If you and your partner know you want to have kids, but you're not quite ready to start actually trying to conceive yet, it could feel as if you're in limbo. Even if you're not ready to start trying to conceive, you may be wondering if there's anything you can do right now to helps your odds of conceiving quickly when you are ready and how to have a healthier pregnancy.
For control freaks and moms-to-be who want to take their fertility into their own hands, there are things you should and can start doing three months or more before you actually start trying to conceive to help your future pregnancy.
10 Stop taking hormonal birth control
Yes, we know you're not ready to get pregnant just yet. All bodies are different, but it's a good idea to stop taking hormonal birth control like the pill or the path three to six months before you're trying to start conceiving. This also goes for removing an IUD.
You should remove them early because these methods of birth control stop ovulation. It is possible for ovulation to return to normal immediately, but for some women, it can take three to nine months for their cycle to resume to normal. If your cycle is not normal, it can be hard to know when you're ovulating, therefore making it more challenging to get pregnant.
9 Eat a healthy diet
Your diet affects more than just your overall weight -- it can also affect your egg quality. Better egg quality means a higher chance of getting pregnant, and a lower chance of miscarriage. So what you load your plate with will help your future pregnancy.
So what should you be eating for better eggs? Foods rich in folic acid, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids were linked to positive effects on fertility, according to a recent study by the Harvard Medical School. The same study found that women who ate diets high in Trans Fat, the diet had negative effects on their fertility.
So if you want to eat things that are good for your fertility, this translates to eating a lot of vegetables, like spinach and broccoli, fruits, fish such as salmon and other whole foods. To continue to help your fertility, cut out foods such as processed meats, potatoes, sweets, and sodas.
8 Visit your doctor for a pre-conception talk
Annual checkups with your gynecologist are important for all women to ensure your lady parts are healthy and in good working order. Syncing up this annual visit or adding an extra appointment to visit with your doctor prior to trying to conceive can be a good idea. Certain medications can interfere or affect your future wanted pregnancy.
Your gynecologist can talk to you about possibly taking a prenatal vitamin and provide other guidance. Some doctors will recommend genetic screening for you and your partner as an option to see if you are predisposed to passing on any diseases. You could also consider blood work to make sure your thyroid and glucose levels are at healthy levels to help optimize your future pregnancy.
7 Take a prenatal vitamin
It's best to consult your doctor before adding any vitamins to your regimen, but many doctors will recommend taking a prenatal vitamin prior to trying to conceive. Prenatal vitamins have extra folic acid and vitamin B12. Taking these vitamins will help provide a foundation for a healthy womb for your baby.
Once you are pregnant, taking a prenatal vitamin can help reduce the risk of neural tube defects in your baby, which affects their brain and spine. These defects happen within the first month of pregnancy. Since some women don't know they're pregnant until five to eight weeks, if you are not taking a prenatal vitamin ahead of time it can be too late.
6 Keep exercising - or start!
If you're currently active and exercise frequently, this is great for a variety of reasons that go beyond trying to get pregnant. As it relates to your fertility, keeping a healthy BMI can help decrease your risk of miscarriage, preterm labor, and other complications. Exercise keeps your BMI in check.
If you don't currently exercise, you should start an exercise routine now before you start trying to conceive. Once you're pregnant, it's not recommended that women who previously did not exercise start anything too vigorous. But if you were previously active it's encouraged and can help you gain a healthy amount of weight during your pregnancy.
5 Get closer to a healthy weight
Being overweight or underweight can affect your fertility and ultimately your chances of having a healthy pregnancy. Since you're about three months out from starting to try to conceive, now is a good time to get your BMI in check. The combination of the previous tips of exercising and eating a healthy diet can help.
The good news for overweight women is even bringing your BMI down one to two points can make a big difference in reducing health complications during your pregnancy. If you're underweight, consult with your doctor to create a plan to gain weight in a healthy manner. Lifting weights and healthy fats can help.
4 Start tracking your cycle and ovulation
Now that you've gone off birth control, you should start tracking your cycle. Knowing when your period typically comes will help you predict your ovulation and help you know when to have sex when you are ready to get pregnant. You'll also want to track symptoms, physically and emotionally, that you're having throughout your cycle.
You can track your cycle in a journal or through some apps on your phone that allow you to input data. You can also track your ovulation through other methods such as taking your temperature. A woman's basal body temperature rises after ovulation, so it will help you predict what day of your cycle you will ovulate in the coming months when you are ready to get pregnant.
3 Stop smoking or using any drugs
Smoking or taking drugs is an addiction, but now is the time to put your effort and focus behind stopping. Smoking or taking drugs can severely damage the fetus and future baby.
Waiting until you are pregnant to quit can be a bad idea in case you relapse, so it's best to start your journey of quitting ahead of time. Consult your doctor and create a plan to stop smoking and doing drugs. Quitting can also help reduce the risks of preterm labor and low birth weight in your baby.
2 Get some sleep
If you're planning to have a baby soon, that means sleep will be hard to come by in about 10 months. But before you get pregnant, it's important to have a good sleep cycle to help increase your chances of getting pregnant. When your sleep pattern is not regular it can mess up your hormones that help lead to pregnancy.
If you have a male partner, make sure he is getting some rest, too. No, this isn't to bank extra hours before the baby comes. A Boston University study showed that men who slept less than six hours a night reduced their chances of getting their partner pregnant by nearly 50 percent.
1 Clean up your beauty routine
It's hard to imagine your favorite foundation interfering with your chances of getting pregnant, but it's true. Makeup that has chemical ingredients, such as xenoestrogens, can interfere with estrogen in a woman's body. Xenoestrogen has been linked to decreased fertility in both women and men.
Many beauty counters and stores now feature "clean" products. Look for that stamp of approval and be sure to read the list of ingredients for your moisturizer, makeup and hair products. There are a few online databases that will also help guide you in picking better beauty products for your skin and for your future baby.