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Here's How To Prepare Your Body For Pregnancy

If you want to have a child, these 10 tips will get your body ready.

Motherhood

When it comes to babies, one of my favorite Scriptures in the Bible is, "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward." (Psalm 127:3—NKJV) It's a reminder that, whenever a woman gets pregnant, it's not only a physical manifestation but a very spiritual one too. It's a part of the reason why I became a doula, in fact—to help usher in the miracle of life, as comfortably as possible, for other women; especially Black women. And that begins with conception.

The reality is, if you're trying to conceive, the chances that you will are pretty high if you are between the ages of 20-35. If you're between 35-39 (or if you have some sort of fertility issue), you may need to give it a year. After 40, it's important to speak with your doctor, so that they can tell you want to expect while you're on the journey to make a little one. But no matter how old you are or what the prognosis on the state of your fertility may be, every health expert on the planet can agree on the fact that you need to prep your body beforehand. In order to help you out, I've provided 10 tips on how you can get your system into peak condition for conception.

1. Get a FULL Physical

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As a doula, I know for a fact that, one of the things that caused some of my clients to have a difficult pregnancy is they underestimated just how important it is to get a physical prior to trying to get pregnant. That way, you can find out if you're a healthy weight (more on that later), if your hormone levels are balanced (especially when it comes to progesterone) and if there is any genetic history that could pose a few challenges either while trying to conceive or after you do. Something else that your doctor will be able to do is see if you've got any scarring on your fallopian tubes, any pelvic adhesions and/or if you've got an ovulation disorder that you might not be aware of. Also, if you're on some form of birth control, your physician can discuss with you how to get off of it without causing your body to go totally out of wack, while providing an estimate of when enough of the hormones are out of your system so that you can start trying to get pregnant without worrying if it happens takes a little longer than you would like.

(By the way, if you are under 35, give it a year of trying to conceive before getting too concerned about infertility. If you're over 35, have been having unprotected intercourse for at least six months without conception, it might be time to speak to your doctor about it. They might refer you to a fertility specialist.)

2. Eat Foods That Are High in Folic Acid

As far as folic acid goes, this is something that both you and your partner should add more of into your diet.

Because you'll be carrying your baby, folic acid is something that plays a significant role in helping to keep your child's birth defects at a minimum (it can help to decrease your chances of having a premature birth as well). As far as your partner is concerned, more folic acid in his system can help to increase the quality of his sperm.

Taking a folic acid supplement is smart, but you can also take foods that are high in folic acid too. Some of those include dark leafy greens, liver, whole grains, sunflower seeds, asparagus, eggs and citrus fruit.

3. Lower Your Java and Alcohol Intake

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If you can't imagine starting your day with a cup of coffee or ending it with a glass of red wine, you might want to consider scaling back on both of those for a while. Since caffeine is a stimulant, consuming more than two cups a day could affect your fertility; that's because caffeine is able to alter your nervous system and constrict your blood vessels. And alcohol? Drinking it can result in ovulation disorders which can make it much harder to get pregnant.

4. Take a Prenatal Vitamin

You probably already know that you should take a prenatal vitamin on a daily basis once you are officially pregnant, but it's also important to add prenatal vitamins to your daily regimen while you're trying to conceive too. The main reason why is because having all of those vitamins and minerals in your system before you get pregnant can lower the risk of your baby having heart defects, limb deformities and even a cleft palate. Your doctor should be able to recommend (or even prescribe) the kind of prenatal that will be best for you. But if you'd like to do a little research on your own, click here.

5. Create a Clear Exercise Regimen

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Something that can help to keep you in shape, your joints and muscles limber and toned, along with keeping your stress levels way down (more on that in just a sec too) is exercise. Only, when you're in the process of trying to get pregnant, it's important that you don't overdo it because that is something else that could affect the balance of your hormones. If you already are in a semi-rigorous workout routine, scale that back into jogging, walking, water aerobics or yoga. In fact, yoga is one of the best things that you can do because the breathing exercises will calm you and the positions can help to prepare your body for, not only caring a baby to term, but birthing your child too.

6. Remove Stressors from Your Space

Stress is never good for anyone, but if you're wanting to get pregnant any time soon, you definitely need to make de-stressing a top priority. The reasons why are almost countless. For now, I'll just say that I once read an article that stated 1) women who are stressed out tend to produce high levels of the stress-monitoring enzyme alpha-amylase which can make it almost 30 percent harder to conceive and 2) the more stressed you are, the less sex you may want to have and, as you well know, sex is important to the conceiving process. That's why, during this very fragile time, it's important to cultivate clear boundaries, to get lots of rest and to downsize your life in areas where you know, without a doubt, can trigger you to have feelings of stress, worry or anxiety—whether it's a person, place, thing or idea.

7. Watch Your Weight

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Hopefully, you already know that a lot of thin people are unhealthy and a lot of full-figured people are just fine. So, when it comes to this particular tip, it's not about shaming anyone. It's just that, the more pounds you put on, the more that can affect your hormones—including the regularity of your menstrual cycle.

Even though I am a doula, I'm not going to state what an "advisable weight" is. That is something else that you should discuss with your physician; just make sure that you do. You also might want to consult with a nutritionist. Matter of fact, there is a site called The Prenatal Nutritionist that can offer up all sorts of tips on how you can alter your diet in order to get the pregnancy results that you desire.

8. Limit Toxin Exposure

Something that can make conceiving (and carrying a healthy baby to term) difficult, that isn't discussed nearly enough, is how important it is to limit the amount of toxins your body is exposed to. Because indoor air pollution is 2-5 times worse than outdoor pollution, be sure to open up your windows sometimes and to also take walks outside. You might want to switch over from perfume to essential oils because synthetic fragrances also have toxins in them. When it comes to the water that you drink, make sure that the plastic bottles are BPA-free. If you get your hair relaxed, you should lay off of that too. Oh, and you might want to consider having a nail tech come into your home and only getting a regular manicure as well; the fumes in nail shops, along with the toxins in acrylic and powders, can also be counterproductive to your conception goals.

9. Schedule Your Sex

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Making a baby can be a lot of fun. But I won't lie to you, when you're intentional about conceiving, a little bit of sex scheduling needs to happen too. Yes, this includes investing in an ovulation kit and making sure that you definitely engage in unprotected sex when it tells you that you are your most fertile. But honestly, because sometimes our cycles can be all over the place, many fertility experts recommend having sex no less than 3-4 times a week (every other day, if you're up to it). Not only can it increase your chances of getting pregnant, but semen can also help to develop your embryo once you actually are; especially in the very beginning stages of conception.

10. Consult with a Doula

While this might seem like a shameless plug, it isn't. I'm merely shouting out doulas (birthing assistants) because there is documented proof of how beneficial they can be. Studies show that the presence of a doula, not only provides emotional support, but they help to decrease your chances of having a C-section, the need for Pitocin and, they can help you to have a natural-as-possible birth (if that's what you so desire). Because a lot of doulas tend to come onto the scene around your third trimester, they are also able to provide you with tips on how to make your final weeks more comfortable and healthier, for both you and your baby. And that's actually why I recommend consulting with one before you conceive as well. There are all kinds of tips and "tricks" that we know that you may only hear from a midwife; things that can help get your body ready and better prepare for your pregnancy. So, definitely consider at least meeting with one to ask questions about conception and the stages of pregnancy. It can make all of what you're about to embark upon so much easier for you. For info on how to find a doula, check out DONA.org.

Want more conversations like this with other mamas and expectant mamas? Join the xoTribe members community to connect with mamas around the world.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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