The journey to motherhood is an extraordinary time in your life, filled with excitement and anticipation. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed with countless questions and uncertainties, rest assured—you’re not alone.
You might wonder: ‘What should I eat while trying to have a baby?’ ‘When should I consult a doctor before pregnancy?’ or, ‘How do I track my fertility?’
This 12-month, preconception checklist was created to answer these questions and more.
Now, instead of feeling overwhelmed, you’ll feel well-prepared and able to enjoy the incredible journey that awaits you.
Why Is Preconception Health Important?
The journey to conception is more than just a biological process. It’s also a series of steps that prepare both your body and mind for the gift of life.
Preconception care is all about making lifestyle choices that set the stage for a healthy pregnancy.
Given the complexities, having a checklist can be immensely helpful in navigating through this exciting phase of life.
As a naturopathic physician, I offer my clients a holistic and functional medicine approach to preconception health.
Below, you’ll discover a month-by-month guide I created to help you prepare your body, mind, and life for the journey of parenthood (these are merely suggestions and not a proven formula). Let’s dive in!
Month 1: Self-Evaluation
Assess Your Current Lifestyle
Begin by evaluating your daily rituals—what you eat, how you sleep, and the emotional landscapes you navigate.
Could your diet benefit from more nutrient-rich foods? Do you need to welcome more restful sleep into your nights? Are you engaging in regular exercise?
Setting Realistic Expectations and Timelines
Based on your self-assessment, decide on a timeline for conception. Understanding this will guide your health and wellness goals for the coming months.
Month 2: Partner Conversations and Relationship Prep
Setting Expectations and Roles
Have open conversations with your partner about your philosophies on parenting and the roles each of you will play.
Maintain open communication and schedule regular check-ins with your partner to ensure that both of you are emotionally ready for this journey.
Month 3: Consult a Healthcare Provider
Initial Medical Consultation
Your healthcare provider will be your partner on your journey to motherhood. It’s important to assess your fertility health and screen for any underlying health conditions.
This initial meeting serves as a baseline to identify any potential fertility or health conditions that require attention.
What Questions to Ask
Make a list of any questions you may have, such as: ‘What lifestyle changes do I need to make to have a baby?’ ‘How can I track my menstrual cycle more effectively?’ and ‘When should I stop taking birth control?’
The answers to these questions will help you gain a better understanding of what to prepare for.
Month 4: Optimize Your Nutrition
Foods to Focus On and Foods to Avoid
Incorporate a fertility-boosting diet rich in vegetables, fruits, red meat, whole grains, omega-3 fatty acids, fish, and protein rich foods. Limit trans fats, caffeine and alcohol as they can negatively affect fertility.1
Introduce a Prenatal Vitamin
Consult your healthcare provider to recommend a prenatal vitamin that suits your needs. These supplements are designed to fill any nutritional gaps in your diet.
Month 5: Exercise and Physical Wellbeing
The Benefits of Regular Exercise
Studies show that women who exercise while pregnant experience fewer health issues like gestational diabetes and cesarean births, and also recover more quickly postpartum. Exercise can also help prevent postpartum depression.2
The Importance of Rest
Sleep isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. Make sure you’re getting adequate rest to recharge your body and mind.
Month 6: Mental and Emotional Wellbeing
Identify stressors like work, relationships, or financial concerns and find the tools that will help navigate these. This could be journaling, speaking with a therapist, or discussing issues with your partner.
The Role of Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindfulness techniques and meditation can help in reducing stress, which is crucial for both mental well-being and fertility health.3
Month 7: Financial Health Check
Budgeting for Baby-Related Expenses
Bringing a new life into this world involves financial planning. From hospital costs to baby gear, plan how you’ll meet your financial needs.
Understanding Your Health Insurance Options
Review your health insurance plan to understand what pregnancy-related costs are covered and consider any necessary changes.
Month 8: Household Preparations
Baby-Ready Your Home
Baby-proof your home by securing hazards like sharp objects, cleaning supplies, and small objects that could be choking hazards.
Create a Nursing Sanctuary
Create a space that serves as a sanctuary for both you and your baby. Choose a calming color palette and cozy elements like a plush rocking chair, soft rugs, and dimmable lighting to create a soothing atmosphere.
Month 9: Fertility Tracking and Timing
Methods for Tracking Ovulation
Consider using fertility awareness methods. FAMs have an effectiveness rate ranging from 77% to 98%. This implies that annually, 2 to 23 out of every 100 couples using FAMs will conceive.4
The window of opportunity for conception is limited each month, so plan to have sex around this fertile period.
Month 10: Final Preparations and Revisit the Doctor
Last-Minute Health Checks
Visit with your healthcare provider to ensure you’re in good health and on track to having a baby.
Consider Your Birth Plan
What kind of birthing experience you wish to have. Do you want to have a home birth or is a hospital setting more in alignment with your birth plan?
Month 11: Reflect and Adjust
Celebrate Your Accomplishments
Reflect on the health and wellness goals you set for yourself at the beginning of this journey. Have you incorporated more nutrient-rich foods into your diet? Improved your sleep quality? Celebrate your accomplishments. You’re so close to conception time!
Adjust as Needed
After assessing your achievements, it’s time to make any necessary adjustments. Being flexible and adaptable in your preconception journey is not just wise, but also prepares you for the ever-changing journey of motherhood that lies ahead.
Month 12: The Home Stretch
Evaluate Your Preparedness
Take a comprehensive look at your life from a mental, physical, and emotional standpoint. Make sure that you, your partner, and your home are all set to grow your family.
Ready, Set, Go!
Use this time to consult with your healthcare provider. They can provide a final series of tests or screenings and can offer any last-minute advice.
This is a good time to clear up any lingering questions or concerns. And most importantly, celebrate how far you’ve come and get excited about the incredible journey ahead of you!
The Next Step
As we conclude our year-long focus on preconception health and wellness, keep in mind that these guidelines are simply tools to assist you. Your path is uniquely yours. So mix it up if you’d like and embrace what works for you.
Your journey to motherhood begins with becoming the healthiest version of yourself. Take the next step—schedule your complimentary consultation today. I’m here to support you every step of the way.
Dr. BreAnna Guan–Boston’s Natural Fertility Doctor
As a naturopathic doctor specializing in holistic and functional medicine, my approach to fertility is tailored to not only help you overcome challenges in conceiving but also to transform your overall health.
The quality of your health before conception and during the nine months of your pregnancy is so important for a healthy pregnancy and baby.
That’s why I created my Healthy Preconception Plan because I believe healthy babies come from healthy families. My mission is to help you do all you can to support the health of your family and future baby.
Schedule your complimentary consultation with me today. I look forward to guiding you along your journey to motherhood.
Not based in Boston? No problem. My consulting services are available worldwide.