Planning Your Pregnancy: 6 Ways to Prepare Yourself for the BabyMay 7, 2021
Parenthood is a magical and fulfilling experience. It is an exciting milestone that many people can’t wait to achieve. Of course, waiting a month or two to get yourself – both mind and body – ready for parenthood wouldn’t hurt. It may even enhance the experience further while ensuring that your baby faces minimal risks while in your womb. Planning your pregnancy well is tantamount to being a responsible parent. Here are six things you can do to prepare:
1. Visit a Preconception Specialist.
You don’t need to choose a maternity hospital, doctor, or midwife for your baby’s delivery at this stage. However, you could choose one of them to get a preconception check-up in. The practitioner of your choice will examine your present health and review your medical history – both yours and your family’s. She will also assess the supplements and medications you’re currently taking, as some of them may be unsafe to take during pregnancy. Your practitioner would also recommend specific diets and exercises and discuss your weight and any unhealthy habits you may have (more on this later). You may also get:
- A prescription for prenatal multivitamins
- A reminder for your immunisations
- A test for childhood disease immunity
More importantly, they would answer any questions you have about the pregnancy. You may also discuss any medical conditions you may have and how to control them before you get pregnant. This includes high blood pressure, asthma, and diabetes.
2. Consider undergoing Genetic Testing.
Your practitioner may also offer you genetic carrier screening before you start trying to conceive. This thorough assessment determines the genetic disorders that could be lying dormant in your body and could be passed on to your child. Some genetic disorders detected during this procedure include:
- Sickle cell anaemia
- Tay-Sachs disease
- Cystic fibrosis
If you and your partner carry these diseases in your genes, there is a 25 percent (or 1 in 4) chance that your child will also have the condition. You can also consult a genetic counsellor who can help you understand the condition better and aid you in sorting out your reproductive options. Undergoing this assessment is probably the best thing you can do to ensure your baby’s health, and all it takes is a sample blood or saliva from you and your partner.
3. Give up unhealthy practices like drinking and smoking.
If you’re gearing up to bear a child, it is high time that you make the right choices, starting with removing any unhealthy habits you and your partner have. Whether it’s smoking, drinking, or using drugs, these are things that could harm your child even before he is born. Smoking or drug use, for instance, have been proven to cause:
- Premature birth
- Low-birth-weight infants
It would be better to stop as early as possible, as some of these substances may remain in your body for quite a long time, even after their noticeable effects have already worn off. This means you might still have them in your body upon getting pregnant, thereby exposing your unborn child to them. Studies also revealed that the use of tobacco could lower your partner’s sperm count and affect your fertility. In addition, second-hand smoke has been found to decrease a woman’s ability to get pregnant. As for drinking, moderate consumption – or around one drink a day for women – should be fine, even as you try to get pregnant. However, you must avoid excessive drinking during this time. Once you conceive, your doctor will advise you to lay off the alcohol altogether. Although there is no clear explanation on what can happen, the sheer lack of knowledge on how even a tiny amount of alcohol might affect your unborn baby should be enough to dissuade you from having a sip. If you’re having trouble kicking these unhealthy habits, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor or healthcare provider. They can help you through the process by offering tools and recommending methods and programs to aid in your quest for sobriety. You may also seek help from the local health department in your area to get in touch with group programs and counsellors that could help.
4. Get fit.
Do you know what’s more important than decorating the nursery or choosing your baby’s name? It’s ensuring that your body and mind are ready for the arrival of your little one. It’s never too early to get fit when you’re trying to conceive. In fact, even if your waist will be gone for at least nine months, making sure your body is in prime shape will be beneficial during your pregnancy and childbirth. You could have an easier time getting pregnant with a healthy weight. Many women with too high BMI are more prone to complications during pregnancy or delivery, while those with too low BMI might give birth to underweight babies. Target at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, preferably the kind that gets your heart pumping. This can be swimming, cycling, jogging, or walking. You can also join prenatal exercise classes. Consult your doctor or healthcare provider about ways to achieve your ideal BMI.
5. Stick to a healthy diet.
While you may not be eating for two just yet, it pays to make healthy food choices even at this point in time. This way, your body will be stocked with sufficient nutrients for a healthy pregnancy. Maternity and foetal medicine specialists recommend avoiding specific diets, including high fat and high sugar. Some weight loss and vegetarian diets are not recommended either. Try this instead:
- Include at least 2 cups of fruit and 2 and 1/2 cups of vegetables in your daily meals.
- Make sure you have plenty of whole grains and calcium-rich foods and drinks (e.g., milk, yoghurt, etc.).
- Eat plenty of different types of protein-rich foods, like seeds, beans, nuts, soy products, meat, and poultry.
6. Watch your caffeine intake.
Experts still haven’t reached a consensus on how much caffeine is safe during pregnancy. However, they agree that large amounts of caffeine should be avoided by both pregnant women and women trying to conceive. An unborn child can only metabolise caffeine very slowly, which means if the pregnant mother takes too much, it could cause prolonged caffeine exposure for the little one. Some studies believe this leads to a higher risk of miscarriage. While the consumption of typical amounts of caffeine has yet to be associated with adverse consequences during pregnancy, individual studies show that it can increase foetal heart rate and arousal. With this in mind, limit yourself to 200 milligrams of caffeine per day, which is around a single 12-ounce cup of coffee.
Get Ready to Conceive
Your responsibility as a parent doesn’t begin at your child’s birth – it starts the moment you decide to conceive. Make sure you prepare thoroughly by using this article as a checklist.