Preconception care is a very important issue that we are trying to inform everyone about. You can reduce a lot of complexity if you target certain places before conceiving.
Are you really ready to have a baby?
Before planning a pregnancy, it is important to consider whether you are ready to have a baby. Think about whether you are mentally prepared to conceive a baby. With a baby comes a lot of responsibilities and a lot of costs. Think about whether you are financially ready. If you think you are absolutely mentally and financially ready, then consult your doctor and have a checkup. This time you are really ready.
Biologically what is the right age to conceive?
Biologically a female is most fertile in her early 20s and for males, they are most fertile up to 35. But now we are so busy with our studies, career goals that we have to get married after 30 years. According to the National Institutes of Health a woman in her 30s is half as fertile as in her 20s. So for those who want to conceive at a slightly older age, it is very important to consult a doctor.
What is preconception care?
Preconception care is defined as health care of both man and woman before conceiving that leads to a healthy pregnancy. Delivery complexity decreases if taken preconception care. It prevents stillbirths, prevents birth defects, and prevents neonatal infection. Preconception care lowers the risk of many diseases and some kinds of childhood cancer as well. Preconception care makes the pregnancy easier and healthier.
It is suggested to each couple that they make a pre-pregnancy checklist while planning to conceive. It will make preconception care much easier later. Keep this checklist that points out every little thing. Follow this checklist and have a healthier pregnancy. Here we are trying to provide our recommended checklist to you that may help you later.
Have a parental talk:
The first step in baby planning is a healthy conversation between the two partners about whether they really want to be parents this time. Talk to each other, have a parental conversation, as you guys are going to face a huge responsibility. Make everything clear between both of you and then decide.
Go off the contraceptives:
You've decided to conceive, then it's the time to stop taking the contraceptives. If you are taking pills, stop taking them sometime before you conceive. It has been observed that these pills have some effect on the menstrual cycle. So the doctors recommend that you first stop the pills and let the natural cycle go a little, then it is healthier to conceive. So let the contraceptives behind this time, relax your mind and have enjoyable intercourse.
Track the ovulation:
The best chance to get pregnant is intercourse during ovulation. In a woman's body the egg is released from the ovaries on day 14 of the menstrual cycle, it is called ovulation. The menstrual cycle is usually 28 days long and the ovulation takes place at day 14. After ovulation, the egg stays for 2 days at the fallopian tubes and then decreases.
So this is the best time when the sperm fertilizes the egg. To track the ovulation you first have to calculate your cycle because it varies for every woman and then find out the range of ovulation time. According to the Mayo Clinic, ovulation occurs between day 11 to day 21 in your menstrual cycle. Making love during this time specifically increases the chance of conceiving.
Consult to your doctor:
This is the most important step before pregnancy. It is very important that every couple, especially women, go to the doctor at least once before getting pregnant and get a full body check up. There are times when we think we are absolutely fit, but there is some disease hidden in our body. If we know about the disease and take precautions before pregnancy, then the chances of any complications later are very low. So, it's necessary to take doctor's advice before pregnancy to make sure that you are healthy to get pregnant.
Doctors usually ask you for blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol tests once before pregnancy. In some rare cases, doctors also recommend STI tests and genetic disorder tests. Doctors also put a lot of emphasis on performing cervical screening tests. This test will help you detect cervical abnormalities, whether you are infected with HPV (human papillomavirus). It also tells you if you are suffering from cervical cancer or if there is a chance of cervical cancer in you. If you plan your pregnancy after your 30s then it is a must to have a doctor's consultation before conceiving.
Take care of certain medical conditions:
If you are already suffering from some medical issues like diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure, obesity or PCOS then you should keep them under control so that they do not have any bad effect on your pregnancy. Consult your doctor about this. If you are taking medications, then ask your doctor if you can replace that with some supplementary foods.
Doctors recommend some vaccines for healthy pregnancy before conceiving. There are some vaccines for everyone. Some vaccines are given after seeing the special medical conditions. While in flu season, the doctor suggested influenza vaccine to give protection from Flu. MMR vaccine to boost immunity from Measles, Mumps and Rubella virus before pregnancy.
VZV vaccine because many women during childbearing age are infected with chickenpox. Doctors recommend this vaccine before pregnancy so that the virus will not harm the mother and baby during pregnancy. There are also some vaccines that doctors recommend for some special cases like hepatitis a or hepatitis b vaccines, pneumococcal vaccines etc.
Make a budget:
The next step after deciding to conceive is to set the budget, because after that, a lot of big responsibilities are going to come in your life. A lot of costs are going to come with the baby. If you make a budget in advance, it will be very helpful later.
Quit smoking, drinking and drug consumption:
If you and your partner are addicted to smoking, drinking or illegal drugs, it's time to stop. Take the wine and beer bottles out of your house. Maybe the parties seem boring to you without a little shot, but it's harmful for your upcoming baby. If these are released before the baby is conceived, it is possible to save the baby from their bad effects.
Tobacco smoking, alcohol drinking and illegal drug consumption increases the risk of genetic disorders, and increases the risk of many types of baby cancer in the upcoming baby. It causes respiratory problems, decreases brain development, increases abnormalities in the baby. It also increases chances of miscarriages and stillbirths.
