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Monday, March 24, 2014 - Is your body ready for pregnancy?

Is your body ready for pregnancy?

By Karen Krieg, D.O.

When you are seriously considering having your first baby or expanding your family, there are several key preparations to make well before taking your first pregnancy test. My patients are often surprised when I advise them that planning for a healthy new baby should begin up to a year before conception. But by doing so, you will be optimizing the chances for a smooth pregnancy and be as healthy as possible for your new parenting challenge ahead.

Talk with your OB/GYN

First, meet with your doctor and discuss any medical issues that could play a role in the pregnancy including any current medical conditions, difficult previous pregnancies, your age and your stress level. At this appointment, your gynecologist should perform a thorough pre-pregnancy examination which will include blood pressure, ensuring vaccinations are current, prescribing prenatal vitamins and making adjustments to any prescription medication. You will also discuss your family history and the doctor will order appropriate laboratory tests.

Your partner's health and lifestyle is also important in the creation of your new baby. Ask him to accompany you on this visit and discuss any of his health or medical issues.

Prioritize your own health and nutrition

Preparing for a pregnancy is an ideal time to focus just on you. Now is the time to commit to achieving a healthy weight, feeding your body healthy food and exercising about five times per week to make your body as strong and fit as possible.

Enjoy plenty of fruits and veggies, making sure you get enough whole grains, lean protein and dairy into your diet. Now is the ideal time to keep processed foods out of your kitchen and out of your body.

Any dependence on tobacco, alcohol or some medications can be significantly detrimental to the baby’s development. Once you are trying to conceive, limit alcohol and avoid caffeinated beverages. Take assertive action to minimize stress as much as possible.

Stop birth control medication

Ovulation is possible as soon as two weeks after you stop taking the pill. You don't need to take a pill-free break before trying to conceive.

The goal of pregnancy planning is to provide your baby with a safe and healthy environment in which to grow and flourish over the next 10 months. That is more than enough reason to eat a few extra fruits and vegetables, get extra rest and find outlets that offer a sense of peace and serenity.

Finally, take time to enjoy the excitement of preparing for the remarkable process of parenthood. Your life is about to undergo an unprecedented change ─ enjoy the journey.

CentraState Medical Center will host its annual Baby Fair on April 8 from 5:30 – 8 p.m. at the Star and Barry Tobias Ambulatory Campus in Freehold. The event will offer expectant parents an opportunity to meet with ob/gyns and pediatricians; tour CentraState’s First Impressions Maternity Center; attend informative physician lectures; peruse a variety of infant-targeted products and services and enter to win door prizes. For more information, call 866-CENTRA7.

CentraState Medical Center’s Star and Barry Tobias Health Awareness Center offers a full spectrum of health and wellness programs designed to help future parents achieve optimal health prior to conception and beyond. Visit centrastate.com/hac for a complete listing of classes or call 732-308-0570 for personalized program recommendations.

The hospital-affiliated Fitness and Wellness Center is the region's premier comprehensive health center offering state-of-the-art amenities including a pool, certified fitness trainers and clinicians, educational programs and more than 170 weekly classes. To tour the facility or learn more about membership, call 732-845-9400 or visit centrastatefitness.com.

Dr. Krieg is a board-certified OB/GYN and on staff at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold. She can be reached at Women’s Physicians and Surgeons by calling 732-431-2999.