When a woman decides to take the plunge into parenthood she should just wait a second or even a month or more. To give herself the best chance for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, there are some important things she should do before getting pregnant.
11 Essential Things to Know Before Getting Pregnant
Schedule a preconception visit
A woman should schedule a preconception visit to an ob-gyn, midwife, or family doctor for various checkups. The doctor will review her personal and medical history, her present health, and any medications or supplements she is taking. As there are certain medications and supplements which are unsafe during pregnancy, and some may need to be switched off before she tries to conceive because they are stored in the body’s fat and can linger there.
Genetic carrier screening
Genetic carrier screening should be done before a woman tries to conceive. It is done to see whether the female or her partner is a carrier for serious inherited illness such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease, and others. She should meet a genetic counselor who will tell her more about the condition and help her to sort her reproductive choices. For genetic screening, only saliva or blood sample of both the partners is required.
Stop smoking, binge drinking, and drugs
If a female smokes or takes drugs and she wants to become pregnant then now’s the time to stop. Smoking or taking drugs can cause miscarriage, premature birth, and low-birth-weight babies. Intake of tobacco can affect fertility and lower a partner’s sperm count.
When a woman wants to conceive moderate drinking is considered fine, but excessive or binge drinking at this time should be avoided. Once she becomes pregnant then experts recommend stopping drinking altogether since no one knows exactly what potential harmful effects even the smallest amount of alcohol has on a developing baby.
Limit caffeine intake
According to experts pregnant women and those trying to conceive should avoid intake of excessive caffeine. In some studies intake of too much caffeine has been linked to a risk of miscarriage.
Conception is easy if a woman has a healthy weight. For some women, it is hard to become pregnant if they have low or high body mass index. Complications of pregnancy and delivery are more likely in women with high BMI, while women who start with a low BMI and fail to gain weight are more likely to give birth to underweight babies. So, a woman should consult her healthcare provider about the best way to achieve her weight goals.
Consume healthy food
A woman should start taking nutritious food so that her body will be stocked up with the nutrients she needs for a healthy pregnancy. She should consume fruits and green vegetables every day, as well as plenty of whole grains and foods that are rich in calcium- like milk, calcium-fortified orange juice, and yogurt. Consume a variety of protein sources, such as beans, nuts, seeds, soy products, poultry, and meats.
When a woman is trying to get pregnant then it is important to clear of infections, especially those that could harm her baby.
She should stay away from certain foods, such as unpasteurized soft cheeses and other dairy products, cold deli meats, and raw and undercooked fish and poultry. Because these foods can harbor bacteria that are dangerous and can cause listeriosis, a food-borne illness that can cause miscarriage and stillbirth. Unpasteurized juices should also be avoided because they contain bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella.
Frequent hand washing should be there and make sure that the fridge is set between 35 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer is at or below 0 degrees F to keep cold foods from going bad.
While digging the garden or sandbox wear gloves to avoid toxoplasmosis, which is another infection dangerous for developing babies.
Get the proper vaccination to avoid other infections. There can be pneumonia and preterm labor if a woman gets flu during pregnancy.
Consider mental health
It is hard to get pregnant if a woman suffers from depression. Because if she is depressed then she can barely take care of herself and her baby.
Women who have a personal or family history of depression should go for a mental health check-up before she gets pregnant. She should ask her practitioner for a therapist or psychiatrist if she notices signs of depression-like loss of interest and pleasure in things that she used to enjoy, a change in appetite or sleep patterns, a loss of energy, or feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness.
Psychotherapy and medication are the two most effective treatments for depression, and a combination of both is best for some patients. A psychiatrist will help to find an antidepressant that is safe during pregnancy. Some stress management techniques should also be tried such as yoga and meditation.
For a healthy body, a woman should start exercising. 30 minutes of healthy exercise is enough for healthy pregnancy which includes walking or cycling and weight training, on most days of the week.
Stretching and yoga should be done to increase flexibility. A woman should continue exercise after pregnancy also.
Take folic acid
It is crucial to take a folic acid supplement. A woman can reduce the chances of having a baby with neural-tube defects by taking 400 micrograms of folic acid a day for at least one month before conception and during the first trimester. Some other defects are also prevented by the intake of folic acid.
A prenatal or regular multivitamin can also be taken. Before taking multivitamins make sure that they contain 400 mcg of folic acid. If a woman is not sure what she should take then she should ask her healthcare provider to recommend a supplement.
Reduce environmental risks
There are some jobs which can be hazardous to a woman as well as for her baby. For example exposure to chemicals and radiation, in this case, she should make changes before she conceives. Pesticides and lead in drinking water from old pipes can be dangerous for developing babies. So, a woman should talk to her midwife about her daily routine, and see if she can come up with ways to avoid hazards in her home and workplace.