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Pregnancy should not be considered a nine month journey, but a year long journey. Knowing that the first few weeks of pregnancy are the most vital to the development of the baby, a mother should be healthy and avoid any harmful activities and substances near the time of conception. The future health of a baby is decided even before conception. The baby'shealth depends on your preconception health. Planning a baby is a demanding task, but if you plan it well you will have a healthier and easier pregnancy. Following these simple guidelines can help you prepare for pregnancy.
First lets talk about the healthy habits that should be followed:·
1. Exercise – Start exercising now. You have to decide dependingupon your present weight whether you want to lose weight, gain weight,build muscle, or improve lung capacity. Some good exercise options include walking, swimming, bicycling, and aerobics. Yoga is an excellent choice for exercise because it incorporates posture,breathing, and concentration techniques which will be beneficial for youduring labor.
2. Read – Get yourself educated and prepared by reading books on pregnancy and child birth.
3. Track your menstrual cycle – This is very important. Your doctor will ask you about your menstrual cycle, so you need to be prepared. Keeping track of your cycle will also help you track your ovulation and increase your chance of pregnancy.
4. Practice relaxation techniques – Relaxation can help minimize stress. Try yoga,meditation, or listening to soft relaxing music in a warm bath.
5. Get lots of sleep – Eight hours of sleep is recommended if you are trying to become pregnant. Adequate amounts of sleep can also help relieve stress and tension.
6. Eat healthy – Nutrition is vital to your health. The healthier you are the easier the pregnancy will be for you. Make sure that you are getting lots of vitamins in your diet, and start taking folic acid now. Studies have shown that folic acid (300-400mcg a day) can help reduce the risk of neural tube defects when taken before conception. Just make sure to tell your health care provider about any supplements you are taking.
7. Up-to-DateVaccination - Make sure your vaccination is complete. Vaccination againstrubella and flu are very important. It is also important to maintain a gap ofat least one month between your rubella shot and pregnancy planning.·
8. Optimize your Medical Condition- If you have Hypertension, Diabetes, Asthma, Epilepsy or any other medicalcondition you must take complete advice from the physician. Blood pressure andsugar levels have to be under full control. The type and dose of the drug mayneed modifications.·
9. Check Family History - Ask your parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts andcousins about any health problems in the family like genetic problems, mentalretardation or malformations in babies. This can help your Gynaecologist todetermine which problems to look for and how to prevent it. ·
10. Visit your Doctor - Carry a record of your medical conditions, family history and achecklist of your queries. Get tested for Blood Group, Thalassemia, HIV,Thyroid Levels, and Blood Sugars.
Now lets see the habits that are harmful and should be completely avoided:
1. Smoking can cause low-birth weight babies, preterm deliveries, and 10% of all infant deaths. So quit smoking.
2. Drinking Alcohol – There is no safe amount of alcohol to consume while you are pregnant. Recreational drug use during periconception period can increase the chance of miscarriage, low birth-weight, premature births, developmental delays, and behavioral and learning problems.
3. Prescription Drugs – There are many prescription drugs that are teratogenic (cause birth defects). Talk with your healthcare provider about any and all prescription drugs you are taking.
4. Avoid Exposure to - Harmful chemicals, metals and toxic substances at workplace and home that could be potentially teratogenic. For example, most studies show that the greatest risk of exposure to pesticides is during the first three to eight weeks of the first trimester when the neural tube( that gives rise to future brain and spinal cord development is occurring.) This is often before a woman knows she is pregnant.
5. Protect yourself from infections. Stay away from cats Stress – Stress has been linked to delayed or missed periods which can cause difficulty tracking ovulation and getting pregnant.
6. Limit your amount of stress as much as possible. You may find it helpful to employ relaxation techniques or yoga to help moderate your stress level. You might need to change your work hours or may be change the job profile. You will also need someone to help you out with the household chores around this time.
7. Herbs – Most herbs and herbal remedies are not mandated by the FDA, and therefore,there is little to no research on the effect they have on pregnancy. Discuss any herbal or natural remedies you may be using with your healthcare provider.
8. Caffeine – Few studies have shown that there may be an increase in miscarriages among women who consume more than 200 mg (one 12oz cup of coffee) a day versus those who do not consume any caffeine.
At the end if you follow the above guidelines you can have relatively trouble free pregnancy and a healthy baby that every pregnant woman aspires for.