It’s an exciting time in your life! You and your significant other have decided to expand your family and take the plunge into parenthood. In order to give yourself the best chance for a healthy pregnancy and baby, there are a few things you should do before you try to get pregnant.
Know Your Family Health History
You and your partner should find out about your family health history. Call your parents and get the medical scoop on whether anyone in your family has a genetic or chromosomal disorder like Down syndrome. You may also want to find out if any relatives have mental retardation, other developmental delays, or were born with a birth defect. Your doctor will ask you these types of questions when you schedule your preconception exam and your answers will help determine if specific prenatal tests are necessary.
Schedule a Preconception Exam
Once you decide you would like to try for a baby, set up an appointment with your doctor for a preconception checkup. You will get a routine pelvic exam, pap smear, and be tested for sexually transmitted diseases to make sure everything is good to go. During this visit, your doctor will want to know about your personal and family medical history. This is a good time to bring a list of questions with you regarding diet, exercise, tossing your birth control, etc.
Fuel Up on Folic Acid
Ask your doctor to recommend a good prenatal vitamin. Even if you do eat a balanced diet, it’s difficult to get all the nutrients you need from food alone. Folic acid is important to take before you start trying for a baby and during your first trimester. Taking folic acid every day will dramatically decrease your chances of having a baby with neural-tube defects.
If you are a smoker, use drugs, or drink alcohol… now is the time to stop. Studies show that smoking or taking drugs can lead to miscarriage, premature birth, or low birth weight. Tobacco can also affect your fertility and lower your partner’s sperm count. Alcohol can get in the way of getting pregnant as well. Drinking during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol syndrome and lead to many birth defects, including mental problems.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Studies show that if you are a healthy weight, you will probably have an easier time getting pregnant. If you are not in a healthy range, losing or gaining weight now may increase your chances to conceive. Follow a regular exercise program. The more fit you are, the easier your pregnancy and delivery will be. It’s also important to start making nutritious food choices, so your body has the nutrients it needs for a healthy pregnancy. You want to make sure you have plenty of calcium, folic acid, protein, and iron. Talk to your doctor about the best way to achieve these goals.
Call Your Insurance Company
Think about the cost of having a baby and plan ahead. The best place to start is with a call to your health insurance company. Find out what kind of prenatal coverage they offer. You may want to switch if you are not satisfied. If you are considering a midwife or a doula to help during the pregnancy, find out how much that would cost so you can start putting money aside now.
Whoop It Up
Before you get pregnant, you and your partner should take that vacation to Mexico you keep talking about. Soak in the hot tub, ride horses on the beach, have a sushi dinner- embrace a little adventure while you can. Take advantage of whooping it up and being spontaneous. Once you conceive, there are A LOT of changes to be made, with a whole new adventure ahead of you!