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Becoming a parent is one of life’s greatest joys. Bringing a new life, and being there every step of the way to watch your little bundle of joy flower into something on its own, is truly a life-changing experience.
However, before the actual act of parenting begins, it’s wise to chart how best to go about the whole process of conceiving. Pregnancy is a welcome event when it is a planned and conscious decision made by both parents.
A few simple steps and precautions can make the experience beautiful, worthwhile and rewarding. Let’s explore some ways in which you can beat the stress and give way to a wonderful nine months of pregnancy with the following pre-pregnancy tips.
What to keep in mind while preparing for pregnancy
One of the first things to do before you prepare your body and your lives to change forever is to prepare yourself mentally. Ask yourself questions such as:
- Am I ready for this?
- Is my better half as enthusiastic as I am?
- Can I balance work and the responsibilities of a child properly?
- Do I have what it takes to become a good parent even if my child has special needs?
Bringing a child into this world can simply not be a half-baked idea. Being a parent comes with its own set of responsibilities. The process just gets harder, but more rewarding, starting from conceiving to raising a child to be his own person. So, prepare yourself mentally before taking any steps that will be regretted later because it will only lead to resentment on either your part or the rest of your family’s.
Read on to find out more on how to prepare for pregnancy.
Preparing your body
One of the best gifts of being a woman is that you can enjoy motherhood, sometimes more than once in your lifetime. Nevertheless, you can never be too cautious that you can deliver this gift smoothly and with pride and joy. Which is why, after you have prepared yourself mentally for taking on parenthood, it becomes important that you prepare your body for the change.
- Get off Birth Control: One of the first things to do is to stop using contraceptives or birth control paraphernalia seeing that it’s not your ally anymore if you are trying to be a mother.
- Track your Ovulation cycle: The next step would be to calculate your ovulation cycle. Take some time out and explore your options. Ovulation cycle calculating applications, as well as medically approved kits, are widely available. Choose the one that’s user-friendly and easy to track for you.
If you are not a fan of such kits or technical applications, there are a few easy steps to nail this on your own as well. For example, making simple notes on your basal body temperature and changes in cervical mucus can enable you to know your fertile days. To be clear, this method is typically spread over several months just so that you can keep a track on your period of ovulation for every cycle.
- Eat Healthy: Next, it’s important to start eating healthy. It’s not just about calories and unfriendly weight anymore. A good diet with good food enables your chance to stay healthy and goes a long way to prepare you for motherhood. In fact, this tip is for both to be parents. After all, it takes best of both to create something special, so a proper diet is suggested to both as well.
- For women, it’s advisable to reduce the intake of sugar. A bit of cheating here and there is fine, but, be careful not to overdo it as it hampers your chances for conception. Increase intake of superfoods along with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and milk. Yogurt is also something that should be included in your diet. Folic acid is also an excellent supplement that ladies can take to curtail birth defects such as spina bifida for the child.
- For men, the time is right to invest in organic foods. A serving of fenugreek in your diet can go a long way to increase your chances of being the father of a healthy child as it’s a good source of Vitamins A and D. Make sure to eat foods rich with Zinc as well as Vitamin E.
- Stay Fit: Also, even if you are not a fan of exercising, it’s time you humoured it regardless. Your body needs to prepare itself for pregnancy, and the best way to do this is by being flexible and healthy. While it’s not necessary that you become a fitness freak, simple exercises such as power walking and freehand exercises can help you a great deal. Consider swimming, a bit of aerobics, or better yet, some rejuvenating yoga to get ready for the biggest adventure of your life.
If you want to combine exercise with fun, belly dancing can go a long way in helping you prepare for pregnancy. Yes, you read it right- belly dancing! Seeing that this dance form was partly invented to ready your hips for childbirth, you can’t really go wrong!
- Keep Hydrated: Lastly, don’t forget to stay hydrated by drinking a sufficient amount of water to round off all your efforts.
Quitting Bad Habits
As the saying goes, you win some; you lose some. And if pregnancy is what you are craving, be prepared to lose more than some in order to make it successful! Here are some bad habits you need to kick to ready your body for pregnancy.
- Cut Down on Alcohol: Go easy on the alcohol as it will only serve as a setback in your plan to become a mother. It’s best to give up on drinking alcohol as soon as you are starting to chart your ovulation cycle as the results tend to get disappointing in the interim.
