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What to Do Before Getting Pregnant

Posted on 24/04/2012 in Pregnancy & Baby & Well-Being

Deciding to embark on the journey of parenthood is one of the most important and serious decisions that a person can make. The excitement and anticipation of impending parenthood can be incredible and, before you know it, your attention can turn to matters including: baby names, nursery furniture and
maternity dresses.

Everyone wants to have a healthy pregnancy that is as uncomplicated as possible and so it is wise to take a number of actions before becoming pregnant. Here we take a look at 8 of these:

#1:  Have a check-up

Prior to conception, it is a great idea to schedule an appointment with your doctor or another health professional specialising in maternity care (for example a midwife or obstetrician).  At such a check-up, you can expect the following areas to be addressed:
  • Personal and family medical history
  • Current health
  • Use of medications
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • ‘Unhealthy habits’, such as: smoking, drinking and taking of drugs
  • Immunisation status and testing for immunity to diseases including: chicken pox and rubella

Pre-conception check-ups also provide a good opportunity to ask about genetic testing for particular diseases that may be significant in your family history, culture or ethnicity.

#2:  Folic acid supplement

It is important to take a folic acid supplement for at least a month before conceiving and throughout pregnancy (particularly during the first trimester) to reduce the likelihood of a baby having neural tube defects, particularly spina bifida, but other birth defects too.

At least 400 mcg of folic acid should be taken each day.

#3:  Avoid smoking, drinking and drugs

The chances of sad and unfortunate occurrences, including: miscarriage, premature birth and low-birthweight babies, can be increased by smoking and/or taking drugs. It is very important that a person who wants to have a healthy baby, tries to stop these behaviours and help and support is available to do so. In any case, significant research shows that use of tobacco can reduce female fertility and lower the sperm count of a male and even passive smoking can reduce your likelihood of becoming pregnant.

Alcohol can also be problematic when a person is trying to conceive. It is often recommended that a person cuts back on their alcohol consumption when trying to become pregnant.

#4:  Eat a healthy diet

By making nutritious food choices, you are effectively preparing your body with the nutrients needed to be healthy throughout pregnancy. Eating plenty of fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, foods high in calcium and varied sources of protein is important.

#5:  Limit your caffeine intake

Although there is some conjecture about the exact level of caffeine that can be safely consumed during pregnancy, it is widely agreed that women trying to conceive (as well as pregnant women) should avoid large amounts of caffeine. A number of sources recommend that pregnant women and those trying to conceive, limit their consumption of caffeine to about 200 milligrams – or about one cup of coffee – per day.

#6:  Healthy weight

Conception is often easier for women in the healthy weight range. Having a Body Mass Index that is too high or too low can make it significantly more difficult for some women to conceive.

#7:  Think about fish

While the benefits of fish that provide an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin D and other nutrients are quite widely recognised, some types of fish need to be avoided during pregnancy, because they contain harmful levels of mercury.

Fish is an important part of the diet of a pregnant woman, but fish with high levels of mercury can be dangerous; guidelines should be followed in relation to the consumption of safe amounts of fish.

#8:  Do your sums

Unsurprisingly, the costs of raising a child can be significant. As well as education, clothing and health care needs, there are many other costs that are associated with caring for children.

Pregnancy and childbirth brings expenses all of its own. Many people opt for private health insurance cover to cover many of the costs of pregnancy and childbirth, it is useful to do some research to learn of costs ranging from: a caesarean section (should it be necessary) to pain relief (such as an epidural) and the costs of ultrasounds and other scans and tests.

Don’t forget too that throughout your pregnancy you will have to devote some time, money and attention to things such as:  maternity clothes, baby products and baby transport systems.

Prior to conception, there are many things that a person can do to prepare for pregnancy.


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