So you think you want to be a mom — at least sometime in the near future.
How exciting! Having a child is a wonderful experience that will enrich your life forever. But the decision to have a child shouldn’t be taken lightly. Parenthood is a lot of work, and the best way to approach it is by preparing yourself so that you are as ready as possible for this big event.
When it comes to pregnancy, you should think ahead to get the best possible beginning. If you are reading this article and are still in the planning stages before becoming pregnant, good for you! You are giving yourself a head start on the exhilarating, sometimes confusing, but always worthwhile path to parenthood.
In this introductory, you will find some key concepts and action items
that will make the transition to pregnancy smooth. If you already know that you’re pregnant, congratulations!
Is it the best time to get pregnant?
When your friends with children tell you to say goodbye to lazy weekends and impromptu nights out, and hello to nighttime feedings and loads of baby laundry, they are not kidding. Having a baby is life-changing. In most ways it’s wonderful, but life will never be the same. Although there is probably never a perfect time to have a baby, some phases of your life may be more conducive to pregnancy and new parenthood than others.
Questions to ask Here are some questions you might ask yourself in determining whether the time is right:
Why do I want to have a baby?
Does my husband feel the same as I do?
Do we share the same ideas about how to raise a child? If not, have we discussed our differences?
How will a baby affect my current and future lifestyles and career?
Am I ready and willing to make those changes?
Is there are lot of stress is my life right now that could interfere with my ability to become pregnant or enjoy my pregnancy?
What about for my partner? Is stress an issue?
Emotionally, are we ready to take on parenthood?
Financially, can we afford to raise a child? If I’m single, do I have enough resources to care for a child alone?
Does my health insurance plan cover maternity and newborn care?
If I decide to return to work, do I have access to good child care?
If you haven’t thought about any of these issues so far, it doesn’t mean you will not have a healthy pregnancy or be unable to care for a baby. But the sooner you set the stage for a successful outcome, the better your odds. That’s true whether you are still in the planning stages, are trying to conceive or already have a baby on the way.
IS YOUR BODY READY?
OK, so emotionally and financially, you are ready to go. Now it is time to find out if your body is ready for the next step. You don’t have to be fit to have a baby, but if you are healthy to start with, your chances of getting a healthy pregnancy are greater.
So how to know if your body is ready for pregnancy?
Have your doctor give you the green light? Make a preconception appointment with your gynecologist, family physician or other care provider who will be guiding you through your pregnancy.
A preconception visit gives you and your doctor a chance to identify any potential risks to your pregnancy and establish ways to minimize those risks.
It will be better if your partner attend the preconception visit with you. Your partner’s health and lifestyle — including family medical history and risk factors for infections or birth defects — are very important because they, too, may affect you and your baby.
At your appointment, your doctor will likely conduct a complete physical examination, such as a pelvic exam and a blood pressure check.
The subjects you will talk about during your appointment include:
Contraception If you have been taking birth control pills, your doctor may recommend a pill-free break before trying to conceive. This will allow your reproductive system to go through several normal cycles before you conceive, which will help you to determine when ovulation occurred and establish an expected due date. During the pill-free break, you may use condoms or another barrier method of contraception, and your fertility will return to normal two weeks after you stopping the pill.
If you have been using a long-term method of birth control, such as contraceptive injection (DepoProvera), you can try to conceive as soon as you stop using birth control — but it could take several months for fertility to return.
Immunizations Infections like chickenpox (varicella), hepatitis B, and German measles (rubella) may be dangerous for an unborn baby. If your immunizations aren’t complete or you are not sure if you are immune to certain infections, your preconception care may include one or more vaccines, at least a month before you try to conceive.
Chronic medical conditions
If you have a chronic medical condition — such as diabetes, asthma or high blood pressure — you have to make sure the condition is under control before you conceive. In some cases, your doctor may recommend adjusting your medication before pregnancy. He may also discuss any special care you will need during pregnancy.
Medications and supplements
Tell your doctor about any medications, herbs or supplements you are taking. He may ask you to change doses or to stop them altogether before you conceive.
It is also the time to begin taking prenatal vitamins. But why so early? During the first month of pregnancy a baby’s neural tube, which becomes the brain and spinal cord, develops , before you even know about your pregnancy. This is why, taking prenatal vitamins before conception is the best way to prevent neural tube defects, which can result in spina bifida and other spinal or brain disorders.
Sexually transmitted infections
Sexually transmitted infections increase the risk of infertility, ectopic pregnancy — when the fertilized egg implants itself outside the uterus, like in a fallopian tube — and other pregnancy complications. If you are at risk of a sexually transmitted infection, your doctor can recommend preconception screening and treatment.
Some medical conditions or birth defects run in families and ethnic populations. If you or maybe your partner has a family history of a genetic disorder or may be at risk, your doctor can refer you to a medical geneticist for a preconception assessment.
If this isn’t your first pregnancy, your doctor can ask about previous pregnancies. Be sure to mention any complications you may have had, like high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, preterm labor or birth defects. If you had a previous pregnancy that involved a neural tube defect, your doctor can recommend a higher daily dose of folic acid than what is found in most prenatal vitamins.
If you have any concerns or fears about another pregnancy, share them with your doctor. He will help you identify the best ways to boost your chances of a healthy pregnancy.
lifestyle choices during pregnancy are essential. Your doctor will likely discuss the importance of eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and keeping stress under control. Good nutrition and exercise form an ideal environment for creating a healthy baby. If you are a snack- food junky, you might give up some of the junk food before you become pregnant and replace it with healthy fruits, vegetables and hearty whole grains. If your idea of exercise is a short trip from your car to work, make it a point to go for a walk or bike ride every day, or sign up for an aerobics or yoga class. This will prepare your body for pregnancy. If you are underweight or overweight, your doctor can recommend addressing your weight before you conceive. As you prepare for pregnancy, it is also important that you avoid alcohol, illegal drugs and exposure to toxic substances. If you smoke, ask your doctor for resources to quit.