Are you thinking of having a baby in the next few years? If teensy baby shoes and kissable baby toes are on your mind, it’s time to prepare for pregnancy. Numerous studies show that a woman’s pre-pregnancy health, stress level, and overall fitness have a significant impact on the ease of her pregnancy, the delivery, and the baby’s health. The health of the father also impacts the likelihood of conception (since healthier men may have higher sperm counts) and enhances the chances of a healthy delivery.
But with millions of opinions on what’s healthy and what’s not, what should you really do to prepare for pregnancy? These tips on preparing for pregnancy will help you and your partner prepare for a future pregnancy and a healthy lifestyle.
- Schedule preventative exams. Go to the dentist, make sure your vaccines are up to date, and have an annual physical. If you’re over 35, and you’ve never had a child, you may want to visit with an infertility doctor before you begin trying to get pregnant, since your fertility window is somewhat limited.
- Start taking prenatal vitamins. These vitamins are specially formulated to give you the correct amounts of vitamins and minerals that your body needs to make a baby. The right time to start taking vitamins is before you conceive. You can safely take most prenatal vitamins throughout your fertile years. You can use an over-the-counter prenatal vitamin or get a prescription for a specialized vitamin from your doctor. Don’t overdo it, though: taking too many vitamins can harm a developing baby.
- Discuss childcare responsibilities and career goals with your partner. Have you determined how your family plans will affect your careers? Will one or both partners work fewer hours? Travel less? Does your employer offer maternity or paternity leave? Have you looked into childcare? Talk over these issues now with your partner and you’ll be less stress and more unified once your baby is on the way.
- Research medical costs and start saving. Check with your insurance company now to find out what services are covered, including infertility services, pre-natal care, labor and delivery, and well child checkups. Many couples start a little nest egg before they even start trying to get pregnant so they’ll be prepared for medical costs.
- Decrease stress and anxiety. While being chronically stressed may not necessarily decrease your chances of getting pregnant (there is a lot of medical debate about this), high stress levels can certainly make pregnancy itself harder. It can exacerbate the discomfort of pregnancy and increase nausea and heartburn, among other things. If you and your partner have a high stress lifestyle, it will also be harder to adjust to having a baby to care for. Now is a great time to learn to chill out a bit and master stress reduction techniques.
- Get any medical issues under control. If you have an underlying medical condition, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or obesity, take steps now to remedy your condition by meeting with your doctor. Discuss with your doctor any pregnancy risks that your medical condition poses.
- Limit alcohol. Heavy drinking during pregnancy has been shown to cause birth defects and developmental delays in children. Since there isn’t an established “safe” level of alcohol consumption for expectant mothers, most doctors advise pregnant women to stop drinking for the duration of the pregnancy. However, going from 2 glasses of wine a day to nothing is a big step. That’s why it’s a good idea to start cutting down on alcohol gradually, starting about six months before you start trying to conceive.
- Get the facts. Many couples start trying to conceive with high expectations and feel stressed if they’re not pregnant within just a few months. Some give up, only to find later that their struggles could have been easily overcome. The majority of couples will be able to conceive naturally within 12 months of having frequent, unprotected sex. If you aren’t pregnant yet, and you’ve been trying for a year (or you’re over the age of 35), don’t wait it out: contact a fertility specialist.
At the Santa Monica Fertility Clinic, we thrive on helping couples achieve their dreams of having a baby. We help parents who are in all stages of preparing for pregnancy, from couples who’ve been trying for years to 30-something newlyweds who feel the fertility clock ticking. If you have experienced difficulty conceiving naturally, or if you are over the age of 35, schedule an appointment at our fertility clinic to discover your best options for having the baby you’ve been dreaming of.