Are you thinking about starting a family? Or perhaps you’ve already started trying? Wherever you are on your baby-making journey we’ve got the information you need to boost your chances of getting pregnant and make sure you have a happy, healthy pregnancy.
Physical preparedness would mean getting your body ready for pregnancy which would be a good six months before you plan to conceive.
- Get a medical checkup: A preconception visit to your family doctor about six months before you plan to conceive will help you prepare your body for pregnancy. A full body check-up will rule out any health issues that may interfere with or cause any complications in pregnancy. Inform your doctor of hereditary disorders and any previous health problems you may have had. Preconception health for men is equally important. So get your partner along with you to rule out any potential health problems. Lastly, heed the doctor’s advice as he knows what’s best for you!
- Sweat it out: If exercising was never in your dictionary, the time is right NOW! Regular exercise will prepare your joints and muscles for the additional weight that you will soon be carrying. Overweight and trying to conceive? Exercise to lose weight as studies show the heavier a woman is before pregnancy, the greater is her risk of a range of pregnancy complications. Start your exercising regimen slowly and build it up-it will all add up to the stamina and energy you would require in your pregnancy. Incorporate Yoga in your exercise as it tones you up and will help you stay flexible all through your pregnancy. Moderate physical exercise with the discretion of your doctor during pregnancy may aid you have a quicker and shorter labour.
- Healthy eating: Remember the old adage, “You are what you eat”? Same rule would apply for your unborn, so junk the junk food and start having real nutrients. Have a well balanced diet consisting of a variety of food from different food groups especially sources of Calcium and Iron. Avoid harmful elements such as alcohol, smoking and drugs. A vital vitamin to have during preconception is Folic acid (folate), which is found mostly in green leafy vegetables and enriched grains as it reduces the risk of the unborn having a serious neural tube defect. Ask your doctor to prescribe you a prenatal multivitamin.
- Dental care: Oral health needs to be taken care of before conception as later during the pregnancy it is quite common to have dental problems due to the hormonal changes. Treatment of any dental problems during preconception will avoid X-rays being done during pregnancy which are harmful for the unborn. Proper dental care is equally important during pregnancy, since serious gum disease (periodontal disease) has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
- Contraception: Some forms of contraception will still be required during your preconception period till the time you are ready for pregnancy. If you were on oral contraceptive, before you try conceiving, it is advisable to wait for one to three months from stopping the pill, so that your periods become regular. This way your due date would be calculated more accurately when you become pregnant as your doctor will need to know the date of your last period. You can use condoms or diaphragms in place of pills until you are ready to conceive.
- Lifestyle changes: Your lives will change drastically with the birth of your child demanding a lot of involvement, adjustment and compromises from you as parents. No more late night outs, sleeping late on weekends or a bohemian lifestyle. Newborn babies are very demanding and will need your complete attention in the first few months which can be extremely taxing. As parents-to- be accepting this new phase to continue for a considerable time is a must. So ask yourself – “Am I ready to be a parent?”
- Relationship changes: Is your relationship as a couple secure and flexible enough to sustain a new life and be committed to this new person for life? Your equation as a couple will change once the baby comes. It is essential to understand the fact of time constraints, diversion of attention and a structural change in the relationship. Partners would need to endure some stress on the relationship, some gap in intimacy, spontaneity and availability for each other.
Therefore, before you conceive, discuss with your spouse the changes that you think a baby will make to both of your lives. By doing this, you gear up for the changes and adjust to this inevitable transition.
- New role, new responsibilities: Parenting responsibilities will be a new and long chapter in your life now, so prepare beforehand. Discuss with your partner your expectations, hopes and doubts regarding your new roles, parenting style and responsibilities. Parenthood starts from conception and can be extremely trying, at times straining the relationship. Communication is the “savior”- share and appreciate that both of you will bring your individual manner of upbringing for the unborn.
Starting or extending a family would affect your career and your monetary health but that does not mean you start stressing as financial planning will keep you a step ahead. So plan accordingly and prepare to welcome your bundle of joy!
- Two jobs or one: Financial budgeting has to done based on whether both partners will be working after the birth of the child or if the mother will take a maternity break or quit her job. A wise step for every working individual is to keep aside three to six months of one’s salary as an emergency fund. If the mother plans to resume work after a few years, this too will need to be adjusted in the budget plan as expenditure of hiring a baby sitter or day care has to be taken into account. The birth of a child will require a hike in the insurance premium for the main breadwinner to include the new dependent.
- Birth and post birth expenses: Divide your financial plan according to your child’s lifecycle and allocate finances generously. Pre-birth and birth plan includes pregnancy related medical costs and later expenses of clothing, baby equipments, childcare along with education and healthcare. Draw up an infancy plan, school plan and graduation plan – a financial commitment for twenty years or more! A systematic investing plan that takes into account education and marriage of the child will get the full benefit of compounding.
Lastly, do not stress out as budgeting is a gradual process which does not happen in a day, so enjoy your conception days to the fullest.
Read more articles on Conceiving.