07/08/2013 12:09 EDT | Updated 09/07/2013 05:12 EDT

6 Ways to Get Your Body Ready for Pregnancy

Waiting for the baby

Written by Maria Barillaro for

You may think the nine months you're carrying your baby is the time to be careful but in reality, there are things you should be doing even before you conceive. Find out what you can start doing today to ensure a better quality of life for your baby tomorrow.

1. Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins

A prenatal multivitamin with a minimum of 400 mcg to 600 mcg of folic acid should become a part of your routine from about three months prior to conception. If you have the luxury of planning your pregnancy, take this time into consideration. A prenatal multivitamin can help reduce neural tube defects in an unborn fetus and can also help you get a head start on collecting the nutrients your baby will need.

2. Start Taking in More Calcium

Babies need calcium to grow and develop normally and nature has made it such that an unborn baby will literally consume all the calcium it needs from its mother while in the womb. To ensure you have enough for baby and enough left for you, start drinking milk or taking a calcium supplement if you happen to be lactose intolerant. There are also a number of other foods, like broccoli, that are rich in calcium. This will keep baby and Mommy strong and healthy before, during and after pregnancy.

3. Avoid Uncooked Foods

The effects of listeria and other types of bacteria found in uncooked food can manifest themselves as long as six weeks after consumption. It is recommended that you avoid foods that may possibly contain such bacteria before getting pregnant in order to make sure you don't consume anything that can harm your baby. While your body can fight off food poisoning with antibodies, your baby's new and developing body cannot.

Related: How to Get Pregnant: Everything you Need to Know about Trying to Conceive

4. Quit Smoking

This habit is not only harmful to you, but it can be harmful to your unborn child, as well. Smoking during pregnancy has been correlated with low birth weight, obesity later in life, and a series of lung dysfunctions, including asthma. It is recommended that you quit smoking at least three to six months before you plan to conceive to allow your body time to adjust. Quitting can have adverse effects your body in the beginning, both physically and emotionally. It is recommended to get your body in top shape before you conceive.

5. Avoid Alcohol

We know there is no safe amount of alcohol to consume during pregnancy but did you know that avoiding alcohol before pregnancy is also beneficial to your unborn child's health? Think of it as cleaning your body of any and all toxins before your new resident begins feeding off of you.

6. Start Exercising

Exercising can be beneficial to your unborn child and is also great for your own health. In fact, women who exercise before and during pregnancy are more likely to get their pre-pregnancy bodies back quicker. Start getting comfortable with working out at least three months prior to conceiving. Once you conceive, check with your doctor about which exercises are safe to do during pregnancy.

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