WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – We all know how important it is for expectant moms to take steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy. But what a woman does before taking the plunge into parenthood can be just as important.
Having a child is often referred to as the miracle of birth. But as Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller explains, before baby is ever conceived there are important things women need to do for the best chance at a healthy pregnancy.
“It was something that was planned and we wanted to make healthy choices right away,” said Beth Barnett. Now in her final trimester, the mom-to-be from Kingston set the groundwork for a healthy pregnancy about six months before conceiving. “I was trying to watch my diet, making healthy choices, taking my prenatal vitamins,” she said.
Supplements can play an important role in getting a woman’s body ready to have a baby. “Trying to conceive, it can take a little while so most of the time when I have the conversation pre-conceptually with women I tell them to at least take a multivitamin every day,” said Commonwealth Health OB/GYN Dr. Lynne Coslett-Charlton, MD.
What Dr. Costlett-Charlton says women should not take before conceiving are herbal medications. “There may be some unhealthy effects on the pregnancy or the uterus or the progress of the pregnancy.”
When it comes to daily diet before conception, focus on leafy green vegetables, citrus fruit, beans and certain grains. Why? Because they contain folic acid which helps prevent serious birth defects of the spinal cord and brain. Dr. Costlett-Charlton said, “We want to make sure that all pregnant women are pre-conceptually have an adequate amount of folic acid and usually that’s 600 micrograms a day.”
Preparing for pregnancy should also include giving up alcohol and cigarettes. “To improve fertility number one and to improve outcomes of pregnancy is that all women should stop smoking,” said Dr. Coslett-Charlton.
Physical activity is a very good thing. Create an exercise program before conceiving and follow it through the pregnancy. “A certain amount of physical activity is really, really important to maintain healthy baby, healthy labor and all those types of things to recovering and bouncing back postnatally also,”
Already a mother of two, Ms. Barnett has no problem staying active. “That definitely does help that I’m keeping up with my girls.”
Other important pre-pregnancy steps include reducing caffeine consumption, avoiding environmental risks and tossing your birth control a couple of months before trying to conceive.