Lifestyle and health before planning a pregnancy

Lifestyle and Health Before Planning a Pregnancy

Healthy parents produce healthy babies and being fit is synonymous with being healthy.

Is your diet okay for your baby-to-be? Is your exercising enough? This article have answers to all your concerns!

Are you over 35 years of age?

Although more and more women are now planning pregnancies later in life when they are emotionally and financially stable, the implications of having a pregnancy after 35 years of age must be given a thought.

Remember the following if you are over 35 years of age and are planning a pregnancy:

  • A woman’s fertility gradually begins to decline after 35 years of age.
  • Mothers over 35 years are at a greater risk of developing complications like high blood pressure.
  • The risk of having babies with down’s syndrome increases.
  • However if you are fit and healthy and your pregnancy is being monitored closely by a doctor, the above risks are greatly reduced.

Do you suffer from any long-standing illness?

Always consult your doctor before starting a new medicine or stopping any medication once you start trying for a baby.

Unnecessary medication is not advisable once you start trying for a baby (in fact, even before that!).

However, if you suffer from any long-standing illness like epilepsy or diabetes, you must consult your doctor before trying to conceive.

The doctor may need to adjust your dosage or even change the treatment so that the drugs are not harmful for the baby, if you become pregnant.

However, do remember that if you are taking any medication that has been prescribed by your doctor, you must continue taking it unless advised against it.

Do you suffer from any long-standing illness?
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You may be endangering your and your unborn baby’s life unknowingly if you stop taking the medication.

If the doctor feels that the benefits of taking the medication outweigh the risks, then he/she may advise you to continue the medication for some time, or even for the entire duration of your pregnancy.

Are you over- or under- weight?

Ideally you should be of normal weight (in accordance with your height), from a few months before you start trying for a baby. If you are over- or under- weight, you must consult a doctor as it can have implications on your upcoming pregnancy.

Being overweight can cause complications like pre-eclampsia (a dangerous condition of high blood, protein in the urine and fluid retention which can affect pregnant women).

Being underweight increases the risk of a stillbirth (a baby born after 24 weeks of pregnancy and not showing any signs of life) or low birth-weight baby.

Are you taking any form of medication?

Your baby’s early development (even before you realise you are pregnant) is crucial for your baby’s well being and further healthy development.

If you are taking any medication, it may actually be harmful to your baby or may even interfere with the process of fertilisation without you knowing about it.

Please note, however, that some medicines need to be continued even during pregnancy as the benefits outweigh the risks.

To prevent this from happening:

  • If you are taking medicines because of an illness, discuss it with your doctor that you are trying for a baby. Your medication may need to be adjusted.
  • Don’t buy medicines blindly over-the-counter. Even if you have to, discuss it with the pharmacist first.
  • You don’t really need any supplements (other than folic acid) if you are healthy and fit, so resist the temptation to buy them, unless advised by the doctor.
Are you taking any form of medication?
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Do you have an active or a sedentary lifestyle?

If you are already an exercise person, keep up the routine as you will benefit tremendously. Regular exercise helps you get fit for conception and prepares you for the demands of pregnancy to come.

If you are not the exercise type, this is the time when you should try and develop some easy (but effective) routines for yourself like brisk walking, swimming etc.

If you plan to join an exercise class, make sure your instructor knows you are trying to conceive.

Your body knows best. Always listen to your body. You should never overdo any form of exercise and this becomes even more important if you are pregnant or even trying to conceive.

See Checklist for pregnancy preparation.

Are you under a lot of stress?

With so many other factors being magnified, one tends to overlook stress as a major cause of infertility. Stress has become such an inseparable part of our lives that we now consider it as part of our daily schedule.

If you and your partner lead stressful lives, you could be delaying your conception process by going off sex altogether; not making love at the right time; having irregular periods.

Making love with the hope of making a baby can be a very romantic and enjoyable moment. So, enjoy it and try to keep stress out (or reduce it) out of your lives for a happy and healthy conception.

Do you smoke, drink or take drugs?

If you or your partner smoke, drink or take street drugs, you are reducing the chances of conception of your baby and inhibiting your fertility.

If you are heavily addicted to any or all of them, you will need to do some serious thinking about breaking your addiction or using alternatives now as continuing these habits into pregnancy will harm your unborn baby.

Do you smoke, drink or take drugs?
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It may seem like a colossal task but when you know that your efforts will be rewarded by a healthy baby, you will want to at least give it a try.

Does your work bring you into contact with any risks?

Before planning to start a family, look at the nature of jobs both you and our partner are currently involved in. If either of you works with chemicals, lead, anaesthetics or X-rays, it may reduce your chances of conception. Also, once pregnant, your baby will be at risk.

If you have any concerns regarding the nature of your job, you may want to discuss this with your doctor first. There is not much point in discussing with your employer till the time you are actually pregnant.

In the meantime, you can try and move to a safer job or at least try and minimise the exposure to risk factors.

Once your pregnancy is confirmed, you can bring this up with your employer who is then bound by law to move you to a safer job. If no such alternative is available, you can be dismissed but your maternity rights and benefits will not be affected.

Contrary to popular belief, working with computers is not harmful to your unborn baby.

Again, remember – healthy parents produce healthy babies!

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