11 Things All Couples Should Do Before Getting Pregnant

do before getting pregnant

What to Do Before Getting Pregnant

If you are thinking of starting your family, then now is a great time to plan ahead and get started on some healthier habits that will prepare you for pregnancy and parenthood!

  1. Multivitamins for both partners

Preconception vitamins are important to ensure that the eggs and sperm are the healthiest they can be. It’s so important, we have a whole blog post on what to look for in your preconception vitamins here: https://pdxacustudio.com/vitamins-for-fertility-what-to-take-to-get-pregnant/

  1. Healthy Habits – Sleep

Sleep is one of the most important healthy habits you can build. Sleep plays a critical role in many systems in our bodies: Brain function, metabolism and appetite regulation, immune function, hormones, cardiovascular function, and reproduction. There are a lot of things you can do on your own to improve your sleep:

  • No screens for 2 hours before bedtime
  • Set a sleep schedule: Go to bed at the same time every night (before 11) and get up at about the same time every morning.
  • Create a 30-minute ‘going to sleep’ routine to help you wind down (including dimming the lights, turning off your phone, putting on pajamas, brushing your teeth, using a relaxation or meditation technique, etc.)
  • Create your sleep environment. Try to block out light from your sleeping space, drown out noise with a white noise machine or earplugs, take electronics out of your bedroom, charge your phone in another room overnight (use an actual alarm clock instead of your phone if you need one).
  • Create healthy sleep-aiding habits: get out in the sunshine during the day, get a moderate amount of exercise, reduce your alcohol intake, stop eating a couple hours before bedtime.
  • Consider trying melatonin or herbal sleep aids, if you need to.
  1. Get the right amount of movement

Regular exercise is great for overall health. To optimize your fertility, people who produce eggs should keep their exercise gentle and only a few times per week. Research shows that intense exercise (like HIIT, running or fast cycling even once per week can reduce the chances of getting pregnant. People who produce sperm are the opposite – any amount of exercise is good, but sperm quality is even better with more than 15 hours of exercise per week. 

  1. Healthy habits – Food

If you’re planning to get pregnant soon, it’s important to develop healthy eating habits. Work to eat plenty of whole foods, with lots of fiber, protein, and healthy fats. It’s important to regulate blood sugars as much as possible, so reducing sweets is helpful. And, it’s also important to get enough calories. This is not the time to go on a weight loss diet – if your body goes into starvation mode because you aren’t taking in as many calories as you’re using each day, the menstrual cycle can be disrupted and prevent pregnancy.

  1. Stop smoking

Smoking, even just the occasional cigarette, can affect egg and sperm quality. It also increases the risk of birth defects, miscarriage, and preterm labor. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine estimates that 13% of fertility issues may be caused by smoking tobacco. Second-hand smoke may also cause a delay in getting pregnant. If you need help kicking this habit, try acupuncture! There are a lot of good acupuncture protocols for helping people quit smoking.

  1. Reduce alcohol intake

Excessive alcohol intake is associated with reduced fertility in all the sexes, and it is also associated with some heart defects in babies. Even light drinking is shown to have an impact on pregnancy rates. For sperm production, alcohol impacts the liver’s ability to metabolize vitamin A, which is necessary for sperm development. One meta-analysis showed that babies born to parents who drank alcohol in the three months prior to conception were much more likely to have congenital heart problems. Acupuncture is a great option for those trying to reduce their alcohol intake, since it reduces stress.

  1. Reduce caffeine

Limit your caffeine intake to less than 200mg per day. That’s one 12 oz coffee or two cups of black tea. While the science is showing mixed results, we think it’s best to avoid green tea when you’re trying to conceive because it can interfere with the absorption of folic acid, which is a critical nutrient for fetal development. Green tea may also reduce your iron absorption.

  1. Visit your doctor

Check in with your gynecologist to talk about when to stop your birth control. It’s also a good idea to get a check-up with your primary care provider to reveal any potential fertility issues, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sexually transmitted infections, and other concerns.

  1. Visit the dentist

Healthy teeth and gums might seem completely unrelated to fertility, but some research shows that poor oral health is linked to miscarriage, preterm birth, and preeclampsia (a pregnancy complication that includes high blood pressure). It’s best to have X-rays done prior to getting pregnant and your dentist can advise you on any work that needs to be done.

  1. Stress relief

Over time, everyone acclimates to the level of stress they have and it may not feel like they are stressed out anymore. That doesn’t mean that stress isn’t affecting your body and fertility! Some signs of stress include:

  • exhaustion or trouble sleeping
  • headaches
  • high blood pressure
  • muscle tension or jaw clenching
  • stomach aches or digestive issues
  • frequently getting colds
  • frequently feeling anxious, irritable, depressed, panicky, or sad

Check your stress levels with this short stress questionnaire: https://www.das.nh.gov/wellness/docs/percieved%20stress%20scale.pdf

Next, you need to find your best stress relief techniques. These are different for everybody. Some people like to talk through things and then they feel better. Others like to exercise their way through stress. Here are some of the techniques our patients have used for stress relief (note that one person’s stress relief is another person’s source of stress, so choose wisely):

  • meditation – try one of the meditation apps
  • work with a therapist
  • exercise like tai chi, yoga, qi gong, walking, swimming
  • get a dog (bonus, walking the dog daily is also stress relief)
  • turn the music up and sing at the top of your lungs when you’re stuck in traffic
  • practice gratitude every day
  • saying ‘no’ to anything extra when you’re trying to focus on your own goals (starting a family)
  • ask for help
  • change jobs if work is the primary source of stress for you, even if it’s only a temporary change, to reduce stress while you are trying to get pregnant
  1. Gather your family history

Ask your family members about their experiences with pregnancy – did it take a long time to conceive? Were there any complications with their pregnancy? Did they need to use assisted reproductive technologies or medications to get pregnant? Did they give birth early or late? Your experience might be very different from theirs, but it can be helpful to know more about your family history so you can talk it over with your doctor, who is best situated to advise you.

We hope this guide helps you feel empowered to get ready to start your family!  If you want even more support, contact us to learn how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help your fertility.

Established patients can schedule online, patients who haven’t seen us at Kwan Yin Healing Center call (503) 701-8766, or email us to schedule your appointment.

About Lisa Tongel

We are practitioners of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine specializing in fertility, IVF support, pregnancy care, reproductive health, and pelvic pain.