Pregnancy Preparedness: Top 10 Rules to Live ByDr. Gerard M. DiLeo
Get Pregnant for the Right Reasons
There are countless considerations when it comes to family planning and pregnancy. No matter how many books you read, documentaries you watch, or support groups you attend, actually having a baby always demonstrate how little we all know about this baby business. There could just as easily be a hundred, or a thousand points to make about pregnancy and parenthood preparedness.
But here are 10 very good points to heed before you conceive.
There are many wrong reasons to get pregnant but only one significant good one. Your decision to have a baby should be based on wanting a child, wanting to raise a child, and wanting to make the world better because of how you raise your child.
Strengthen Your Marriage
This means being good partners before exposing children to the complex psychodynamics that constitute a marriage. It’s best for any future children if both of you are secure in your relationship before making the next leap toward a family.
Be Good Parents During the Conception
In particular, be sensitive to what you expose yourself to during this time. Smoking, alcohol, and drugs are implicated in miscarriage as well as in abnormal pregnancies and pregnancy complications, which can be damaging to the babies ultimately born. This doesn’t mean just heartbreak for you, but a difficult life for the person you bring into the world.
Even exposure to such substances for the man can have an impact, so it is best if a safe lifestyle is equally undertaken by both of you as prospective parents. Since the very egg you conceive with begins its maturation a few months before actually being released, reducing and eliminating exposure for three months before trying to conceive will allow conception with an unpolluted egg, so to speak.
Also, women should take at least 0.4 mg (400mcg) a day of folic acid before conception and through the early part of pregnancy. Folic acid lowers the chance of many major birth defects. This is the dose found in most over the counter mulitvitamin tablets. The “prenatal” versions have even more.
Be a Good Mother NOW
Your obstetrician can give you a list of medications acceptable in pregnancy. Weeks six through nine (weeks four through seven after conception) are crucial to your infant’s organ development, so this is the time of highest risk. Avoid alcohol, drugs, and smoking. It is also prudent for you and your unborn baby to be evaluated as soon as pregnancy is expected. (Check out our Pregnancy No-Nos slideshow for tips on lifestyle adjustments.)
Know Early-Pregnancy Warning Signs
Be sure to get a physical before you start trying to conceive; this will give you and your OB a physical starting point. Then when you suspect you may be pregnant, your doctor and you will have a better idea of what to expect (and how to handle warning signs).
Stay Active and Fit
Your exercise regimen before conception need only be modified slightly once you are pregnant to avoid undue stress on your ligaments and joints, which will tend to loosen later during pregnancy. Take care not to get overheated, however, because an increase in your core body temperature may affect your baby’s development or heart rate (hot tubs included). But don’t be sedentary. Cardiovascular fitness helps labor and delivery substantially. Statistics for healthy labor and delivery outcomes weigh heavily on the side of physical fitness. And speaking of weighing heavily . . .
Concentrate on Good Nutrition
High-protein, low-fat, low-sugar diets are the best way to go, but you don’t need to be fanatic. After all, you should enjoy life, too! Potato chips while trying to conceive isn’t the best way to eat, but they won’t give your child attention deficit disorder either. Eat smart and don’t stress or depress yourself with deprivation.
The father-to-be should keep an eye on his diet for fertility as well.
Get Familiar with Childbirth
Although it is great if your OB-GYN helps clarify and explain the varied aspects of preconception and pregnancy, there’s nothing like the detailed education of studying the process of childbirth itself (for mom and dad). Be aware that some classes and books have a decided agenda or point of view, for example, downplaying epidurals and other pain management as an unsatisfactory alternative to more natural approaches. This sort of thinking won’t bother you if you’re set on trying a natural childbirth, but if you’re unsure, the denunciations of modern pain relief can make you and your partner feel anxious or guilty. At this stage of the game, focus more on the basics of the process. Later, when you get the good news that you are indeed pregnant, you can start making decisions as to how you’d like to deliver.
Trust Your Doctor
There are many self-help books that encourage you to challenge every aspect of your preconception and prenatal care. When it comes right down to it, you either trust your doctor or you don’t. If you do, you will feel comfortable with the rationale for any decisions that may need to be made later in your pregnancy. If you don’t, you’re going to the wrong doctor.
Appreciate the Important Things in Your Life
Trying to conceive can become a very stressful adventure. Try to relax and keep life in perspective; enjoy your life right now. Sleep in late, savor romantic moments with your partner, and revel in being a woman … because in several months, your body and your mate will no longer be yours alone!