Trying to Conceive: What to Avoid While Trying to Get Pregnant to Get Pregnant Faster

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When I first met with my fertility doctor I asked what I could be doing to increase my chances for a successful IVF Cycle. She said for anyone trying to conceive, even those not going through IVF, it is important to treat your body as if you’re already pregnant. Makes sense, right? If your body is already doing everything it is supposed to be doing while pregnant, an embryo will be more likely to make itself right at home. There is a long list of DO’s that we all focus on while trying to get pregnant, but there’s also a list of DONT’s that are important to be aware of. So, when it comes down to what to avoid while pregnant, or trying to get pregnant, here is your go-to list.

Diet Changes

As far as diet is concerned, just focus on eliminating and limiting the same foods you would if you were pregnant. Your doctor will eventually give you a list of these once you’re pregnant, but here is what you need to avoid:

1. High Mercury Fish
Babies exposed to mercury in the womb can have brain damage and hearing and vision problems. Avoid high mercury fish such as Shark, Swordfish, Mackerel and Tilefish while pregnant. Stick to low mercury seafood such as Salmon, Tilapia, Shrimp, Cod and canned-light Tuna.

2. Artificial Sweeteners
Most artificial sweeteners are considered safe during pregnancy in very small doses. Saccharin, or Sweet ‘N Low, needs to be avoided completely because it has been shown to cross the placenta. In my opinion? Just avoid them all together. Artificial sweeteners have no nutritional value, and often foods that are sweetened with them contain other harmful chemicals that can affect your health.

3. Deli Meat
Deli Meats have been known to be contaminated with Listeria, which can cross the placenta and may infect the baby. Listeria can also cause miscarriage and affect your ability to conceive.

4. Raw Meat, Eggs and Shellfish
Goodbye Sushi! Raw fish and undercooked poultry can all be contaminated with coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella which is dangerous for both you and baby.

5. Excess Alcohol
Avoiding alcohol is a must during pregnancy, but what about while you’re trying to conceive? Well, since you really have no idea exactly when an embryo will implant, it is best to avoid alcohol entirely during the two week wait. And, if doing IVF, alcohol can disrupt hormones. Also, if you are trying to conceive, drinking too much can affect men’s sperm count, motility (the ability of sperm to swim) and morphology (the size and shape of the sperm), so doctors also advise men to limit drinking in the months before they’re planning to conceive and while trying.

6. Unpasteurized Soft Cheeses
Unpasteurized cheeses could possibly be contaminated with listeria, which I wrote about above. The rule is, if the cheese is imported and doesn’t say pasteurized on the label, stay away from it. Most soft cheeses made in America have been pasteurized, but if you’re unsure just ask or take a peek at the label to see if it has been pasteurized or not.

7. Excess Caffeine
Caffeine has been shown to be safe while pregnant in small amounts, however you still need to limit the amount you consume. I stopped caffeine completely while trying to conceive, while I went through IVF, and through the First Trimester. And, at my doctor’s recommendation, I limited my intake to 1 cup of coffee per day once pregnant. Caffeine has been linked to miscarriages, so it’s best to avoid while trying conceive especially if you have had previous miscarriages.

8. Unpasteurized Beverages and Fresh Pressed Juice
This one is surprising to a lot of people. You know those fresh-pressed, organic juices that you drink to stay healthy? You’re not supposed to drink them while pregnant. The thing with fresh pressed is that you have no control over whether the fruits and veggies were washed thoroughly, or if the juicer used to make them has been cleaned well enough.

So, to avoid listeria and toxoplasmosis, which are especially dangerous during pregnancy, just stay away from fresh-pressed unless you make it at home with throughly washed ingredients and equipment. There’s no need to stay away from all juice though! Just check the label to see if it has been pasteurized or not. Many bottled juices are fine to drink.

9. Unwashed Fruits and Vegetables
Load up on fruits and veggies, but make sure they are thoroughly washed first to avoid Toxoplasmosis and other bacteria. I use ECOS Fruit and Veggie Wash, and I love it, but you can easily make your own at home!

