ARTICLE: Twenty things you should do before you try to get pregnant
I just came across this when searching online about TTC...
You and your partner have decided to take the plunge into parenthood. But wait just one second — or a month or two, at least. To give yourself the best chance for a healthy pregnancy and a healthier baby, there are a few important things you need to do before you head down the road to conception. Our list will help you get your life and body into baby-making shape.
Fuel up on folic acid
Even if you do manage to eat a balanced diet, it can be difficult to get all of the nutrients you need from food alone — and there's one in particular you don't want to skimp on at this point. By taking 400 micrograms of folic acid a day for at least one month before you start trying and during your first trimester, you can cut your chances of having a baby with neural-tube defects such as spina bifida by up to 70 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
You can buy folic acid supplements in the drugstore or you can take a prenatal or regular multivitamin. If you do take a multivitamin, make sure it doesn't contain more than the recommended daily allowance of 770 mcg RAE (2,565 IU) of vitamin A, unless it's all in a form called beta-carotene. Getting too much of a certain kind of vitamin A can cause birth defects.
If you're unsure about what to take, ask your healthcare provider to recommend a supplement.
Just say no to partying
If you smoke or take drugs, now's the time to stop, because some drugs can stay in your system even after their effects have worn off. Numerous studies have shown that smoking and taking drugs can lead to miscarriage, premature birth, and low-birthweight babies.
Plus, research suggests that any tobacco use can affect your fertility and lower your partner's sperm count. In fact, studies have shown that even secondhand smoke may affect your chances of getting pregnant.
Alcohol also can get in the way of getting pregnant, so it's a good idea to cut back when you start trying and to abstain during the last two weeks of your cycle in case you've conceived.
Give that cup of joe the heave-ho
Research shows that too much caffeine can reduce your ability to absorb iron, which you'll need plenty of for pregnancy, and increase your risk for stillbirth — so start weaning yourself off of coffee, tea, and colas or switch to decaf.
You might want to start by switching to a half-decaf, half-caffeinated drink, because going cold turkey may cause nasty headaches. If you're a real java junkie, try cutting back to a cup a day — most experts think that amount is safe. Once you've acclimated to life with little or no caffeine, you may find that steamed milk with a shot of flavored syrup is a nice coffee substitute — and the calcium will do your body good.
Get your weight in check
If you're a healthy weight, you'll probably have an easier time conceiving. Studies show that women whose body mass index (BMI) is below 20 or above 30 have a harder time getting pregnant, so it's a good idea to try to get yourself into the 20 to 30 range before you start trying. Click here to figure out your BMI.
If you're not in a healthy range, losing or gaining weight may give you the boost you need to conceive. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best way to achieve your weight goals.