When it comes to pregnancy, caring for your body begins even before conception. Preconception health care focuses on what you need to do before getting pregnant and increases your chances of having a healthy baby. For some women, it can take a merely a few months to prepare their body for pregnancy while for others, it can take longer.
Here are a few steps to help you get ready for a healthy pregnancy.
- Visit the doctor: Your first visit to a doctor should be scheduled long before you conceive a child. Your doctor will typically want to know what medication you are on and if any vaccinations are scheduled. He or she will also discuss your medical history and any medical conditions that may affect the baby’s development. You may be asked to undergo a routine blood and urine test to check your hormone levels and rule out any infections. A visit to the dentist is also a good idea.
- Start nutritional supplements: Expectant mothers are almost always advised to start folic acid supplements early in the pregnancy. This helps the development of the baby in its first few weeks of life and helps prevent birth deformities such as spina bifida. Other supplements that may be recommended include zinc and calcium. However, it is always a good idea to take these supplements only after consulting a doctor.
- Make positive lifestyle changes: If you drink alcohol or smoke, now would be a good time to stop. Alcohol and nicotine can affect your baby’s health and hence it is important to cleanse your body of these toxins before conception. Alcohol and caffeine have both been linked to the risk of miscarriages and lower the chances of conceiving a baby. Consider moving if you live around a toxic atmosphere and shifting jobs if your work stresses you out too much.
- Exercise: Regular exercise helps keep you fit and boosts your stamina and immunity. Regular exercise also helps avoid pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia and diabetes. Additionally, it helps keep weight gain under control and can help shorten labour time. However, do not start anything extremely strenuous but limit yourself to simple exercises like walking and swimming.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight can increase your risk of pregnancy complications and hence if you are planning on conceiving a child, now is the time to reach a healthy BMI. To do this, you must follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Being underweight can also trigger problems and hence you should talk to your doctor about finding a way to reach the optimum weight.