Lifestyle Changes

If you have some unhealthy lifestyle habits, it’s time to quit now if you want to get pregnant. There are some obvious changes you need to make immediately, but also some you may not have thought about. Here are some lifestyle changes you should make:

1. Quit Smoking
This is a given. You should quit smoking immediately if you plan on trying to get pregnant anytime soon. Smoking can affect fertility in some really detrimental ways including fallopian tube blockages that prevent the sperm and egg from ever coming into contact. It can also increase the risk for ectopic pregnancy. Smoking can damage your eggs, greatly decreasing egg quality, as well as decrease uterine lining making it hard for an embryo to implant. It is best to quit smoking immediately.

2. Reduce Stress
Let’s just say this is a tough one, because most women reading this that are trying to conceive are already stressing out, especially those undergoing IVF treatments. But, you’ve heard many people say “once we relaxed and quit stressing about it, it just happened!”. There is some truth to that. Stress has shown to impact ovulation, fertilization and implantation. It has also shown to impact testosterone levels and sperm production in men. One study from the University of California San Diego found that the most stressed women undergoing IVF had fewer eggs retrieved. And, fewer eggs successfully implanted compared to women who were not as stressed.

So, if you tend to be high-strung, try to relax by exercising, getting more sleep, journaling and asking for suggestions from your doctor. While undergoing IVF, I found Natural Calm to be a great stress reliever in those tense minutes that I just needed to relax a little bit. It has been helpful during pregnancy as well. Check out my IVF Positive Affirmations to help reduce stress.

3. Don’t Neglect Your Teeth
Surprisingly, oral health is linked to infertility and miscarriages. The hormonal changes that come with pregnancy and IVF medications, can really do a number on your gums. Taking care of your teeth helps lessen the damage and prevent gum disease which can affect the health of your growing baby. Preventing plaque build-up can also reduce the risk of miscarriage and premature labor. Your doctor should remind you once you’re pregnant to make an appointment with your dentist, but if you’re trying to conceive it is also a good idea to go get your teeth cleaned.

4. Lose (or Gain) Weight

Being overweight or underweight can affect your hormones that regulate your menstrual cycles and ovulation. This in turn affects your ability to get pregnant. Being overweight or obese is also associated with hormonal imbalances that can decrease fertility, including PCOS, insulin resistance, and excess testosterone.  Obese women typically don’t respond as well to fertility treatments, either. Being underweight can also cause ovulation issues and missed periods, making it difficult to conceive. The best thing to do if you suspect you are over or under weight is to make sure your BMI (body mass index) is healthy for you.

5. Stop Over-Exercising

It’s important to stay active and exercise wile trying to conceive. But, sometimes too much exercise can cause more harm than good. Staying active helps reduce stress and maintain a normal BMI while pregnant. Also, moderate exercise (for more than hour but less than five hours per week) is proven to improve fertility in all women. If you notice missed periods or irregular periods, your exercise routine could be to blame.

6. Check Your Medicine Cabinet

Check with your doctor about any medications you are currently taking to make sure they are safe to take while pregnant. If you are on something that isn’t safe, it would be smart to stop or find safer alternatives while trying to conceive just in case you do become pregnant. The best advice is to check with your doctor about what you can and can’t take now that you’re trying to get pregnant.

7. Swap Harmful Skincare Products for All Natural Products

Both times I got pregnant, once naturally and once through IVF, I completely changed my skincare routine. I ensured everything I was using was not only safe for pregnancy, but that it wasn’t affecting my fertility. Skincare products are something often overlooked as potentially being unsafe during pregnancy. But, our skin is our largest organ and absorbs most of what we put on it straight into the bloodstream. Check out my Pregnancy Safe Skincare Guide, HERE.

Obviously, the best advice should be directly from your Doctor about what avoid while trying to conceive. Every circumstance is different. So, listen to your doctor and listen to your gut. Good luck!

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