Are you planning to get pregnant soon? As you can imagine, it’s a good idea to prepare your body for the hard work ahead. Pregnancy is a serious decision, but there are several things you should know to enjoy a smooth transition into motherhood.
Here are 7 essential things you should be aware of if you’re trying to get pregnant right now.
Get a Preconception Visit
If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, it’s a good idea to call your family practice doctor, ob-gyn, or a midwife for a preconception checkup. The doctor will review your family medical history, check your health, and advise you about the medications or supplements you’re taking at the moment. Remember that some of them might be unsafe during pregnancy and others may need to be switched to alternatives before you try to conceive.
Expect a discussion about your current diet, exercise regime, and other habits that may have an impact on pregnancy such as smoking, drinking, or taking drugs. Your doctor will recommend you a multivitamin and ensure that you’re up-to-date on your immunizations. It’s a good idea to test for immunity to childhood diseases such as rubella or chickenpox – they might affect your pregnancy as well. If you suffer from medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or asthma, make sure they’re controlled before you get pregnant.
If your last gynecological checkup was at least one year ago, expect to have a pelvic exam and a Pap smear too. If you’re at risk, it pays to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases – more on that later on.
Start Taking Vitamins
It’s essential that you take a folic acid supplement at least a month before you conceive and during your first trimester. That’s how you reduce the chances of having a baby with neural tube defects. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we’re talking around 50 to 70% reduction. Folic acid helps to prevent other congenital disabilities as well.
If you opt for a multivitamin, make sure that it doesn’t contain more than the recommended daily dose of vitamin A. Getting too much of vitamin A that is not in the form of beta-carotene can cause congenital disabilities.
Consider Genetic Screening
Your doctor might offer you genetic carrier screening before you even start to conceive. It’s a good idea to check whether you or your partner are carriers for severe inherited diseases such as sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis, and others.
For example, if both you and your partner are carriers, your child will have a 25% chance of having the disease.
Meeting a genetic counselor will help you learn more about the condition and figure out your reproductive choices. Don’t be afraid of genetic screening – you are doing it to deliver a healthy and happy baby.
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Pregnancy vs. Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Your past and present sexual health play a critical role in fertility. Some sexually transmitted infections or diseases can lead to inflammation or scarring that makes it hard to conceive, even if the infection has been treated.
For example, if you suffered from the pelvic inflammatory disease which develops as a secondary infection after contracting an STD, you might be suffering from this scarring. Moreover, if you have an active STD while you are pregnant, the disease may have consequences for the health of your baby.
Even if you’re not showing any symptoms, it’s worth to get tested – many sexually transmitted infections don’t show any signs until it’s too late.
Modify Your Lifestyle
Planning to conceive means that you need to abandon your party lifestyle for the near future. If you smoke or take drugs, now is the best time to stop. Research shows that smoking or taking drugs can lead to premature birth, miscarriage, or low birth weight babies.
Remember that some drugs may stay in your system even after their noticeable effects wear off. Moreover, tobacco use affects your fertility and may even lower your partner’s sperm count. Even secondhand smoke may reduce your ability to get pregnant.
What about alcohol? One drink a day for is okay while you are trying to conceive, but it’s your interest to avoid excessive or binge drinking at this time to stay healthy. When you’re pregnant, stop drinking altogether because researchers still don’t know what the potentially harmful effects even the smallest amount of alcohol may have on the developing baby. It may be difficult to stop unhealthy habits so if you need help don’t hesitate to consult your healthcare provider.
It’s a great idea to develop and stick to a fitness plan. A healthy body is the best kind of body for pregnancy. Your exercise program should include at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise. It can be weight training, cycling, or walking.
Make sure that you move on most days of the week. If you’d like to increase your flexibility, try yoga or pilates. Once you’re pregnant, you can continue exercising unless your pregnancy complications prevent you from doing so.
See Your Dentist
That one might not be so obvious. When you’re preparing for pregnancy, it’s a good idea to remember about oral health and have a checkup. Hormonal shifts that occur during pregnancy may make you more susceptible to gum disease.
It’s simple – higher progesterone and estrogen levels can cause gums to react differently to bacteria in plaque. As a result, you may experience swollen, red, or tender gums when you brush your teeth or floss.
If you take good care of your dental health before you get pregnant, you will significantly reduce the chances of experiencing gum complications during your pregnancy. And you don’t want to be bothered about that while waiting for your beautiful baby to arrive, do you? So see a dentist for a checkup and cleaning if you haven’t done that during the last six months.
Planning a pregnancy is an excellent occasion to review your lifestyle and prepare your body for the effort it will take during the next nine months. Take these 7 steps, and you’ll be on your way to a healthy pregnancy.
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