There are many women who now choose to plan their pregnancy before conceiving. There is no doubt that a healthy pregnancy is possible without pregnancy planning, but it is also one way to maximize the chances that both you and your baby are healthy. For some women, preparing their body to be ready for pregnancy can take several months or even longer. Pregnancy planning is important no matter if it is your first, second, third, or even sixth child.
Pregnancy planning can include discussion with your doctor about your plans to conceive. This discussion will consist involve advice on diet, nutrition, vitamins, exercise, genetic counseling, weight gain, and the need to avoid recreational drugs, alcohol, smoking, and certain medications. Pregnancy planning can also include fertility planning and advice on when sexual intercourse best increases the chances of conception. Here is a checklist from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that helps you to focus on your goals and put your plan of having a healthy pregnancy into motion. It includes advice for a healthier lifestyle for both you and your baby and addresses certain issues such as:
- Your goals for children
- Diet and exercise plan
- Protection from infections
- Avoiding harmful substances around you
- Managing stress and mental health
- Quit smoking
- >Stop using recreational drugs or certain medication
- Reducing alcohol and eventually stopping during pregnancy
- Stopping partner violence
- Managing health conditions if any (includes weight)
- Learning more about your own family history (medical)
- Seeing your doctor for regular checkups and seeking advice on conception
Couples who are having regular intercourse for a year without being able to conceive will need to consult a fertility specialist if the woman is under 35 years old. Couples where the woman is above 35 years old should see a fertility specialist after six months of trying. Remember to inform your doctor if you or your partner have any medical conditions so that it is under control and treated. It is also important to seek help if you face any challenges such as needing help to quit smoking, reducing alcohol, using drugs recreationally, living in an abusive environment, or have toxic substances where you live or work. Your doctor can help with counseling, treatment, or refer you to a support network if needed. This is important as all these factors can result in premature birth, infant death, and birth defects.
Another important step of pregnancy planning is to ensure that any medications you are taking is safe for your baby. There may be substitutes or alternatives available that can prevent birth defects. Your vaccinations should also be up to date before you conceive as it can help keep both you and your baby from getting sick or experiencing lifelong health issues. Some vaccines such as the varicella vaccine will require you to wait 30 days before you attempt to conceive. It is also recommended that you take 400mg of folic acid daily as it can help prevent neural tube defects in the baby. It is best if it is started a month before conception. Couples who have a family history of inherited diseases should meet with a genetic counselor before conception. It can prepare you and your partner on what to expect and how to cope with the disease.
Pregnancy Calendar And Pregnancy Calculator
The pregnancy calendar or calculator is a tool that helps you to determine what changes will take place in your body and your baby during that time of your pregnancy. It can also be used to determine your due date. There are many versions that are freely available online or as an app. Here is one that you can try out!
How Does Taking Birth Control In Past Impact My Chance Of Getting Pregnant
Are you currently using any form of birth control? Once you are ready, you will be physiologically able to conceive once you stop using birth control. However, in some cases where the contraception method is designed for longer terms, it can take some time for the effect to wear off before pregnancy is possible. If you are using an intrauterine device (IUD) as a method of contraception, remember to have it removed before attempting to conceive.
Does My Diet Impact My Ability To Get Pregnant
Although it is generally known a healthy diet is required for the development of a healthy fetus, what does a healthy diet consist of? It means that you should avoid a high fat diet and weight loss diets. You should also limit your sugar intake. Many women who go through pregnancy planning start having a healthy diet before conception maximize the chances of having a healthy baby. Currently, it is still inconclusive if caffeine should be avoided during pregnancy. It is known that the fetus metabolizes caffeine slower compared to the mother. However, normal levels of caffeine have not been associated with any side effects in pregnant women. There are experts that believe caffeine consumption should be limited to 200mg a day in pregnant women (one 12 oz. cup). As previously mentioned, folic acid supplements are recommended to reduce the risk of neural tube defects in the fetus. The United States Food and Drug Administration has also issued guidance for pregnant women regarding the consumption of fish as there may be presence of environmental toxins. It is recommended that fish low in mercury should be limited to 2 to 3 servings a week. Seafood that have a lower mercury content are salmon, shrimp, tilapia, cod, and pollock. Shark, swordfish, and king mackerel are usually high in mercurial content and should be avoided. Raw seafood, unpasteurized milk, undercooked meat, cold processed meats, and soft cheeses should be avoided.
How Much Weight Should I Gain During Pregnancy
Here is also a recommendation of how much weight you should gain during pregnancy. Your pre-pregnancy weight will be taken into consideration when estimating how much weight you should gain for a healthy pregnancy. Women pregnant with twins, triplets, or more will need to gain more weight compared to those who are pregnant with one child. The following are the general guidelines:
- Underweight women (Body Mass Index (BMI) < 18.5): gain 28-40 pounds
- Normal weight women (BMI 18.5 – 24.9): gain 25-35 pounds
- Overweight women (BMI 25 – 29.9): gain 15 – 25 pounds
- Obese women (BMI 30 or higher): gain 11 – 20 pounds