Preparing for pregnancy was one of the most exciting milestones of our lives together! There were so many things we did to prepare our bodies, minds, and our relationship for this exciting next chapter. We know what a big commitment becoming parents is and we wanted to make sure we were honoring that commitment by approaching it with intention.
We actually prepared for pregnancy twice. Once before we initially starting trying and again after we had a pregnancy loss. We’ll walk you through the different things we did in each phase to prepare for pregnancy as a couple.
We wanted to feel as ready as we could possibly feel so that we would be excited and ready for this new chapter in our lives. While we waited quite a few years into our marriage to start trying to get pregnant, we are really happy that we waited a bit and feel the timing is absolutely perfect for us. Here are the things we did in order to prepare for pregnancy.
We aren’t saying this is the only way to get ready for pregnancy and what every couple has to do, it’s just what we did and found helpful for us. Not every idea here may work for you, but we hope you’ll find a few ideas that will help you as you start thinking about preparing for pregnancy.
Here are the aspects we cover in this post for preparing for pregnancy:
- How to decide on a timeline
- Preparing your relationship
- Preparing for pregnancy mentally
- Preparing your body and health for pregnancy
- Understanding fertility
Preparing For Pregnancy:
How We Prepared for this Important Chapter Together
This post contains some affiliate links
Know what will make you feel ready
One of the most important things to do when preparing for pregnancy is knowing what will make you feel ready.
We’ve heard from many people that you never feel ready for a baby. While I agree that the timing will never be perfect, I also do think that there comes a point where you FEEL ready. That point came for us and I’m so glad we waited until we felt that way.
Over the years, we’ve had many conversations about what will help us feel ready and what types of things we want to check off of our list before we have kids. At the top of our list was traveling, developing healthy bodies, our careers in a certain place, and being back in our home (after a year long displacement due to wildfire). We traveled as much as our budgets and schedules would allow.
That being said, feeling “ready” isn’t just about checking things off of a list. We made a list of countries we want to travel to before having a baby and we checked off almost none of them. The year when we were going to check them off was the year we were displaced due to wildfires and we didn’t have the availability or the budget to travel much. Even though we didn’t check off our list, we both were just feeling so ready for a baby! We decided not to postpone trying any longer.
For so long, we didn’t feel ready to be parents. We kept giving ourselves timelines of when we should start trying, but it never felt right. Eventually it did feel right. The timeline we decided on felt absolutely perfect for us and we finally felt so excited, rather than scared. Of course a feeling of nervousness never fully goes away, but we felt so absolutely ready and EXCITED for our lives to change in every way.
I’m so glad we waited to feel that way rather than giving into pressures of we’re getting older, all of our friends are having babies, we’ve been married for a few years and people are starting to talk, etc. People in our lives did put a lot of pressure on us, but ultimately, we just listened to our hearts and tuned everyone else out.
What’s on your list of feeling ready to become parents? Think intentionally about it so you can start to work towards getting your life to a place where you feel ready. Remember you don’t have to check everything off to feel ready! Here are some to consider:
- A career that’s stable
- A savings account
- Bucket list items like sky diving, learning a language, etc
- A job that allows you the flexibility for the type of childcare situation you desire (e.g. work from home some days, off by a certain time, not too far of a commute)
Agree on a timeline when preparing for pregnancy
This is similar to the point above, but I’ve separated it out because I think it’s important to AGREE on a timeline when preparing for pregnancy. Bassam and I had a few times where one of us was ready and the other wasn’t. It wasn’t even an option for us to consider trying at that point, because we knew it was important for both of us to feel ready.
We know several couples who had kids when one partner wasn’t ready and it hasn’t been a positive experience for them. Having kids isn’t something that you can do for someone else. It’s something you have to truly want.
Decide where you want to live
Deciding where to live was a big conversation for us when preparing for pregnancy. We made the choice to move from a city we really loved, to a suburb that made more sense for us. We were able to get more for our money, be close to family, and have access to a great school district.
