If you have been thinking about expanding your family a little by getting pregnant, it’s never too early to start preparing for it. There are a number of things you can do before and between pregnancies to increase the chances of having a healthy baby.
This article features a pre-pregnancy checklist that you can use to get ready for the healthiest pregnancy.
1. See a doctor
The first step is to find a preconception healthcare provider and talk to them about your plans. Your doctor will discuss your health history as well as any medical conditions you might have that could potentially affect your pregnancy. If you have had any pregnancy problems before, you also want to bring these up.
Both you and your partner should collect your family’s health history and share this information with your doctor. Your family health history could help prevent a number of genetic conditions as well as explaining some of the reasons behind previous issues in pregnancy. Having a good understanding of what is at play will help your doctor chart the best way forward for you.
Both you and your partner should also get tested for STIs. The good news is that most common STIs like Chlamydia and gonorrhea can be treated with antibiotics. However, they can lead to infertility in both men and women if left untreated.
If you suspect that you have an STI, it is important to talk to your partner about it and seek treatment as soon as you can because a lot of STIs can also affect a baby’s development. Early treatment can prevent such issues.
2. Eat a balanced diet
To increase your chances of having a healthy pregnancy, you also want to make a few changes in your diet. Keep in mind that once you start making these changes, you need to make them part of your overall healthier lifestyle going forward. Dietary changes should not be a short-term thing. Combine healthy eating with regular physical activity for the best results.
If you are underweight, overweight, or dealing with obesity, you should talk to your doctor about your weight issues. Having a healthy weight before, during, and after pregnancy significantly reduces your risk for certain conditions, including pregnancy and post-natal complications, diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.
Men should also lose weight if they have a high BMI, which can contribute to male fertility problems. Apart from adopting a healthier diet, they should also incorporate more fruits, vegetables, and nuts, particularly walnuts and groundnuts, into their daily diets. These food groups have been shown to help improve sperm quality.
3. Take supplements
You also want to start taking folic acid supplements right away. Having enough folic acid in your body at least one month before you get pregnant and during the entire duration of your pregnancy will help prevent certain birth defects in your child, including brain and spinal defects.
As you take your prenatal vitamins, also make sure that they come with DHA. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that helps your baby develop normally after pregnancy. If your prenatal vitamins do not have DHA, you can ask your doctor for a separate DHA supplement.
Depending on your condition, your doctor could also prescribe a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D will help improve your chances of getting pregnant in the first place.
Since it takes two to make a baby, there are also male fertility supplements that can increase the chances of creating a healthy embryo. Men should start taking these male fertility supplements at least 6 months before conception to ensure that the sperm they produce and healthy, strong, and highly mobile. Fertility supplements for men include selenium, zinc, and vitamins B12, C, and E.
4. Lead a healthy lifestyle
You’ll have to make a few changes in your lifestyle if you smoke, drink alcohol, or use certain drugs. These lifestyle choices are known to cause a number of health issues in mothers and their developing babies, including premature birth, a number of birth defects, and stillbirths.
You need to stop drinking, smoking, and using drugs if you are trying to get pregnant. If you are an addict and find it difficult to stop, talk to your doctor about getting extra help and support.
Men should also cut down on their alcohol intake and drug use. These can significantly reduce male fertility, which can jeopardize your chances of getting pregnant.
Similarly, smoking has been shown to reduce a man’s sperm count and sperm quality and cause sexual impotence, which can make it harder to get pregnant. Plus, passive smoking can affect female fertility and pregnancy. If your partner smokes, he should also quit.
5. Figure out your finances
You also need to prepare for your baby financially. To do this, the first thing you have to do is review your health insurance cover. Get a family coverage plan that will include maternal healthcare and cover for your little one. Reviewing these details early gives you time to plan properly and start saving, especially if there are some out-of-pocket expenses that you’ll have to incur.
Next, set up a savings account for your baby’s expenses. Babies can be super expensive. Many new parents anticipate some of the costs that come with diapers and formula but fail to plan for other expenses like car seats, furniture, and daycare. A separate savings account will help with this.
Talk to your partner about your household budget. Make sure that it reflects the coming changes. For example, if you’re planning to stop working to take care of your baby, you need to plan for life with one income.
Finally, you should also purchase life insurance and create a will, just in case. It will go a long way in giving you some peace of mind knowing that there is a plan in place to protect and care for the people you care about.
If you do not know where to start, consider consulting a financial planner for professional help.
The amount of time you need to get your ready for pregnancy will vary from person to person. Some women only need a few months while others need a much longer time.
Either way, with these tips, you should be able to adequately start preparing for your pregnancy. And once you get pregnant, make sure to keep up all the healthy habits you adopted before.
Finally, make sure to go for regular checkups and never miss your prenatal care visits. This will ensure that you have a thriving pregnancy and give birth to a strong, healthy, glowing bundle of joy! Good luck!