For many people, becoming a parent is one of life’s greatest joys. However, preparing for pregnancy can be a difficult and exhausting process, especially if you don’t know where to begin. The earlier you start to prepare, the less stress you have to deal with and the more confident you will feel when the time comes to conceive. Below are some important steps everyone should take before becoming pregnant.
Arrange a Preconception Visit:
Scheduling a preconception visit with your primary care physician is a crucial step in preparing for pregnancy. During this visit, the physician should speak with you about your medical history, diet, and medication, ensuring that nothing will interfere with conception or the child’s development. The physician will likely also confirm that your immunizations are up to date, and a pelvic exam or Pap smear may be recommended if you have gone a year or more without one.
Find a Quality Multivitamin:
Even if you eat a healthy diet, it is likely that your physician will recommend a prenatal vitamin or multivitamin to make up for any potential deficiencies during pregnancy. In some cases, folic acid supplements will also be prescribed, since it is responsible for reducing the risk of many types of birth defect. It may be wise to begin taking prenatal vitamins even before conception, since studies suggest that many of the vitamins they contain can contribute to increased fertility.
Maintain a Healthy Weight:
Staying at a healthy weight before and during pregnancy is an important way to prevent possible complications. Being overweight can negatively impact fertility and the ability to conceive, in addition to making delivery more difficult and exposing the child to an increased risk of future health issues. On the other hand, being underweight can increase the risk of miscarriage or premature birth. Because of this, it is important to factor in your weight and lifestyle before making the decision to conceive. If necessary, give yourself a few months to adjust your diet and begin an exercise regimen before becoming pregnant.
Choose Healthier Foods:
Even if you are within a healthy weight range, it is vital to eat a more balanced and nutritious diet during pregnancy so that the baby has everything necessary to grow and develop. Add more fruit and vegetables–especially dark, leafy greens–to your diet, and seek out high-quality sources of protein such as beans, nuts, and lean meats. Many women will also struggle with calcium deficiency, so consider consuming more dairy products, as well.
Get Your Finances in Order:
Having a baby can be expensive, so it is a good idea to have a clear picture of your financial situation before becoming pregnant. Contact your health insurance company and find out what kind of prenatal coverage they provide, as well as what the deductibles will be. Make sure that your doctor accepts your insurance provider’s plan, and start saving early for any costs that you might have to cover out of your own pocket.
Have an In-Depth Talk with Your Partner:
Before conceiving, make sure to take the time to speak with your spouse or partner about the major issues that come with being a parent. Lay out a basic plan for how you will handle childcare responsibilities, or how you will balance work and family. If you and your partner have major differences in religious, social, or ethical opinion, discuss how you plan to handle them with your children. Confronting these issues as they crop up can cause undue stress and friction, so try your best to lay everything out beforehand.
Deciding to conceive a child is a joyous and monumental milestone in anyone’s life, so it is absolutely crucial to make sure that you are prepared for all of the new responsibilities and concerns that come along with it. By following the tips and guidelines above, any prospective parent will be more confident and more prepared to face the challenges of pregnancy.