You have your sexy nighty on. The candles are burning. You and your partner are about to play the naked game, but this time is different. You are trying to make a baby.
The sexy nighty and the candles are steps in the right direction. But you should also remember that there is more to consider than just the simple act. Prenatal care starts long before conception. It is ideal to start preparing your body for pregnancy at least three months before you start trying.
This means paying even more attention to your health and what you consume.
The Preconception Checklist
Let’s start with the practicalities. Take a look at your health care cover, check if your plan covers all the costs that could come up as a result of your pregnancy. You want to make sure that you are not going to be paying through your nose for any unforeseen surprises. And as we are all aware, babies are known to be full of surprises. So, it is worth scouting around for the best possible coverage for your pregnancy.
Is Your Body Ready?
If you are overweight or underweight, sleep deprived or stressed, you need to make some serious changes before you even start thinking about having a baby. Your baby’s organs start developing in the first few weeks, and this may be during a time that you are not even aware that you are pregnant. This is why you want to make sure that your body is in prime condition for the little one.
Visit Your Lady Doctor
The first stop on this journey you are about to take should be your obstetrician/ gynecologist (OB GYN). You need to complete a preconception check-up. This will involve a battery of tests that are essential. Things like a Pap smear, weight check, pelvic exam, STD and other screening and blood tests. This is also the perfect opportunity to ask your doctor all the questions that you probably have. You doctor should be able to advice on the best birthing plan for you or the best sexual position for conception.
It Goes Without Saying
It seems somewhat silly to even mention that you should not smoke during pregnancy. But let’s say it anyway. Smoking could lead to miscarriages, premature birth as well as other birth and pregnancy complications. The toxins in cigarettes can cross the placenta and deprive the baby of the necessary oxygen that it needs to grow. Now that we have that point out of the way, it is also important to mention that second-hand smoke can also be harmful for you and your unborn baby. Therefore, make sure that you stay far away from smokey bars or inconsiderate smokers. If your partner is the offender, you should point out that not only could he possibly harm the baby but smoking could also decrease his sperm count.
Mocktail — A Mommy-To-Be’s New Best Friend
It’s a well known fact that you should not drink while pregnant. But did you know that you shouldn’t be drinking even when you aren’t pregnant? It’s true. As stated before, you may not instantly be aware when you are pregnant, so you cannot risk consuming alcohol during the critical development stages of your pregnancy. So, it is best to stay away from alcohol while trying to conceive. Get used to ordering you favourite cocktail sans the alcohol.
From OB GYN to GYM
Unless you’re a fitness freak, the thought of hitting the treadmill may make you cringe. You may have to drag your heels but it will be worth it. There are so many benefits for your future pregnancy if you have a solid exercise regime going. Exercise can improve your mood, reduce stress and encourage healthy sleep. Not only will this be great for your pregnancy, but it will also ease some of the symptoms of your pregnancy like backaches, fatigue and swelling. It is also well-known that regular exercise may even ease your labour, who would say no to that? Don’t go overboard though, the objective is to be fit and healthy. Please don’t aim to win any body building championships, because this will not aid your efforts. Yoga, swimming and cycling are great as they are low impact and this is exactly what you want. Also speak to your doctor about recommended exercises.
Overhaul the Medicine Cupboard
During this time you will have to avoid some prescription medications that you have always been able to take. Some medications will be completely off limits, whereas others may need to be limited. This is definitely one of the questions you need to ask you OB GYN during your visit. The reason this could be a concern before conception is that some drugs may affect your fertility without you even knowing it. Also popular herbs that you don’t even think twice about taking like, Echinacea, Ginkgo and St. John’s Wort for example could interfere with your conception. The best way to approach it, is to drop anything that you don’t need for mental or physical health.
It’s always so easy to say eliminate stress from your life, but in reality, we all know how difficult that is. But for conception, you need to make a concerted effort to do this. Stress can delay ovulation and even prevent a fertilised egg from attaching to the uterus. So, do what you need to. Have long baths – take a weekend trip; sit in a circle of scented candles. Whatever is calming to you should be done.
No More MacDonalds for you
It’s very simple, eating correctly improves your menstrual cycle, eggs and ovulation. So, you have to start treating your body like the temple it is. You need to make sure that everything in your diet will only help your conception. You will also need to start taking some supplements; a big one is folic acid which is also referred to as folate. It is a B vitamin that can be found in leafy green vegetables like spinach, orange juice and enriched grains. It is important to take this before conception and during pregnancy because many studies have shown that it will reduce the risk of your baby being born with a neural tube defect like spina bifida. So, start taking those supplements early.
Enjoy Grown-Up Time
It is so important to remember to nurture your relationship with your partner during this time. After you conceive, it will no longer just be the two of you. So, make sure you make time where you can just enjoy each other. Once the baby comes there will be very little time for anything else besides the baby. Go to the movies, museums, plays and travel to destinations that are not children-friendly. You will appreciate this time after you life becomes all about nappies and baby food.