Preparing for Pregnancy

Kegel8 - Pelvic floor exercises aid in conception

When you decide you're ready to have a baby, you will find there's so much to think about months in advance before you even get down to it. Getting your body primed, ready to conceive and carry your baby should be at the top of your to-do list.

Diet

Making a lifestyle change now helps to optimize your health and increase your chances of conception. Quitting smoking and cutting back on caffeine and alcohol now will get you used to the change well before your body is being flooded with hormones.

Any over-the-counter prenatal vitamin with 400mg of folic acid can be taken daily at this point. Prenatal vitamins are formulated to give you the correct levels of necessary vitamins and minerals. They come with reduced levels of Vitamin A as well as increased Calcium and Iron.

Certain types of fish are high in mercury which can be dangerous to a growing fetus. Mercury can accumulate and linger in your body for more than a year so the sooner you cut them out, the better. Even canned tuna should be limited to no more than four medium cans or two fresh tuna steaks a week. Instead of high-mercury fish like swordfish, shark and king mackerel, choose from cod, haddock, plaice, mackerel, herring, pilchard, sardine, trout or salmon instead.

Exercise

Having a fit body will help have a more comfortable pregnancy. By starting well in advance, you will find conception, pregnancy and labour much easier.

Pelvic floor exercises are without a doubt extremely important. Your pelvic floor is what's going to support your quickly growing foetus! The increase in blood flow and flexibility means healthy, oxygen-rich muscle tissue. This can mean a shorter labour and faster recovery after the birth of your child. When the pelvic floor muscles are well toned, the risk of tearing is lower as is the need for an episiotomy or c-sections. Kegel exercises are also good for keeping stress incontinence at bay, a well known pregnancy side-effect!

Another good exercise to get into the habit of now is swimming. Swimming is a good low impact exercise that burns calories like mad and you can continue all throughout your pregnancy. It builds up your cardio and is also an effective resistance exercise. Once you're heavily pregnant, you will soon appreciate the zero gravity.

Yoga is an excellent way of relaxing as well as increasing flexibility. This increase in flexibility helps to adapt to various positions while in labour. Your ligaments will also be more elastic which will help to reduce labour pain. After you've had baby you can return to yoga, usually about six weeks after birth. This will help strengthen your abdominal walls and your pelvic floor. It will also help you get back to your pre-pregnancy shape too!

Squats, when performed correctly, work all major muscle groups and are another high-calorie burning exercise. Full squats increase flexibility in your lower body which as we already know makes for a much easier delivery. You build up a little muscle which will come in handy when you have to carry around a pregnant belly and as if that wasn't enough, squats also tone up your bum and thighs. BONUS!

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