Addictions and Trying to Conceive
If you drink, smoke or do any illicit drugs, now is the time to stop. All of these activities are dangerous to your unborn baby, and can also decrease your chances of conceiving successfully. It’s not easy to quit bad habits, so it’s best to struggle with the challenge before you’re pregnant, rather than after, when you’ll be busy adapting to many other changes in your body, too.
The research on the effects of caffeine during pregnancy seems to change more often than a new mom changes diapers. But the most recent reports state that drinking coffee during the first trimester of pregnancy can increase your chances of miscarriage. Since cutting caffeine out of your diet cold turkey may result in exhaustion and withdrawal headaches, it’s better to stop now than when you find out you’re pregnant and are already battling extreme fatigue and morning sickness, and you’d rather not take anything for that throbbing headache. (Tylenol is safe during pregnancy, but you’re still better off not relying on pain medications if you don’t have to.) Additionally, doctors in the Netherlands discovered that caffeine can reduce your chances of conceiving by about 26 percent; it has the same effect on TTC as drinking alcohol more than three times a week.
A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology showed that women who consumed more than 200 mg. of caffeine a day (the amount in just two cups of coffee) in the first trimester doubled their chances of a miscarriage. Other studies have shown that moderate caffeine intake, especially after the first trimester, is not necessarily bad. Still, it’s better to kick the habit now and make decaf coffee (or better yet, just drink water!) part of your new, healthier lifestyle.
If cutting your caffeine intake seems challenging, kicking the nicotine habit, for smokers, may seem impossible. But smoking during pregnancy can lead to premature birth, low birth weight and pregnancy complications.
Don’t despair, however. There are many programs on the market today that can help you along the way. For many women, just thinking about the health of their unborn baby, and the dangerous effects of smoking on a fetus, may be enough to throw away those “cancer sticks.”
If sheer will power isn’t working, talk to your doctor about the best way for you to quit smoking. Drug-free techniques may include the Patch, nicotine gum, E-Cigs, hypnosis, or laser therapy. Most importantly, rely on your family and friends as a support network to help you.
Once you’ve quit, there are many good reasons not to start up again when your baby is born. Recent studies have shown that not only is second-hand smoke bad for babies (and everyone else) but third-hand smoke—those smoke particles and that odor that clings to your clothes after you’ve had a cigarette—is also linked to diseases such as cancer, heart disease and asthma.
While one glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage per night has been shown to have health benefits, this isn’t the case for pregnant women. Even the smallest amount of alcohol may cause some level of birth defects linked to fetal alcohol syndrome. In spite of the old wives tale to the contrary, beer is not a “health food” for pregnant women.
If you’re trying to conceive, the “magic number” that will decrease your odds of conception by 26 percent is more than three drinks per week. If you’re trying to conceive, a glass of wine once a week with dinner won’t hurt you, but if you have a feeling that you may have trouble quitting altogether once you conceive, start trying to quit now!
If you find that you can’t go without a drink, there are programs that can help you. Look for a local AA chapter in your community, or talk to your doctor about support groups and help to quit drinking.
Having said all this, what if you get pregnant and weren’t trying to conceive? Will that night of frozen margaritas within the first two weeks of pregnancy hurt that unborn baby you didn’t even know you were carrying?
The use of any drugs, alcohol, nicotine or even prescription or over-the-counter medicines within the first trimester carries a slight risk, but, according to the authors of What to Expect When You’re Expecting, the best thing to do is to put it behind you and focus on being as healthy as you can for the rest of your pregnancy.
Author: Dawn Allcot
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