This doesn’t mean you need to find your forever home or even forever location when preparing for pregnancy, but we do think it makes life easier to think intentionally about the location you’re living in prior to pregnancy. Here are the factors we considered:
- Proximity to family (we wanted to be close to family so we could get support from them)
- School districts (realistically, private school probably won’t be in our budget, so we wanted to make sure our school district was a great one)
- Room to add a child (again, doesn’t need to be your forever home, but can you find a little more space to be comfortable in your budget range?)
We have friends who moved during pregnancy and friends who are trying to find a location with a good school district after the birth of their baby. All of those friends have been so stressed out, which is why we felt it made sense to add this subject to our preparing for pregnancy list.
Have important conversations in advance
While I don’t believe you have to hash out every single detail in advance, I do think it’s a good idea to make sure you’re on the same page regarding parenting and how your life is about to change when preparing for pregnancy. The nitty gritty details can be saved for when the timing is more relevant, especially since you both might change your minds.
Well in advance of even talking about trying for a baby, Bassam and I made sure we were on the same general page with the following:
- Overall lifestyle with kids
- Overall parenting philosophies
- Overall values we want to instill
- Hard Nos for each us (things that we were absolutely not okay with)
- Hard Yeses for each of us (things we each absolutely wanted)
These topic areas are pretty general, but it helped us to have a good understanding of where each person was coming from. This was also a good opportunity to hash out any differences that may be potential problem areas in the future. Talking about these things beforehand was really helpful, because the timing was less sensitive and we could communicate calmly and objectively. I feel very fortunate that while Bassam and I are very different, we were able to come to an agreement on these general areas.
The one area that we did get super specific and detailed with when preparing for pregnancy was childcare and caregiving. I’m SO glad we started this conversation well in advance because we realized we were so not on the same page with this. We both had made assumptions about how the other felt. Bassam assumed that I wanted to quit my job to be a stay at home mom once we had the baby. I assumed we would wait at least a year before daycare and not have any babysitters other than family. Our assumptions were based on passing comments we had both each made. We realized we needed to have a real conversation and get on the same page.
This was a really tough conversation for us and for many months, it resulted in really big arguments and fights. There was a lot of emotion and stress for both us behind this topic and we often didn’t handle the conversation well. For example, I took certain things Bassam said to mean this was all going to be on me. That was really triggering for me and I actually had a really bad panic attack one time in the middle of our discussion.
It took us about a year of discussions, financial analysis, and lots of problem solving to come to the same page on how we want things to look. Once we were able to agree, we also started taking steps to start to work towards that goal. I will wait to share the specifics of our arrangement once we actually have it in place and see how things work, but at this point I feel confident that we will figure this out together in a way that’s best for OUR family. I didn’t feel that way for so long and I’m so grateful we started this conversation with plenty of time to figure things out.
Starting to have these types of conversations when preparing for pregnancy may help you figure out what areas you and your partner need to spend more time discussing. It’s so much better to get on the same page before actually getting pregnant. I can’t even imagine starting to have those conversations while pregnant, when I’m so emotional and hormonal.
Strengthen your Relationship When Preparing for Pregnancy
A strong foundation is such a worthwhile investment when preparing for pregnancy. I’ve heard so many times that having children can impact a marriage negatively. Bassam and I wanted to make sure that we had the tools to learn to communicate effectively together, before the added challenge of having children. We recognize this is a journey we’ll always be on, but we didn’t want to start the journey after having kids. We did a year long coaching program in an attempt to prepare for pregnancy. This helped us to strengthen our communication, understand our individual triggers and how to address them, and so much more. This will always be a work in progress, but we have such better tools now than when we first started preparing for pregnancy. 4 months into having a baby, we are really seeing this hard work pay off.
If there’s an aspect of your relationship that you’re struggling with as just the two of you, I suggest focusing on improving that area whilew preparing for pregnancy. Maybe it’s your communication style as it was for me and Bassam. Maybe it’s creating a culture of open communication within your twosome. Maybe there’s a specific topic that always results in a blowout for you two. Maybe it’s being consistent with date nights. Of course having kids will throw a curve ball in whatever you figure out, but it’ll be easier to work around the curve balls if you’ve already had some progress in this area.
