Just like most other major decisions in life, pregnancy is something that benefits from some careful planning. To provide the best care for both yourself and your baby, being well-informed and prepared can make the experience much more enjoyable.
Join us as we take a look at things to consider before you start trying to get pregnant.
Your best chance at conception and safe gestation is providing a healthy body. Have a checkup at your doctor, including breast check, pap smear, tests for any sexually transmitted diseases, and a review of your prescribed medication. Your doctor can advise you regarding checking your rubella immunity levels.
Pregnancy can be hard on your teeth too so book in for a full dental check up.
If you are on the pill, consider using stopping and using condoms until you are ready to start trying because for some people it can take several months and even up to a year for a regular cycle to resume.
Learn to understand your body’s signs of ovulation and, if needed, monitor yourself to maximise your chances of conceiving at the right time.
If you smoke, give up. Women over-35 who smoke can take twice as long to conceive. As well as causing harm to you, smoking also puts your developing baby at risk. Alcohol and caffeine intake should also be cut or reduced before, and especially during, pregnancy. Remember, caffeine is not just in tea and coffee. It can be found in chocolate, cola products, energy drinks and many over the counter medications.
Save money each month in a high interest bearing account. Be realistic about what you can afford to save and try to stick to it. At the end of your pregnancy, use the money to help with those extra ongoing expenses, such as nappies, baby wipes and baby clothes.
Check your parental leave conditions – what you are eligible for will vary based on your employment status and how long you have been with your current employer. It will also depend on whether you are going to the ‘primary carer’, or if you plan to share the leave with your partner. You can find out more about parental leave here.
There are also a variety of Working For Families payments you might be eligible for – you can find out more about them here.
Having a well-balanced and nutritious diet is great for you and your baby. Remember: a high-fibre, low-fat diet, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, is the best basis for great health.
Getting into the habit of regular, non-contact exercise is a good thing to do pre-pregnancy. Try to avoid high-level workouts that leave you over-heated and exhausted. Aim to be as close to your recommended ideal weight as possible before conceiving.
Good hygiene practices
In the very early stages of pregnancy, your developing baby can be affected by infections and food-borne illness such as toxoplasmosis and listeria. Safe, hygienic food preparation is essential and good hand washing is essential!
Folic acid reduces the risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect such as spina bifida. Those at high-risk include anyone who has been previously affected, as well as anyone with a family history, diabetes or on anti-epileptic medication.
Folic acid supplements are advisable for all women. Those at risk should take 5mg daily at least one month before pregnancy and ideally for three months. All other women should have 0.5mg tablets daily three months before conception, continuing for three months after.
Genetic or developmental disorders need to be considered if there is a past obstetric history, a family history or advanced maternal age (generally considered over 35).
Genetic disorders include thalassaemia, cystic fibrosis, haemophilia and Tay-Sachs disorder. If you have concerns or questions about getting yourself and your partner tested, speak to your doctor for further advice. Read more on genetic testing.
It is also a good idea to know the blood groups of both yourself and your partner. If your blood group is negative but your partner’s is positive, conception will need careful attention.
Stop alcohol and other social drugs
Reduce or stop caffeine intake
Check your Parental Leave and Working For Families entitlements
Review current medications
Follow a healthy diet
Take folic acid for three months before conception
Develop a good exercise routine
Check rubella immunity and clear of STD’s
Have a breast check and pap smear and other health checks
Consider genetic and family history
Consider health insurance cover
Visit the dentist