Planning for a baby and getting ready for pregnancy is perhaps the biggest life-changing step you are ever going to make. If you have a baby on the mind, then it probably means you are at the stage in your marriage and life where you are ready to take the plunge. You are thinking about starting a family soon, then it probably also means that you are mentally prepared to take your life and relationship to a whole new level. But now that you are mentally prepared is your body really prepared to take the big step? Let me tell you this while the decision of having a baby can be frightening overwhelming, having the right information can save you from a bumpy ride and make the journey rather smooth.
Creating and growing a life inside you takes a great deal of responsibility on the mother’s part. A mother needs to provide the unborn baby with a healthy environment required for its healthy growth and development. So let me share with you how I prepared myself and embarked on this beautiful journey.
The 3 key steps in planning for a pregnancy involve:
1) Preparing your mind for pregnancy
As I already said, being ready mentally marks the first and the biggest step towards starting a family. Having a child, without a doubt, is a lifetime commitment and calls for responsibility on the part of both the partners. So it’s time you thought it through. If either of the partners is unsure or having second thoughts about it, it’s important to reconsider your decision. Having a baby should be a mutual decision involving the consent of both the partners and both should be equally committed to being parents. Therefore, it is very important to have an honest discussion and be open about each other’s thoughts on having a child. Neither should you force or get pressurized yourself or even resort to emotional blackmailing and stuff. If both partners aren’t unanimous over the decision, it is best to hold it off for some time.
2) Preparing yourself financially
Starting a family also calls for considering your money matters. Prenatal checkups, prenatal vitamins, medicines, tests, procedures and other medical bills can account for a major part of your salary. So it is best to be prepared for it beforehand so as not to put an unnecessary delay on anything. Opting for a good health insurance (if not already) is always a good bet to cover your prenatal expenses and lift some of the financial load off your shoulders.
3) Preparing your body for pregnancy
So now that you are mentally and financially ready, it’s time to take the next big step which is getting your body ready for the life that you are going to grow inside you. Here’s how you can do that:
(a) Scheduling a pre-conception visit
Visiting a good gynaecologist from the very beginning is a good idea to start a healthy pregnancy. A pre-conception check-up involves reviewing your personal and family medical history by your doctor. The practitioner will take a detailed account of your personal health, any kind of medication you’re taking which may be unsafe for the pregnancy and also about any unhealthy habit you have, such as smoking, drinking, etc. She would discuss with you about the tests and immunization which need to be done and also recommend you prenatal vitamins. Choosing a good and trusting doctor plays a key role in planning for a baby because only a good and experienced doctor can make you at ease and guide you properly through your journey.
(b) Starting on prenatal vitamins
Ideally, it’s said that starting on a folic acid supplement of 400 micrograms (mcg) a day, 6 months before you plan on conceiving is very crucial to carry a healthy pregnancy. But if not started earlier, at least 1 month prior to conceiving is a must. This not only prepares your body for conception but also prevents your baby from having certain birth defects, including a neural-tube defect like spina bifida to a great extent.
(c) Following a healthy lifestyle
Since you are trying to conceive and nurture a life inside you it is utmost important that you maintain a healthy lifestyle. It’s time you stopped your unhealthy habits such as smoking or drinking, cut short your caffeine intake, and check binging on junk food. Instead, it would be great if you started making healthy and nutritious food choices very early in your journey so that your body gets packed with the necessary nutrients you need to sustain a healthy pregnancy. Try to incorporate a balanced amount of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and milk and milk products in your diet. If you are a non-vegetarian intake of eggs, poultry, meat and fish are also a great choice. But it should be borne in mind that milk, meat and fish should come from a pasteurized source, disease-free animals and non-contaminated water respectively. You should also give doing yoga and/or moderate exercise a thought for a well-rounded fitness and a healthy body. You should also avoid working in a hazardous and unhygienic environment to avoid infections.
(d) Trying actively and tracking your cycles
If you are on birth control pills it’s time to stop those and bid adieu to any other kind of contraception you might have been using, and actively try (meaning every other day). Women on pills may take a month or two before they start ovulating again. Although some would prefer a more calculated approach of keeping a track of the ovulation dates and fertile window, I suggest it’s best to actively involve every other day if your cycles are sporadic just like mine. While keeping a record of your cycles is equally important to get a clear picture of your fertility days, doing it every other day increases your chances of conceiving. But it does not mean you have to mechanically do it. It should involve love and passion and you should enjoy it. It isn’t called “lovemaking” for no reason.
(e) Aiming for a healthy weight
Women with a higher or lower body mass index (BMI) may find it a little difficult to conceive. Starting off with a healthy weight right from the beginning not only helps you in conceiving more easily, but it also helps you to avoid weight-related complications in pregnancy and prevent you from delivering a premature or an underweight baby. Women with higher weight are also associated with risks of high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, etc. So weight goals should be kept at aim right from the start.
(f) Keeping updated on immunization and vaccinations
It would be a plus point if you are updated on your immunization of flu shots, chicken pox, rubella (German measles) etc. It would help to avoid any complications during pregnancy which might lead to miscarriage, birth defects or stillbirth.
So these are some of my experiences and learning which I am happy to share in the hope to guide you and prove helpful in your journey towards a happy and healthy pregnancy. Making a right start at the right time can help you get the right results. But make sure to follow and maintain the same healthy lifestyle during as well as post-pregnancy. This is the second post of my pregnancy series. Don’t forget to read my previous post on Discovering being pregnant with those “two pink lines”.