Finally, you’ve decided to take the big plunge and decided its time to start a family. But to give yourself the best chance towards a healthy baby and a healthy pregnancy, here are a few things you may want to plan.
1. Start Saving
You may decide you want to be a working mother, but working during pregnancy is not for everyone. While some women thrive on it, others can barely keep it together during those 9 months. This is nothing to say about the months of brestfeeding and childcare that you will need to be there for after your baby is born. The truth is babies today cost much more than they did in previous generations. In today’s times estimated costs of raising a child into adulthood along with quality education can cost a whooping 10 cr+ over the next 20-25 years. Childbirth itself can be an expensive affair, plus its important to keep some aside in case of any medical emergency. If you do not have a good savings or a health care plan, its important to look for one now.
2. Start a healthy lifestyle
While its never late to start living a healthy life, if you are planning to get pregnant, its the best time to start now. Cut back on alcohol, smoking and caffeine. There is no reason to sign up for a gym membership, specially if you are not sure about going in the first place. Start small, have a good sleep-wake cycle (very important to regulate hormones), getting some natural Vit. D, walking, making sure you stay flexible with stretches, and including ample raw vegetables and fruits in your diet. Remember, if you are trying to lose weight, use only healthy methods, including exercising in moderation, this is not a good time to go on a crash diet or opt for an extreme exercise routine.
3. Find a match with your Ob/Gyn
Many women switch around their Ob/Gyn after getting pregnant, because they haven’t found the ‘one’ for them yet. If you don’t have a Ob/Gyn you are comfortable with, its a better time to start looking before you start trying.
4. Schedule a preconception visit
An Ob/Gyn will review your medical history, your present health along with your partners, any medical conditions you may have had and medications you’re taking. Certain medications are considered unsafe during pregnancy, and may need to be switched before you even try to conceive. Your doctor may also discuss diet, weight, exercise, and unhealthy habits you may have (such as smoking or drinking); make sure you have had certain immunizations such as rubella and will also answer any questions you may have.
You can also expect to have some tests including diabetes, thyroid, hemoglobin count, blood group, your partners sperm count, your pelvic exam or a pap smear, and tested for sexually transmitted diseases, as some STI’s and STD’s can result in complications while trying to get pregnant or even premature delivery.
5. Start taking folic acid
Taking a folic acid supplement is important. By taking 400 micrograms of folic acid a day for at least one month before you conceive and during your first trimester, you can cut your chances of having a baby with neural-tube defects such as spina bifida by 50 to 70 percent. While folic acid supplements available in India are of 5 milligrams, you can also take a multivitamin which may have lesser folic acid. If you’re unsure about what to take, ask your doctor to recommend a supplement.
6. Work on a healthy mind
Stress affects fertility, so if you have a history of depression, it may be a good idea to do a mental health check before you try to get pregnant. If you notice signs of depression, such as a loss of interest and pleasure in things that you used to enjoy, a change in appetite or sleep patterns, a loss of energy, or feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, head to a therapist or psychiatrist for a consultation. You also may want to try stress management techniques, such as yoga and meditation.
7. Reduce chemicals in your surroundings
While there are always factors like environmental pollution that are hard to avoid. What you can try to avoid include cleaning products, pesticides or preservatives in your diet. See if you can come up with ways to avoid or eliminate chemicals. I was surprised by how many products that are used or consumed everyday have chemicals that can be harmful to a growing fetus. Personally where ever possible I moved to organic fruits, vegetables and grains, chemical and preservative-free bread and jams, switched to home-made ketchup, and completely let go of other packaged foods like biscuits, potato chips and colas. I avoid makeup and switched over to personal care products (Body Wash, Shampoo, Conditioner and Lotion) by Biotique. Hair coloring and treatments are another thing that you will have to avoid for a while.
8. Figure out when you ovulate
Some women simply let fate decide when they’ll conceive. Others take a more calculated approach by charting their periods and tracking symptoms to try to pinpoint their fertile days each month. You are most fertile during a 3-5 days window every month. There are several changes that occur in your body as you ovulate, some simple ones include a change in your cervical mucus or basal body temperature. Tracking these symptoms can help you figure out when you’re ovulating during each cycle. Ovulation predictor kits like i-know can also help you figure out when you’re ovulating by detecting hormones in your urine.
9. Focus on the process not the result
You have ditched your birth control. But the best part about making a baby is all the love making and the intimacy with your partner that come along with it. Often the pressure on a couple to have a baby can be so much that the stress itself lowers fertility. So while you are at it, make most of it. Know that after a baby enters your life, your sex life will take a long time to come back to normal, that is if it does.
10. Don’t forget to live your life
“Me Time” is in little short supply when you have a new born in your life. So make the most of today. Plan that holiday you were meaning to take or stock up on some couple time before the baby comes along.
Happy Baby Planning!