8 things to do before pregnancy

Doctor's tips for when trying for a baby!

All ready to try for a baby? We get eight tips from doctors for the essential preparations before you do.

1. Set a schedule

Sit down with your partner and draw up plans for the next 12-18 months. In your schedule, list events that cannot be moved, for example traveling for work or to go back home, as you shouldn’t fly in the last month of pregnancy. Also factor in the need for vaccinations, which need to happen three to six months before you try for a baby. A schedule allows you to get in shape, get the necessary health checks and the proper nutrients in your body conducive to birth.

2. Have
a complete medical check-up

It’s important to establish both you and your spouse’s health and medical history as these will impact the health of your baby. This will help sort out any underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and infectious diseases. If you or your spouse is already on medication, a doctor can help assess if you can continue with the current prescription or if it needs to be changed.

3. Stock up on folic acid

The first four weeks of pregnancy are critical for neural tube differentiation and formation. During this time, women will need adequate folic acid to reduce the risk of fetal neural tube deformities. Diet-wise, you should be eating green leafy vegetables and beans, which are rich in folic acid. Otherwise, you can simply buy folic acid supplements. Start this course three months before trying for a baby.

4. Adjust your diet

To increase the chances of pregnancy, having a healthy diet is essential. It is also during this time that women should be looking to have a diet that is rich in folic acid and iron. So have more leafy greens and beans to increase your folic acid reserves while also making sure to include animal liver, lean meat, and cauliflower which can help with iron reserves. These foods also improve anemia and reduce blood loss during childbirth. Men should also make sure they’re eating healthily as a nutritious diet increases sperm generation and mobility while also helping to reduce the chance of deformed fetuses.

5. Visit a dentist

Undergo a comprehensive oral examination before deciding to get pregnant. This is because if there are any oral issues such as recurrent wisdom tooth pericoronitis, periodontitis, dental caries, it is best that they are dealt with now rather than when you’re with child. Such treatments often require the use of drugs, anesthesia, and sometimes X-rays which may be harmful to your baby. Any gingival disease should be treated before pregnancy.

6. Healthy BMI

If you’re trying for a baby, it’s best that you’re within the healthy range of body mass index (BMI). Being underweight or overweight will affect a woman's ovulation cycle and reduces the ability to conceive. Besides managing your weight, you also need to ensure that you get sufficient sleep and exercise. Being healthy both physiologically and psychologically helps in creating a good environment for you to conceive.

7. Abstain from alcohol and caffeine.

Abstain from alcohol and caffeinated drinks. Doctors still can’t agree on the amount of alcohol permissible for expecting mothers before it results in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) such as lower IQ and birth defects, but abstaining means you’re FASD risk-free. Similarly, there are conflicting studies on caffeine– some doctors recommend 200mg caffeine as a ‘safe’ amount – but the risk of miscarriages and birth defects means that you might simply want to play it safe and abstain.

8. Quit smoking

If either partner smokes, it can affect the development of sperm or eggs, resulting in sperm or egg deformities. At the same time, it also affects the smooth implantation and embryo development of the fertilised eggs in the uterus. Stub out today!

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