New Year, New Healthier You, New Baby?
At the start of every New Year, most of us pledge to do better to meet healthy lifestyle goals. For some, the stakes are especially high given that evidence shows good health positively impacts fertility. For those of you trying to get pregnant, there are positive, proactive steps you can take now to improve your potential.
In general, the healthier you are, the better your chances for getting and staying pregnant and delivering a healthy baby. Evidence shows adopting specific healthy behaviors are relevant to both future mothers AND fathers.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight – for both prospective parents – is very important to your fertility. Being overweight or underweight affects your ability to get pregnant and in fact, weight is the cause for more than 12% of couples given an infertility diagnosis.
Eating a healthy diet with lots of fruit and vegetables (at least 6 servings a day), whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats works best and will help you get needed folic acid and antioxidants. Take a daily multivitamin, too. Exercise is also helpful to reaching a healthy weight and can also reduce stress.
The good news? Many women diagnosed as infertile due to body weight disorders will get pregnant spontaneously if their weight issue is corrected through a weight-reduction or weight-gaining diet.
Consume alcohol and caffeine in moderation
We’re often told “all things in moderation” right? That’s a healthy approach to what we eat and drink as it affects your fertility, too. Evidence shows that excessive drinking – by women and men – can affect your ability to get pregnant and deliver a healthy baby. So, make it a goal to cut back or even eliminate alcohol while you’re trying to get pregnant.
Caffeine also affects fertility in multiple ways. Some experts advise consuming no more than 100 to 200 milligrams of caffeine per day. If you follow these guidelines, remember that caffeine is not found just in coffee but also tea, chocolate, soft drinks and energy drinks. Read your nutrition labels to be sure.
Manage your stress
Trying to relax and reduce your stress level is good advice for everyone to follow, but it’s especially important for couples who have been trying without success to become pregnant. According to RESOLVE, The National Infertility Association, women dealing with infertility report feeling more stressed and anxious than women who don’t have such a diagnosis. Although stress doesn’t cause infertility – its influence isn’t clear – it may impact lifestyle habits that do including unhealthy eating or drinking or not getting enough sleep.
Finding ways to relax should be enjoyable and not add more stress to your life. Discover what activities work best for you and make time for them. A walk in the park, a yoga class, a cuddle with your pet, or any activity you enjoy – on your own or with a partner – can help you better cope with your diagnosis and treatment. Mindfulness exercises, lay support groups and fertility counselors can provide many with effective help in managing the stress resulting from infertility.
It’s always easy to give advice – especially when it comes to health resolutions in a New Year! For couples trying to conceive, the advice carries special importance because deciding to choose and stick to healthy habits makes a real difference to fertility. Think about a having a healthy baby as the best result possible for your diligence. So step away from those donuts, go for a walk and do some yoga! Consider trying The ARC Infertility Stress Test to help assess your stress level.