Trying to get pregnant? Make sure you know the bottom line on baby-making—what you don't understand can affect your bub-to-be's health.
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Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) is very common in women, says Twenge. According to Mary M. Gallenberg, M.D., on MayoClinic.com, “Low levels of thyroid hormone can interfere with the release of an egg from your ovary (ovulation), which impairs fertility. In addition, some of the underlying causes of hypothyroidism — such as certain autoimmune or pituitary disorders — may impair fertility.”
And if you do get pregnant it can cause miscarriage, says Twenge. “Fluctuating thyroid levels that are too low can cause birth defects, too, so it’s very important to get this checked out now.”
If you haven’t received vaccinations or boosters in years, talk with your doctor about what he/she suggests you get and when. Twenge recommends at least three months before getting pregnant. The major ones are MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) but you also want to get booster shot for, DTP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis).
“Rubella could be very dangerous for the baby when you’re pregnant,” says Twenge. It’s probably a good idea for him to get vaccinated before the baby is born. Before your baby is vaccinated they’ll be more vulnerable to diseases like whooping cough (pertussis), so it’s better to be preemptive by protecting your baby as best you can now.
It’s important to start taking a folic acid supplement about three months before you plan to get pregnant because it takes awhile to build up in your body, says Twenge. Buy it over the counter or at a supplement store. It’s also a good idea to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin B12 in your diet as some studies have linked a deficiency to infertility. Vitamin B6 and omega-3 fish oil supplements have also been linked to possibly aiding infertility treatments
See more: Prenatal vitamins made easy
How much exercise you should be getting during pregnancy is often a hot debate. Research suggests moderate exercise can improve fertility. Too much can throw off your cycle but if you’re doing too little, that’s also not good. The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on 5 days each week or at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on 3 days each week for optimum health.
There’s so much talk about stress and fertility but really, research basically says stress doesn’t affect fertility that much, says Twenge. Stress can delay or throw off your ovulation if you have an unusual event, like you breaking your leg or a death in the family, but overall most “general” stress doesn’t have much of an effect on baby-making abilities for women or men.