There is nothing that will change your life quite like the arrival of your first child. For this reason, many parents start planning for the baby before they even start trying to conceive. To ensure the pregnancy goes as smoothly as possible, it also helps if a woman prepares her body for the new occupant. Here are five essential steps in preparing for a pregnancy.
Take a prenatal vitamin
Your developing fetus will need nutrients before you even know you are pregnant. Specifically, you will need an adequate supply of folic acid in order to support your child’s early development. Insufficient stores of folate are associated with an increased risk of spine Bifida and other neural tube defects. Prenatal vitamins along with a healthy diet will ensure both you and your baby receive adequate nutrition.
Schedule a pre-conception check-up
Now is a great time to talk to your doctor about starting a family. Your doctor will ask a lot of questions about your medical history and any medications you may be taking. He or She may suggest that you stop taking certain medications while trying to conceive. Your doctor may also recommend genetic counseling to see if you and your partner are carriers for any particular genetic disorders. At this time, you may also have a physical and pelvic exam to ensure you are healthy enough for pregnancy.
Create a baby budget
Babies can be expensive, so it is a good idea to start preparing well before you conceive. Make a list of the one-off and ongoing expenses that will be added to your budget when the baby arrives. One-off expenses will be for essential items such as a car seat; a bassinette/ crib and bedding; baby carrier/ pram; and breast pump. Ongoing-expenses should appear in the monthly budget and include clothing, diapers, formula (if not breastfeeding) and any predictable medical expenses. Of course, there may be expenses that you cannot budget for, so it may be helpful to calculate the things you can count on and then pad the budget to account for the unexpected.
Get to a healthy weight
Not only can it be difficult to conceive if you are obese, but if you do conceive, you will be at greater risk of developing complications during pregnancy, such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. Being underweight can also cause fertility issues, so try to get to a healthy weight range which experts suggest is a BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9. Doing so will improve your chances of conceiving and carrying a healthy pregnancy. Just keep in mind that body mass is a good guide, but the important part is to adopt healthy habits that will help keep you at a healthy weight long term. If you are underweight, this is not a free pass to eat fatty unhealthy foods. If you are overweight, it is important that you not starve yourself to get to a healthy weight.
Exercise can help prepare your body for pregnancy, and if you maintain a regular exercise routine during pregnancy, it can also help you bounce back to your pre-pregnancy shape after giving birth. If you are planning to become pregnant soon and have yet to adopt an exercise plan, you may want to consider starting with low-impact exercises, such as yoga or pilates. Many gyms offer yoga and pilates classes designed specifically for pregnant women which makes it possible to continue exercising throughout your pregnancy.