Matt Moroni is thinking about becoming a father for the first time. The Ravenswood resident is looking forward to experiencing pregnancy with his wife, and in the meantime is committed to helping her prepare for the changes to come.
“It will be new and different,” he said. “Challenging, but exciting.”
And while Moroni is enthusiastic about the role of supporting husband, he plays a more active role in getting pregnant than he may think.
Most people understand that the pre-conception health and well-being of a woman can aid in fertility and a healthy pregnancy, but lifestyle choices made by men also contribute to conception in a major way, according to Dr. Kristin Dziadosz Jones, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Swedish Covenant Hospital.
At a recent community event held at Galter LifeCenter, Dr. Dziadosz Jones shared a variety of pre-conception and prenatal tips to an audience of would-be parents, including Moroni and his wife.
She explained that basic lifestyle changes — including quitting smoking, cutting down on alcohol, eating healthy and exercising regularly — can all have a significant impact on fertility.
Specifically, she recommends men get plenty of vitamin C, zinc, folic acid, calcium and vitamin D, as recent studies have shown that these nutrients help regulate testosterone levels and boost the health and motility (movement) of a man’s sperm, which increases the likelihood of pregnancy.
“If a couple wants to optimize their chances of getting pregnant, the man should make all the same lifestyle changes that the woman is making,” Dr. Dziadosz Jones said.
Teaming up can also make these changes easier and more convenient, which can make it easier to stick with them and hold each other accountable.
Fitness and future mommas
On the mom’s side of the equation, fitness is one of the most important aspects of preparing for pregnancy, as just 30 minutes of exercise a day can boost your fertility rate.
A healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) is a good indicator of your current health and where you want to be, according to Dr. Dziadosz Jones. She recommends that moms-to-be try to either reach or maintain an ideal BMI, which is typically between 18 and 25 BMI for women. At these levels, a woman’s body composition has a good balance of healthy fat and lean, which is ideal for a baby. Being above or below the ideal BMI can lower your chances of conceiving.
Talk to your doctor to find your specific BMI, or click here to calculate it online.
In addition to helping you reach your ideal BMI, exercise can also help relieve stress.
“If you’re stressing about getting pregnant, don’t think about it, let it go for a little bit,” Dr. Dziadosz Jones said. “The more stressed out you are, the harder it is to get pregnant.”
Hopeful future mothers should also keep these standard pregnancy tips in mind while trying to conceive:
• Drink caffeine in moderation
• Watch your alcohol intake — avoid binge drinking, as it can lower your fertility rate
• Do not smoke, as tobacco has been linked with infertility
• Take vitamins that have folic acid, calcium and iron
• Look into pre-existing medical conditions such as high blood pressure, depression, lupus or thyroid issues
• Get a physical exam and a blood test
• Ask your doctor if any medications you are on could interfere with conceiving or with pregnancy, and make changes if necessary
Try, try again
Dr. Dziadosz Jones acknowledges that conceiving can sometimes take a long time, and advises her patients not to stress out — 80 to 90 percent of women under age 35 will conceive during a full year of unprotected sex.
She recommends trying whenever the mood is right when you start out, and if it doesn’t happen as quickly as you had hoped, then try timing sex around the days you are ovulating. If that doesn’t work, after six months you can try buying an ovulation kit from a pharmacy.
If you don’t get pregnant within a year, it may be time to look into potential infertility problems. Women 35 or older should only wait six months before getting infertility tests done.
After the year or six months (depending on your age), Dr. Dziadosz Jones recommends that men talk to their doctor and get a semen analysis.
You’re pregnant, now what?
Dr. Dziadosz Jones’ number one tip is to enjoy pregnancy. Swedish Covenant Hospital has multiple resources available for expecting and new parents.
Check this out for Swedish Covenant Hospital’s childbirth services.
Click here for classes and services covering how to prepare for a child.
Parenting tips from doctors and bloggers can be found here.