Five Habits to Break Before Pregnancy and Why it’s Important to Break Them

If you have come to the time in your life when it’s time to start a family OR to your surprise the decision has already been made for you, it’s time to get serious about your health and due to proximity, your growing baby’s health.  It’s one thing to slack on your health when it’s just you but your baby didn’t sign up for your unhealthy habits so now is the time to kick some of those away for good (or just for the next 9 months, depending on the habit-no judgement) Below is our short list of what we believe to be important habits to break and why it’s so important to break them.

  1. Smoking- This is a big one and I’m sure if you are a smoker, you don’t need me to tell you the many reasons why it’s so bad for your health, but I will tell you the reasons why it’s bad for your growing baby’s health. Not only will smoking make it harder for you to get pregnant, but women who smoke are more likely to miscarry.  Smoking can also cause placenta problems, low birth weight, birth defects, lung defects and a higher risk for SIDS after the baby is born.  This is a very tough habit to break but now is the time if you are wanting to get pregnant or are already expecting.  There are so many programs out there- be sure and consult with your doctor before starting a new program and don’t forget about avoiding second hand smoke too!
  2. Alcohol- According to the CDC, there is no known safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy or while trying to get pregnant and there is no safe time during pregnancy to drink. We know this is a highly debated topic whereas many people, some doctors included, believe it’s ok to have the occasional red wine during pregnancy. Who we are talking to are the moderate to heavy drinkers who like the smokers above, need to cut back now.  Alcohol passes to the baby through the umbilical cord and the negatives are endless.  With alcohol consumption during pregnancy, you have a higher risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight, and a wide range of physical, behavioral and intellectual disabilities for your baby.  Don’t forget about trying out fun “mocktail” recipes when you are feeling “thirsty”!!
  3. Sleep– While not as dangerous as our first two habits, this one is still an important habit to work on. If you are habitually not getting enough sleep, this will definitely have a significant impact on your pregnancy. Lack of sleep during pregnancy can lead to high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia.  Sleep also helps boost growth hormones which you need for your growing placenta and uterus and also helps to counteract stress during pregnancy. Sleep can also have an impact of labor and delivery- a recent study found that women who get less than 6 hours of sleep a night had a higher risk of having longer labors and cesarean sections. Aim for 8 hours- set a schedule for yourself and give your room a makeover to induce sleep- your body and your growing baby will thank you!
  4. Not drinking enough water– Did you know that all the healthy nutrients you get from food and prenatal vitamins gets delivered to your fetus with the help of water? Water delivers all the good stuff to the placenta and in turn, the baby. The more water you drink, the healthier you and your baby are. Water also helps prevent infections, combat constipation and lessen symptoms such as nausea and swelling. If you have issues with drinking enough water, try jazzing it up a bit! Sparkling water, fruit infused water and even decaffeinated tea can help keep you hydrated, in addition to fruit- which has the most water in it of any food!
  5. Junk Food/Too Much Sugar – Remember when we talked about delivering healthy nutrients to the baby via water? Well- in addition to drinking enough water to deliver the nutrients- you obviously need to be consuming those healthy nutrients as well! Maintaining a healthy diet during pregnancy is crucial to the development of your baby and your overall pregnancy health. High glucose levels from too much sugar can lead to diabetes for you and even your baby later in life. Those bad foods also take up room in your already cramped stomach and don’t allow space for the good, nutritious stuff. So, a bad diet is a bad habit to break sooner rather than later.

Some other habits to think about breaking that were not included on this list but still important include: caffeine consumption, drug (both illegal and prescription) use, exercise habits and stress management.  Did you have to break a habit before getting pregnant? Tell us about it -and how you broke it-in the comments below!

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