Get a Head Start on Planning for a Baby
Moms-to-be: Are you and your partner ready to start a family?
Even though you may be mentally ready to have a baby, your body may need some catching up. To ensure a healthy pregnancy it is important to be physically ready to get pregnant so that you can have a pleasant pregnancy. Although most pregnancies result in good maternal and fetal birth, there are times when pregnancies can result in adverse health problems for both mom and baby. So it is extra important to plan ahead before conceiving.
According to Heidi M. Cough, MD, couples should start preconception planning 30 days in advanced before trying to conceive. However this timeframe may extend for women with special medical concerns. Follow this quick pregnancy prep-list to help you enjoy one of the most memorable times of your life:
Visit Your Doctor
Your health and wellness are important factors to consider when deciding to conceive. Although you may feel healthy, it is always best to see your doctor for a preconception checkup. During the checkup the doctor may review your reproductive history, medical history and family history. Also, make an appointment with your dentist to make sure your pearly whites are free of gum disease, cavities or any other dental problems. Studies show that poor oral health can lead to preterm labor which greatly affects the development of the fetus. Addressing health problems before getting pregnant is important in avoiding any complications during pregnancy and after the baby’s birth.
We all know how essential exercise is for our physical and emotional well-being, but an active exercise routine can play a huge role in having a successful pregnancy. Check to make sure you are in a healthy body mass index range (BMI), which is between 19-25 kg/m2. Being over or underweight can decrease your chances of having a healthy baby or getting pregnant. Make sure you take necessary steps to get yourself in optimal shape.
Eat Healthy for a Healthy Baby
Before trying to conceive, make sure you are consuming an abundance of vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy items. According to C. Zhaleh Gazori, Registered Dietician at MemorialCare Medical Group, another important factor to consider for proper fetal development is a daily consumption of 400 mg of folic acid. Folic acid is a vitamin that everyone needs, especially women trying to conceive. Folic acid helps protect a baby from birth defects of the brain and spinal cord, such as spina bifida, that can happen very early in a pregnancy, sometimes when you don’t even know you are pregnant. Folic acid can also be found in fortified cereal, beans and peas, citrus fruit, spinach, and asparagus. Women should also start taking prenatal vitamins before pregnancy to ensure proper fetal development.
Make sure to stop all smoking and alcohol consumption – the sooner you stop the easier it will be to sustain a pregnancy without these toxins. Women should also avoid eating:
- Raw or Undercooked Meat
- Deli Meat
- Fish with Mercury: Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, Tilefish, Orange Roughy
- Raw Shellfish: Oysters, Clams, Mussels
- Soft Cheeses: Brie, Feta, Gorgonzola
- Un-pasteurized Milk
Men: You Aren’t Off the Hook Either
Many times people make the mistake of believing that only the mom-to-be is responsible for the health of her unborn child, but studies show that her male counterpart is also accountable for a healthy baby. About a month before trying to conceive, men should stop drinking and smoking to cleanse their system. Like women, men should also exercise frequently and eat a nutritious diet of fruits and leafy greens.
How to Learn More
This is only a quick checklist of items you need to consider before taking the big step and getting pregnant. For more comprehensive information on preconception planning, attend one of our Healthy Start Preconception Planning events where you will learn what you can do before you decide to conceive.