The first week of January, everyone is on their best behavior. With their willpower still at full throttle, they’re ready to tackle their goals for the year ahead.
However, your New Year’s resolutions may look a bit different this time if you’re trying to conceive. And you also have more reason to make those changes stick.
In this post, we’re suggesting 7 resolutions you should make this year if you’re planning on a bundle of joy.
#1 Quitting Smoking
You shouldn’t wait until pregnancy to quit smoking. First off, giving yourself time to wean off and slowly cut back is ideal. Instead of your life changing in one swoop, you’ll have one less thing to worry about because you’ve already broken that habit.
The second reason is that smoking can actually harm your fertility. If you’ve had trouble getting pregnant, cutting out the harmful substance may help.
One study compared two groups: Those that smoked close to conception and those that never smoked or stopped a year before conception. The group that stopped closer to conception took significantly longer to get pregnant. This is likely because tobacco can damage your eggs and affect your cervical mucus, impairing how the sperm reaches the egg.
This is a resolution your partner should also consider. Fathers who smoke can damage their baby’s genes, making them more likely to get diseases. Nicotine can also impact his fertility in other ways. For example, it could slow sperm production and decrease the size of his testicles.
Ready to put down the cigarette for good? There’s two main ways to do it: Slowly cutting down or stopping cold-turkey. Either one you choose, here’s a few tips to reach your goal:
- Replace the habit of smoking
- Plan an action every time a craving hits
- Tackle the physical withdrawal symptoms to increase comfort and discourage relapse
- Try mindfulness techniques, which have been proven to help some people stop smoking
- Try reading books or attending classes or seminars to learn how to stop or to gain a sense of community support
- Turn to an online community to help you stop
- Download a smoking cessation app
- Try traditional smoking cessation aids (e.g. gums, sprays or prescription medication)
We detail each one of these tips in our guide 8 Tips You’ll Actually Use To Stop Smoking Before Pregnancy.
#2 Cutting Back On the Booze or Quitting Altogether
Cutting out alcohol is another way you may be able to speed up conception. Although the research is unclear on how alcohol affects conception, some studies show that heavy drinkers may have a difficult time getting and staying pregnant. For example, a 2004 study showed that if a woman drank the week she conceived, she was 2-3 times more likely to have a miscarriage.
There’s not enough research to make suggestions on how many drinks are okay. However, most agree that it’s safest to cut back or stop drinking altogether. There is another important reason for this, too: Many women don’t find out they’re pregnant until several weeks in. By that time, you’ve already unknowingly exposed your baby to alcohol’s harmful chemicals.
If you’re worried that quitting drinking will exclude you from social events sooner than you expected, ask your partner to join you. After all, research suggests the same for men: miscarriage is more likely if the father drinks the week of conception. The conclusions of a 2019 study suggested that fathers-to-be may want to consider avoiding alcohol six months before baby-making.
Since alcohol has been woven into many parts of North American culture, it can be hard to refuse a drink. If you can relate, read our 9 Tips to Make Quitting Drinking Before Conception Easier.
#3 Quitting Cannabis and Other Drugs
Along with alcohol and tobacco, you should start trying to cut out any other non-prescription drugs you may be taking. Most people know that hard drugs are a big no-no during pregnancy and won’t help conception, either. However, more commonly used drugs, such as cannabis, may also pose challenges.
While the research is unclear about how cannabis affects pregnancy, there are a few things we know. Although there’s different ways to use cannabis, smoking it is unsafe. That’s not necessarily because of the plant itself but because heating, burning and inhaling any plant is bad for your lungs. In addition, rolling a joint with tobacco can also harm a fetus (and since you may be pregnant and not know it, it’s not a good idea during even the conception period).
As a harm reduction technique, some experts may recommend taking cannabis sublingually or using edibles instead of smoking. However, since we don’t know marijuana’s specific effects on pregnancy, quitting altogether is safest.
Interested in learning more? Read our guide: Is It Okay To Use Cannabis and CBD During Pregnancy? Here’s The Truth.