Avoid toxic environment:
In our daily lifestyle, we are exposed to many toxic substances that affect our body in one way. We should avoid them at this period. The level of pollution in industrial areas is much higher than normal. You should avoid those kinds of places. In our daily life we use many chemical products like room fresher, mosquito killer, detergent etc. We should also reduce usage of these kinds of products as it is harmful for your pregnancy. Toxic substances increase the risk of miscarriages, stillbirths, childbirth defects etc.
Start taking prenatal vitamins:
Prenatal vitamins are the vitamins that help women in a healthy pregnancy. If a woman is likely to become pregnant, her doctor recommends folic acid intake. A woman needs 400 micrograms of folic acid daily from before she becomes pregnant to the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Folic acid helps in the baby's brain, spinal cord, and neural tube development. It prevents birth defects in babies. Doctors also recommend taking vitamin D, calcium, iron and zinc as it helps in fetal development.
Cut down caffeine:
When planning a baby, you need to eliminate caffeine from your diet. More than 200 mg of caffeine per day is harmful for you and your upcoming baby. Gynecologist said that more than 200 mg caffeine consumption increases the rate of miscarriages.
Have healthy diet plan:
A completely fit and healthy woman can give birth to a healthy baby. So along with pregnancy planning, you have to maintain your diet plan. Make sure you have enough protein, vitamins, minerals in your diet according to your daily requirements. For folic acid you can add fortified cereals, green leafy vegetables and oranges, strawberries to your diet.
Folic acid increases brain development in baby. For calcium and proteins you can add milk, yogurt, spinach in your diet. For vitamin D and Omega 3 fatty acids you can add seafoods, nuts and seeds to your diet. You have to avoid seafoods having mercury in it as it can harm your baby. Last but not the least, never miss your meal.
Know your family history:
A woman who is planning to have a baby is very important to know her and her partner's family health history. It is important to know the family health history to determine if there are any genetic disorders, or any other diseases in the family. The genetic influences, lifestyle similarities of your family members will all be associated with your future child. By knowing the family health problems you can have a clear idea about what kind of effects can impact on your child.
If your family has any genetic disorder, birth defects, more than 2 stillbirths or miscarriages history you should consult your doctor about it. There are many diseases that spread generation to generation, from grandparents to grandchildren like high blood pressure, diabetes type 1 , diabetes type 2, asthma, stroke, hypertension, breast cancer, prostate cancer etc.
Have some exercise:
If you're trying to get pregnant then exercise on a daily basis is very important to you. Exercise will help you to keep your weight and BMR right and also improves your mood and psychological health. If you're Overweight then there are many difficulties that can cause in your pregnancy and also at delivery. So you have to maintain your weight and BMR from the pre-pregnancy period through a proper diet plan and exercise.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggest that daily exercise can tone the muscles and get the body proper shape of an expecting woman and also prepare the heart for 50percent more blood supply during pregnancy. Walking and running both are one of the best cardiovascular workouts, if you are pregnant then also walking is safe for you. Every woman should walk at least 30-45 minutes daily to keep her body fit.
Swimming is also good for expecting mothers; it helps in strengthening muscles. Prenatal yoga is an excellent option for all because it strengthens the muscles, stimulates blood circulation and also increases flexibility that helps in delivery. Yoga is the best therapy for relaxation as well. Squatting, pelvic tilts and kegel exercises prepare your body for labour and delivery. These exercises strengthen the abdominal and pelvic muscles. So every woman who are planning their pregnancy should do any type of exercise to stay fit.
Have good sleep:
We are all aware of the need for sleep. Everyone needs at least 8 hours of sleep. In our daily busy lives, we always neglect this essential sleep.If you are trying to conceive, then 8 hours of sleep is a must for you. During sleep, most of the systems in our body activate. Our endocrine system is most active during sleep, secreting all kinds of fertility hormones. These fertility hormones stimulate the ovulation process in women and increase sperm production in men. According to the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) insufficient sleep can affect the hormone secretion related to fertility and cause fertility problems.
Plan a babymoon:
The recent babymoon is in trend now. Couples who are planning to have their baby make a plan for a babymoon. Babymoon is nothing more than a kind of honeymoon, where you can plan a trip with your spouse or partner and enjoy a quality time with each other. Honestly speaking, after pregnancy, there are often few chances for this kind of holiday. So, if you are planning for a baby, take a break from your work, remove all your stress, plan a trip and enjoy it with your partner.
Have a pregnancy test when you miss your period:
While trying to conceive if you missed your periods, wait for at least a week for accurate results and have a pregnancy test. Within a few days of conceiving the level of HCG increases in the woman's body. Through the pregnancy test kits the presence of HCG is detected.
If you don't get pregnant after trying for 1 year or more consult your doctor. For those who are above 32 and still don't get pregnant after 6 months of trying they must visit their doctors. If you want to learn more about this check out our article on infertility.
Through this article we want to raise awareness about Preconception care. Here we give you a checklist that may help you later. If you want, you can make your own checklist. If you keep our body fit before we conceive, prepare your body for the next challenges, you will get a healthy pregnancy over all. This way the risk of birth defects, miscarriages, and stillbirths decrease. Thank you for your support and stay healthy.