Obstetricians have advised women who aspire to become mothers to take a couple of months to prepare for their pregnancies. When a woman discovers she is pregnant, the fetal brain, spinal cord and other organs have already begun developing. Therefore, it is important to plan properly so that the best future can be mapped out for the baby. This article discusses a few essentials that are going to help aspiring mothers to prepare for their pregnancies.
10 Essentials to Know When Preparing for Pregnancy
1. Make a Medical Visit
To begin the conception journey, visit a GP to get all the regular check-ups done, such as a general health assessment and pap smear. The GP should also perform a blood test to check the iron levels and the MTHFR status—a gene mutation that can impact the way the body processes folic acid, which plays a role in preventing different neural tube defects. If your doctor can cover both Western and Eastern medicine, complementary therapies can be applied, such as acupuncture, which has been approved by the World Health Organization.
2. Visit a Dentist
Women who are preparing for pregnancy should have regular check-ups with dentist in order to ensure the gums and teeth are healthy. This is because during pregnancy women are prone to developing more gum and teeth diseases. However, they are not able to receive treatment during their pregnancy.
3. Stop Birth Control
Until you wish to conceive, you can easily use diaphragms and condoms, along with spermicides. However, if you have been consuming birth control medication, stop taking them and let one menstrual cycle pass before you begin to attempt conceiving. Although this does not harm the fetus, this is an important step to ensure that you are aware of your natural cycle. If an IUD is removed during the period, a woman can try to conceive in the next menstruation cycle. For Depo-Provera shot, women need to wait for 3 months to one year after the last shot.
4. Consider Family's Health History
When preparing for pregnancy, women should also be aware of their family's medical history. If there is any history of medical or genetic disorder, this should be discussed with the GP. Even if there are no obvious cases of medical problems, one should still probe and find out. You might find out surprising information, such as cases of premature deliveries, miscarriages and preeclampsia.
5. Calculate Your Fertility Schedule
Women who have a regular menstrual cycle of 28 days usually ovulate approximately two weeks counting from the day the period starts. If the period comes after longer intervals, then ovulation takes place later in the menstrual cycle, roughly two weeks before the next period starts. Women who want to conceive should have intercourse for about two to three times in one week before the mid-cycle, which is the most fertile time. It is less likely for a woman to conceive during the latter half of the menstrual cycle. For those who have irregular menstrual cycle, seek help from the doctors to figure out your fertility time via tracking vaginal discharges and daily temperatures.
Psychological distress can lower one's sex drive, which, in turn, can impact your chances of getting pregnant.
6. Maintain a Healthy Weight
There is no fixed weight that is considered to be a healthy weight as for preparing for pregnancy, and it mostly depends on how active you are and your body frame. Overweight women are likely to face complications like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Women who are extremely thin may have irregular cycles and anemia. As for the figure, BMI can be a reliable standard—body mass index between 24 and 30 is assumed to be the most fertile.
To plan a healthy pregnancy, doing some exercise is helpful, yet intense exercise is not needed. It is suggested that woman should walk for half an hour to one hour, which can also involve the partner and serve as a great bonding experience for the expectant mother and father. In addition to this, the natural sunshine helps the absorption of vitamin D. Women can also engage in any light sport in order to keep their bodies healthy.
8. Take Supplements
Folic acid, multivitamin and minerals should be taken when women are preparing for pregnancy. Folic acid should be taken for about 400mg each day. It reduces the risk of neural tube defects in babies. This can be consumed in the form of tablets. Larger dose of folic acid should be taken when a woman is obese, has diabetes or coeliac disease, or has baby with neural tube defects. Generally, folic acid can be taken until the 12th week of pregnancy. Besides, vitamins and minerals need to be taken during the preparation. You can buy these supplements from the local pharmacy stores or load your diet with natural foods sources like such as breakfast cereals, breads and green, leafy vegetables.
9. Dietary and Lifestyle Changes
Diet changes can be one of the essential preparations for pregnancy. There certain foods are good to eat while others are suggested to avoid.
- Fish with high mercury fish including tuna, halibut, swordfish, etc. should be avoided 3 months before trying to get pregnant.
- Soda, fruit juices and sports drinks are better removed from your diet, because they can quickly raise the blood sugar level then negatively affect the fertility. Similarly, avoid trans-fat when you are preparing for pregnancy.
- Women should drink lots of water, and have a balanced diet that contains vegetables and fruits. The intake of proteins and good fats as well as iodine is equally important. Iodine is important for the development of the brain and IQ, and can be obtained from seafood.
- Women who are trying to get pregnant should quit smoking, since it damages the sperms and eggs. Smoking can also lead to complications. Alcohol is also harmful for developing babies, sperms and eggs, so does marijuana.
- Women are also advised to restrict their caffeine intake; at most, one cup of coffee should be had each day.
10. Consider Your Financial, Emotional and Social Status
When preparing for pregnancy, consider your financial, emotional and social status. Even though it is not necessary for a parent to have their life completely in order, an expecting mother would need a support system.In order to gain more information to better prepare yourself for motherhood, you can contact your midwife or nurse, who can tell you about breastfeeding, how to prepare siblings, how to cope with changes in your relationship and how to manage your finances with a new baby.