed that "those with the highest enzyme concentrations during the first cycle were 12 percent less likely to conceive than were women with the lowest levels."
4. Stop Eating So Much Junk Food
Unfortunately, not yet being pregnant isn't necessarily carte blanche to pig out until you see two pink lines on the pregnancy test. Instead, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics informed us that a "diet rich in iron that comes from vegetables and supplements may lower the risk of ovulatory infertility." Spinach with dinner it is then!
5. Stop Taking Meds That Aren't Fertility Friendly
There are certain medications that you might take that can affect your baby's health, and then there are medications that can also affect your fertility. You'll likely want to speak with your doctor about switching to more baby-friendly options before you become pregnant if you are trying to conceive. In Parents Magazine, Jason Griffith, M.D., an OB-GYN and specialist in reproductive endocrinology at the Houston Fertility Institute explained that "Medicines can alter ovulation, and endometrial or uterine receptivity to a pregnancy," so once you are ready to start trying, make sure you run those meds and supplements by your doctor for their OK.
6. Stop Smoking
If you can think of something that isn't adversely affected by smoking, let me know. It's no surprise that smoking does not improve your fertility, and you're going to have to stop when you get pregnant anyway, so you may as well get a jump start. VeryWell reported that "One survey of female hospital employees found that less than one in four knew that smoking could hurt their fertility or increase their risk of miscarriage." Newsflash!
7. Stop Drinking Excessively
Like smoking, drinking can affect both your fertility and the baby's health when you are pregnant. Natural Fertility Info reported, "Women who consume more than [five] alcoholic beverages a week take longer to get pregnant." Womp womp. If you're trying to maximize your chances of getting pregnant, limiting your alcoholic beverages to less than five a week should be on your to-do list.
8. Stop Avoiding The Doctor
If it's been a while since you took a trip to the doctor for a check up, it's time to make an appointment. Obviously, we're all aware that prenatal care is critical to a healthy pregnancy, but visiting the doctor before getting pregnant can be the first step on the way to growing a healthy baby. WebMd explained that doctors will check for diseases or problems that might affect you being able to have a successful pregnancy, and can help address them early on. Doctors will also test for HIV, herpes, and other sexually transmitted diseases that can impact reproduction. Additionally, you might be due for a jab or two: "If it's time for you to update your vaccines, it's important to do so before you are pregnant."
9. Stop Pulling All-Nighters
While most of us gave up pulling all-nighters after the last college final, many women still don't get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night, which can adversely affect your fertility. A study published in Sleep Medical Review, called "Sleep, Sleep Disturbance and Fertility in Women" suggested that, "Sleep continuity disturbance may influence fertility," causing problems with menstrual cycle, reproduction, and menopause. Regulating your ZZZs can help prevent problems that come along with getting too little — or too much — sleep.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.