Most women start taking care of themselves only when they discover that they are pregnant. But the best time to be fit and healthy is before you actually conceive.
Planning for your pregnancy increases your chances of having a safe delivery and a healthy bouncing baby. Whether it is for your first baby or not, the following tips can help:
At least six months before you intend to conceive, you should pay your health care professional a visit and ask about the need for immunisation. Many health professionals believe it is wise for parents to check their immunity (via a blood test) to what are considered 'childhood diseases' like chicken pox, measles, mumps and rubella. If tests show that you have no immunity, it may be recommended that you be immunised because contracting these diseases in pregnancy can be devastating for the unborn child. It will be necessary to delay pregnancy for one month after receiving these vaccinations.
Certain nutrients such as folate, calcium and other vitamins are important for your baby's development. Folate deficiency, for example, has been linked to neural tube defects in babies. While you may get your folate from leafy vegetables, chances are that you may not be able to obtain sufficient for your pregnancy's needs. A good pre-natal vitamin supplement will not only provide you with folate, but also most of the nutrients that your body will need to prepare itself for pregnancy, and in the right dosage. Be advised by your health professional on what combination of nutritional supplements and vitamins is right for your particular circumstances.
If you are not yet on a regular exercise routine, you should consider starting a low-impact aerobic workout before you get pregnant. Women who exercise regularly prior to their pregnancy are able to continue with their exercise routine for the duration. Exercise strengthens the body and can help you cope with the many demands and strains of pregnancy. Gentle yoga exercises are ideal for pregnant women, and exercises that focus on pelvic floor muscles should be a focus. Brisk walking and swimming are also great pre pregnancy fitness regimes.
If you are overweight, your GP may recommend a pre-pregnancy weight loss plan to keep you healthy all throughout the pregnancy. Complications such as gestational diabetes and pre eclampsia are linked to being overweight.
Smoking is not only dangerous to your health, but it can also result in a premature delivery, stillbirth or low birth weight for your baby. Smoking in men also affects fertility as it may reduce a man's sperm count. If you are trying to conceive, what you take in your body may affect your baby's development when you get pregnant. Toxins found in recreational drugs are not easily eliminated by the body and may find their way into your baby's bloodstream even months after your use of such harmful substances. Your future baby's health should be a good reason to stop your vices immediately.
It is best to correct any dental problem before becoming pregnant because most dental treatments, such as dental x-rays and teeth extractions, may not be safely performed during pregnancy.
Studies show that caffeine, even in moderate amounts, may affect a person's ability to conceive. Moreover, coffee consumption during pregnancy is one of the leading causs of low birth weight among babies. If you quit drinking coffee before pregnancy occurs, you will find it easier to say no to coffee by the time you are with child.