Are you planning to have a baby? If you are planning to conceive for the first time, then, you really need to do some pre-planning so that you deliver a healthy bundle of joy without any complications. Are you worried a bit about the whole thing? It is but natural as your body is to undergo a lot of changes in the pregnancy months and even after that.
Nonetheless, irrespective of the fact that whether it is your first or the second baby, pre-planning before conceiving is the best thing to have a healthy pregnancy. So what should you do? Follow the below steps and you will certainly find it easier to sail through the whole process of conceiving and going through your pregnancy.
10 Things To Do Before Conceiving
Here are the things to do or steps to take before conceiving.
Plan Ahead and Act Accordingly: Mind you, each body of women is different and hence might take couple of months to almost a year to get ready for conception. Age also plays a major factor. So, the first thing to do is to write down your goals for having one or two children and then write them down on how to achieve these goals. Before trying for conception, when you wanted to stop pregnancy, you used birth control pills or contraceptives. Now that you want to conceive, what would be your steps to achieve pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby?
Preconception Visit to the Doctor: It is a good idea to have a preconception checkup from your gynecologist or family doctor. The doctor will go through your family and personal medical history, your existing health condition, and review the supplements or medications you are taking. Certain supplements or medications have to be stopped or switched before conceiving so that they do not cause any problem for your baby because they have a tendency to linger within your fatty tissues.
The health practitioner will discuss your daily lifestyle, exercise, weight, diet and unhealthy habits if any check whether you are immunized up to date and may test your immunity against diseases that usually affect during childhood such as rubella and chicken pox. Moreover, you might be recommended to a specialist if you suffer from specific health problems such as diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, thyroid or any other health condition. You might also be asked to undergo Pap smear test or STD test if the caregiver feels the need for it.
Genetic Carrier Considerations: The health practitioner might also check your ethnic background and ask for genetic carrier screening, especially if he considers you or your partner to be a carrier of serious inherited diseases such as sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis and similar other illnesses. A visit to the genetic health counselor will help you to come up with your reproductive choices. This is very important to ensure a healthy baby.
Stop Smoking, Drinking Alcohol and Taking Street Drugs: Drinking alcohol, smoking and doing street drugs can lead to infant death, premature birth and birth defects. Hence, if you are planning to conceive soon, then, you must immediately stop using all these. In case, you a have any problem getting off the hook, contact local treatment center or rehabilitation center.
Increase Folate Intake: Neural tube that forms the brain, spinal cord and the surrounding bones of the infant requires folate in good amount for its proper development. This neural tube develops and then closes within the first trimester of the pregnancy. Given the fact that women usually do not discover that they have conceived until the sixth week of their pregnancy, it is very much important that the developing infant in the womb gets the right amount of folate for the proper development of the neural tube. Thus, starting the folate supplements prior to conceiving reduces the chances of developing a defect of neural tube such as spina bifida. Apart from the supplements, you can increase your intake of folic acid by including folate-rich foods in your diet, such as cereals, legumes, nuts, vegetables and fruits such as spinach, asparagus, broccoli, strawberries, bananas and oranges and yeast extracts.
Add Enough Iodine to your Daily Diet: The thyroid gland needs iodine for making thyroid hormones. Hence, you need to start iodine supplementation prior to conceiving, as it is very important for the proper development of your baby’s overall nervous system including the brain. In case, your body lacks iodine in proper amount during pregnancy or conception, it may lead to adverse effects on the nervous system and brain and more often such changes are irreversible and can cause lifelong serious complications such as reduced mental capacity or low IQ. Seafood, dairy and fortified bread contain good amount of iodine. But since your body can store only a small amount of iodine in its thyroid gland, you may have to take daily iodine supplements of around 150mcg.
Avoid Environmental Contaminants and Toxic Substances: Try to avoid exposure to environmental contaminants or toxic substances at workplaces or homes. These substances can include metals, bug spray, fertilizer, synthetic chemicals, and rodent or cat feces. Such substances directly affect the reproductive systems in both men and women and can make conception difficult. Exposure to such contaminants can also lead to disease in infants and young children.
Reach Optimal Weight and Remain Healthy: Overweight people can face major health risks such as type 2 diabetes, pregnancy, and certain types of cancer, such as colon, breast or endometrial cancer. These can cause complications during pregnancy. Even underweight people face the risk of different types of health problems. Hence, if you are planning to conceive then you should either lose weight or gain weight to reach the optimal weight according to your body frame and height. One thing that you must keep in mind is being healthy does not mean having a normal weight. Rather, it has more to do with your regular dietary habits, and overall lifestyle. Your doctor can help you overcome any deficiency, you have prior to conceiving and come to a healthy weight before pregnancy.
Limit Your Intake of Caffeine: Excess intake of caffeine can cause serious complications, even in the normal course. If you are planning to conceive then it is high time that you cut down your intake of caffeine as it can possibly lead to miscarriage in some cases. Moreover, acidity is a common problem, especially in the first trimester that troubles many pregnant women. So, if your intake of caffeine is not restricted during the conception period possibility is that it may lead to hyper acidity during the pregnancy. Does this mean, you have to completely give up your daily treat of one-cup coffee? Not at all, a cup of coffee per day is perfectly safe.
Collect Details About Family History: Try to collect medical history of your family as much possible. Make sure that you know everything about not only your immediate brothers and sisters, but also about your cousins, uncles and aunts and also among your in-laws as some genetic diseases have a tendency to turn up in the third generation and the traits are usually not noticeable in the second or first generation. In case you had a miscarriage, infant deaths, birth defect, infertility or a genetic condition in your family before, you need to get details about such things and discuss them with your health care practitioner.
Precuation: Please consult your obestetritician or gynecologist and take supplementations according to their recommendations.
If you follow all these steps prior to conceiving the baby, you can be rest assured of safe pregnancy and delivering a healthy baby.