10 Things To Do Before You Get Pregnant
10 Things To Do Before You Get Pregnant
Are you thinking about taking the plunge into parenthood? This is one of the most exciting times of your life, and it’s also the perfect chance to make sure you’re totally ready before your little one is on the way. Here are 15 things to do before you get pregnant.
UP YOUR FOLIC INTAKE
Folic Acid helps lower the risk of birth defects like spina bifida. These defects form very early in baby’s development, before many women even realise they’re pregnant, so doctors recommend boosting your intake of folic acid before you even conceive. The vitamin is found in leafy greens like spinach, and many breakfast cereals are fortified with it (check the box). But you probably won’t get enough from food alone, you’ll need 400 mcg a day during preconception, then 600 mcg daily once you’re pregnant. Take a supplement to ensure you get enough of it.
CUT BACK ON CAFFEINE
If you start each day with a large coffee and drink two Diet Cokes every afternoon, you may want to start weaning yourself off caffeine now. There’s no clear consensus on how much of the stimulant is safe during pregnancy, but experts agree that less is better, with many advising no more than 150 mg per day (the amount in a single cup of coffee). If you start decreasing your caffeine consumption, you won’t experience major withdrawal once you do become pregnant. High caffeine intake affects fertility, so cutting back now may make getting pregnant easier.
STEP ON THE SCALE
Try to reach your ideal weight before you conceive. Not only will you feel better throughout your pregnancy and be in better shape for childbirth, but you’ll also lower your risk for high blood pressure and diabetes.
Another reason to get fit now: It’s dangerous to try to lose weight during pregnancy (although don’t fret if you end up losing a few pounds during your first trimester from morning sickness or food aversions). Your baby needs calories in order to grow. Start loading up on healthier foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables and becoming more active, moderate exercise like walking and yoga may even make conception easier.
DITCH THE WINE AND CIGARETTES
Drinking and smoking during pregnancy can cause serious harm to your baby – ranging from heart problems to mental defects. You want your baby to have the best start possible. Encourage your partner to scale back, too: Excessive drinking and smoking can lower sperm count.
Love to travel? Been dreaming of someplace exotic? Go now, before you have an infant, car seat, and stroller to consider. Far-flung travel also gets a little more complicated when you’re pregnant…and your doctor may ask you to hold off on the African safari. Save up, book that trip, and go!
CHECK YOUR MEDS
Some prescription and over-the-counter medications are safe to take during pregnancy; some are not. While for some, the effects are unknown. You may need to switch to a different medication once you become pregnant, or you may have to stop altogether until the baby is born. In some cases, it may be more dangerous not to take the medication. Plan ahead by having a conversation with your doctor now. Spend some quality time with your dentist. Another reason to schedule that six-month cleaning and check-up? Poor dental hygiene increases your risk of bacterial infection, which can lead to premature birth and preeclampsia. So make sure your mouth is in good shape before you conceive. X-rays are off limits during pregnancy too, so get them taken care of now and fix any problems they reveal.
CONSIDER GENETIC TESTING
If certain genetic diseases, like cystic fibrosis, run in your family or your ethnic heritage puts you at risk for others (like cystic fibrosis, which mainly affects caucasians), a blood test can determine whether you’re a carrier. Your doctor can refer you to a genetic counsellor, who arranges for the blood test and helps you understand the results. You’ll feel better knowing you’re in the clear!
ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVE
See your doctor for a pre-pregnancy checkup and ask which vaccinations you should get before you conceive. Inoculations made from dead viruses (like the flu shot) are safe to get during pregnancy, but those made from live viruses (like the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine) are not. Also, find out whether you’re immune to chicken pox – a blood test can tell for sure. If you’re not, get vaccinated now, then wait a month before trying to conceive. Getting the chicken pox during pregnancy could harm your baby – not to mention it’s pretty uncomfortable for you.
PAINT THE LIVING ROOM
Among the toxins you’ll want to avoid during pregnancy: pesticides, harsh cleaners like oven cleaners and paint, especially paint stripper. They contain chemicals that have been linked to birth defects. If you need to repaint a room or spruce up an old rocking chair, get started now (and did we mention, this is what husbands are for?). And when it comes time to decorate the nursery, stick with nontoxic paint.
RAISING A CHILD ISN’T CHEAP
Not only do you need to save for maternity clothes, a cot and all those cute stuffs, but you also may have to budget for your maternity leave and childcare (if you’re returning to work).