You may want to check out our 6 week relationship challenge
Lighten up your baggage
One of the biggest reasons I wanted to wait to have a baby was because I wanted to make sure I had healed as much as possible from the loss of my mom. Grief isn’t ever something you totally heal from, but I wanted to be sure that I had the tools to deal with my grief as best as possible before becoming a mom myself.
Prior to getting pregnant, every single time I thought about becoming a mom without my mom, I would feel a soul crushing sadness. The grief would feel as fresh as the very first day I lost her and I would cry from the bottom of my heart. I know that sounds dramatic, but the feeling was really intense. I didn’t know how I could possibly go into motherhood without my mom. (You can read more about my journey with loss here). I can tell you now that I still struggled with this so much post baby, but I don’t know how I would’ve survived it without doing the work I did.
I wanted to make sure I was able to go into pregnancy with as much joy as possible, rather than feeling so sad that my mom isn’t there. I also didn’t want to put any of my baggage on the baby, such as expecting my relationship with my child to heal my grief or fill that void. Before we started seriously started trying for a baby, I actively worked on my grief. It was a long road but I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made. I was so worried I wouldn’t feel joy when we got pregnant because I’d be missing my mom, but missing my mom hasn’t diminished my joy at all.
For Bassam, he has certain triggers and negative thoughts patterns that will may really impact him during toddler years. He needed to spend some time identifying what those triggers and thought patterns are and then started working on them. Sometimes the identifying phase can take more time than you realize!
I truly believe that having children can be healing a process for each person, as you can work aspects of yourself through the challenge of being a parent. I believe children and parents are paired together because they each have something to teach one another. That being said, in order to have that experience, I also believe you need to be aware of what aspects of yourself could benefit from healing and have the tools to be able to work on them.
Throughout my life, both in the professional work I do and my personal life, I’ve witnessed how children can push on their parents triggers. It was really important to me to be really aware of myself and have good tools to use before having children. It’s going to be an ongoing process and I can’t even imagine how challenging it’ll be as our baby grows up, but I think it’s always a good idea to take steps to be a better version of yourself.
If you’re interested in this topic, I really love the book Conscious Parenting.
Prepare your bodies for pregnancy
There were quite a few things we both did in order to prepare our bodies for pregnancy. I want to note, I didn’t feel I was quite at optimal health at the time of our first pregnancy. After our pregnancy loss and while preparing for pregnancy again, we really prioritized this area.
This is quite a large topic, so I’ll separate what we did to prepare for pregnancy health wise in different sections. Please keep in mind, that I am not a medical professional and this is not medical advice. This is just what we did to prepare for pregnancy based on the research we did. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns regarding preparing for pregnancy.
Come off of birth control
I personally came off a year before we started trying. I’ve heard recommendations of anywhere from 3 months to 6 months. I personally chose to do longer only because I didn’t have any real need to be on it and I thought the longer the better.
It was important to me to start eating a nutrient dense diet so my body would be in a good place to be able to conceive and carry a child. There are studies that indicate that a healthy pre pregnancy diet plays a role in conception and in delivery.
Before pregnancy, I had a certain vision of what my diet would look like during pregnancy so that I could best nourish our baby. My plans were derailed when I experienced severe nausea and vomiting during my first trimester. All I could consume were carbs and juice. My diet was the most unhealthy it has been in my entire life. That was really stressful and sad for me, but my doctor reassured me that during the first two months, the baby would still be able to obtain nutrients from my pre pregnancy diet. That really calmed me and made me so incredibly grateful that I had worked hard on eating a nutrient dense diet prior to pregnancy. Having had that experience, before any future pregnancies, I will work really hard to eat a great diet.
This book is an amazing resource for diet and nutrition pre, during, and post pregnancy. In addition, I found the work of Kelly Leveque immensely helpful. She has a fantastic pregnancy course I highly recommend with a whole module on preparing for pregnancy. The majority of our diet prior to our second pregnancy involved home cooked, organic foods focusing on incorporating protein, fat, fiber, and greens in every meal. We played a game called “plant points” and would tally up how many different plants we ate a day, aiming to get a minimum of 20 per day.
I aimed for at least 30 minutes of movement daily and also did higher impact and strength exercises 2-3x a week. This was important for my overall health, stamina, and physical strength.
