Lose the Bad Habits
Prior to your newfound focus on trying to conceive, you may have tried the grapefruit diet, the rice diet, the water diet, the macro diet, and the protein diets. You may have been in and out of the "Zone" so many times you're not sure which end is up.
But that was then. This is now. And now is time to take the focus entirely off you—what looks good, smells good, and tastes good—and shift your attention to what's optimal for your baby-to-be. The preconception phase is the perfect opportunity for you to set the "stage"—your body—for the upcoming "drama" of pregnancy. Your co-star—the soon-to-be-developing baby—performs best when conditions are ideal. In a nutshell, the better your health, the better your chances of conceiving a healthy child.
Here are some general diet guidelines for the conscientious trying-to-conceive woman. Please consult a dietitian or your doctor before altering your eating habits.
Drugs: Illicit, or "recreational" drugs, are not only illegal, but they have absolutely no place in your or your partner's bodies. Scientific research has found that drug use affects both sperm quantity and quality and can have unwanted effects on a developing fetus.
Cigarettes: Smoking adversely impacts your health and cuts off the oxygen supply of your developing baby. This results not only in low birth weight but further complications—some of which are unforeseen during pregnancy and childbirth. Quitting smoking entirely or greatly cutting back is imperative.
Alcohol: While the research is in on the adverse effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, there are mixed findings on moderate drinking pre-pregnancy. While large-scale binging is always inappropriate, some physicians believe that an occasional glass of beer or wine is acceptable preconception. If this helps you to relax, or if you simply enjoy an evening toddy, proceed cautiously and consult your physician for strict guidelines on exactly where one crosses the line.
Caffeine: The use of caffeine is controversial at best and strictly prohibited at worst. Caffeine serves as a powerful stimulant; as such, it "revs" up your heart rate and your developing child's. But pre-conception cravings for a strong cup of joe are entirely normal, and the evidence is just not convicting enough to entirely ban the stuff. Perhaps cutting back or slowly weaning yourself is prudent advice. And remember: caffeine is found not only in that morning coffee—it's in colas, hot cocoas, and, dare I even say it…chocolate.
Artificial sweeteners: They will never benefit you or baby during pregnancy, so you might as well kick the artificial sweetener habit before you get pregnant. Some doctors allow their pregnant patients to use them with moderation.