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Start Growing Healthy Children Before Getting Pregnant

Planning for pregnancy is the first step towards the healthy growth and development of your child. Preconception health helps people both women and men to prepare for pregnancy by improving their health prior to conception.

There is much more information about good nutrition available today, and I want to encourage anyone who wants to have healthy children to start early in learning about and implementing a healthy way of eating. Educating yourself regarding good nutrition is a major part of good parenting. However, a good rule of thumb is, if they didn’t eat it 200 years ago, don’t eat it now! This means no fast food, no packaged food – including sodas, cakes and candies – no preservatives, no fruits and vegetables grown with pesticides or artificial fertilizers, or animals grown with hormones and fed food grown with pesticides. It also means no smoking or drinking. It means no caffeine. If you want healthy children, you need to put pure and clean food into your body before you get pregnant and continue throughout your pregnancy. Of course, then you want to continue to feed yourself and your family clean food once your children are born.

If you are pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, you have a wonderful opportunity to lay a strong foundation of health for your child. Why not start now feeding yourself well and learning all you can about creating healthy children? You are going to be a parent the whole rest of your life. You can do so much to make your parenting experience a joyful one by taking responsibility for your own physical and emotional health before getting pregnant. If you have not been disciplined enough to eat well before getting pregnant, perhaps the idea of eating well for your child will be enough to motivate you.

There are other ways to prepare yourself for pregnancy — such as: 

Get regular exercise. If you’re not used to exercising, or haven’t done any for a while, now is a good time to start. Try starting off with 10 minutes of daily activity. You can then build up to 150 minutes of weekly exercise.

Stop smoking. Quitting smoking is the most important thing you and your partner can do to give your baby the best start in life. Men who smoke can suffer from reduced quality sperm and erection difficulties. If you are planning a pregnancy or already expecting talk to your doctor midwife or local stop smoking service about the support available to quit.

Take folic acid.  It’s recommended that all women who could get pregnant should take a daily supplement of folic acid. You should take a 400 microgram supplement of folic acid every day before you get pregnant, and every day afterwards, up until you’re 12 weeks pregnant. Folic acid reduces the risk of your baby having a neural tube defect, such as spina bifida. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding you should also consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement. Speak to your local pharmacist or doctor for the best time to start.

Look after your mental health. It’s common for women to experience mental ill health for the first time in pregnancy. Women may feel more vulnerable and anxious, and some may develop depression. If this occurs, and are planning to have a baby, discuss your plans with your doctor or psychiatrist.

Stay away from alcohol. Many women ask how much is safe to drink during pregnancy. The safest approach is not to drink at all. If you do drink you should avoid getting drunk and try to limit alcohol to the occasional drink and not more than one or two units once or twice a week. Alcohol can damage sperm production, so men should cut down on drinking too.

Learn more about breastfeeding, birth and parenting. Apart from the fact that breast milk is tailor-made for your baby, free, and always available, it offers protection from infection, vitamins and nutrition for your baby and improves your baby’s long-term health. There are lots of antenatal classes and online resources where you can learn more about pregnancy, birth and parenting. Find out more about what is available in your area for when you become pregnant.

Your health plays a crucial role in your child’s health during pregnancy. Ensuring you are healthy, will help ensure your baby will be also.


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