In addition, I also started seeing a chiropractor and physical therapist to work on my kyphosis (forward curve of the upper spine). I knew I would need to have a strong upper body for pregnancy and also to hold our future baby.
It’s so important for your body in be healthy and able for pregnancy. I thought of my workouts like training for the most important role of my life. I got to a really strong place which was really helpful for pregnancy.
Knowing what I know now after having a baby, I also would’ve focused more on flexibility and core strength when preparing for pregnancy.
Here are the vitamins I personally took based on research my pharmacy student sister did for me. I started on these about 6 months before trying. Before getting on a supplement plan, I recommend checking with your doctor and having blood work done. When looking for supplements, I try to find high quality brands that use minimal added ingredients. I had my sister research all of my vitamins and approve them before buying.
- Prenatal – I LOVE this one because it smells like lemon and was much easier to take during first trimester than my previous one
- Vitamin D3
- B12 (specifically because I was low)
Where to buy:
I mainly shop on Vitacost.com because they have low prices. When shopping on Amazon, make sure you are buying directly from the brand. I also have a subscription to Ritual for my prenatal.
When preparing for pregnancy, it was important to me to eliminate as many toxins from my lifestyle as possible. It’s not possible to eliminate all and I’m still working on my journey, but here were the main steps I took over the course of a year:
- Replace cleaning products with greener alternatives
- Replace hand soap, body wash, lotion with cleaner options
- Use a natural deodorant (this brand worked great for me)
- Switch over to a cleaner skin care routine (I will do a whole post on this)
- Eliminate the use of BPA as much as possible
- Eat organic whenever possible
This was a difficult process, but one of the biggest benefits is that I’ve had to eliminate fewer products from my regimen after pregnancy, since most of my products were already pregnancy safe!
Everyone tells you not to stress about getting pregnant, but how is that possible? It’s not just something you can switch off! That being said, numerous studies have found that lowered stress levels are important for our overall health, not to mention conception and healthy pregnancy. While lowering my stress is still a work in progress for me, here is what tends to help me:
- Being in nature, especially walks in nature
- Journaling or mind dump
- Mediation (this is something I resist SO much, but it does help!)
Also, is there anything you can take off your plate?
Males preparing body for pregnancy:
I find it really frustrating that not a lot of emphasis is placed on men preparing for pregnancy, when their bodies and the health of their semen really matters both for successful and healthy conception! I feel like it’s part of some of sexism that continues to exist, but I won’t get into that topic. Here are a few recommendations for men preparing for pregnancy:
- Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly
- Get any health conditions under control and lose weight if overweight
- Avoid toxins
- Don’t keep phone in pocket or close to genital area. Don’t put laptop in lap
- Avoid heat, especially around the time of female partner’s ovulation. This includes hot showers, saunas, and hot tubs
- Take a multivitamin for men, probiotic, and CoQ10
A resource I found really helpful for preparing for pregnancy is the Ultimate Health Podcast, especially their episodes on pregnancy. I really love THIS book as well.
If you’re interested in learning more about our TTC process, we shared more about it HERE.
Learn how fertility works when preparing for pregnancy
We had been “trying” for a baby for a long time, but what I learned is that none of that “trying” actually counted because I didn’t fully understand how my fertility and ovulation worked. It feels embarrassing to admit this now, but so much of sex education is focused around not having sex or not getting pregnant. I realized there are some serious holes in my knowledge.
TMI: I have a really regular period so I thought using the period tracking apps would be enough, but I found out through using these ovulation test strips that the app was totally off about my ovulation dates! You need a bunch of ovulation strips, so I stayed away from the high tech and pricey ones. The ones I used were cheaper and worked great!
More TMI: There’s not a whole ton of research to back this up, but I did implement the legs up the wall method after intercourse. The information that’s out there on this made sense to me and it doesn’t have any negative effects, so I figured, why not!
Hope you enjoyed this overview of how we prepared for pregnancy and found something that would be helpful for you! It’s such a beautiful time of life, even though it can be difficult and stressful as well. We wish you best of luck on your parenthood journey!