Planning on pregnancy? 4 ways to prepare your body

SEATTLE -- December is the highest month of conception in the United States, so it's safe to assume a lot of women have babies on the brain right now. Still, people are not always at their healthiest during the holidays, and that can be a problem during pregnancy.

Dr. Jane Dimer, OB/GYN and chief of Women's Services at Group Health, said moms who live a healthy lifestyle are more likely to carry their baby to full-term.

"Their babies are going be stronger, fitter," she said. "If mom starts good habits before, once baby's out, you're going to keep doing them with the newborn, and baby's going to think that's just what we do in this world."

1. Be active and stay active

Women trying to get pregnant should aim for 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity each day, ideally with a group of people who encourage you to live a healthy lifestyle, Dimer said.

Women should not stop exercising once they're pregnant, but instead consider working with a trainer or joining an organized group of expecting mothers practicing yoga or pilates, she said.

Remaining physically fit decreases a woman's chance of having high blood pressure, diabetes and other dangerous complications during pregnancy.

Still, Dimer said it's important not to over-train and to follow your body's cues when exercising. An OB/GYN or midwife can help women decide what exercises are appropriate before and during pregnancy.

2. Eat nutritious foods

Pregnant women can sometimes fill their diet with high-calorie, low-nutrition foods. But, Dimer said mothers who start a nutritious diet before pregnancy are more likely to stick with it.

"People often think your pre-natal vitamins are enough, but you should be getting your vitamins from food too," she said.

3. Evaluate your health before conception

Dimer recommends women visit their primary care doctor before becoming pregnant to check things like blood pressure and immunization records.

It's also a good idea to look into your family's medical history, Dimer said. Find out if any family members have had diabetes, high blood pressure or cancer to see how you and your child might be affected.

4. Don't binge during the holidays

Besides getting pregnant, women are also likely to eat or drink too much and sleep too little this time of year. This is not ideal for starting a pregnancy, Dimer said.

"If you're in pre-pregnancy mode, go into the holidays with moderation and an encouraging social network to help do that," she said.

Want to learn more? Group Health is hosting an hour-long tweet chat at noon on Dec. 10 about pregnancy and childbirth featuring Dimer.