#4 Eating Healthy
If you’re someone whose main meals consist of carbs, sugary treats or fast food, changing your eating habits before pregnancy is important for a few reasons:
- To increase fertility.One Harvard study showed that women with the highest glycemic load were 92% more likely to have ovulatory infertility.
- To avoid gestational diabetes.While there’s no guarantee you won’t get gestational diabetes, eating a healthy diet and getting exercise can help.
- To teach good eating habits. Research suggeststhat babies show a preference for the food their mom ate while they were in the womb. That means if you eat vegetables and fruits, there’s a higher likelihood your child will grow up to enjoy those flavors too. On the other hand, a diet of fried food could lead to unhealthy preferences.
#5 Exercising Frequently
Exercising can boost overall health, which can help you get pregnant faster. It also has several other benefits:
- Improves posture, which can help with backaches once you’re pregnant
- Helps relieve stress, which can help during pregnancy mood swings
- Reduces riskof gestational diabetes
- May reduce the riskof having a baby larger than the average birth weight
- May make labor and delivery easier. One studyfound that women who had 30 minutes or more of physical exercise each day spent, on average, 58 fewer minutes in the second stage of labor.
Since exercising is healthy and important for most women during pregnancy, starting the habit now means it will be ingrained by the time you’re expecting. Read more about the benefits of exercise during pregnancy here.
You don’t need to turn into a fitness buff. Even activities like dancing, walking or power cleaning can be a good start. Need more ideas on how to make it fun? Read 11 Easy and Super Fun Pregnancy Exercise Ideas That You’ll Actually Do.
#6 Developing & Strengthening Connections
Your baby-making days are also a great time to build new relationships and strengthen existing ones. There’s a few reasons for this:
- Extra Help.The more people you know, the more help offerings you’ll have during pregnancy and the newborn months. While you may feel uncomfortable accepting, you may be surprised at how useful a cooked meal or drive to an appointment can feel.
- More loved ones in your baby’s life.Maybe you want your sister or cousin to be a part of your child’s life, but you hardly have time to speak to them anymore. Carve out some time to rebuild that connection now. By the time you get pregnant and the baby arrives, you’ll already be close with everyone you want your baby to know well.
- May improve mother and baby health.Research suggests that the amount of social support a pregnant woman has determines her mental health. Simply put, more meaningful connections mean less stress and a healthier you. Fewer connections mean more stress—and chronic stress can negatively impact you and the baby. A strong support system can also help prevent pregnancy and postpartum depression.
Even if you’re starting a social circle from scratch, there’s many ways you can meet new friends as an adult. Read those tips in our guide: Social Support During Pregnancy: Why It’s Critical & 10 Ways To Get It.
#7 Adding a Stress Relief Practice to Your Day
New Year’s resolutions often involve doing more: More workouts, more productivity, more family visits, etc. But this tip is actually about doing less.
There’s some evidence to suggest that stress can negatively impact fertility. This intuitively makes sense: We already know that stress affects our general health—and our overall health affects our fertility. Research has also shown that high cortisol levels (a stress hormone) can make women stop ovulating, making them unable to conceive. In other cases, it can delay your cycle, causing you to misjudge your “fertility window” each month. Taking this into account, if you’re having trouble getting pregnant, de-stressing may be a helpful resolution.
There’s many ways you can clear your head. These guides can help you decide which is right for you:
- 9 Ways to De-stress While Trying to Conceive
- Mindfulness: Surprising Ways It Changes Your Pregnancy, Labor and Baby’s Future
- 9 Super Easy Mindfulness Exercises For A Calmer and More Enjoyable Pregnancy
P.S. Are you taking prenatals yet? Doctors recommend that women trying to conceive get 400mg of folic acid daily. To make sure you’re getting this and all of the other necessary pregnancy vitamins, we recommend MamaNurture Premium Prenatal Vitamins +DHA. With a curated blend of 25 vitamins and nutrients, it’s the perfect choice for those looking to speed up conception.