- Give up Smoking: If you happen to be a smoker, it is best to give up on that as well because it interferes to a great extent with your chances of becoming a mother. Smking (and drinking) has also been medically proven to cause a low semen count in men and inconsistent ovulation cycles in women, which can mar your chances of being parents. Also, smoking and drinking put your child at risk of stunted growth, low birthweight and organ-damage.
- Avoid Certain Drugs: Drugs, be it recreational or medical, can go a long way in interfering with your plans of being parents as well. They may remain in your blood stream long after the ingestion harming not only your body but your baby’s too. Some drugs which are best avoided include NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) which can obstruct the release of the egg from the ovary and natural or herbal remedies which may mimic the effects of hormones. In addition, prescription psychiatric medications, steroids, thyroid medication, skin products which contain hormones, and some others may come in the way of your conception plans
- Cut Down on Caffeine: This is also the time when you cut back on your intake of caffeine. It is best if the intake is limited to around 200 ml of your preferred beverage so that your system is prepared to conceive. Here is how caffeine may lower chances of conception:
- Delayed maturity: Excessive caffeine may prevent the egg from attaining maturity. Immature eggs cannot be fertilised, preventing conception
- Hampering function of fallopian tubes: Too much caffeine interrupts the muscular functioning of the fallopian tubes so that the egg is unable to travel from the ovaries to the womb
- Lowered sperm motility: The motility of the sperm is lowered because of the consumption of caffeine, leading to delays in conception
- Assisted Pregnancy: A study published in the Medical Science Monitor in 2010 indicates that high caffeine intake by the father before pregnancy and by the mother during pregnancy increases chances of miscarriage
- Quit Late Nights: Your body needs good amounts of rest in order to process the conception. Sleeping at odd hours only pushes you to be tired and hampers the usual functioning of your body. Proper rest along with the tips so far discussed will take you a step closer to embracing motherhood.
- Go For a Full Body Check-up: It’s best to go for a full body check-up for both the parents to be to find out if anything can mar your chances of parenthood. Apart from checking if the organs and basic systems are working properly, it is suggested that women find out if conceiving can prove to be a threat to their own systems. Women who are at risk of conditions like pre-eclampsia, placental problems, blood clots or haemorrhages can benefit from early screening as it enables parents-to-be to choose alternatives instead of risking the mother’s life or the child’s.
- Get Genetic Tests Done: Medical examination can enable both parents to determine if any genetic disorder can become a threat to what they are looking forward to so much. Early detection of health problems that can be passed on to the baby might help in exploring options such as treatment or precaution that can somehow help deliver a healthy baby. Family histories of both parents to be should also be delved into in order to ensure that some unpleasant surprise doesn’t morph into being risky for either the child or the mother.
- Consider Oral Health: A lesser known fact is that oral health should also be taken into consideration before stepping into the process of conception. More than being harmful to the child, it can affect the mother to a great extent. Seeing that the body goes through enormous amounts of hormonal changes during pregnancy, poor oral health can lead to bleeding, swelling or simply some amount of damage to the gums and teeth owing to the high levels of oestrogen and progesterone involved.
- Get Health Insurance:
- Make sure that you have insurance that covers part of the inevitable expenses that you will incur. Ideally, this should cover your pre-conception expenses too.
- Plan your Maternity and Paternity Leave: Knowing if you will be paid during your maternity or paternity leave, and budgeting in advance, will go a long way in ensuring you are able to meet all the expenses that are sure to surround childbirth.
- Start an Emergency Fund: Make sure you put away a nest egg to fall back upon in emergencies.
Infections and environmental risks
Here are some factors to consider:
- Protect Against Harmful Radiation: Cand are best avoided. Even x-rays must be taken only if they are imperative
- Steer Clear of Smokers: is harmful for the foetus, and should be avoided. Stay away from smokers and places which allow smoking
- Avoid Chemicals: E, chemical can be detrimental to the health of both the baby and the mother. Even household cleaning products should be handled with care.
Finally, though, it’s best if you stay happy and positive when you step on this journey. Stay in good spirits and remember to ask for help. It can be hard and disconcerting at times to deal with the many challenges of conception and pregnancy, but help can be found in friends and family and anyone who is a well-wisher.
It’s also advised to opt for professional help as this eliminates many uncertainties and helps detect and address issues early on.