Congratulations on your decision to get pregnant. It is a wonderful experience and a life changing journey. Whether you’ve been thinking about starting a new family or expanding your current one then now is always a great time to get started. Children are little blessings. With proper plan and preparation, you can improve your chances of conceiving, having a healthy pregnancy and a successful delivery.
For some women, conception is not an easy task to accomplish. It can take several weeks to years. On average, 90% of couples trying to conceive will be successful in the first 12 months. So if this is your first time, chances are you will be successful too. A little determination and a lot of effort can go a long way. If you are unsuccessful after trying for over a year, check with your doctor, he will be able to diagnose your problem and find solutions for conceiving successfully.
Providing you have no underlying medical conditions which might warrant special medical attention and treatment, here are some tips on preparing for pregnancy and conception.
1. Discuss your plan with your family doctor
Although this might not be necessary, it is always best to consult your doctor before making any drastic life changes like having a baby. The doctor’s aim will be to ensure that you are healthy enough to conceive and carry a child. Your visit to the doctor can help prevent any unforeseen challenges. Go to your family doctor who has health records of you and other close family members. He should rule out any concerns regarding possible hereditary conditions such as sickle cell disease. You and your doctor will work on challenges as they come to light. Here are some basic tests and analysis that may be conducted by your doctor.
Check to make sure that you are fully immunized. Though this is a personal choice, avoidance of obtaining certain vaccines can have negative consequences for you and your child if you were exposed to any infectious disease. There are some negative side effects that result from the use of some vaccines, but your doctors will weigh the risks in proportion to the consequences and help you make a decision from there. • Check your blood pressure, heart, weight and other vital signs for problems • Some doctors will check for diabetes and other chronic diseases • Check for nutrient deficiency anemia
2. Make healthcare funding provisions
It is a good idea to start to prepare financially for a baby the moment you decide to start a family. Making financial preparations will help to ease the burden of worry about how you will provide for you and your baby. Whether funding through health insurance or personal funds, make sure that provisions are made to cover hospital fees, midwife fees, OB care, and even for hospitalization if you or your baby encounter natal complications. Be sure to investigate healthcare providers and birthing organizations.
3. Start on prenatal multivitamins
Prenatal multivitamins contain important vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are essential for healthy fetal development. These vitamins aid in the prevention of nutrient deficiency anemia in the mother and helps to restore essential nutrients lacking in the body.
4. Take additional folic acid supplements
Folic acid is a crucial ingredient for proper fetal formation in the womb. Folic acid or folate, helps in the proper formation of your baby’s nervous system, brain and spinal cord. Lacking thereof and your baby could suffer from neural tube defects like Spina Bifida and others. You should start a folate regimen about three months in advance of conception. You can also supplement your diet with folate rich foods including:
Leafy green vegetables • Asparagus • Brussels’s sprout • Avocado • Nutritional brewer’s yeast • Eggs • Chick peas • Wheat bran • Red meats including beef, mutton, animal liver • Citrus fruits • Berries • Some nuts and beans
5. Avoid excess quantities of Vitamin A
Not that you should completely eliminate this nutrient from your diet, you should avoid supplementing on it. High levels of vitamin A are linked to birth defects. Vitamin A intake should not surpass 2500 IU per week. Most prenatal multivitamin supplements do not contain vitamin A for this reason. So be sure to consume your healthy meals including vitamin A rich foods as this supplement is still important for your well-being and baby’s development- just not in excess.
6. Quit smoking, alcohol and other drugs
All these habits can have detrimental effects on your pregnancy. There are no safe quantities of these elements in your body so it is best to avoid them all together. Smoking can negatively affect your fertility, making it more difficult for you to conceive. It can also cause you to miscarry in the early stages of pregnancy and increases your risk of having a stillbirth. Even after a successful birth, your baby is at risk of sudden infant death syndrome, otherwise called SIDS. Over 25% of infant deaths related to SIDS are due to maternal smoking. Speak with your doctor and get some help to quit smoking.
7. Avoid alcohol
When it comes to alcohol consumption, it is best to abstain. This is because no safe levels have been ascertained for pregnant or nursing women. There is no substantial proof of how much alcohol can actually affect the fetus, but it is always best to be cautious. Conditions such as miscarriage, stillbirth, slow growth of infant, behavioral problems and certain physical and mental disabilities have been linked to maternal alcohol consumption.
8. Avoid the use of narcotic and social drugs
Social drugs, as most already know are not good when it comes on to maternal matters. Your best bet is to discontinue their use. Various narcotics and recreational drugs cannot only affect fertility, but have been known to cause miscarriage, underdevelopment of infants and low birth weight. All drugs have their own effects on the fetus. Cocaine for instance, can lead to infant cocaine dependence as well as severe mental, physical and emotional disabilities.
9. Minimize caffeine intake
Caffeine has been known to decrease fertility thereby decreasing your chances of conception. There are some studies that have indicated very little or no effect of caffeine on neonatal development, but they are not conclusive. Hence it is only best to reduce your daily caffeine intake and eliminate the possibility of its effect on your chances of conceiving or infant development.
10. Visit your dentist
A trip to the dentist before conception is a good idea. You will be more prone to gum and tooth problems during pregnancy. If you need dental treatment during this time, it will be challenging. Medications and narcotics used in dental care can cause harm to the fetus. So get a dental check before you start.
11. Eat healthy and exercise
The key to good health, successful conception and delivery is healthy meals and exercise. Eat a variety of meats, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables. Having a well-balanced meal all the time ensures natal benefits where nutrition is concerned. Avoid eating types of fish that naturally absorb high levels of mercury. Your best bet is to stick with most fresh water fish. High levels of mercury can cause damage to your fetus’s brain and hinder learning abilities. Try to exercise every day. Go for walks, jogging, cycling and just about any physical activity that you like. After becoming pregnant lessen your activities and only include pregnancy safe exercises. Your health care provider can inform you of the best and safest exercise options.
12. Follow a fertility protocol to increase your chances
There are many natural and holistic programs on the market to increase fertility. By far, the most time-tested is Lisa Olson’s Pregnancy Miracle. Lisa tried for 10 years before she could conceive and finally giving birth to her daughter at age of 43. Her discoveries prompted her to write the Pregnancy Miracle so she could share and give hope to couples struggling to conceive. If you’d like to learn more, we extensively reviewed this program here.
Follow these guidelines about preparing for pregnancy, and you will be on your way to having a successful conception, a safe pregnancy and a healthy baby.